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The good old days may not return.

[TW for rape issues, misogyny, and general dinosaur attitudes about sex.]

I'm not expecting the "Good Old Days" to make a comeback any time soon.

...Which is a good thing, since it means that the Forced-Birth, rape-positive, anti-choice politicians trying to ram this horrible woman-hating misogynistic piece of crap bill through Congress can be safely viewed as the lying assholes they really, truly, are.

The trope that the 1950s was a halcyon time full of happy (white, male) children playing in beautiful (white, segregated) suburbs, cared for by Moms (unpaid, unappreciated labor) who spent their days in spotless houses with the sun constantly shining was created by Madison Avenue to make real people feel like they had to buy products, because if they didn't, then the dream of perfect suburbia would never be theirs.

It never existed.  How do I know?  I collect old magazines.  I'm particularly fond of old women's magazines, because the articles and editorials are so hilariously repressive and woman-blaming, while the ads are brightly coloured never-never lands of gorgeous women selling toilet paper in pastel colours.

(I also really dig the fashions, especially the 1940s-50s ones.)

I'm currently bagging some of them up to sell (I'm refining my collection to mostly early 1950s and before) and some of the ones I bought cheap are falling apart, so I'm splitting them up into individual pages (mostly ads, some fashion and home spreads) to sell - there's a small market for the neat artwork, and a smaller market for the advertising that ties in with collectibles, like beer cans and Avon cosmetics (and Kotex/other sanitary goods - go figure).  I'm going to rent a booth at a flea market and try my hand at getting rid of some of my old vintage stuff (easier - and better prices - than a yard sale).

But in the process of splitting and mounting pages, I read the articles, and in the Ladies' Home Journal, March 1958 issue, an article called Is Morality "Normal"? by Dorothy Thompson, caught my eye.  This being LHJ, I wasn't expecting an actual, interesting article looking at the science, and psychological work, I was thinking more along the lines of "God=Moral=Good, and Sexxytimes=Bad", and I wasn't disappointed.  It's a typical "kids these days!  People are so mean!  And all the Rampant sex is destroying our children!" diatribe, of the typical level you'd find in any mainstream publication of the time, and perpetuated to this day in thousands of rather boring 'blogs under the impression that their "Life As I See It" drivel is actually thought-provoking or new.*

You know, the stuff that Andy Rooney's been blithering out for about a thousand years (give or take a millennium).

What I find fascinating is the timeliness of the complaints in the 1958 article, which expose the lie of "everything was perfect in the 1950s!".  Such as:

"It is a common saying that we live in a time of moral crisis.  When, however, one seeks an explanation, one usually gets only descriptions of symptoms, such as that the crime rate is shockigly high, especially among juveniles; personal and social disciplines are lax; marriage and family life are unstable; patriotism is on the decline although nationalism flourishes; values are almost exclusively materialistic; the religious instinct is largely moribund and revivalism and increasing church membership indicative only of a frantic search for security and social acceptability."

That was written in 1958.  Aside from the somewhat stilted language usage (and the parlous overuse of semi-colons - five in a single sentence?  Really??), this litany of woes is identical to the woes listed as somehow unique to our time, 2011, where children run wild in the streets, and crime is at an all-time high!  Abortions on demand!  Women and minorities thinking they should be equal!  Cats and dogs, living together and serving openly in the military!! Woe!  Pull out the sackcloth and ashes, America is surely going down the tubes tomorrow!!!!!**

Then the article goes on rather amusingly to list how life sucked so bad in the old days, according to "Sociologists", but if it was so bad, why is there a moral crisis now?  Huh?  Answer me that, Mr. Smarty-Pants Scientist!

(I'm paraphrasing.)

The author goes on to list more signs of the inevitable decline:

"One notices in modern urban life innumerable signs of human callousness.  A young person almost never offers his seat in a public conveyance, even to an old woman or a other carrying a baby in her arms.  An accident on the street seldom causes anyone to offer personal aid; at most he will notify the nearest policeman.  Vandalism being visibly cmmitted, even by children, calls forth no interference by adults."

Again, 1958.  This is in 1958. The rosy days of the golden age of America, when everything was perfect, the Republicans say. 

(One also wonders if the author herself, upon observing the callousness of strangers on the bus needing seats, offered her up as an example.  One supposes not.)

