Saturday, June 14, 2008

Sungold, the 1930s Housewife? Oh-oh!

I found this quiz via Sally at Jump off the Bridge (who scored even lower than I - should I be ashamed of myself?). I can't vouch for its authenticity but the gist of it definitely hits the right tone. (Guys, you don't get off scot-free. There's a version for husbands, too.)


As a 1930s wife, I am

Take the test!

Here are a few of my many failings as a 1930s Hausfrau:
  • Doesn't want to get up to prepare breakfast. (But does it anyway, churlishly, which I think docked me another point, too, along with not being properly dressed for the occasion.)
  • Eats onions, radishes, or garlic before a date or going to bed. (C'mon! Onion and garlic are two basic food groups.)
  • Fails to sew on buttons or darn socks regularly. (I do the occasional button. But - darn it! - that's all.)
  • Gives husband shampoo or manicure. (No, but come to think of it, the shampoo idea could be fun ...)
  • Neat housekeeper--tidy and clean. (I do just enough to keep the health department at bay.)
  • Puts her cold feet on husband at night to warm them. (Who else am I supposed to warm them on?)
  • Saves punishment of children for father at night. (I'm not quite sure what the right answer is here ... but I think the 1930s housewife was supposed to defer to the father's authority. My kids would've long forgotten their offense by then.)
  • Squeezes tooth paste at the top. (And wouldn't want to marry anyone anal enough to call that a dealbreaker.)
  • Tells risque or vulgar stories. (Worse yet, occasionally posts them on the Internet.)
  • Wears red nail polish. (On my toenails, which must count as doubly improper.)
I'm pretty sure I got good wifey points for these:
  • Can play a musical instrument, as piano, violin, etc. (I love my piano.)
  • Good seamstress--can make her own clothes or the children's clothes. (Not that I have, lately, but in theory I could. I also have been working on curtains for the kids' rooms for about the past two year and plan to finish them just in time for the kids to hit puberty.)
  • Reacts with pleasure and delight to marital congress. (Delight is a nice word for it. But! I suspect that too much delight might collide with the "feminine" and "dainty" standard.)
  • Seams in hose often crooked. (I don't wear hose, ergo I couldn't fall down on this score.)
Mostly, the bar is set pretty low for the gentlemen (though apparently onion and garlic are equal-opportunity failings):
  • A chronic ailer or patent medicine addict.
  • Angry if newspaper is disarranged.
  • Belches without apology or blows nose at table.
  • Leaves car for wife on days she may need it.
And then there are a few lovely holdovers from the 1920s invention of mutual marital pleasure:
  • Ardent lover--sees that wife has orgasm in marital congress.
  • Gives wife real movie kisses not dutiful "peck" on the cheek.
  • Has date with wife at least once per week.
If you take the quiz, do share your score in comments (or link back to your blog)!


figleaf said...

Oh dear. Since I'm a stay-at-home parent I went for the "housewife" quiz and got a 67. I'm pretty sure I got docked for not wearing red nail polish, and I wasn't sure how to answer "wears pajamas instead of a nightgown," especially since I wear, um, neither.

I suppose I'll take the husband test next. Let's see how that turns out.


p.s. Actualy nowadays everyone might have fun trying both.

Sungold said...

Figleaf, I think you're a far better housekeeper than I, and you should get major points for that. But - the "risque stories" item ought to put you deep into *negative* points, don't you think? Not that I'm complaining, mind you. Also, I'm still trying to figure out how you ended up in the upper mid-range without even claiming to be dainty.

I responded to the quiz with a 1930s sensibility in mind, which was pretty harsh. When they said no complaints, they *meant* no complaints. No taking the wheel. Unfailing good cheer. You get the idea. I think I'm actually not a disaster as a wife, but I'm lucky I wasn't born a century earlier.

The wife version of the quiz has a bunch of unfortunate "and" constructions: I do a fine job with the laundry, but not so great with ironing (and if you gave yourself that point, I'm not so sure you earned it). :-) I'm pretty kind-hearted, but I'm not constantly unselfish as early 20th-century standard demanded of women. I'm courageous, I think, but not always uncomplaining. The quiz is merciless that way.

And what's this about you not wearing a nightgown? I guess I misunderstood something ... :-)

At your suggestion, I took the husband quiz and scored 90 points, "very superior," even though I admitted to occasional flirtatiousness and alcohol use. Double standard, anyone?

Sally said...

I failed miserably as a housewife, but I was only average as a husband. I thought for a second that meant I shouldn't get married, but perhaps we should all be happy that we live in the 21st century.

Sungold said...

Thanks for stopping by, Sally! I enjoyed checking out your blog.

I think I did worse than I might have if I didn't study *German* history, in particular. The standards for proper womanhood in Germany were tough enough in 1930, and after the Nazi takeover three years later they got a lot harsher for obvious reasons. But that's a whole 'nother story.

Only average as a husband, huh? Maybe it's time to give up that opium habit. :-)

Smirking Cat said...

I scored average, but if the ideal is serving thy husband and pretending I don't have my own thoughts and opinions, then I am officially a drop-out!

Sungold said...

Yeah, there's definitely a Stepford-ish element to it, long before anyone ever imagined that movie. The obedient, malleable wife is definitely present as an ideal in the 1920s, and it intensifies in the 1930s because the Depression tends to boot everyone back into old gender roles as jobs become scarce and women have little place in the workforce.

But - lots of women didn't conform mindlessly to the ideal, and there were always cultural countercurrents too. For instance, think of Katherine Hepburn in ... well, just about any of her movies.

The reason that quizzes like this existed, along with advice literature intended to inculcate conformity, is telling: Left to their own devices, women *will* seek more freedom.