Lock up your wives!
September 9, 2014 12:33 PM   Subscribe

 
‘like a Dresden doll’
I'll take "Old Phrases With New Meanings" for $100, Alex.
posted by zamboni at 12:38 PM on September 9, 2014 [9 favorites]


I had to stop reading this halfway through.

I'll remember this article the next time I wonder why my mother put up with my dad's insane behavior for as long as she did.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 12:45 PM on September 9, 2014 [6 favorites]


Alice needed to be convinced to stop ‘nagging’ her husband for affection: Ralph’s way of pronouncing his love was not in extravagant speech but in coming home to her and the children...

Ah haha, ahahahhahaha. Fuck you.
posted by Sayuri. at 12:46 PM on September 9, 2014 [63 favorites]


I used to love that feature but frankly it is from the era of Mad Men and all the horrible attitudes that program showcases.

But in particular as to CTMBS's deafness to DV and/or victim blaming, that is hardly historical. I'm bemused by the current dynamic around Ray Rice's downfall, which is not exactly free from similar reactions.
posted by bearwife at 12:47 PM on September 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


Beneath the shrill accusations and the radical dialectic...

If I never hear the word shrill used to refer to words from women and feminists it will be too soon. Eesh.
posted by bendy at 12:50 PM on September 9, 2014 [33 favorites]


Would you prefer hysterical?
posted by entropicamericana at 12:51 PM on September 9, 2014


Popenoe introduced the September 1953 column, which featured ‘Sue’, a wife who showed up to the counsellor’s office with a ‘large purple bruise darken[ing] her cheekbone’, by referring to the husband’s complaints, rather than the wife’s: ‘Many a husband has to pay the penalty for his wife’s failure to get any real education in homemaking before she married, or to acquire such skills after the wedding, when she must have begun to realise that she needs them...

The happy ending: Sue ‘spends 15 minutes every morning planning and writing down a list of daily tasks. Any specific request of Jack’s takes top position on the list. As she acquits each task, she checks it off the list. This means she finishes one job before she begins another.’


a) Steal pocket money. Check on hoard. Assess.
b) Rent car
c) Pack things
d) Drive and do not stop.
posted by Sayuri. at 12:52 PM on September 9, 2014 [66 favorites]


Jesus F. Christ
posted by OmieWise at 12:54 PM on September 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


How about abrasive? Bitchy? Obsessive? Overcritical? Humorless? Aggressive? Hostile? Strident? So many to choose from that I hope are never used again to refer to women/feminists.
posted by bearwife at 12:54 PM on September 9, 2014 [12 favorites]


Would you prefer hysterical?

DUDE MY UTERUS WON'T STOP ROAMING AROUND MY BODY AND CAUSING EMOTIONS SAVE ME
*tiny message in stomach flesh a la Exorcist*
posted by Sayuri. at 12:55 PM on September 9, 2014 [26 favorites]


She showed a lack of insight – she didn’t understand her husband. By refusing to have sex with him after he hit her, ‘she… touched off another almost inevitable explosion. Many husbands endeavour to make up for their misdeeds by such ardour, a fact of life that wise and loving wives accept.’

I just . . . I don't have any words. I don't know how half of all marriages didn't end in burning houses.

It's interesting to read Rebecca Onion's conclusion right after reading this comment, "But while the disdainful prescriptiveness of the column’s early years is gone, the implication of its continued presence in the magazine is clear: a healthy marriage is ‘women’s work’. We’re getting somewhere, but we’re not there yet."
posted by gladly at 12:56 PM on September 9, 2014 [12 favorites]


My wife and I used to have a bunch of old dating and marriage manuals from this time period, the best of which was "Boy Dates Girl" by - I shit you not - Gay Head. Anyway, the marriage ones were full of advice to women along the lines of (paraphrasing here) "Look nice, keep a clean house and put out whenever he wants it. He'll love you more and buy you stuff!"
posted by The Card Cheat at 12:56 PM on September 9, 2014 [3 favorites]


I had to stop reading this halfway through.

