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November 12, 2022

“WIVES: Look this ad over carefully. Circle the items you want for Christmas.” – Dormeyer

This has got to be the most unromantic list of gifts you can give your wife. Where are the diamond earrings, handbags, roses, or chocolates? None of these gifts say, “I love you.” Instead, they imply, “I need you… to toast bread, to brew coffee, to bake a cake, to make some waffles…”

This 1950s ad by Dormeyer does not only underline the issue of gender roles in marriage, but it also creates a picture of wives being feeble-minded, emotional, and manipulative. First, writing the word WIVES in giant bold letters is an unsubtle and brash manner of getting the women’s attention. Then the wives are given clear and simple instructions as if they’re children. Lastly, they’re instructed to shed crocodile tears—not a lot, just a little—and this will guarantee that their husbands will buy them a domestic device.

It doesn’t end there. The husbands are then urged to buy the gift—“before she starts to cry,” suggesting that not only are men the sole breadwinners of the household, women are utterly financially dependent on them that they’ll burst into tears if they don’t get that coffee maker.


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