Thursday, November 10

Yer standard "fish without a bicycle" post

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There's a really interesting conversation going on over at At My Knit's End over the Maureen Dowd article in last Sunday's NYT Sunday Magazine. Maureen essentially asks:

Why do young women wanna be 50's housewives again?

Why do men of any age want young women who wanna be housewives?

Isn't this just an awful backlash against all of the gender progress we were promised by Gloria Steinem and company?

Oh, and why can't I, an attractive and highly prominient NYT columnist, get a date? I'll pay my fair share. Oh, is that wrong?


Without screaming "biological imperative" at the top of her lungs, Blue Gal would like to point out the following:


This "feminism brought us into the workplace" is a buncha crap.
Women went into the workplace in droves in the late '60's early '70's because real wages did not keep up with inflation. Feminism may have given some women a way to rationalize such, but mommy did it for the money, 'cause you can't keep up your standard of living on one salary anymore.

Young women today are a stupid as in any other generation.
Blue Gal her own self was never so stupid with her head in the clouds as when she was 23 years old. Dreaming of being a housewife in Barbie's dream house and looking like Barbie/Jessica Simpson/a Maxim girl is just normal stupid dreaming on the part of females who have not grown up yet. It is not the End Of Feminism As We Knew It. Feminism as we knew it never existed, ladies. It was all in our heads. Get over it.

Now, to those girls who want the "Mrs." label and are dreaming of living the fifties dream model, a little wake up call. Blue Gal is only gonna mention a few facts 'cause otherwise this could take all day and she's got laundry to do. Imagine, if you will, that your dream comes true. It's the 50's again, and you are Happy Homemaker.

1. You do not have your own car. That's right. You get your husband's car on "market day" after you drive him to work. One day per week. And while the car is made of solid steel and gets just about the same mileage as today's Hummer, it's got something called a "clutch" which makes it much more difficult to park. Don't worry, you only have it one day a week. The other four days you are at home and car-less.

2. At home, you do not have cable, the internet, a cell phone, a cordless phone, or a microwave. You may have one credit card, but it has your husband's name on it. There is no Target, no Gap, no Old Navy. Catalog shopping? It's called Sears and Roebuck, baby. You are not without things to do, though, because you spend so much of your day ironing.

3. You do not know who got voted off the island, what Homer Simpson is up to, or which desperate housewife will get laid this week. You own exactly one Black and white TV with three channels. The shows go off at 11 pm and show a test image until 6:30 am.

4. Your husband works at something called a "manufacturing job" which in addition to a salary provides him with "benefits" and something called a "pension." (These things existed then, but they do not now. You might want to look them up.) His job both stresses him out and bores him, so he takes refuge in hard liquor when he comes home. If he wants sex and you don't, all the conjugal rights are in his corner. And remember, even Betty Friedan's husband smacked her around after a couple of belts. You might have to get used to it; the 1950's police rarely intervene in "domestic issues." [Actually, Blue Gal stands corrected. Feminism did make a difference in this arena. Hitting or raping your wife is now a crime in all 50 states. Thanks, Gloria.]

4. You smoke, your husband smokes, all your friends smoke. You all stink like smoke, but nobody has a sense of smell from all the smoking. If you get cancer, you die. End of story.

5. There is no such thing as Prozac, South Beach Diet, or thong underwear. And you will not go out of the house without wearing one of these:

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Have fun back there, girls.

13 comments:

  1. Anonymous12:27 PM

    You won't see me back there! Some of my readers have commented on yearning for a simpler life and I started thinking about what I know regarding the 50's. It wasn't simple back then! Good god, it was awful on so many fronts not the least of which is that many men of that generation were condescending, controlling, and abusive. I should study my parent's generation some more. They were brought up to believe that their roles were set and seemingly overnight the rules completely changed. I know it threw mine for a loop from which they never really recovered. And when you look at the neocons now in power and all the crap coming down from them, it really should not be all that surprising. I'm convinced this neoconservative movement is a backlash to the rampant social changes that occurred in the 60s and 70s. But that's another post.

    Thanks for the link, Blue Gal!

    Kerstin

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  2. Great post - I was talking about 50s nostalgia with my film students today....look how clean, well behaved and santized everything and everyone was back then. Now remember all those "Whites Only" signs? Yes, you (female) in the front with your engineering major? Wasn't gonna happen. My mom dreamt of being a detective. She was an education major, as expected. (however, after my brother and I were in school and could be trusted with a housekey she became a firefighter, an EMT, and an arson investigator).

