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.)

Memorial Day History: “Good Work, Sister”

This holiday weekend, in honor of Memorial Day, I’ve seen this poster circulating quite a bit…

good work sister vintage wwii women poster

But there are some things you should know. (Yes, feminists often don’t have the luxury of taking the holidays off.)

Info on this vintage WWII poster:

“Good work, sister.  We never figured you could do a man-size job!”

America’s women have met the test!

Artist:  Packer.  For Bressler Editorial Cartoons, Inc.

What a lovely backhanded compliment this whole poster is.

The whole gender dynamic is astounding…

…The language — use of “never” and “a man-size job” — is insulting.

…The man being shown as larger to impress upon us both the size of the job and the ‘little lady’ is a bit of visual overkill. (But, hell, shouldn’t that USDA prime cut of red-blooded American beefcake have been drafted?)

Fundamentally, it seems this poster was designed to assuage male discomfort at the notion of “Rosie the Riveter” women working outside the home rather than actually thank women for their work.


During WWII, almost 400,000 women served in the US armed forcesincluding 6,500 Black women who faced even larger racism hurdles to do so. Those are pretty big tests too, poster.

However, despite any of their wishes, women could not serve in combat. Because “menstruation & bears!” or something.

But still, even without combat duty, many women — over 400 of them — lost their lives serving their country in the armed forces. In addition to the fathers, husbands, brothers, and sons we lost, we also lost mothers, wives, sisters, and daughters. More were wounded. Women sacrificed mightily. And not just the danger of “those spreading hips that may come from long hours of sitting” too. They gave their lives and limbs, just as men did; only the women suffered more in secret. Just as they do today. Just as they always have during war: See This.

Whether women & girls worked in factories or shipyards, in the armed forces, in their yards planting victory gardens, in their homes — wherever they worked — they served this country. To the best of their ability — and as much as they were allowed.

This holiday, remember everyone who gave for this country.

The Way To A Man’s Heart Is Through His Stomach & Other Lessons In Vintage Cookbooks

This is the cover of The Way To His Heart “A Cookbook with a Personality”, 1941; note the figures on the cover.

the way to his heart vintage

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.)

way to his heart author and artist credits

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?!

when a college girl cooks

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:

vintage shanty irish baked beans

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.

jack sprat canned food cooking jokes

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.

How Masculine Or Feminine Are You?

A quiz straight out of 1948. I forced hubby to play along. We had identical answers; so, no surprise, our scores were the same, landing us both in the “mixed interests” grey area of the quiz. Which probably just means we are modern, non-stereotypical humans. You?

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.

Amber Tamblyn: Hero

Amber Tamblyn: Hero

I’m no celebrity stalker; I can rarely identify an eighth of the folks plastered on the publications which stare at me while I’m in the supermarket check-out line. But I rather like Amber Tamblyn. Even if, right now, I can’t name that one police drama show she had… I like it, it was with that guy… Oh, never mind; I need to get to the dish.

Up to this very moment, one of the things I’ve liked best about Amber Tamblyn is saying her name.

Amber Tamblyn.
Amber. Tamblyn.

It’s musically delicious, the way it rolls off the tongue.

Turns out girl’s got more than a musically delicious name and actress chops in a pretty package; Amber Tamblyn’s got a grand sense of humor — and more.

When actor-musician Tyrese Gibson confused Amber Rose Tamblyn’s email address with that of Kanye’s ex-girlfriend, model Amber Rose, resulting in Tyrese asking Tamblyn via email if she wanted to record an album with him, Amber Tamblyn ran with it. Not only in a series of email exchanges but Amber Tamblyn laid down some serious demo tracks.

Called The Tyrese Sessions, these are amazing hardcore feminist rap songs which I would happily pay for. Hint-Hint, Amber. (“Tamblyn,” she whispered like Brick Heck.)

For now, we will have to settle for this woman’s poetry.

