Women In Election History

1958 maidenfom I dreamed election ad photo by john rawlings Whether or not “you’re with her,” you have to recognize the historical step of Hillary Clinton becoming the first female presumptive presidential nominee for a major U.S. political party. However, she was not the first woman to run for president. Rachel Maddow covered the titillating news (and nervous giggling that ensued) when other women ran for president of the United States of America. Maddow’s coverage includes vintage news clips reporting on Maine Senetor Margaret Chase Smith’s run for the Republican presidential nomination in 1964 and when Shirley Chisholm, the first African-American congresswoman from New York State, ran for Democratic presidential nomination in 1972.

Thankfully, there were no advertisements, real or parody, featuring any of the candidates in their underthings. A sign of minimal respect, perhaps. But then, the Maidenform “I Dreamed I won the election” ad from 1958 must have brought many a chuckle & guffaw. (More on the classic vintage lingerie ad series here & here.)

Human Auction, 1950

From the December 18, 1950 issue of Broadcasting Telecasting:

During two-hour talent show, men were put on block with auctioneer describing their qualifications. Offers of $5 to $35 were bid by telephone for their services to wash dishes, shine shoes, clean bird cages and many other tasks.


Just How Innocent Are These “How To Attract Women” Websites?

The Men’s Right Movement (MRM) may have begun in support of women and feminism, but it’s gone to hell.

How to Get Along With Girls vintage adThere’s always been an element of “I want to be a playboy” in the world of modern Western men. From the somewhat harmless fantasies of bachelors who want to play with sex kittens in what they imagined “the good old days to be like”, to the sincere and earnest pleas of men who feel they are less desired than so-called traditional masculine males, they (and a number of women) have created decades of openly making money off the “how to get girls” marketplace. You can make an argument that this sort of thing gives women the upper hand. That even men in “the game” (often referred to as Game with a capital ‘G’) are at the mercy of women. Certainly, many Third Wave Feminists would agree. And, frankly, many of us struggle with where to draw the line between what is harmless and funny and what is perpetuating negative stereotypes and outright misogyny.

But now, too much of the behavior from the MRM removes any notion of this being a fun “game.” It has crossed that line and angrily morphed into a hardcore hatred of women. Even if it seems hidden behind benign men’s help sites.

Typified by phrases about “reclaiming their balls”, as if the fact that women are equals somehow feminizes men, and given the supposedly harmless name of “The Manosphere”, it has grown on the Internet, connecting like-minded males and converting others. Dagonet of The Quest For 50 explains:

The history of the Manosphere is nebulous.

…Like an echo, a shadow, a vague thought that has reverberated louder and louder with time. You can trace its DNA through the works of ancient poets and philosophers– great men throughout history who identified truths of human nature– through to the modern era. For millennia, these truths were regarded as common sense, and they were integrated functionally into the way society was organized, and the social standards of each population. But with the cultural revolution beginning in the 1960s and reaching a tipping point in the 1990s, a need arose for men to more explicitly teach each other these lost truths. The Manosphere might have begun with Tony’s Lay Guide, The Mystery Method, or other forums hidden in the dark crevices of the nascent internet of the 1990s (such as alt.seduction). It might have begun with The Futurist’s essay “The Misandry Bubble.” It might have begun with Roosh (f/k/a DC Bachelor), Matt Forney (f/k/a Ferdinand Bardamu), and Heartiste (f/k/a Roissy) coalescing around a shared worldview at the crossroads of sex, politics, and a restless sense of lost masculinity, awaiting a revolution.

As more voices began to join the swelling chorus of disenfranchised, horny, clueless men looking to reclaim their balls and dignity, the “Manosphere” as we currently know it was born.

Lest you believe this sounds harmless enough, Dagonet goes on to complain about how so many in the Manosphere have been “‘outed’ and had to delete their blogs in hopes of preserving their privacy and maybe keeping their job/relationship/reputation.” How innocent could these poor victims have been?

And Dagonet’s the guy who claims to be part of Red Pill Thinking yet he feels that the #YesAllWomen response to an all too typical tragedy is not part of reality but rather is an “absolute shitstorm of idiocy, misinformation, and narcissism.”

His collaboration with The Real Christian McQueen should relegate that site to “questionable” at best.

