Mrs. Candy and her Washing Machine. A Perfect “Love
Story” in the Sixties Italy
In 1958 the first completely automatic Italian washing machine was born. It began therefore also in Italy the so-called “laundry revolution”: in 1965, the 23% of the domestic customers would have owned a washingmachine and to the end of the decade the percentage would have grazed the 42%. The spread of the washing machine promoted a mechanization and rationalization of the domestic job with ambiguous gender implications. Press and television advertised it as the advent of a new women’s “liberation”. From the advertising to the specialized press, from the mail columns to the inquiries of the feminine reviews, passing for the reflections of architects and designer, the promotional language seemed to be united in a choral praise of the domestic appliance, and as well as more of the washingmachine, as a factor of “progress” and “freedom”, in the society and in the daily women’s routine. But what did “progress” mean? How women had to use the “freed” time? Under the same words key, in reality, we can find different models of femininity and different interpretations of the connection between domestic life and society, private and public sphere. Such variety in the promotional language makes us to reflect on the ambivalence of the same object of consumption, bearer of a change whose nature and whose outcomes not only depend on its intrinsic characteristics, but also on the interaction with the subject who use it and on the social and cultural context in which such “dialogue” it happens.