Skip

Everything you wanted to know about Marriage.
October 22, 2009 6:44 AM   Subscribe

But were afraid to ask. A window into the world of Mad Men and our parents. I found this link on a Mad Men message board, but the book is too, too interesting.

Mating charts, pictures, eugenics, what's not to like?
posted by Ruthless Bunny (47 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite

 
Metafilter: Producing children of various shades
posted by ricochet biscuit at 6:49 AM on October 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


This post is worth having, but I'm sick of hearing about Mad Men. Maybe it's an amazing show, but the early 1960s existed before the show aired, honest to God.

I did find the stereotypes presented in the first link about working class and middle class people to be an interesting contrast to today. Today, there would be little chance of a book trading in stereotypes about the "working class" saying that they place more emphasis on their children being neat, clean and mannerable. That's a conception of the poor that we've more or less lost entirely.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 7:01 AM on October 22, 2009 [4 favorites]


The love graphs are pretty awesome. It's hard to look at them without wondering if any of the downturns were caused by someone turning their partner's desk into a ping pong table.
posted by burnmp3s at 7:03 AM on October 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Holy shit, a friend of mine had this book on his coffee table as a conversation piece. He also had a framed Anti-Masturbation print in the bathoom.

That was a pretty cool apartment.
posted by The Whelk at 7:08 AM on October 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Are you ready for Marriage?
posted by The Whelk at 7:14 AM on October 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm sick of hearing about Mad Men

I'm sick of hearing about what people are sick of hearing about.
posted by grouse at 7:23 AM on October 22, 2009 [14 favorites]


I think that page on "class differences" shows that there was much more awareness of class per se as there is in the US of today. Most Americans have no idea what "social class" refers to.

And as a kid who grew up in a factory worker household in the 1960s (and 70s), I think it's completely accurate. Bulgaroktones, those aren't "stereotypes."
posted by ethnomethodologist at 7:24 AM on October 22, 2009


what does this even have to do with Mad Men?
posted by sexyrobot at 7:31 AM on October 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


To be fair, the American discussion of class boils down to shoving carrots in their ears and going "LALALALALALALMIDDLECLASSCOUNTRYLALALALALALALALALALA!"
posted by The Whelk at 7:31 AM on October 22, 2009 [5 favorites]


This is great! I'm getting married tomorrow, and I was wondering what it was going to be like.
posted by battleshipkropotkin at 7:33 AM on October 22, 2009 [15 favorites]


This post is worth having, but I'm sick of hearing about Mad Men. Maybe it's an amazing show, but the early 1960s existed before the show aired, honest to God.

Lots of interesting thoughts about Mad Men in this month's Atlantic.
posted by grobstein at 7:40 AM on October 22, 2009


Mad Men was, FYI, the world of my grand parents.

Just thought I'd make you feel old.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 7:46 AM on October 22, 2009 [6 favorites]


I'm sick of hearing about what people are sick of hearing about.

I'm sick of hearing about other people being sick of what other people are sick of hearing about.
posted by blucevalo at 7:51 AM on October 22, 2009


Just thought I'd make you feel old.

You succeeded.
posted by blucevalo at 7:52 AM on October 22, 2009


Dear MeFi cynicism brigade: we already know your feelings on xkcd Mad Men. There is no reason to repeat them in this thread, which is clearly for the fans of said webcomic TV show, who think this is fucking sweet.

Thanks,
Pinback
posted by Pinback at 7:52 AM on October 22, 2009 [4 favorites]


Dear MeFi cynicism brigade: we already know your feelings on xkcd Mad Men. There is no reason to repeat them in this thread, which is clearly for the fans of said webcomic TV show, who think this is fucking sweet.

How many posts have there been about Mad Men in the last 6 months? How many about xkcd?

And I like Mad Men. But it seems like there's a Mad Men post every other day here.
posted by kmz at 7:59 AM on October 22, 2009


I think that all good right-thinking people in this country are sick and tired of being told that all good right-thinking people in this country are fed up with being told that all good right- thinking people in this country are fed up with being sick and tired. I'm certainly not, and I'm sick and tired of being told that I am!

