Seven Reasons Why I’m Glad I’m NOT a 1950s Woman

Dear Friends,

Three weeks ago, I wrote a post listing the reasons why I am a 1950s-style woman. That post seemed to resonate with many, many women.  And, although it is easy to idealize an earlier period in history, it is dangerous to do so.  In wearing rose colored glasses all of the time, we lose site of what life was really like–the good, the bad, and the ugly–and do a disservice to ourselves and others.

With that in mind, here are seven reasons why I’m glad that I am a modern retro woman:

#7.  Safety features. While I think some rules are little ridiculous–putting a warning label on peanut butter that it may contain peanuts, for example–many of these rules and features have helped longevity immensely.  For instance, people were often decapitated or cut to shreds by broken glass when they were involved in a collision while driving those old cars we love to admire.  Crumple zones on modern cars may total a car more easily but the hood isn’t slicing through the windshield ending lives anymore (sorry to be so graphic right off the bat).

Image courtesy of HowStuffWorks.com

#6. Family planning options. Resources are available that prevent unplanned pregnancies.  This is invaluable for me because I have a health issue that caused my doctor to warn me to never become pregnant because my health would be at risk.

#5. The infectious and childhood disease thing. The likelihood of dying from an infectious or childhood disease has been greatly reduced since the 1950s.  Yes, people still die from pneumonia but most don’t.  The problem now is that people think childhood diseases have been eradicated and, here in California, for example, children are needlessly contracting and dying of whooping cough because they haven’t been vaccinated.

March of Dimes poster courtesy of Smithsonian Institution

#4. Women doctors. I remember when we were told PMS was all in our head.  And the fact that a hysterectomy shares the same root word as hysterical is not lost on me and what doctors thought of women needing the operation.  Now we have many, many doctors who have experienced PMS, childbirth, and menopause firsthand for themselves and it has changed how women are treated.

#3. Credit in my name. Before the Equal Credit Opportunity Act was passed in 1974(!), married women could only get credit through their husband or as an add-on to their husband’s credit.  Women were stuck in abusive marriages because they did not have the financial resources to leave.  Women who were widowed had no credit history to prove her fiscal trustworthiness.  It is reassuring to know that if something happened to my husband, I wouldn’t have to worry about a credit history and would still be able to apply for something like a mortgage.

Image by Andres Rueda

#2. The end of segregation. We still have a long way to go to end all of the “isms” in the United States but I know my life has been greatly enriched by the diversity I encounter every day as a result of the end of segregation.

#1. George Clooney. Just don’t tell The Mister, okay?

Photo courtesy of Nicolas Genin

 

What about you?  Why are you glad to be living in the 21st Century?

To your fabulous Technicolor life!

Dr. Julie-Ann

Comments

  1. says

    The first one that came to mind for me was being able to work outside the home, without everyone thinking you’ve abandoned your kids. Being able to wear pants if you want to. I remember in high school in 1969 having to bring a note from my parents to wear slacks. I was in chem lab and a skirt did not make any sense the way the lab was set up. My homeroom teacher told me she didn’t think I was ‘that kind of girl.’ Getting closer to being able to be anything you want. When I started grad school in chemistry there were only 2 women in the class. Now classes are 50% or more, and there are a large number of young female faculty members in chemistry dept. Today my husband is in the minority in his dept. Being able to walk into the dealership and buy a car without your husband or father cosigning! That sort of goes along with your number 3, I think.
    Clearwater Patsy recently posted..A new collection featuring friends in the Less10 Guild on ArtfireMy Profile

  2. says

    I’ve often thought I’d like to have lived back when things were easier – technology and helicopter parenting didn’t clog up people’s lives and stress them out. “Local food” wasn’t a novelty, bullying wasn’t an epidemic and familes weren’t spread out across continents like they are today. There are a couple of things I’m glad didn’t make it into the 2000s though:

    1. I’ve always wondered how women did their hair back then. It looks pretty, but like a ton of work. I guess it was like a once-a-week thing where they’d go to a salon, but imagine what it would look like after about Day 4.

    2. People smoked everywhere back then, from the grocery store to the hospital. Everything (including that helmet hair) sure must’ve gotten pretty stinky.