Then you’ve got guys like Jeff Allen, an “Executive Coach” with Real Social Dynamics Nation, a site the exists to sell a boatload of “how to be attractive to women” books, products, and seminars. Again, this might seem innocuous, maybe even helpful; but take a look at Allen’s Twitter account and you’ll be enlightened. These are some of his stellar tweets:






All this, & we didn’t even get into the series of nauseating legislation proposals or anything.

Manosphere diminishing? You’ll get no tears from me.

(Some screen caps in case the tweets disappear.)

FireShot Screen Capture #357 - 'Twitter _ JeffreyLAllenIX_ If a woman vomits blood after ___' - twitter_com_JeffreyLAllenIX_status_369307985798914048

allen tweet about strippers and rape incest

FireShot Screen Capture #358 - 'Twitter _ JeffreyLAllenIX_ Girls date unemployed filthbeard ___' - twitter_com_JeffreyLAllenIX_status_397525867116519424

More #YesAllWomen Backlash & Myth-Information (It’s Math, Really)

If you don’t follow me on Twitter, then you may not have noticed how in love I am with the #YesAllWomen phenomenon. Personally, it became very difficult for me to maintain such conversations when Maya Angelou passed, but despite that, and the hashtag’s bump off the top trends at Twitter, I manage to maintain conversations. (My goal, and yours, should be to talk about the realities of women’s lives daily to ensure the conversations continue. The hatred and misogyny, the misinformation and bad defensive attitudes, they all continue so the conversations must.

Today’s example comes from the Washington Post: One way to end violence against women? Stop taking lovers and get married.

Oh, sure, they went and changed that horrible title & subtitle…

yesallwomen backlash

But that’s not much better, is it?

The general point of view in the article itself is one of victim shaming. Along with that, there’s the whole shaming of single women, especially single mothers (see history of this here). — and the assertion that “single women who date more” are the problem is rife with problems. Simple, obvious problems.

Yes, it may be safer for women (& their children) if they remain with one man — but that’s because the majority of gender-based violence is committed by someone the woman knows. Ditto child abuse. So, even as the percentage of abusive men remains the same, the more men a woman knows, the greater the number of bad men she knows and so grows the likelihood that she will be attacked, raped, abused, etc.  Yup, that’s how math works.

So what W. Bradford Wilcox and Robin Fretwell Wilson proclaim is that women, the victims and potential victims, once, must again, be the ones taught to control rape culture & misogyny. That way, if it happens to them, they are to blame. We give permission to men because the women didn’t protect themselves enough.

Why can’t the men be the ones educated and blamed?

One of the fundamental points of #YesAllWomen is that our culture has it all backwards. The burden should not be on women to take actions to prevent themselves from what men do, but that men need to cut this shit out. And we all need to stop justifying bad & violent behaviors.

Women & Children Should Be Scene & Not Heard

We’ve all heard the expression “Children should be seen and not heard”, an expression particularly aimed at girls. Well, apparently it was updated in the 1970s to be “Children should be scene and not heard”. Enter Exhibit A, a vintage advertisement for Mary Maxim needlecraft kits which features a little girl dressed to complete a festive holiday scene:

mary maxim vintage ad 1978

The girl wears a floor-length red dress, much like the table wears a red floor-length tablecloth. Both decorative small female child and small table each wear overlays of fancy white crocheted creations (the Mary Maxim pinafore and tablecloth kits).  If anyone can show me an example of this done to boys or men, please do.

The ad was found in the September 1978 issue of Decorating & Craft Ideas Magazine.

Ah, The Chick’s An Old Battle Ax

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.


What Are Women Earning? (And How Are Men Shrinking?)

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

(There’s also discussion of the dreaded single mothers; so I urge you to read the entire Pew findings.)

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.

guys love it

The Smell Of Fear (Or Something Stinks In Vintage Film Ad)

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.

Father’s Page

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.)

Men Are Big Babies

That’s a factual statement; look how the man drapes over and out of the old pram. However, I do have to pause and wonder why so many men prefer to dress like giant babies than as women… Is it because there’s nothing lower than being a woman? Or do they shirk the effort of taking care of giant man-babies even for a few hours? I think any answer is as revealing as another. Vintage photo for sale here; via.

Sex Strike Strife

Via Sex-Kitten.net (NWS), I heard about the Liberal Ladies Who Lunch and their attempts to organize women in protest of the recent war on women with SexStrike.org:



In light of the recent war on women, we are calling for a nationwide sex strike from April 28th to May 5th. All women should withhold from having sex with their partners.

