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October 26, 2010 10:57 AM   Subscribe

Back in May, Jen (but never Jenn) spent 2 weeks emulating a 1950s Housewife. [Results] [Lessons] Now she's back, this time, with a more husband-centric attempt at 1950s living.
posted by jacquilynne (64 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite

 
Patrick Is Unimpressed With: ... Pie

Massive 50's fail (Or possibly just my Southern American grandmother-having bias)
posted by ghharr at 11:09 AM on October 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


Patrick loathes: ...Capers

Fuck Patrick.
posted by everichon at 11:15 AM on October 26, 2010 [17 favorites]


Beyond Massive 50s fail My brain does not compute being unimpressed with pie. Like seriously, I just couldn't read beyond that.

(Though I am glad for her original project, which I've found amusing for the first few posts I've read.)

This is much like the Living Oprah and The Seventeen Magazine Project, which I am also amused by until I remember the tagline that all of them could share if web rings still existed:

Media Geared Towards Women: Fucking Up Your Expectations and Self-Esteem for Sixty Years Running*

* Sadly much longer than that.

posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:18 AM on October 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


Patrick loathes: ...Capers

Fuck Patrick.

Seriously, if she needs a husband to eat like a 50s guy, I wish I would have known. I could have totally volunteered to be her gay stomach.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:19 AM on October 26, 2010 [8 favorites]


Patrick also loathes puppies.
posted by munchingzombie at 11:22 AM on October 26, 2010


I see nothing about Valium and cigarettes.

Fail.

I, too, loath capers.
posted by bondcliff at 11:24 AM on October 26, 2010


Are we talking edible, or wacky? Because that's going to make a difference.
posted by Bromius at 11:26 AM on October 26, 2010 [5 favorites]


But did she keep the children quiet, because he's spent a hard day working? And fetch him a scotch and soda? And his favorite pipe?
I'm still having a hard time understanding why the hell she did this. The results were like you expected? You could ask anyone's mother (or grandmother, depending on your age) how it really was.
posted by Old'n'Busted at 11:27 AM on October 26, 2010


And he wears too much cologne? I would think a proper 50s housewife should secretly water it down so that her poor, overworked husband wouldn't need to worry about such pedestrian things.
posted by ecurtz at 11:28 AM on October 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


Patrick loathes your opinion, orgasm, and thoughts. Please supress all.
posted by stormpooper at 11:28 AM on October 26, 2010


Let me know when she starts running for the shelter of a mother's little helper.
posted by crunchland at 11:30 AM on October 26, 2010 [5 favorites]


Patrick Is Deathly Allergic To: All seafood (shrimp, oysters, clams, mussels, lobster, crab, etc.)

SCORE!

And now Jen is a rich 1950s housewife.
posted by stormpooper at 11:30 AM on October 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


I was all set to get my snark on for this, since it seemed like yet another do-X-for-Y-period-of-time blog filler. But then I read her "results" and "lessons" section, and damn if she hasn't drawn some interesting and balanced observations from this experiment. So, go Jen.
posted by googly at 11:31 AM on October 26, 2010 [8 favorites]


I won't lie and say that being the sole keeper of the home didn't have a downside on the relationship front. There were moments that I felt more like a mother than a wife and partner

Well, how amazing and surprising.

My next assignment for Jen (but never Jenn): try reading The Women's Room. Actually living like this long term and for real, especially when it is required, not a fun experiment, makes women insane. That's why feminism was and is a very, very good thing.
posted by bearwife at 11:32 AM on October 26, 2010 [6 favorites]


If it had been a normal two weeks, I would have gone out with a friends for drinks about twice in total (which would have included appetizers, of course!) and Patrick would have gone out after work or on the weekend at least four times in total (which almost never includes appetizers, just beer). Between us, we normally would have spent about $250. During the 50s Housewife Experiment, Patrick brought some beer over to his friend's place for their BBQ / poker night but only spent about $15.

