The Why and Wherefore

Let’s (Not) Do the Time Warp Again

Posted on: August 13, 2008

A colleague of mine forwarded me this Guardian article the other day, and I was so repeatedly horrified that I feel I have to borrow a page from Sadly, No!‘s playbook and really take this one apart a piece at a time. Get settled in, this is a long one.

Time Warp Wives

Now, this article is designed as something of a playful entertainment piece — look at these funny women and the lengths they go to for realism! But this ain’t no year-round Ren Faire, my friends. It doesn’t take much to detect some very deeply disturbing undertones to this behavior — not to mention an incredibly willful disregard for reality.

To make this a bit more fun, I’m going to skip the easy targets altogether. Hereby stipulated, that *everything* in these women’s lives screams “total lack of self-respect” and “virulent antifeminism.”

Joanne – 1950s groupie

What’s wrong with wanting to be adored and spoiled? If I see a hat I like, I say ‘Oh, we can’t afford that’ and Kevin says: ‘You have it, I’ll treat you.’

You know what I adore? Seeing a hat I like and whipping out my very own credit card.

I admit I am in retreat from the 21st century. When I look at the reality of the world today, with all the violence, greed and materialism, I shudder. I don’t want to live in that world.

Right, because those things were invented this century. With Bush in power, I admit it’s an easy mistake to make, but the 1950s also brought us continued segregation and institutional racism, the Cold War, the Korean War, McCarthyism, the Suez crisis, the launch of Playboy magazine and the Kinsey report (ok, so the ’50s weren’t all bad), and the beginning of the CIA’s international meddling with other governments, starting with the overthrow of the Guatemalan government.

I don’t read newspapers – they are just too distressing.

The silver lining here? I’m sure she doesn’t think it’s ladylike to vote.

I was marking time until I met the right man. Kevin and I met in 1993 at a Fifties Convention, and we had an old-fashioned courtship before he proposed.

I was ecstatic, because I had found someone with the same passion for the period.

The scariest part of this is not the first sentence (that’s still common enough in this day and age) but the last. Sounds like Kevin has a passion for being controlling and unimpeded by today’s uppity women. No wonder he was trolling that convention, looking for a doormat who would cook.

My despair at the modern world is one of the reasons why we haven’t had children.

Anachronism alert! A real ’50s woman would be shunned for ignoring her God-given duty to breed. If you’re really dead set on turning back the clock, why not pull a Blast from the Past and raise the little tykes in an underground bunker?

I would be terrified they would be offered drugs, or become the victims of violence.

See, if you hadn’t skipped out on the ’80s, you might have learned the concept of “Just Say No.” Unless that didn’t cross the Atlantic…

Debbie – 1940s housewife

When I see a girl walking down the street wearing next to nothing, I think: ‘Why don’t you have more respect for yourself?’

How funny! That’s what I think when I read about women who consciously turn away from responsible adulthood in order to play domestic servant in a fantasy world that whitewashes history.

The age of innocence has been lost and it is such a shame. My idol is Ava Gardner and when I watch her films – as I do all the time – I think that so much has been lost from today’s society.

Yeah, I really miss Jim Crow laws, World War II, rationing, and what was that other thing? Oh yeah, THE HOLOCAUST.

It’s so much more romantic only ever to have been in love with one man. My obsession with the 1940s really began through Martin, as he was already going to Forties events when we met.

“Romantic” is one word for it. “Stifling” also springs to mind… Again, the woman here is not quite as scary as the man in this relationship. She may even have been some kind of normal person with actual self-esteem before she decided to subsume herself completely to his domineering fantasy.

But to me, the 1940s was a time when people were much more friendly to each other – they really cared about their neighbours.

As long as those neighbors were WASPs, of course.

Hilariously, the statement about caring about your neighbors is followed immediately by:

As it is, I hardly know the people who live next to us.

Diane – 1930s romanticizer

Back then, the world just seemed a sunnier place, even though it was an austere time between the wars.

I think the sun you are “remembering” was coming through the holes in the roofs of all the families impoverished by the Great Depression. Or the ones living in permanent, race-based poverty.

Women were these amazingly glamorous creatures, with their perfect hair and immaculate makeup, and they were treated with such respect by men.

Yes, there’s nothing more respectful than being barred from most jobs, educational opportunities and any life choices that didn’t involve marriage and babies.

Martin and I spend hours sourcing clothes from the 1930s and I am always dressed in period costume.

I usually spend around £50 to £150 per item.

Come on, if you really wanted to be period, you’d move into a shack with your seven kids and struggle to feed them on potato soup.

I try to escape from where we are now and rarely read newspapers because I find today’s world so depressing.

Depressing? Depressing? You think today is more depressing than the time period referred to as THE GREAT DEPRESSION???

Thank god the article ends there, and didn’t track down any women who enjoyed living in “a simpler, more peaceful time, before I had to worry my pretty little head about manly things. Like voting.”

1 Response to "Let’s (Not) Do the Time Warp Again"

It’s bizarre how often they identify their happiness with baking cakes.

I mean, the whole thing’s creepy and retrograde and odd, but the cake detail just really struck me as weird. None of them have kids or a visible social network (they mostly talk about how people don’t understand them). Who’s eating all the cake? Wherefore all this damn cake? Do they actually like cake, or do they like the idea of being in the perfect kitchen, baking cake?

I guess I find it creepy that either a) they’re living their life picture-perfect to a period for some unidentified, watching Other to admire how well they do it, or b) contemplating their own recreations of another time’s acquisitions and appearance gives them complete fulfillment. The choice between OCD lifestyle exhibitionism and extreme (almost fetishistic) narcissism is not a good one, to me.

Why would I feel better about it if they admitted getting some sort of sexual thrill out of it?

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