Weird Words of Wisdom: Swearing, Shouting, and Back-Slapping Edition


“My prime concern is that, back at the childhood stage, parents and schools not encourage girls to be competitive with males if that is going to make them dissatisfied with raising children, their most creative job in adulthood, whether or not they go to work too.”

A Teenager’s Guide to Life and Love, 1970
By Dr. Benjamin Spock

Dr. Benjamin Spock

Dr. Benjamin Spock

About the author: Dr. Benjamin Spock was one of the most influential authors of the 20th century. His Baby and Child Care, first published in 1946, had sold more than 50 million copies by the time of Spock’s death in 1998.

Marking a shift from authoritarian parenting models, Spock’s book encouraged parents to trust their instincts and treat their children as individuals.

By the time Spock published this book for teenagers, he had attracted controversy for his protests against the war in Vietnam. In 1972, he would run for president on the People’s Party ticket, advocating for legalized abortion and marijuana and socialist economic policies. Unsurprisingly, he became a lightning rod for criticism from the right, which blamed his “permissive” parenting model for causing societal ills. (Recently, on a true crime message board I follow, one poster even blamed Spock’s influence for the Newtown, Connecticut, school shootings.)

In this book for teens, Spock doesn’t advocate any permissiveness. He makes the usual admonitions against smoking, drinking, marijuana use, and teenage sex.

When it comes to gender roles, he’s downright old-fashioned. He labels any female interest in non-baby-oriented achievements as signs of “rivalry” or “aggressiveness.” By 1970, many women were openly expressing dissatisfaction with being forced into a housewife role. Spock blames their feelings on parents and schools who have treated women in too egalitarian a fashion.

Spock’s reliance on Freudian theories of sexual development explains some of his weirder statements in this book, including the total WTF-ery that is this passage:

“I’d like to take this occasion to warn boys who earn money as sitters that a girl in the three-to-six-year-old period can become very seductive if for instance she gets excited in rough-h0using, just because she is at the early-childhood sexual-romantic stage, yet hardly knows what she’s doing. A youth with strong sexual feelings of his own may find it difficult to resist such as disarming temptation to sex play unless he’s somewhat prepared.”

Within a year after this book was published, Spock spoke at the National Women’s Political Conference and got an earful from Gloria Steinem and other feminists about sexism in Baby and Child Care. To his credit, he listened and learned from that experience, revising future editions of his work to eliminate sexist language.

Quotes from A Teenager’s Guide to Life and Love

“I think that treating the two sexes alike pits them against each other to some degree and increases the rivalry due to other causes. Women in America during the past 50 years have increasingly been wearing clothes and doing their hair like men. Some of them now drink, shout, backslap, use obscenities and tell dirty stories like men. In these respects I think they have been motivated more by rivalry than by natural inclination.”

“…the thing that I’m concerned about is that quite a few women nowadays, especially some of those who have gone to college, find the life of taking care of their babies and children all day boring and frustrating…I think that the main reason so many mothers are bored is that their upbringing and their education have made them somehow expect to get their satisfaction and their pride as adults from the same occupations outside the home as men.”

“One big trouble is that schools and colleges don’t teach about the tremendous contribution that women make to any society in raising the children and inspiring them to do great things. Schools and colleges hold up for admiration the statesmen, generals, inventors, scientists, writers, composers and industrialists. So these are the careers that bright girls as well as bright boys dream of. When young women find themselves instead taking care of their children all day, some of them feel they aren’t using their education, aren’t being fulfilled…I would say it is much more creative to rear and shape the personality of a fine live child than it is to work in an office or even to carve a statue.”

“When a significant portion of the women in a society become more rivalrous and aggressive, over several generations, they can push a proportion of the males into a more submissive role.”

“Another way in which some men have lost considerable sense of pride and masterfulness is by no longer being the only breadwinner in many families.”

“I believe that if a girl is raised at home and taught in school to have pride in the creativity of motherhood, joy in being a woman, a sense of fulfillment through her ability to understand and help people, she will be happier as a wife and mother. And then if she has an outside career in addition, whatever it is, she will bring her womanliness to it…In other words, she won’t feel that the main satisfaction of any career is to compete with the men at their own game.”

“What about the insensitive boy who persists in making advances—even forcibly—despite a girl’s sincere resistance? She has to be ready to fight and scream if necessary. But this possibility raises the question whether a girl really has to get into a situation in which she is at the mercy of a boy whose crudeness she is not aware of. The answer generally is no.”

“…boys and men on the prowl take it for granted that a girl who accepts rides from semi-strangers is probably looking for excitement.”

Other Weird Word of Wisdom posts you might enjoy:

Mugging, Smooching, and Flinging the Woo Edition

Embracing Our Nature and Destiny Edition

Big Splendid Manhood Edition


Old-Time Radio Playlist: Happy New Year, Part 2

Happy New Year!

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all the people who have found this blog since I started it in August, especially my little group of regular readers and commenters. It’s been fun sharing my eclectic set of interests with you, and I hope you find much to enjoy here in 2013, including:

  • Many more old-time radio playlists, focusing not only on holidays and seasons but on themes ranging from babies, dogs, and cats, to Shakespeare, courtroom drama, and the fourth estate. I will also assemble playlists featuring my favorite screen stars, including Joseph Cotten, Barbara Stanwyck, Cary Grant, Margaret O’Brien, Bing Crosby, Myrna Loy, and others.
  • Many bizarre words of wisdom from vintage teenage advice books and teen magazines.
  • A new occasional feature called Comic Book Craziness, featuring oddities from my small collection of 1960s and 1970s romance and superhero comics.
  • Some entertaining vintage board games in my Spin Again Sunday series. Coming up in the next two weeks: A 1955 Dragnet game and a 1970s girls career game that was already so retrograde in its own time that it included a disclaimer.
  • Occasional looks at other vintage toys in my collection, including Barbie dolls and accessories, more Fisher Price Play Family toys, Viewmaster reels, Colorforms, Mattel’s Sunshine Family dolls, and others.
  • More posts about classic movies. This is an area I planned to explore more frequently than I have so far. I am hoping to blog about movies at least a couple times a month this year.
  • And, of course, many more installments of Family Affair Friday. We are about half way through season 1, and I am particularly excited about starting season 2—my very favorite.

Since becoming part of the blogosphere, one of my greatest pleasures has been discovering so many wonderful bloggers producing entertaining and insightful work. My new year’s resolution is to spend more time reading and commenting on your blogs.

And now, as a New Year’s treat, I present 10 old-time radio episodes.  Enjoy!

“The Strange Case of the Iron Box”

Sherlock Holmes
December 31, 1945

“New Year’s Resolution”

The Phil Harris-Alice Faye Show
December 29, 1946

“New Year’s Day”

Henry Morgan
January 1, 1947

“New Year’s Nightmare”

The Mysterious Traveler
January 5, 1947

“Rain on New Year’s Eve”

Quiet, Please
December 29, 1947

“Hot New Year’s Party”

Casey, Crime Photographer
January 1, 1948

“Jack Tries to Get Tickets for the Rose Bowl”

Jack Benny Program
January 4, 1948

“Riley Invites Himself to His Boss’ New Year’s Eve Party”

Life of Riley
December 31, 1948

“The Big New Year’s”

March 8, 1951

“The Old Man”

December 31, 1961