Women in society
The 1940s also brought a major challenge in the area of gender and family roles. The male draft combined with the industrial mobilisation for the war effort (the entire U.S. auto industry ceased making cars from 1942-46 to concentrate on armaments) made women the primary source of factory workers for the huge number of vacancies.
The previous female stereotype of the housewife financially dependent on the male was blown away. This was called the ‘Rosie-the-Riveter’ syndrome.
Soldiers returning from the stresses of war came home to newly independent women unlike those they’d left behind. Arising from this new male anxiety and eternal male fantasies of women was the ‘femme fatale’, a siren-like figure of desire whose distinctive characteristics, compared to previous female archetypes, were her independence, strength and ruthless desire.