They used to be called journals but we know them as magazines. Every time I spoil myself with one of these fripperies I’m disappointed. It doesn’t stop me hoping the editorial content might have improved by the time I’m tempted to buy another rag. However, I am grateful magazines of the 21st century do not offer advice in the vein of those of days gone by, or has the advice snuck underground with sneaky marketing psychology.
As the collage above indicates women’s journals back in the day were also weekly publications. Filled with short stories, recipes from somebody’s aunty’s kitchen as well as pithy answers to questions in the agony aunt column. Then there were the obligatory articles offering the stay-at-home woman the kind of advice she would be hankering to hear … how to keep your man happy and faithful.
Like this snippet from Sex Satisfaction and Happy Marriage, by the Reverend Alfred Henry Tyrer (in 1951).
Do not ask for things. This is called “nagging”:
‘I verily believe that the happiness of homes is destroyed more frequently by the habit of nagging than by any other one. A man may stand that sort of thing (nagging) for a long time, but the chances are against his standing it permanently. If he needs peace to make life bearable, he will have to look for it elsewhere than in his own house. And it is quite likely that he will look.’
Not only is the Reverend a font of wisdom in relation to women’s behaviours he has some advice to offer about our under garments too.
‘That the underwear should be spotlessly clean goes without saying, but every woman should wear the best quality underwear that she can afford. And the color should be preferably pink. And lace and ruffles, I am sorry to say, add to the attractiveness of underwear, and are liked by the average man.’
Yes, it may seem our magazines are letting the modern women folk down by not offering sage advice about the do’s and don’ts to keep our men but really, have they let us down? While it may not be the men who are telling us how to behave, when to speak and how to keep them happy in the home and bed, we certainly get a lot of subliminal prompts as to their ‘preferrences’.
After all, those barely clad figures across the pages of our weekly magazines are appealing to whom? Who buys the beauty products advertised, or follows through on the three step guide to getting rid of unsightly body hair. Yep, it’s us. Women. As we pander, primp, preen and pout in the season’s fashions and colours chosen for us to whom are we looking to for approval?
Our friends? Hardly.
Our men? Hmm ….
I want to acknowledge that many of us do not follow the trends. We are content to be clean, tidy and comfortably clothed. We manage to keep our homes ticking along in a semblance of order and many work both at home and in the paid workforce But honestly, if these magazines have the circulation they purport to have have we progressed much in sixty-three years?
What do you think?