But, after a bit of hand-wringing about the state of the world (poised on the brink of nuclear destruction, don'tcha know), and how people are just mean, she gets to her real argument, the same argument that all repressive people seem to think is What's Really Wrong With America[tm]:  Sex.  More specifically, sex outside the rules and boundaries of right wing Jeebus-invoking, Bible-thumping, missionary-position-but-only-between-a-man-and-a-woman-and-they'd-better-be-married-in-the-eyes-of-Gawd sex.

"The late Doctor Kinsey made studies that established a vast incidence of sexual peversion and promiscuity among the persons he interviewed - an incidence so prevalent as to appear typical.  [...blah study can't be really accurate, since he clearly interviewed perverts, blah...] Suppose the Kinsey studies did accurately report conditions in general.  Does that make it normal?***
    "Some commentators on the reports made that equation, arguing that since this is the way people are, this is normal; legal penalties and feelings of guilt should be abolished."

Of course, the author thinks this is a bad idea.  Because it is 1958 (and still is, in the minds of the right-wing), and the filthy pervs and homos need to be whipped publicly for having the temerity to express their love outside the hetero-normative one-man-one-woman-and-only-after-marriage paradigm!  It's perfectly fine to rape and beat your wife (as long as the bruises don't show), but homos should die.****

Finally, we see where the author is going - to the place that all Right-Wing Republican men and women live, where women are a commodity, and cannot be trusted with any decision about what's right for their bodies*****.  They are passive vessels, waiting to be filled with the right man's seed, and incubators wherein the right man may be safely assured of growing healthy progeny.  Girls who live outside this proscribed role are to be shamed, and lied to about the consequences of their choices******:

"Every great civilization has always protected its young girls from too early sexual experience..."

...Because women have been considered property throughout most of recorded history.  Keep your property unused until you can sell it to the highest bidder, men!

"[blah, heavy petting, people having sex, blah] Of course, [sexual intercourse] reaches its normal conclusion  in unnumbered cases.  The results are abortions, shotgun marriages concluded before full maturity, unwanted children, first babies given away for adoption, later divorces, and the breakup of homes that were never seriously intended."

Oh, how to stop all this terrible, turrible woe!  How can we protect our young girls from all this baby-making when all they wanted was some fun, healthy, consensual sex?  But no, there is nothing but shame:

"It is all very well to speak of "safe contraceptives".  None is absolutely trustworthy, the safest won't be fitted by reputable physicians to young girls [presumably this is a good thing, since the pill isn't a pessary, and condoms are designed to fit on men], and consummated petting [translation:  Hot, sweaty sex] is not intended or provided for."

So... contraceptives aren't intended to be used during sex? 

Oh no, it gets, um, better:

"Really, one could learn something from cattle breeders, who preach no moral lessons to cows, but keep their heifers until fully mature, out of the bull pasture!  They do so because the progeny of precocious conceptions are usually weak and the cows often "spoiled".  An aborted cow goes to the hooks for meat.  But a good cow is worth several hundred dollars.  Our daughters, some of them, are apparently less valuable."

And there you have it - not only do an alarmingly large number of people still think this way (see:  Purity Balls), this is what we're all supposed to revere and try to get back to.  They think this is the "right" way to live: that women and girls really are the property of their husbands, and rape, as long as it isn't committed by a "forcible" stranger with a knife, is simply sex (even if the woman is saying no, or she's drugged unconscious, or incapable of consent for other reasons), because property doesn't have the right of consent.  This is what the Right Wingers want.  This is their utopia.  They support rape.  They support forced birth.  They support the hatred and marginalization of all women, minorities, and anyone who doesn't look like them (they will allow "exceptional" women like Sarah Palin and Anne Coulter to work outside the home, but only as long as they don't get too uppity). 

Any way of living that strips away human rights in the name of "morality" and "decency" is neither.  Silence is acceptance.  Speak out. 

*See also:  Every right wing blog evar.
**Also, eleventy.
***Yes.  Also, average.  That's what the word means, you idiot.
****I wish this had changed, but to some douchenozzles, it will always be 1958.
*****Because clearly, men know far better than women what women need.  That's what they keep telling us, anyway.
******But not boys.  Boys will be boys, right?  Hey, they're just red-blooded American boys, it's the girls that are shameful sluts.

