Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Don'ts for Betty

The Founding Bettys had wonderful Christmases with their families.  At Casa van Voorhees, I gifted the Mijnheer a tiny little tome I picked up at Restoration Hardware--a reprint of Don'ts For Husbands by Blanche Ebutt. Though published in 1913, I found echos of the world of Betty.  Here are some highlights:

Don't stoop, even if your work is desk-work.  Your wife wants to see you straight and broad-chested.

Don't rush out of the house in such a hurry that you haven't time to kiss your wife 'goodbye'.  She will grieve over the omission all day.

Don't keep her in cotton-wool.  She isn't wax--she's a woman.

Don't scowl or look severe.  Cultivate a pleasant expression if Nature hasn't blessed you with one.

Don't begin your married life by expecting too much.  If you expect little, you will be saved a good deal of disappointment.

Don't try to be a Sultan.  This is the West; you can't shut your wife away from other men.  Don't insult her by trying to.

Don't object to your wife going out with another man if you can't take her yourself--as long as you know and approve of the man.

Don't say she needn't stay up for you.  You know quite well that she can't sleep until you are safe at home.

Don't encourage her to be hysterical.  You need not be unkind but you can firmly refuse to pity her.

Don't say, "That's not in my line," when your wife asks your advice about the children.  It ought to be in your line.
And for our male Bettys (Betty Ross, at least), I offer Bill Blass on the right kind of woman.  In the spirit of the New Year, let us all resolve to be the sort of woman to admit we read cheap novels.

And, to veer off into a non sequitur, I remind the Bettys to add your suggestions to the Best of Betty post that Betty Debbie tossed up!


  1. Wonderful. I'll pass along the Bill Blass (does the fact he was gay matter?) Likes & Dislikes. I can assure you I brazenly admit I both read and write cheap novels (!) and I would never do the crossword in pen. Which is why we buy Ticonderoga pencils by the gross.

  2. Bill Blass may say that he dislikes a woman who talks about dieting all the time - but that blonde tartlet in the ad looks like she hadn't had a square meal for at least a decade.

  3. That one about a woman whose perfume is too loud for her looks reminds me of that Betty where she's wearing her sister's (?) cast-off perfume and he hates it!

  4. Betty Barbara here--

    Had to laugh--those rules(c 1913) were obviously for the upper class! The whole "Don't object to your wife going out with another man if you can't take her yourself--as long as you know and approve of the man". Does that reek of Regency Romance or what?? Or maybe it continues on--the line from Carly Simon's "You're So Vain"--where our singer goes on about the subject being out "with the wife of a close friend"!!

    The Bill Blass Ad made me laugh out loud!! And then shake my head. I am a gal who does crossword puzzles in ink--so there! But otherwise--I guess I'm okay!

    I collect Victorian era etiquette books--I wonder why I haven't seen the book you are referencing?!(Must keep looking!!) (My favorite is a reprint that was retitled "Never Give a Lady a Restive Horse")

  5. Re: "Don't object to your wife going out with another man if you can't take her yourself." Although the heroes don't object in words (The Hasty Marriage, Jan took out Laura "shopping" but really her role was matchmaker), they really do object. The same goes for the women (Fate is Remarkable, Sarah tries to throw Hugo and Janet together).

  6. "Don't begin your married life by expecting too much." Betty Neels did not allow social misteps for any of the heroines who have risen several economic classes upon marriage. I can't think of any example.

  7. "Don't be a Sultan." How about, "Don't be high-handed and always wanting your own way"? I know, I know, different context, but that's what the book really should've said.

  8. Re; the "Don't object to your wife going out with another man..." When the heroines go out with the heroes without knowing their marital status, it's kind of implied that married men might enjoy (and not bring horrible censure down on their heads) taking around a pretty young nurse now and again.

  9. Which is one of the things I hate about some of the RDD, while married conveniently.

    They noticeably drive around with some blond, our heroine obviously finds out, and he doesn't say a thing about it!!!! Drives me mad!!!

    Is this a double standard!!!!!!!??????

    Betty Francesca