Vintage Sexism: The Way to a Man's Heart

Image via TJS

When Alice’s husband gets bored with her, and his gaze starts to wander over to “pink and white” Betty Thorton, Alice will know exactly how to win him back, thanks to Brer Rabbit Real Plantation Molasses. All she needs to do is bake some scrumptious gingerbread, slather on the whipped cream, and it will all be worth every minute of labor. Why? Because as Jack lifts his third forkful to his mouth, he will look at Alice with “worshipful eyes,” say he feels like a “pampered prince,” and tell Alice that she “look[s] like a princess.” Well now, dreams do come true!

Vintage sexism, the way to a manImages via Modern Mechanix and Vintage_Ads

The women in these next ads also find cooking up food an effective way to keep the men in their lives around. The woman in the ad at left keeps things from getting too monotonous by whipping up different rice dishes full of “unexpected,” “tasty surprises,” while the woman in the ad at right keeps her morning sickness at bay by popping some Mornidine. In addition to enabling her to once again fry up the eggs and bacon her man likes best without running to the bathroom between spatula flips, this drug also may cause her to develop hepatic lesions*.

Why do you think these ads all depict a white, heterosexual woman cooking for a man as a way to keep him from getting bored with her, cheating on her, or leaving her? Can the act of feeding a man in turn feed a woman’s own hunger to love and be loved? Do you think there is a danger in the fact that the woman always seems to be cooking for her man, but never for herself?  Should a woman assume all the responsibility for making a relationship work?

*The Food and Drug Administration withdrew Mornidine from the market on July 17, 1969 due to its causing hepatic lesions in patients.

About ModCloth

Suggested Posts

Galentine’s Day Style + DIY Self-Love Kit
February 05, 2019
This Face Mask Is Like a Bouquet for Your Skin
January 17, 2019
Workplace Besties: A #TeamModCloth Trio Shares the Love
January 10, 2019
How to Style a Party Dress Three Ways
December 20, 2018
The New Black: Styling All-Grey 3 Ways
December 13, 2018
Travel Bug: Saumya Takes Us on a Tour of DC
December 06, 2018
Party Recap: Hello Kitty’s Birthday in LA
November 12, 2018
A Pampering Present: DIY Concentrated Bubble Bath
November 05, 2018
Easy Makeup for Going Out: Featuring Anna Sui Beauty
October 22, 2018
Haunt Now, Haute Later: Three Scary-Stylish Outfits
October 11, 2018


  1. Mercy 11/15/2010 at 3:48 pm #

    :/ why is the guy looking around at the “pink and white” Betty? Just because his wife didn’t want to cook? Geez what a jerk, the ad SHOULD have said, “Since my man started gazing at Betty and her pink and white-ness I started baking gingerbread for Charles, the handsome, sweet and SINGLE neighbor. Then ended the article with, Thanks Brer Rabbit molasses 😉

    • Laura V. (ModCloth) 11/15/2010 at 7:31 pm #

      So funny! hehe 🙂

    • Elly 12/13/2010 at 10:41 am #

      Now I totally agree with this… why not find something better? lol

    • martina 11/07/2011 at 2:27 pm #

      Thats exactly how the modern society works, isn’t it? You looked at her, so Ill go do him. And what do we get; Most kids in single parent homes, divorce at 70%, and tons of women who have three kids each by a different man who doesn’t pay a dime. Great advice.

  2. Emily 11/15/2010 at 4:14 pm #

    My man does most of the cooking, since I work till 6 and he is home before then. I have some female friends who think its crazy and tell me its my job to cook for my man… I cant believe how some ppl still think that way…

    • martina 11/07/2011 at 2:41 pm #

      Who cares who doesthe cooking. A better question is this; Who earns more money? Which one of you will be strapped if the other decides to be an ass and give as little as they can get away with and walk out? Thats the person that has the most power. And its still usually the man. It makes zip difference if that man happens to like to cook, or if you just go out a lot, or if the woman likes to cook.

  3. Amanda 11/15/2010 at 4:27 pm #

    I love seeing these vintage ads. Although blatant sexism still exists in advertising today, it amazes me to see how far we’ve come in a few decades!

  4. Miranda 11/16/2010 at 4:39 am #

    I honestly don’t see why these are considered “out there”; most ads featuring cooking products are just like this NOW, although they also feature her happily cleaning counters and sniffing the air with delight as she sprays fresheners… while wrangling kids around the house (we can guess that daddy is out working while mommy is being this housewife character).

    • BurlyQLady 06/16/2011 at 12:46 pm #

      So true. I’ve also noticed that in these same commercials, if there’s a married couple – the woman is ALWAYS way more attractive and completely out of the man’s league. He’s always older and never looks as good as the woman has to. Since I noticed this, it’s never failed to amaze me how true it is for nearly every single commercial that features a married couple.

  5. Sydney 11/16/2010 at 11:21 am #

    I’m glad my husband and I usually do all the cooking (and cleanup) together!

  6. Sophie 11/17/2010 at 1:39 am #

    I’m with Miranda… ads today don’t flat out say “Cook and clean to keep you man from running off with that hussy Betty”, but the woman running the household with the husband just making a cameo to praise her domesticity is the basic template we still use!