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  3. Ooh, and let's not forget the joys of sanitary pads with sanitary belts!

    Those were just going all the way out in the '80s when I had my first job at a pharmacy.

    And as long as we're working below the belt, may I just mention

    THE PILL??

    (Lack of which only led to more ironing, particularly of cloth diapers.)

    Besides, much of the yarn was crap.
    (Though this was before the synthetic craze, so the world may have been safe from Red Heart for a time...) (But it was just around the corner!)

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  4. No CABLE? Oh the humanity ... Glad I'm a boy. Without cable and the cable modem I'd be certified.

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  5. Anonymous10:01 PM

    I think you need to do a little more research on how feminism did help women in the work place. Back in the day there was no glass ceiling since a woman would not be considered for a mans job. Just because women needed to work, I'm assuming that you mean non-factory jobs since textile and speamstress jobs were plentiful, didn't mean they got good jobs. Even today pay equality is still an issue. Hell back in the 70's I knew women who entered med school and the university made them sign pledges not to get pregnant so that education would not go to "waste"
    I have a feeling that Blue Gal is young enough to have reaped the advantages of the feminist fight but really unaware of what went on before.

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  6. I can understand why being a stay at home Mom these days might have it's attractions. My d-i-l is a STHM and she loves it. What's not to love. She has her own car, all the modern convieneces, her name is on the bank account and all the credit cards (did I raise my son right or what). Of course she has to take child #1 to school at 7:30 AM which invovels getting child #2 out of bed and taking her along. She has to do all the grocery shopping, pay all the bills, do all the cooking , cleaning and laundry (I don't think she owns an iron however). Then there's doctors and dentest appointments, and teacher confrences. So she does stay busy.
    My ex-d-i-l(different son) does all this as well. Only she does it by herself and holds down a full time job.
    You can bet your bippie she'd love to be a STHM.

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  7. Great comments. Anonymous, I'm a 42 yo mother of three staying at home for now, but back in the workplace soon, as kids need health insurance. My point in the post was not that there are no inequities, but that economics trumps politically correct philosophy nearly every time. Women do not work to make a feminist statement. They work like everyone does so they and their families can eat.

    I do understand the places feminism has taken us. Some have been good, as I said, that raping your wife is now a crime is good news. No-fault divorce and the death of alimony has lead many women and children into poverty.

    Wanda I can totally identify with both of your dil's. I can also identify with those women who long for the SAHM life thinking that it's all manicures and bon bons. Those of us who do it know it is neither of those things. God, I volunteered at my children's school yesterday (after getting my 3, 1, and 7-w-autism to school) and realized after I got there that I had not looked in a mirror all day. I looked like shit, and the perky Baptist Alabama moms volunteering with me musta realized on first glance that I was NOT one of them. I finally did shave my armpits last night for the first time in weeks. Sorry for the visual, but the crinoline dress and pearls do not come out of the closet, even to vacuum.

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  8. Meribeth8:01 AM

    oh, yes...the glorious 50s. It sucked.

    Curlers (hard plastic ones) in your hair at night so that you can have that perfect hairsprayed helmet of hair the next day.
    Dead Beat Dad was not a crime.
    Only low pay service jobs were really available. And not that many women finished or went to college. WWII put a hold on that and when the war was over, the returning men on the GI bill were given preference.
    Girls were not allowed to wear slacks.
    Nonwhites and immigrants (after WWII there were a lot) were treated with contempt, fear and anger. Segregation was not only in the South.
    McCarthy...'nough said.
    Fear and terror of the A-bomb.
    Government performing experiments on the civilian populations without their knowledge which has caused long term suffering and damage.

    I was talking with my neighbor (and best buddy) who is 83 and a born again Christian, about the changes that the Feminist movement brought out. After I made sure that I was not talking about abortion only...I saw the anger in her eyes. She remembered the frustration of being dominated and not having much say about her life. And I thought about the unfairness because of my gender. At 4 I wanted to be a fireman.."you can't because you are a girl." Then I wanted to be a doctor.."you can't because you are a girl." Then around 10 I wanted to be a Naturalist... "you can't because you are a girl." Then I wanted to be an atomic scientist by the 7th grade...and my science teacher stomped his big foot down on that. (may he rot in hell) At 35 I finally graduated from college with a BS in Chemistry. I gave up accounting. Why? Because I COULD. I worked in drug analysis for a horse racing commission, I worked in a nuclear power station for 15 years, I worked on a very complex analytical instrument and shot scanning electron microscope in the semiconductor industry. And I am proud. Why? Because I COULD. Feminism did not guarantee but it sure forced doors to be unlocked. I gave us choices to live our lives as we see fit.