Comments

( 29 brains — Leave a chunk of brain! )
baronesspixie
Feb. 1st, 2011 09:19 pm (UTC)
You know, I made the mistake (I thought) of clicking through to AskMen's 10 most undesirable women list today, waiting to be horrified and depressed by "she's too fat/ugly/boring" usual drivel - and instead discovered it was a rejection of women who really do set a piss poor example - from Heidi Montag for too much plastic surgery to conform to Spenser's ideal, to Lindsay Lohan, for her drug use and destruction of her own career to the disgusting ravaged mess that is "Snooki", with number one on the list being Palin - for continually insulting the intelligence of all of us.

asim
Feb. 1st, 2011 09:26 pm (UTC)
...you can look at my icon, and imagine how much jumping back to the '50's excites the heck outta me.

I'll give a portion this much -- they play it like some people play the SCA. It's not that they want EVERYTHING from the era, they'll say; it's just the good parts. Of course they're for Women's Rights, for Civil Rights, and so forth -- they just don't want to lose the good parts of the past.

Trouble is, their actions are more like a boat anchor on progress than a steady hand. Even the Conservatives I worked with as a kid seemed downright open and nuanced compared to some of these folks floating in the ether today.

It's...dispiriting.
attack_laurel
Feb. 1st, 2011 11:50 pm (UTC)
Oh, I know it. It's so painfully obvious that the people going on about the good old days are white men who did have it good - at the expense of everyone else.

I'm all about the fashions of the 1950s, but fuck the politics.
elasait
Feb. 1st, 2011 09:27 pm (UTC)
I am more than appalled by the bill you reference, but wonder whether it is a good thing or a bad thing that I'm quite certain Ladies' Home Journal would never run an article today that used the word "moribund".

(Not to say that the author of the article is a good writer--she isn't, she's far too impressed with using big words for the sake of using big words, but it disturbs me a bit that many college-educated people in the U.S. wouldn't know what most of them mean.)

But back to the bill: It's utterly, completely, totally outrageous. I have a friend who is a self-described conservative, who keeps insisting that it's not fair to lump the right wing together about things like this. (And it's true that he would never consider this redefinition of rape acceptable.) But you get judged by the company you keep--a thing I had trouble understanding when I was younger, too.
rikibeth
Feb. 1st, 2011 09:41 pm (UTC)
I've been teaspooning away against the bill, but random bit about the 1958 article: the safest won't be fitted by reputable physicians to young girls -- that's referring to diaphragms. Because, god forbid a doctor might break the Minty Freshness Seal (a/k/a hymen) and sully the poor girl forever! Even the high school quarterback wants to believe the head cheerleader hasn't been with anyone before him.

No, far better she let herself be Carried Away (getting contraceptives beforehand would be so unromantic, and if he produces a condom, she has to protest "Did you EXPECT me to say yes? What sort of girl do you think I am?"), attempt to protect herself after by douching with Coca-Cola or Lysol, and then, if she got knocked up, either be forced into an early marriage, or be "sent to stay with an aunt" and have her baby taken from her, or, if she was VERY lucky, her parents were both forgiving and rich, and able to get her a safe if illicit abortion. Or, you know, the death stories.
attack_laurel
Feb. 1st, 2011 10:49 pm (UTC)
Oh, I know, but it's actually not the safest, and then she's saying they don't work anyway. :)

Aaaaand... there's why abstinence-only education doesn't work, in a nutshell. If you teach kids that wanting sex is normal and healthy, and here's how not to get pregnant or sick, then they can admit they want it, and be prepared. If they're supposed to be "good" girls and not want it, then the only way they can have it is by being "carried away".

Abstinence-only education kills.
rikibeth
Feb. 1st, 2011 10:54 pm (UTC)
It was the safest in 1958. The Pill hadn't been released to the general market yet. And it was safer than douching, and slightly more reliable than condoms (and much more reliable than counting on your partner to have a condom). But, as I'm sure you know as well as I do, it's NOT as reliable as the pill, so it DID come with a failure rate.
attack_laurel
Feb. 1st, 2011 11:55 pm (UTC)
I'll concede that. My vote for safest, is always the condom, since none of the others protected in any way against STDs, but back then, a girl had to rely on the boy to have one, which... yeah.