(/shamelesspythonriffing)
posted by bakerina at 7:59 AM on October 22, 2009


What about us bad wrong-thinking people?
posted by kmz at 8:03 AM on October 22, 2009


This is great! I'm getting married tomorrow, and I was wondering what it was going to be like.

Dated though it seems know, at least parts of this book could have helped my parents when they got married forty years ago. We're just now learning about some remarkably unhealthy sexual dynamics that arose largely because of precisely what the paragraph about sexual expectations is attempting to describe. Eugenics notwithstanding, that bit could have saved a lot of agony in one marriage.
posted by jefficator at 8:05 AM on October 22, 2009


Under the "social class differences," the stereotypes are footnoted! Absolutely wonderful, if I wanted to check the veracity of their broad caricature I can refer to such primary sources as Davis and Havighurst's "Father of the Man."

I really want to extend update to modern standards:
Working class people listen to Glenn Beck.6
Middle class people listen to Michele Norris6

    6 Lander, Christian (2008). Stuff White People Like. New York: Random House Trade Paperbacks.
posted by geoff. at 8:05 AM on October 22, 2009 [5 favorites]


That class stuff reminds me of a book I read over and over as a little kid. It was called "The Middle Class Credo: 1,001 All-American Beliefs" and simply listed the beliefs of lower, middle, and upper class people towards various aspects of life.
posted by autodidact at 8:13 AM on October 22, 2009


It's amazing how fast society changed right after this book was published. If I'd seen it when I was in highschool in the late seventies, it would have seemed like it was from the dark ages. I remember that my text books had all been updated in that decade to be much more gender and race sensitive. My sisters who were born a decade earlier than me grew up in a very different world than I did.
posted by octothorpe at 8:15 AM on October 22, 2009


And I like Mad Men. But it seems like there's a Mad Men post every other day here.

Read the links. It's not a post about Mad Men.
posted by peep at 8:21 AM on October 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


Dear MeFi cynicism brigade: we already know your feelings on xkcd Mad Men. There is no reason to repeat them in this thread, which is clearly for the fans of said webcomic TV show, who think this is fucking sweet.

Thanks,
Pinback


But, this isn't a thread about Mad Men its a thread about a book written at the same time as the TV show is set. Other than the wording of the FPP, this has NOTHING to do with Mad Men. My point was that there's so much Mad Men talk that we can't do a simple "laugh at the stereotypes of the past" thread without a reference to it. Laughing at antiquated stereotypes used to be something that Metafilter did so well, too.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 8:23 AM on October 22, 2009


Read the links. It's not a post about Mad Men.

then why does it mention it? twice.
posted by sexyrobot at 8:25 AM on October 22, 2009


I found a copy of "Everything You Wanted To Know About Sex*" in my attic when I was maybe 12. It was awesome, talked about everything from masturbation to paraphilia, and the take-home message was essentially "if it's consensual, go for it", which I blame for the well-worn narwhal costume hanging in the bedroom*.

*Humorous lie for entertainment purposes only. Poster does not actually own a narwhal costume.
posted by everichon at 8:29 AM on October 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


Hahaha, people were different years ago.
posted by fire&wings at 8:30 AM on October 22, 2009


That class stuff reminds me of a book I read over and over as a little kid. It was called "The Middle Class Credo: 1,001 All-American Beliefs" and simply listed the beliefs of lower, middle, and upper class people towards various aspects of life.

I wish I could remember the book that we read in college about social class. The objective was to critique the book, but I remember being shocked to learn there were class dimensions to most every idea, object, and interaction. (Shock at this is typical of the working-class, apparently). Some of the claims I remember (in hindsight this reads like a Jeff Foxworthy routine):

If the art in your living room is primarily depictions of your family, you're probably working class.

If you have ever bought anything because it is a "Collector's Item," (but especially plates, figurines, or commemorative plaques), you're probably working class. If you display it prominently, you are certainly working class.

If you were a tie without a jacket, but never a jacket without a tie, you're probably working class.

Then there was a little diversion about how working class people see the world from their own perspective, but middle-class people are taught to see the world from other people's perspectives. So the working-class parents of a bright student might greet their child's college professor at a graduation reception and say they are honored to meet such a prominent educator. A middle-class person would know to refer to that individual as a great researcher.

