Kitchen ads from the Liza Cowan Ephemera Collections.
"The kitchen, where you spend so much of your time, should be just as attractive in its own fashion, as any room in the house"
Doesn't she look happy, all alone, perched on a stool wiping the dishes?
The kitchen as living room theme is repeated in this ad:
"Just think of creating a kitchen exactly as you want it - a center for family activities, entertainment - yet completely equipped with modern electric appliances."
This happy homemaker has her daughter for company, at least after school. Maybe the daughter is scheming and plotting her eventual escape from the world of household economy.
Probably it's the yellow and blue and the view outside, but this kitchen always makes me happy. Face it, even though I've been a feminist, media/cultural theorist, patriarchy resister for my entire adult life, the all- gobbling woman=home paradigm grabbed me as strongly as anyone. "Resistance is Futile" and patriarchy might as well be The Borg. That's how strong it is. Now think about people who never even imagine resisting! Yep, that's why ads work so well to sell us the product, the lifestyle, the paradigm.
I joke that resistance is futile. Of course if you engage your brain at every moment you can think your way to another way of looking at the world. Nevertheless, I'm a sucker for these ads directed at women, engineered to create a world of consuming, serving wives and daughters. Partially because it is virtually the only mainstream representation of a world of women, partially because the brainwashing worked so thoroughly that this world feels "natural" and partially, or so I argue to myself, the images are really wonderful. So, here come some more.
Norge, 1944 Better Homes & Gardens
This is a wartime ad. The woman is making the purchasing decisions alone, possibly for the first time. She turns to her Norge Dealer for advice.
"All over the country Norge dealers are working for today by helping their customers through this difficult period when the purchase of new household appliances is restricted. They are preaching the doctrine of conservation - of better care, less repair, they are suggesting ways and means of prolonging the life of valued equipment... Norge dealers of all types...are planning for that great day when their showrooms will again be filled..."
Mother, mother in law, neighbor? It's important to have her approval.
It's important to have her approval for the appliances because of what they say about how good a housekeeper/wife you are. The borders of femininity are patrolled not so much by men, but by other women.
Magic Chef, 1939 Saturday Evening Post
"1. Gadding around all afternoon...land sakes! Her poor husband probably eats his dinner right out of a can, and her house must be a sight!"
"2. I know my duty when I see it. I called on that new Mrs Jones next day, to tell her a wifes' place is in the kitchen. But did she surprise me!"
"3. Neat as a pin her kitchen was, with a bright, shiny new gas range. Seems it all but cooks by itself! That girl's not lazy...she's smart!"
"4. 'I'm ashamed' I told susan. 'Just think how long I've slaved over my old range! Fiddlesticks! come on. let's do something about it!' "