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.
'Why are "housewife" and "feminist" seen to be mutually exclusive terms? Why has feminism so often assumed that women can only become modern by leaving home? In their illuminating work of cultural history, Johnson and Lloyd challenge such beliefs by redescribing the housewife as a distinctively modern and politically complex form of identity. A timely, invigorating, and much needed reassessment of feminist ideas.' Rita Felski, University of Virginia 'Combines an impressively broad range of materials from popular culture and wider public debate to challenge some of the key feminist wisdoms about the significance of the figure of the 1940s and 1950s housewife. This exemplary study offers a taste of interdisciplinary feminist scholarship at its best.' Jackie Stacey, Lancaster University 'Why do stories about happy homemakers provoke such conflicting emotions among contemporary women? Sentenced to Everyday Life helps us understand the issues at stake. It is a timely analysis and I urge all young women to read it.' Professor Marilyn Lake, LaTrobe University 'An interesting and timely book, Sentenced to Everyday Life argues that the housewife figure constructed in the 1940s and 50s is central to the history of "the feminist subject".' Judy Giles, York St. John College 'A compelling and engaging account of the figure of the 'housewife' in the 1940s and 1950s in Australia.' 'Sentenced to Everyday Life offers a complex and careful portrait of a critical period of Australias history.' JaneMaree Maher, Political and Social Inquiry, Monash University 'In there fascinating book Sentenced to Everyday Life, Johnson and Lloyd take a closer look at the phenomenon of the housewife and her marginal status within the feminist project.' 'Sentenced to Everyday Life is a rich survey of popular media in the 1940's and 1950's.' The authors are successful in building a bridge between their historical-cultural work and contemporary sociological debates.' Michelle Gabriel, University of Tasmania