Most of the book only managed to make me feel insecure about my own socio-economic background, but I do recall that it made all the compliments I received from a group of Episcopalians I had earlier lectured to seem disingenuous. Apparently, working-class people give compliments because they are deserved, whereas middle-class people give compliments because they are polite. Go figure.

The long and the short of it is this: don't read books about social class unless you want to feel poor.
posted by jefficator at 8:33 AM on October 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


 __  __          _____    __  __ ______ _   _ 
|  \/  |   /\   |  __ \  |  \/  |  ____| \ | |
| \  / |  /  \  | |  | | | \  / | |__  |  \| |
| |\/| | / /\ \ | |  | | | |\/| |  __| | . ` |
| |  | |/ ____ \| |__| | | |  | | |____| |\  |
|_|  |_/_/    \_\_____/  |_|  |_|______|_| \_|
                                              
  _____  _____              ______ _____ _   _ ______ 
|_   _|/ ____|     /\     |  ____|_   _| \ | |  ____|
  | | | (___      /  \    | |__    | | |  \| | |__   
  | |  \___ \    / /\ \   |  __|   | | | . ` |  __|  
 _| |_ ____) |  / ____ \  | |     _| |_| |\  | |____ 
|_____|_____/  /_/    \_\ |_|    |_____|_| \_|______|
 _____  _____   ____   _____ _____            __  __ 
|  __ \|  __ \ / __ \ / ____|  __ \     /\   |  \/  |
| |__) | |__) | |  | | |  __| |__) |   /  \  | \  / |
|  ___/|  _  /| |  | | | |_ |  _  /   / /\ \ | |\/| |
| |    | | \ \| |__| | |__| | | \ \  / ____ \| |  | |
|_|    |_|  \_\\____/ \_____|_|  \_\/_/    \_\_|  |_|

                                                     

posted by everichon at 8:35 AM on October 22, 2009 [12 favorites]


If you were a tie without a jacket, but never a jacket without a tie, you're probably working class.

I have no idea why, but this is absolutely true. I'm middle class economically, but was raised by products of the working class and have some working class habits. One of them is that I never wear a jacket without a tie, it feels weird. My ultra WASPY in-laws, however, do this all the time. With polo shirts even, it's like every single activity can be accompanied by a sport coat, no matter whatever else is going on. It's anarchy.

I do recall that it made all the compliments I received from a group of Episcopalians I had earlier lectured to seem disingenuous.

One way in which I've betrayed my working class roots is to become an Episcopalian. As such, I can tell you all compliments from Episcopalians are disingenuous. Not because they're liars, mind you, because to really MEAN something, you have to have an opinion, and having an opinion could lead to people disagreeing or making some sort of fuss. The history of the last 40 years is the history of every single person with a real opinion leaving the Episcopal church.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 8:40 AM on October 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


If you were a tie without a jacket, but never a jacket without a tie, you're probably working class.

I have no idea why, but this is absolutely true. I'm middle class economically, but was raised by products of the working class and have some working class habits. One of them is that I never wear a jacket without a tie, it feels weird. My ultra WASPY in-laws, however, do this all the time. With polo shirts even, it's like every single activity can be accompanied by a sport coat, no matter whatever else is going on. It's anarchy.


What class are you if you just really fucking hate ties? I'll wear them when I have to, but man, I don't know what I'd do if I had to work somewhere I had to wear one.
posted by kmz at 8:46 AM on October 22, 2009


And I like Mad Men. But it seems like there's a Mad Men post every other day here.

There have been four in the last six months, by my count. And it's mentioned in the fpp because it's a hook, and to give people some context.

I wish my mom were still alive. She was in her late 20s in the early 60s; she had fled Chicago for Hawaii, where she worked as a nurse. The photos from those years are something, and I wish I could talk to her about this book, and about the show-I-shall-not-name.

I took a sociology class in college, and on the first day the prof asked how many people considered themselves middle class. Out of a class of about 30, approximately 28 raised their hands. This was at an expensive, elite, liberal arts college. I was one of the people who didn't put a hand up. It wasn't that I'd never thought about class before, but I had no idea what "middle class" meant in this (or any other) context. My prof asked me what class I thought I was a part of. "I'm from a single-parent family and we were on food stamps for most of my childhood, " I said. "My mom has PhD but she's a secretary. I've worked since I was 14, and I'm on gigantic amounts of financial aid. I'm the only one of my dad's kids [he had three kids from a previous marriage] to go to college; my mom was the first in her family to go to college, and my dad never did. What class does that make me?"

