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Women belong in the kitchen a colloquial phrase used in many cultures to paste the role of women right smack in their faces What brought about such a confining and discriminatory conception of womens lives It may date back to the earliest days of mankind when women gathered berries for supper and cared for the children while the physically powerful men hunted game and brought home the kill Was the hearth womens place to begin with because they were naturally unfit for the harsh conditions of hunting and manly activities Were they perceived as perfectly suited for sitting around caring for children and churning butter Perhaps but what was it specifically about the 1950s that encouraged this one-tracked reality In the post world war two era soldiers returned home from battle and needed jobs Women were encouraged to leave the workplace and once again become housewives who cared only for the welfare of their families The nation wanted a return to a non-progressive normalcy In Sylvia Plaths novel The Bell Jar the main character Esther gets a glimpse of this stilted existence and feels cornered The social and economic conditions that existed in the 1950s coupled with centuries of sexism created the context for Esthers breakdown Mental instability and a traumatic sexual incident pushed her over the brink and led to her demise The role that Esther set forth for herself as she moved through her education and into college was somewhat undefined She lived in a mercurial reality swayed in any which way by the forces surrounding her Because propaganda in the 1950s was aimed so strongly at womens place in suburbia as a housewife a subtle pressure to conform began to mount within Esther She acknowledged the pressure and confronted it in a bitter and unyielding tone In this passage she contemplated marrying a man who she feels somewhat close to but completely diminishes any such possibility I tried to imagine what it
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