This will help people understand that contraception is for women and men, because men enjoy the benefit of women making their own choices about when and if they want to get pregnant.

Once congress and insurance agencies agree to cover contraception, we will then resume having sex. Until then men will have to be content with their hand.

The suggestion is nothing new and the group notes the history on their FaceBook page — a page where you can read some nasty, negative and ignorant responses which only make women like me feel more like doing it by not doing it, i.e. going on a sex strike.  However, the sex strike mandate does present some issues…

As Gracie at Sex Kitten notes (still not work safe!):

While this may have some merits in terms of affecting those with men who need a little push, making those men pull it on their own, what about lesbians? And does this effectively unemploy sex workers?

These may not be the groups who should bear further duress in our dark times.

Besides, am I to punish myself and my husband — a man who already agrees such attacks upon women are terribly unfair, unsafe, and unreasonable? Isn’t the real point to motivate the unbelievers, those who would keep women under their thumbs?

As a survivor of domestic violence, my main concern is that this passive act of civil disobedience by women will be met with violence from their men at home.   Unlike Virginia State Del. David Albo (R-Fairfax Station), not all men will take “no” for an answer; especially if it’s politically motivated. After all, the whole point of this anti-women legislation is that we women are not individuals with equal rights; we are property that men control. So why would a man male who thinks that way accept his property has the right to say no? It brings the all too real and violent images of “breaking strikes” to mind.

Maybe the safest paths to take are legislative; to fight female health and contraceptive restriction with male reproductive and sexual restriction.

The “Cherry Bomb” Bomb: An Ignorant Hetero Midwest Girl Reviews The Runaways Film

Cherie Currie and Joan Jett, back in the days when they were Runaways.

I don’t ever claim to be first with the reviews (I deal in old stuff, so why even rush to hop on the bandwagon with films about retro bands?), so you’ve likely already heard about, read reviews of, or even seen 2010’s The Runaways, starring Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning. Anyway…

The Runaways is an incredible film. You should see it. My only real comments are really about my impressions of myself…

I wasn’t actually going to write any sort of a review, but then I stumbled onto Susie Bright’s commentary:

“What is this Little Debbie BULLSHIT?” I said. “This is a disgrace.”

Director Floria Sigismondi’s “pretty-in-glam” Runaways promo wasn’t the underground punk scene I remember from Los Angeles in the 1970’s.

And then I thought, “Hey, someone needs to speak for the rest of the un-cool kids here in the Midwest.”

You see, I didn’t know of The Runaways until after there was Joan Jett and the Blackhearts’ I Love Rock and Roll.  That made it on the radar — and radio waves — in Midwest suburbia.  Heck, my mom was a HUGE fan of that song!  (Rock on, Mom!)

Before Bright’s commentary, I’d viewed the relationship between Jett and Currie as a more complicated version of the college lesbianism experience, mixed with drugs, celebrity-too-soon, and, sure, what looked in the film like a bit of opportunistic, if not predatory, moves on Jett’s part — which seemed more natural and less creepy than it sounds, really. And I don’t suppose Bright’s commentary really changes any of that. ( Or that my interpretation of the film is accurate; or even that the film was entirely explicit about many intimate aspects of their personal lives. It was, after all, a film; not a documentary.) But I feel it’s worth noting that Los Angeles is, and was, a million miles away from my Milwaukee suburban experience. Or even my imagining.

I was in gay bars in the 80’s. However, I’m sure they weren’t anything like the punk scenes you big coastal cities had. I’m sure even the leather and dungeon rooms would have seemed comical (at least by comparison at the time). But my point is that even though I wasn’t phobic, wasn’t ignorant, and therefore wasn’t shocked or put-off by anything in The Runaways that would have freaked my version of the world at that time, the sort of cultural context Bright feels was a necessary part of the story has me thinking… Maybe too much.

Yes, it may be accurate to say, as Bright does, that, “The Runaways band would not have happened, could not have been conceived, without the Underground Dyke Punk Groupie Slut culture that stretched from the San Fernando Valley to the bowels of Orange County,” but is it necessary to understand or appreciate the film, the story of (at least two of) the girls in the all-girls band?

