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Looking For Love: Hilariously Sexist Dating Advice From 1938 (With Photos!)

Yammering about feminism for any significant period of time is likely to earn you an eye roll or two. It’s not that people don’t acknowledge that women have been given a raw deal for most of the existence of Earth, it’s just that it’s been turned into such a political issue that, much like listening to someone espouse their theories on God and country, it gets old. Even if you agree with them.

But the thing about the treatment of women that is so mind-boggling is how subtle it all was. It wasn’t like there were all these women roaming around with an awareness that the system was stacked against them — they just thought that was how it was. Because most books, movies, radio programs, television shows, commercials and magazine articles were written by men. You grow up watching, reading and experiencing that perspective, a perspective that views women as little more than props for men, and you don’t know any other way. In other words; the overt sexism isn’t the scariest part, at least you can recognize that for what it is. It’s the subtle way sexism insinuated itself into the hearts and minds of women who didn’t even know there was another way to think and be that is so heartbreaking.

Thank God for the free-thinkers. The Susan B. Anthonys and the Elizabeth Stantons. The pioneers who could read between the lines fed to the world by men and establish a base mentality for women to emulate. Women who knew that what was being spewed in popular culture was wrong but who weren’t sure why.

Below is an example of what was being spewed in popular culture. Sure, giving a gal a few dating tips is no big deal. But the tone is so horrifying: do whatever it takes to please him. Your opinion doesn’t matter here, it’s all about him. Can you imagine living in a world like this? Think of all the wide-eyed young women reading this article in earnestness and taking it all in.

What’s even scarier is that you can still find articles in Cosmopolitan that aren’t so very different from what you’re about to read.

It’s so sad it’s funny. If you didn’t laugh, you’d cry, right?

  • Get ready to take notes, ladies! 1 of 13
    wo
  • Pretend You Like Him, Even If You Don’t! 2 of 13
    dating-01

     I can buy not sitting in an awkward position because that would be, well, awkward. And everyone knows not to chomp your gum.  But never look bored, even if you are? What if he's on this 45th minute of discussing his fantasy football league?

    Image source: retronaut.com

  • Don’t Annoy Your Fella! 3 of 13
    dating-06

     Whatever you do, DON'T ANNOY YOUR MAN! And still, I don't like when women put on make-up in public. It's kind of like seeing the old man behind the curtain working the levers to create Oz The Great And Powerful.

    Image source: retronaut.com

  • Dress In Your Bedroom 4 of 13
    dating-02

     As opposed to dressing in the living room after he gets there? Um, okay.

    Image source: retronaut.com

  • Shut Yer Yapper, He’s Dancing 5 of 13
    dating-04

     "For when a man dances he wants to dance." Actually, I don't believe I've ever dated a man who wants to dance. Ever. What a bizarre piece of advice, even for the '30s.

    Image source: retronaut.com

  • Be Fake 6 of 13
    dating-10

    Only talk about the stuff he wants to talk about, you don't matter. You're a woman. No one is interested in what you think.

    Image source: retronaut.com

  • If You Need A Bra, Wear One 7 of 13
    dating-05

     Solid advice on the bra front. It's actually a bit of advice I wish more people around these countrified parts would follow.

    Image source: retronaut.com

  • Don’t Borrow His Handkerchief 8 of 13
    dating-03

     Another one that's pretty solid. Wiping your lipstick on someone's hanky would be pretty rude. And, quite frankly, I've never liked seeing women reapply make-up in public. It's kind of like seeing the old man behind the curtain of the Great and Powerful Oz.

    Image source: retronaut.com

  • No Affection 9 of 13
    dating-07

     Now they're telling us to laugh and gently touch his arm. What gives, dating advice people? So which is it? Affection or no affection?

    Image source: retronaut.com

  • No Tears! 10 of 13
    dating-08

     Because real men don't cry. Except when their football team loses.

    Image source: retronaut.com

  • Focus! 11 of 13
    dating-09

     Men DESERVE your attention. Because they're men.

    Image source: retronaut.com

  • Don’t Be A Lush 12 of 13
    dating-11

     Good advice couched in the most sexist paragraph ever; girls who drink mostly get silly.

    Image source: retronaut.com

  • Don’t Pass Out 13 of 13
    dating-12

     Well who can argue with not downing so much booze you pass out? Not all the advice here is sexist.

    Image source: retronaut.com

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More on He Said/She Said

Little Things I Left Undone: A Grown Man Runs From Love

What Is Love? 20 Thoughts From a Totally Unqualified Expert

What Longtime Couples Looked Like at the Beginning of Marriage and Now

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