I already posted something on Tumblr about Captain America and fandom assumptions
, linking to and expanding on another excellent post
about many of the misapprehensions people often make while thinking about Steve, and the time he grew up in. I find Tumblr to be a clunky vehicle at best for text posts and meta conversations, so I thought I'd throw this up here, and add some more things to it.
1) In several places, I have seen people use the "well, my grandparents are conservative/racist/sexist, so Steve must be, too" argument. In debunking this, first I have to ask- how old are your grandparents? Unless they are in their 90s, they were born later than Steve, and would therefore have had a very different experience. People who were born in the late 30s or the 40s did not grow up in the Roaring 20s and the Depression. Their formative years were instead spent in the post war boom of the late 40s and 50s, which was a very different time. And even if your grandparents are in their 90s, a lot of people become more conservative as they age. There's a quote falsely attributed to Churchill that states, "If you're not a liberal at twenty you have no heart, if you're not a conservative at forty you have no brain". This certainly isn't true of everyone, but it does happen. We all tend to be resistant to change, and there's often a backlash. Meanwhile, Steve might have been born in 1918, but he's still a man in his 20s, and he didn't live through all the changes of the 20th century. And finally, one's experience is also dependent on race/class/location/religion. Someone who grew up on a farm in Kansas or a small town in Mississippi wouldn't have had the same experience as someone living in New York.
2) Some notes on sex in the 20s, 30s, and 40s:
-Condoms were already in regular use. The latex condom was invented in 1919, and as noted here
, "By the mid-1930s, the fifteen largest makers in the U.S. were producing 1.5 million condoms a day". I get the impression that most of them were not, in fact, being used to make funny balloon animals.
-Margaret Sanger helped to introduce the diaphragm to the US in 1916. That same year, she opened a family planning clinic in Brooklyn. She was in the news a lot due to the various charges thrown at her and lawsuits she was involved in, so I imagine Steve would have heard something about it.
-As I mentioned in my Tumblr post, bisexuality was actually rather trendy among the bohemian crowd in the 1920s, and WWII was actually a huge part of the rise of lesbian culture. (Lillian Faderman's Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers: A History of Lesbian Life in Twentieth-Century America
is an excellent resource for anyone who is curious about the rise of gay and lesbian culture in the first half of the 20th century.)
-Kinsey had already started collecting data in the 1930s for his reports. (The first of which was published in 1948 after Steve was frozen, but a lot of the data about people having premarital sex and homosexual sex came from Steve's time.)
And as a bonus note unrelated to mores and sexuality, but still a good note on research:
-I remembering seeing someone complaining about all the stories that have Steve eating pizza like it is an old familiar friend. From what I understand, the modern American pizza was really developed in the 1950s, though pizzerias were already present in NY as early as 1905, and Uno's Pizzaria was founded in 1943 (though that was in Chicago). If you want to know what Steve probably would have eaten, The Food Timeline
is an excellent resource. They even have a section on USO Canteen Fare