Beware of boredom

This article shows a short public information film from 1961, from the University of Oklahoma. The author of the post describes it as “A worrying little public information film from 1961 equating household accidents with the apparently dubious mental health of the housewives of the era”. But the final message to housewives is: “Beware of Boredom.”

I have a very bad feeling it may actually be trying to say that if housewives don’t keep themselves busy taking care of the husband and kids, they will become bored, and boredom will make them deranged, and eventually their insanity will lead them to a life-threatening accident.

The husband is a useless ass, by the way. At first I thought maybe the film was offering sympathy to housewives for some of the mentally deficient husbands they have to put up with, but she’s soundly punished by the end for standing up to him.


  1. sbg says

    I only just now clicked the link and discovered the clip’s no longer available. :(

    I can about imagine, though. I watched Pleasantville again awhile back and it reminded me how much that film wasn’t just about color discrimination. Granted, it was supposed to be a TV show – the themes were the same as in these kinds of promotional movies.

  2. sbg says

    Oh, oh, and also – I’ve had rerun episodes of Gilmore Girls on lately as well, primarily due to my unhealthy love for Jared Padalecki because I’ve been bored, but there was an episode where Rory and Lorelai and Dean (Rory’s BF) were all watching The Doris Day Show and the women were mocking it…and Dean made the mistake of saying, “Well, what’s wrong with a wife wanting to do these things for her husband?”

    Irritation ensued from both Rory and Lorelai, and a couple of days of squabbling between Rory and Dean. But then Rory had the chance to house-sit for a neighbor. She invited Dean over, and when he showed up she’d decked herself out in fifties housewife attire, had prepared him a big meal, and refused to let him do anything but take out the garbage.

    Had she been doing it to make a point about how she didn’t like the “happy housewife” of fifties television, I wouldn’t have been annoyed. But she didn’t. She did it because she wanted to give him something. Also not an ignoble thing, but…still damned annoying.

  3. Jennifer Kesler says

    There isn’t anything wrong if a person WANTS to do that for her spouse. The problem is that in the Doris Day era, it was expected. It wasn’t her choice.

    What creeps me out is that the men in that era never could have known if their wives really loved them, because those acts of devotion were required. I don’t know a woman alive who isn’t capable of smiling sweetly while planning your murder. It’s a skill we’ve been forced to develop thanks to not being allowed to be and express ourselves.

    Feminism freed us to love our mates sincerely… or not. How insecure do you have to be to choose the illusion with no certainty the affection is real, rather than the reality and the risk of pain but also of true love?

  4. sbg says

    Oh, I know. I didn’t actually disagree with Dean in that scenario. I also don’t think he quite understood that back in the day it wasn’t a choice, and that was what the Gilmore girls protested.

    The thing with the storyline was…they were mad and not really talking and this little “step back to the 50s” night was a way to reconcile and it just felt weird for some reason.

  5. Jennifer Kesler says

    It sounds like maybe it kind of reaffirmed the idea that the 50’s scenario is ALWAYS the way to solve male/female differences, even if that’s not what the show was actually going for.

  6. Andrena Jones says

    I am actually a bored housewife (I had a baby a year ago), I am teetering on the brink of insanity, and my husband’s safety and well-being are at risk, but not because of any accidents I might have.

    I have been doing this for only 1 year and already I am going nuts from boredom. I feel for all those women in bygone eras who did this for 20, 30 or even 60 years without respite. I bet all those mishaps that happened to husbands weren’t really accidents.

    Thank God we have choices these days. Another year of being a housewife and you might see me on the evening news.

  7. SunlessNick says

    It sounds like maybe it kind of reaffirmed the idea that the 50’s scenario is ALWAYS the way to solve male/female differences, even if that’s not what the show was actually going for. – BetaCandy

    An irritatingly (and increasingly, the latter playing no small part in the former) common meme. We get all kinds of little documentaries and slice-of-life human interest pieces on families who have achieved domestic bliss by reverting to female submission – recent tagline was “women who’d rather iron the trousers than wear them” – always of course, with the emphasis on how happy the women are in this arrangement. We see very few about families who have achieved their domestic bliss through anything else.

  8. Jennifer Kesler says

    Andrea – I hope your situation changes soon. :)

    Nick – the 1950’s household was a total marketing invention. It’s promoted as the natural situation, yet the fact that it needs to be promoted belies that. I find myself persuaded by theories which suggest it was actually designed to break down LARGER, MORE STABLE family structures – featuring 3+ generations and extended cousins and deceased family members’ kids – to make the “family unit” a mobile pawn to be moved around wherever business felt like planting the jobs. It’s an isolating social nightmare in which kids are 100% reliant on parents who may or may not be up to the task; in which kids who are orphaned are less likely to be taken in by relatives; in which young parents are less likely to live near grandparents who could help them care for kids while they work.

    And when women work outside the home, the shortcomings of this system become more obvious and people start figuring out it’s not “good for family” so much as good for the economic machine they’re only benefiting enough from to get by.

  9. SunlessNick says

    It’s promoted as the natural situation, yet the fact that it needs to be promoted belies that. – BetaCandy

    I feel the same way about cries that the nuclear family/heterosexual marriage insitution is doomed because of gay marriage, cohabitation, and so on. If merely lifing the legal suppression of alternatives is enough to doom something, is it worth that much (or if it really is worth something, then what will stop people from continuing to choose it?

  10. Jennifer Kesler says

    I always point out it’s that over 50% (US) divorce rate that’s doing marriage in. 😉 Seriously – the stats on adultery range from 45% to 60%, last I heard. I don’t think gays could generate a threat like that if they tried. 😀

  11. sbg says

    I feel the same way about cries that the nuclear family/heterosexual marriage insitution is doomed because of gay marriage, cohabitation, and so on.

    “Why did your marriage fail?”

    “It all boils down to when the government said it was okay for gays to get married (like ‘regular’ people implied here). All was fine while the two guys down the street were simply living together, but once they got that legal certificate of marriage in their hands, it was all over for my wife/husband and I.”

    “Uh. Does not compute.”

    In other words, I don’t get it either. I can’t even figure out why the sanctity of marriage should be impacted at all. Marriage is about love and two lives becoming one, right? What does sexual orientation have to do with it, really?

  12. Jennifer Kesler says

    You know, the only thing I can come up with on gay marriage is that it’s like how trend-followers respond when uncool people start coming to the latest trendy spot.

    “OMG, now they’re letting in THOSE losers! We have to stop coming here!”

    Which would then indicate that people who worry about gay marriage impacting het marriage only got married because “everybody was doing it!”

  13. Patrick says

    I’ve observed that so-called “pro-marriage” individuals never focus on one issue regarding their opposition to same-sex marriage. They have a huge list of reasons, so that every time you expose one as fallacious, they can just go on to the next, and hope that you give up before they run out of arguments.

    Ultimately, it always seems to consist of lots of justification for wanting to keep homosexuals “in their place” and refusing to recognize them as equals.

  14. MaggieCat says

    Or perhaps a certain segment of the population fears the idea of of gay marriage because allowing two men to get married would prove that that a couple can function without a wife who’s expected to the lion’s share of the scut work. Since that would require admitting that married men are actually capable of doing all of the housekeeping, child raising, and other unappealing tasks, it simply must be banned.

    Okay, most of that was sarcasm. But I am tired and grumpy, so not quite all of it.

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