Was the suffrage movement the start of “Galentine’s Day”? I can’t imagine this valentine was sent by anything other than a woman to another woman.
Antique valentine via.
A pretty pin-up girl pushes the career choice of Marine Aviator. The seller says the photo was taken in the late 1950s at the Los Alamitos Naval Air Station by Don Comoe, the official photographer at Naval Air Station at Los Alamitos, CA.
Photo circa 1920s.
Can’t find enough reasons to hate your bra? You will soon: Microsoft is working on a smart bra to measure your mood:
The aim was to find out if wearable technology could help prevent stress-related over-eating.
Mood data was provided to the wearer via a smartphone app in order to highlight when “emotional eating” was likely to occur.
A team from Microsoft’s visualisation and interaction research group embedded an electrocardiogram and electro-dermal activities sensors as well as a gyroscope and accelerometer in the bra.
In their paper, the researchers say using a bra “was ideal because it allowed us to collect EKG [electrocardiogram] near the heart”.
As if women don’t hear enough messages about our moods, behaviors, and weight; we now must hear directly from our clothing. And not just when they tighten around us.
Once you spend the time necessary for the equipment to learn all about you and your emotional eating habits, find correlations between your heart and skin activity, and you take the time to participate in the food & mood logging, the premise is rather simple. The sensors, custom boards called GRASP for Genitic Remote Access Sensing Platform (That name was by design?!), will then transmit the mood data to a mobile phone application using Bluetooth — then the messages from the “EmoTree” will begin to “suggest interventions” — i.e. nag the crap out of you.
One such intervention is to remind you to relax by taking some deep breaths — instructing you to tap on the little bird on the screen with every slow breath you take. Sounds a lot like it’s going to turn into Angry Birds, right? I can only imagine how stressed me would like to tap the hell out of some bird willing to tweet, however politely and privately, that Fatty-McFat-Face-me had better concentrate on her breathing & stay away from the fridge.
There are also plans for the bra & app combo to offer other “distracting interventions”, whatever those are. What could be more distracting than your cell phone telling you to calm the hell down and not to eat? …Maybe it will play a humorous video clip or something nice. Or maybe it will be something more shaming. Like maybe it will it communicate with your friends and suggest they provide a personal intervention: “Jackie, your fat friend Deanna is stressed and heading for the ice cream again! Wouldn’t it be nice if you called her and listened to her bitch about her mother for awhile?”
What obviously springs to mind with this whole thing is the butt-load, err, bra-load of potential uses and abuses. What about hacks? Will there be bras to assess and monitor our other moods? Like one to tell us about our sexual arousal — with an app to alert our partners, of course. Perhaps it will even be like those hook-up apps, telling any stranger who signs up (or hacks into the program) that a randy dame is nearby. “Your honor, she was asking for it — she was wearing that bra app!” Whatever info is collected, maybe the NSA will need that data dump too.
The researchers don’t want us to think this whole idea is sexist. They noted that “efforts to create a similar piece of underwear for men worked less well, largely because the sensors were located too far away from the heart.” Well, jeeze, scientists, don’t fat men have those man-boobs? They surely could benefit from a bro, no? And don’t men wear something else everyday — something above the waist, like, I don’t know, a shirt?
Naw, that wouldn’t make any sense; we must focus on how women look because that’s what they are here for. And notice, there’s no mention or suggestion regarding anorexia or other health disorders. Fat — women’s fat — is the health issue to focus on.
The good news here is that this mood-bra isn’t ready for market just yet; users in the study found the device “tedious” as the GRASP boards had to be recharged every 3-4 hours.
Then again, that’s about how long some of us can bear to wear our bras.
As for me, if I’m going to invest in any new tech bras, it might be the bra that can detect cancer. Let’s see if that one actually makes it to market.
At the Picture Collection and Periodicals Collection at the Visual Arts Library blog, a post featuring some materials from a “Gangs, Cults & The Occult” folder. Among the most interesting to me (at least at the moment), was this one:
Below the “Shriners at play”, there is an intriguing passage from what appears to be a work by Paschal Beverly Randolph. Randolph was, among other things, a medical doctor, occultist, and writer who is often noted as the man to bring the principles of sex magic to North America. Since this about secret societies, Randolph is also said to have established the earliest known Rosicrucian order in the United States and to been a member of the Hermetic Brotherhood of Light. But it is the sex magic which seems to stand out here. If this is by Randolph, the full passage, circa mid-1800s, would then read:
The average husband’s wife is full of aches, pains, wrinkles, gray hair, fallen womb, [lencorrhae]; and a good many of them are nicely inoculated with syphilis by their lords, and the doctors hide it, and their ignorance too, and call it “Fluor Albus;” besides which, the usual husband attacks his victim as pigs their food, for all the world as if she had neither soul, sense, feeling, womanhood, delicacy, or human rights. At the beginning he says, “Now!” at the end he grunts, “There!” and, instead of a loving, grateful hug and kiss, in five minutes he is snoring away like any other hog; while she, poor soul, sobs her life away, and wonders how long she is to remain in that particular section of Hell. He never tries to change her cold to warmth—her indifferences to chaste desire; nor knows he aught of the meaning of use of gentleness, persuasive caresses, continual kindness, or of deliberation; above all, he utterly forgets that it is his duty to wait for her, if it takes six months, till he wins the soul and passion, as well as the “duty and obedience,” of the mysterious being he calls Wife!—God’s profoundest miracle, the bearer of the mysterious womb.
For the record, the image on the opposite page shows a Masonic piece featuring “sex (point in circle) and death motifs” said to “figure prominently in Masonic symbolism”.
At my vintage living blog, Things Your Grandmother Knew, I’ve written about the tendency to romanticize the past, but I recently read two blog posts discussing vintage fashion in terms of “the vintage girl being the new feminist” and thought it was time to discuss the subject from a more feminist angle…
At Style High Club, Lena Weber writes:
I don’t quite know how it happened or when but far too many women around me seem to want to look like a porn actress these days. Or why else would they wax off their pubes, slather themselves in Fakebake and state Page Three Girl in their career goals? There is something about the passivity of this particular idea of femininity – there to be stared at, cum onto – that I find deeply infuriating. It’s just sad that we’re all meant to look like little plastic sex dolls – fake eyelashes, fake hair, fake tan, fake boobs.
To my relief (no really, it is!) there is a great big social group of women out there who don’t buy into this image – the vintage girls. Although the vintage scene is splintered into smaller subfractions of particular decades, musical styles, dances and activities, the one thing all these vintage-loving women have in common is their embrace of an altogether different femininity, one that’s individual, one that harks back to a time when glamour was exotic and empowering.
At Retro Chick, Gemma Seager responds with something I was eager to point out:
It’s easy to say that this isn’t new, 1950s Pin Ups weren’t exactly sold on their educational qualifications, and the idea of a woman whose goal was to marry a rich man and live happily ever after is hardly a new concept either. That’s why we had the “bra burning” feminists of the 60s and 70s. They stood up for the rights of women to be whatever they wanted to be.
But then Seager heads right down Weber’s path:
In the last 2 decades the internet has seen a progressive pornification of culture till it seems that women now feel that they can’t assert their own sexual independence, that they have no choice but to buy into this porn star, brainless ideal of female beauty and passive sexuality. They are modern day Stepford Wives, emotionally passive and sexually compliant. Brainwashed by television, magazines and the internet into thinking they can’t make emotional demands and that sexual liberation means always wanting to have sex.
Maybe it’s because I am (I’m pretty sure) at least a decade older than these women, or maybe it’s because I am a history nut who gets obsessed with research, but I’m thinking that these two women (and the majority of those who have commented at their sites) are missing something quite important from all of this. And that something is context.
If we look at “today” and compare it to the past, yes, women’s fashions seem to be much more skimpy. [Until, at least, you notice how a New Look wiggle dress is as fitted as any spandex dress — and realize that beneath that vintage wiggle dress or pencil skirt there’s a whole lot of foundation garments making sure the female figure is as hourglass, smooth, and popping (eye-popping and fabric-testing), and as it can be. More on that later.]
