Sentenced to Everyday Life: Feminism and the Housewife

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Bloomsbury Academic, 2004 - Social Science - 182 pages
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The history of the housewife is a complicated and uneasy narrative, rife with contradictions, tensions, and unanswered questions. In response to this, Sentenced to Everyday Life marks an important cross-generational moment in feminism. Challenging our previous understandings of what constitutes the housewife figure, this book tugs at a critical issue still unresolved in the contemporary world: what is the relationship between women and the home? And why are women so reluctant to call themselves housewives? Drawing on research and evidence surrounding the housewife figure of the 1940s and 1950s, Johnson and Lloyd address the question of why the housewife has been such a problematic figure in feminist debates since World War II. Starting with an exploration of why the housewife of the 1940s became associated with drudgery, this book covers such topics as the ways in which magazines and advertising attempted to articulate an innate connection between women and the domestic sphere, while later films of the 1950s explored the constantly shifting boundaries between social, family and individual desires and constraints for women in the home. Johnson and Lloyd also examine how the home has been a site of boredom, and what happens to the balance between work and family in the modern world. In moving into contemporary debates, the authors explore the uneasy tension between the construction of the modern self and women's efforts to transcend the domestic sphere. By situating their examination in a still unresolved contemporary topic, Johnson and Lloyd offer us both a backward glance and a forward-looking perspective into domesticity and the modern self.

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About the author (2004)

Lesley Johnson is Deputy Vice-Cancellor (Research) and Professor of Cultural Studies, Griffith University, Queensland.

Justine Lloyd is Visiting Professor in Australian Cultural Studies and Australian Postdoctoral Research Fellow.

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