How would you respond if someone asked you to describe the 1950s? Maybe you’d mention the Cold War between The United States and the Soviet Union? Elvis becoming more and more popular? The first satellites going into orbit? You could do that. Or you could explain how magazines advised women to seduce men. Recently, Kim Marx-Kuczynski from Madison, Wisconsin shared a 1958 McCall’s article, entitled “129 Ways to Get a Husband,” showing just how much times have changed.
“In the United States today there are sixteen million women over the age of seventeen who are not married,” the text begins. “Presumably the vast majority of them would like to be.” The publisher asked 16 people to brainstorm strategies lonely women could use to get men to pay attention to them, and they delivered. From ordering rare steaks and no gossiping to crying in a corner of the room and getting a hunting license, some of these tips sound like common sense, and some seem to be… questionable. In their authors’ defense, the magazine did ask them to throw away their judgments when writing down their thoughts.
“My boyfriend John Bascynski spotted it at a rummage sale and pointed it out. I bought it for a dollar, I think the article is reflective of the social mores of the era, and I found the comparison between what was acceptable then and what is acceptable now fascinating. It also made me grateful that so much progress has been made.”
Kim also believes that everyone who’s currently thinking about a long-term relationship should stay away from this kind of stuff, too. “I think if someone is actively looking for a life-long partner just for the sake of being married, they will end up in a failed relationship whether they legally sever it or not,” she said. “I’d like to read about someone’s attempts at trying out everything on the list though. They would either end up with a degree from Yale, in federal prison for stowing away on a military vessel, or in an intervention meeting with friends who’ve been very concerned with their recent behavior.”
“It’s outdated and absurd and funny, but it had serious intentions,” Kim concluded. “Society has changed so much in the last sixty years, and this article exemplifies the differences between what our moms and grandmas grew up with compared to ourselves and the coming generations. It’s fascinating.”