Apparently I live in the 50s. No wonder everyone around me is drowning in debt while I look around in confusion asking what exactly is costing so much.
posted by DU at 11:38 AM on October 26, 2010 [6 favorites]


I'm going to ironically forward this to my wife.
posted by jimmythefish at 12:08 PM on October 26, 2010


I'm still having a hard time understanding why the hell she did this. The results were like you expected? You could ask anyone's mother (or grandmother, depending on your age) how it really was.

In the "Lessons" write up she lists a number of positive things she enjoyed from the experiment, some of which were unexpected. Keeping the worthwhile and ditching the rest isn't a bad way to look at the past.

Patrick loathes your opinion, orgasm, and thoughts. Please supress all.

What?

I won't lie and say that being the sole keeper of the home didn't have a downside on the relationship front. There were moments that I felt more like a mother than a wife and partner

Well, how amazing and surprising.


Was anyone, including the author, expecting this not to be the case? I don't follow the sarcasm or who it's directed at.
posted by ODiV at 12:09 PM on October 26, 2010


"You know there's pulp in here," he whined - and then pretended to be joking, but totally wasn't."

I think she could do a lot better than Patrick, be it 1950 or 2010.
posted by scratch at 12:11 PM on October 26, 2010


Et seq.:

"UGH! Ewwwww! PEAS? Why does it have PEAS?" he screamed.
Turns out Patrick also "hates" cherries.
posted by scratch at 12:14 PM on October 26, 2010


Is there any comestible that Patrick does like?
posted by blucevalo at 12:25 PM on October 26, 2010


Lesson one reads: "Maybe We're a Bit Too Distracted".

She certainly proves her point by having sixteen photo albums flashing through the same 3 images on each side of the page.
posted by Turkey Glue at 12:26 PM on October 26, 2010 [7 favorites]


Was anyone, including the author, expecting this not to be the case? I don't follow the sarcasm or who it's directed at.

Sorry I wasn't clear. The sarcasm is directed at Jen never Jenn and her summary of all the good lessons she learned about how it is really great to be a 50s housewife.

I did think about a longer satiric comment framed as a parody, extolling all the positive aspects of being a slave or a prisoner in a concentration camp or someone else required to be in a subservient or oppressed position, but I decided something short might make the point better.
posted by bearwife at 12:28 PM on October 26, 2010


could be much funnier.
posted by lodurr at 12:29 PM on October 26, 2010


Also, it seems like being a 1950s housewife is fun when it's on a lark and the equivalent of playing dress-up for two weeks, but what about when the husband expects you to act submissively, lest you be a failure of a woman? I just hope this isn't used by others to justify a return to the idyllic gender roles of yore.

(I think I've been reading too much about gender roles lately.)

That said, good for them to try this and realize that maybe we should all step away from our internet machines from time to time.
posted by Turkey Glue at 12:33 PM on October 26, 2010


Yeah, I guess I didn't see her "Lessons" as a list of how it is great to be a 50s housewife at all. It looked more like a list of things she enjoyed or found helpful in her emulation of how she imagined a 50s housewife would live.

Since it was her project, I didn't really see it as being in a subservient or oppressed position. I sort of liken the whole thing to Renaissance Faires, BDSM, and other sorts of play acting.
posted by ODiV at 12:42 PM on October 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


Her writing is pretty amusing, but it does ignore the fact that following the advice of period magazines, home ec textbooks, cookbooks and the like will not recreate the life of a 50's women any more than following the advice in Cosmo and Oprah will make one just like the real women of today. Media isn't our total reality, though it's certainly an important element of it.

[imagines herself becoming a Cosmo girl for x amount of time, snickers]
posted by orange swan at 12:43 PM on October 26, 2010 [5 favorites]


I just hope this isn't used by others to justify a return to the idyllic gender roles of yore.

I, too, have been thinking too much about gender roles lately.

I think this experiment would have been more interesting if they had kids.