    I think women who have children (SAMS or not) are the hardest working and the most unappreciated. But feminism offered them choice too.

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  9. I disagree with the argument that it was economic need and not feminism that drove women into the workplace (AND into colleges, btw) back in the 70's. Women who needed the extra income for their families ALWAYS found a way to earn it - secretaries, nurses, salesclerks - nothing new there, especially amongst working class families like mine.

    The change wrought by the feminist movement was built around the argument that a woman - ANY woman - was entitled to the same opportunities as ANY man and that both sexes should be freed from the strictures of sex-based roles.

    The feminist movement lifted a veil for many women (and men) that allowed them to see a wider range of possibility for their lives. Many left the stay-at-home life, not because they needed the money, but because the new, loosened societal rules said they COULD.

    Some liked it. Some didn't. Some marriages survived the upheaval. Some didn't. And the extra money elevated expectations of what a family needed. TWO cars, not one. A color TV, money set aside for one's daughters' education - not just the son, etc.

    Much of the controversy over women entering the workforce back in those days centered around the argument of need v. want. It was always acceptable for a woman to work outside the home if her extra income was needed by the family. It was the woman who didn't NEED the extra income and MADE A CHOICE to work outside the home who found herself the center of debate.

    I'm pulling age rank here, BG, 'cause I lived through this time period as a young adult. I witnessed how these changes affected my own family and our circle of friends. And, I can probably trump you on 20 yo stupidity as well, getting married at 19 being first on my list of examples.

    I say, give the feminist movement a little more credit. Betty and Gloria were a seismic force and we are still feeling, and dealing with the aftershocks.

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  10. AL, you're a doll. (Oh, does that offend anyone's feminist sensibilities? Bite me.)

    But seriously folks, this just brings out what is brought out again and again during my conversations about women and work: this discussion cannot take place without including issues of class, race, etc. etc. Then it all becomes so political, academic, precious, and full of intellectual masturbation that I just wanna vomit.

    The difference between women who have to work and those who can "choose" a career, including the luxurious career of sahm, is huge. Not to mention getting into issues of nanny-dom and working women exploiting other working women (a huge debate grew out of an Atlantic Monthly article on this a couple years ago) and all of us exploiting the working people of the third world, China, Wal Mart, the whole big bag.

    It's a deep wide issue, and Blue Gal (the blog, not the third person nom de blog) will be getting back to it again soon.

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  11. Anonymous5:01 PM

    I could be mistaken but this discussion about feminism seems to revolve around the middle class. Which is basically a post WWII creation in this country. Prior to the war almost all women worked, so did the children. Lesiure time was a new concept and the fact that the US was the only industrial power left after WWII meant prosperity. Poor women still worked after the war and still do today. The difference is that a woman today has the opportunity to rise in the work place until she bumps her head on the glass celing.

    Sorry if the real world makes you vomit but the real world is not intellectual masturbation. I have a neice in college who has NEVER been told that she cannot do what she wants with her life and thinks feminist are fossels from another era.

    You were only a few years removed from the battle fields for equality and yet have little appriciation for the trail blaizers.

    It's a sign of success I suppose but those who do not learn from history.....

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  12. I certainly do not see feminists as fossils from another era. I do think young women don't get it regarding a lot of their own autonomy and where that came from. We need to educate, educate, educate. But that does not mean endless theory discussion like the kind I endured at Harvard Divinity School. Socialist feminism versus Marxist feminism versus market feminism etc etc makes me vomit. Not "real life" good heavens!

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  13. I remember my mother in those long-line bra/girdle combos. She wouldn't be caught dead in one of them today, and I wouldn't either. Not that it wouldn't improve my appearance, but breathing is usually pretty important to my well-being.

    And life would not be nearly so glorious without antidepressants.

    I'm glad I have the option of being a SAHM for now, but I'm sticking with the 21st century. No pining for the "good old days" here.

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