The Haves & The Have Not (Yet)s Of EBay

Recently eBay released this infographic based on information gathered by Hunch, a recent eBay acquisition, on “the core differences between people who have bought or sold something on eBay vs. those who haven’t yet.” The data is then split between those ho Have Used eBay and the eternally optimistic those who Haven’t Yet Used eBay.

Click To Enlarge Infographic

Aside from the marketing insight, I thought this would be worth noting here as the Haven’t Yet Used eBay people in this survey are 35% more likely to be female.

There are some interesting things to note — but what would be far more compelling, not to mention useful, would be to include information about shopping online in general (the Haven’t Yet Used eBay folks may just not shop online). But if they use Amazon, Etsy, TIAS, or other shopping sites or marketplaces that would say something else entirely. Perhaps the “non competitive” stance in the survey means those who Haven’t Yet Used eBay don’t like auction formats? (This is reinforced by the response of “31% more likely to never have attended a live auction.”) So why not take a look at less competitive purchasing environments?

What is most interesting, however, is that this data seems to confirm that those most likely to use eBay are those seeking unique items, such as antiques and vintage collectibles — while those who have not seem to be more likely to shop Walmart for a perceived “deal”. Why then would eBay continue to shift away from its target market and court sellers of last year’s navy blue sweaters, etc., when those shoppers clearly are not using eBay?

In many ways, the not yet used seem much more like a demographic stereotype of young women: single, shopping for clothing in bulk, but at low prices, (not investing in wardrobes), and who consider shopping a social experience, (eBay does not yet have a “lunch with the girls” option).

However, based on a few references to older musicians, the Today Show reference, etc., this group also indicates a more mature woman who was older at the advent of the Internet, has kept herself busy without it while raising children, etc., and now finds herself behind the technology curve — or just continuing happily without it.

In any case, I am reminded of a Dan Hess quote:

Retailers turn a profit by bringing in new merchandise and pushing self-purchase categories like lingerie, shoes and denim. Retailing is an event-oriented business. Look at any national holiday, retailers seize on it and find a way to market heavily and drive traffic.

No matter how you slice the Haven’t Yet Used eBay pie, you just can’t help but see that some sort of social event aspect is needed for eBay to make the “yet” in Haven’t Yet Used eBay more than a positive attitude.

This isn’t a new idea. Even though Buddy Shopping has come and gone, other social shopping sites continue to try. Usually these are communities devoted to a specific fashion passion, but there are sites like Kaboodle and ShopSquad which offer social connection with a bit of consumer reports — and sometimes a sale commission via affiliate programs. But I don’t see these things impacting eBay. This site has long a disconnection from any social connection. (I think they still require a separate login for the forums? …Can’t say for sure as I gave up on that long ago.)

Maybe I’m not the one to best address how to integrate a social component or event excitement at eBay… I’m on the Have Used eBay side of this infographic and, despite my criticisms, I continue to use the site as a buyer and a seller. Maybe they need to put in an Orange Julius.

Or maybe they should stop chasing the “Yet” and focus more on those of us who are there. Because they certainly have not been doing that.

Related: Read my other thoughts on eBay in this post at my other site: 2011: The Year In Antiques & Collectibles.

The Language Of Glove, 1879

Before there was today’s code for handkerchiefs, there were other fashion accessories used in courtship for communicating and flirting. There was the fan, of course, and, according to this article found in the Bismarck Tribune (March 15, 1879), gloves were used too.

The Glove Language

The English girls have improved upon the language opf the fan and the handkerchief by devising a very copious vocabulary of the gloves, which for the benefit of American women we beg to “pirate”from an English contemporary. It runs thus:

Drop a glove — Yes
Crumple a glove in the right hand — No.
Half unglove the left hand — Indifference.
Tap the left shoulder with the glove — Follow me.
Tap the chin with the glove — I love you no longer.
Turn the gloves inside out — I hate you.
Fold the gloves neatly — I should like to be with you.
Put on the left glove, leaving the thumb uncovered — Do you love me?
Drop both gloves — I love you.
Twirl the gloves round the fingers — Be careful: we are watched.
Slap the back of the hand with the gloves — I am vexed.
Take a glove in each hand and separate the hands — I am furious.