Every generation has declared the next one will be the ruin of fashion, morals, and even civilization. In fact, every decade and fashion trend has resulted in criticism — often for the wearer too. Hemlines went up and dared to show ankles — so women could dare to ride bikes! That may seem antiquated to us now, so let’s look at the styles and decades that most vintage fashionistas wear, such as New Look and Mod.
When New Look fashions hit the market, they were not applauded. In Popularizing Haute Couture: Acceptance and Resistance to the New Look in the Post-1945 United States (Americanist: Warsaw Journal for the Study of the United States; October 2007, Vol. 24, p143), Sylwia Kuzma writes:
The New Look promoted a vision of femininity, epitomized in a full-bosom-and-curvaceously-hipped hourglass figure, dressed in lace, fur, and diamonds. Despite the patronage of large New York and San Francisco department stores, it’s reception by the American public was far from unanimous fascination and acceptance.
Some found the look too decadent to be seemly. Some were incensed that Dior’s New Look would require them to be padded. Others found the below-the-knee hemlines frumpy. (Images from a 1948 magazine via.)
The point is, with every hemline, waistline, and neckline movement tongues go a-waggin’.
Today, Bettie Page is held up as a prime example of a cheeky risque pinup to be emulated and adored. She is such an icon for vintage fashion lovers, that many stores, designers, brands, websites, and events use the name Bettie to garner attention. But she’s The Notorious Bettie Page for a reason — her pinup photos were the subject of censorship and she herself was a target of a US Senate pornography investigation. The adoration of Bettie Page as “cute” and “classy” raises the ire of many, including sex workers — many of whom already feel shunned by feminism. To many, this co-opting of Page for “good girls” is a theft they won’t stand for.
Which brings us to the matter of vintage glamour being “exotic and empowering”…
Those are the very words many use to describe their sex work and to defend a sex positive or even “pornified” culture. In many ways, today’s sex workers and pornified pop culture icons control their bodies far more than the women of decades ago. The 1950’s woman put on an exaggerated-hourglass Dior dress to lure in Mr. Right for marriage. Once she “caught” her man, she put on a golden wiggle dress to serve cocktails to her husband’s boss; a pretty little prop in her husband’s life. When The Little Woman needed to be medicated in order to endure her life, her doctor talked to her husband-daddy, so he could make the decisions for her — as if she were a child. Does that seem glamorous, exotic, or empowering?
Wearing vintage fashions may be moving the hemlines, waistlines, and necklines back in time, but does that move women forward towards equality?
Yes, fashion sends messages about who we are — at least at that moment. But, ultimately, what defines a person is their actions. And if we start labeling and denigrating people for what they are wearing, then we are on a very slippery slope . This is especially true for women because of that whole “what she’s wearing is asking for rape” thing. Not to mention that whole “what does a feminist look like” argument that no body wins.
Our bodies belong to ourselves. We’ll dress them ourselves, to please ourselves, and we’ll be the kind of person we wish to be.
Because I’m not a sexist, I thought I’d do a companion piece of sorts to this post and cover a bit of history regarding male hair — just a little link round-up of male facial hair history.
Did you know that there was once a beard tax for men? Yup, at least in 1705 there was. Per Russia’s Peter The Great, men either had to shave or pay a tax. They even got a little token to prove they had a legal, and taxed, beard.
There’s a whole book out now on the history of gay beards — the facial kind, not the companion kind (NWS).
In fact, some are rethinking this month of Movember that is intended to raise awareness for men’s health issues, saying it can quickly turn into an unfair fetishized game of “hot or not”.
Seeing that this article, Mediocre Sex – The Price Women Pay For Freedom? by Jennifer Kabbany, was published at right-wing college site The Collage Fix, I should have resisted and not given it a click — but, as a wise woman once taught me, you do have to listen to differing opinions. And, hey, maybe it wouldn’t be as bad as I thought.
But I was wrong.
It was bad from the start:
The infamous college campus hook-up culture celebrated by feminists suggests female students love casual, no-strings-attached sex, and enjoy one-night stands without guilt, shame or regret.
Oh yeah – then why aren’t they having orgasms when they do?
Feminism as a movement doesn’t celebrate hook-up culture; it just says that if it is allowed for men, if it is considered a right of passage or otherwise bears no lack of respect for men who do it, then it ought to be the same for women.
The article refers to studies and stories included in an article at the Times, which state that women are twice as likely to reach orgasm in serious relationships as they are in hookups and that casual sex does not bring the physical pleasure for women that men experience. Kabbany wrote:
The Times’ report interviewed several people who had all sorts of ideas as to what’s going wrong in the bedroom, such as that young men don’t care about pleasing a women they see casually, and the twosome doesn’t know each other well enough to know how to get each other off. Predictably, it goes on to quote sources who say sex without orgasms is fine for women seeking to scratch that carnal itch – that “mediocre sex” is the price women pay for freedom.
But the truth is women engaged in casual sex don’t reach orgasm because – on some level – they know they’re selling themselves short. They’re giving away their ace in the hole, pardon the pun, to some guy who barely knows their name and is likely too drunk to remember it in the morning. They’re offering themselves to a man who has committed nothing to them, cares nothing for them.
This isn’t about “inequality” in the bedroom, as the Times suggests. It’s about women with low self-esteem, who set the bar low for themselves, who search for affection and affirmation in the wrong way.
These studies prove that even if campus feminists are fooling themselves, their not really fooling themselves. Their subconscious knows the truth. Sex Ed 101 tells us that females climax on emotional/mental levels while men climax to physical/visual ones.
I obviously don’t agree with Kabbany. But she also missed some of the key points in that Time‘s article by Natalie Kitroeff:
By contrast, roughly three quarters of women in the survey said they had an orgasm the last time they had sex in a committed relationship.
“We attribute that to practice with a partner, which yields better success at orgasm, and we also think the guys care more in a relationship,” Dr. England said.
Indeed, young men surveyed in Dr. England’s study often admitted that they are less focused on sexually pleasing a woman they are seeing casually than one they are dating.
Duvan Giraldo, 26, a software technician in Elmhurst, Queens, said that satisfying a partner “is always my mission,” but added, “I’m not going to try as hard as when I’m with someone I really care about.” And with women he’s just met, he said, it can be awkward to talk about specific needs in the bedroom.
“You’re practically just strangers at that point,” he said.
The lack of guidance is common, Dr. England said. “Women are not feeling very free in these casual contexts to say what they want and need,” she said. Part of the problem, she added, is that women still may be stigmatized for having casual sex.
Dr. Garcia said, “We’ve been sold this bill of goods that we’re in an era where people can be sexually free and participate equally in the hookup culture. The fact is that not everyone’s having a good time.”
What women need to achieve orgasm can be very different from what they find in casual sex. Roughly one-quarter of women reliably experience orgasm through intercourse alone, according to a review of 32 studies conducted by Elisabeth Lloyd, a professor of the history and philosophy of science at Indiana University, in her 2005 book “The Case of the Female Orgasm: Bias in the Science of Evolution.” Another third of women rarely or never have orgasms from intercourse.
This highlights several key points. One, it’s pretty clear that people like Kabbany are illustrating Dr. England’s point about stigmatizing women, and, two, men who don’t care are often men who don’t care. But almost everyone is forgetting that women’s orgasms are more complicated to learn to achieve period.
Unlike the simple male organ (upright & locked in position in front, rendering it uber visible, its secrets easy to decode), female genitalia is more elusive (not only virtually hidden but offering more options). It takes more time for females to learn how to manipulate, arouse, and reach orgasm. (Note: It takes about the same amount of time for men and women to reach orgasm; it just takes more time for women to learn how to do this. Which is why I am so in sync with what U.S. Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders was addressing.) Given the physical and cultural complexities, how many college-age women know both how to please themselves and how to communicate that to another? Shit, how many women even know how to do this in their 30s.
Feminism is all about a woman’s right to embrace her sexuality. That includes masturbation, hook-up sex, sex in relationships — any safe, sane, and consensual sexual act a woman wants. And without shame or regret. But feminism does not “celebrate” hook-ups, as if they were mandatory. Not for anyone, man or woman. And feminism certainly doesn’t expect women to suffer mediocre sex because that’s what men want.
