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Author Westkaemper, Emily, 1979- author

Title Selling women's history : packaging feminism in twentieth-century American popular culture / Emily Westkaemper
Published New Brunswick, New Jersey : Rutgers University Press, [2017]
Online access available from:
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Description 1 online resource
Contents Title; Copyright; Dedication; Contents; Acknowledgments; Abbreviations; Introduction; 1. Martha Washington (Would Have) Shopped Here. Women's History in Magazines and Ephemera, 1910-1935; 2. "The Quaker Girl Turns Modern". How Adwomen Promoted History, 1910-1940; 3. Broadcasting Yesteryear. Women's History on Commercial Radio, 1930-1945; 4. Gallant American Women. Feminist Historians and the Mass Media, 1935-1950; 5. Betsy Ross Red Lipstick. Products as Artifacts and Inspiration, 1940-1950
6. "You've Come a Long Way, Baby". Women's History in Consumer Culture from World War II to Women's LiberationEpilogue; Notes; Index; About the Author
Summary "Long before American feminists of the 1960s and the 1970s persuaded universities and the public to treat "women's history" as a valid subject for serious study, popular culture dramatized women's pasts. Sentimentalized visions of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century domestic life saturated the twentieth-century consumer culture landscape. Advertisements lobbied housewives to select "Betsy Ross Red" lipstick, and muffin mix containing "Early American flour." Women's magazines, radio broadcasts, and comic books featured historical biographies of famous and forgotten women, including entrepreneurs, activists, educators, and wives of notable men. Selling Women's History provides the first analysis of these diverse messages about women's histories. As twentieth-century American women assumed new social, political, and economic roles, many historical narratives emphasized continuity, sentimentalizing historical figures like Martha Washington as models for the present. Yet women advertisers, script writers, historians, and consumers responded, constructing more dynamic narratives to promote feminism. This work prefigured the subject matter and analytical approach of academic historians of gender, tracking changes in the expectations for women's behavior over time to demonstrate that society rather than biology had limited women. Advertising women's professional societies, established to expand women's employment opportunities, promoted new facets of such familiar icons as the patriotic Colonial Dame and the Quaker Maid, destabilizing the assertion of feminine domesticity made in advertisements themselves"-- Provided by publisher
"Only in recent decades has the American academic profession taken women's history seriously. But the very concept of women's history has a much longer past, one that's intimately entwined with the development of American advertising and consumer culture.Selling Women's History reveals how, from the 1900s to the 1970s, popular culture helped teach Americans about the accomplishments of their foremothers, promoting an awareness of women's wide-ranging capabilities. On one hand, Emily Westkaemper examines how this was a marketing ploy, as Madison Avenue co-opted women's history to sell everything from Betsy Ross Red lipstick to Virginia Slims cigarettes. But she also shows how pioneering adwomen and female historians used consumer culture to publicize histories that were ignored elsewhere. Their feminist work challenged sexist assumptions about women's subordinate roles.Assessing a dazzling array of media, including soap operas, advertisements, films, magazines, calendars, and greeting cards, Selling Women's History offers a new perspective on how early- and mid-twentieth-century women saw themselves. Rather than presuming a drought of female agency between the first and second waves of American feminism, it reveals the subtle messages about women's empowerment that flooded the marketplace"-- Provided by publisher
Bibliography Includes bibliographical references and index
Notes Description based on online resource; title from PDF title page (EBSCO, viewed December 13, 2017)
Subject Feminism -- United States -- History.
History in advertising -- United States -- History.
History in popular culture -- United States -- History.
Women in advertising -- United States -- History.
Women in popular culture -- United States -- History.
Women -- United States -- History.
Genre/Form History.
Form Electronic book
ISBN 0813576342 (electronic bk.)
0813576350 (electronic bk.)
9780813576343 (electronic bk.)
9780813576350 (electronic bk.)