This also reminds me of the supposed code for rubber, gel or silicone bracelets; just because it was reported, it doesn’t make it true.

Sexism In The Royal Canadian Air Force Fitness Plans?

Here’s a little gem: the Royal Canadian Air Force Exercise Plans for Physical Fitness booklet.

This edition is the forty-third printing of the revised U.S. edition of the official RCAF fitness plan, published in 1962. It’s two books in one, as it contains both XBX (Ten Basic Exercises), the twelve minute a day plan for women, and 5BX (Five Basic Exercises), the eleven minute a day plan for men, which were previously published separately. (Note, the “X” in XBX does not refer to the two x-chromosomes of women.)

The plans enable you, the common folk, to get fit just as the fancy airline folk do — by yourself, at home, in your spare time, at your own rate, without any equipment.

I can’t speak to the effectiveness of the fitness plan; however, the exercises, created by Canada’s “pioneer” of physical fitness, William A. R. Orban, look like the general movements, tasks, and poses I’ve found in so many publications over the years (none as bad as beating your fat against a wall). But I can and will speak to the quirky fact that the two fitness plans differ greatly in terms of how the exercises are depicted by gender.

The women’s exercises are shown with step-by-step photographs of women in leotards:

While the men’s are shown with cool, graphic, iconic, illustrations:

While it’s true that the men’s fitness plan predates the women’s by a couple of years, I still find the differences striking… Was one gender thought to be confused by less-than realistic images? Is the female form just more acceptable, if not titillating, when shown in photographs? Or was continuity broken because greyscale printing became cheaper or otherwise de rigueur?

Before you decide, let me just show you one more thing…

While the men get a great phallic graphic, we women are sans a powerful ovarian homage.


Cheap Thrills Thursday: Skeeter Davis Was A Lover (Not A Fighter)

Skeeter Davis fan club pinback, circa 1970s, printed with her photo and one of her song titles, I’m A Lover (Not A Fighter).

Here are the song lyrics:

I only married you for love dear I didn’t go for all of your dough
Now and then you say you love me but honey baby it didn’t show
I never seemed to please you lately cause all you ever do is complain
I’m sick of this fussin’ and fightin’ so baby let your loving woman explain.

I’m a lover not a fighter
I kinda like it that way
If you want a fightin’ partner
Go live with Cassius Clay.

— Instrumental —

A woman is soft and tender and willing to love her man
So why don’t you take advantage of the woman that you know I am
I don’t want to fuss and fight dear for the rest of my natural life
Stop treatin’ me like your enemy start treatin’ me like a wife.

I’m a lover not a fighter
I kinda like it that way
If you want a fightin’ partner
Go live with Cassius Clay.

I’m a lover not a fighter
I kinda like it that way
If you want a fightin’ partner
Go live with Cassius Clay.

I’m a lover not a fighter
I kinda like it that way
If you want a fightin’ partner
Go live with Cassius Clay…

Dating Rules: Should You Say “I Love You” First?

From the “Rules that everyone tells you that are just plain stupid” files…

Relationship rule myth: Never, and I mean never, say ‘I love you’ first.

OK, suppose every single person the world-over adopted this rubbish — who would ever be told the three magic words? Someone has to say them first.

The real rule here is not to rush into saying such important words.

Learn to discern love from infatuation; love from good sex; lasting romantic love from loving attention.

No matter how genuine your feelings, don’t blurt such sentiments too soon. How soon is too soon? Well, there’s no magic rule here, unfortunately, but use some common sense. Has he or she even known you long enough, well enough, to have fallen in love with you?

Just ‘cuz you’re on the emotional express train, doesn’t mean you need to express your emotions before the guy or gal catches up with you.

