A decade of the Woman's Weekly 1932-1942.
Brewster, Deborah Ratna
Degree Name: Bachelor of Arts with Honours
Degree Discipline: History
Publisher: University of Otago
Research Type: Dissertation
Notes:viii, 98 leaves :ill. (some col.), maps (some col.) ; 30 cm. Includes bibliographical references.PREFACE: The underlying concern motivating this long essay is an interest in how women were depicted in the New Zealand Woman's Weekly of the 1930's: their role, aspirations, experiences as presented by the Woman's Weekly. Few attempts have been made to examine the popular women's press in New Zealand history as an indicator of prevailing attitudes, beliefs and ideals. Broadly-based Women's magazines provide a degree of insight into the prescribed role and preoccupations of women of their time, and the New Zealand Woman's Weekly is worthy of special notice in this context because of its role as the largest-selling popular women's magazine of the 1930's. The Woman’s Weekly like most popular magazines of the 1930s in New Zealand and elsewhere, followed trends rather than set them. The status quo was its frame of reference, and the image of women it presented was a conventional one. Thus the content was closely geared to the social role considered proper for women, and the scale of values and priorities projected broadly reflects those held by the majority of the population. To appeal to a cross-section of readers, its general content had to be consistent with the dominant social values of the day. The Woman's Weekly then functions on one level to convey to us a contemporary indication of women's role. Although the content of the magazine must obviously bear a considerable relationship to women's everyday experience in any study of this kind the question must spring to mind as to what extent the "prescribed role" communicated by the Woman’s Weekly was an accurate indication of women's experience of the time. This question is clearly beyond the scope of this study. The relationship between the magazine and its reading audience is two-way: the Woman’s Weekly served to reflect social attitudes and norms, in turn reinforcing and affirming them. The important point to note is that the magazine functions as an important "vehicle of social values", particularly those relating to women. This study is clearly an impressionistic one in many respects and this is partly due to the nature of the Woman’s Weekly itself. While it may be reasonably straightforward, for example, in such areas as editorials, women in the work force and to a lesser extent, child-care, the field of personal relationships is a less tangible one which does not lend itself to quantification or ready generalisation. Related to this is the arrangement of chapters, which may seem somewhat arbitrary. They are not intended to cover every aspect of women's lives in the 1930s as presented by the Woman's Weekly. The chapters cover four main areas and the regular columns related to those areas form the basis of the chapter outline. Obviously the Woman's Weekly contains many other features which may be relevant to these or other subjects and have not been included for reasons of space. The advertisements, for example, give a useful indication of prevailing social attitudes and could even themselves be the subject of a long essay.