One thing I've learned as a Feminist-Working-Mother is that "having it all" ain't so great. Yes, its terrific that we women can, if we want to, hold jobs and work outside the home just as men do (for the same pay and the same respect, even) and I have nothing but respect for my own mother, who was a single mom with an MBA who ended up working nights as a secretary with a glorified title for fifteen years so she could support her family, but the flip side of this is that at a certain point you're expected to do it all, and that gets a little old. I'd love nothing more than to quit my job and stay home with my son, but I can't -- for a bunch of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that "real" wages simply haven't grown at the same rate that living expenses have over the past thirty years, so its pretty much necessary to have both parents working unless one of you makes over $50K/year. But when I bring up the idea, the other women - mothers - around me look at me like I've grown a second head and am somehow betraying "the sisterhood" by suggesting it might actually be more fulfilling for both me and my child to have me stay home with him and raise him rather than paying some other woman to raise him.

The gender roles of yore certainly weren't idyllic, but as I get older it becomes a lot clearer how they evolved in the first place. Because trying to "do it all" -- sucks.
posted by anastasiav at 12:43 PM on October 26, 2010 [10 favorites]


The gender roles of yore certainly weren't idyllic, but as I get older it becomes a lot clearer how they evolved in the first place. Because trying to "do it all" -- sucks

Amen. I'd love to be a housewife, in the 50s or now. No offense to bearwife and all those who (correctly) point out the clearly denigrating aspects of chauvinism, but if it's what you want and it's your choice, then it's something different.

I would love to stay home, run the house, plan/cook meals, raise my child, and provide sexual favors for my wife. It could be done, maybe, but not without a significant rebudgeting and a new rental, likely with one less bedroom and no yard.

We have a fantastic daycare two blocks away, and I can walk to and fro and to work, but man do I envy families that get to have one parent at home...
posted by mrgrimm at 12:59 PM on October 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


QUESTION: if the lady is Jen and not Jenn what was the name her parents gave her?
1. Jen
2. Jenn
3. JennotJenn
4. Jennifer
posted by Postroad at 12:59 PM on October 26, 2010


What I've learned is that I am a 1950s housewife while playing a feminist from 9-5. Go me.

(or maybe kill me because Jesus F Christ, change the empty toilet paper roll, rinse out the sink of your hair, and the laundry basket is RIGHT THERE. You mean you can't put your grungy undies IN the basket but NEXT to the basket?)

Jen, if you want to play 1950s housewife, come to my house. I can use you.
posted by stormpooper at 1:06 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Shit man, now that I'm laid off, I really have to clean the house so my girlfriend can come home and relax better.
posted by klangklangston at 1:09 PM on October 26, 2010 [7 favorites]


mrgrimm: I find it pretty hard to take the "lack of choice" aspect out of the 50s era housewife as it's a pretty defining feature. We can still value things like family time, wanting to raise your kids yourself, eating together, being supportive of your spouse without going back to constrained gender roles and stifling sexism. But yeah, I'm probably preaching to the choir here and I realize you're not advocating going back to that.
posted by ODiV at 1:15 PM on October 26, 2010


Yeah, I too wondered where the 2.3 kids were...
posted by Ron Thanagar at 1:16 PM on October 26, 2010


Sadly, some families aren't blessed with children.

Also: great point, orange swan.
posted by ODiV at 1:19 PM on October 26, 2010


Patrick bought life insurance!
posted by Kabanos at 1:30 PM on October 26, 2010


QUESTION: if the lady is Jen and not Jenn what was the name her parents gave her?

4. Jennifer

mrgrimm: I find it pretty hard to take the "lack of choice" aspect out of the 50s era housewife as it's a pretty defining feature.

Well, there is the stereotypical appearance and behavior, and then there is the oppressive culture that forces someone into stereotypical appearance and behavior.

I'm just saying if someone willingly makes the choice (if that is indeed possible, which I agree can be debatable), than there's no problem.

But yes, we are mostly, as the kids say, "in agreeance."
posted by mrgrimm at 1:41 PM on October 26, 2010


"UGH! Ewwwww! PEAS? Why does it have PEAS?" he screamed.

Really Young Indiana Jones.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 1:43 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Shit man, now that I'm laid off, I really have to clean the house so my girlfriend can come home and relax better.

As someone who was unemployed for a year and a half with a very supportive girlfriend, I can confirm that's a very good idea.
posted by mrgrimm at 1:43 PM on October 26, 2010


Sadly, some families aren't blessed with children.