When you’re convinced not only that what you are feeling is lasting & real, but that the object of your lifetime worthy affection has had enough time to possibly know enough about you to feel the same, then go ahead, be the first to say it. Leave them the sloppy seconds of saying so too.

But if they don’t, well, so what? Maybe you were too quick on the draw with your love bullets this time — only more time will tell, right?

Vintage Gold Diggers, 1952

I’m sure this pair of vintage advertising pieces from/for the Hi-Shear Rivet Tool Company were intended to be humorous, in that oh-so-popular risque way of 1952; but I find them predictably insulting. It’s not that they’re nude — I collect vintage nudes and risque materials. Or even that “he” is allowed modesty while “she” wears the gloves and smile of a burlesque performer. (Frankly, as nearly every woman has noted in the Anthony Weiner affair, the less male genitalia seen the better.) But it’s what else is seen inside these “Top Secret” cards when they are open…

He has a number of dependents — dependents, not children; she has none.
He has a payday; she has none.
He has a car; she has none.
He has a hobby; she has a pastime — with places to check “yes” or “no”?!


Maybe women wouldn’t be seen as gold diggers if they had the opportunity to earn their own paychecks, own their own cars, not be seen as dependent children… Have a legitimate hobby even.

Both vintage pieces from the collection of Jim Linderman.

Rape Isn’t So Bad If It’s For Lust & Not Money

My area of the Twitterverse is a-fire with tweets about this idiotic post by Roger Helmer MEP:

Words like “rape” and “murder” cover a spectrum of activities, and degrees of culpability. Let’s consider a couple of murder scenarios.

First, suppose a kidnapper seizes the son of a wealthy family, and extorts money from the parents. Then after the ransom is paid, he seeks to cover his tracks by deliberately murdering his hostage.

Second scenario: a young husband returns home to find his bride in flagrante delicto with the milkman. In a fit of blind rage, the husband attacks the milkman, who dies of his injuries.

In both cases the assailant is guilty of murder, and deserves to be convicted and punished. But the cases are hugely different. In the first case, the murder is calculated, premeditated, deliberate and undertaken for money. In the second case, none of these comments applies. In the first case, I’d happily hang the murderer (I’m part of that retrograde majority which still believes in the death penalty). In the second case, a much more lenient sentence would be appropriate.

In the same way, let’s consider two rape scenarios.

The first is the classic “stranger-rape”, where a masked individual emerges from the bushes, hits his victim over the head with a blunt instrument, drags her into the undergrowth and rapes her, and the leaves her unconscious, careless whether she lives or dies.

The second is “date rape”. Imagine that a woman voluntarily goes to her boyfriend’s apartment, voluntarily goes into the bedroom, voluntarily undresses and gets into bed, perhaps anticipating sex, or naïvely expecting merely a cuddle. But at the last minute she gets cold feet and says “Stop!”. The young man, in the heat of the moment, is unable to restrain himself and carries on.

In both cases an offence has been committed, and the perpetrators deserve to be convicted and punished. But whereas in the first case, I’d again be quite happy to hang the guy, I think that most right-thinking people would expect a much lighter sentence in the second case. Rape is always wrong, but not always equally culpable.

My two scenarios also give the lie to one of the popular over-simplifications trotted out by the feminist tendency in these cases: “Rape is always about power and control and domination, never about sex”. In the first case, that may well be true. In the second case, it is clearly not true.

Let me make another point which will certainly get me vilified, but which I think is important to make: while in the first case, the blame is squarely on the perpetrator and does not attach to the victim, in the second case the victim surely shares a part of the responsibility, if only for establishing reasonable expectations in her boyfriend’s mind.

All I can say I’ve said before. So here’s a, “Thanks for giving males permission to be dumb animals with no ability to control themselves, jerk,” to Roger — and anyone else who agrees with his dangerous bullshit.

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.

