What goes into making human robot girls, 1941


John Ptak, a dealer in rare science books, has a post about pamphlets published by The Ladies Home Journal from the mid 20th century that are "social engineering how-to's for youngish girls." He says "they'll make your teeth hurt."

Perhaps it was the ["How to Rate Another Date"] pamphlet that caused most of my teeth to fall out — it is sheer and painful, offering virtually nothing to the young women reading it and practicing its morality play but gender obedience and servility.

"Did you give him all your attention?" "Did he run things?" "Did you give him a chance to impress you?" "Could you make him laugh?"  It isn't until the final rating question (#25) that we get to something that opened the possibility of a two-way interest in the relationship, but only barely: "Did you find you liked the same things?" It's sad, really. 

When I read some of this to my 17-year-old daughter, she just looked at me with an open mouth and eyebrow furrows:  it was simply beyond listening to, for her, and certainly not anywhere near worthy of a response. 

What Goes into Making Human Robot Girls, 1941