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Entries in gender roles (24)

Wednesday
Apr012009

"Aerocar" Hits the Road (1950)

The April 25, 1950 Yuma Daily Sun (Yuma, AZ) ran this picture of Moulton Taylor's "Aerocar" which could be converted into an airship "even by a woman, without soiling her gloves." So easy, a woman could do it!

"AEROCAR" HITS THE ROAD - With its wings folded back against the fuselage, his flying auto is ready to cruise down the highway at 50 miles an hour. According to its Longview, Calif., designer, the airship can be converted to the auto "even by a woman, without soiling her gloves."

Previously on Paleo-Future:

Friday
Feb062009

Family Life to be Altered Greatly by 21st Century (1968)


The January 2, 1968 Lima News (Lima, OH) ran the third in a series of articles based on research by the Commission on the Year 2000 of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. The third in the series dealt with life, work and family issues humanity would face in the year 2000. As I've discussed before, major social issues are largely ignored in 20th century American futurism, so it's interesting when we stumble upon serious predictions about major social change by the year 2000.

A short excerpt appears below, but you can read the entire first page of the article here.

By the year 2000 Americans may travel by ballistic missile, swallow a pill for a meal and wear tights and helmets like people in science fiction comic strips. Or they may not. There's no way of telling, and perhaps it doesn't make much difference.

 

What matters is the quality of life: What will it be like to live in the year 2000? No one can draw the complete picture, but members of the Commission on the Year 2000 took glimpses from special points of view.

Will people be able to learn and remember what they need to know in the complex world of 2000? Not without help, predicts psychologist George A. Miller of Harvard University.

How will new biological techniques affect relations between the sexes? Perhaps by eliminating marriage and the family, suggested anthropologist Margaret Mead of New York's Museum of Natural History.

What will earning a living be like for Americans? Easier, Herman Kahn and Anthony J. Wiener of the Hudson Institute calculate. Maybe too easy.

Will there be any privacy left? Only if society takes steps to preserve it, warned law professor Harry Kalven Jr. of the University of Chicago.


Previously on Paleo-Future:
21st Century Eugenics (1967)
Future Shock - Babytorium (1972)
Instant Baby Machine (1930)
Civilized Adultery (1970)

 

Tuesday
May202008

Will robots make people obsolete? (1959)


The January 4, 1959 issue of Parade magazine published a piece by Sid Ross titled, "Will Robots Make People Obsolete?"

The piece in its entirety appears below in all its dystopian glory. Who knew that Parade could be so dark? The piece claims that in the future "mankind's major struggle will be against boredom, with the suicide rate zooming as people lose the race."

The heaviness of the piece, along with the accompanying illustration, raise so many questions. Chief among them, why would a family of four gleefully jump into that menacing robot's mouth?


Secondly, why would Father be fed an entire pumpkin? For that matter, why is this evil machine feeding him at all?


Is Robo-Dog attacking Little Johnny for a reason? Maybe Johnny pulled Robo-Dog's metal tail one too many times. I'm willing to accept the possibility that Johnny deserves what's coming to him.


Lastly, despite the abject horror on Mother's face, the robot servant appears to be doing a damn fine job. Baby is happy and there's no indication that supper is burning. Granted, we have to assume that Mother was less-than-gingerly placed into that trash can by Mr. Octo-Eyes.


(UPDATE: I've been informed that the illustration for this piece was done by the incredible Jim Flora.)

Parade Magazine
January 4, 1959

All over the world and on the colonies in outer space, everyone is excited about the most popular event of the year. All human activity stops as people breathlessly await the outcome of the world's championship tiddlywinks contest.

 

In this world of the future mankind has little else to be excited about. For earth has been transformed into a "paradise" where incredibly clever robots take care of things. They do the farming, the factory work, run the trains, regulate traffic, enforce the law, cook the meals, clean the houses and distribute a vast wealth of goods and services to which every human being is entitled - merely by being alive.