Trophies For Misogynists

Vintage ad for wall-mounted female human heads reads:

“Stuffed” Girl’s Heads! Only $2.98

Blondes, redheads and brunettes for every man to boast of his conquests…the first realistic likeness of the exciting women who play an important part in every man’s life…and one of the nicest qualities is that they don’t talk back! Accurately modelled to three-quarters life size of real galls and molded of skin-textured pliable plastic, these heads are so life-like they almost breathe. Saucy glittering eyes, full sensuous mouth and liquid satin complexion, combined with radiant hair colors give astonishing realism to these rare and unique Trophies. Blonds, redhead or brunette mounted on a genuine mahogany plaque is complete and ready to hand on the wall for excitement and conversation.

Not a lot leaves me speechless. But here I am.

Found at The Immaculate Consumption.

Kaptain Kool & The Kongs On Gender & Fashion

From issue number two of The New Krofft Supershow comic (1978), deep insights into gender and fashion…

In panel two:

Turkey, why are you wearing your socks wrong side out?

Shh, there’s a hole on the other side!

‘Cuz men are stupid; they never change or replenish their socks — or underwear.

(Confession: I sit here right now, my bare toe sticking out of — wait for it! — my husband’s sock. Why? I am in need of purchasing more socks for myself. …However, it is so fun to say, “My toe is sticking out of hubby’s sock.” That’s how close we are!)

In panel three:

Oh, these pants are tighter than my skin!

How can anything be tighter than your skin?

Easy! She can sit down in her skin, but she sure can’t sit down in those pants.

‘Cuz women are stupid; they kill themselves for fashion.

(Confession: I wore tight Jordache jeans. They were tight… But obviously if I wore them to school or took a ride in a car, I could sit in them. …And I do recall that men’s jeans were just as tight. In fact, I vaguely recall it being some sort of a competition.)

PS Bonus points for the ironic “Watch Your Step” sign in the background of that last panel.

Responding To AskMen.com’s Top 10 Scary Girlfriend Behaviors

Alessia here, responding to AskMen.com’s Top 10 Scary Girlfriend Behaviors, so that they — and you — can, you know, learn something.

10 She knows things about you that you haven’t told her. Uh, maybe that’s because you men are transparent children and we can see right through you.

9 She introduces herself to your family & friends behind your back. OK, that is wildly inappropriate, if not down-right scary stalker behavior. Girls & boys, don’t do that. However…

This line, “If she gets in good with the ones you trust, it will be much harder to give her the eventual heave-ho,” is stupid. Unless you are a completely dependent or codependent person, any grown-up can and does run their own relationships and break-ups.

8 She responds to messages on your behalf. Unless she was practicing number 9 — or you were, silly boy, by not being a gown-up and avoiding things, this doesn’t really happen.

7 She has all your passwords without you having given them to her. This is like stalker No 9 behavior. Learn boundaries, people.

6 She shows up in places unexpectedly. First of all, don’t tell her where you’ll be if you don’t want her to know — that way, unless she’s a stalker doing number 9 things, it won’t happen. But girls, if a guy didn’t invite you, you’re not welcome. And that doesn’t have to be personal; it’s just some personal time.

5 She made a key to your house without asking. The article continues to say, “How she did it isn’t important right now because you should be much more concerned with why she did it and what you’re going to have to say to get it back.” Well, the freaking “how” is important. Because unless you’re a weak dude who won’t admit you actually gave her the key (or one to copy), the chick is not right in the head. Ditto guys who do this to girls.

4 She stops taking birth control without telling you. There’s so much wrong with this, I have to show it to you:

As crazy as she’s been acting, the sex is still porn-movie material. It makes sense because the crazy ones are always phenomenal in the sack. You ditched the love glove weeks ago because she is on the pill. At least you think she is on the pill. You haven’t see her take it, she hasn’t had to stop at the pharmacy for a refill and, now that you think about it, you can’t recall the last time she had a monthly visit from “Aunt Flo.”