You have more staying power than I do. I got as far as the first anecdote and closed it down. I know things sucked before feminism (hell, they ain't all daisies and rainbows now), but I don't need another reason to grab my monitor and shake it back and forth - the damned things are getting expensive.
posted by Mooski at 12:56 PM on September 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


Fuck that was really disgustingly hard to read, further compounded by the fact that there are absolutely people alive today who long nostalgically for such a time.
posted by poffin boffin at 12:57 PM on September 9, 2014 [10 favorites]


Lotta up and coming talent in this thread.
posted by boo_radley at 12:57 PM on September 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


I could swear that I read somewhere that Ian MacKaye (of Minor Threat and Fugazi fame) was the grandson of the woman who wrote "Can This Marriage Be Saved." This obit seems to bear it out, although I don't think the article mentions her.

My mom claims that she loved that column as a kid. Maybe it made her parents' terrible, terrible marriage seem more normal?
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 12:57 PM on September 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


I remember being deeply skeptical as a child when reading these; either I disagreed with the advice, or I thought the whole story was bunk.
posted by emjaybee at 12:58 PM on September 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


I am proud of the fact that my grandmother had divorced two husbands by 1970. Next time someone thinks that's weird, I'll know where to point them.
posted by Adridne at 1:01 PM on September 9, 2014 [17 favorites]


This is good:
On 18 March 1970, a group of feminist activists occupied the Journal’s offices for 11 hours. ...

In a compromise, Carter, who refused to step down, invited the group to edit a special section in the August 1970 edition of the magazine....

The edited section, anonymously authored by the group of activists, featured essays on the education of daughters; equal pay for equal work; a birth story; and frank discussion of the role of the clitoris in female orgasms. The activists’ contributions also included a section titled ‘Should This Marriage Be Saved?’
posted by MonkeyToes at 1:09 PM on September 9, 2014 [33 favorites]


I always used to look for that feature in doctor's waiting rooms, hoping against hope that they would give up on that month's marriage. I never found one they couldn't save, though. My mother always swore that she read that column every month for years until eventually one day they actually did feature a marriage that couldn't be saved. "And it was just like mine," she would say, sort of satisfied. "Hopeless. Then I finally canceled my subscription - I had been waiting so long and I knew they'd never have another one." I wonder if it was the 1970 feminist issue or if she just imagined it or if there really was one, one smuggled in fugitive marriage that even all the Stepford wives and psycho husbands of Ladies' Home Journal couldn't save.

Note: my parents, despite repeated separations and a really horrifically bad relationship, stayed married for 52 angry years.
posted by mygothlaundry at 1:17 PM on September 9, 2014 [11 favorites]


mygothlaundry: Note: my parents, despite repeated separations and a really horrifically bad relationship, stayed married for 52 angry years
So, in the minds of everyone who complains about the "rising divorce rate": a success!

Not.
posted by IAmBroom at 1:19 PM on September 9, 2014 [5 favorites]


The #whyIstayed stream on twitter makes it pretty clear that many of the attitudes in that column aren't nearly as dead as we might like.
posted by rtha at 1:20 PM on September 9, 2014 [6 favorites]


Urgh.
posted by beefetish at 1:30 PM on September 9, 2014


Gee, if the little woman would only shut up and become a robot, or perhaps just quietly die in a corner after her husband beats her, everything will be A-OK! Because literally everything ever is a woman's fault!

I used to read that column in the last few decades and had NO IDEA it was this awful. Goddamn I hate the 1950's. And early 60's. And Mad Men anything.
posted by jenfullmoon at 1:32 PM on September 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


This is just one feature in one magazine, but the thing is that essentially all magazines and features aimed at women, from the Reader's Digest to Ann Landers, toed the same line of saving marriages at all costs. Somewhere in the early 60s, Eppie Lederer AKA "Ann Landers" wrote a response in her column to someone who had written, taking her to task for fomenting discord in families and recommending divorces. Au contraire, Landers responded, with words to the effect "I have never recommended a divorce, and if I ever do, I will buy you a brand new car." I remember almost those exact words. I've never been able to discover whether Landers ever bought that critic a car, but along with her sister, Dear Abby, she eventually crossed from "Can this marriage be saved" thinking over to "Should this marriage be saved" and started counseling not just separations but divorces. In 1975, she got one herself.
posted by beagle at 1:34 PM on September 9, 2014 [6 favorites]


I could swear that I read somewhere that Ian MacKaye (of Minor Threat and Fugazi fame) was the grandson of the woman who wrote "Can This Marriage Be Saved."

