Coontz, Leave

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Coontz, “Leave it to Beaver and Ozzie and Harriet.”

Stephanie Coontz’s “Leave it to Beaver and Ozzie and Harriet” centers on family, femininity, gender roles, pop culture, post-war life, and motherhood during the 20th century in American history. Coontz posits that although economical, racial, and social changes were taking place in the 1950s in America, the media seemed to deny it. Denial of diversity changes was apparent in television programming. The media depicted white middle-class families differently from families with people of color. They did not acknowledge that families were becoming more diverse as a result of interracial relationships and marriages between black and white people. Coontz argues that during the good old days, the media maintained a specific image about marriage. The perfect healthy marriage between a young couple was that the husband was a career man with a stable job and the woman as a stay-at-home mother (Coontz, 2020). The media reinforced the gender roles assigned to us by society. They reinforced the ideology of women’s subordinate status in society, where their primary role is childbearing and home keeping.

In the book, Coontz writes that men’s and women’s image reproduces and reflects a whole set of stereotypical typical yet changing roles. This assertion directly speaks to how programs showcased families during the 1950s. The time media was dominated by men, including movie directors, screenwriters, producers, and even the actors themselves. As a result, they only showcased how they view their home life and the direction they see a family taking hence leaving out perspectives of their women. This led to bias and prejudice, leading to pronounced stereotypes which favor men and look down upon women. Worth noting, even today, people continue to see countless reruns of reruns of 1950s sitcoms which form powerful perceptions about traditional families. Liberals think that unless they find a way of proving the text is an irreversible slide to extinction, it will be difficult to justify introducing social policies and family definitions. In essence, the 1950s marked an era of consensus and innocence because of various reasons. Some of the reasons are that discipline issues in schools were rare, the crack epidemic had not taken place yet, and gang warfare did not end with drive-by shootings. Additionally, voters approved over 90% of school levies and there were no secular human rights movement that opposed the editing of the Pledge of Allegiance.

The Cold War Link between Bombs and Breasts

The cone-shaped corset bra, popularly known as the bullet bra, became popular after World War II. Without a doubt, cold war anxieties and the atomic age cultures started becoming visible in the undergarments particularly for women. The bullet-bra that people considered vintage and uncomfortable speaks to the patriarchal attitudes of Americans about the dangerous and explosive nature o sexuality that followed the cold war. The government during the atomic age had a plan to contain the spread of communism. This is because if they managed to control the communist ideology, they would prevent its global impact, including American soil. The middle class and white Americans used suburban abundance to conceptualize Americans post-cold war. Capitalism allowed hardworking people to live the American dream, and in no time, residential shopping centers and supermarkets attracted many suburban homemakers. Female sexuality is both explosive and submissive. The connection with breasts and atomic bombs is that the taming fears of the time were linked with taming women. The association made words like knockout and bombshell synonymous with females’ sexual attractiveness. The cold war emphasized more about dominating female sexuality. During the first half of the 20th century, the evolution of women’s fashion shows the evolution of flapper aesthetic that screamed boyish freedom to exaggerated bust lines, wide skirts, frills, and curves which creates an untouchable eroticism aura (Smolko, & Smolko, 2021). The cone-shaped busty bra was visual evidence that American women’s bodies were ready for the atomic bar as they continued to be actively involved in fortifying their communities and home against the threat of communism.


Coontz, S. (2020). ‘Leave It to Beaver’and’Ozzie and Harriet’: American Families in the 1950s. In Undoing Place? (pp. 22-32). Routledge.

Smolko, T., & Smolko, J. (2021). Atomic Tunes: The Cold War in American and British Popular Music. Indiana University Press.



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