All the single ladies of 1938, put your hands up

Hearken back dear reader, to those days of yesteryear.  Before the iWatch. Before the beeper. Before the Internet (was there such a time?). Take a journey with me, back through the decades to the year of Superman’s birth:  1938.  Btw, male readers, this one is not for you. In fact, you may want to avert thy eyes. For this article is about…

 Dating tips for the single women of 1938

Some of this advice is sensible.  It is common courtesy to be ready at the agreed upon time for a date. It’s rather rude (barring some reasonable explanation) to keep a date waiting. Oh, and unless you’re planning on having dinner in bed (no sexual innuendo there, nosiree), you probably should be dressed by the time your date arrives.  It’s probably a nice idea to try to greet your date with a smile, but I don’t know that it’s essential (if for no other reason than “shit happens” and can put you in a bad mood before a date; I’d rather the person I’m going out with be honest than try to fake being in a great mood). The big problem with this advice is that it’s very female centric. Let’s nip that in the bud.  This is reasonable advice (with a few tweaks) for everyone.  Moving on…

Whoa. Hold up. Before we move on, isn’t this the era of “this is how men and women are supposed to act”? Why the heck is the guy in the image trying to sneak a peek of his date?

I’m sorry, is there one universal awkward position that we’re all supposed to be aware of? I never got that memo. I wonder if anyone else missed out on it? I say sit however the hell you’re comfortable. How a person sits on a date is infinitely less important to me than what kind of person they are.

As for never looking bored, and especially if you are…I don’t think this is a useful tip. What if you are bored? You’re just supposed to sit there and feign interest? That’s not terribly honest.  Granted, I’m not saying it would be a good idea to say “God this shit is boring, can you talk about something else?”, but if you’re interested in the date, but just aren’t into the conversation, speak up. Change the topic.  Use something your date said to springboard onto a different subject.  But to sit there and ‘fake it’? No.

Then there’s the silliness of chewing gum. I guess it has to do with the perception that women are flighty and not serious, but that’s just gender essentialist bullshit. If you want to chew gum, chew the damn gum. If your date has a problem with you chewing gum, that’s a problem they have. And if it’s that big a problem, they can get up and go.

Questions:  Can the guy chew gum?  What if the guy is bored with the conversation?

Why don’t men like that? What else is the darn handkerchief for, anyways (yeah, I know, digging snot out of your nose or wiping sweat from your brow)? In any case, if a man gets that bothered by a woman wiping her lipstick on his handkerchief, then he’s the one who has problems. Not her.  And I don’t think there should be rules on where you can put on makeup. People are going to do it where they feel most comfortable doing it.

I’m starting to think these rules are how “proper ladies” are supposed to act.

Questions:  If a woman didn’t follow these tips, was she not a “proper lady”?  What about women who don’t wear makeup-is that permissible?

Define careless. Then show me the evidence that carelessness affects how a man perceives a woman. Then tell me why a woman should care.

Don’t talk? What if you’re continuing a conversation from dinner? What if it’s a slow dance and the guy is trying to strike up a conversation with you? Are you supposed to sit there and say “I’m going to briefly break the rule on page 30 of the dating guidebook to tell you that I’m not supposed to talk and dance at the same time. I’m not sure why, perhaps the Internet will break in half in 2014 if I do so, but no one has explained the harm in me talking right now, but I’m going to do it anyways. So please don’t be mad if I don’t respond to you until after our dance is completed.”

Gah. I’m going to pull out my hair with this gender role bullshit.

I can understand the rule about wearing a bra. If you feel you need to wear one, wear one. Your choice. Likewise, if you don’t want to, then don’t.

Girdle? What’s that? Just kidding. I know what they are. This just sounds like body shaming and rigid gender rules though. “A woman’s purpose is to find and marry a man. Thus, they need to look their best. To that end, they should wear a constricting girdle so that they maintain that perfect hourglass look. Nevermind dressing for comfort or taste. Dress as you’re told to dammit and don’t stress your pretty pink fluffy ladybrains!”

And oh noez! Wrinkled stockings! He’s not going to marry you now. No man in his right mind would marry a woman with wrinkled stockings!

Questions:  Too damn many! Although I’m really curious why the guy is averting his eyes in the second panel…is he scared of her hair?  A minute ago he was trying to sneak a peek of his date adjusting her stockings. Now he’s shy about seeing her adjust her hair?  Sheesh.

