It was necessary for the returning men to feel that they were coming home to resume their pre-war social roles. Roles that were governed by the rules of a patriarchal society that had changed by way of the roles women assumed in American society while men were away at war. Women became the decision makers, the bread winners, and the family mangers in a way that is portrayed as the exact opposite by June Cleavers role in her familys life. The need of men prevailed over the reality of women lives, and women were depicted as weak, needy, clingy, and unable to make sound decisions. Instead, John Wayne, the handsome and larger than life film figure of a man was there as a rock, the man who actually dictated the role of the women as one of being needy, clingy, and unable to survive without the stronger male counterpart.
Some might say that it was admirable, and that perhaps America owed it to its returning WWII veterans to put aside the reality of the changes that had begun taking place in their absence. Whether or not that is an accurate assessment is debatable; as are all things controversial and subject to the hindsight of history. What is certain is that by the mid 1960s, into the 1970s and culminating in the 1980s, women were saying enough, and looking to take their place as contributing members of American society.
Although the image depicted by June Cleaver, Donna Reed, and even Mary Tyler Moore and Marlo Thomas as “That Girl,” were consistent with the role the moral majority preferred and the government, and many men, too, would choose for women; it is not the reality of womens lives even in the best of times.
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Gregory, James N. American Exodus the Dust Bowl Migration and Okie Culture in California. New York: Oxford University Press, 1991. Questia. 12 Oct. 2008 http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=90426113.
McCarthy, Patrick. “The Mountain Man and American Anguish: The Telewester, the Scapegoat Complex, and the Extreme West.” Journal of Popular Film and Television 24.4 (1997): 165-176. Questia. 12 Oct. 2008 http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=96397143..