How to handle it: You could just be imagining things, but come right out and ask her if she is still on birth control. Ask to see proof. Make up an excuse, like a friend who just found out his girlfriend is unexpectedly expecting, and it made you realize that you’re in no way ready to be a dad. She’ll want to ease your fears and show that she still pops the pill daily. If she can’t show proof, you’ll need to make a pit stop at the pharmacy for a new stock of rubber raincoats and a home pregnancy test.

Whoa, there’s so much unconditional love and trust going on there, I’m nearly at a loss for words. Nearly.

Dudes, did she ever say she was on the pill or any other birth control? If she did, she’ll tell you if/when she’s going to stop. Likely she’ll tell you why too. But she will tell you before she stops and probably even tell you to go get condoms. Why? Because she knows she’s the one at greatest risk with a pregnancy, so she’ll avoid it.

Unless, of course, all your worst stereotypical male behavior is an indication that you are living in some soap opera or movie… Then yeah, she’s gonna try to trap you into marriage by having you help create a fetus; because we womenfolk know just how well that works out for us.

(That’s dripping with sarcasm; I tell you that because if you’re so dumb as to believe this has a greater likelihood of occurrance than her killing you and your entire family, you probably can’t figure it out.)

3 She gets physical when arguing. Yes, that is scary. (Though the odds of that are far less than the odds of you men hitting a woman.) But you missed the opportunity here, AskMen.com, to suggest how to properly deal with abuse, i.e. get professional help for the both of you &/or stop dating/end contact entirely.

2 She threatens to hurt/kill herself. Yup, that’s scary. Neither guys nor girls should do this. Also see my previous advice about getting professional help, etc.

But then, article author Chris Illuminati (an ironic pen name, I suppose?), you had to go and say this: “The other scary behaviors should have raised enough red flags.”

OMG here I thought we were talking about the Top 10 Scary Things Women Can Do, not building the stalking pyramid of danger of one freak of a girlfriend!

I don’t want to blame a victim, but if this is all the same woman why didn’t you leave earlier? Why, Chris, didn’t you better title and otherwise sell this article as the 10 Steps To Death From A Lover?

1 She won’t let you break up with her. I think that’s a repeat of number two, personally… Or at least one and two should be reversed because only an spineless idiot is more freaked by continued contact than by suicidal (or homicidal) threats.

Yes, you ignore all contact with her; yes, you tell your family & friends do please do the same. And if we are talking about the same chick (or dude) here, you also contact the police so that there is a record of the stalking behavior and perhaps you change your phone number, tell family and friends you’ve done so (possiblly have them do the same).

And really, is this comical photo the one you should really be using here? Really?

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.)

Old Corny Aggie Jokes

I’ll admit I knew nothing about this retro joke book when I snagged it at an antique shop; all I needed to pick it up was a stork on the front, and the $1 price penciled inside allowed me to bring it home.

(Son Of A Son Of… 101 Aggie Jokes, Vol. 3, copyright 1969, Gigem Press (my copy is a First Printing, September, 1969) was created to be a postal piece.)

The front cover birth control gag goes like this:

Do you know what Aggies do with birth control pills?

They feed them to storks.

And that should be enough to satisfy a dollar purchase — but I’m obsessive, remember?

First I had to learn what an “Aggie” was or is: students (current and former) at Texas A&M University are called Aggies after the school’s agricultural roots. Then Barry Popik had to educate me on what turns out to be a rather fascinating bit of history about these very books:

Aggie jokes became legendary because of two events in 1963 and 1965. In 1963, Texas A&M started to admit women. The University of Texas (already co-ed) and others saw humor in this situation. In 1965, the book 101 Aggie Jokes was published. The book would go through several reprintings and new editions.

And so it seems this little joke book was destined to find its way into my feminism collection. Even if the book isn’t all about gender or the sexes, it fits the bill; here’s Exhibit B:

Did you hear about the Aggie who thought a sanitary belt was the first drink out of the bottle?


