About Me
I'm a Melbourne boy, hailing from St Kilda with one ex, one current wife and four kids. Love the outdoors and making new discoveries. I cook a lot at home (cheers from wife) and do some preserving, mostly jams, pickles and fruit liqueurs. This is the diary of a cooking journey.

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Thursday, August 31, 2006
Stepford Wives

Isn't it amazing the changes that have occurred over the past fifty years? What was science fiction in 1955 is very often now science fact. Computing would be the one area of technology that has changed the most. However technology isn't the only thing that has changed, the way we deal with each other has also undergone tremendous transformation. The social mores of the 1950's have no place in this modern world, especially in relationships between men and women. The myriad ways in which the world has changed in the last half century means that it is no longer proper for a woman to do all the housework and the man simply go off to work, then to return to find his home is indeed his castle. There would be a generation of women now, who would have no idea what it was like to be a woman in the 1950's. Here's a little taste from Housekeeping Monthly, 1955.

- Have dinner ready, plan ahead, even the night before, to have a delicious meal ready, on time for his return. This is a way of letting him know that you have been thinking about him and are concerned about his needs. Most men are hungry when they come home and the prospect of a good meal (especially his favourite dish) is part of the warm welcome needed.

- Prepare yourself. Take fifteen minutes to rest, so you will be refreshed when he arrives. Touch up your makeup, put a ribbon in your hair and be fresh looking. He has just been with a lot of work-weary people.

- Be a little gay and a little more interesting for him. His boring day may need a lift and one of your duties is to provide it.

- Clear away the clutter. Make one last trip through the main part of the house just before your husband arrives.

- Gather up schoolbooks, toys, paper, etc and then run a dustcloth over the tables.

- Over the cooler months of the year you should prepare and light a fire for him to unwind by. Your husband will feel he has reached a haven of rest and order, and it will give him a lift too. After all, catering for his comfort will provide you with immense personal satisfaction.

- Prepare the children. Take a few minutes to wash the children's hands and faces (if they are small), comb their hair and, if necessary, change their clothes. They are little treasures and he would like to see them playing the part. Minimize all noise. At the time of his arrival, eliminate all noise of the washer, drier and vacuum. Try to encourage the children to be quiet.

- Be happy to see him.

- Greet him with a warm smile and show sincerity in your desire to please him.

- Listen to him. You may have a dozen important things to tell him, but the moment of his arrival is not the time. Let him talk first - remember, his topics of conversation are more important than yours.

- Make the evening his. Never complain if he comes home late or goes out to dinner, or other places of entertainment without you. Instead, try to understand his world of strain and pressure and his very real need to be at home and relax.

- Your goal: try to make sure your home is a place of peace order and tranquility where your husband can renew himself in body and spirit.

- Don't greet him with complaints and problems.

- Don't complain if he is late for dinner or even if he stays out all night. Count this as minor as compared to what he might have gone through that day.

- Make him comfortable. Have him lean back in a comfortable chair or have him lie down in the bedroom. Have a cool or warm drink ready for him.

- Arrange his pillow and offer to take off his shoes. Speak in a low, soothing and pleasant voice.

- Don't ask him questions about his actions or question his judgement or integrity. Remember he is the master of the house and as such will always exercise his will with fairness and truthfulness. You have no right to question him.

- A good wife always knows her place.

What I want to know is, where was the guide for the men?

  posted at 10:19 am

At 12:47 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why would the men need a list, everything was on her list!
As funny as this is, it's scary when you understand that this was for real.

At 2:06 pm, Blogger Laurie said...

Someone sent that to me in an e-mail last week. I swear I get chest pains every time I read it. :)

At 4:05 am, Blogger Shell said...

Goodness, you mean you do not study and practice Mrs Humphry's words of wisdom?? I have a cute book called "Manners for Men" by this authority from the 1890's ... *hehe

"A young man once asked me if it would be etiquette to offer an unknown lady an umbrella in the street, supposing she stood in need of one. I replied: No LADY would accept the offer from a stranger and the other sort of person might never return the umbrella."

So there you have it guys, be careful how you share your brolly! lol

As always, a delightful read, Neil!

At 4:13 am, Blogger Shell said...

omg, i had to look and see if i still had this really old book called "The Wife: Her Book" by Haydn Brown ... yep, it's here! Chapters with headings like "Self- control or Chloroform?" set the mind awhirl ... lol

At 7:55 am, Blogger neil said...

Hi tanna, it pains me to say, but I know what you mean about that list! And that is exactly what I thought - it sounded really funny until you realized it really was the way things were. I know it's a long stretch, but maybe why that was why Bewitched was so successful, showing a women in charge of her husband and of course the dream that housework could be done with a wiggle of the nose.

Hi laurie, my daughter sent it to me. I'm not sure she really believed it.

Hi shell, excellent brolly advice, so sadly true! Nope, never studied from that book, just keep making it up as I go along.

At 7:21 am, Blogger Gigi said...

It is both screamingly funny (never complain if he comes home late or goes out to dinner, or other places of entertainment without you...don't complain if he is late for dinner or even if he stays out all night...???!!! ;D) and a cultural tragedy.

One wonders if the Taliban could have written a more howlingly sexist manifesto ~ and however did the writer forget to include an ode to the beauty of burkas in public...? ;)

At 11:38 pm, Blogger pentacular said...

Neil, of course they missed the instructions on blow jobs but that's another story.

At 12:40 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...


At 7:45 am, Blogger neil said...

Hi gigi, it is very funny, but now I'm not sure about the author, see below. Damn internet.

Hi pentacular, as Bob Dylan said, "The answer is blowin' in the wind."

Hi anon, thanks for that, I'll be more circumspect next time, though I have met a man who treated his wife pretty much like that.


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