Working Hard and Having Fun: It is What We Do

by: Lindsey Malko

When it comes to items within my place of residence, plenty of the items have special meanings behind them, but they aren’t necessarily items that I have for a material purposes or for a certain display of an economic power which was seen in The Queen of Versailles. Most of the objects in my possession have more of a sentimental and practical value than anything else.

Living in a college apartment really affects the types of appliances and items that one might have. Because of our low status on the pyramid, we do not have as much money to furnish our homes with expensive items that really show our wealth, such as the gas chandelier-type lighting that was found in the Merchant’s House Museum. Those lights were found in the main sitting room where guests were invited into to show off how fancy and nice they could keep their place. An item such as that would not be found in my apartment, but something with more value to me and my roommates would.

We are essentially marking a history of our lives, and even though these objects will be taken away in a few short days due to graduating and moving back home, they still represent something in a new place. These items that we have strategically placed in our apartment “serve as a ritual space within which cultural memory and history are preserved” and for which we have special uses and special meanings (Cvetkovich 109). They represent who we are, in the sense that we like to have fun, but like to get things done at the same time. We are college students after all.

 

Our Keurig Machine

This object is not actually mine but belongs to my roommate. It is important to my apartment because of how we use it. Many families may have Keurig machines in their homes to alleviate the hassle of making coffee in the morning. For us, the case is the same when we actually have K-cups to use. At my home where I grew up, we do not even own a Keurig machine, so being able to use one at school makes me feel pretty special. It helps us to have more time to do work, just popping in a K-cup and some water and the coffee will be made within 5 minutes.

 

The Collection of Whales

 

This next collection of objects represents our fun side. Once in a while, when we have some free time and being of legal age to drink, we will go out with some friends after a fun concert and have some drinks. One of these drinks happens to be called the “Blue Whale” from the restaurant Houlihan’s. Over a larger period of time, we have these whales as evidence of how many of these drinks we have had, but also to decorate the wall at the same time. The whales serve the purpose of documenting the fun times we have with each other, not how much money each of them is worth.

The Sink

From a domestic standpoint the sink has a lot of meaning. In our apartment we specifically do not own/have a dishwasher and we would not be allowed to put one in either. It shows that we have to do all our hard work, but when our hard work is done we can enjoy ourselves. It represents the value that we take care of ourselves but also, since we are all female, are always doing the cleaning. If we did not do it, then no one else would, and it is important for us to maintain a healthy lifestyle and clean apartment while living at college and making a future for ourselves.

This post was completed as part of an assignment interpreting the “material culture” of home, and how objects, keepsakes, and ephemera from our domestic lives contribute to our social identities. For additional information on the assignment, please visit: https://americanstudiesmediacultureprogram.wordpress.com/the-concept-of-home-spring-2014-the-archeology-of-home/

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Women and Advertisements

by Lindsey Malko

Media can be a very influential thing for those who see it, especially women. But the ads in general are targeted toward certain audiences, whether male or female. Lots of advertisements are geared towards women and reinforce a certain gender role that society views them to have. But not only are these forms of media ways to enforce domestic roles that they believe women should have, they can also show the ways women should act towards men.

Advertisements that are the public eye, especially today, have hidden meanings. They not only advertise a product or a television show, but have a certain motive that expresses an underlying message about home life. Based off conclusions from our readings in class, statements published in magazines influence how Americans view and want to be viewed. More commonly, advertisements are directed towards women because the women are the ones who are the ones dealing with the products and cleaning. As May wrote, “After all, American women were housewives; their lives were functional, not merely ornamental. In general, male breadwinners provided the income for household goods, and their wives purchased them” (May, 158). These forms of persuasion were geared towards women because they were the ones that were doing all of the buying of products for their home and taking care of their families, according to the gender roles that society created. Even the creator of the Lawn Doctor contributed to this saying, “a lawn to a homeowner is like lipstick to a woman” (Steinberg, 75). They are directly pointing out and associating the lipstick with the woman. If they want something to get noticed, such as a product, they will make it look more feminine or include pictures of women in the actual advertisements to catch their attention. It really is all about perspective, but by including feminine objects/actual pictures of women, they are triggering the attention of women and therefore recreating the idea of gender roles by gearing these advertisements to the women who they want to purchase their products. Even if an advertisement depicted a woman with a washing machine and was trying to promote them buying, the fact was “that laundry work was the most arduous, uncreative, and yet necessary part of women’s work, and that, hence, [a washing machine] would simplify the burdens of the American housekeeper to have washing and ironing day expunged from her calendar” (Cowan, 106). Advertisements will always be biased towards the audience they want to target, and it is impossible to try and change it within a short time period. It will take a while.

 

Holidays are Kodak Days

 

“Holidays are Kodak Day,” April 18, 2014. Courtesy of Duke University Libraries.