Ian talked about his grandmother in a 2013 lecture at the Library of Congress:

"My grandmother, Dorothy MacKaye, under the name Dorothy Disney, wrote a column for the Ladies' Home Journal called ‘Can This Marriage Be Saved?' It was essentially a column where she would interview a man and a woman who were having difficulty in their marriage and then a counselor who would weigh in on their problems. At some point, when cassette tapes came into use, she used to use those to record the conversations. I don't think used them to listen to — she relied mostly on her shorthand — but she kept the tapes. And I keep coming across boxes of tapes of these people in 1969 and 1970 talking about all the hassles they're having; how their husbands are balling someone."
posted by ryanshepard at 1:41 PM on September 9, 2014 [5 favorites]


The couple’s problems might be sexy and Aquarian, but the solution was the same as it ever was: Allie had to ‘hold her tongue’ and ‘mend her ways’ to avoid ‘bossing and manipulating’ Kip. Her reward was the shift toward normalcy that she wanted: ‘Now they live in a distant suburb of San Francisco among a new circle of congenial friends who are more concerned with gardening, the Little League and PTA meetings than with the dubious virtues of drugs.’

This was just an extended metaphor for the tech industry right?
posted by Potomac Avenue at 1:48 PM on September 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


> Goddamn I hate the 1950's.

Roger that. The thing is, though, I love the interior design of the '50s. And a lot of the music (jazz, especially). And the fashion. If it weren't for, you know, the society...
posted by The Card Cheat at 2:03 PM on September 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


My standard script for processing an article like this:
  1. Thank god we're not like that anymore..
  2. We're not like that anymore, are we?
  3. Long time wondering what current behaviors that are widely accepted as 100% normal are going to strike people 50 years from now as equally barbaric.
Unquestionably this is not one, smooth, uninterrupted march towards progress. But the thing that makes me optimistic about the general direction over the long run is that the people who are mistreated by our current system can see that progress is possible. Maybe not fast. Certainly not easy. But possible.

In the modern parts of the world nobody gets to honestly believe any longer that "the way it always has been is the way it always will be." That may not seem like much. It's not enough. But it is a significant step forward when most people have accepted that the values we hold are not necessarily built into us by nature, or dictated to us by God, but are collective decisions that can change during the course of our lifetimes.
posted by Nerd of the North at 2:03 PM on September 9, 2014 [4 favorites]


I love divorce and having a job
posted by the young rope-rider at 2:30 PM on September 9, 2014 [21 favorites]


what current behaviors that are widely accepted as 100% normal are going to strike people 50 years from now as equally barbaric.

Mass incarceration and tolerance of, if not outright amusement at, prison rape.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 2:34 PM on September 9, 2014 [12 favorites]


I could swear that I read somewhere that Ian MacKaye (of Minor Threat and Fugazi fame) was the grandson of the woman who wrote "Can This Marriage Be Saved."

Indeed and it's interesting that the linked article doesn't mention her, instead crediting her co-author Paul Popenoe for the whole thing.
posted by Obscure Reference at 2:35 PM on September 9, 2014 [8 favorites]


To follow up on The Card Cheat's post. Two quiz selections from the 1958 "Dear Gay Head" book of letters I have:

Girls

Boys (and scoring)
posted by jeribus at 2:37 PM on September 9, 2014 [3 favorites]


Men’s magazines – the closest parallels to the women’s service titles – don’t tend to write about marital troubles, preferring to focus on sex. (See the Men’s Health section ‘Sex and Women’; Esquire’s ‘Sex and Dating’.) Even in the fantasy world of mass media, women carry the burden of thinking about relationships.