What I didn't really understand then was that my mother's expectation that I would go to college - not an expectation like YOU WILL GO TO COLLEGE OR ELSE, but more like an expectation that after high school you go to college, like after kindergarten you go to first grade - was, and remains, a significant class marker.
posted by rtha at 8:46 AM on October 22, 2009 [3 favorites]


If you were a tie without a jacket, but never a jacket without a tie, you're probably working class.

That's very interesting. My SO almost always wears a jacket with a t-shirt and jeans.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:47 AM on October 22, 2009


what does this even have to do with Mad Men?

In one of the first episodes, Peggy goes in for birth control pills and is reading a book similar to this one while she waits in the examination room. I believe the book she is reading is titled "Your Wedding Night."

But yeah, we been having fun poking pre-1964 sex books long before Mad Men came around. It's fine to use it as a hook for the post, but be aware it leads to all sorts of derails, which isn't a bad thing (imo) if the link itself doesn't have a lot to talk about ...

I wonder if Amazon has Clifford Kirkpatrick and Theodore Caplow's "Emotional Trends in the Courtship Experiences of College Students as Expressed by Graphs with Some Observations on Methodological Implications" ... ? damn.

Here's the full text of When You Marry from archive.org.

Also (somewhat) interesting free text on archive.org: The Family: A Dynamic Interpretation
posted by mrgrimm at 8:51 AM on October 22, 2009


One way in which I've betrayed my working class roots is to become an Episcopalian

IMMD. :-)
posted by jefficator at 8:51 AM on October 22, 2009


And if you have any more questions.
posted by katillathehun at 9:00 AM on October 22, 2009


To be fair, the American discussion of class boils down to shoving carrots in their ears and going "LALALALALALALMIDDLECLASSCOUNTRYLALALALALALALALALALA!"

Unless you're rich. In which case I believe you fashion ear plugs from organic , farmer's market arugula.
posted by slateyness at 10:03 AM on October 22, 2009


I wish I could remember the book that we read in college about social class. The objective was to critique the book, but I remember being shocked to learn there were class dimensions to most every idea, object, and interaction. (Shock at this is typical of the working-class, apparently). Some of the claims I remember (in hindsight this reads like a Jeff Foxworthy routine):


Was the book Fussell's Class: A Guide Through the American Status System?

He says other things, like how prominent your television is in your living room is another measure of class.
posted by Comrade_robot at 10:07 AM on October 22, 2009


There is another book along opposite lines that is progressive while simultaneously being stogy and quaint is the Adjusted American by Snell and Gail Putney, published in 1964 and later in the early 1970's (it has been updated a couple of times I think, the older version is the most interesting, I think). It's a pretty interesting early examination of all the neuroses brought about by 1950.s early 1960's normative "values." So it's not like people weren't examining these things very early.

Like I said in the Mad Men thread a ways back these weird regressive values were a reaction to some really terrifying new realities and the rise of consumerist youth culture. After WWII the people had to be sober grown-ups and honestly look at the stark fact that one dude with some charisma could shatter civilization in less than a decade and here we went and invented a big bomb that could make such a person pretty unstoppable. There were a great number of progressive advancements made during the war in terms of recognizing human rights and social justice, at the same time as all the horror. Some people who were trying very hard to make sure we'd never go through all that again. It's just became too much to face and deal with - all this change coming so fast. Eventually people retreated into the post war boom fantasy and just wanted to get it all behind them. The further they retreated the more the country fell into the hands of the same old regressive forces who always benefit from the apathy and contentment of the center.
posted by tkchrist at 10:29 AM on October 22, 2009


I never go out without a jacket, but: I wear it on my legs.

Please advise.
posted by everichon at 10:46 AM on October 22, 2009


If you were a tie without a jacket, but never a jacket without a tie, you're probably working class.

I have no idea why, but this is absolutely true.


Damn. That totally explains why my (working class-raised) husband utterly refused not to wear a tie when I told him to, and ended up being the only man in a tie to a (very upper-class) rehearsal dinner.