I remember my mother got me a diaphragm instead of putting em on the pill, and I got the most awful UTIs constantly. It took me years to get on the pill, after realizing that most people don't fall over and faint from period pain - ar at least, they can alleviate it. Then, I got the whole works scraped (boiled) out, and it's been roses ever since.

But if there's anything that makes it clear that women were (are) a commodity (for some), it's the concept of "virginity". It always makes me think of that notice on packaging that says "do not purchase if seal is opened or torn". Deny women safe contraception because once that package is opened, they're "soiled goods". Fuck that noise.
rikibeth
Feb. 2nd, 2011 12:02 am (UTC)
I switched from pill to diaphragm for a while after I was married, because the hormones were doing weird things to me mentally, and I had a problem with UTIs too! Apparently it's worst if they've fitted you incorrectly and the damn thing's too big. Friction, dontchaknow...

As for period pain, yeah. Mine's not as dreadful as yours was, but it's definitely worse off the hormones than on -- but, as I can manage it with naproxen and sometimes tramadol (and damn them for taking Darvon off the market!), and the hormonal stuff kills my sex drive and amps up my crazy? Painkillers FTW!

I'm done with the works, but I don't have any clinically compelling reasons to get 'em scraped and boiled. Have an appointment this week to discuss permanent blockage, though!
tacnukesoul
Feb. 2nd, 2011 03:56 am (UTC)
Abstinence-only Sex Education doesn't educate about sex - it's a bigger misnomer than the Holy Roman Empire.

As to the 1950's, it seems Sayyid Qutb, who became a big influence on Al Qaeda, had similar problems with America during his visit.
hsifeng
Feb. 1st, 2011 09:44 pm (UTC)
Girls who live outside this proscribed role are to be shamed, and lied to about the consequences of their choices...

Speaking of lies. Here is the refutation of one of my favorite abortion lies:

http://www.wral.com/lifestyles/healthteam/story/9008802/

I love me some Danish scientists.
attack_laurel
Feb. 1st, 2011 10:50 pm (UTC)
Oh, me too. I was very happy to see that study (not that I didn't know the lie was a lie, but, like other pseudoscience, it is good to be able to say "see?").
hsifeng
Feb. 2nd, 2011 12:31 am (UTC)
*nods in agreement*

Quoting data is so much more satisfying that simply saying, “You’re totally full of crap, you know that right?” when trying to explain to people that abortions (while not exactly a trip to Tahiti) aren’t going to mess with someone’s brain for the rest of their lives.

Of course, as with all things of a personal nature, individual mileage may vary. But not, apparently, overall statistical mileage.
(Deleted comment)
attack_laurel
Feb. 1st, 2011 10:50 pm (UTC)
I think they cook them in tomato sauce. :P
zihuatanejo
Feb. 3rd, 2011 03:28 pm (UTC)
*snort*
I had the same reaction.
bantiarna
Feb. 1st, 2011 10:26 pm (UTC)
I have always found it funny these stories about pregnant girls being bustled off to "Europe" for the summers to have and give up their babies in the 50s and how it did not mesh with the Heaven we need to get back to image that people portray.

Great post.

BTW, as you are going through your mags, I collect Fiesta Ware with a foaming passion. I would love to claim dibs on any FW ads/articles you might find.
attack_laurel
Feb. 1st, 2011 10:51 pm (UTC)
I'll keep an eye out. :)
nicolaa5
Feb. 2nd, 2011 12:34 am (UTC)
Dear old-fashioned limited government fiscal conservatives:

You need to grow a spine NOW and repudiate these so-called "Republicans" who have proposed this legislation as traitors and imposters. Otherwise it will be you who will have compromised your ideals.

Are there any of you left? Bueller?

Sigh.
fearga
Feb. 2nd, 2011 02:00 am (UTC)
Bueller. Lots o' spine here...I've been sending emails all day to the idiots who've sponsored this bill. And I vote Republican. I can tell you, it's not playing well at all out here in the general conservative neighborhood.... It's disgusting that it's even being used for grandstanding, and it makes me sick to my stomach.
As to the "company we keep", it would be nice every now and then to see a rant about stupid tricks of the radical left...because really? We all need to be slapping down the idiots on BOTH ends of the extremes.
nicolaa5
Feb. 2nd, 2011 02:31 am (UTC)
I would argue that most of the truly radical left are seen as the nutbars that they are. But too many right wing nutters are portraying themselves--often successfully--as the "voice of the average American."