Maybe it’s some sort of “ism” for a heterosexual chick to say it doesn’t matter; or at the very least, I’m being insensitive and dismissive to a movement. I certainly don’t mean to be.  Yet, I thought the film was about forging ahead against the odds, the isolating experience of individuals — of female individuals — and maybe all that cultural context wasn’t integral?  Then again, I’m always harping on the context of things, and certainly the counter-culture is as important in the story of where this band, these women, sat as the cultural norms I was carrying in my own head.

I just can’t decide.

Because fundamentally, I felt the tidal waves of emotion of abuse (self, drug, management, the industry, etc.), dreams gained and lost, friendships, trust, creativity, and being a woman with little respect through it all… And I’m not sure that being more precise in the documentation or depiction of what Bright described as the scene at the time is would have enhanced that ride. Though I guess I’ll never know because that film hasn’t been made.

At the end of The Runaways, I was left wanting to discover what others already had; the music of the band itself. (And the music each made with other bands and in solo careers — save, perhaps, for Lita Ford.  Hubby had a crush on her, so her discs are around… Plus, at the end of The Runways, I didn’t like her. Sure, I understood what motivated her snits; but ick.)   Though, what Susie Bright said now not only colors my thoughts about the film, but thoughts about the music as well.

Such is the plight of one who thinks too much, I suppose.

Can I continue to rock to Crimson & Clover without having any such thoughts of celebrating a “dyke rock’n’roll legacy” — and not have that be dismissive or exclusionary, not have it be a political or social statement at all? Yes, I think I can. So I think I can enjoy The Runaways as a film without any of that too.

I think that’s the question, and the answer.  For me.

I’ll tell you how that works as I listen to more of the music.  …Maybe watch the film again.

PS The end of the movie left you rather feeling like Cherie had relegated herself to, or was even happy with, some sort of boring mainstream life after the band split. Clearly the film focused on Jett. (Odd because the movie was based largely on Currie’s autobiography, Neon Angel: A Memoir of a Runawayoriginally published in 1989; reprinted to coincide with the film.) But Currie’s life indeed went on.  Cherie also went on to play more music; to marry and divorce from Robert Hays (of Airplane! — what an odd pairing in my mind) — they even had a son, Jake Hays, who accompanied his mom and dad at The Runaways premier, and to rock the art as a chainsaw chick.

Suffering A Man In A Dress For Suffrage

On the front of this 5 3/4 X 3 1/2 “snapshot,” which the seller says is circa 1915, someone has printed “AN ARIZONA SUFFRAGETTE.”

As I cannot handle this photograph, I am not certain of it’s age — but I  am certain that the “suffragette” it is a man wearing a dress and apron.  Something about the photo feels more modern than 1915… Maybe it’s just that men putting on dresses to mock women for being too masculine to be pretty, that equal rights for women is as silly as a man wearing a dress, that the whole thing is just too-too familiar.

Confessions Of Culture Shifts & Gender Bias

Sometimes being 46 years old — and a woman — is an amazing thing. I’m often fascinated by the cultural shifts I’ve witnessed; too often dismayed by the cultural shifts promised which have not occurred, been set further back even… But it sure has been a shifty four decades.

I often wonder if other individual women in other generations have anything to compare…

I’ve thought my Great Aunt M had lived through some amazing changes — suffrage, working during WWII and returning back home when the men came back to claim “their” jobs, the choice not to have children in the atomic family age… Amazing cultural shifts in one lifetime.

I’ve long been aware of my mother’s experience — but usually from the point of view of what it’s been like to have been her daughter. She was the first and only mom I knew who consistently worked outside of the home. At first it may have just been for the money; waitressing and the like. But by the late 70’s she was progressing from “just an office job” to reading The Assertive Woman, attending workshops on how-to-dress-for-success, and actively pursuing a career. As the only kids in the neighborhood — and in our family — with a wanting-to-work mom (and a father who supported her choice and her work), my sister and I had a different perspective of women’s lib: equal parts of liberation, greater responsibilities, and increased expectations. …This could be a long post by itself.

But just a few days ago I had an astonishing talk with my mother which made me reexamine just what it must have been like for her…

She and I had been discussing how different my sister and I are (I’ve always said that if we hadn’t been born sisters, we never would have met), and I said, “I could understand it better if she and I had been born further apart, but there’s only a year and a half separating us — we were raised by the same parents, at the same time in their lives.”

And then that’s when my mom shared some stories that rocked my brain.