As Shanté Cosme writes in Why Sorority Girl Rebecca Martinson Writing About Double Blowjobs is Terrible for Ladies and Completely Our Fault, one should not confuse embracing one’s own sexuality with trying to please others — and in this case, we are talking about women trying to increase their value by trying to please men. Trying to please men in any capacity is not feminism.
I have not been doing a lot of “link round-up” posts since I’ve been curating at Scoop.it, but sometimes I will still find a thing or two which will spawn so many quick thoughts that it seems best to fire all the rounds in one quick-draw post. That’s certainly the case today as one vintage image and one blog post have me quickly shooting from the hip.
“I Knew,” Said The Sioux, “That Squaws Would Go For His Scalp”
I don’t know that I actually have to beat all the dead horses in this vintage ad, do I? With so much horribleness going on, it’s hard to imagine that Jeris would survive; but the company — and it’s hair tonic — is still around today. I do hope they die a little on the inside whenever this ad is resurrected.
While we are on the subject of hair…
Lip Mag has a piece on hair: crowning glory: hair, sex and gender. My profound dislike for the absence of capitals in headlines aside, the post is rather provocative and worthy of a good read. However, it is a bit incomplete. I don’t think it is proper to discuss or rant about such things as “long and blonde” being the ideal femininity standards for women’s hair without pointing out that there are some biological reasons for this.
Often, “beauty” is really just about genetics, healthy children, and the survival of the species. Long hair is a sign of health, and health is genetically preferred. Lighter hair, especially blonde hair, is often an indicator of youth and therefore fertility. The fair skin which typically, naturally, accompanies the blonde hair also makes it easier to see signs of disease, infestation, infection, and the like. Such blemishes are signs of genetic weakness, aging, or other potential problems with the viability of offspring. This is all hardwired into humans biologically. It’s primal evolution. This is why fake blondes enjoy the same attention as natural blondes; for even when everyone knows they’re seeing a bleach-bottle-blonde, the sight triggers an unconscious response of, “Yes, this is preferred genetic material.” This biological drive is what is sets many “beauty standards”. And since blondes, especially the light-white-skinned and blue-eyed variety, are fewer in numbers, their rarity is akin to “coveted and collectible”. [After decades of hair styles, lengths, and colors I know (NWS) that blondes do have more fun — if by “fun” you mean “attention.” Not all of it positive, either; especially when the attention is from other women (NWS). Women hating or deriding blondes, real or fake, is like any other body shaming issue and should be stopped.]
While genetics and evolution are typically not conscious thoughts in the process of calling someone “beautiful” or “attractive”, there are many recorded acts of using beauty standards as markers for desirability in gender and race. From the Bible and organized eugenics programs to the less organized attacks of societal judgements (NWS), history shows that women have been — and continue to be — judged, humiliated, marked, and controlled by their hair.
This brings be back to the aforementioned issue of “scalping” and how I often feel that the current trend in removing the pubic hair of women is not unlike the “pussy scalping jokes” of the past (NWS). It’s not only racist, but all about controlling women and their bodies.
There obviously some errors in the text — the misspelling of Bettie Page as “Betty Page” and frankly, I am completely lost in the description of this paper doll for playboys…
However, this post is not about the text or even the fact that you almost expect one of the options to be a smooth Barbie-doll-esque image to make Bettie go bottomless; it’s about the art of Lou Magila.
Jim Linderman of Vintage Sleaze doesn’t like this artist — or at least the guys’ works. But I have to vehemently disagree.
As a woman, I often find the most real thing about a man’s fantasy is the image of a pinup or media babe inserted into some sketchy scenario. Like the pornos with the world’s luckiest pizza delivery dudes, the scene isn’t as important as just getting to the babe.
Yes, a lot of attention is being brought to the fact that the women in the photos do not even look like the women who posed for them; but the only thing faker than the photoshoped objects of desire are the scenes and situations in which men place the perfected images of women. Is there anything wrong with that? No; they are fantasies after all. (Expecting them to be real is another matter entirely, and one at the very definition of “sanity”.)
So what’s wrong with cartoons, illustrations, comics that capture that luscious and ludicrous point of view? There’s something rather charming about the obviously juvenile approach to just sticking the woman into the simple bare lines. It makes me feel like the artist was aware of how simplistic fantasies are. I don’t know Magila; maybe he was self aware, maybe not. But like a lot of art, you just look at it and get impressions. My impression is that this artist was aware.
Did Magila rip-off other artists? Maybe he or the publisher paid for the rights; maybe not. Maybe, like the altered artists, digital artists, bloggers,etc. of today, artist and publisher alike just figured if they had their hands on something that meant it was in the public domain. Or perhaps they felt that there were enough changes to defend Maglia’s work as derivative. So far, the answers to those intellectual property rights are as unclear as the artist’s level of awareness of the simplicity of male fantasies.
I hope Linderman continues to suss things out.
Among the erotic offerings from the estate of Penthouse founder, there are Kathy Keeton items up for auction. Who was Kathy Keeton? For starters, Keeton was Guccione’s longtime girlfriend and eventual wife. But she ought to be remembered for far more than that.
Remembering Keeton just for her relationship with Guccione would be like simply dismissing Keeton for her beauty. True, Keeton, was beautiful; a ballerina who ended up on the burlesque stage stripping and with small parts in British B-movies, she was beautiful in face and form. But along with those attributes she was damned smart.
Kathy Keeton was one of the first women in magazine advertising sales. Sure, she was working for Penthouse; and that might upset a few women (then and now) who find all sexuality degrading to women. But at that time, there were few women in magazine publishing — other than Ms, of course. Keeton would help shape the future of Penthouse, especially the US edition, by directing the publication’s marketing efforts; she would co-found, write, and work for OMNI; run Viva: The International Magazine For Women; found a newsletter called Longevity which would become an international magazine; author books; as well as play a fundamental role in strategizing the long-term plans for the company, General Media Communications Inc., which published the magazines. Through it all, Ms. Keeton was noted for her leadership and advancement of women in publishing, including Anna Wintour (Vogue) and Nancy LeWinter (of Mode).
More than a magazine publisher, Keeton knew media in general and was among the first to see the potential of what we now call digital media. She was instrumental in Penthouse’s move to video and, later, the Internet. As early as 1992, Keeton was onto something that many publishers today are struggling to get:
She dreams of eventually putting her magazines on disks. “Niche magazines are the future,” Keeton says. On the high-tech side, she adds: “Knowledge is a key commodity now. Publishers are sitting on a gold mine of software.”
At the time of her death in 1997, 58 year-old Keeton was both president and chief operating officer of General Media Communications Inc. and vice chairman of the holding company that oversaw the publishing arm, General Media International. This was in addition to not only battling breast cancer but the National Cancer Institute (NCI) as well. (Keeton wouldn’t die from cancer, but rather from complications during intestinal obstruction surgery.)
Since Penthouse would beat Playboy in sales (and, subjectively, in other areas as well), it’s a shame that Guccione doesn’t have a bigger name than Heffner; but worse still is how so many have forgotten about Kathy Keeton. Even the official Guccione Collection website has little about her.
I hope to do more research & writing on Keeton; until then, here’s a quick list of her films: Carlton-Browne of the F.O. (Man in a Cocked Hat in the US, starring Peter Sellers, 1959), Expresso Bongo (1959), Too Hot to Handle (released in the United States as Playgirl After Dark, starring Jayne Mansfield, 1960), and The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (starring Richard Burton, 1965).
This is the cover of The Way To His Heart “A Cookbook with a Personality”, 1941; note the figures on the cover.
The five female figures on the cover of this vintage cookbook depict the five cooks featured in the book itself. These five women are said to be three generations of one family. From the bottom left working our way to the top right are “Grandmother” Grace Toulouse Hunt, “Mother” Priscilla Wayne Sprague, “Newly Married Daughter” Dorothy Hunt Hales, “Collegiate Daughter” Jeanne Wayne Sprague, and “Teenage Daughter” Nancy Grace Sprague.