Almost nothing familiar on earth today will survive in this robotized world of the future. For instance:

  • Only a privileged few will have the right to work at a job.
  • The dream of youngsters will not be to grow up rich and successful, but to be one of the favored few workers.
  • Juvenile delinquency will take the form of vandalism against robots.
  • Everyone wil aspire for some kind of "blue ribbon" for an amateur activity, hobby or sport - possibly an award for the best ship model built out of matchsticks or the most colorful rock garden in town.
  • Heroes and celebrities will be the persons who devise new parlor games.
Withering Family Life
  • Mankind's major struggle will be against boredom, with the suicide rate zooming as people lose the race.
  • Governments and family life will wither away. Public officials will be replaced by Board of Supervisors to "umpire" games, sports and recreation, and also administer competitive exams which would decide who could work at the few essential jobs left for human beings to do.
Fantastic? Certainly, by our everyday standards of progress. But every one of these dizzying pictures of life in the future could conceivably become real - when and if man creates robots to do his work for him.

 

Man's mastery of science and technology is advancing by tremendous leaps and bounds. One of his major goals ever since the caveman harnessed an ox to a primitive plow, has been to make something else replace human muscle power. The ultimate "something else" is the robot that acts and thinks like a man.

For the robot-powered society described here, Parade enlisted the fertile imagination and scientific knowledge of Isaac Asimov, an associate professor of bio-chemistry at the Boston University School of Medicine and a writer of science-fiction stories, including a series on robots.

Awful to Face

Wondrous as Asmiov's robotized world of the future may seem, the man who dreamed it up wants no part of it. Says Asimov, "I'll be glad that I will have long since been dead rather than face life in such a society!"

In the transportation systems of the future, electronically guided robots will be the bus and truck drivers. There may be robots that can repair TV sets, fix the plumbing, run IBM machines, act as traffic policemen, read galley proofs, serve as "information" attendants at railway stations.

"In theory," says Asimov, "there is no reason why any human job cannot be done by a machine if we can invent a robot brain as complex and as small as the human brain. Under such circumstances, there is no reason why a robot couldn't mentally be capable of doing anything a human can.

"But who will need man then? Man will die off of simple boredom and frustration." The reason, Asimov points out, is that comparatively few people can be usefully creative.

Consider the Joneses, who in a robotized world, have lost their usefulness:

Mr. and Mrs. Jones would have it easy. Their robot butler would awaken them gently, serve them breakfast in bed and wheel away and wash the dirty dishes. The robot valet and maid would choose the day's attire and dress them.

"Free" for the day, Mr. and Mrs. Jones must decide what to do. Mrs. Jones doesn't have the drudgery of housekeeping. Mr. Jones has no job to go to, since robots are doing nearly all the work. Of course, he could spend the day tinkering with his sailboat, although he knows a robot could tune u p the auxiliary engine more efficiently. Mrs. Jones may decide to work in the garden. Her robot could do this better, but she jealously guards this privilege.

Some people - the "aristocracy" in this strange robot society - would be entitled to work.


See also:
Closer Than We Think! Robot Housemaid (1959)
Monsanto House of the Future (1957-1967)
Monsanto House of the Future (1957)
Call a Serviceman (Chicago Tribune, 1959)
The Electronic Brain Made Beef Stew (1959)
Something must be wrong with its radar eye! (Chicago Tribune, 1959)
Frigidaire Kitchen of the Future (1957)
Monsanto House of the Future Brochure (1961)
How Experts Think We'll Live in 2000 A.D. (1950)

 

Thursday
Mar202008

Nirvana Draws Nearer (1959)

I'd like you to imagine a crazy, futuristic dystopia in which women (gasp) work outside the home. And I'm not talking about doing a little gardening on the weekends. I mean full-fledged, testosterone-driven, trouser-wrenching, tell Little Johnny I'll be late for his baseball game, kind of jobs.

What's that you ask, "But if women get jobs outside the home, who will sew on all the buttons?" Good question. Read on.

The August 17, 1959 San Antonio Light (San Antonio, TX) ran a column by Douglass Welch titled, "Nirvana Draws Nearer." The part of Welch's column pertaining to women appears below.

There is an industrial designer in Detroit named Montgomery Ferar (he should have stood in bed), who has taken a long look into the near future and thinks he knows what the American woman is going to be like. If he's right, she is going to be sitting on a silken pillow all day long, curling her hair, buffing her nails and thinking up ways to beguile a husband who won't need her any more.

Mr. Ferar says we are "squandering" our American woman today on "dull repetitive tasks in the home and office," and, although we are tempted to say that a little judicious squandering never hurt any woman, we won't. He says he is going to free the American woman from housework so she can devote her "perseverence, manual dexterity and meticulous attention to detail to creative ends." Mind you, he doesn't say she has brains; He thinks of her only as having certain mechanical skills.

