Philobiblon: The serious side of Good Housekeeping

Thursday, October 13, 2005

The serious side of Good Housekeeping



Here is an advert from Good Housekeeping: Wartime Scrapbook, Barbara Dixon (ed), Collins £ Brown, 2005. Today the tampon adverts show windsurfing and rock-climbing; this was the 1940s equivalent.

The book - of reproduced extracts from the magazine (which is still going), both editorial and adverts - contains all the "housekeeping" things you'd expect, from how to make "delicious nutiritious meals out of powder egg" (which I doubt is really possible, having tasted them once, in a "five-star" hotel in North Korea) to the best ways to ensure your woollens survive the wash.

But the book shows that during the war years it also had a serious, if often highly paternalistic, side, as the article on venereal disease I've reproduced below indicates.

The modern commentary is brief, but informative. I was surprised to learn that: "By 1944 almost one baby in three was born illegitimately." (Interesting light on the babyboomers there.)

If you're looking for a Christmas present for an elderly female relative - particularly one who doesn't read a lot but would enjoy looking at the pictures - this would be just the ticket.

TO ALL THINKING WOMEN
On the opposite page we publish an advertisement from the Ministry of Health on the subject of venereal diseases, For a family magazine this may seem, at first sight, a strange step, But just because Good Housekeeping is edited for, and by, those who believe whole-heartedly in the sanctity of the home; who believe that, above all, our children's heritage must be safeguarded and this country, and the world, made a better, cleaner, saner place to live in, it is only logical that it should draw attention to an evil menacing all we hold dear.

Here, too, we want to make one point. Much danger lies in the fact that the ordinary decent citizen, especially when a woman, feels that " V.D." is so remote from her life and home that, though to be deplored, it is not really her concern. How tragic a fallacy this is appears every day. A clean, intelligent lad, son of whom any mother may be proud, joins up. Away from home and friends, eager for fun and companionship in his off-duty hours, an evening that starts innocently enough may end up disastrously. The fact that a boy would not seek the company of prostitutes does not mean safety. An appalling number of venereal infections are caused by quite young girls who seem, on the surface, perfectly fit companions for decent lads.

Not always, of course, is it the Iads who suffer most. Many a young married couple have had their happiness blasted because the husband, before marriage, and as the price, perhaps, of a single escapade, contracted a venereal infection and then, not fully cured, passed it on to his wife and unborn child. No, not one of us can say " this cannot touch me or mine ": all of us have the. duty to do whatever lies in our power to stamp out the scourge.

What can we women do? First and foremost, perhaps, make our home life so warm and full and rich that husbands, sons, daughters, wherever they may be, even if miles away, will feel its call stronger and more compelling than any temptation. Next, too, those of us who are blessed in our
own home lives can lend a helping hand to the less well-placed. If the young men and girls in the Services, or working in factories away from home, had more of the right kind of hospitality offered them, more pleasant, friendly places where both sexes could enjoy each other's company, there would be far less dangerous playing with fire.

The aim of all thinking women must be to obviate the conditions—loneliness, a feeling of insecurity and not being wanted, with the resultant craving for excitement and attention—that so often lead to sexual promiscuity. If, however, damage has been done, swift and specialised medical attention is imperative. In such cases, an understanding older woman can do much to persuade the sufferer to take treatment at once. The toll of V.D. must be arrested, and it is we wives and mothers who can do much to help.

2 Comments:

Blogger la peregrina said...

An appalling number of venereal infections are caused by quite young girls who seem, on the surface, perfectly fit companions for decent lads.

Not always, of course, is it the lads who suffer most. Many a young married couple have had their happiness blasted because the husband, before marriage, and as the price, perhaps, of a single escapade, contracted a venereal infection

What can we women do? First and foremost, perhaps, make our home life so warm and full and rich that husbands, sons, daughters, wherever they may be, even if miles away, will feel its call stronger and more compelling than any temptation...


So, ladies, if your husband, son, or boyfriend gets VD it's really your fault. If you could just be a fit companion (Easy and VD free), only slept with decent men when you didn't have VD, and make yourself responsible for your husband, son, or boyfriend's sexual behavior, why, we could wipe-out VD by the end of the War!

I've got to get a copy of this book. What a hoot. :lol:

10/14/2005 02:46:00 am  
Blogger Natalie Bennett said...

Indeed - and of course if a nice young lad does get "caught", it was probably only the result of a single, momentary slip - not that he's been spreading it around half the women of the town.

10/14/2005 09:46:00 pm  

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