While I can admit to certain body changes in terms of aging, I find the rounding of age in proportion to hem length somewhat amusing… Not only is Grandma rather stout, but combined with her nearly floor-length dress she closely resembles a Russian nesting doll. And notice how only newly married Dorothy has curves in all the right places — illustrating her appropriate fertility status. (Heck, her proportions make me want to ask the new wife when she’s going to have a baby!) Perhaps even more amazing, this illustrated figure study of body image stereotypes is the artwork of one of these women; at least Dorothy “Dot” Hunt Hales is the artist credited. (More on that later.)
The story or “personality” behind this cookbook is that newlywed Dot writes home to her mother asking for some recipes. The occasion is the wonderful celebration of their 6 month wedding anniversary and the young bride has learned how important cooking and food is to her marriage:
I have discovered one important thing in the past six months — glamour and romance can be preserved in marriage if one’s husband is well-fed and comfortable.
Mother is, of course, no doubt delighted her daughter has seen the light and become a believer in the old adage that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. Not only is mom thrilled to help her wise and dutiful newly married daughter Dot, but mom enlists the help of Dot’s grandmother and sisters. These are their “letters” from the front of the vintage book:
And then, the most amazing thing happens! “One of the top men of Jack Sprat Foods, Inc., heard about it” and they decided to publish the cookbook! Enter Western Grocer Company, owner of the food brand, as publisher; enter the advertisements for Jack Sprat brand foods.
While the “homey, friendly” premise seems rather contrived to the jaded consumers of today (and the corporate ads themselves also draw into question Dot’s artwork), the book’s editor, Priscilla Wayne Sprague appears to be an actual author. But the proposed family relationships get a bit confusing…. My research continues and shall be reported soon. (Watch this space.)
I also have to share some information from the vintage cookbook’s section by college daughter Jeanne. Jeanne’s appearance certainly tones down any sex appeal, and we are likely to suppose any fears about daughters in college along with it. And even if such imagery might lend itself to jokes about college girl experimentation and stereotypical lesbian dress, the experimentation in the kitchen appears to have been limited — at least for sorority girls.
A College Girl (this one at least) doesn’t really cook at all — sororities provide cooks and sincerely hope they can keep the girls out of the kitchen. There are certain things, however, that the cook just isn’t in on, such as late Sunday sandwiches with you and your date — or rush teas and other occasions of state.
When the cook is out and the girls have free rein in the kitchen, here are some of the foods they can cook. All of these recipes are of the type that can be prepared quickly, cheaply and (for the benefit of the dates) charmingly.
Oh, how can poor Jeanne ever get her M.R.S. degree if she doesn’t cook?!
This vintage book from 1941 has some of the racism you might expect from the 1930s and 40s. At the bottom of the page, Jeanne starts a story which continues on the next page:
One of the girls at the sorority house is Irish — shanty Irish — we call her, because she has simple tastes — fried potatoes, baked beans and such. But one time I tasted the baked concoction she used to make and believe me there was nothing “shanty” about it — it was pure Park Avenue — here it is:
It is recipes like this one, based on canned goods, which certainly marks a change (if not decline) in cooking itself. This turning point in American history turns out to be a good thing for Jack Sprat Foods, Inc. and the Western Grocer Company. The grocery store addresses this issue in one of the advertisements for the Jack Sprat brand:
“Now, when I was a girl,” said Mom
“They used to joke about ‘cooks who were lost without can-openers.’ But it’s just a pleasant smile these days.”
“Why, Mom?” questioned Nancy, giving just the opening Mom wanted.
“Because now we get the very finest foods in cans — just take these Jack Sprat Peaches, for example.” Mom emphasized her point by holding a can at arm’s length.
“These are peaches at their very best — completely ripened on the tree, and canned quickly, to capture the fresh flavor and the precious vitamins all fresh fruits contain. No more sweating over a hot stove for me, when Jack Sprat will do the job for me so well!”
Of course Nancy agrees with Mom. What modern girl wouldn’t rather play tennis or swim on a summer afternoon, instead of helping can fruit in a sizzling kitchen?
Mom’s verdict applies not only to Jack Sprat Peaches, but to pears, apricots, pineapple, and an arm-long list of fine berries. You’ll find it pays to let Jack Sprat do your canning too.
If the convenience of modern canned foods was the advent of more free time for girls and women, perhaps it can be linked not only to the decline in cooking skills but to the decline in the “way to a man’s heart” adage. Men such as Barry Popik say this approach works for dogs and not men; however ironic the dog reference may seem to me, Popik seems to be saying this food-as-lure lore doesn’t work. Also, men at AskMen no longer find cooking on their top list of skills necessary in a female partner. Enlightenment reaches us, maybe? Would that such enlightenment about female body images would change as well.
The “new woman” rode bicycles — and she smoked and likely even chewed tobaccie. So it makes sense that folks would advertise tobacco directly to her. In this antique tobacco ad, the angel of morality and the home is to be sold on the idea of getting said tobacco for her man — but it’s difficult not to find the “Battle Ax” name sending yet another message about how she should stop bitching about the gentleman’s use of tobacco products. Ad via my husband’s website, Dakota Death Trip.
“The New Woman”
Battle Ax Plug
A Great Big Piece For 10 Cents
The “new woman” favors economy and she always buys “Battle Ax” for her sweetheart. She knows that a 5-cent piece of “Battle Ax” is nearly twice as large as a 10-cent piece of other high grade brands. Try it yourself and you will see why “Battle Ax” is such a popular favorite all over the United States.
Collecting vintage smut, as I do, I know who Vikki Dougan is; but I’ve been surprised a number of times by both the lack of recognition this iconic beauty has and the lack of information about her. So, ever obsessed as usual, I set out to correct the situation.
Vikki Dougan: you may not recognize her from the front, but you likely recognize her backside — hence her nickname, “The Back”.
A particular prominence was assigned, for instance, to ads which featured a young actress named Vikki Dougan. In memoirs of the period, individual ads featuring Miss Dougan are traced from house to house in ways that recall the hunt for a respectable provenance which plays so large a part in the authentication of Old Master paintings. Of an Esquire photograph of Miss Dougan, Richard Hamilton remembers: “I first saw it decorating a wall in [Alison and Peter] Smithson’s home. I gained my own copy from a student’s pinboard in the interior-design department of the Royal College of Art. Lawrence Alloway gave me the data on her; the photograph had impressed him sufficiently to make him regard it as a file-worthy document. It turned up again recently as one of a group of pin-ups in a painting by Peter Phillips.”
Her images were not only collected by English pop artists, but even inspired works, such as Richard Hamilton’s $he (1958-61).
This biography attempts to fill in some of the blanks about Vikki Dougan.
Before she earned the notorious nickname (and a plethora of puns), Vikki Dougan was born Edith Tooker in New York in 1929, to her parents Wilber and Mary (nee Dougan) Tooker. Legend says that in 1946, at the age of 16, she becomes both a Miss Rheingold finalist (but is disqualified for being underage) and the wife of a William Symons, the owner of a local photo studio.
Vikki’s big break came in 1948, when she (as Vikki Stappers Dougan) won the eighth annual New York Skate Queen competition. In promoting the ninth annual event, the following was mentioned in Billboard (April 2, 1949):
The purpose of the event, a joint promotion of Empire and The New York Journal-American, is to select an ideal girl roller skater and glorify her for a year. Judging will be based on charm, beauty and personality, with no points whatsoever for skating skill. Contestants must only appear on skates. …Professional skaters models and actresses are banned.
(Vikki, as Queen, and finalists followed up in 1949 by heading the “first ever” fashion show, sponsored by the Roller Skating Institute of America (RISA), in which they modeled “30 attractive rink costumes, loaned for he occasion by the Lence Company,” according to Billboard, March 1949.)
Winning the 1948 skating title would launch Vikki’s pretty face and figure into work as a model — and into gossip Walter Winchell‘s gossip columns, linked to DJ Art Ford. Note that in this 1948 “Look Pink” ad for cosmetic company Cutex, she is even credited — but as Vikkie Dougan, “New York model and prize-winning skater”.
In 1949, Vikki Dougan the “’48 Beauty Queen of Figure Skating” is featured in a comic-strip-style ad for Camels cigarettes, meeting Betty Lytle, one of America’s top-ranking women’s roller skaters. (Skates would be sold with Lytle’s name.) This appears to be the last mention of Vikki Dougan the skater; probably to great relief of Lytle, Dougan, and everyone else.
