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“misplaced morality” Tag

Keeping It In The Family

Woman's Weekly / 30th April 1965

Ah, the past. Young heterosexual relationships are rarely policed in this fashion nowadays, of course, but we can’t make the same assumptions for everyone. It’s also worth noticing that there’s no mention of whether race is playing a part in the father’s reaction, but, to be fair, interracial relationships were very rare in 1965. Mary actually gives some good advice here, which makes a nice change. Her advice to the young woman being sexually bullied by her boyfriend’s father, although, is quite typical of the time. A quick web search does suggest that this problem still exists nowadays, but it is a good sign that the advice given is more empowering than Mary’s, and I do get the impression that it’s a bit rarer.

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Your First Warning

Woman's Weekly / 7th May 1965

Well, as regular readers know, I’ve had my differences with Mary Marryat, but she’s quite capable of good advice sometimes, and so it is here. Obviously, the ‘sharp things’ are a telling indication of the age in which the letter was written, and it’s curious that the writer doesn’t connect those comments with the plight of her poor sister, and her feeling that she is somehow responsible for informing a potential partner of her family’s ‘moral failings’. Mary is quite right to remark that for every unmarried mother, there is a father, but I would go a bit further than that, and suggest that the writer has had her first warning that her suitor is, frankly, something of a judgemental arsehole, who appears to be unaware that women can’t get pregnant on their own.

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You Big Fibber!

Woman's Weekly / 23rd April 1965

I have to say, I can’t help but be slightly impressed at people who find it easy to lie, as I’m not very good at it. Mary’s advice to this girl is quite canny, making her really think about what she’s saying. The stigma of divorce 45 years ago is clear from Jessie’s letter. I hope her final relationship continued to be happy, especially as her first husband’s divorce appears to have had nothing at all to do with her!

Incidentally, those who didn’t read my tweet or Facebook post may enjoy my recent appearance on the TATP (Talk About The Passion) podcast. I’m near the end, and that’s definitely not a fib.

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Leave It To Him

Woman's Weekly / 9th April 1965

Well, I fancied some Sunday sexism, so I thought I’d drag out another one of Mary’s pages. Nowadays, I’d hope that men taking women on dates would assume that their companions were able to string a sentence together to order their dinner, but in 1965, this was obviously considered to be taking too much of a chance. Pity the poor woman who wanted to leave after the coffees, but whose male companion was getting stuck into the whisky and leering at other women, eh?

We’ve also got some poor girl whose mother is clearly terrified of her daughter growing up (my mum practically had to crowbar me into a bra), and an even more unfortunate girl. I sincerely hope she didn’t need the help of the National Council for the Unmarried Mother and Her Child, and that her parents put the religious dogma aside to help her.

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Minipops, anyone?

Woman's Realm / 11th March 1967

Erm…I’m stunned. For foreign or younger readers, the Minipops was a short-lived UK show with children dancing and signing, often dressed to be a bit older than they really were, so they’d look like the acts they were taking off. It was unsurprisingly taken off the air once questions were raised in the media about the ethics of the show. This ad seems to come from the same sort of mindset, and surely wouldn’t make it into print nowadays, even though it’s clearly meant in an innocent way. However, it’s only fair to point out the hysteria over paedophilia sits uncomfortably with some of the clothes and toys marketed at young girls in the UK, so we’re probably more confused over children’s sexuality now than we were back then.

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Mary Grant Talks About Men’s Weak Spots

Woman's Own / 21st March 1969

Well, men aren’t coming out of this set of letters very well, are they? Of course, we do have to read these letters with the understanding that leaving your husband in 1969 was a very different prospect to what it is today, although it’s interesting that the Divorce Reform Act was passed in the UK in 1969, which introduced ‘no fault’ divorces. The poor woman in the lead letter clearly seems to have a husband who cares more about his cock than his wife’s mental health, seeing as her first mental breakdown didn’t stop him straying again.

I do understand where Mary is coming from when she talks about creating a ‘new happiness’, but surely all we’ve really learnt about this man is that he’s a selfish idiot? Sadly, I think she’s trying to tell this woman that she’s better off trying to distract her reckless and selfish husband from having yet another affair, which I think is probably a recipe for another mental breakdown. I KNEW there was a reason why I get so irritated with commentators blethering on about the ‘sanctity’ of marriage: a marriage is meaningless without the commitment of both parties, and a marriage certificate doesn’t bestow either wisdom or maturity on the people involved. I do hope that poor woman managed to find some happiness, in any case.

It’s interesting to note the influence of the Divorce Reform Act on simply an ancedotal level: although my parents, married in 1971, weren’t exactly that forward-looking, they both considered an affair to be the end of a marriage, as it eroded trust. The eye-watering increase of divorces in the UK from 56,000 in 1969 to 125,000 by 1972 would suggest that my parents weren’t alone in their attitude, and that Mary’s advice was well-intentioned, but desperately out of date. Incidentally, the 2007 rate is actually the lowest since 1981, which may represent a more grown-up attitude to marriage amongst modern Brits. Well, we can hope!

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At Last: A Problem Page!

Woman / 9th December 1967

Let’s face it, most of us like a good gossip, and there’s nothing like a magazine problem page to really reveal how a nation ticks. Woman‘s agony aunt was Evelyn Home (of whom nothing on the internet appears to have been written), although the famous Marje Proops also puts in a few appearances in Woman in 1967 (which isn’t covered by any obituaries I can find).

Evelyn gives level-headed, if unremarkable, advice, but this page is notable for her reply to the unprinted letter of Mr C.S.G. (Lancs.), which gave me a bit of a start. I’m far more used to it being discussed in the modern-day Scarlet (still, for some reason, causing feathers to ruffle in some areas of the Press), than in the 1967 Woman, and it’s interesting that (according to Wikipedia at least) Evelyn’s quite right to state that he’s actually committing an illegal act, as anal sex between heterosexual couples wasn’t legal until 1996.

Also, I hope everything turned out OK for Worried Girl (Lancs.). There’s a depressingly high number of these letters, and it’s almost criminal that over 40 years on, the UK still hasn’t really properly sorted out its sex education and support in this area.

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