What does Goesaert v Cleary tell us about gender norms of this time?
As veterans returned from WWII, the inevitable fear of a lack of jobs for returning veterans forced law makers into passing legislation they felt would benefit our returning vets. These laws included the decision in Goesaert v Cleary, to prohibit woman from serving liquor as barmaids, unless they were the bar owners wife or daughter. These laws sought to “protect” women in the work place because they were seen as not capable of defending themselves against drunk patrons, or being able to control the bar if customers got unruly. The legislatures felt that it was “ok” for women to continue serving as waitresses if they had a male bartender to protect them.
The root of these laws, and many others of the time, were to re-open positions for men returning from war, but they essentially forced women back into “more suitable” positions, or to return home to be housewives. There were many laws set to because they felt women needed protection in the workplace, clearly showing the gender norms of this time presented women as the weaker sex. Even though by the time of Goesaert v Cleary in 1948, women were not only allowed to vote, but were also joining the military and fighting wars along side men, yet they still felt that woman needed protection.
In “Mixing it Up” it is stated that “the U.S supreme court ruled that women workers needed protection. Basing its decision on the fact that women were an inherently different and inferior class of workers (from men) due to their disadvantageous physical structure and reproductive capabilities.” This statement speaks volumes to gender norms of this time. It is clear that women are still seen as delicate and incapable of completing the same tasks as men. By saying women needed to be protected and enacting laws to do this they essentially segregated women and worsened discrimination in the work place for years to come.
Going back to the case of Goesaert v Cleary, the sexist viewpoint is illogical; a woman may own a bar, however she cannot act as barmaid in that same bar. However, if her husband owns the bar, she can work as a barmaid because the law makers believe that having a male owner somehow protects her from possible violence. Yet these same delicate women managed to tend bar during the time of WWII? Laws passed during this time were a giant step back for women in the work place and gender norms. While law makers sought to protect women, they made it even more difficult to find and maintain employment due to the restrictions set upon them . Even to this day we are fighting these gender norms as we try to break societies preconceived constructs of women helpless delicate flowers, when you can see from our text that most women are anything but helpless.