‘Go Out at Least Once With Any Man Who Asks’: Cosmo’s 1971 Advice for the Liberated Woman


Your Crap Archivist brings you the finest in forgotten and bewildering crap culled from thrift stores, estate sales, and flea markets.

Cosmopolitan’s Hangup Handbook

Date: 1971

Publisher: Cosmopolitan Books

Discovered at: Found by a friend at some San Francisco junk sale

The Cover Promises: That this book looks like if Prince designed the set of The Dating Game.

Representative Quotes:

Do make passes at men who wear glasses. Nearsighted men see you through a nice blurry haze, especially when their glasses are off. What’s nice is that when they say you look like Candy Bergen, they mean it. (page 16)

The married man, besides being older, more experienced, more knowledgeable about women, can also give a girl a sense of being wanted, cherished, that she can’t always get from a single man! (page 104)

Published just six years into the culture-shifting reign of Cosmopolitan editor Helen Gurley Brown, the Hangup Handbook offers a marvelous portrait of a time in many ways quite like ours: American women suddenly had greater freedom than ever before, but exercising that freedom took much courage. Cosmo endeavored to light the way, and much of this beefy hardcover anthology is devoted to sensible progressive advice. There’s lots of frank talk about women’s liberation, and the magazine’s writers encourage readers to pursue sexual pleasure, to be assertive at work and in love, and not to be limited by the expectations of the country around them.

But then there’s the bonkers stuff. From the chapter “How to Get Married If You’re Over Thirty,” here are tips on how to meet a man. (Note I did not specify “meet an available man.”)

Go out at least once with any man who asks. Beasts may have beautiful friends.

Join a therapy group. There are many different kinds to choose from, and it’s a great way to get close to people.

Join a political club. Even a women’s group can prove helpful as you chum with married ladies. Be so marvelous they invite you home for dinner (where you’ll meet husbands and husband-friends!).

What’s tragic is that so many of these suggestions might improve the life of a lonely person — but Cosmo just can’t see any benefits unrelated to man-landing:

Take a course in computing, stock brokering, applied economics, law…any area that attracts more men than women. Many of the “possibles” will be younger than you, but they’re very possibly for you, baby! While studying, you may get so handy with the IBM 360 or commodity-trading that a new job will result in a field abounding with men.

(Be right back, I’m googling for .gifs of Peggy Olson barfing.)

In short, most of the Handbook‘s advice for meeting a fellow is all about inserting yourself into their world just long enough to snag one.

If you’re a good saleswoman (you know whether you are), sell cars; men usually buy them.

Sometimes that advice gets hilariously impractical:

Buy a small sailboat (what are you saving for, a drizzly day? It’s raining now, isn’t it?) and join a boating group. Learn to play bridge or chess. Chess clubs are full of good intellectual men, but they’re also good at the game. So you must be if you expect to win anything! 

That last tip is made even more confounding by Cosmo‘s dishy house style. Is the “game” that chess-club men are good at seduction — or chess?

Either way, a man who has been met (and is not a beast) is a man who must be married. As Cosmo puts it, that doesn’t mean falling in love and sharing yourself with him. That means proving to him you would be a great wife. Here’s how:

Minimize your problems, but be genuinely caring about his. Never cry that you’re flat-out broke. Don’t whimper about chapped hands or chills or fever every second time you see him. You care about his health though; worry about his cough, feed him vitamins. Men love (they always did and still do) the nurse instinct in women.

The good news? In ’71, Cosmo understood how miserable that sounded. The Handbook adds,

(Yes, dear, it’s still [a] double standard all the way at this stage of the game…he is a valuable prize, and “equality” in problem-discussing may come to you after you’re married.)

Other habits to develop that you might want to renegotiate immediately after the honeymoon:

If you’re awful in the mornings and he’s a lark, force yourself to seem cheerful.

Send thoughtful, inexpensive presents (his favorite Hungarian sausage).

Never complain about the heat or cold; you’re the girl who adores walking in the rain, frisking in the snow. Accept wrecked shoes and other mishaps with gracious equanimity, especially if he did the damage.

Don’t be afraid to let him see you cry every two or three months, then be easily comforted, quick to cheer up.

Then, once the wedding bells ring, you and your chess-master husband can jaunt off in your sailboat, munching sausage and charting a course toward equality!

And if you’re worried that all this man-pandering has put you at odds with the movement, well, Cosmo has a quiz for you: