Tell girls why everything is their fault

19 Oct

Dear Girls: Welcome to 1947,  a glorious time to be a girl and have the responsibilities of the world thrust upon your sweater-clad shoulders! A time when good hygiene is important, but don’t take it too far because it might incite a male who cannot control his tendencies to assault you and then it’s all your fault! A time when good and bad girls were easy to tell apart, saving men the trouble of taking out a girl who won’t put out! A time when if you shaved your legs above the knee your mom would tell you it would give you leg cancer! (I kid you not about this last one. My mom was told this.) A time when…well, you’ll see all that waits ahead of you, Girls. Get ready for some good advice in:

...they should just give up a nurse instead of a doctor...can't go to law school...should get married out of high school...

...they should just give up a nurse instead of a doctor...can't go to law school...should get married out of high school...

Welcome to the world of this crazy book. The set-up is bizarre to say the least: a public panel features Mrs. Lee, a well-meaning and straight-shooting proper woman who is here to publicly answer questions from a group of curiously articulate, nice white girls. Seriously, they are introduced at the beginning by the school board. Which gets weirder when the girls start asking explicit questions about what sex is like because I know of no school board, not even in San Francisco, that would host a public panel like this. Mrs. Lee, to her credit, subscribes to the view that girls need to know the mechanics and facts of sex, drugs and rock and roll. She would pooh-pooh abstinence education and in fact says that in order for girls to make good decisions for themselves, they need all of the information. You wouldn’t drive a car without understanding what all of the pertinent parts do, she says. Good point, until Mrs. Lee takes it all a step further…

tell girls why 1

Why is petting a dog or cat dangerous? I don't get it, Mrs. Lee.

Men are “victims” of their emotions and drives? Great, awesome to start indoctrinating them into this stuff early on. And does anyone outside of Victorian novels really refer to their mom as “Mother”? And is non-promiscuous petting okay?


Don't be gay. It's in "poor taste." Well, last time I checked the gays have never been in poor taste.

Don’t be promiscuous! Don’t be with just one boy! Be with a lot of boys! But don’t be promiscuous about it! Um, this whole page is just confusing me. I’m supposed to have wholesome love affairs? I can have crushes on girls, just don’t take it too far lest I deprive myself of the real love only a man can offer a woman? Okay, I get that it’s 1947 and I cannot expect even progressive Mrs. Lee to say ‘be gay, it’s okay!’ But, well, I’m not sure what kind of girl I’m supposed to be from this. (A noble character forms from boys liking you? Wow, I thought it came from things like integrity, honesty, developing my skills and good qualities? Nope, from relationships with boys. Explains so much now!)

Want to suppress your sexual urges? Jump around in a really short skirt! That'll do the trick!

Want to suppress your sexual urges? Jump around in a really short skirt! That'll do the trick!

Awesome! Not only can I stuff my normal human urges down, I can get good at sports while doing it! I’m totally repressed, but my bowling skills are supersweet!  And apparently I am making good mental progress. Whatever that means because I stay up all night long and don’t sleep  fighting with myself to stuff down thoughts of that nice boy in my Chemistry class.

tell girls why 4

You should never have to know that your husband sucks in bed.

So, if I’m understanding these last two pages, petting leads to divorce later in life? (Also, please note: it is DANGEROUS to compare your body count.)

Why, you look lovely enough to assault. WHORE!

Why, you look lovely enough to assault. HARLOT!

Actually, this is really good advice. You could also ask a girl to drive you home, just be careful it does not lead to tasteless and dangerous homosexuality.

Remember: only you can prevent forest fires.

I had to stop scanning pages from here, because as you can see from the bottom Mrs. Lee launches into the you-are-responsible-for-anything-bad-that-happens-to-you-because-you-riled-up-those-helpless-boys-and-were-not-the-beacon-of-good-taste-and-purity version of  “Upon St. Crispin’s day!” It’s a battle cry for all good believers in the Beauty and the Beast myth!

I’m glad Mrs. Lee thought to educate Kitty and her posse on realities, but why, oh, why did she not break down more barriers of misinformation, including the all-important one that women are NOT responsible for the actions, welfare and decisions of men? Is that really too much to expect of post World War II America? I guess even Rosie the Riveter had to face her reality at some point.

5 Responses to “Tell girls why everything is their fault”

  1. Wendy October 19, 2009 at 8:53 am #

    The very sad thing is that most of this could have its language modernized slightly (only slightly) and would be exactly the same as the advice given to evangelical teenagers now. Except that homosexuality would be worse than tasteless. Just for instance.

  2. Jennifer D. Miller October 22, 2009 at 9:40 am #

    Sadly, the only subject heading in our library catalog for this book is “Girls.” Then again, the cataloger could’ve been overwhelmed and just couldn’t come up with a proper subject heading for “you-are-responsible-for-anything-bad-that-happens-to-you-because-you-riled-up-those-helpless-boys-and-were-not-the-beacon-of-good-taste-and-purity version of ‘Upon St. Crispin’s day!’”

  3. Aaron W. October 22, 2009 at 10:36 am #

    I’m glad that someone else agrees that taking your date out for some physical exertion helps stifle sexual urges. I can’t tell you how many babies have been conceived at our public library by “idle” teenagers.
    I know when I go out dancing and see young, scantily-clad women gyrating to the music and sweating, all sexual urges disappear. And don’t get me started on swimming — getting all wet in tight bathing suits? Ick!

  4. Norah October 22, 2009 at 10:57 am #

    Oh bother! I KNEW my parents were lying to me when they kept saying internal validation was more important than external. What social hell has their warped world view now confined me to?


  1. A Gay Old Week! « Unintentionally Funny Books - October 26, 2009

    […] for the boys of the 1950s and 60s to find their sense of manhood in. Which is 100% awesome since Girls were learning how to tame the wild beasts that are adolescent boys (which are not Neil Peart drum solos, but often confused for them) at the same time, swell!   […]

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