My Dad was an old-school Republican. I'm quite a bit further left than he was socially, but I also think some classic fiscal conservatism would be useful for both parties these days. He also absolutely abhorred government interference in reproductive rights. And he had very little use for the Republican party in his last years (not that he voted Democrat or anything--he just stopped voting because he couldn't find anyone to support with his values.)
attack_laurel
Feb. 2nd, 2011 02:39 am (UTC)
The trouble is, it's not the fringe right that's pulling this shit, it's the politicians. The fringe left pulls stunts, but they're just that - the fringe. No-one cares, and they have no influence. The so-called "liberal" politicians are so painfully attempting to be centrist, they're further over the right than Ronald Reagan.

There is no hard left television network feeding lies and fearmongering to its viewers, and there are are no hard left figures in the spotlight (the last one we had was Al Sharpton, and no-one listens to him, anyway). What the mainstreamed right is doing is so far beyond anything the mainstreamed left has remotely done that it is perfectly reasonable to point out the right-wing shenanigans being pulled on us every day. The republicans aren't even being fiscally conservative, they're licking the bootsoles of their corporate masters.

Seriously. This is a liberal-leaning blog. I have a tendency to point out what's in the news, and what's in the news right now is a lot of right-wing attacks on human rights and welfare. While I actually have a lot of ideology in common with genuine fiscal conservatives, I am really sick of the lies from the right. There is no equivalent behavior from the left.
eve_the_just
Feb. 3rd, 2011 12:36 am (UTC)
The republicans aren't even being fiscally conservative, they're licking the bootsoles of their corporate masters.

This totally.

I keep seeing things that document Republican spending being on-par or higher than Democratic spending. And individual earnings being worse under Republican regimes than under Democratic ones, regardless of what income level you are at (yup, even the rich don't get richer under republicans, unless of course they are directly tied to the particular republicans that are in power). I wish I could find the links to those reports now.

It irks me that the left isn't better at proving that the right is just spewing lies. I mean it should be easy right?
fiberferret
Feb. 2nd, 2011 06:43 am (UTC)
I went to share this, but realized I should ask for permission first. Would it be okay if I posted a link on facebook?
attack_laurel
Feb. 2nd, 2011 02:31 pm (UTC)
Absolutely! All public entries can be linked.
fiberferret
Feb. 3rd, 2011 04:22 am (UTC)
I thought that was the case, but I wanted to confirm. Thank you! I am often disgusted with Republican social policies, but what they are trying to do now is more disgusting than I thought possible. I'm not surprised with the whole Biblical "a woman raped in the city should be stoned to death because she didn't cry out for help, but a woman raped in the wilderness should be spared because no one cold have heard her" bullshit, but I'm still disappointed. If feels like we've been going backwards lately. I just pray that this kind of stuff will show the voters that they really couldn't give less of a shit about their jobs and the economy so that the next election will go better.
reasie
Feb. 2nd, 2011 07:11 pm (UTC)
When one reads such unpalatable blather, one is quite justified in letting ones reserve slip into the common vernacular - to wit: Fuck the bad old days!!
ladyhelwynn
Feb. 3rd, 2011 02:52 pm (UTC)
I sent a letter off to my Representative today. Hopefully she'll listen and hopefully she'll get a lot more letters like mine.
(Anonymous)
Feb. 4th, 2011 04:14 pm (UTC)
Extreme XCostuming website question
Hi, I've being reading your extreme costuming website for some time and really find it inspirational. I do English Civil war re-enacting in UK and enjoy trying to get my kit as good as limited time and limited money allow.

My question is - have you or anyone you know used bents for stays? The Janet Arnold III has a photograph of a piece of a stay which clearly shows bents. I have heard of people using cane but Janet Arnold suggests that they are bundles of dried sea grass/reeds. I grew up near the sea and the grass/reeds that grew in the sand dunes look similar to those in the photograph.

Caroline
( 29 brains — Leave a chunk of brain! )

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