All this attention unsettles her husband, Bill Symons. At some point after their daughter Debbie is born in 1950, he is said to have walked-out on their marriage. Dougan gets a divorce in Mexico and (per Winchell’s column in February of 1952) Vikki establishes residency in Florida while working as a cover girl at Ciro’s, in Miami Beach. Also about this time, she is signed to agent Louis Shurr.
In the October 26, 1953, issue of Life, Dougan appears not only on the cover, but in the feature article Careers Aplenty: Vikki Dougan models, acts, designs, mothers. In this article, Vikki is listed as 21 years old and is accompanied in the photographs by her three year old daughter, Debbie. The Life article lists Vikki as having started in modeling at age 13 (as Deirdre Tooker), studied at Betty Cashman studio, and appeared weekly in Jackie Gleason’s TV show — along with the clothes designing, mothering, etc. Life also mentions that Vikki “once caused a stir in fashion circles by using wigs to change her appearance and help her get more modeling jobs” — something also featured in Life (July 28, 1952).
March 29, 1954, Dorothy Kilgallen mentions Vikki Dougan in her column:
Vikkie Dougan, the pretty blond model who made such a hit with Frank Sinatra in Florida recently returned to New York to discover that thieves had cleaned out her apartment. They took her dresses, jewelry, mink coat… and black wig!
May 28, 1954, there are the gossip reports that Vikki, “the young model, who made the cover of Life recently” had posed as Miss General Electric earlier that day.
Dougan continues to model (including the 1955 Flexees lingerie ad and on the cover of the George Shearing Quintet’s Velvet Carpet LP), be seen on Gleason’s show — and be mentioned in the gossip columns. In 1956, it was rumored that Gordie Hormel asked her to marry him. She appears as a show girl in Back From Eternity. On April 27, 1956, Winchell On Broadyway reports that Vikki Dugan, “the ‘Away We Go’ gal with the Jackie Gleason show”, signed with MGM. Or did she? On December 21, 1956, Dorothy Kilgallen reports that Dougan “is the first girl to be signed to a Batjac (John Wayne) contract since Anita Ekberg was given her big opportunity.”
In January of 1957, there are reports that Dougan has a role in The Great Man. (She would play Marcia, the new receptionist.)
March 29, 1957, Erskine Johnson‘s Hollywood Today column is titled Vikki Dougan Reverses Trend And Backs Into Film Career:
February 13, 1957, Hedda Hopper reveals that she, Louells Parons, and Hub Keavy are to “pick Miss 8 Ball of 1957. The choice has narrowed to Venita Steenson, Carolyn Jones, Vikki Dougan, Kipp Hamilton, and Adrienne Alison, all beauties. But we’ve go to decide on one, O, dear.” Vikki Is New Ca-rear Girl In Hollywood, by Lee Belser, is so full of puns that they couldn’t publish this on April Fool’s Day and instead published it on April 2, 1957.
Through this time, Vikki “The Back” Dougan makes the rounds in men’s mags, including pictorials in the April 1957 issue of Nugget.
May 7, 1957: Hollywood gossip columnist Harrison Carroll reports that Vikki has been made queen of the California Chiropractic Association’s “Perfect Posture Week.”
In Clothes Make The Act — And The Actor (Oakland Tribune, May 19, 1957), Lloyd Shearer writes a piece that seems to be tailor made for getting The Back out of negative press. In his article, Shearer begins by discussing this “new trend in show business” whereby talent draws on fashion and “practically any female “name” can earn “5,000 a week and up if her attire clicks with the press.” The piece appropriately finishes with Vikki Dougan & her dresses, stating that it was Milton Weiss (Hollywood publicist who’d worked with Anita Ekberg) who was, umm, behind Dougan’s look.
His first move was to have three expensive dresses made for her — without backs. He then titled his client “The Back” and had her appear at previews and parties in her plunging creations. Soon local photographers zeroed in on Miss Dougan’s bare spinal column, and gagsters began originating such cracks as, “Vikki Dougan makes the best exits in town.”
Finally Vikki was banned from someone else’s preview party because her backless formal was drawing too much attention. The incident received proper press coverage. Today Vikkie — born Edith Tooker in Brooklyn — is riding toward fame on the strength of her clothes, what there is of them. It’s a trend, all right.
You might not want to put too much stock in that story tho; it changes, as you’ll soon see.
However, Dougan’s back does make a splash, landing her tail in the June 1957 (Vol. 4, Issue 6) of Playboy.
As noted in that issue of Playboy, the photo that really started it all was a wirephoto which came from Dougan’s appearance at the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s 1957 awards banquet. On July 10th of that year (some Old Guard Hollywood retaliation, perhaps?) Mike Connolly reported in his column, “New Hollywood game called True Or False: Guessing whether Vikkie Dougan got her idea for backless dresses from watching and old Marlon Brando movie…” (In reference to Sophia Loren in A Countess from Hong Kong.)
The Playboy feature was followed-up quickly by a pictorial in Esquire (August 1957).
Around this time The Limeliters would record a song by Cal Grigsby (pseudonym for Malvina Reynolds and Lou Gottlieb) entitled Vikki Dougan, in which they sing of Vikki’s “callipygian cleft” and beg her to “turn your back on me”.
These photographs (undated, circa 1950s) taken by Life staff photographer Ralph Crane capture America’s love-hate with Vikki Dougan & her notorious backside.
In October of that year, press for Hollywood Queens Of Tomorrow, including an AP photo — in which Vikki is not shown from the back:
Fifteen young actresses for whom stardom is predicted wait to go on stage in Hollywood Friday at the fifth annual Deb Star Ball, sponsored by the Hollywood Make-up and Hair Stylists. Several thousand movie people were in the audience at the Palladium. Left to right: Joan Blackman, Peggy Connolly, Patricia Craig, Vikki Ddougan, Dolores Hart, Diane Jergens, Barbara Lang, Ruta Lee, Jana Lund, Carol Lynley, Erin O’Brien, Joan Tabor, Joyce Taylor, Rebecca Welles and Gloria Winters.
Ten days later, Vikki Backs In, Helps Maxie Promote Ice Cream Breakfast (by George Flowers, Independent-Press-Telegram, October 20, 1957).
On the 21st of that month, Vikki the starlet appears at the annual Publicists’ Association Ballyhoo Ball. This is the famed party where Greta Thyssen had a cheetah on a leash, Joan Bradshaw brought a lion, and Errol Flynn and Maura FitzGibbons were arrested on drunk charges; Vikki “Lady Godiva” Dougan was on an artificial horse.
The November 1957 issue of Modern Man carries photos of Dougan (by David Sutton).
December 22, 1957, Dougan uses giant scissors for the ribbon-cutting opening of a Safeway Market in Tarzana.
In 1958, Dougan attempts to change her image. It is noted; but still does not please. On March 24, 1958, Harrison Carroll accuses Dougan of wearing “a shapeless sack (looked like a nightgown) over a satin sheath.” On March 27, 1958, Vikki Dougan was reported to be at the Oscar Award Ceremonies — but still not pleasing anyone:
A bizarre note was added by eager starlet Vikki Dougan, who arrived in gaudy makeup and flapper costume.
Poor Vikki can’t win!
In his June 2, 1958, column, Earl Wilson asked Vikki “about the alleged practice of Hollywood gals calling guys for dates.”
“No, but suppose you’re going with an actor and you say after a premiere, ‘I’d like to go to Mocambo’ and he says, ‘But I can’t afford it.’ So you say, ‘I don’t want to embarrass you but couldn’t we go it I paid the bills?'”
It happened to her, she said, “and strangely enough, if men accept it, they resent it.” Vikki said she may be a sexbomb in the papers but she’s had three dates in a year. “The men you go with want to get married,” she added. “The trouble is, they never say when.”
Meanwhile, photos of her continue to circulate in the various men’s mags.
May 23, 1959, Harrison Carroll uncovers Dougan professional and relationship news.
If she listened to Lili St. Cyr‘s estranged husband, Ted Jordan, actress Vikki Dougan soon will be displaying even more epidermis than in those backless gowns that used to make Hollywood night clubbers gasp.