    Visiting you from #SITS31DBBB :)
    Lindsey recently posted..Nurturing nature, I’m pretty sure.My Profile

  3. says

    Just stopping by from SITS. Your post is spot on. There are some days I would really love to live in a different time period when life seemed less hectic, then I realize I love my state of the art washing machine, dryer, stove, dish washer, dvd player in cars, etc… And, medically things have come along way. If I had lived in the 1800s I would not have survived child birth and neither would my baby, so I am grateful to modern advances.

    Have a great day.
    Amy recently posted..Grilled CornMy Profile

  4. says

    I was there in the ’50s — a little girl, but there. I find it difficult to be objective about the ’50s. (I also find it difficult to accept that the day has come that I’m this old!) But there are challenges for women in any era, and for me the questions are: What influenced the thought of women at that time? What standards were they bringing to the problems of the era? Did all women see the change as positive? Was the promoted concept of womanhood the reality?

    Yes, doing my hair was a ton of work. At least twice a week my mother would wash and set my hair until I sorta learned to do it myself. She gave me a home permanent every three months. (It was a big deal.) My mother did her own hair, too — trimmed it herself, gave herself permanents. No salon styling at my house. Salons were for the aged among us and often those highly crimped styles from a bygone era were all the stylist knew how to do.
    Kathy Warnock recently posted..O-O-OH! IT’S THE RESERVOIR! (duh!)My Profile

  5. says

    I commented before, but last night I thought of a couple of reasons not to be a ’50′s woman:

    WWII and its effect were still very fresh on people’s minds in the ’50s. After the war life changed in ways we don’t half remember.

    And Communist paranoia was a reality. We know about McCarthyism and the great Communist witch-hunt which needlessly destroyed the careers of some of our most talented people. But beyond that, the common man was also afraid. I remember that my parents were involved in a nationally-organized intellectual discussion group in our small town. Then an article appeared in the paper about how this organization was related to the Communist party. I remember the look of fear in my parents’ eyes. “We didn’t sign anything, did we?” my mother asked. The next year they opted out of the group. Fear of communism was taught in our schools — if not outright then by implication. (Remember those civil defense films?) This went on throughout the ’50s until cooler minds prevailed.
    Kathy Warnock recently posted..O-O-OH! IT’S THE RESERVOIR! (duh!)My Profile

  6. says

    This global community known as the blogosphere is one of my favorite things about the 21st century. Previously we were limited by our geography and world travel was the domain of the wealthy. Now I can share ideas and values with people in states and countries to which I’ve never been.

    As a child of the 80s and 90s, the computer has been ubiquitous to me. But seeing how far that technology has advanced in the last 30 years is amazing to the point of magical.

  7. Maggie Nowakowska says

    If you lived in Louisiana — and you worked, your wages would legally belong to your husband. That didn’t change until the 1970s.

    If you were in college, you could hear profs saying things like this: (laughing, after class) Oh, I’m not going to answer that [question]. You all are just going to get married after you graduate and I don’t want to waste my time. OR No matter how well you do on the objective part of this test, you are not going to get an A because I’ll fail you on the essay — because you’re taking the place of a male who should be here. (My cousin took THAT straight to the Dean and kept her Dean’s List rating.)

    “Gee, I’ve never met a girl who reads science fiction.”

    And, oh, the work stories I could tell from working in media/advertising/manufacturing the 70s and into the 80s. Believe what you see on Mad Men…

Trackbacks

  1. [...] First Known Use: 1944; In the late 19th century, the United States Supreme Court upheld the “separate but equal” doctrine that kept minorities from being able to integrate with white people.  Many Americans think of the Brown v. Board of Education overturning the “separate but equal” doctrine as the beginning of the civil rights movement but, in actuality, the movement had started long before the second ruling.  For example, men returning from fighting in World War I started demanding that they receive the equality they had fought for overseas.  During World War II, Roosevelt was accused of tolerating racism in the United States after his administration condemned the Nazi racist ideology.  Click here for an interesting look at the role of the Communist Party in the civil rights movement prior to The Second Red Scare in the late 1940s (that Kathy mentioned in a comment). [...]