    • martina 11/07/2011 at 2:32 pm #

      Except the truth is that people do have to work pretty hard at keeping a partner interested and happy. And if they are not, they do in fact have affairs. So why shoot the messenger? I happen to think that this add is pretty correct. Of course, it takes A LOT more then cooking rice to get it done,
      Also, the FACT is that women tend to marry men who are older, less attractive, and more financially stable then they are. That has not changed at all. Its still true today. Marriages where the woman is older will almost always end in divorce within a decade. I read that statement in People magazine when Demi and Ashton filed for divorce, so it may not be all that accurate, but essentially its true.

  7. Sarah 11/17/2010 at 4:48 pm #

    Don’t these adds just make you twitchy with anger? Well, it is easy to make my hunny happy with tasty food, but he knows he has to cook for me too to keep me happy ^__^. And Mercy’s comment made me giggle =)

    • Barbara West 03/20/2012 at 6:07 pm #

      Same here 🙂 There’s a lot of ads that make me twitchy, but in my house its all about the fair work. My fiance can’t cook so he gets the icky chores to do- like cat litter duty and laundry folding. Isn’t love amazing?

  8. Steff 11/18/2010 at 11:50 pm #

    I totally agree with Sarah, these ads always have me twitching with anger, as do some that play on the TV nowadays. But I understand why these ads were made, because they worked. Many women, living in the times these ads were made, would feel like their lives have no security or financial stability unless they were married. So attracting men or keeping one around was highly important, and ads reflect this. Good riddance that this is no longer the case. I can support myself financially, and my independence is accepted. We’ve come a long way, but we still have a long way to go.

    • martina 11/07/2011 at 2:36 pm #

      Steff, its still pretty much true. The only difference is that women no longer believe that cooking is going to do the trick. I can support myself just fine. But a blond stripper who lands a Texas Billionaire can support herself a lot better. For every Steve Jobs out there there is a Mrs Steve Jobs, not a female equivalent. I am not entirely sure why this is, but I honestly believe its true.

    • Barbara West 03/20/2012 at 6:16 pm #

      Martina- Mrs Steve Jobs, as you called her, is the co-founder of a natural foods company in northern California, she is or has been a member of the board of directors for:Global Fund for Women, PBS, and a member of the White House Council for Community Solutions. Kinda sounds to me like she is a woman in her own right. BTW her name is Laurene Powell Jobs if you wanna Google my facts. Please stop hindering the social growth of women with your comments.

  9. Corina 12/23/2010 at 11:27 pm #

    Mercy, I 100% agree with you, and like your version of the ad copy a million times more! And like everyone else said, ads haven’t that changed that much. But I think it might be fair to say that women aren’t the only one to feel their self-worth and value in society wrapped up with certain menial chores. Take the John Deere Ad that states: “Behind Every Good Man is a Great Tractor. (And a smart wife who bought it for him).” Okay, there are so many things wrong with that copy, I don’t even know where to begin. Suffice to say, it degrades both genders and belittles the equal partnership that is the true hallmark of any healthy relationship.

    • Moddy 12/17/2011 at 8:36 am #

      I think it’s sad that people today think feeding your family is a ‘menial chore’. It’s hardly a negative thing to be good to the people you care about – frankly, I’d rather live in an overtly sexist world than one where people take this attitude to women who care about their families.

  10. martina 11/07/2011 at 2:24 pm #

    Why are the adds featuring a heterosexual white couple; Because that is who they are marketing towards. Why would you depict a black or homosexual couple if that is not the majority of your consumers? To purposefully alienate them? Seriously. That is just like asking why they always picture a black couple in commercials on the Black Entertainment Channel. Because they figure thats their audience.
    No I do not see any danger in a woman taking the role of caretaker. Many people enjoy it, and it generally gives people a sense of control and importance. Caretaking is a p[ower position, not a service position. You are misinterpreting, I think. In fact it maybe we have gotten a bit too far away from traditional roles, and are now reaping the non benefits of that. I don’t know. I do know that it is likely that people are a lot more messed up now then they were back then. Even if we have learned to marginalize people less, we have also obviously all forgotten how to be in a family at all.

  11. Moddy 12/17/2011 at 8:29 am #

    I’m more disturbed by the attitude that it’s bad to want to make your husband happy….

  12. Wednesday 01/23/2012 at 5:19 pm #

    Wow! The attitude that we’re worse off today than then is most likely based off a lack of knowledge of what things were really like back then. In most cases, if you were a married woman, you likely had NO marketable work skills, no job experience, no formal education, and a very great lack of confidence about entering the work place. This basically left most women stuck in their relationships – even if you had the strength to defy your husband, your family, and social norms, you couldn’t leave your husband if you were miserable in the relationship because there was no way to support yourself and the courts were unlikely to make your husband pay child support (as they often still can’t) or alimony. So, like Alice, you’d REALLY want to keep your husband around. What other choice would you have?
    How would that be better than today? One of the reasons divorce rates are higher today is because women have more independence. Thank God we don’t live in a country anymore where most people think it’s acceptable for a man to stray because his wife’s cooking is sub-par. The ad is suggesting just that. But most of us would agree he sounds like a self-indulgent SOB. And if anyone out there doesn’t think so and you’re in a relationship where your husband is like that- I am very, very sorry for you.

Leave a Reply