The day American women were no longer NSFW: 1974's A Paycheck of Your Own

Categories: Studies in Crap
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.

Woman Alive: A Paycheck of Your Own

Author: Jo March
Date: 1974
Publisher: Aldus Books, London
Discovered at: Garage sale

Representative Quote:
"It isn't discrimination in a legal sense if, because you are a woman, you are kidded and patronized at work, called 'honey' and talked down to, or accused of acting 'just like a woman' when you need assistance, or 'just like a man' when you show initiative." (page 90)
Back in the 1950s, the only careers open to American women were laundress and astronaut's wife. Then came Maude and Geraldine Ferraro and suddenly women could take jobs in any field, if they wanted to, and then a half generation later they had to, sometimes two or three, because of trickle-down or whatever it is that makes America great.

The good news: in today's workforce, women are mostly kinda/sorta equal to their male colleagues, except shelter workers tend to dole women 23 per cent less soup per ladle.

Anyway, big social changes give publishers a chance to pretend to help people through them, so we have A Paycheck of Your Own from the gently condescending Woman Alive series of the early '70s. (Jezebel's Tracie Egan Morrissey did thoughtful, hilarious work a couple years back examining several other WA volumes.)

Like some unpoliticized Time/Life Books rewrite of Our Bodies, Ourselves, Woman Alive stared down the issues facing facing women and offered up many photos of British models, scant helpful info, and page after page of deeply mixed messages.

That image above of the woman frolicking in the lap of a plutocrat? Here it is as it appears in A Paycheck of Your Own on a page headed "Tactics for Promotion":


Perhaps that explains this:
"The male ego is a funny thing, and even the most open-minded husband often proves to have a bit of the caveman in him. This can be especially true where his wife's boss is concerned."
Workplace lapdances notwithstanding, this practical guide to life for new career women never once discusses the possibility of sexual harassment. That oversight is especially galling when you consider the luridness of '70s temp agencies:


Is that some retired Price is Right game?

The book purports to guide women from the job search to interview and right on through to some inevitable promotions. It shows how to find an open position:


When sharing job tips, spare none of the filthy details.

Much of the book's advice seems obvious to us today.


Also, don't consent to an interview in a photobooth.

A fuller list of A Paycheck of Your Own's interview don'ts:
"Don't: wear jangly jewelry (noisy and distracting); smoke or fidget incessantly (too clearly a sign of general nerves and anxiety); arrive laden with shopping bags (what is this, an interrupted shopping trip, or a serious business appointment?); bring along a friend to wait for you in the reception room (if you need this kind of moral support for an interview, what might you need for the actual job?)"
But once you get the job, DO dress like a kindergarten teacher.


While horny bosses were just a step toward promotion, women still faced some pitfalls in the office.



Shocking Detail:
"When a man is greeted at the door with a list of half-a-dozen things that simply must be done before he can put his feet up and watch the news on TV; when dinner is always late; when finds that the only way he's going to have a shirt ready for tomorrow is to iron one himself; then, he may begin to wish his wife would go back to full-time homemaking."
To the credit of all involved, a couple pages covering the Equal Employment Opportunity and Equal Pay Acts point out that sometimes women might not be treated as full and equal partners at work.

This photo is meant to illustrate this.


Note the men's frame-filling sternness and the woman's supplicant position.

The next chapter, concerning the trick of balancing work and family, includes much chipper advice, a cartoon of a beleaguered husband in an apron, a page about needing to have honest discussions about housework, and then, from nowhere, this full-page shot.


Work is refuge from home, and home is refuge from work. And, hey, If you didn't want him to walk all over him, you shouldn't have made your blouse out of the carpet!

[The Crap Archivist lives originates his on-line Studies for the Voice's sister paper, The Pitch.]

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