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Blast From the Past



Title: Coronet magazine

Date: September 1947

Discovered at: North Kansas City estate sale

The cover promises: “The tragic failure of America’s women: a shocking indictment by a noted woman physician”

Fact: Ain’t nothing wrong with America’s boys.

Representative quotes:
“There is one type of woman rarely seen in a psychiatrist’s office. That is the woman who is glad she is a woman.” (page 4)

“Unhappy and neurotic, they may confess to breathlessness, heartburn, muscle twitching, spells of faintness, and continual fatigue. And the more they are involved with careers, the more they are idle, the more they are childless, the more they are fashionably dressed and elaborately made up, the longer is the list of their troubles.” (page 3)

Despite the hysterics of the cover, this issue of Coronet, a Reader's Digest-sized monthly published by the people at Esquire, offers much more than just Maryina F. Farnham's screed against postwar ladyhood — a screed, incidentally, that charges career-minded mothers with nothing less than the breakdown of society.

"The spawning ground for most neuroses in our civilization is the home nursery," Farnham writes. "And the principal agent is a rejecting, or otherwise emotionally disordered, mother. It is she who is largely responsible for most of our 750,000 confirmed alcoholics, for millions of other neurotics, for our increasing number of criminals and truants."

This issue of Coronet also includes articles such as "The Story Behind Your Telephone Book"; "Can the Mind Pierce Time and Space?"; and "First Family Under the Big Top," which presents the circus life as more healthy and stable than the average families that Farnham assails. A humor column proves that science hates women, too, presenting them as if they were chemical compounds with a few factoids: "Accepted Atomic weight: 120 .... turns green when placed beside a better-looking specimen ... is probably the most effective income-reducing agent known."

The Tragic Failure of America's Women

That brings us to the main event. Farnham contends that feminists have "masculinized" women, convincing them that raising children and tending the home no longer hold any prestige.

"Acclaim goes to the woman who acquires two college degrees, becomes a foreign correspondent, emerges from three marriages, brings one neurotic brat into the world, and sounds off regularly on current affairs, just like a man."

That Americans no longer exalt motherhood remains a point worth discussing. Unfortunately, Farnham's ulterior motive seems to be demonstrating that women are too keyed-up to conduct such a discussion. Every couple of paragraphs, she blurts some rancorous anecdote about a mother who "loathes" her baby or she throws out a generalization like "Few men like a masculinized wife, and few children can thrive under a masculinized mother."

Her finest claim: "The pet fantasy of the feminists is that childbirth is a period of horrible agony to which women must submit while their carefree husbands pass out cigars. Actually, the entire process is as natural as breathing. The healthy, normal young woman feels little pain, even without anesthesia, unless she has had her wits scared out of her by the warnings of emotionally unstable female acquaintances." (Odd for someone opposed to "masculinization" to share the old "pain don't hurt" philosophy from Road House.)

Shocking Detail

Farnham concludes, "Our young women must be attracted into reconstructing the home as an institution that will give the female sex a sense of importance again." This does not preclude working outside the home. She recommends many "splendid" careers, all part time, "which may make them even better mothers."

"Such careers are those which do not require antagonistic virtues, but in which feminine skills or viewpoints are urgently needed; for example, nursing, social-service work, child guidance, catering, decorating, play-direction — and, above all, teaching."

Of course, in 1947, as Farnham points out, most states banned married women from teaching! Good luck out there, ladies!


A back-cover ad suggests that high schools adopt Coronet for their courses. (An illustration shows kids reading this very issue.) That means even married women such as Farnham once enjoyed access to thousands of young minds.

Unfortunately, here's the kind of thing to which those minds were subjected: A November 1950 cover asks, "Does 'rhythm' work in birth control?"

The answer: "Only after considering all the relevant factors will you be in a position to decide for yourself whether the rhythm theory is the right or wrong method to use in your own family planning."

Ah, the Coronet: If it can't talk you into having baby after baby, it'll trick you into it!

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