Wednesday, June 25, 2008
mrs white takes the 1939 housewife test, part 1: merits
A little while back, Boing Boing posted a picture of this Marital Rating Scale, developed by a doctor and marriage counselor in the late 1930s.  The test could be taken either by the wife or by her husband, and it rates the wife's success in her role by giving merits for favorable behaviors such as dressing for breakfast, and demerits for unfavorable habits like not mending your husband's socks in a timely fashion.  Lovely, eh?

Seeing how I hate to cook and only bake if it requires a creative challenge, cannot fathom staying at home rather than working, and tend to leave a trail of sarcasm in my wake, I have little doubt that I would have been a failure as a traditional 1930s housewife.  But since I've been playing the housewife now for the last week and a half, I figured this would be a fitting time to sit down and take Dr. George W. Crane's test.  It's a little long, so I'll break it up into two posts, starting first with the merits. 

So, shall we?

1. A good hostess - even to unexpected guests - Sure.  I guess. I mean, I don't know! Was I supposed to be making them fill out comment cards or something? To date, no one's died under my roof due to either starvation, food poisoning or injury, so I'm marking it Pass.

2. Has meals on time - My first inclination is to ask, "On time for what?" But even if it just meant "On time for eating," I'm afraid that most days I strike out there too. Unless it's the summertime, this domestic goddess rarely cooks. Fail.

3. Can hold an interesting conversation - I'd like to think so, yes.  Pass.

4. Can play a musical instrument, such as piano, violin, etc. - I can play several, thank you, although I fail to see how this has anything to do with being a good wife.  As long as I just have to know how to play it, Pass.  If I'm supposed to be providing him with private concerts on my jazz flute while he digests the imaginary dinner I just served him, then Fail.  Screw it.  I'm marking it Pass.

5. Dresses for breakfast - I don't eat breakfast let alone make it, so I'm certainly not dressing for it. Unless throwing on a pair of flip-flops and hitting the local IHoP once every two months counts (and I'm fairly certain it doesn't), this is most certainly a Fail.

6.  Neat housekeeper - tidy and clean - Seeing how I've spent the better part of my summer vacation reorganizing the house - the highlights of which include arranging my bookshelf alphabetically by author and genre and sorting my wardrobe by color, item and amount of use, then I'd say Pass, sucka!

7. Personally puts children to bed - But of course! The au pair never puts the dog to bed. Bed time is a special time!  (But seriously, no kids.  Fail.)

8.  Never goes to bed angry, always makes up first (5 Bonus Points) - Nice in theory, but seriously - always?  Can any couple claim this?  And since when is making up the sole responsibility of the wife? What if he's been a massive toolbox and refuses to own up to it???  Dumb question, Dr. Crane. Fail.

9. Asks husband's opinions regarding important decisions and purchases  - Yes. I tell him that I want to buy something, and then we buy it.  Pass.

10.  Good sense of humor - jolly and gay - I have a great sense of humor, but it's more dry wit and sarcasm than "jolly and gay." I'd like to say Pass, but since the question is clearly valuing one sort of sense of humor over another I'm not sure I can, and since I've never heard anyone describe me as either "Jolly" or "Gay" I'm gonna have to mark it Fail.  Whatever. If Nathan wanted "jolly and gay" he should have married Santa Claus.

11. Religious - sends children to church or Sunday school and goes herself (10 Bonus Points)- Unfortunately, I've become one of those annoying people who only shows up for Easter and Christmas Eve service, taking seats away from the regulars while my brother and I whisper little jokes under our breath.  Sorry mom, Lord knows you tried to raise me better, however this is a Fail.

12. Lets husband sleep late on Sunday and holidays - Always.  And I'll be doing the same.  Pass.

Midterm Standing: A whopping 6 Points

We'll save demerits for tomorrow.  I've got a microwave dinner that needs burning.


3 Comments:

Oh. My. God. Totally ridiculous. And there's more, too! Check out the Flickr images of the original booklet:
http://flickr.com/photos/tiabla/sets/72157605047200616/

Blogger Mary said...

Does it count as being a neat and tidy housekeeper if you go to bed and the house is tidy and you wake up and his dirty laundry is all over the living room?
Sometimes I think being a wife is like being Sisyphus, (y'know the guy forced to keep rolling the boulder up the hill for eternity.)

Blogger Mrs. White said...

According to Dr. Crane, probably not. I'm pretty sure you're supposed to forgo sleep for the sake of uninterrupted tidiness. ;)

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