I'd like you to imagine a crazy, futuristic dystopia in which women (gasp) work outside the home. And I'm not talking about doing a little gardening on the weekends. I mean full-fledged, testosterone-driven, trouser-wrenching, tell Little Johnny I'll be late for his baseball game, kind of jobs.
What's that you ask, "But if women get jobs outside the home, who will sew on all the buttons?" Good question. Read on.
The August 17, 1959 San Antonio Light (San Antonio, TX) ran a column by Douglass Welch titled, "Nirvana Draws Nearer." The part of Welch's column pertaining to women appears below.
There is an industrial designer in Detroit named Montgomery Ferar (he should have stood in bed), who has taken a long look into the near future and thinks he knows what the American woman is going to be like. If he's right, she is going to be sitting on a silken pillow all day long, curling her hair, buffing her nails and thinking up ways to beguile a husband who won't need her any more.
Mr. Ferar says we are "squandering" our American woman today on "dull repetitive tasks in the home and office," and, although we are tempted to say that a little judicious squandering never hurt any woman, we won't. He says he is going to free the American woman from housework so she can devote her "perseverence, manual dexterity and meticulous attention to detail to creative ends." Mind you, he doesn't say she has brains; He thinks of her only as having certain mechanical skills.
We don't like the kind of woman he visualizes. We would be late almost every night coming home to such a woman. In the future, Mr. Ferar says, the kitchen will disappear. Our woman will be sitting at the family table dressed to the teeth like a sultry adventuress while robot, self-energized utensils whip up the family dinner and serve it. After dinner the dishes "will be loaded," presumably by the husband and children, into a "dining caddy" or combination dishwasher and storage cabinet, which will roll off into another room, washing the dishes on the way.
NO MORE CLEANING
The cleaning and dusting of a home will be made unnecessary by electronic filters built into the air conditioning system, and beds won't have to be made because there will be no sheets, blankets and pillowcases. Radiant ceiling panels will keep us warm by beddy-bye. And at the supermarket our woman will merely shout her orders into a machine which will collect and pack her purchases and thank her kindly.
Mr. Ferar thinks this will free the American woman for a career. It means no such thing. At best it means that instead of spending half her waking moments chasing her children and attending to them and keeping them out of danger she would only be freed to spend ALL her time doing that.
Come, Mr. Ferar, let's think this thing through. You still haven't found a way to sew on buttons and send suits out to the cleaner and do the family bookkeeping and wipe away tears.
Max Factor on the Woman of 2009 (1959)
Taller Women by Year 2000 (1949)
Closer Than We Think! Robot Housemaid (1959)
Monsanto House of the Future (1957-1967)
Women and the Year 2000 (1967)
After the War (1944)
Lives of Women to Improve (1923)
Feminine Beauty (New York Times, 1909)