Useful Notes The Fifties Discussion

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06:11:52 PM Mar 16th 2011
I know it says YMMV, I don't want to get into any edit wars, but I lived in the Heartland in the 1950s, and I can't relate to most of what is on that page. Food and cooking, what was and wasn't considered healthy... Crafts for women, termed "selfish" on the page, were huge in the 1950s.
02:24:28 PM Apr 26th 2011
edited by movie007
It does sound like some people have gotten The '50s confused with Victorian Britain - but, then again, maybe even Victorian Britain wasn't as rigid in social norms. Or, most likely, it applied mainly to the upper class folks.

There are still things that are considered not socially acceptable to do, today - where there really should be no reason for the taboo. The Animation Age Ghetto would be one such example, although society does finally seem to be relaxing a bit on that. Talking to yourself would be another one.
12:31:23 PM May 31st 2011
Again, the page was initially written as someone's distinctly 'might've watched a tad too much Mad Men' reminisces. Tropers have been working to broaden that out a bit. If you feel like it's still unbalanced or representing too narrow a POV, by all means, have at it. :)
07:00:12 PM Oct 10th 2010
"It was also common for families to institutionalize and forget children born with serious birth defects, telling their families that the child had died and never mentioning the incident again. Giving birth to a disabled child was seen as so shameful that it was considered morally and ethically correct to institutionalize and forget the "mistake"."

Any sources on this? I can help but find it a little far-fetched.
10:50:27 PM Dec 8th 2010
I only know that the brother of a close friend of my grandmother was institutionalized in the 1950s, and the mother (a widow who worked during the week) visited him every weekend. I only know that now she doesn't treat his institutionalization as some secret, I don't know how she acted about her brother at the time, but it probably depended on the family.
08:01:48 PM Dec 12th 2010
Okay, I'm just curious about this. I didn't remove it, since I was unsure of how factual it was. I'm just curious of where I can read about this incident happening - if, in fact, it did happen.
05:57:08 PM Mar 16th 2011
edited by CaptEquinox
I don't know how "common" it was. What I remember are numerous P.S.A.s for various charities, showing kids with birth defects. Some kids at my school had birthmarks, cleft palate, spinal bifida, hydrocephalus — it was accepted as just the way that person was.

The "put them away and pretend they died" attitude seems more 1940s than 1950s. Marie Killilea wrote in her book Karen that she was told to do this by more than one doctor who saw her severely CP daughter in the early '40s, which was how she ended up founding the United Cerebral Palsy Foundation.
01:31:10 PM Sep 14th 2010
This and The Ninties are pretty America-centric. Yeah, English language website, but at least label that this is very specifically about the USA Fifties and not, say, the British or Russian Fifties.
06:43:33 PM Sep 15th 2010
Fair enough, although that raises kind of an interesting point — obviously the 1950's happened everywhere, but does any other country make quite the same fetish of 'The Fifties' as a cultural phenomenon? I mean, do the Italians, say, make movies in which teenagers sing and dance in period clothing?
12:05:22 AM Jun 18th 2010
Thank you, whoever wrote this. I've had an idea for a story taking place in the 1950s for about two years now, and I'd really want it to be as accurate as possible. This ought to help incredibly well.
07:38:24 PM Jun 15th 2010
edited by Rhomega
08:53:53 AM Aug 22nd 2010
edited by Shoebox
I think the problem is that a)this was openly written as someone's reminiscences (as the initial header mentioned) and b)it's become fashionable to assume The '50s weren't just repressive in some respects but a brutal, totally intolerant era designed to keep everyone but the alpha males in their place underfoot. People, Mad Men is a television drama. They have to play up those aspects to get the ratings. :)

Anyway, I've done a bit of cleanup to introduce a more neutral tone & remove the anecdotal & sweepingly assumptive statements (especially from the 'Sex' section), hopefully others more familiar with the actual Historical Fifties can continue the process.
11:23:20 PM Dec 8th 2010
In a similar vein, the sex section gives off the popular impression (see [[Back to the Future]]) that people in those times were basically hypocrites, and that only the societal attitudes and treatment of the subject of sex were different, people's sexual behavior was just like it is today. It Hand Waves the lower levels of premarital sex as a result of earlier marriage. That is completely misleading, as well known survey statistics show that there has been a dramatic increase in percentage of sex before the age of 18 in women since the 1950s. Furthermore, "age at first sex" has decreased significantly following the sexual revolution (the one in the 1960-70s). It was 20.4 years old in 1954-63, by the 1974-83, it had dropped to 18.0, today it is 17.6 (having risen for the first time from 17.3 in the previous period).
07:09:08 PM Dec 9th 2010
Excellent. I admit to using Wikipedia to help shape that first point in the section — by all means, if you've got more to say, and more authoritative info to back it up, do a rewrite.

I do think though that there is still merit in noting that people did, actually, have a decent amount of sex back then. The opposite stereotype is still pretty prevalent — I ran across it in a book just the other day.

12:05:39 AM Dec 13th 2010
I agree that part should be left in, it is still common. I think this is still in the same negative vein of the original post, this is either played straight and the 50s society is portrayed as simple and prudish, or the is subverted too hard to the point of inversion, and 1950s society is portrayed as very hypocritical. I will try to add something to the article, the problem is the section currently flows together nicely, so it is hard to put something in a relevant place without disrupting the flow.
05:57:02 PM Apr 29th 2011
According the CDC, the 1950's had the highest rate of teenage pregnancy in history, and it has gone down since then. Even if you factor in the advent of the pill in the '60's, it still makes it clear that sex amongst teenagers was FAR more common than is believed. Furthermore, the statistics cited are usually self-reported, and people lie. Teens especially, and even moreso when it comes to sex. They do today, and certainly would have back then when they faced greater stigma.

Therefore, any such statistics must be taken with a grain of salt.
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