Sat 3 May, 2003 12:24 pm
The University of Delaware Library is momenatrily (until June 13, 2003) presenting it's "Special Collections":
Defining Her Life: Advice Books for Women
Certainly, the question is not really, if you have read these
books (besides you are an historian), but did you read / know of any of this kind of books?
Did that/they "define your life"?
Hey, that's kind of interesting, actually. I thought this was about "The Rules" and its ilk (gag gasp ptooey) but it's much more historical than that. After a quick survey, I think I have only read Emily Posts's Etiquette out of that list.
I grew up in the '40's and '50's when families had attics and attics were used to store "too good to throw away" and "might be useful".
The lumber and plumber in my extended family always included boxes of books and being a notorious reader I had the run of many attics and came across several books devoted to What Every Woman Should Know.
Depending on my age I considered them either colorfully old fashioned and out of date or just plain silly.
I remember our 8th grade home ec book on Family Living devoted a great deal of space to Woman as Cheerful Self Sacrificing Door Mat. By 8th grade, I found this point of view obscene and dangerous.
And why don't you use those advice there?
DISREGARD MY LAST! :wink:
True, it's historical. But there certainly have been some other books of this kind more recently (since I've personally only a couple of about 1900, men don't and didn't need such, this is just a guess, I admit).
Men need these books--otherwise why would men have written so many of them?
Honestly, Noddy, I believe, this was one of the many desperate attempts of men to defend their archaic position.
(But, I would never say so officially :wink: )
One of the troubles that comes from being "the weaker sex" is that any damn fool man feels he has a license not only to protect, but to improve.
A second reason that there have been centuries of Self Help books written for women is that housewives have never had trade unions or any professional organizations devoted to education and improvement.
Until the invention of the automobile and telephone, women were isolated--first in their own households (although the built-in extended family offered a support system here) and the in their own town or village--or farm.
The self help books in spite of their diadactic thrust offered a form of professional chit-chat as well as the occasional novelty which could be adapted and shown off for the neighbors.
Novelties included (but not inclusively) new fashions, new recipes, new theories, bits of information or gossip about the larger world, riddles and games....
Women have always known how to take the bitter with the sweet.