This picture is yet another one geared towards women. In the ad, the woman is holding the camera being advertised. This infers that the woman is the one who is taking pictures in this time period, which happens to be from 1898 and in the Prudential Magazine. Any type of advertisement meant for any specific purchasing intent was geared towards women. Also, women were the ones who were working around the house, and during their free time, they would be flipping through magazines and could view photos like this.

Listerine ad from the 1950’s.

“Listerine, April 15 2014. Courtesy of adflip.com.

As shown above, this picture which came from adflip.com was featured in a 1950s magazine called Photoplay. Although it maybe he hard to read, it is obvious that a woman is the one being targeted for the product. Although this time around, it is not an advertisement for a household object or portraying that the woman is the one meant to be working around the house. This article is for how a woman can keep her man interested. This ad shows that it is the woman’s job to keep the man interested. It is always the woman’s job to essentially “do the work,” whether it be cleaning the house, tending to the children, or making the man happy. The fact that a Listerine ad would include an aspect of a woman losing her man with because of bad breath is a bit ludicrous. It could also show that men were also more shallow in the 1950s. Whatever the reason, some ads were negatively geared towards women, so that they would look and act a certain way.

Gucci

“Gucci,” April 18, 2014. Courtesy of Vanity Fair.

This picture from a 2001 edition of Vanity Fair, gives off a similar yet different feeling of how a woman is supposed to act and portray herself. An advertisement like this is one of the more common forms of “peer pressure” in a sense: that a woman must look a certain way to be accepted in society. Being scantily clad and standing in a fancy pose is part of what influences women of 2001 and today. These publications have moved past ads that only gear their advertisements towards women about cleaning products, but now it has become about clothing and perfume, and a sexy look as well. No matter what, advertisements and the media will always be influential for women and beyond.

 

This post was completed as part of assignment on how the idea of home and the concept of domesticity has been used in marketing during different historical moments and in the present. For additional information on the assignment, please visit: https://americanstudiesmediacultureprogram.wordpress.com/the-concept-of-home-spring-2014-selling-home/.

Moving On: Thoughts of Citizenship

by Lindsey Malko

Leaving home can be the result of a multitude of different things. Many times it is forced, but in other instances it is by choice. Sometimes the grass really does seem to be greener on the other side and this is what makes immigrants want to move to America. But it does not only involve physically moving from one place to another. It involves the full embrace of another culture and to move on mentally as well. Immigrants are making the choice to move to another place, specifically the United States, and with that they are accepting their own homesickness and moving on. They are searching for something better than what they are experiencing and just hope that they will find this in another country.

One reason for emigrating from one’s homeland, or moving to somewhere new they want to call home, was as very much a physical process as an emotional one. In Homesickness, Susan Matt writes that “ideally, when an individual moved, he realized that ‘new adjustments must be made, old brain paths must be dropped and new ones formed. He must fuse with a new stratum ’” (Matt, 122). One can not just move and expect everything to be dandy and great; there has to be some thought put into it. There has to be some sort of acknowledgement and appreciation for their new place of living, their home. Occasionally it takes longer for some to get used to their surroundings, but ideally it would be better if it were quicker.

In other cases, such as those of the Native Americans, they were thrown into the new American lifestyle and expected to get used to it quickly. That is not a very fair way to overcome leaving home, however. In the words of Richard Henry Pratt, “I suppose the end to be gained, however far away it might be, is the complete civilization of the Indian and his absorption into our national life, with all the rights and privileges guaranteed and to be made to feel that he is an American Citizen” (Archuleta, Child, and Lomawaima, 58). It definitely takes some time to get over any hard situation, especially being forced to live somewhere else. Boarding schools were no exception. They were fast paced and set in motion on getting the Native Americans to be American Indians and learning American ways. Because of the schools, some were learning to be like Americans and after attending, many more decide they wanted to stay and adopt that lifestyle (Archuleta, Child, and Lomawaima, 58).

“The Reverend Isaac Fidler left England in 1831 with the intention of becoming a citizen of the United States. Like many emigrants he was dissatisfied with conditions in his own country and had formed a high admiration for the American way of life.

Although educated for the church, he had been unable to find a parish in England and had been forced to remain a “mere teacher.” With the hope of bettering his prospects he emigrated but was unable to find a position in the United States. After another try in Canada, where he spent some years doing missionary work, he was forced to return to England. The Reverend Fidler belonged to the small number of immigrant failures.

I observed an uniformity of statement quite surprising, among persons from England and Ireland. The same difficulties and privations and dislikes had befallen most of them. But, perhaps, where almost every one is complaining of grievances, these become magnified beyond their due proportions. We find this frequently in England.”

Excerpt from “America’s Immigrants: Adventures in Eyewitness History,” March 1st, 2014. Text courtesy of North American Immigrant Letters, Diaries, and Oral Histories.