When my mom was in high school, this would be the late 1950s, she wanted a summer job. Her father said he would recommend her to the diaper washing service next to his auto-body shop if she promised to work every single day — not miss one day, or ever be late. She agreed, he made the recommendation, and she got the summer job.

She went in to work every day, all summer long. Then one night, she and her boyfriend — her first love, broke up. She spent all night crying, as teenage girls will do. When she woke up and her father spotted her in the hall, he asked her why she wasn’t yet dressed for work. She responded that she was a mess, that she could barely see through her puffy eyes, that she wouldn’t be going into work that day. Her father looked directly at her, said, “You gave your word,” then turned on his heel and left.

Mom quickly got dressed and to work on time.  She never missed one day of work and lived up to her word.

When it came time for her younger sister Vickie, mom’s junior by nine years, to get a summer job, Vickie only worked four days before she quit. Years later, when having some sister-chat, my Aunt Vicki asked her sister, my mother, “Why didn’t they teach me to be responsible, like they did you?”

My mom’s response was, “You came along at a different time in their lives; you were their baby and they had different expectations of you.”

That is probably a fair analysis. And an amazingly insightful, non-spiteful, response from my mother to boot.

But my mom wasn’t done sharing her stories.

A few years after the summer laundry job, my mom worked full-time as a secretary at a finance company. This was at the same time that her brother, Mike, just two years her junior, was working at Pabst. My mom was paying $15 a week in rent to her parents. She thought nothing of it until she discovered that her brother wasn’t paying anything to their parents.

When she asked her parents why she paid rent and her brother did not, the answer (given in that “you’re so silly to ask” tone of condescension) was that “she was working for pin money, but Mike was a man.”

Even though “Mike the man” wasn’t supporting a family (his paycheck went to purchase beer), the assumption was that he was working for a future, that his paycheck and job were more important. He was expected to work; she was not.   The price for her frivolity in dabbling in employment was one she would have to pay for.

Even now when I think about this I am amazed. Not just that this greatly shifts my perception of my beloved grandparents, who were a product of their own times, but that my mother who was raised by and living with these people had the guts to question her parents about this gender bias.

But that’s not even the worst of it.

When I expressed my surprise and shock — including that I’d never heard these stories before, my mother shared one more…

This one is about my cousins, Lisa & Danny, who are my Uncle Mike’s kids.

Recently, my cousin Lisa was out to lunch with my mom and she confessed that both she and her brother felt they never pleased their father; Danny for not being a macho sports guy — and Lisa for not being a boy at all. It was so bad that Lisa said, “You know, my mom never read to me. Not once. She read to Danny.”  And then she rapidly tacked on — as if risking being accused of being unfair or mean-spirited,  “I could listen though.”

Images of a small shy child silently lurking in the doorway while a mother snuggled with a sibling on a bed, reading to him from a book he’d selected… *shudder*

I always wondered why my cousin Lisa was so shy — painfully so. Ill-confident, uncomfortable in her own skin.  How can you be anything else when your own parents don’t think you’re worthy of being read to because you’re not a male child?

It sounds the stuff of the 1950s, not the 1960s and 70s… If  “America” at all.

But here it is, gender bias bullshit, from real lives, not text book depictions; from my family, some of it even in my lifetime.  It’s real. It’s still living here, if only in echos. And poor self esteem.

Image via Steady Mom.

Ranch Romances & Adventures

Ranch Romances & Adventures, May, 1971.

Ranch Romances & Adventures

Contrary to what Jack Martin/Gary Dobbs says, I do not see Ranch Romance (& Adventures) magazines as primarily for women.

Jack/Gary says they must be “aimed at young women since all of the stories have a romantic element to them.” But come on now, dude, I know this may be difficult for a man who loves Westerns to admit but the whole genre – from books to films — is nothing but male romance novels and dick flicks. Sure, there’s some action in there; but the guns and body counts are there to win the damsel, the dame — the 500 miles he would walk just to fall down at her door.

Stop living in denial.

You men are just as much suckers for romance as we women are. You want to read about a good chaste kiss, a ravishing bodice ripping — and this publication proves it.