I’ll couch my estimation of this kitschy book’s value with the publishers sentiments on the title page:

This collection of jokes has been assembled from general public sources. It is not the intention of the publishers to ridicule or degrade any institution or individual. The purpose is to chronicle an important chapter in American humor.

To cover my own ass, I’ll also include “gender” along with institutions and individuals. *wink*

FYI, the publishers name is based on another Aggie reference, the Gig ’em greeting.

The Original Garter Girl’s Estate Shows Something More Shocking Than Lingerie

When I spotted this post at Slip of a Girl’s lingerie blog, I thought I had remembered something about the former burlesque star, “The Original Garter Girl,” Lynne O’Neill

Sadly, it was that she’d passed away recently; her estate sale was held October 9, 2010, in Hempstead.

Along with the dearth of personal items from O’Neill’s estate, a lot of memorabilia is up for sale at eBay — but none more fascinating to me than this collection of several thousand of letters listed by Jeff’s Paintings Books Music Stuff.

The seller’s description is as follows (yes, they wrote in all caps, etc.):




Dear Santa, if I could have but one wish this year…

It’s unlikely that I shall receive a windfall to equal the sum requested ($399.95 or “best offer) — or that if I should, that my husband would let me “invest” the tidy sum in such ephemera (though if you cared to give me the funds, or purchase the collection for me, it could be our little secret!), but I certainly covet it.

The idea of reading such intimate letters based on risque celebrity — from the Every Man to The Ultimate Woman — is so delicious I dare not ponder it any longer lest I click and buy it and end up with no way to pay rent.

*heavy sigh*

But aside from whining about my lack of discretionary income, aside even from waxing on about the insightful poetry of male psyche left in such an archive, I mention this for other reasons.

As a collector and a dealer (for yes, I deal in and sell collectibles as well as hunt, buy, research and write about them), I find something else fascinating about this auction listing; from the first part of the listing:



Sellers of collectibles and dealers of antiques often find themselves in the place of rationalizing or even defending their actions — including pricing items for sale.

It’s a sad reality based on people’s ignorance and, yes, selfishness; they feel that dealers are somehow taking advantage of the folks they buy from and the folks they sell too. Never mind that dealers must be knowledgable enough to invest in what they buy and must wait for what they hope will be a return worthy of that investment — plus whatever other fees accrue while waiting for that sale. It’s not easy-peasy-lemon-squeezey.

Further proof of dealer defensiveness lies in the Q & A published at the auction listing:

Q: Dear Jbg and the estate, I have 41 years experience buying at and conducting estate sales in the Hempstead area.The people who ran Elaine/ Lynne sale are very nice people, with expertise in about 33% of the items they sell. These are priced correctly. The others are triple and one third of what the correct wholesaleish/ liquidation selling price should be. This puts them in the top echelon of tag sale services. Most of which are completely incompetent and clueless. Believe it or not these are the most successful ones as hordes of people will come days ahead and wait to take advantage of their stupidity. JBR Oct-12-10 A: I think they ran a great sale, with fair prices. I’ve read what I’ve written several times, and don’t think its negative. Its just my observation that people aren’t going to get things super cheap on ebay, because they were priced correctly at the sale. That’s a good thing. The tag sale people work for the estate, not for the buyers. I’m certain that they maximized the estate’s dollar. Others either would have priced to high , and not sold a thing or priced to low, and given it away. Q: That statement you made about the Estate of Lynne O ‘Neill is not completely true the Estate hired a 15 year experience antique and collectible specialist and the Estate is now meeting and will examine what transpired. So i highly suggest you Edit your statement about the estate sale Do you have a receipt for what you paid for to prove you paid alot in comparison the what you are selling your item for? Sincerely the Estate Oct-12-10 A: I think my statement is intended to mean that the Estate did not give things away, which is to the credit of the folks who ran the sale. Most folks would have sold the calendars and signs for a few bucks a piece to get rid of them, and then they’d be flooding ebay at $5 a piece. I don’t think that’s going to happen. Not sure what the panties sold for, but unless the folks running the sale failed to comprehend what they were (and that seems unlikely) they weren’t a dollar item. Sincerely, the customer.