We don't like the kind of woman he visualizes. We would be late almost every night coming home to such a woman. In the future, Mr. Ferar says, the kitchen will disappear. Our woman will be sitting at the family table dressed to the teeth like a sultry adventuress while robot, self-energized utensils whip up the family dinner and serve it. After dinner the dishes "will be loaded," presumably by the husband and children, into a "dining caddy" or combination dishwasher and storage cabinet, which will roll off into another room, washing the dishes on the way.

NO MORE CLEANING

The cleaning and dusting of a home will be made unnecessary by electronic filters built into the air conditioning system, and beds won't have to be made because there will be no sheets, blankets and pillowcases. Radiant ceiling panels will keep us warm by beddy-bye. And at the supermarket our woman will merely shout her orders into a machine which will collect and pack her purchases and thank her kindly.

Mr. Ferar thinks this will free the American woman for a career. It means no such thing. At best it means that instead of spending half her waking moments chasing her children and attending to them and keeping them out of danger she would only be freed to spend ALL her time doing that.

Come, Mr. Ferar, let's think this thing through. You still haven't found a way to sew on buttons and send suits out to the cleaner and do the family bookkeeping and wipe away tears.

See also:
Max Factor on the Woman of 2009 (1959)
Taller Women by Year 2000 (1949)
Closer Than We Think! Robot Housemaid (1959)
Monsanto House of the Future (1957-1967)
Women and the Year 2000 (1967)
After the War (1944)
Lives of Women to Improve (1923)
Feminine Beauty (New York Times, 1909)

Thursday
Feb212008

House of the Future (1956)

Monday
Jan142008

Max Factor on the Woman of 2009 (1959)

The March 5, 1959 Daily Mail (Hagerstown, MD) ran an Associated Press piece titled, "Thomas Quotes Max Factor On The Woman Of The Future." Factor predicts, among other things, the extensive use of cosmetics by men of the future. The entire article appears below.

HOLLYWOOD (A.P.) -- Fifty years from now, a woman of 50 will be just as alluring as a girl of 20.

 

That is the fearless prediction of Max Factor, head of the cosmetics concern that is celebrating its first half-century.

"When my father started the company in 1909, women scarcely used cosmetics at all," he commented. "They pinched their cheeks to give them color. The only ones who painted their lips were women of questionable repute or theatrical types - and there was little distinction between the two.

"The movie stars helped us spread the use of makeup. As the stars became popular, the public copied their dress and grooming.

"Gradually, the use of makeup became almost universal among women. Now girls start wearing it at 14 or younger instead of waiting until they are 18."

What about 50 years hence?

"People will be living longer. When we started in business, the life expectancy was 40 years or so. Now it is in the 70s and it will go higher. People will want to avoid the lines and sags of old age as long as possible.

"I firmly believe that in the future women of 50 years or more will look as appealing as girls of 20. We are keeping in touch with scientific experiments in Europe on youth-giving cosmetics."

Factor also foresees the extensive use of cosmetics by men 50 years from now, and for the same reason; to keep young. Men who live longer will want to work longer; hence they'll need to avoid looking aged. Among the Factor predictions: A pill which will forestall the graying of hair.


See also:
Champion Paper: Protecting You From The Tyrannical Future Government (Newsweek, 1979)
1999 A.D. Intro (1967)
Women and the Year 2000 (1967)

 

Wednesday
Jan022008

Taller Women by Year 2000 (1949)


The December 24, 1949 Daily Capital News (Jefferson City, MO) ran an Associated Press article titled, "Authorities Predict Gals Will 'Rise' to New Heights by 2000." An excerpt along with the piece in its entirety appear below.

"Nature seems bent on producing a new race of Amazons. Within the next 50 years you'll find the emancipated woman engaging actively in such sports as football, baseball and soccer. She'll think nothing of chopping the wood and acting as family car mechanic."


 

See also:
Women and the Year 2000 (1967)
Lives of Women to Improve (1923)
Miss A.D. 2000 (Chicago Tribune, 1952)
Future Without Football (Daily Review, 1976)
Feminine Beauty (New York Times, 1909)