How did the invention of the washing machine advance the cause of feminism?


The development of the laundry has gone thought a long way, in this essay I talked about the history of the laundry which is from the past to now. People washed clothes by hands before, however the appearance of washing machines has changed people’s lives. We can see from the period of Pop Art, the painting by Richard Hamilton showed a range of automatically products, it means that the 1950s were pivotal for the American automobile industry. Besides, the post-World War II era brought a wide range of new technologies to the automobile consumer. In addition, due to the lack of male labor, women had opportunity to work, So the fact vigorously promoted the process of the feminism. So in this essay I talked about how did the revolution of the laundry reflect feminism ?

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Once upon a time, the way of tackling laundry is that washing in the river with a metal washboard and bar of hard soap.Washing clothes in the river is the normal way of doing laundry in many less-developed parts of the world. Even in prosperous parts of the world riverside washing went on well into the 19th century, or longer in rural areas – even when the river was frozen. Stains might be treated at home before being taken to the river. You could take special tools with you to the river to help the work: like a washing bat or a board to scrub on. Factory-made washboards with metal or glass scrubbing surfaces certainly spread round the world in the 19th and early 20th centuries. There were washing machines of a kind, but not many homes had them. Ideas from inventors working on washing machines helped improve the design of simple washboards and dollies. A plain wringer was the most common piece of home laundry machinery in 1900.

The idea of washing by machine goes back a long way, but nothing practical happened until the mid-1700s. Before that, three early designs take turns being put forward as “first washing machine ever”. An early 17th century book by Jacopo Strada’s grandson Ottavio showed his 15th century idea for a washing machine, probably intended for use in textile manufacturing. Then in the 1670s John Hoskins experimented with putting fine laundry into a thick bag that could be soaked before squeezing with a “wheel and cylinder” mechanism. A 1691 English patent referred to an “engine” with a long list of possible uses, including clothes washing. But it is unlikely to get the royal approval. It’s not until the mid-1700s that we see signs of progress with labour-saving washing machines. Versions of the tub in the first picture were on sale in London by 1752, when it was said to have been “long in use” in the North of England. It is clearly related to the washing dollies that were common home laundry tools in the 19th century.

schaeffers washing machine 2.jpg

It’s a long way of development of laundry from the hand washing to the washing machine. Besides, from some art work that we can see the evidence how the development of the washing machine. The collage called Just What is it That Makes Today’s Home So different, So Appealing?, which is by an english printer and collage artist Richard Hamilton, ” This collage of a stylised 1950s interior is a landmark in post-war art. The artist has combined cut-up photographs and cuttings from magazined to create a consumer paradise”( Butler, 1994) It shows the a range of the automatic product, such as the radio, the cleaners and telephone.

“The imagery Hamilton has used embodies the Pop Art movement with used symbols from contemporary mass media, popular culture and advertising.”( Butler, 1994)




My final major project is about the “Indistinct”, which is means that not clear defined or easy to perceive or understand. I came up with one of my ideas when I did my laundry, the process of laundry can interpret indistinct, after washing the clothes are from untidy to tidy, which is a kind of change from indistinct to distinct.