Or does it… Perhaps I am biased more than a bit by my feminine experiences and feminist equality-seeking nature. For over at Laurie’s Wild West, Laurie Powers shares the story behind the pulp magazine, using the publication founder’s own words. Harold Hersey claimed full credit for launching Ranch Romances in September 1924 (The “Adventures” joined the “Ranch Romances” in 1969) in his biography, Pulpwood Editor. Hersey writes:

My home run was Ranch Romances. I conceived of the idea of combining the Western and the love themes in a single magazine under the title of Western Love Stories. Our distributors considered it too close an imitation of the Street & Smith titles. We were told to think up another. The result was Ranch Romances and it was an almost instantaneous hit with women readers. Instead of the cowboy hero, we offered the cowgirl heroine. Bina Flynn, the editor we chose to handle the fresh idea, built the magazine into a huge success.

While I think combining Westerns and Romances is redundant, either I’m wrong — or Hersey’s another one of these men afraid to admit the romantic truth about men. Maybe, just maybe, the truth of Ranch Romances‘ success lies in the complicated truth of this simple line: “Instead of the cowboy hero, we offered the cowgirl heroine.”

Vintage Ranch Romances Magazine

Women likely responded to dreaming the possible dream of a strong female heroine who was still desired by men. Men likely felt reciprocally reassured that even today’s ballsy woman still could be wooed and won by a macho male. (However, as always, the stories end before the truly difficult part of meshing roles and living happily ever after begins; like dirty dishes in the sink, no one wants to get to that part.)

Laurie Powers touches on some of this modernized gender stuff in her post too, so read that as Exhibit A. And as further proof of the male adoption of this publication I’ll let you know that the previous owner of my May 1971 issue was male. And check out the sexist ad on the back cover.

Anyway, this Ranch Romances & Adventures I have makes me sad. (It probably made others sad too as it was the publication’s last year.)

Ranch Romances may have been more of a pulp publication, prior to the mid-1960s at least, with fantastic graphics and fantasy fiction, but by this point the magazine was more personals ads digest than pulpy delight.

Of course, I may be biased. Again. I prefer the vintage styles more than the retro ones, and my “like” barometer is built upon that grading system. But from what I’ve seen and read, Rance Romances & Adventures is a desperate combination of personal pleas and ads designed to make money off those in despair.

(I’ll be sharing more of scans from this particular issue here and over at Kitschy Kitschy Coo as Valentine’s Day approaches.)

Lashes For The Feminist Movement

Picture the scene… It’s 1974 and those women’s libbers are everywhere. Before you know it, those damn women will have screwed up everything. Hell, we won’t even be able to tell the boys from the girls. Oh my gawd, what about the children?! How do you combat it? Big Fluttery Lashes.

The amazingly-trademarked Big Fluttery Lashes were copyrighted in 1974, by Imagineering Inc., Phoenix, Arizona (but made in Hong Kong).  The lashes sold for 39 cents and they were safe & non-toxic (unless you’re under the age of three).

And good news, boys; if you were caught with one on your upper lip (or simply caught with the package), you could simply say it was a mustache — the package even says so!

Image via Tiki Ranch.

Breaking Free Is A Drag (Or, Drag Queens Part 1)

Glowing Doll Danielle says she was “totally gob smacked” watching Freddie Mercury’s “sexy mustachioed housewife” in Queen’s I Want To Break Free.

In her post, Danielle also wrote:

I love drag queens because they can dress like women but without all of the pressure to look pretty or be sexy. I know there are plenty of women who dress like drag queens but they are few and far between and they tend to be Pop stars.

Umm, I could be wrong here, but I’m pretty sure the sole point of being a drag queen is to look pretty and be the (supposed) feminine ideal of sexy.

I think part of Danielle’s confusion here — and there’s plenty to be confused about traversing those fine, slinky, and slippery lines between drag queens, female impersonators, transgendered folk, cross dressers, fetishists, etc. (note: no mention of gay folk here) — is mistaking Mercury’s artistic gender-bender performance for Mercury being a drag queen.

Freddie Mercury in drag is not Freddie Mercury, Drag Queen.

The simple & pure existence of a mustache sort of illustrates that point — and my point about a boundary pushing performance.

Danielle gets close to those distinctions when she writes the following (exactly as typed at her blog):

To me anyway, Drag culture is as much about attitude as it is about aesthetic. It seems to exude a sort of ‘Don’t give a fuck’ attitude which I think everyone could benefit from. Ultimately there is a humour born from sadness underlying the aesthetic. The theatricality used as a kind of armour against a world that is so un accepting of others.

