Feminism and the Death of Beauty Part 3
by Jean Bush
Lillian Gilbreth, mother to 12 children, who was immortalized in the 1950 movie "Cheaper by the Dozen," and who ran an active household with her devoted husband Frank, was seemingly a model of nostalgic Victorian virtues.However, from 1910 to 1921, the Gilbreths conducted some of the very first time and motion studies as industrial plant consultants. Crossing that thin, fine barrier between public domain and very private lives, they used their own home to study the "scientific management and the elimination of wasted motions." This mentality needed only a few more decades and ever increasing technology to completely destroy Victorian domestic virtues and tranquility.
Using a stop watch and experimenting on their own children, the Gilbreths clocked and dissected every household task, from washing dishes, bed making, to buttoning a vest. 3 seconds were saved if one started at the bottom instead of the top. Lillian wrote in 1927, "So many prejudices of an older generation are passing away; and anyone who has been through modern laundries, bakeries and preserving plants, will find herself looking with suspicion on the unstandardized procedures of many a home."
The third wrecker of Victorian ideals and family life was Christine Frederick. Writing in 1929 the book, "Selling Mrs. Consumer," she advocated households should "run like a clock." While editor of Ladies' Home Journal, she continuously gnawed away at the the domestic vision promoted by generations of happy and devoted women. A sworn enemy of what Edith Wharton called "the art of civilized living," Frederick insisted women trade quality for quantity by standardizing each household task "so you can do it every day in an identical manner without much mental attention." Applying this approach to all salable goods, she even pushed the appetizing look of a loaf of bread, not its nutritional value that so concerned Victorian cooks. She portrayed wearing apparel as "smart" not durable. In fact, durability be damned! Since then, durability and style have become a vice instead of a virtue.
We now, unfortunately, take this planned obsolescence for granted. The frugal domestic ways of former generations was no longer a point of accomplishment or a character-forming lesson for children, but a "petty and ridiculous" practice.
Saving time became the bottom line in the home and the hand worked and treasured keepsakes that told of timeless continuity, security and certainty against rampant consumerism, fell by the wayside, to be swept away in a rising tide of commercial acquisitions and desires. And worse, women were told, and allowed themselves to be convinced, that they "had better things to do" then making a home, raising children to be responsible and caring citizens, and insuring their husbands the sanctity of a home without outside disturbances and distractions. Love ruled roost and happy and contented women beautified all that was good in society.
In such promotion, we can see how the current mindlessness regarding homemaking and family raising, has ended up with the State and its attendant social agencies, having all but taken over the home and are turning out new generations of obedient, consuming slaves. In our current ugly and "equal" societies, because of feminism, women are forever bitter and discontent, men are frustrated and have relinquished their ageless roles of head of the household, providers, loving partners to their wives and virtuous examples of character to their children and communities.
To become beautiful again, women need to be loved, protected and fulfilled, and must once more take charge of home, hearth and heart.
Ladies and gentlemen, the ball is in your court.
(All quotes and general references taken from Simple Social Graces, by Linda S. Lichter.)