There is no question that women definitely have a lot more freedom and independence then their grandmothers and great-grandmothers did. Indeed, back in the ’40s, ’50s, and ’60s, there were a lot of downright silly social rules that women had to follow. Consider just some of the following:
Women going to college could only stay in “approved” housing.
By “approved”, it meant that the options for college-going women would be their parents’ house, a sorority house, or a college dorm with a strict curfew attached to it. Apparently, the authorities did not trust women to live alone in their apartments or even be able to find one on their own. Perhaps not surprisingly, it was a tremendous no-no for them to live with their boyfriends. That was simply unheard of in those days.
Women had to follow a strict dress code.
Women had to follow a rigid dress code. This often meant that the had to wear high heels and dresses in a variety of jobs from retail to airline stewardess. If they failed to adhere to these dress codes, it could mean disciplinary action all the way up to even outright dismissal.
Being married and working was difficult, to say the least.
If you were either married or pregnant, you often could no longer work certain jobs. In many cases, you would have to quit. If you refused to do so, then there were many states that could legally fire you. This was simply just the way it was.
Your weight was part of the dress code.
If you were looking to hold a public job such as an airline stewardess or a teacher, things might get very difficult for you indeed. This is because there were certain weight restrictions attached to these jobs. In the case of a flight attendant, you would often be required to be as low as 105 pounds. Girdles and certain types of nail polish were often a requirement as well.
You could only wear dresses.
Pants were forbidden for a woman. They were not allowed at school, church, work, and many other main areas of a woman’s life. Women also couldn’t wear shorts except during time off or on their vacation. In the rare case that pants were allowed, there were all kinds of rules to go with this requirement. Bosses would dicker over the tightness levels and whether the hips were allowed to be shown on the pants constantly. This wasn’t an easy situation for the public to get used to, and it eventually became more protected in 1959. However, there was one exception: women could wear pants all the time in factory jobs.
Women weren’t trusted with money.
As a woman in the 50s, 60s, and 70s, you weren’t allowed to open a bank account on your own. You often had to have your father or husband help open it for you. Of course, in 1974 this all changed with anti-discrimination laws. It was then that credit card companies started issuing credit cards to single women and that’s when the trend started changing for the better.
Finally, a woman couldn’t pay on a date.
It was considered a social faux pas for a woman to offer to pay when she was on a date at a restaurant or at a movie theater. Simply put, it would make the man look bad. Indeed, one has to wonder just how many women would slip their men money under the table in these instances!
As you can see, we have made so much progress with women’s liberation. This is truly a much better world for not just women’s rights, but everyone’s rights as well.