Inappropriate Christmas Gift #3

And get me dinner when you're finished!

(Image from AIGA NH/VT)

No, this hasn’t turned into an ad blog, even though four of the last six posts were old ads. I had been saving those first two Christmas ads since early this year. They seemed somewhat jarring to me, viewed in light of modern sensibilities. I thought it would be fun to look at how the much-deplored commercial exploitation of Christmas has changed over the years.

I wasn’t planning on running any more vintage ads, but I just came across the above. I don’t know the date, but it’s obviously from the early part of the 20th century. This ad is quaint. The normal enlightened 21st century man wouldn’t think of getting his wife a new washing machine, so she could do a better job of cleaning his socks.

But what’s scary is that the above ad would actually seem quite reasonable to many modern fundies. I wish I were making a joke here or playing off of stereotypes, but I’m not. Many fundies (even fundie women!) are upset that women are in the workplace and not at home taking care of the housework and childcare, where God says they belong.

That’s probably why “the wife” is in quotation marks. This ad is not directed at men who consider their wives to be equal partners in the marriage. The ad is for men who view their wives as free labor. “The wife” is actually code for “the slave”.

But is it slavery if the slave is willing?

11 Responses to “Inappropriate Christmas Gift #3”

  1. Krilu Says:

    Why the hell would you think “the wife” is in quotation marks because it’s code for “the slave”? Does that make ANY sense at all? You’ve got to be kidding. This fills my irrational thinking quota for the day.

  2. Ron Britton Says:


    Did you read the article? How is that irrational? In the mind of the modern fundie, the wife is free labor.

  3. WCG Says:

    Ron, I have to disagree with you on this one. Before modern labor-saving devices existed, being a homemaker really was a full-time job (and then some). It was a lot of hard work, too. I imagine that most wives would have been VERY happy with this gift, which would definitely have improved their lives. Inappropriate? Not at all, not in those circumstances.

    And I doubt if most husbands looked on their wives as “free labor,” let alone as slaves. Do you think that wives looked on their husbands the same way? Just as slave labor, so that they could raise their children with that “free financial support”? Unlikely.

    It’s true that there was a sharper division of labor than we have today, but some of that (most of it?) was economic necessity. That has changed today because of technology, both labor-saving devices in the home and different job requirements (few of us dig ditches by hand these days). In fact, it has even become economically possible for single women to raise children (in other than gut-wrenching poverty, though those families still tend to be poor), which is why that has become so common. There’s no morality about it, just economics.

    Where the fundies go wrong – in this particular case – is to set an outmoded economic model as “God’s will.” They are conservatives, yearning for an idealized past. As you point out, it’s not just the men, either. Their wives are usually just as anxious to stick to old fashioned roles. Well, that’s their own business, I guess. Certainly not mine! I don’t really care, provided that their children get some contact with the outside world.

  4. arkonbey Says:

    I agree with WCG. In all seriousness, given the state of home labor of that era, an electric washer would probably be welcomed as a fantastic gift.

    Also, my sister, who is not subservient to her husband in any way, would love to stay home as a ‘homemaker’ and raise her daughter as our mom did. But, the nature of the modern economy won’t allow for a single income even though she and her husband live rather frugally.

  5. Ron Britton Says:


    You’re right. I had forgotten the realities of the past, just as the fundies have. As I pointed out in one of the other articles, these ads seem peculiar when viewed through modern eyes.

    My rant against modern fundies still stands, though. Because times have changed, women are now able to do things outside their traditional roles. It is disturbing that some fundies refuse to accept that fact.

  6. sue blue Says:

    If I had been alive back then, my husband could have made me even happier by hiring a couple of maids to load that electric washing machine, hang the clothes out to dry, iron them, and put them away. Seriously, there are studies out that show that women actually do more housework now than they did fifty years ago — on top of working and taking care of the kids.

    Just a little hint, men — if you want to get laid in the next few months, don’t buy your wife a household appliance for Christmas.

  7. Ron Britton Says:

    Sue Blue:

    Seriously, there are studies out that show that women actually do more housework now than they did fifty years ago — on top of working and taking care of the kids.

    Fifty years ago would have been 1958. I’m not sure what is different now from then. I would have thought the amount of work would have dropped a little.

    I do know that the amount of housework has dropped considerably in 100 years. A few years back, PBS ran a British reality show called 1900 House. A family tried to live as they would have in 1900. One of the things that struck me was the huge amount of time required for basic housekeeping. As WCG reminded me above, something like a washing machine would have been a huge benefit to “the wife”.

  8. Lindsay Says:

    The invention of the laundry machine was a huge time saver for women back in the day. Before they were invented laundry was usually relegated an entire day of its own…usually mondays. Just think…you had to boil a vat of water, take lye soap and scrub the clothes against a washing board, then put the said articles in the boiling vat of water, then hang them up to dry and fold. Now, back in the day people tended to wear a lot more undergarments and households were usually larger (mom, dad, kids, other relatives, maids/houseboys/farmhands) so it was quite the chore!

    Cooking is the other area where time saving methods have been developed. Everything from prepackaged foods to modern stoves to mixers.

    I remember growing up getting our first microwave…one of those behomeths that had a dial instead of buttons to set the time. Now I can’t imagine not having one in my home. It’s amazing how much has changed in even the past 20 years, much less the past 100.

  9. sue blue Says:

    Machines are wonderful, but you still have to feed them. Washing machines, dryers, irons, dishwashers, vacuums (except maybe Roombas) all have to be run by a human (usually, though not always, a vagina-equipped human). Nearly thirty years ago, I spent five years living as a single parent in a log house on an isolated ranch in Montana where I had to wash clothes by hand and run them through a ringer (don’t ever get your fingers near one of those things), cook on a wood-burning range, and clean without any modern conveniences (there was no electricity, for one thing). All that, and I still had time to string fence, manage a large garden, ride horses all over the place with my young son, hike, hunt, fish….But not now. Now I live in a pleasantly remodeled old farmhouse in suburban Washington, with all the spandy-dandy toys and modern conveniences, no small children at home, and I am exhausted at the end of the day. Working, going to school, cleaning, laundry, dishes – they still don’t take care of themselves. Maids, I say – give me a maid any day over yet another appliance.

  10. rainbow Says:

    I guess all I have to say is, who peed in your cornflakes? I mean, the hostility for Christians is off the chart! I say this as someone who is a Christian, was in the ministry for seven years. The people in my life who have hurt me the most were Christians. The legalism and condemnation that exists among some professing Christians has given the whole group a bad name. The Duggar posts are especially disheartening. I don’t agree with them on some things, but the meanness expressed on this site has been something else! I guess what I’m trying to say is, we’re not all mean, we’re not all weird, and we’re not all judging you for not being like us! Merry Christmas.

  11. Ron Britton Says:

    I guess all I have to say is, who peed in your cornflakes?

    Fundies. They not only peed in my cornflakes, but they also peed in my government, my science classroom, my television airwaves, my presidential elections, and on and on and on. If I sound pissed off, it’s because I’ve been pissed on!

    BTW, this site is not especially hostile to Christianity as a whole. Yes, I have a somewhat dim view of it, but that does not equal “hostility off the chart”. That’s another reason you Christians think the world is out to get you. Every time you see something that doesn’t fawn over your mythology, you think it’s an attack.