We’ve Come A Long Way, Baby

I like to buy old women’s magazines when I find them for next to nothing at second-hand stores. They’re fun to read. Sometimes horrifying to read. I’ve been enjoying a 1970 copy of Family Circle with some awesome advice for the woman looking to work outside the home. The first thing to consider:

Does your husband approve? If he is adamantly opposed to your working, the odds are too heavily against you from the very beginning. You need his help, though don’t for a minute expect him to shoulder 50 percent of the housework if you do go to work.

A comment on an example resume:

Mrs. Smith did not include her volunteer work as publicity chairman for the Woman’s Club or a French course at the adult school, neither of which would be of interest to any prospective employer.

Advice for the gal working in an office:

Don’t gossip. A little idle gossip may while away the time for housewives, but in an office it’s more than a time-waster; it’s dynamite. Interoffice gossip can cause great damage – and if you’re the culprit, the result could even be dismissal.

Don’t dress in an extreme fashion. It’s fine to be up to date, but use common sense. Your pantsuit might be perfectly appropriate for work in a swinging advertising agency, but a bank would look askance. Above all, avoid any hint of overdressing.

As someone who was raised in the age of “Grrrls can do anything!”, at first glance it seems unreal that women lived like this. On second glance… it isn’t what’s being said that is horrifying. It’s the fact that it’s being said at all.

Have things really changed or do we pretend that things are different because we grew up being told it was different? Do husbands of working women do 50 percent of the housework? We’re told volunteer work is valuable but as an employer, do you take it seriously on a resume? I’ve never worked anywhere that wasn’t filthy with gossip, men and women alike and no one was fired, though I was often left out of advantageous office politics because I wouldn’t join in some slander or bullying. And after spending a semester in a co-op where my supervisor imposed a “Sexy Boot Day”, I’m convinced that what you wear at work is almost as important as being a hard worker. (An aside: if my supervisor had been a man, Human Resources would have called that sexual harrassment. My supervisor was a woman, so it was just good fun! Except for me.)

What I find so striking about the article is how honest it is. Now we’d put a shiny, happy face over it and assume that every husband is supportive, every women can replace her wardrobe with latest trends and everything you put your heart and soul into matters to the world at large.

Is your life everything feminism promised it would be?

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1 Comment

Filed under Old School

One response to “We’ve Come A Long Way, Baby

  1. What a great post! I think the simple fact that I was able to make choices means that my life is a great example of feminism at it’s best.

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