Jordan, who just started to date Vikki, tells me she would be great in a genteel strip act.
“She reminds me so much of Lili,” he says. “They have the same nose and mouth, the same beautifully arched back. Vikki is not quite as tall as Lili, but, otherwise, their measurements are about the same.
“And I heard Vikki sing. She’d really do great in night club work. I know the ropes and I could help her.”
I checked with Vikki. She’s not convinced, but she’s listening.
Despite roles in three other films (The Tunnel of Love, The Rebel Set, and Here Come the Jets), Vikki’s career clearly wasn’t moving forward enough. (As if the helpful offers from Jordan didn’t tell you that!)
The backslide was noticed.
In October of 1959, “Remember Vikki Dougan?” is the headline. Not only has she fallen out of the press, but apparently work of any kind. She, and her nine year-old daughter, have been living off a $40 weekly unemployment check for the past eight months.
A similar article runs in November of that year, in which Dougan says the reason she wore a backless dress in the first place was to avoid posing “in bikinis and other cheesecake.”
The ever-helpful Erskine Johnson’s got Dougan’s back again at the tail-end of January of 1960, allowing the actress to spin more tales about her notorious backside.
February 22, 1960, Vikki Dougan (misspelled “Vicki Dougan” in the photo caption) is one of the judges for the Miss Pasadena Contest.
But then crickets chirp and Dougan disappears until August 28, 1960. Then photos of Vikki and former Texas Christian football player tuned actor, Jim Sweeney, appear over the AP and are widely picked up — primarily because he places the diamond engagement ring (along with a friendship ring) on the toe of her left foot. Days later, on September 3rd, she (as Edythe A. Tooker) marries James R. Sweeney; he’s 25, she’s 24.
The Pacific Stars & Stripes reports that “Vikki Apparently Needs No Direction” on the set of Peter Gunn (The Candidate episode). (September 16, 1960; photo of Dougan with caption about her appearance on Peter Gunn from San Antonio Light, October 23, 1960.)
Dougan appears in episodes of Michael Shayne (Murder Is a Fine Art) and Sea Hunt (Amigo) in March of 1961. But it’s rather silent, again, until November 20, 1961, when promo photos and pun-y lines about Dougan doing the twist at New York’s Peppermint Lounge appear.
On November 26, 1961, Walter Winchel reports that Vikki had “told chums she will sue Leo Guild for including her in his soon-due book Hollywood Screwballs which mentions Oscar Levant, Bing Crosby, F. Sinatra, and Jayne Mansfield, who aren’t suing.”
September 9, 1962, columnist Connolly quips, “Vikki Dougan, who used to pose in backless gowns, is slamming out a slim volume of verses to be titled “Purple Mud.” Vikki tells me it will be a backless book.” (If anyone show me a copy — or even prove it wasn’t just a joke, please do!)
January 18, 1963 Vikki appears in Los Angeles court to divorce Sweeney, claiming he deserted her after going through her $10,000 savings. The divorce is granted and she accepts a $1 per month alimony.
On June 3, 1963, Earl Wilson reports that Vikki plans to open up a Hollywood barbershop for men.
“Remember Vikki Dougan, Hollywood’s gift to the world of backless dresses? She just signed for a feature role in Hootenanny at MGM,” reports Connolly on July 22, 1963. (She did appear in 1963’s Hootenanny Hoot.) But that didn’t pay the bills; August 11, 1963, Wilson says, “Backless Vikki Dougan now works for a cosmetic company.”
In its January 1964 issue, Cavalier runs a “The Back Is Back” pictorial which features 12 nude photos of Vikki Dougan. Dougan initiates a lawsuit against publisher Fawcett, stating that she posed nude for photos for Playboy, but later backed-out, and they did not have her permission to publish them.
There are a few scattered gossip “spottings,” but nothing much of note until February 22, 1967, when Harrison Carroll reports:
Despite the fact that she took along four wigs, my scouts spotted actress Vikki Dougan at a Houston prizefight with famed attorney Melvin Belli. And they looked just as affectionate as they did recently at Scandia. Can’t blame Melvin. Vikki is a beauty. Understand the two also were in Chicago together and visited Hugh Hefner.
Also in 1967, she would appear in Hotel. And there were reports Dougan, along Sugar Ray Robinson, was part of the cast of Tony Randall & Mickey Rooney’s Las Vegas rendition of The Odd Couple at Casear’s Palace.
In November of 1969, the Fawcett/Cavalier lawsuit is settled out of court. Vikki says the magazine paid her $75,000 to settle; Fawcett Publications, Inc., says it didn’t pay that much.
March 21, 1974, Earl Wilson’s It Happened Last Night column focused on “Shutterbug Respect” and mentions that Vikki Dougan (still haunted by her notorious back-side views) “has joined the profession.” (The profession of photographers, that is.)
And after that, Vikki Dougan seems lost — save for those who fell in love with her image. Along with inspiring pop art, Vikki and her sexy back would be the inspiration for Jessica Rabbit.
Here’s a 2009 interview with Dougan, in which she dishes about Jessica Rabbit and Sinatra:
I’d love to know more, so, if you know something — if you know Vikki! — please do share.
Anita Ekberg stopped in her tacks, obeying the “Don’t Pass Me By” sign taped to a full-length poster of herself wearing a two-piece leopard print swimsuit. I’m not sure how she managed to obey the ‘Happy Father’s Day’ sign, but I’ll give Ekberg the benefit of my doubt.
Photo by Gary Wagner, 1958.
I should be finishing up my draft of a biography of a rel life pinup, but Silent Porn Star has me obsessed with vintage plaster nudes. You know I love and collect pinups, right? (Most recently evident in my inclusion in Pin-Up Queens: Three Female Artists Who Shaped the American Dream Girl at Collectors Weekly.) Including the more risque ones. So why not the 3-D sculpture variety? (Not to mention, I already have a rather serious large vintage chalkware collection these could slide right into.)
[Because I have that other very in-depth, heavily researched article to wrap-up, this is going to have to be a short — though heavily image laden — post.]
There are the most expected Grecian and classical knock-off pieces, to be sure; and the cheap circus and carnival types, with crude or less-polished looks too.
But among them — and pricier by far, are more the art nude and pinup varieties.
Some of them appear to have been handpainted — by the consumer. (Something you can still do today.) But others were clearly sold as final works.
In Dan Goodsell‘s collection, “‘Nudist Scamps’ statuettes; charming, well-posed girls who resembled Fred Moore’s famous pinups in 3-D. These are attributed to a Verdan Lolayne of Hollywood, California. Later called(or acquired by)’Rick’s Figurines’.”
According to a past auction listing at WorthPoint, one of these vintage figurines had a paper tag on the bottom that reads “created by d bensinger hollywood california 1945 manufactured by rick’s figurines.”
Paper labels, rather than embossed or impressed markings on the plaster itself, may be more than partly to blame for us not knowing who designed and/ or manufactured these pieces.
Some of the pieces are, however, marked. This vintage “Hawaiian” nude chalk ashtray is marked “Plastic Arts” and is signed “Gillette” with “The Best Lei In Hawaii” on the base.
What separates all these vintage pieces from the coveted pieces currently under obsession from the above is what also the most alluring about them. The vintage plaster or chalkware figurines have little fabric skirts or loincloths which may come on as modest cover-up, but which really reveal the most about human nature. Most men refer to their dolls as “action figures” and these pieces are no different. No, we’re not talking sex dolls here; but they certainly offer more erotic masturbatory appeal than the others. For before you even know what lies beneath, even when you assume it will be the usual and disappointing smooth generic V, you just have to do more than just look at these figurines — you have to brush the fringe aside with your finger tip and get a look. Surprise, these vintage pieces show the genitalia!
Oddly enough, for vintage pieces depicting “exotic” or “sepia” female beauties, the pubic mounds are sans hair.
Aren’t you just dying to flip the grass skirt made of string aside on this vintage piece by what appears to be Ferguson Studios?
Not all of the pieces with “skirts” or “clothing” were as explicit. This vintage “hula girl” simply has the “smooth V”. However, she is a much more crude piece in terms of all-over quality, including the skirt.
I’m not sure if the lace skirting on vintage plaster wall piece is original, or what it hides…
Ditto this marked piece from Canon Art Statuary U.S.A.