We continue our trip down “Women should concern themselves solely with the needs and desires of the man” lane. I do have to wonder how many times women need to be reminded how to deal with their makeup though. You’d think women would have figured that out, even by 1938. Why, it’s almost like they don’t need not stinkin’ directions on where, when, or how to apply makeup! Heeeey, you don’t think women were able to think for themselves even in the bygone days of the late 30s, do you?

More rigid rules for relationships. Written as if they’re supposed to apply to everyone.  Written as if they’re sensible or reasonable.  Look, if a woman wants to kiss you or caress your hand, she ought to check with you first to see if you’re cool with it. Some people will be. Other’s won’t.  Pretty simple. The rule should be “do I have their consent”, not “what did that Depression era guidebook on dating tell me to do”.

It’s considered bad form (in some circles) to discuss past relationships on a first date, but again, I’m not a fan of hard and fast rules when it comes to dating. I’ve talked about past relationships on first dates. If the subject comes up, why not discuss it? All of that is meant to apply to the people on the date, rather than one member of the date and their waiter/server.  I tend to think it might be rude to discuss past relationships or the good fuck you had last night with your waiter.  But is that something that women really needed to be told? Or is this just another case of policing women’s behavior?

Oh, and while men may desire your attention, no man deserves it. Thinking that way leads to a culture of entitlement where men think they deserve the affections of a woman. That way leads to Rape Culture.

I was going to say it’s all downhill from here, but really, after the first image, it was so far down, I think we’ve reached the bottom of the Marianas Trench by this point (and there are more images to go).

Don’t talk about clothes? You knooooow, guys shop too. Guys buy clothes too. I bet they did it back in 1938 too. If a guy is interested in your clothes, or shopping, or talking about clothes–talk about fucking clothes.

And can we ditch this bullshit about “the man is more important than the woman is”?  I daresay a date is usually about two (or more) people spending time together, and learning about themselves. That means a two way conversation. That means both people talking about their interests. It’s not all about one person or the other.

Also, pleasing and flattering your date just sounds so NOT genuine.  Yes, I think telling your date you find them attractive is a nice thing. Who doesn’t want to hear that? But let it come naturally…genuinely. I think overdoing it can get annoying, but that’s my personal take.  And a lot of things I would do on a date are things other people wouldn’t. I’m glad there are no dating rules (well there have been books written that laid down rules, but I don’t follow those bc interpersonal relationships can’t be broken down into simple rules for all people to follow; we’re too individualistic for that to work).

Whaddaya mean ‘men don’t like tears’?  I know, I know. It’s 1938, and men were strong, righteous, logical, and unemotional.  Any show of emotion in public is a sign that a man is not a man. He’s a woman! And that’s a bad thing. Or some such gender role bullshit. Again!  Heeeeeey! This is a great time to remember that Patriarchy Hurts Men Too (in this case, we see the rigid gender rules in play that state women are emotional and men are not).

I’m shocked!

Shocked I tells ya!

I thought for sure the advice would be “Don’t drink ladies. It’s not proper for a woman to be under the influence of anything but a man.”

As for ‘dignity’, is this something only women have to maintain? Why? Do men have to maintain it too? Is there a whole other advice column for men that’s every bit as sexist as this drivel?

Questions: Since when does drinking make anyone seem clever?  Did the author of this piece of sexist advice ever meet any drunk men? Some of them get pretty damn silly, and I don’t think that’s something unique to 21st century men.

But it’s ok to inconspicuously talk to other men 🙂

How about this:  if you flirt with other men on your date, your date may get annoyed and may not call you again. They may even choose to end the date early.  But you are a grown person, and you are free to do as you like.

All of this “advice” serves nothing more than maintaining social gender roles between men and women. It reinforces the perceived role of women in society: to seek a man, marry him, and father his children. Everything you do should be centered around that. You are to subsume yourself…your dreams…wishes…goals…hopes…desires…to a man.  Ultimately, that prevents the full expression of women. Look, if you want to pursue a man, have at it. That’s up to you.  But equally, if you don’t want to pursue a man–don’t.  You can even pursue a man and a career.  You could pursue a woman and a career. There’s a wealth of opportunity out there available to people when you ditch these rules that say “this is appropriate behavior for men and women”.  Which really needs to happen. Like, now.

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All the single ladies of 1938, put your hands up
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