I see this.
posted by discopolo at 2:40 PM on September 9, 2014


Will just leave this here: www.bizbag.com/Nancy%20Reagan/Nancy%20Reagan%20Guide.htm
posted by AJaffe at 2:47 PM on September 9, 2014


Holy Crap...from Ajaffe's link:
Everywhere a teen turns, he is assaulted by an avalanche of filth that lurks in many forms-pornographic movies, obscene novels, indecent plays, lurid magazines, prurient snapshots, seductive television commercials, suggestive song lyrics, immodest dances, salacious paintings, lewd advertisements, coarse poems, smutty radio shows, depraved newspapers, indelicate lithographs, perverse sculptures, shady stories, gross cookbooks, tawdry cocktail napkins, ribald postcards, libertine bumper stickers, provocative buttons, meretricious gestures, licentious operas, pandering food labels, and shameless zoos...

Where does this nauseating tidal wave of smut and garbage come from? Well, you won't find out from the “Sex O'Clock News,” but it is no secret that certain foreign powers would like nothing better than to see our country paralyzed and prostrated by a degenerate Supreme Court that sanctions petting sprees and free love as "freedom of choice" and “harmless kicks.” While America rots from within, all the Russkies would have to do is rumble through Washington in tanks with those long, nasty things on top and pick up the pieces.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 2:51 PM on September 9, 2014 [7 favorites]


I love the one where they go to group therapy and everyone in the group tells the abusive husband he's a bastard .The exact opposite of what all the other abusive husband gets told by the counselors. And it works! He changes. Maybe if more abusers were subjected to blunt societal feesback and pressure like that we might see some large scale change? Then I remember the TMZ comments on Ray Rice and I realise we're not there yet.

Kind of amazing to think that for the first 20 years of my parents marriage it would have been totally socially acceptable for my dad to run around on my mom, then b/eat her if she complained about it. (My dad did not, btw. It's just that I now realise it's entirely possible other men in their social circle did). It's amazing they and anyone else managed a healthy marriage in that stew of misogyny and entitlement.
posted by fshgrl at 2:53 PM on September 9, 2014 [5 favorites]


I have to add that this was from National Lampoon, but really captures the spirit of the thing...
posted by AJaffe at 2:54 PM on September 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


"petting sprees" wins the in-thread award for "old-timey-est phrase found in an old-timey tirade about kids being on someone's lawn" (bonus points for kinda-sorta accusing Foreign Powers of somehow luring those kids onto that lawn).
posted by Flipping_Hades_Terwilliger at 2:55 PM on September 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


Everywhere a teen turns, he is assaulted by an avalanche of filth that lurks in many forms-pornographic movies, obscene novels, indecent plays, lurid magazines, prurient snapshots, seductive television commercials, suggestive song lyrics, immodest dances, salacious paintings, lewd advertisements, coarse poems, smutty radio shows, depraved newspapers, indelicate lithographs, perverse sculptures, shady stories, gross cookbooks, tawdry cocktail napkins, ribald postcards, libertine bumper stickers, provocative buttons, meretricious gestures, licentious operas, pandering food labels, and shameless zoos...

Dude, what kind of zoos are you going to?
posted by emjaybee at 3:00 PM on September 9, 2014 [6 favorites]


Dammit AJaffe. I been suckered.

Still, I read enough Christian pamphlets so close to this as to make it utterly believable. Did you know that band 10cc's name referred to either heroin or semen? (I can't remember which one, now). That was in a book about the evils of rock and roll we picked up at church. Which was not a parody.
posted by emjaybee at 3:03 PM on September 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


An age when teenagers were so repressed that they went to the monkey house to get ideas. Oh internet, how we love thee.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 3:04 PM on September 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


I'll remember this article the next time I wonder why my mother put up with my dad's insane behavior for as long as she did.

Yeah, I was having serious flashbacks to my parents' nightmare of a marriage.

Some folks like to complain about too many unwed parents, but I'll go to the nearest street corner and sing the praises of any social trend that prevents horrible marriages like those entered into by so many of my parents' generation simply because having a baby out of wedlock meant social ruin.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 3:10 PM on September 9, 2014 [4 favorites]


Jean Kerr, who was around in the Mad Men era, had a terrific takeoff of this column that focused on Lolita and Humbert Humbert. The conclusion was that yes, the marriage could be saved!

