Reading this excellent piece by Rebecca Onion. Amazingly these attitudes were still alive and kicking only 50 years ago. No wonder so many women were on valium those days!
‘We’re used to thinking of the 1950s ‘housewife’ as a vague, happy caricature on gift-shop mugs and postcards – vacuuming in pearls, offering a post-work martini to the returning husband. In its intimate individual details, this advice column resurrects a sharper history, showing the array of cruelties that this kind of marriage could entail, the number of wives who resisted their roles, and the way that mainstream culture tried to put them in their place.’
‘For a modern reader of the column’s 1950s and ’60s archives, it’s hard not to be horrified by the complete and utter awfulness of many of the husbands – both their behaviours, as reported by their wives, and their own responses to counselling. Perhaps more shocking still are the counsellor’s responses. No matter how bad it got, the counsellor always managed to find a way to blame the woman for the couple’s problems’
‘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.’
– Rebecca Onion explores the warped history of the marriage advice column: