Four Strong and Independent Women of the 1940 Feminism
Powerful women of the 1940s you need to meet
The feminist movement was created for a sole reason—to create awareness and a new belief that men and women have equal rights as human beings. During a time where women are seen as weak, stupid, and purely domestic, feminism was every woman’s answer to break free from the norm. The strong voice of women began to wane during the great depression and reemerged during World War II. When the United States waged war on Japan and Germany, a greater population of males were sent to war leaving the offices and other workplace empty. Offices and factories had no other choice but to have women take over the jobs that men once had.
Women who were once seen as domesticated housewives and ladies began to work with machines, the military, and the offices. The gender role switch planted the seed of feminism once again. Women were given the taste of freedom, independence, and strength that the male population experienced. This could not have happened without role models and icons that influenced their beliefs.
To show you the power of women, here are four influential feminist icons that helped shape feminism during the 1940s:
Rosie the Riveter
“We can do it!”
Rosie the Riveter was one of the most famous female iconic image that represents feminism during the 1940s. In 1943, an ad was posted by Westinghouse Electric Corporation to boost the morale of women to join the workforce. The poster shows a woman in a blue shirt and white and red polka-dot bandana showing her biceps, a very masculine pose at that time. The image was created by J. Howard Miller specifically for the electric company. The image of Rosie the Riveter clearly depicts how women took over jobs that were dominated by men after the male population were sent to war. A creative call for women to overcome years of boundaries of what women can do for women can do it!
“If I married you, Steve, I’d have to pretend I’m weaker than you are to make you happy—and that, no woman should do!”
In a time where the world is dominated by men, even in literature, this beautiful, smart, and vigorous goddess was born to empower women. Wonder Woman was created by Dr. William Moulton Marston, a psychologist and feminist, after DC Comics creators asked him to create a female superhero. After Wonder Woman’s debut on 1941, she became an instant hit to people with glinting ten million comics sold. A female superhero became an inspiration and aspiration of the women at that time.
First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt
“No, I have never wanted to be a man. I have often wanted to be more effective as a woman, but I have never felt that trousers would do the trick!”
Behind every successful man is a strong-minded and willful woman, this statement appears very true for former US president Roosevelt who always thought that a happy wife makes a happy life. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt was no ordinary first lady, nor was she an ordinary wife. Eleanor has contributed so much of the feminist movement in the 1940s that influenced and inspired women around the world. During World War II, Mrs. Roosevelt became a counselor and fact-finder for former president Roosevelt. Even after her husband’s duty to the people has explored, Madam Eleanor extended her service to the people of America as an advisor and ad hoc diplomat of President Truman. This woman is truly a real-life wonder woman.
Simone de Beauvoir
“It is perfectly natural for the future woman to feel indignant at thee limitations posed upon her by her sex. The real question is not why she should reject them: the problem is rather to understand why she accepts them.”
This lady over here is one of the most influential feminist in the 1940s and even to this day. Simone de Beauvoir is a French existentialist philosopher whose works mostly focused on ethics, fiction, politics, and feminism. Her feminist theory, The Second Sex, explains how society shaped the roles of women. In de Beauvoir’s analysis of society’s sexism, male is considered as the One while female is considered the Other. The Second Sex became an inspiration by countless women around the world and is even used in academics of today’s generation.
Though these women were popular and the icons behind the feminism of the 1940s, they still hold the banner of women even to this day. They show that a woman’s limit can only be measured by her capacity to believe in herself.
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DailyHistory.org. “What Was the Second Wave Feminist Movement?” Accessed on October 25, 2018. https://dailyhistory.org/What_was_the_Second_Wave_Feminist_Movement%3F.
Higgins, Marissa. 2016. “8 Feminist Quotes from the 1940s That Are Still Relevant Today.” Bustle, May 12. Accessed on October 25, 2018. https://www.bustle.com/articles/159736-8-feminist-quotes-from-the-1940s-that-are-still-relevant-today.
Shneiderman, Dee. “Feminism During the 1940s.” The Classroom. Accessed on October 25, 2018. https://www.theclassroom.com/feminism-during-1940s-14003.html.