Gypsy Creams

“pregnancy” Tag

Letting Their Emotions Run Away With Them

Woman's Weekly / 28th May 1965

I found the third letter here fascinating. It seems as if the mother subconsciously wants to punish her daughter for the almost inevitable consequence of being deeply in love. It’s sad that society back then saw that as a possible response, as her daughter would probably have resented her mother’s wish for years afterwards, but fortunately Mary hints at the one upside of the Church; that they almost always ignored a bride’s bump for the benefit of the child being born into wedlock.

The Italian embassy request is a curious one. If it wasn’t for my mother telling me that she lost her virginity to an Italian labourer (of which there were many in the UK in the 1960s), I may not have noticed it at all. I wonder if a young Italian man had left more behind in Britain than he had imagined?

Tags: , ,

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.

Tags: , , ,

One Ovary

Woman's Weekly / 16th April 1965

Nowadays, expectant mothers can drown in a sea of advisory books (some of which cause more noise than others), but back in 1965, it seems that getting information could be a real problem. Although traditionally, mothers could rely on family networks for information and support, this information wasn’t always reliable. It’s a good thing that this advice column existed, but the advice given for post-natal depression is of the one-step-forward-two-steps-back variety. Yes, there’s an acknowledgement that the condition exists, but there’s also the dangerous assertion that it’ll go away by itself and the glib wish of good luck. However, it’s not surprising, because as the linked article states, post-natal depression is still not fully understood, over 45 years later.

Another indicator of just how times have changed is the letter about having a left-handed son; although the advice is correct, just the fact that the mother felt compelled to ask shows how long prejudice about being left-handed remained in British society. Also, the idea that a woman would go through surgery to remove an ovary and NOT ask questions about how it would affect her fertility shows the woeful lack of confidence that some women had when dealing with the medical profession, as well as how no-one dealing with this woman felt the need to discuss this issue with her. Luckily, we’ve made progress with this in the last 45 years as well.

Tags: , ,

Drama Queen

Woman's Weekly / 27th June 1969

“Sometimes it’s hard to be a woman…”. All of these letters are significant in their own way, as none of these problems are issues for men. The 16 year old girl is probably being a bit overwrought, but I stayed the night with my best friend more than once as a teen without being accused of meeting a boy by my parents! Both Mrs. C and Working Wife are suffering from higher expectations being applied to them than to their husbands, and naturally, poor Worried won’t see the father of her child for dust. In some respects, things haven’t changed all that much, but at least women have more options nowadays to either get themselves out of trouble, or to avoid landing themselves in it.

Tags: , , , ,

Poor Worried Jane

Woman's Weekly / 11th July 1969

Yep, it’s another tantalizing problem which we don’t have access to! What on earth happened to poor Worried Jane? Another letter which confuses me is the question from an unmarried mother about adopting her own child after the father clearly left her high and dry. I’m going to have to page friend of the site Kif; did unmarried mothers not have automatic custody of their children, or has she given up the child to the local authority and is trying to get it back? It’s not clear.

Tags: , , ,

Two Misguided Teenagers

Woman's Weekly / 25th June 1965

Oh dear. Obviously, I hope things worked out for these two girls, but it makes your heart sink to see Mary come up trumps again with her judgmental language. What makes her think that either of these two girls will EVER put themselves in such a position again, given the trauma that they’re suffering? This is before the legalisation of abortion in Britain (excluding Northern Ireland), which happened in 1967, so if either of them were pregnant, their options were to bring up the child themselves (or have their parents go through the charade of pretending it was a sibling), have the child adopted, or to have a dangerous illegal abortion.

Of course, what Mary doesn’t mention is that the woeful lack of sex education until recently in the UK (and it’s hardly perfect now), meant that many young people were exposed to the adult world with no way of preparing themselves for it. Perhaps you could justify this ignorance when youngsters had close supervision from adults (although it no doubt caused unnecessary anxiety for young couples), but it was wholly inadequate for the 20th century, and is recklessly irresponsible in the 21st. Sadly, what should be a simple process of preparing children for the challenges of adult life is endlessly highjacked by those motivated by fear and bigotry, who appear to think that informing children of the inevitable features of adulthood means that they’ll want to try them all out! It’s a grave insult to those children to assume that they can’t make an informed decision. Luckily, wilful ignorance is no longer government policy (despite the efforts of this MP), and the internet means that there isn’t just one official source of information, with Dr Petra Boynton, a experienced sex educator, giving a good list here. Of course, there’s more than enough misinformation on the internet, but at last ‘ver kids’ at least have most teachers in this country on their side to help guide them through.

Tags: , , , ,

Not Too Old

Woman's Weekly / 18th June 1965

I find it interesting that older motherhood is not being seen as a problem here, when there’s an awful lot of panic nowadays about women ‘delaying’ having their first child. I suspect that legitimate concern over how helpful IVF can be after a certain age has been extended to a general panic, which isn’t helpful.

Tags: ,

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.

Tags: , , , ,


Woman's Weekly / 19th August 1965

Here’s a few interesting indications of what life was like in 1965 for women. ‘Ruth’ seems to have paid the price for putting her own feelings above those of her family, ‘C’, thankfully, describes her positive experience of a ‘shotgun wedding’, and ‘Mrs S.C.’ seems to have a worryingly insensitive husband, judging from Mary’s reply.

Tags: , , , ,

Mary Marryat on Fatherhood

Woman's Weekly / 11th March 1967

Oh dear. I’m pretty sure Mary meant well, but advising a worn-out and demotivated young mother to expend even more energy trying to keep her spoilt brat of a husband happy? Sounds like a sure-fire recipe for depression to me. Woe betide that the husband actually *help* with the baby that he helped create and grow the fuck up, eh?

Also, we have another one of the mysterious replies without the original letter! No prizes for guessing what the ‘habit’ might be…

Tags: , , , , , , ,