This piece, in an Art Deco style, is less risque, but she has a real string bow.
Quick collectors’ notes:
* Most all appear to hail from the 1940s and 1950s.
* Size range appears to be between 7 and 17 inches.
* The more pinup style pieces and art nude poses range in price from $30 to $60; the more beautiful and fine the piece, it may even reach $100. The more explicit pieces are range from $100 – $200.
If anyone can add more the story of these vintage smut collectibles, please do let Silent Porn Star or I know!
If you’re following my Dare To Be A Feminist topic at Scoop.It (or have just been paying attention to the news), you probably noticed all the discussion about the Pew Research Report that states that women are earning more than their husbands in 40% of American families with children:
A record 40% of all households with children under the age of 18 include mothers who are either the sole or primary source of income for the family, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of data from the U.S. Census Bureau. The share was just 11% in 1960.
These “breadwinner moms” are made up of two very different groups: 5.1 million (37%) are married mothers who have a higher income than their husbands, and 8.6 million (63%) are single mothers.1
The income gap between the two groups is quite large. The median total family income of married mothers who earn more than their husbands was nearly $80,000 in 2011, well above the national median of $57,100 for all families with children, and nearly four times the $23,000 median for families led by a single mother.2
If you, like many other people, just skimmed that headline, here’s what you need to really know about this discovery:
Compared with all mothers with children under age 18, married mothers who out-earn their husbands are slightly older, disproportionally white and college educated. Single mothers, by contrast, are younger, more likely to be black or Hispanic, and less likely to have a college degree.
The growth of both groups of mothers is tied to women’s increasing presence in the workplace. Women make up almost of half (47%) of the U.S. labor force today, and the employment rate of married mothers with children has increased from 37% in 1968 to 65% in 2011.3
One should also note that this is not simply a matter of “feminism having won, so just let it all go away.” For the findings also reveal that “total family income is higher when the mother, not the father, is the primary breadwinner.” Thanks, pink collar ghetto, unequal pay, and continuing notions of gender inequality in the workplace. Not to mention all the BS traditional notions of motherhood.
Never mind the facts, however; let’s just get to the million dollar subtext question Liza Donnelly put forth regarding the 37% — the married mothers who have a higher income than their husbands: Can Husbands Handle Being Outearned By Their Wives?
The answer is, quite clearly, “No.”
Exhibit A: Lou Dobbs and his all-male panel of guests. Here, the comments range from Doug Schoen’s “a catastrophic issue” that “could undermine our social order” to Erick Erickson’s statement that this is the real “war on women.”
If you want to dismiss all this as the ramblings of irrelevant talking asshats on Fox (for which I will gently remind you that their rhetoric is often too dangerous to be dismissed), you’ll need to also know about this other study, called In Sickness and In Wealth, from Washington University in St Louis’ Olin Business School.
This research found that “men are more likely to experience problems with erectile dysfunction and other forms of mental and physical anguish as a result of his female counterpart being the primary breadwinner”.
Olin Business School professor Lamar Pierce and Michael S. Dahl of Aalborg University in Denmark write: ‘Male sexual desire and behavior is tied to cultural and social factors such as patriarchy and money, potentially causing men to suffer reduced sexual desire or dysfunction when perceiving their traditional role of provider to be usurped.
‘In fact, the medical literature has shown that anger and frustration can lead to serious sexual problems such as erectile dysfunction (ED), a problem also linked to unemployment and decreasing household income.’
Additionally, Pierce told NBC News: ‘There is a powerful social norm for many men that it’s important to make more than their wives and, essentially, when that social norm is violated, what this does is make them feel emasculated.’
And men do not usually suffer alone, as research found that the female breadwinner also has problems with insomnia and anxiety.
Men in such a relationship have also been found to be more likely to cheat in an effort to regain their bedroom mojo.
It seems we have not come a long way, baby, in terms of marital duties, especially not in terms of how men think. Shudder. Bigger shudder. Because this all sounds like a lot more permission slips are about to be handed out.
Of course, not all men are this primitive. But for some reason, primitive still prevails in the politics (and libidos) of our lives.
Fashion is one of the very few forms of expression in which women have more freedom than men.
And I don’t think it’s an accident that it’s typically seen as shallow, trivial, and vain.
It is the height of irony that women are valued for our looks, encouraged to make ourselves beautiful and ornamental… and are then derided as shallow and vain for doing so. And it’s a subtle but definite form of sexism to take one of the few forms of expression where women have more freedom, and treat it as a form of expression that’s inherently superficial and trivial. Like it or not, fashion and style are primarily a women’s art form. And I think it gets treated as trivial because women get treated as trivial.
What’s more, there’s an interestingly sexist assumption that often gets made about female fashion — namely, that it’s primarily intended to get male attention and male approval.
In my experience, this is very much not the case. Female fashion is often as much about women’s communication with one another as it is about our communication with men. More so, in many ways. When women who clearly care about fashion and style pass each other on the street, there’s often a sort of silent conversation: a moment of acknowledgement, a nod of recognition. (And the conversation isn’t always silent — I’ve been known to go up to totally strange women in bars or on the street and compliment them on their outfits. As other women have with me.) At parties, at conventions, at social and professional gatherings of all sorts, if there’s a decent number of women, there are almost certainly women checking out each other’s styles: appreciatively, competitively, enviously, companionably, subtly jockeying for status, in a spirit of co-operation and camaraderie, and in just about every other angle on human connection you can imagine. And it has little or nothing to do with men.
Now, granted: I’m a dyke, a lesbian-identified bisexual, and as such I have a different angle on this issue than many. I do have some interest in whether men find me attractive, but for the most part it’s only a passing interest, and my sexual self-esteem is only tangentially related to men’s opinions of me. (And my attention to other women is often driven by, shall we say, something other than our silent conversations about style.) But I’ve talked with other non-dyke women who are interested in fashion and style, and they say much the same thing: They dress for other women as much as they dress for men — and in many ways, more so. In particular, they dress for other stylish women. And this assumption that women’s fashion is aimed solely or primarily at men… well, there’s more than a little sexism behind it.
From the Corpus Christi Times , March 29, 1957, comes this frightful ad featuring scary movies boldly warning things such as “Do not judge by anything seen before!” and “Girls! Come with a Big Strong He-Man to Protect You When Lights Go Out!”
As if that weren’t sexist enough, there was a special promotion targeting women in this vintage horror film ad too:
We Double Dare Girls! Win This Too In Addition
So much scarier than other shows — we bet girls don’t sit thru it.
If you have the never to sit thru it all — you win a FREE full dram of one of such famous perfumes as Arpege, Chanel No. 5, Indonesia, Black Leopard, My Sin
Or at least it would seem to be targeting women… I mean, on the surface it seems a ploy to appeal to women, to get women into the theaters once again; but if you look at it long enough, it sure seems to be an ad targeting men to bring a date to this movie. They get to play “big strong man” and provide her with a gift of perfume too.
Found inside a 1940 Nabisco Shredded Wheat cook book, a page for fathers. Don’t worry, it means all men. All men were called “Father” or “Daddy”, even by their wives. And grown men who weren’t married parent? Oh, society wondered what was wrong with them. While we’re stating at this, the sepia-toned photo makes it appear as if Father is on a cordless telephone. (The opposite page promotes the “new” salted Triscuits.)
I’ve often viewed sexual objectification as a passive-aggressive thing. As in the human being objectified (most often a woman) is passive to the aggressive actions (usually from men). What clinches the deal and makes it textbook passive-aggressive behavior is how the perpetrators are so insistent in their disavowal and sullen in their complaints of being misunderstood. These vintage watches (from martonmere at Etsy) are the perfect illustration of such sexual objectification of women. Note how the male penis is the automaton, moving up and down as the watch ticks, while the females remain unmovable, unfazed, objects to receive. (Not to mention, the watches need winding, and this whole subject winds me up!) More on these sort of watches here.
John Timmer brings new attention to breasts, from a scientific point of view. According to a new article in Archives of Sexual Behavior, a study indicates Men’s Oppressive Beliefs Predict Their Breast Size Preferences in Women:
Further analyses showed that men’s preferences for larger female breasts were significantly associated with a greater tendency to be benevolently sexist, to objectify women, and to be hostile towards women.
