Summary: What We Miss About the 1950’s
Stephanie Coontz's essay “What we really miss about the 1950's” is an essay that talks about a poll taken in 1996 by the Knight-Ridder news agency. That poll showed that more Americans preferred the 1950's as the best decade for children to grow up in. Coontz doesn't believe that the 50’s are a decade for people to remember about, except for financial reasons and better communication within families. Coontz doesn't believe in it as the best decade because of the votes, the 50's only won by nine percent, and especially not by African Americans. She doesn't believe that the 50's should be taken 'literally' because from the 50's there were changes in values that caused racism and sexism discrimination against women. Many of the existing social problems could have been avoided or ignored. Racial conflict was intense in many places, but many suburbs were exclusively white. The poverty rate was higher than today, but at least it was falling. Teenagers had more babies than they do now, but access to good jobs-even with only a high school education-enabled young men to marry their pregnant girlfriends. Even though the 50's were good, it didn't lead to better 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s.
The 1950s family was more of a short-lived experiment than a continuation of a long tradition. For all of its good points, family life in the 1950s was hardly ideal. Families weren't as well-off economically as they would become by the end of the 1960s. African-Americans in particular had higher rates of poverty than they do now. Women, minorities, gays and non-conforming groups were discriminated against, and victims of family problems got little attention or social assistance. In some ways, the decline of the 1950s family grew out of the trends and contradictions of the fifties themselves. Trends were beginning to change; young women of that era cut short their education, married young, had...