The Jet Sex: Airline Stewardesses and the Making of an American Icon

The Jet Sex: Airline Stewardesses and the Making of an American Icon Review

In the years after World War II, the airline stewardess became one of the most celebrated symbols of American womanhood. Stewardesses appeared on magazine covers, on lecture circuits, and in ad campaigns for everything from milk to cigarettes. Airlines enlisted them to pose for publicity shots, mingle with international dignitaries, and even serve (in sequined minidresses) as the official hostesses at Richard Nixon's inaugural ball. Embodying mainstream America's perfect woman, the stewardess was an ambassador of femininity and the American way both at home and abroad. Young, beautiful, unmarried, intelligent, charming, and nurturing, she inspired young girls everywhere to set their sights on the sky.

In The Jet Sex, Victoria Vantoch explores in rich detail how multiple forces--business strategy, advertising, race, sexuality, and Cold War politics--cultivated an image of the stewardess that reflected America's vision of itself, from the wholesome girl-next-door of the 1940s to the cosmopolitan glamour girl of the Jet Age to the sexy playmate of the 1960s. Though airlines marketed her as the consummate hostess--an expert at pampering her mostly male passengers, while mixing martinis and allaying their fears of flying--she bridged the gap between the idealized 1950s housewife and the emerging "working woman." On the international stage, this select cadre of women served as ambassadors of their nation in the propaganda clashes of the Cold War. The stylish Pucci-clad American stewardess represented the United States as middle class and consumer oriented--hallmarks of capitalism's success and a stark contrast to her counterpart at Aeroflot, the Soviet national airline. As the apotheosis of feminine charm and American careerism, the stewardess subtly bucked traditional gender roles and paved the way for the women's movement. Drawing on industry archives and hundreds of interviews, this vibrant cultural history offers a fresh perspective on the sweeping changes in twentieth-century American life.

Title:The Jet Sex: Airline Stewardesses and the Making of an American Icon
Edition Language:English

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    The Jet Sex: Airline Stewardesses and the Making of an American Icon Reviews

  • Kit Goode

    I came at this book hungry for 1960's Americana, but a little bored of the fact that the majority of stories that've been treated right have been men's stories. But I'm putting the cart before the hor...

  • BookishStitcher

    A wonderful and thoughtful book about the early history of airline stewardesses. I enjoy this time period in history so much that it's endlessly fascinating to me. This book has great pictures spans t...

  • Brian Palmer

    The book traces the development of the image of stewardesses throughout the decades of American commercial flight, without spending much time on the actual duties and role of the job; the role of the ...

  • Chelz Lor

    For this and other fun book reviews, please check out my website ChelzLor.comIt is a great opportunity to be gifted the chance to read a book dealing with a part of history that you may never have tho...

  • Age

    I just realized I reviewed this ages ago when it came out on my blog, so I'm finally getting around to reviewing it on Amazon and here at Goodreads. I'll simply copy and paste my review because I gush...

  • Fraser Sherman

    Reading Airport a few weeks back convinced me to finally get around to this book. Vantoch looks at how the airlines, initially staffing their flights entirely with men, hit on the idea of hiring women...

  • Mashiara

    Full disclosure: I bought this book not because of the subject but because I'm a nerd and I like the writing of other nerds. Victoria Vantoch did not disappoint. She gave me deep appreciation and know...

  • ??????? ???????

    Vicki Vantoch has an excellent way of adding humor elements to recounts of history. It is a fabulous read to understand how women can be simultaneously proud and embarrassed by our appearance, career,...

  • Aksel Richard

    Quite honestly I wasn't sure what to think about the book when I received it as a gift. However, it was surprisingly amazing and I honestly cannot recommend it enough. ...

  • Biblio Files (takingadayoff)

    The job of flight attendant has only existed for some eighty years, and it has gone through many transformations -- nurse, girl-next-door air hostess, sophisticated international traveler, sexy model ...