It really wasn’t that long ago

It really wasn’t that long ago August 9, 2012

Does this look familiar to you? I remember seeing Lucy get spanked by Ricki, and I didn’t even grow up with a television, so it must have been in the few episodes I saw as a kid. It was always treated as humorous, with Lucy making faces and the audience laughing. I never witnessed a fully adult woman get spanked in real life, but scenes like this didn’t shock me. Lucy was “bad” and Ricki was reacting to her badness by teaching her a lesson, showing her her proper place. I didn’t think it was strange that the show never featured Lucy spanking Ricki for laughs.


I remember seeing The Quiet Man with John  Wayne and Maureen O Hara where he drags his wife for several miles and everyone he meets asks if he is going to spank her and show her who’s boss. And I remember seeing a western with the same actors where he actually did spank her while the other actors in the movie looked on and laughed. In fact, the old movies are filled with this sort of attitude, and even in movies today you will see the classic scene of a couple in a fight, she slaps him and he responds by kissing her. And this is accepted as normal. Violence and love go hand in hand. It’s funny.

At least people must think so for this to be so popular.


I used to think that patriarchal Christians were the only people who promoted sexist ideas about women. I sorted through all the beliefs and started to question whether or not women were less capable of making decisions because of their hormones, even if estrogen makes women more emotional, isn’t testerone capable of making someone more impulsive and aggressive? So how are men more qualified for decision making and discernment? The arguments that men were smarter and women better suited to caring for the house and having babies just didn’t make sense anymore. And as I started to feel that men and women were equals and deserved to be able to chose their activities based on their interests and talents rather than their genitalia, I felt like I was practically the last person on earth to realize this. It seemed like most normal people had moved past this sort of sexism a long time ago. But I had forgotten about those old movies. Yes, they were filmed in the 1950s, certainly before I was born, but my grandmother grew up during those days.

It really wasn’t that long ago! Look at the advertising.


From the ad: “Though she was a tiger lady, our hero didn’t have to fire a shot to floor her. After one look at his Mr Leggs slacks, she was ready to have him walk all over her. That noble styling sure soothes the savage heart. If you’d like your own doll-to-doll carpeting, hunt up a pair of these he-man Mr Leggs slacks.”


People are shocked when they see this stuff. Sexism was so commonplace and completely accepted back when these ads were made, that it seems very distasteful now. I wonder why I have heard so many times from conservatives that feminism was an over-reaction. Would this ad shaming women into douching with Lysol provoke a reaction from you? (Click on the ad to enlarge it)


This wasn’t that long ago! Women are still alive today who grew up seeing these ads in their mother’s magazines. As well as clips like this one.



Does this look like a healthy view of women? This was the mentality towards women only a few generations back. Yes we have come a long way through movements like Feminism, you won’t see newspaper clippings exactly like these anymore.

Instead of the mistaken belief that women being athletes would cause their uterus to fall out of their body and endanger their ability to reproduce, 2012 is the first year that the Olympic team from each country includes females. That is a far cry from when this of the Boston Marathon was taken in 1967, five years before women were finally allowed to compete in it alongside the men. Kathrine Switzer registered under her initials and when the race official saw her running, he chased after her attempting to remove her from the race shouting “Get the hell out of my race and give me those numbers!” Switzer’s boyfriend Tom Miller (who had helped her train and was running alongside her) shoved the judge away from her and the photographs made headlines.


I’ve heard from conservatives that feminism is a silly endeavour today, women have all the rights they could ever want today, that all this anti-women stuff was a long long time ago. (But was it really? Go ask your grandmother!) The thing is, I grew up believing the same stuff. That women had to please men, that athletics would risk a woman’s reproductive health which was pretty much the most important thing about her. In other parts of the world today millions of girls are still fed that message that they are not worth as much as men, that they are not as capable as men. And even here in the western world, where we think we have come so far, women are still used in advertising and music as sexual objects, not people.

I’ve heard the arguement that women are sexualized today because of feminism, that of only we could go back to the “good old days” where women were ladies and men were gentlemen,  this wouldn’t be a problem. But is this Dolce and Gabbana ad really that different from the Mr Leggs ad from earlier in this post? Is the sexualization of women in advertising and music today really all that different from the Lysol douching ad from the 1940’s? The objectification of women now, isn’t all that different from the objectification of women from our very recent past.

Maybe that should prompt us to re-consider whether or not feminism is silly and outdated.


Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment