The only problem was that there was two women for every man.
January 21, 2004 3:18 PM   Subscribe

When I see 50s women, or 40s women, or 60s women, or 18th Century women, I inevitably sigh and say "For pity - I was born too late..." Then I think of 90s and 80s and 00s (noughties!) women; realize that I'm reacting not to the decade but to the "women" part and I cheer up. Sort of.

Still... thanks anastasiav and Juju... I guess... *sigh*

Not that, after all the Douglas Sirk movies I've watched, I think for a minute that American women in the 50s weren't as bright and sassy as they are now. But those - how can I put this? - aprons...

Who's Donna Reed? She's mentioned here every time someone mentions the Fifties. I know she was an actress - but what does she mean?
posted by MiguelCardoso at 3:50 PM on January 21, 2004

donna reed means approximately what ward cleaver meant, only female.
posted by quonsar at 3:59 PM on January 21, 2004

Great help, quonsar! You really do have a privileged insight into the European mind, dontcha? WTF is Ward Cleaver when he's at home? Or is it an ax used in hospital wards for emergency amputation purposes? :)
posted by MiguelCardoso at 4:08 PM on January 21, 2004

at home, ward mostly punishes the beaver. but that's beside the point. he was one of those impossibly wholesome 1950's american television characters. meanwhile, in the movies, donna reed mostly played a ditzy, wholesome female type who kept stumbling into vaguely naughty situations, usually with stunningly handsome men who were, in real life, busily making naughty with other men.
posted by quonsar at 4:16 PM on January 21, 2004

Oh, I see! We only got Lucille Ball, Doris Day, Rock Hudson and Dick Van Dyke here... Thanks!
posted by MiguelCardoso at 4:33 PM on January 21, 2004

yeah, donna reed was sort of a doris day clone. but then again, i'm just making all this shit up.
posted by quonsar at 4:37 PM on January 21, 2004

Donna Reed was a TV mom in the 1950s...she wore pearls while dusting, baked a perfect apple pie, was always there for her family. Always smiling, relentlessly wholesome, and forever the yardstick of mom perfection.

Ward Cleaver was the all-American dad on "Leave It to Beaver", which actually aired in the early 1960s. The Cleaver family was at least a bit more realistic - the two kids were forever getting themselves into trouble and being misled by neighborhood wiseguy Eddie Haskell.
posted by Oriole Adams at 4:38 PM on January 21, 2004

And before Donna Reed was a 1950s tele-mom icon, she was Mary Bailey in It's a Wonderful Life in 1946.
posted by scody at 5:30 PM on January 21, 2004

Apologies, anastasiav, for this awful derailment, specially as the website you linked to is so much fun. This was probably AskMe fodder. Thanks for the explanations, though!
posted by MiguelCardoso at 5:33 PM on January 21, 2004

This is really a presentation of fifties advertisements, which is probably about as representative of the fifties as our advertising is representative of us. That is - only somewhat.

Fun to look at though.
posted by orange swan at 7:54 PM on January 21, 2004

Donna Reed (the husband/father was gorgeous, and the son became a big advocate for child stars and runs some support foundation for them now)
posted by amberglow at 8:06 PM on January 21, 2004

Did you notice that Bob Crane was on that cast list, amberglow? Very wholesome show, indeed.

And the father figure was indeed quite yummy.
posted by orange swan at 8:10 PM on January 21, 2004

i was surprised by that too--Hogan! (I bet he played the wacky doctor-neighbor or something) Did they ever figure out the whole death/sexfilms thing with him?
posted by amberglow at 8:25 PM on January 21, 2004

isn't crane's kid capitalizing on the films? did the punishing the beaver crack whoosh over miguel's head? inquiring minds etc etc
posted by quonsar at 8:36 PM on January 21, 2004

is he? and yup ; >
posted by amberglow at 8:41 PM on January 21, 2004

yup. and, too bad for migs :-)
posted by quonsar at 12:03 AM on January 22, 2004

do you mean to tell me that people actuall had sex in the fifties?
posted by joedan at 2:04 AM on January 22, 2004

On a more serious note, an old female friend of mine tells me as recent as the early 60's a woman working in the office still had to wear gloves to work. Mind you, she was also wearing a girdle (nasty tight rubber thing worn like underwear, but it kept the tummy in) and tons of makeup--While working for less than a man doing the same work.

The crack about punishing the beaver was rich.
posted by Goofyy at 2:31 AM on January 22, 2004

On the site, there are some interesting recipes, if you want to take your life in your hands.

Although the apple tea sounds like something I will try to make...
posted by Katemonkey at 5:06 AM on January 22, 2004

Fifties Boulevard and the aptly named EphemeraNow that even contains an ad for my car.
posted by geekyguy at 7:20 AM on January 22, 2004

Ah, the idealized fifties. One day, since I am mainly a housewife these days, I am going to run the vacuum in pearls and go grocery shopping in a dress and heels in the middle of the afternoon. Maybe I'll wear something like this so that I'll have a pleasing hourglass figure beneath my dress. Hmmm.

Okay, maybe not, but when I watch Far From Heaven and The Hours I do want desperately to look like (but not feel like!) Julianne Moore. I mean really, why wouldn't anyone? Gorgeous dresses, faboo hair and accessories, the steely demeanor (okay, that may be more the actress than the period), it was such a put-together sort of time.
posted by Dreama at 10:10 AM on January 22, 2004

Maybe someday, dreama, people will look back on our advertising and say, hey, they looked perfect in the naughties!

My dad says the fifties are his favourite decade for women's fashion, but my mother says the fashions were awful. Skirts with five yards of fabric in them weren't flattering. Girdles were very uncomfortable and probably unhealthy - although they were flattering. The pointy-toed shoes were murder on one's feet. They didn't have the comfortable stretch fabrics they have now. And garters were nasty little inventions - you'd sit down, feel a *ping* *ping* and then wonder how you'd get to the bathroom to fix them without your stockings falling down.
posted by orange swan at 12:05 PM on January 22, 2004

Made me laugh. Thanks, anastasiav!
posted by carter at 2:03 PM on January 22, 2004

[this is good]
posted by plep at 12:47 AM on January 23, 2004

I have a lovely little article I found in an old Reader's Digest from the fifties titled Why Women Act That Way. Answered all my questions about the weaker sex.
posted by hipnerd at 8:26 PM on January 24, 2004

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