If you're a woman in Western society, chances are you've been asked countless times whether you'll go for love or a career. Although the plethora of thinkpieces devoted to dissecting this dichotomy makes it seem like a modern problem, a 1950s magazine quiz shows that the question of marriage versus career has been around much longer than you'd think — and that the conversation surrounding it hasn't changed nearly as much as we might like to think, either.
Thanks to the efforts of artist and writer Sally Edelstein, you, too, can discover your fate in a series of simple yes-or-no questions. Just like Grandma did! If you're a potential career woman, though, prepare to feel like the unwanted middle child. Unsurprisingly, the clipping from early-1950s pulp publication The Girl Friend isn't exactly encouraging women to go out and build careers for themselves.
"Would you be inclined to look down on a man if he made less money than you happen to earn at your place of employment?" the quiz begins, which brings two questions to mind for me. First, "happen to earn?" Really? Did women in the '50s just wander around aimlessly until they happened upon someone handing out free money? Were the streets flooded with sharply-dressed single women hoofing it around town from 9 to 5 every day? Where is my time machine so I can join them? And second, who the hell is going to answer yes to this question?
Because I am a Serious Journalist who does Serious Things, I've done you guys the favor of taking the quiz. I've recreated the questions below, but you should definitely take the time to look at the original image over at The Vault , Slate's super cool history blog. The full experience is unparalleled.
1. Would you be inclined to look down on a man if he made less money than you happen to earn at your place of employment?
Once again: really?
2. Do you believe it is absolutely necessary for a girl to complete her college course before she marries her boy friend?
As someone with a psychology background, I'm always wary of agreeing with anything absolute. Do I believe it's important for women to get an education before worrying about marriage? Yes. Do I also believe that the entirety of The Notebook could have been avoided if Allie had just married Noah when she felt like it? Hell yes.
3. Do you find the idea of sex so distasteful to you that you don't want to discuss it or have it discussed?
This just in: genteel politeness means that no man will ever want you. You're doomed to stay single forever and always, amen.
4. After you go to the altar and are married would you rather continue to work and wait to have children until sometime later?
My God. Is this an actual relevant question? I am shocked and appalled.
5. Would you prefer to entertain at a restaurant or a country club than in your own home where you prepare the meal?
I would be down for either, but judging from my history of culinary disasters on an epic scale, it's better for everyone if I let someone else do it.
6. Are you convinced that men are, for the most part, basically bestial and have very few finer feelings?
Why did they bother to ask this question?
7. Would you rather sit down and paint a picture or type letters or read a treatise than cook and serve a meal?
See question 5.
8. Would you be angry if the money you had carefully saved for a beautiful new outfit had to go to meet some emergency?
This is why I hate yes-or-no quizzes. The obvious answer is "get angry, refuse to spend the money on the emergency, and ignore the fallout while looking fabulous."
9. Would you be much more interested in your own promotions than in the ones your boy friend receives at his job?
This just in: putting yourself before your significant other is selfish and makes you a terrible wife, future mother, and overall human being.
10. Would you rather have a nurse for your children and go to business instead of staying home and taking care of them yourself?
As an aspiring Wine Mom, I'm practically obligated to agree with this question.
11. Would the approval of your boss mean much more to you than words of approval from your boy friend?
Considering that "my boy friend" doesn't have any bearing on my career and is practically obligated to compliment my every move, I'm gonna go with "yes" on this one.
According to The Girl Friend, I am "best fitted for a career." By extension, I will die alone and unloved, surrounded by unnecessary material possessions. This does not surprise me.
Hilarious as the quiz may be in the modern day, it's also depressing to see how little has changed in the "career vs. marriage" debate — namely, that there is still a debate at all. After more than 60 years, the conversation really hasn't changed. Politician after politician is still asked why she isn't married, or how she manages to juggle having grandchildren and her career. Grandchildren. I don't know about you, but my existence had absolutely nothing to do with my grandmother's career, except that she had some new ultra-cute grandkid photos to show off at work.
To make things even more confusing, the modern day has added a new dimension to the conversation: the concept of "having it all." At the same time that women are shamed for having a career or taking time off to have kids, we're inundated with images of women who appear to have found the perfect balance. These women have careers, three children, beautiful homes just outside of big cities, a dog or two. Some are married; others are newly divorced and enjoying their second chance at a single life. Despite the demands of raising children, they find time to work hard, play hard, and get manicures.
It's utter fantasy, of course, but an alluring one. Girls grow up hearing that they have to choose between careers and families, so when they're presented with examples of women juggling both, it's hard not to expect the same from themselves.
Hopefully, 60 years from now, we'll see the same kind of throwback post, but this time, the debate will actually be a thing of the past.
Images: Seattle Municipal Archives/Flickr; Giphy (7)