Godly Women · Traditionalist Bird

Upper Class Housewives vs. Average Housewives

Anonymous commented on an older post the following:

Quoting Lori Alexander: “Many in our nation has become quite lazy in the last several generation. Women would rather be on the Internet or watch TV than keep their homes clean and tidy.”

“Here is an interesting point — I think she gets this from an outdated caricature. In a recent viewing of old “I Love Lucy” reruns, it was obvious that a lot of time seemed to be spent on bridge games, etc., but among the average housewife that was hardly the case. Only the upper class or upper middle class ladies had time for clubs, bridge, the “soaps” and so forth. Obviously for “Lucy” they had those in for the plots, but I strongly doubt the average wife and mother had time for clubs and bridge games. Maybe she listened to the “soaps” on the radio while she was cleaning, but other than that I seriously doubt anybody ever lived in that way. My parents, grandparents and in-laws certainly didn’t.”

That reminded me of this excerpt from a book that highlighted an article that was published in a 1950s magazine. Pay attention to the footnote.  The article presented itself like this is the day in the life of the average housewife, but apparently readers were furious at this misrepresentation of what it is like to be at home all day.

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9 thoughts on “Upper Class Housewives vs. Average Housewives

  1. Apologies for monopolizing the thread!

    I’d like to add that it’s a very common delusion to ignore the “elbow grease” element in other areas of family life. For example, when I was a young mom of a toddler/preschooler, I was convinced that if I just found the perfect toy, it would keep her interested–so I bought toy after toy in the hope of keeping her occupied. What I didn’t realize was that the magic ingredient to most toys is another person–a brother, a sister, a mom, a dad, a playmate. The toy by itself has little long-term interest.

    Likewise, one might believe that school is supposed to keep kids out of one’s hair–but school itself requires a major input of energy and resources from parents. Likewise with activities–you can pay for activities, but that’s just the first step–you need to get the kid there, make sure they are engaged, make sure they do the practices, etc.

    There’s no shortcut to success where you just buy stuff and presto–AMAZING FAMILY!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I can’t believe I missed this one from Lori:

    “Women would rather be on the Internet or watch TV than keep their homes clean and tidy.”

    Yep. That’s right.

    I don’t see why that is supposed to be a damning criticism.

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  3. Anonymous said:

    “Many articles in women’s magazines, while the majority were written by women, were edited by the male editors.”

    Right. Plus, with SAHM issues, there’s the eternal problem that the women who write professionally about SAHMs are not SAHMs. So, on the conservative side, we run into women talking up SAHMing who have a lot of help or have never been actual full-time SAHMs while on the other hand, on the liberal side, we have women who didn’t think that there was a lot to homemaking–but never had to do much homemaking at all so they don’t know what they don’t know. I suppose that deep down, it is the exact same problem on both sides.

    The dilemma is that a real full-time SAHM doesn’t have the time to write professionally about being a SAHM, and the women who are stepping up to do so professionally are often not knowledgeable.

    “Having now read a number of books I probably would never have read a decade ago (because I had bought into the “happy submissive wife” notion), I am now convinced that there was an agenda to make the housewife look like a worthless leech, thus setting the stage for second-wave feminism.”

    Or alternately, there is a lot of over-promising with regard to the time-savings gained by particular cleaning or other household products. See, for example, an old Spic and Span ad:

    Or here’s a current Hurricane Spin Mop ad:

    I kind of like the concept for the Hurricane Spin Mop, but 1) it looks like a lot of trouble and 2) I’m pretty sure that you still need to get down and scrape crud off the floor–that’s the part of the process that no mop or cleaning solution never shows you–the inevitable need for elbow grease.

    “The second wave came as a backlash against the idiocy of the 1950’s myths perpetrated by male editors in the women’s magazines.”

    There’s something to that.

    I think a lot of second wave feminism came as a reaction to perceived ingratitude.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. “there was a time (the 1960s?) when she was very busy with….Young Republicans….and the John Birch Society–grandma was very big on fighting the communist menace.”

    She could have been my Mom! My Mom was in Young Reps and the JBS and then ended up as a candidate to the American Party Convention in the early Seventies. Yes, my Mom who homeschooled back when nobody was doing it, too, and risked being put in jail due to the laws at the time…..and no HSLDA back then, either. Yep…..my evil, rebellious, feminist, Lori-Alexander-defying mother……and my Mom has a good twenty years on Lori, too, boy could SHE take her down a couple of good notches…..my Mom had to work like a dog to keep us fed and clothed and in our home, too!!!!!

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  5. “Also, there was a lot more home entertaining and home card playing than is typical nowadays”

    Well, yes, that’s true. My parents had a bridge table a couple times a month. I don’t even know how to play bridge. People did that and had folks over for coffee, dessert and bridge instead of staring at the TV all night. Folks actually had a life back then…..kinda wish I knew how to play bridge.

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  6. Many articles in women’s magazines, while the majority were written by women, were edited by the male editors. Having now read a number of books I probably would never have read a decade ago (because I had bought into the “happy submissive wife” notion), I am now convinced that there was an agenda to make the housewife look like a worthless leech, thus setting the stage for second-wave feminism. The husbands became irritated and angry that their “leech” wives were “sitting around doing nothing”, which is understandable if this is the trash that was allowed to be printed. It also raised the situation in which it was alleged that “now we have all these labor-saving devices, and you live the life of Riley, why are you asking for my time and attention?” so men were justified in ignoring their wives’ needs and doing whatever suited them whenever it suited them……women were still fed the housewife line, they were lonely and bored — and bored NOT because they hated being housewives and hated housework, but because they did the same things over and over and over again, with no change, no husband who wanted to talk to them about anything, is it any wonder that Friedan got off the ground? And it’s the fault of articles such as this one that LIED blatantly through their teeth.

