Each Thursday, your Crap Archivist brings you the finest in forgotten and bewildering crap culled from basements, thrift stores, estate sales and flea markets. I do this for one reason: Knowledge is power.
Date: April, 1960
Discovered at: Antique mall
The Cover Promises: Woman troubles might be out of style, but floral scrubs are perennial.
Bad news, America! It turns out that Cosmo is not infallible.
There’s that time in ’88 when it claimed than the missionary position prevented the transmission of HIV.
More recently, in June 2009, the cover promised “Gutsy New Tips Are Guaranteed To Give Him The Most Badass Orgasm Imaginable.” That’s impossible, as this world has already been shaken by the most badass orgasm imaginable, the one that conceived Evel Knievel.
And then one time, way back before Helen Gurley Brown began sharpening the one-time lit rag into the man-pleasing, hoo-ha judging destroyer of self-esteem we enjoy today, Cosmo insisted that menstrual cramps were an “imaginary ailment.” Their only sufferers: hopeless neurotics and sneaky wives. From Evelyn Archer Adams’ April, 1960 article “Are Woman Troubles Out of Style?”
“Men now make it easy to perpetuate the menstrual-cramp myth. One wife and mother illustrated this quite graphically, saying ‘If you think I’m going to give up menstrual cramps, you’re out of your mind. That one day a month is the only time my husband feeds the kids, does the dishes, and sees that Mommy gets her rest!'”
A Dr. Hilliard explains that young women are taught to fear cramps, which inspires them to expect and imagine cramps.
“Pain is perfected by repetition. ‘If you practice enough you can even work up a dandy pattern of headaches,’ [Dr. Hilliard] says. ‘It’s just like playing the piano.'”
Our grandfathers were right! Women’s problems are all in women’s heads, so shut up and get me a beer!
Adams and her doctors also dismiss food cravings during pregnancy and pain during childbirth as “archaic bugaboos” that should not trouble well-adjusted modern women. Then the article goes from unsettling to downright cruel: “Some doctors maintain that fear causes miscarriage,” Adams writes. “Says one psychiatrist: ‘Because of emotional factors, a woman may develop an abortion habit . . .There is even evidence that prematurity and stillbirth have emotional as well as physical precipitants.'”
By “abortion habit,” the unnamed doctor is referring to spontaneous miscarriages. Your Crap Archivist is surprised to discover that I prefer today’s “50 Fun Things to do Bare-Assed” Cosmo to its “Worrying About a Miscarriage Caused You to Miscarry!” sister.
So, how could 1960’s women feel better about themselves? Toast-colored jump-suits!
How could anyone be anxious with a drop-seat back?
Other ads reveal that some ailments are not imaginary.
Fortunately, a revolution was coming in women’s health. Thanks to the tireless work of pharmaceutical companies, doctors today will treat even the most made-up symptoms!
Here’s this old Cosmo by the numbers.
In recent years, retailers like Kroger and Wal-Mart have complained about the sexual explicitness of Cosmopolitan’s covers. Last August, Cosmo tweaked them with the perfectly innocent headline “5 Things That Can Blow a Job Interview.”
Even fifty years back, Cosmo dared to hint at fellatio.
Enough Cosmo! For the best in mid-century lady-hating periodicals, let’s return to that Studies in Crap favorite Coronet!
I’ve spent ten minutes staring at this cover, and I still can’t figure it out. What meaning could this juxtaposition of text and image possibly be meant to suggest?
[The Crap Archivist lives in Kansas City, where he originates his on-line Studies for the Voice‘s sister paper, The Pitch.]
The mighty Studies in Crap e-mail list updates you whenever a new SiC post hits. Sign up at email@example.com.