Having spent most of my adult life in the “large to very large” categories of breasts, I can attest to some of this in a personal sense. The very fact that I know the category of my breast size is due more to male attention than bra shopping. Really.
Food for thought in terms of beauty standards — and I wonder how this fits in with masochistic “women’s magazines” which push not only the standards but beauty products as well.
In related news, Sociological Images there’s nipple talk. The comments are worth checking out as well.
Image: Cherri Knight
The post title isn’t a typo; it’s more like a pun. See? Via.
In Movie-Struck Girls: Women & Motion Picture Culture After the Nickelodeon, by Shelley Stamp, we learn more than just the roles of women in films or behind the camera — we learn about women’s role as patrons of cinema.
The book is an eye-opening look at a long ignored part of American film history — and an astonishing look at the history of women as media consumers.
Stamp spent over ten years researching for this book. She studied trade journals, fan magazines, ephemera, and many official documents and records at the National Board of Censorship Archives in New York City, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Margaret Herrick Library in Los Angeles, & the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. Many of the films she reviewed are no longer readily available, let alone circulating, but can be found at the Library of Congress & the UCLA Film and Television Archive.
It sounds like a huge undertaking, & I thank her for it. ‘Movie-Struck Girls’ presents a wealth of information that I had never known before.
Movies began with the nickelodeon, and as such, movies were not places for proper or even improper ladies to be. In the early 1900s, when films were being moved from temporary places with projection onto sheets & walls, and cinemas were being built, many in the business of film, began to reconsider women. This was a purely economic move. For if these new developments, these more expensive buildings, were going to pay for themselves & gain profits to pad pockets, the new movies must include women as patrons & gain their approval.
Why? In ‘Movie-Struck Girls’ the author reminds us of an America where women were seen as the keeper of the family morals. Neither little Johnny Jr. nor Johnny Sr. would be allowed to go to such places if Mother didn’t approve. In order for women to view movies as more than sordid places where her family wouldn’t be caught dead, these new cinemas would need to gain the respect of women. The best way to do that, would be to show women, fine respectable women, how respectable & fine the theaters were. It was thought that if women would give the theaters a try, and continue to come, their physical presence would elevate the standing of film viewing.
So, movie theater owners began to court women as patrons.
They did so via premiums & tie-ins & in addressing the decor of the cinemas themselves. As a marketing person, I enjoyed the conceptions about women, and how they would lure them into the movie-going fold — with many of the tricks still employed in the movie trade today. As a woman, I felt more than a bit bitter to see what they thought…
As Stamp illustrates, cinemas were designed with appeal to women in mind. They were located near shopping and offered services such as package holding with hopes of luring women into the buildings. The buildings themselves were decorated to attract the feminine. It was suggested in industry publications that cinemas ought to have lobbies, with plenty of mirrors, to encourage female patrons — by appealing to their vanity. They thought ‘what woman doesn’t want to see herself & parade for others?’
But then, they complained that women didn’t know how to behave properly: they talked, they interrupted the absorption of the movies themselves. The very women they encourage to be vain, to come to the theater to be seen, these women didn’t want to sit quietly in a dark room full of others who were not paying attention to them. These women who were, by societal standing, to ‘dress’ for these public events, they wore hats that blocked views. And so even while courted by the film industry as valuable assets to ensure the viability of films as safe, moral entertainment for families, the industry mocked them in articles & cartoons. The debate within the industry as to the need for women, how to both cater to while educating them to achieve their purpose, was entering full swing.
But this was only the industry side of the debate; Next, Stamp shows us society’s debates.
In the early 1900’s, the most popular films were vice films, & in the teens, a major societal concern was The White Slave Trade. Sensational white slave films were made during this time, to warn folks of the dangers to their women. Conflicting with the as-billed-educational-films messages, cinemas brought women-folk out into public where they could easily fall prey to such ills as the white slave trade. Debate centered around the irony. Other debate focused on the films themselves, and censorship issues were raised. And to make matters worse, women seemed to enjoy such films! Oh, how could such tender beings watch & enjoy such lewd filth such as scenes from brothels?!
Obviously, women enjoyed the films from the same points of fascination as men, but as the author clearly reminds us, there is more. Adding to the fascination, was the fact that women themselves has seen little of ‘the world’ — even if that ‘world’ was part of their very own city. Through movies, women vicariously saw their nation. This alone would make these films riveting for women.
Again, as movie houses were public gathering places, classes mingled. Not only were there the fine upscale families as so recruited by theater managers, but along with them, the working class — including single women. Single women moved about the theater as patrons, both in danger & dangerous themselves. A woman alone could end up in the slave trade, or she might mingle with gentlemen of good standing… In fact, theaters often hired pretty, single young girls to be ticket sellers, ushers, cigarette girls etc. This was seemingly at odds with the motives of ‘women adding respectability’ and elevating the idea of theater, but it was a lure that worked. But the independent woman, even if only a work-class-girl, is dangerous. Much debate centered around the appropriateness of such places for women & families.
Since the elevation of cinema depended upon the stamp of approval from women, including materials & promotions designed to engage them, the talks about women’s roles in film viewing were discussed by women. Given the general fear of ‘those darn suffragettes,’ encouraging women to debate the social & safety issues of women viewing film — in the context of women viewing educational films about civil matters — seemed a dangerous thing indeed.
The film industry needed to ‘clean up’ the entertainment, so they began to focus on films aimed at women, with stories & formats they knew — Enter the serial film.
The industry coordinated film with print versions of stories in newspaper & print publications. Again, these were often aimed at women, but then came the ‘oh no!’ cry, as women did in fact enjoy the adventure stories. It is at this time that film gave rise to the very popular female star. She was now revered for both her on-screen & off-screen antics. So much so, that young women everywhere started dreaming of being a movie star themselves!
To counter act the scary notion of independent women, adventure serials, & vice films it became routine to mock independent women, with notions of becoming a movie star, or worse, civic ideas. The author clearly shows examples, such as a 1916, The Motion Picture Classic cartoon with the following poem to illustrate this concern:
“When our dear grandmas were girls,
They’d smile and smooth their pretty curls.
Look in the mirror then & say
“Oh, will he think me fair today?”
Today the girlies everywhere,
In the mirror gravely stare;
“Am I fair enough,” they day,
“To be a movie star some day?”
But poetry would not be deemed enough. There would also be many films to lampoon the suffragette.
Mainly these films attempted to show how crazy things would be if women could vote. Movies depicting women taking over government & leaving men’s needs behind darkly illustrating the dangers present to men were made, but more often, comedy was used. Cross-dressing men & women exchanged roles, with only love ‘saving’ the women from their folly. Ironically, it seems to the reader that perhaps these movies did more favor to the opposition than to their own cause.
The suffragist movement noted the power of cinema. If educational films were popular, and women not only allowed but encouraged to attend, why not make propaganda films of their own? Both the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) & the Women’s Political Union (WPU) made films to both rally women to the cause & to educate resistant men & women. Sadly, many of their films seemed to falter at romantic notions. In order to make the female stars appealing, less threatening, most often the female lead would succumb to love & home, happy with her vote, but definitely not claiming civic responsibilities.
In ‘Movie-Struck Girls’ you learn all about these long-hidden details of American film history & it’s collision with turn of the century American values — including titles, studios, stars, organizations, & political figures. For a person who adore film & is a passionate feminist, this is a great read. Why it’s as thrilling as those old adventure serial films!
Stamp does a great job of presenting this long ignored part of film — and women’s — history. It’s definitely an academic read, which means it is meaty enough for those who want to further search for clues, artifacts & films themselves. It may not read like a novel, but it’s so fascinating & full of details, it won’t disappoint. Fans of film, especially silent films, cannot call themselves educated in the subject unless they know this history. And women, well, we start to see a much larger image emerge — our complaints regarding women in the media have much deeper roots than we previously knew.
Play with the paper, undress a gal. Circa 1950s. Multiple copies available here.
Any man who brags about his speed in bed takes a chance. In this case, humor disarms as well as charms. I’d give him the minute or two. *wink*
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