Interesting. Alternately:

Fortunately, some families aren't cursed with children.
posted by Edison Carter at 2:18 PM on October 26, 2010 [6 favorites]


Apparently my "condescending 50s man of the house" tag got lost in the shuffle.

Should I be abandoning sarcasm on MetaFilter altogether? Or maybe just quit trying to explain myself after the fact? MeFi without sarcasm... That sounds awesome.
posted by ODiV at 2:38 PM on October 26, 2010


Fortunately, some families aren't cursed with children.

WHOOO

* runs around waving arms in the manner of Grover *
posted by everichon at 2:40 PM on October 26, 2010


During a period in which I was burnt out from work and unemployed, I played "housewife" to my S.O. Make him lunches to take to work, baked cookies and dinner at home, kept the house super clean.

We really loved it. Either of us would love to be housewife/househusband to one another (he'd be willing to do the same for me.) Too bad we can't survive on one income for any stretch of time.

I imagine it was so fun because:

1) I was sick of my job and of working in general, thus staying home seemed like a step up
2) I didn't have a flock of children to keep an eye on
3) all the together time

If he had a high paying job, I'd do it again in a heartbeat! And vice versa.
posted by The ____ of Justice at 2:47 PM on October 26, 2010


It's too bad I'm shit at cleaning and lazy and unmotivated. Otherwise I'd make a good house husband.
posted by wierdo at 2:59 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Too bad we can't survive on one income for any stretch of time.

I would say that is an unfounded belief, but I've been unable to convince my wife either.

I don't know your circumstances at all, but I would think you all could survive on one income.

(I'd like to think I could survive on no income ...)
posted by mrgrimm at 3:27 PM on October 26, 2010


I always joke that I suck at my gender. I'm crap at hair and makeup, and crap at household stuff (except for cooking and stain removal-- I am an -ace- at stain removal.) Even my cooking is problematic-- I'm not really good at "budget" dishes, for the most part. The success of my recipes relies not on exceptional precision and technique, but on exceptionally spendy ingredients. ( Y'all don't want to know how much I'm willing to blow on really good tomato sauce.) I'm also not mommy material: I'd say I've got about 15% of the maternal drive I see in peers my age. (It's fun to play with a kid, but I the idea of having one 24-7 literally raises my heart rate-- and not in a good way.)

Despite all this, in the early 21st century, there are those (my husband included, thank God) who consider me a catch: I'm a basically a poor man's Buckaroo Banzai who tells loud, disgusting stories; spends too much money on really obscure books; owns a set of bagpipes; and wakes up early on the weekends to cock-block newly-born fruit flies for science. I'm the hugely bearded, eccentric uncle from a children's book-- except I'm a lady.

In the fifties-- God. I mean, arguably I wouldn't have turned out this way, had I come of age in the fifties. I'd have been socialized much differently: Intellectually starved in some ways; avidly encouraged in others. Still, the idea of having to make a go out of it under those conditions makes my throat clench. There are not enough zeroes in the world to accurately denote the magnitude of the failure I would have been.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 3:43 PM on October 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


I second palmcorder, especially because I always fail at female gender. Reading this was making me shudder all over the place big time, and man, I am SO glad I wasn't around for the 1950's. I probably would have been stoned to death by the other housewives for failing so hard.

Anyway, every time someone wants to bring this back, or go on about how awesome Mad Men is, I want to go hide under the couch and cry.
posted by jenfullmoon at 4:09 PM on October 26, 2010


I am not very good at Being A Girl, but I can see why some aspects of this appeal. I also think that some of the stuff really is notable because there's been a certain amount of baby-with-the-bathwater treatment for the notion of homemaking in the modern world. I don't think any member of my social group has a living space that could be construed as well-kept and comfortable, regardless of gender. Our priorities have shifted, and some of that might be good, but other parts of that fall into the "let's ignore the people in our life and our own comfort and spend another hour watching cat videos on Youtube or possibly posting on Metafilter" vein of things.

