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“problem page” Tag

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…

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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suggest that my parents weren’t alone in their attitude, and that Mary’s advice was well-intentioned, but desperately out of date.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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Evelyn Home Says…

Woman / 23rd December 1967

Just look at Evelyn. Now that’s a face you can trust, and her sensible advice bears that out, especially to the silly woman being used as a doormat, and the wife too afraid to tell her husband that she’s not enjoying sex. It’s reassuring to know that even as long ago as 1967, this sort of help was available and readily advocated by womans’ magazines.

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More fun with Mrs Marryat

Woman's Weekly / 2nd August 1957

Seriously now, is this woman actually married? Any woman knows that men don’t get hints, so her advice to ‘Disgruntled’ is just bizarre. What she really wants to say, of course, is “I had to put up with it, so you can, you slutty mare”. Instead, she opts for a subtle suggestion that hubby is going out because his wife has let herself go and he can’t bear to look at her anymore. Pre-feminism isn’t pretty, boys and girls.

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It’s another problem page!

Woman's Own / 29th September 1967

Here’s another agony aunt: this time, Mary Grant of Woman’s Own. Obviously there’s around 10 years difference between this page and Mary Marryat’s, but there’s a definite difference in tone with Mary Grant, and I like her a lot more. Her advice to the poor woman being hounded to have more children (I wonder if her husband would have the same opinion if he had to carry the child and give birth to it?) is sound, with her advice to just about everyone else on the page also fair and level-headed. In the context of the time, her advice to the last writer does make sense, although nowadays, thankfully, the writer would be freer to leave a man who was treating her badly and to sort out her life. In 1967, it was very difficult indeed to be a single mother.

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Mrs Marryat Advises

Woman's Weekly / 9th March 1957

Later to be known as Mary Marryat, this agony aunt worked for Women’s Weekly for a great many years (there’s copies of Woman’s Weekly from the 1980s on eBay which mention her), and, frankly, I don’t care for her that much. I know I need to consider her responses in the context of the time, but her attitude to someone deciding for themselves how they get married is a bit rum, and asking a 27 year old woman to wait around for a dithering idiot of a man is bloody silly. It was the 1950s! She’s almost on the scrapheap! No wonder she’s worrying!

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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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