If I could be a part of either world I just feel that I would be freer some how. I find myself, inpsite of a vast collection of clothes and accessories, dressing drably from day to day. I guess I fear judegement by small minded people and on a deeper level just want to dissapear sometimes (hard to do with electric coloured clothes, spiked accesories and gigantic hats).

The mythical non-mustached Drag Queen Mercury, like other Drag Queens, probably would have had a female name and completely distinct female persona to go with it. And none would have seen drag as an armor but as flamboyant exhibitionist expression — that people would still sling arrows at.

Mercury in drag wasn’t exactly like Travolta in Hairspray; Mercury’s dress was a theatrical application, use of imagery to make a point. Or at least a slightly different point.   And the whole point of Freddie Mercury et al and their obvious appearance as men in women’s clothing (along with other things in this video and aspects of Mercury’s life) was to expose absurdity, especially the norms of “normal,” to break free of everything — everything except that vacuum, that is. *wink*

Of Cars, Cavemen & Cooking

I was driving this weekend and on the car radio (in some town I was driving through so I can’t remember the town or the station) a DJ was announcing the “news” that women are more attracted to men who cook over the presumed status symbol of the car he drove. (I’m assuming he got the idea here.)

The male DJ was freaking out at the idea, asking for female callers to confirm or deny such a thing.  As woman after woman called in confirming the “news”, he was becoming more incredulous.  “This goes against everything we men knew,” he said (though I am paraphrasing a bit from memory), “We guys go and get the job to get the car because that impresses women.”

Uh, what century is he living in?  We women have been able to have careers & buy our own cars for quite some time now — and while we may not be paid dollar for dollar for the same work, we certainly aren’t going to go all batty-eyelashes & giggly-hair-flips over a man with an automobile.

Since we are working, we obviously prefer a man who can & does cook.  We don’t want to be made to feel that we are responsible for a man literally dying from hunger while we work our medical internships, stay late at the office to get the promotion, or meet the girls at the martini bar for happy hour.  And isn’t it nice to have a man make the meal, serve the meal to us, and clean up afterwards!  We all like to be catered to, no matter our gender, orientation, marital status, height, hair color, or make of our automobile.

While the men embracing this new ‘trend’ in self sufficiency are now called gastrosexuals, apparently there are men, like that DJ, who are shocked if not appalled at such outrageous gender role changes. I could call them all cavemen — and in search of gold diggers no less! — and leave it at that, but we do have to face some facts here.

Along with personally maintaining culture lag, these folks are genuinely puzzled.  While their knuckles figuratively drag on the ground, these men stand slack-jawed & wondering — just how are they supposed to be a man and compete for a mate?

The times, they are a-changin’ and they just don’t see where they fit in.

I’d say you shouldn’t worry about them; but quite often these men move from perplexed to frustrated, doggedly refusing to change their beliefs and ways.  I’ve personally see quite a number of them become angry & abusive asshats.  To those of you who face such throwbacks, I say throw him back and keep on fishing.  If he’s not going to change, he’s going to expect you (or try to make you) change to fit his world view, and that’s just no good.

Even if he’s not an abusive asshat, you’re going to end up “taking care of him” because “you’re the woman, that’s why” — and if you at all wish he would become a fully-functioning human being able to care for himself on a daily basis, you’ll end up resenting your role as care-taking-mommy to him.

As an example, I offer up one of the female callers to that radio show who said that she didn’t care about cars. She not only preferred a man who could cook, but one that could do laundry too; she herself had been cooking and doing her boyfriend’s laundry for five years and she “hated it”.  Now I don’t know this woman or her man; but she was resentful enough to call into a radio show and complain — but there she was, doing the cooking and laundry (and who knows what else?) for this guy for five years!

She can’t blame him; she has to blame herself for staying there and doing it.

I hope she’s also got a good job.  That way, one day, she can come home good and exhausted, be faced with making his meal and washing his undies, and just snap — get into her car and drive away.

Of course, the flip side of all of this was the one female caller who said that she just wanted a man who had a car; she was tired of the guy who couldn’t afford the bus pass — and the way she said it, she was talking about those shiftless male gold diggers.  They not only don’t have a car; they refuse to work.  And they expect you to provide all the food — buy the clothes and launder them too.  Get in your car and drive far away from them, because they’ll drive you crazy and drain your accounts.