    Women wanted to be good housewives and mothers for the men who survived the war and came home. But they were being undercut every step of the way by the stupid women’s magazines who not only published false articles, but confined the articles to meaningless and stupid topics (“Can This Marriage Be Saved?” is a perfect case in point of a meaningless and stupid article; there should have been articles on politics, world affairs and important community and education topics. It’s my firm believe that “Can This Marriage….” resulted in more burnt-out wives than ever before, trying valiantly to please and please and please until they were either ready to drop or furious and ready for second-wave feminism.)

    We were better off in the thirties and prior (with the exception of the Roaring Twenties with all its rampant immorality and Prohibition) when we were dealing with the REAL women’s rights movement. The first wave was important. The second wave came as a backlash against the idiocy of the 1950’s myths perpetrated by male editors in the women’s magazines. At least that’s my opinion. So, in truth, it’s the fault of the men who claimed “women don’t do anything” that we have what we have today. Are we having fun yet? Like what you’ve created? If you don’t……then have some respect for us as human beings (take that, you ‘spherians who will scream and holler over the use of the word ” respect”). Oooh, boy, can’t WAIT to hear what thedeti is going to say about that one…..you can be sure his maudlin whine is going to start up in a few! But, then, maybe not….

    “4. “Since her husband snores, he sleeps in an adjoining room.” Oh, now I’m certain that this was an exercise in 1950s trolling.”

    Haha…..1950’s version of the ‘spherians! Look at those evil women, denying their husbands that-which-I-will-not-name-because-it-is-sufficiently-implied. Crush them! Punish them! They are leeches! All women are leeches! Et cetera ad nauseam. Besides, in the Fifties any magazine that was considered respectable wouldn’t have mentioned such a thing; it would have been considered indecent. It was indecent to mention any bodily function whatsoever. No decent family worth its salt would have had such a magazine in the house. Those matters were strictly private and not mentioned in public. Whoever wrote that article just made that line up to add to the quote to add fuel to the fire.

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  7. I am convinced that Mrs. Crabtree (if she existed) had a maid at least one day a week, which would clear up a lot of the anomalies in her schedule.

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  8. 1. 9 AM and on her fourth cup of coffee? Pace yourself, woman!

    Caffeine has also been my grandma’s drug of choice. I can’t really believe in this part of the article, because I think you’d get super jittery from drinking that much so fast and so early.

    2. I don’t really buy the idea that she does all of her housework between 7 and 8 AM. I believe that you could do the work described within an hour BUT I don’t believe that that time of day is actually available for that kind of work. The kids need to be gotten up, they need to be encouraged through their morning preparations, they need breakfast, they need to have lunches packed or to be encouraged to pack lunches themselves and they need to be gotten out of the house with all of their stuff. That alone would consume the hour–and nobody tell me that she is cleaning the kitchen while the kids are eating breakfast and making lunches–that is not workable, what with the crumbs flying and kids underfoot. Plus, there’s probably also a husband to launch as well.

    3. How did the groceries appear at the Crabtree residence if Mrs. Crabtree is playing bridge from 9:30-3 four days a week? I suppose they might have grocery delivery, but then when is she placing her grocery orders?

    Also, when is Mrs. Crabtree doing her laundry?

    4. “Since her husband snores, he sleeps in an adjoining room.” Oh, now I’m certain that this was an exercise in 1950s trolling.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Anonymous said:

    “Only the upper class or upper middle class ladies had time for clubs, bridge, the “soaps” and so forth.”

    I actually have a data point–my own grandma. She had her three children a year apart starting in the later 1940s. Grandpa eventually insisted on her working at the grocery store (grandpa was a mill worker and a rancher) and I’m a little unclear on the timeline for when the grocery store work started, but there was a time (the 1960s?) when she was very busy with PTA, Young Republicans, Garden Club, and the John Birch Society–grandma was very big on fighting the communist menace. From my reading of Putnam’s Bowling Alone, it seems like that level of middle middle class community involvement was typical of the post-war era–I believe Putnam calls that generation the “civic generation.” Also, there was a lot more home entertaining and home card playing than is typical nowadays.

    http://xroads.virginia.edu/~HYPER/detoc/assoc/strange.html

    Of course, that’s the sort of non-familial adult life that is anathema to Lori Alexander. (Note that in our era, a family might be just as busy, but the activities would be primarily child-centered, not adult or community centered.)

    Grandma wouldn’t have been caught dead listening to or watching the soaps.

    You also get an interesting view of the class divisions in Florence King’s book “WASP, Where is Thy Sting?” (The relevant chapter is in the Florence King Reader.) FK describes a split between the Low WASP housewife and the High WASP housewife. It’s a largely extinct classification, but I think it probably did describe how things stood from the late 1950s-1980s–busy busy Low WASP kinder kuche kirche housewives like my grandma versus sloppy educated dilettante High WASP housewives.

    I’ll talk about your interesting excerpts in a bit.

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