Women and Gender Seminar: Elizabeth Collins, Triton College and Nicolaas Mink, University of Wisconsin–Madison

Women and Gender Seminar
Friday, November 13, 2009

3:00 pm to 5:00 pm

Targeting Women in the 1950s
 Commentator: Elizabeth Fraterrigo, Loyola University

“An Odd, Emotional Girl: How Psychological Profiling and Gender Shaped Security Risk Assessment
Elizabeth Collins, Triton College

This paper explores the case of Marcia Harrison, a federal employee fired from the State Department in 1951. Harrison’s case is notable because she was one of only two employees on McCarthy’s list to have been fired as a security risk. The case was complex. Like many targets of the second red scare, she dabbled in left wing groups in the late 1930s. But in the end, she lost her job not because of her actions but because of her “personality.” My larger research contends that red scare politics and gender conservatism were interlocking ideologies. Furthermore, cases involving women cannot be fully explained without engaging questions of gender. In this article I will argue that psychological profiling and gender conservatism played a central role in providing grounds to terminate Harrison’s employment.

“ ‘Let Her Eat Out’: The Politics of Gender and Domesticity in the Postwar Restaurant”
Nicolaas Mink, University of Wisconsin–Madison

By the 1950s, the terms “Eating out,” “and “Dining out” had entered the popular lexicon, suggesting that many white, middle-class Americans were increasingly using restaurant dining as a way to escape the confines of their suburban home. This type of culinary escapism is quite remarkable considering that through World War II the restaurant industry worked tirelessly to present what was now called dining out as an ideological, culinary, and physical extension of dining rituals performed in the home. While centering my analysis on the foods and foodways that restaurants produced, my paper argues that this new culture of dining out had both expected and unexpected consequences for women, gender, and families. As one might expect, this culture enhanced the gendered fantasies extant in the postwar period. At the same time, however, the new consumer ideals that restaurants shaped and reshaped created a world that subverted feminine culinary authority–an authority that is often seen as unchallenged during this era.