...speaking of which, I should be doing my dishes. Instead of posting this. BRB.
posted by gracedissolved at 4:30 PM on October 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


QUESTION: if the lady is Jen and not Jenn what was the name her parents gave her?
The Jen I know is properly named Jenifer.
posted by Cranberry at 4:36 PM on October 26, 2010


I'm always a bit ambivalent reading stuff like this. Is it so *wrong* that we, in fact, largely live this lifestyle?

We have four kids. We planned for this, and enjoy the larger family with its attendant good and bad points. I (husband) work full time; my wife stays at home with the kids. We eat at home a lot (choosing one income means we try to keep eating out costs down, and young kids can be difficult at restaurants). But, sometimes, it seems as if we're singlehandedly setting back the cause of feminism 50 years or something.

We preferred having a parent at home, figured we could pull it off if we were prudent, and figured my income was probably a better choice for this (though hers was a strong contender). We have some meals that approach some of the less appetizing meals she speak of, but the combination of a hectic day, occasional low-quality ingredients, and sometimes a new recipe can result in some forgettable dishes. We eat together most nights.

No, we don't go for the "you always must look radiant", and "never complain" bits. But, on reflection, a bit of that isn't all that bad either. I do not expect my wife to never complain, nor meticulously primp for me--but a bit of this isn't a bad thing, to me. I personally in fact do try to A) look decent, and B) not complain, largely because the former is good for self esteem and complaining for no reason for me generally just makes everyone feel worse while accomplishing nothing.

Probably the biggest downsides are the income hit, and to some extent the burnout from childcare (youngest kid is 8, and homeschooled, so they're all at home). But given the choice, it's certainly nice to spend the time you can with your kids. We're lucky to be able to make the choice.
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 5:35 PM on October 26, 2010


Patrick Is Unimpressed With:
* Cauliflower
* Fish
* Mustard
* Pie (especially fruit pie)

Patrick Loathes:
* Capers
* Cooked fruits
* Cucumber
* Olives
* Pickles

DTMF
posted by StickyCarpet at 5:41 PM on October 26, 2010 [6 favorites]


My reaction to skimming the first and last links is, well, I don't wanna rain on your lifestyle submissive parade, Jenn; have a good time and remember that you can still always safeword.

and I say this as someone who often refers to herself as "toy" in the bedroom.
posted by egypturnash at 5:55 PM on October 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


She did this as an experiment, not as an evangelical drive hoping to convert all of us who have burned (and then reclaimed) our bras to a life of domestic submission. I am not understanding the kickback here.
posted by DarlingBri at 6:04 PM on October 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


If you grew up when I did there were like four Jennifers in every class at school. See the Jennifer baby name spike here. They tended to try to distinguish themselves with their nicknames, so I can see the bristling at "Jenn".
posted by marble at 6:48 PM on October 26, 2010


But, sometimes, it seems as if we're singlehandedly setting back the cause of feminism 50 years or something.

Nah, you're good -- feminism has been about choices, rather than competing with men, for awhile now.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:39 PM on October 26, 2010


My reaction to skimming the first and last links is, well, I don't wanna rain on your lifestyle submissive parade, Jenn; have a good time and remember that you can still always safeword.

THIS. Sounds like she's outing herself to her husband in front of the entire internet. Hope he's receptive or at least GGG.
posted by amuseDetachment at 8:54 PM on October 26, 2010


While I've eaten very well in many parts of my life the more I seem to live in a food-centric culture the more I somehow love ordering pizza or going out for a burger. But then being forced to be the cook of three meals a day isn't my idea of fun, and neither is cleaning. If I can do it with my ipod connected to me, fine. I didn't read more than the links - did she unplug the internet and the tv and the radio and only intake '50s media?