The more you know and shit.
posted by threeturtles at 10:50 AM on October 22, 2009 [3 favorites]


True story: when my father went to my Mom's house to meet her parents for the first time, he was a bit put out by my Papa's insistence on wearing a tie at all times. That's 'cause Papa was a salesman, and always wanted to put his best foot forward.

One time when visiting my Mom's parents, he heard Papa call Grammie from the back porch, saying, "I can't find a tie!". Dad exclaimed in disgust: "he even wears a tie to take out the garbage?!?!".

Turns out Papa was looking for a twist tie for the garbage bag.
posted by LN at 11:24 AM on October 22, 2009 [4 favorites]


Damn. That totally explains why my (working class-raised) husband utterly refused not to wear a tie when I told him to, and ended up being the only man in a tie to a (very upper-class) rehearsal dinner.

The more you know and shit.


There are definitely cultural differences between class groups and it's not always obvious who is who by clothing.

Summer before last I went with my wife to a wedding of one of her cousins in the Wisconsin. Most of her family origins are literally hillbillies. Proudly. Her fathers side of the family grew up dirt (really... dirt floors and everything) poor in the hills of Kentucky. Sometime before the war they moved to northern Wisconsin (there was a large diaspora from Kentucky at the time). Perhaps prohibition and the Canadian border we involved.

So there we were in Wisconsin. Her side of the family on one side of the isle in the church, the brides family on the other. My wife and her cousin's side of the family is still very working class, still very agrarian. Still very Kentucky. And there they were dressed to the nines.

Now MY family is also from poor working class agrarian roots in Idaho. And we never attended any even semi-formal event without a suit on. When I was a kid a train ride, a plane ride, or any visit to family was a dress-up occasion. A wedding and such was always formal without question. We were taught to always put your best foot forward. It's about self respect AND respect for other people.

The odd thing about that wedding? The other side of the isle, the brides family — whose father was a surgeon and family owned half of Greenbay — there were god damned sweat outfits and shorts and sneakers. And dudes were wearing ironic trucker hats. Not one tie on the bunch.

So here we are, a bunch of hillbillies, wearing tailored suits they probably had to save for two years to buy. And on the other side a bunch of rich people dressed like they were gonna go to an Outback Steakhouse for onion rings. Surreal.
posted by tkchrist at 11:28 AM on October 22, 2009 [4 favorites]


"Working class people are more direct in sex response5
Middle class people have less direct sex response, more petting5"

Oh, those middle class people and their petting!
posted by Mental Wimp at 1:27 PM on October 22, 2009



The long and the short of it is this: don't read books about social class unless you want to feel poor.


Wow. I was obessed with class structure growing up. Not even in a social-climbing way (okay a LITTLE) but as a kind of taxonomy-scientific classification way. I had *charts*. I think the real pull for me was this idea that there is this big ocean of unspoken thoughts, outlooks, values, and even aesthetic preferences that we all swim in and we (Americans) never consciously acknowledge. Talking about class can make you seem snobbish, but without talking about class you can't talk about the higher education pressure, "aspirational consumerism", the vast gap between generational experiences, etc.

Which is why this like my favorite comic ever.
posted by The Whelk at 6:46 PM on October 22, 2009


It's just became too much to face and deal with - all this change coming so fast. Eventually people retreated into the post war boom fantasy and just wanted to get it all behind them.

Which is why the dominant theme in art from that time is anxiety.


So here we are, a bunch of hillbillies, wearing tailored suits they probably had to save for two years to buy. And on the other side a bunch of rich people dressed like they were gonna go to an Outback Steakhouse for onion rings. Surreal.

There is an old line that the more rich you are (or the more settled and secure in your class) the less eforrt you put out to visibly display this at all time. Or you end up with inconspicuous consumption, items that would only be identified as being Important by members of your own class(or class you wished to be a part of) plus that annoying American tic of wanting to be appear classless and cultivating a kind of vauge-everyman-comfort-uber-alles aesthetic.

That or they're just a bunch of slobs.
posted by The Whelk at 6:53 PM on October 22, 2009


Mad Men was, FYI, the world of my grand parents siblings.

Carry on feeling young.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 5:26 AM on October 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


« Older Object Lessons   |   business as usual Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post