Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Were Women EVER This Manipulative?

Anyone who has followed this blog for any length of time knows that I often say that "I come from a long line of STRONG women."  I'm about to write yet another post about a strong female ancestor who was widowed and left with several children to raise.  It's almost a theme in my 19th and early 20th Century family.

A friend emailed me several newspaper and magazine ads from the past that would be considered highly offensive to our 21st Century sensibilities.  Here is an example of one of the ads he sent me:

Ad Credit:

When I first read the ad, I was amused.  However, I immediately started comparing the "message" to my personal experience of women I have known.  I can honestly say that I've never known any women who could be that manipulative.  Have you?  Of course in 2011, if I feel I need anything in the ad, I can go out and buy it -- with my own money and without consulting my husband.  Yet growing up in the 50's, I still cannot identify with the sentiment expressed in this ad.  My mother, who had very little disposable income raising seven children, would never have cried in an effort to manipulate my Dad.  I can't imagine any of our neighbors, aunts or grandmothers resorting to this tactic.  So why do I believe that this ad, probably put together by a man, was thought to be effective?  Do you think they thought it was funny or a real reflection of how women got what they wanted?

My friend sent several other similar ads.  I just had to share another one of the ads because so many of my readers have questioned that drugs such as morphine and cocaine could easily be obtained in the 1880s -- often from the pharmacist.  Check this out:

Ad Credit:
That must have been some toothache! I'll bet it was an "instantaneous cure."  I'd love to hear your comments.  Maybe if my husband sheds a few tears, I'll cook dinner -- or better yet, I can shed a few and he'll take me out to dinner.  I AM dreaming!


  1. Who knows what will seem "crazy" today in 50 more years.

  2. I am 65 and can't imagine my mother or grandmother's doing anything like crying for household appliances thing. I think the man who wrote it thought it was amusing. I do remember my mother being upset at receiving a kitchen appliance for a birthday present instead of something personal.

  3. Hi Kathy,
    I go along with you on your appraisal of this ad- for my family too, My mom cried -- but not because she was trying to manipulate my dad. She was overworked and alone half the year as he was traveling for business and she had all the responsibilities. But we have to remember that in an era when women seldom could earn a decent wage, and were often dependent on men for money, manipulation might have been a critical skill for survival (all should check out the opening again to Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice -- the wiles induced to catch the eligible bachelor. Oh yeah- cocaine was available as your ad shows. It was originally in Coca Cola -- hence the name! Added a little "zip" to your day.


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