My mom was full of the wisdom of the 1950s. It was a time when women were mostly homemakers and she avidly followed the advice in magazines like Ladies Home Journal and Good Housekeeping. She raised three daughters and three sons with no household help. She believed in the power of shiny appliances. And, despite all the recipes in these women’s guides, she never really learned to cook.
However, my mom was wise in the ways of the postwar world and she tried valiantly to keep up with changing times, especially regarding rules for “good girls.” Fifty years later, I can say that mom had it (mostly) right.
Never go out without clean underwear in case you get in an accident. I would amend this to never go out without underwear. Years ago, I was driving my perpetually tardy son to high school and rushed out the door with just a coat over my nightgown. After dropping him off, I turned around in a driveway and backed right into an oncoming car.
Fortunately, no one was hurt. Even more fortunately, I never hit the ground in the full Monty position. But it was a close call! Moral of the story, clean or not, never go out without underwear.
2. If you don’t have anything good to say about someone, say nothing. I categorize this as clearly advice for a pre-social media world. If you have nothing good to say, today you can go online with no limit to how awful you can be. You can lie, berate and bully to your heart’s content, especially if you are the president. However, if you are not that man, mom is absolutely right.
3. Marry someone older than you even if by a day. Done. I’m not sure why that rule was important but, in the 1950s, women’s options were way more limited. Perhaps an older spouse might have been a better breadwinner. Today, anything goes so marry who you want. However, I’m just pointing out that Doug Emhoff is one week older than Kamala Harris.
4 If it’s your time of the month, keep it to yourself. Menses were unmentionable in the 60s. When I was in middle school and learning to type, my typewriter’s period key broke. My desk mate thought that was so hilarious, he told everyone that my period was stuck. I’m not sure we’ve made much progress since.
5. No one buys the cow if the milk is free. I resented being compared to a cow. However, considering that boys of a certain age were basically upright barnyard animals, it’s a point taken.
6. If you don’t wear a bra, your boobs will fall. This is only somewhat true. If you live long enough all your body parts will fall. Gravity wins the long game. Boobs and all.
What rules did you grow up with? What advice did/do you give your daughters? Is this still a world of “rules for girls” or is it a world where “girls rule” ? I’d love to hear your comments.