I find it rather unprofessional that the eBay seller would feel the need to explain how the collectibles market works; even if under the guise of education (the interested collector will be more interested in provenance and price than an economics lesson), and odder still that the estate company would misread the auction listing so badly (of course, perhaps we’re reading an edited version?). But the fact remains, dealer are so harassed and worried about their reputations, they are willing to air more dirty laundry than the panties worn by a former pinup queen.

I just wish there was a way to use all of this to my advantage; rather anything to end up with this collection of vintage burlesque ephemera.

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*

Dogs, Cats, Mr. Right, And Other Companion Animals

When making a list of qualities you are looking for in a mate, don’t overlook some of the basic fundamentals of companionship you’ve enjoyed in relationships with pets.

Forget about those jokes (and the sometimes realities) of people looking like their pets. Forget about Dominatrixes (and Cosmo articles) which tell you to treat your mate like a dog — and to train your mate before he or she trains you. Forget all that stuff and think about what you can learn about dating and relationships from your pets. After all, pets are companion animals — and that companionship thing is pretty important when it comes to dating, relationships, and selecting a mate.

Whether you have a pet now or must recall your furry friend from your past, I’m sure you’ve experienced pets who were perfect for you and those who drove you crazy. Somethings (like being woken in the middle of the night by a cold wet puppy nose — or vicious needle-like kitten teeth — on your toes) are likely not to repeat themselves with humans (at least not without special circumstances — or, if you like such things, assistance), but you can still learn a few things about relationships from Rover and Misty.

Just how much time you spend with your pet — and what you do together — can give you clues to qualities to look for in a mate. Are you and your ideal companion animal more apt to get up and start each day with a 30 minute run, or more likely to snuggle together on the sofa watching hours of classic films on TCM? Or maybe your ideal companion doesn’t snuggle so much as “is around” while you lounge on the sofa… You share the same love of relaxation but you both appreciate your space; neither of you enjoys smothering nor being smothered.

I’m a very nervous person; little, jumpy, nervous dogs who bark a lot drive me nuts. I avoided committing myself to people who would similarly drive me nuts — and looked for people who didn’t mind my energy, nerves, and yes, my barking. (In my marriage, I’m definitely the vocal little bitch — but it works for us.)

If you haven’t any pets now, you might also consider “why you haven’t” as offering some meaningful insight into your relationship readiness, needs, & expectations. If your work makes pet ownership seem unfair (traveling too much, may relocate at any moment, or otherwise cannot take on the responsibility), then perhaps you aren’t ready for the responsibilities of human companionship either — well, you’re probably not ready for a live-in relationship at least.

If you think stray hairs on your sweater or the sofa are too distressing to even consider them a fair trade for any companionship, it won’t help any if the hairs come from a human head (or a human giving head); you aren’t ready for the give and take of a relationship.

If you think of a pet as “someday” thing, think about what sort of pet you’d be most likely to get.

More often than not, “Dog People” or “Cat People” are just more annoying labels we use to dismiss people but there are things we can learn about ourselves as dog &/or cat people — if we stick to characteristics, not amusing stereotypes.

“Cat people” often prefer cats because they are more self-sufficient and less needy than dogs. So if your schedule or personality means you won’t be home everyday at 6 PM to feed, walk, and entertain a pet, then it would be best for your ideal mate to be more self-sufficient and less needy too.

“Dog people” often say they prefer dogs “because they listen” or “they aren’t as sneaky as cats” — what I think they are trying to get to is that dogs are typically more likely to come when called and willing to spend time with you than most other pets.

If you’re a self-described dog or cat person, what are your reasons — aside from allergies, there’s probably a lot you can learn about who Mr. Right will (and won’t) be.

Image Credits: Cats Rule Poster by DiscoveryPets.