It's even funnier -- but bleaker -- knowing just how bad the original inspiration was. (I can't find a copy of it online, but it's collected in The Snake Has All The Lines.)

From my perspective up in the present, Jean Kerr seems very funny and sharp. But if the people who were reading her were also reading CTMBS -- and they were, because she also wrote for LHJ -- she must have been subversive, almost radical. At various points she discussed letting her children be raised by carpenters, hiring domestic help so she could sleep in, or putting your elbows in little lemon halves filled with oil as a "beauty treatment" so you could justify sitting around and not doing anything. She always took it for granted that women were their own people and had a right to their own interests.
posted by pie ninja at 3:10 PM on September 9, 2014 [10 favorites]


> Did you know that band 10cc's name referred to either heroin or semen?

I heard semen.

Metafilter: I heard semen.
posted by The Card Cheat at 3:20 PM on September 9, 2014


I would read the heck out of a book of transcripts of Ian MacKaye's grandmother's cassettes.
posted by Scram at 3:31 PM on September 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


and what does semen sound like?
posted by theora55 at 3:41 PM on September 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


tiny, indistinct shrieking.
posted by boo_radley at 3:47 PM on September 9, 2014 [12 favorites]


Dude, what kind of zoos are you going to?

An evil zoo.
posted by bearwife at 3:51 PM on September 9, 2014


An age when teenagers were so repressed that they went to the monkey house to get ideas. Oh internet, how we love thee

Yep.
(You HAD to have been referencing this, yes? With the Barrett-Browning quotes et all?)
posted by theweasel at 5:07 PM on September 9, 2014


progress is possible. Maybe not fast. Certainly not easy. But possible. Oh, Nerd of the North, I wish that this was so. But I have to tell you, back in the 80s, I could go have an abortion in any state in the union - there were multiple clinics in most states, imagine that - and it was not blocked by psycho protestors, and I didn't have to have a vaginal ultrasound and nobody notified my parents or my husband. Equally, when I did have a child, I nursed her in public - at the mall! Where ever I was! - and nobody freaked out or complained. I had that baby in a birthing center with a midwife and nobody thought that was odd or dangerous. The EPA actively fought hazardous waste, dangerous food and pollution; many jobs were unionized; OSHA had teeth and more than one inspector per state and, oh, I could go on and on. Sometimes I feel like we just keep on going farther and farther backwards, not forwards at all.
posted by mygothlaundry at 5:16 PM on September 9, 2014 [43 favorites]


My sister and I went to school with kids whose parents were getting divorced - this was in the 60s. The kids were sad to begin with and there was a social stigma to divorce that was like a shadow - it just hung around - so things were hard for these kids.

On the other hand, my sister and I used to pray - and hope and wish also - that our parents would just go ahead and get a divorce. Oh please, we'd say, please let them get a divorce so we can breathe again - please.

Keeping the marriage together "for the sake of the children" was a thing, then, but I guess I never realized how LHJ's "Can This Marriage Be Saved?" and similar articles in other women's magazines and newspapers, Dear Abby, etc. played into the lie that homes were full of happy, well-adjusted people where Boy plays catch with Dad and Girl learns to bake a cake from Mom; in fact, the inside of many of those "happy" homes absolutely reeked with fear.
posted by aryma at 6:33 PM on September 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


Here is a 2010 New Yorker piece by Jill Lepore on the same subject.
posted by barrett caulk at 6:56 PM on September 9, 2014


2) We're not like that anymore, are we?

Well, I can tell you in 1999 we sure as hell weren't, because my therapist's recommendation to me for dealing with my then partner's physical abuse over my forgetfulness was a chore list so I could accomplish all the things said partner wanted me to do in a day.

We're super divorced now (it'll be 15 years coming up soon, I should throw a fuck you divorced for 3 times longer than we were married! party or something) so I guess that's progress.
posted by FritoKAL at 8:22 PM on September 9, 2014 [5 favorites]


boo_radley: "tiny, indistinct shrieking."

tiny, indistinct shrieking.
posted by boo_radley at 9:03 AM on September 12, 2014


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