In this paper I investigate the correlation between an individual’s family income and gender, and their stance on feminism. I expect that females who lived in a family of higher income were more likely to support feminism than individuals of either gender of a lower income because they would have more access to time and resources to support women’s equality. While women of the lower class were busy carrying out the traditional duties of a housewife, women of the upper class had the privilege of hiring maids, cooks, and nannies, to fulfill these duties for them, therefore allotting upper class women more free time to engage in other social activities. My findings, collected from the 1964 Disney production, Mary Poppins, and from 1972 polling data, suggest that generally, a majority of women, especially women who lived in the top 33 percentile of the American income bracket, supported feminism. Generally, men of all income levels were split evenly on their stance on feminism.
As technology advanced and became more popular during the 1960’s, film and television became more accessible to Americans. Popular media during that time usually depicted some sort of social norm present in society. A prevalent stereotype to focus on during this time was that of living in a small, nuclear family in which the father is the main source of income, and the mother is the homemaker who cooks, cleans and takes care of the children.
In the 1964 Disney musical production Mary Poppins, the plot is focused on this type of nuclear family. The patriarch of this family, George Banks, is a partner at a well-established bank, indicating that this family is of a high-income bracket. As a result of this, the Banks family is able to afford maids, cooks, and nannies, which relieves Winifred Banks, the matriarch of the household, from her stereotypical duties as a housewife as illustrated in Figure 3, where the cook is on the right and the maid is on the left. Having little else to do during the day, Mrs. Banks is able to invest her extra time as a women’s rights supporter, advocating equal rights for men and women.
In Mary Poppins, the level of support given to feminism is split between husband and wife. Constantly abandoning her role as a housewife and caregiver for her children, it is clear that Mrs. Banks is a staunch supporter of feminism in her public life; however, in her personal life, she transforms back to the subservient housewife her husband expects her to be because she knows how much “the cause infuriates Mr. Banks” when he is in a bad mood. This is depicted in Figure 4, which shows Mrs. Banks back at home, without the sash she had received from the suffragette group, waiting to deliver the bad news to Mr. Banks that their nanny had quit. As much as Mr. Banks believes himself to be the “king” of his patriarchal castle, he allows Mrs. Banks to continue advocating women’s suffrage throughout the film, without much opposition. This shows...