Dangerous vs. Domestic: Cold War Representations of Female Sexuality

  • Braelyn McKim


As the Cold War continued to develop and the threat of the atomic bomb loomed, atomic age anxieties surrounding the bomb bled into the public sphere and references to the bomb were seen throughout popular culture. Comparisons between female sexuality and the bomb were particularly popular. These representations tended to take two distinct forms: the sexually liberated, unwed “bombshell” and the domestic, submissive housewife. The popularity of the term “bombshell” directly attributed beautiful women to something both dangerous and intriguing while the housewife represented the “taming” of this force. Following the end of the second World War, the American people desired to return to stable and peaceful times. With this came the embracing of traditional values and the stressed importance of a strong family unit. Soon, any behaviour that did not align with the constraints of these “family values” were seen as immoral and associated with communism. This pressure was focused heavily on women who did not adhere to these societal standards. This paper will analyse the different representations of female sexuality through the lens of popular culture. In particular, it will focus on the dangerous, sexually charged “bombshell” and the submissive, domesticated housewife.

How to Cite
McKim, Braelyn. 2024. “Dangerous Vs. Domestic: Cold War Representations of Female Sexuality”. the Ascendant Historian 3 (June), 78-86. https://journals.uvic.ca/index.php/corvette/article/view/22019.