This passage is featured in America’s Immigrants: Adventures in Eyewitness History and the quotes are from an interview with Isaac Fidler. It addresses his particular experience with emigrating from Europe; it talks about why he moved, his experiences with certain Americans, a young gardener in particular, and his thoughts about living with Americans. Actually wanting to move somewhere other than home is a really big step in a person’s life. It has even more importance to immigrants who are looking for something new. As indicated above, the immigrants were constantly searching for something better, somewhere new with bigger and better opportunities. The passage relates to the fact that the people of other countries such as England were expecting life to be grand once they came to America. They had mentally prepared themselves for a better life and more ways to prosper. He had wanted to be a part of the American way of life, but instead had to return home and live with the fact it did not work out for him. Once immigrants actually lived in the United States, they were not prepared for what came next. Sometimes staying in America was successful, but one did not know until they tried.

Troy, State of New York, 7th May, 1804.

My dear Child,

“You must excuse my not writing sooner, my journal being swelled to too large a size to be contained in a letter, and so many advantages have arrested my attention: I have not at present satisfied myself with any. I have been doing business this winter for a merchant, who has shown in every respect great friendship, which I believe to be real. Farming appears to be so advantageous, that I cannot sit down with any thing short of it — an industrious man renders himself independent in about three years, and in seven secures for himself what will make a large family comfortable. Land, at some distance from a river or market, I can have for one day’s work as a carpenter, per acre: near a market it runs high to buy it out, but I can have it on a lease for ever at about sixpence per acre, or buy it out for about eleven shillings per acre. The custom is to give to lease about five, six, or seven years’ rent-free. I and another man of serious good character, are going each of us to take up a lot in a newly erected township, each lot containing about 250 acres, and as good land as any I have seen in England; it is common to get the first year 25 to 30 bushels of wheat per acre sowing but one, without ploughing; nothing is done but cutting down and burning the trees, the root never sprouts again. Land is let to clear at 20s. per acre.”

“I FEEL THANKFUL TO God, THAT HE EVER PUT IT INTO MY MIND TO COME TO A COUNTRY OF GOOD LAWS, RELIGION, AND PLENTY. In regard to a family, we are hard set to keep our children with us: on our arrival at New York, some ladies and gentlemen came to view the passengers, and solicited of me my children, on snch terms as I can never make out to them; they were to be bound no longer than till they were 18 or 20 years of age, and then to choose for themselves. Poor men need not be afraid to come with a large family, for children of industrious parents are riches, and English children are sought after.”

“I never had a winter of better health, or business more easy, my hardest work being to cut wood for our fire, and the rum barrel to run to, which some who loved it better than me, grudged me.”

The Emigrant’s Guide to the United States of America,” March 1st, 2014. Text courtesy of North American Immigrant Letters, Diaries, and Oral Histories.

Despite some immigrants having difficulty getting adjusted to the American way of life and becoming a citizen, some found success. As this anonymous author mentioned above, he had very good luck with traveling from England into Troy, New York. In coming to the United States he found work and not only that, he was thankful for God, who “put it into [his] mind to come to a country of good laws, religion, and plenty”. The United States had proven a better economy for those willing to do the work, and along with work, these immigrants were able to find the success they were looking for. He successfully passed through the hard stages of leaving home, and mentally accepted that Troy was a new and exciting place for him. He could do all that he wanted and more because of his new found freedom.

An American Time Capsule: Three Centuries of Broadsides and Other Printed Ephemera

“An American Time Capsule: Three Centuries of Broadsides and Other Printed Ephemera,” March 2, 2014. Courtesy of Library of Congress.

This photo from the Library of Congress, highlights the statistics of immigration from the years 1902 and 1903. Included in this image are the percentages of not only the different types of nationalities of the immigrants, but their literacy, and the number of them that were turned away and sent back home. From 1902 to 1903 all of the numbers in each of the categories increased, except for literacy percentages in those 14 years of age and older. Those who wished to come and settle in the United States may or may not have achieved their goal.

Castle Garden – their first Thanksgiving dinner

“Castle Garden – their first Thanksgiving dinner,” March 2nd, 2014. Courtesy of Library of Congress.

Shown above is an image of a man, woman, and a boy who are eating on a picnic bench in New York City. It was published in Harper’s Weekly in 1884. The title of this photo sets the mood of the picture. Upon first glance, one would not have looked into it too much, but in a closer look, the family seems to be in poor stature and not in high spirits. Thanksgiving dinner should not be spent on a street bench, but in a nice warm home. But undoubtedly, leaving home and moving to America was better, no matter what the outcome, and better than what came next.

This post was completed as an assignment for the American Studies course, “The Concept of Home.” A list of the readings that informed this assignment can be found here: https://americanstudiesmediacultureprogram.wordpress.com/assignments-the-concept-of-home-spring-2013/