Also this has made me remember that "everything in moderation" is often a good thing.
And it's secretly wonderful to read someone else's Do Not Want To Eat list that makes me appear less picky. (I really can't eat English peas, ugh. Too many bad childhood memories.)
posted by batgrlHG at 9:55 PM on October 26, 2010


(Yes I realize she could have tv and radio - they had that in the 50s - but not the content or choice that's being broadcast today. To replicate the 50's programming would be a bit of a time sink. Not to mention the times when stations go off the air.)
posted by batgrlHG at 9:58 PM on October 26, 2010


Well, what's interesting to me is that this just confirmed something I have long suspected was true. Educated Pakistani society looks a lot like the 50s version of the US. The list of goals she sets out for a 50s housewife?

1. Create a comfortable, clean and beautiful home
2. Provide nutritious and tasty meals
3. Handle the household income as economically as possible
4. Show pride in being a Mrs. by putting a concerted effort into my appearance
5. Make home life as relaxing and supportive as possible so that the breadwinner can succeed in providing for the family to the best of his abilities.


That reads to me exactly like what women my age still have internalized. This is why so many of them think I am a complete freak.
posted by bardophile at 3:46 AM on October 27, 2010


batgrlHG wrote: "(Yes I realize she could have tv and radio - they had that in the 50s - but not the content or choice that's being broadcast today. To replicate the 50's programming would be a bit of a time sink. Not to mention the times when stations go off the air.)"

The BBC ran a short series called "Electric Dreams" that was pretty interesting. They took a family back to the 50s, technology-wise, and progressed them over a series of weeks to modern day. It was interesting.
posted by wierdo at 5:05 AM on October 27, 2010


Sadly, some families aren't blessed with children.

Interesting. Alternately:

Fortunately, some families aren't cursed with children.


It's only a curse if you make it one.
posted by mrzer0 at 7:26 AM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


... or she could be doing all of this in the hopes of a book deal.

It would sell.
posted by keratacon at 10:34 AM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Like DarlingBri, I don't understand the kickback on the article. I thought it was a fun little blog piece, not much else. Certainly not a call to return to the 50's mentality about women. At the end she pays tribute to her grandmother and others in her family who were "50's housewives" as well as a mention of how challenging it must have been for women back then to have been called into duty to work for the war effort and then have to go back and treat their needs as unimportant compared to those of their husband and children. She acknowledges some serious problems with the prevailing mindset of the time, highlights some of the positives from her experiment, what more could you ask for? Keeping in mind we're talking about blog posts, not a PhD dissertation.

I liked it, thanks for the post, jacquilynne.

Though in the interest of full disclosure, I should say I too can't stand capers. Therefore my judgment and opinions should probably be considered suspect, since apparently aversion to capers makes people fair game for epithets, derision and suspicion.
posted by cptspalding at 12:40 PM on October 27, 2010


My reaction to skimming the first and last links is, well, I don't wanna rain on your lifestyle submissive parade, Jenn; have a good time and remember that you can still always safeword.

Bah. You had me all excited for a second, so I went back and read all the posts looking for some lascivious 50s fetishism (girdles, corsets, nylons, heels) or clues of submission.

If you actually read the posts, there's not much sense of that at all.

As someone who likes to switch and is familiar with a few bdsm communities, I'm not getting the vibe at all. My sub-dar is pretty good. Judging by the fact that she doesn't even mention sex, I would peg this woman as detached with low libido.

If you read the whole blog, it's about 50% food. I'm guessing she likes to eat and drink more than fuck. Or she specifically decided to keep any sort of sexual details private and outside the scope of the blog (probably not a bad idea).

... or she could be doing all of this in the hopes of a book deal.

This is much, much more likely than outing herself as a submissive.

The last post of the original experiment, in which the author gets drunk and completely fails, is very sweet in a depressingly modern way.
posted by mrgrimm at 9:46 AM on October 28, 2010


Fortunately, some families aren't cursed with children.

It's only a curse if you make it one.


No, children are just people. They are as interesting, boring, caring, hateful, creative, and dull as anyone else. Some kids are great, some are not. I'm tired of the fetishization of parenting/children.

I'm a father. I love my son. But I'm not going to pretend that HAVING A KID IS WONDERFUL. It's not inherently wonderful; there are good days and bad days. Good days outnumber the bad ones and I'm thankful for that. But a little perspective please.
posted by Edison Carter at 1:47 PM on October 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


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