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Gender Defined Gardening Duties at the End of the 19th Century

In this 1890s Breck's Seed Company ad notice the man cutting the grass and women tending the flowers.

Did you ever wonder how mowing the lawn became man’s work?

Here is one answer.

Cultural historian Thomas Schlereth’s book Victorian America: Transformations in Everyday Life , 1876-1915 gives us some insightHe wrote that in Victorian times “with the advent of the manicured lawn (assumed to be a masculine responsiblity), the ornamental flower garden (like the domestic residential interior) became a largely feminine preserve.”

How much has changed today?  In the new ad below the John Deere Company features a man mowing the lawn

Advertising both reflects and creates cultural values.

Garden businesses sell garden products with values, hopes, and dreams for the consumer.  We see in the product’s ad how we are supposed to be and how we are supposed to act.

Who cuts the grass in your house?  Why?


The man's job is still to cut the grass, as depicted in this recent John Deere ad.
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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. The John Deere Company is reflecting the cultural values of a circumscribed target market. They are being politically sensitive in an age when traditional values are rapidly and begrudgingly undergoing change. In many parts of the world, women use tractors to mow the lawn. Not all men will be pleased to know that fact.

    1. Yes I agree the company is trying to position its product in the best light. Here that means the image of men as grass-cutters continues.

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