Throughout the ages, we've counted on our grandmas to give us great advice. Learning what it takes to excel in life and overcome our challenges takes some time; our elders can offer us a wealth of understanding in an increasingly complex era, and remind us that our problems maybe aren't so unique. What we are facing now has been faced before. When we can laugh in the face of our troubles, even better.
Ella Roberts (@ellaroberts) shared an entry from her grandmother’s journal from 1925, and, much to her surprise, it’s blowing up on Twitter because so many women can relate. In our scandal-ridden MeToo era, amidst seemingly endless disclosures of sexual harassment and abuse, Roberts' tweet is a refreshing and hilarious reminder that humor and solidarity are key ways to cope with hardships and disappointment.
The whimsical (yet scathingly humorous) note reads,
"There is no faith in a man,
Not even in a brother,
So girls if you must love,
Love one another"
Apparently, whether it's 1925 or 2018, dating is the worst. And this Grandma was clearly over it.
Responses to Robert’s thread are sometimes hilarious (@mllyrse suggested "this'd make such a nice tattoo"), if at times divisive, with one poster objecting to the sentiment:
Some were offended by the implication that, as Roberts noted, this is her grandma’s 1925 version of “men are trash”, but other users encouraged men to laugh it off, and not take the poem personally. @Tyrannostradamus pushed back against the complaints:
Ella’s grandma had reasons to be salty about men in 1925; white women in the United States had been enjoying the right to vote for only five years, while black women were barred from their right to vote until 1965. Apart from the expected route of getting married and raising kids, the options for women at this time were extremely limited. We can argue for the advances our culture has made since then, but we have a long way to go yet to overcome a culture built on inequality and exclusion.
No matter which era we reference, though, things have been pretty crappy for women for a long, long time. This grandmother’s humorous advice to women to ditch relationships with men and take refuge in each other was surely a much needed bit of comic relief; especially when you think about the bizarre and endless ways women have been told what to do since time immemorial. Bustle's JR Thorpe reports that in Germany in the 1890’s (and elsewhere throughout history), women were ridiculed for pursuing higher education. I mean, who needs a PhD when you can mop the floors, right? And should one be creeping closer to the dreaded (gasp!) age of thirty, remember that, according to ancient Roman elder Pliny, rubbing one’s face with ground up bull bone is a great way to keep wrinkles at bay. Lest you think that sexist advice for women is a thing of the past, think again. Melissa Daniels of Hello Giggles reports that career advice for women is often overwhelmingly sexist, and as observed in The New York Times, Beijing police have issued a guide for female drivers entitled, “Women Drivers, Please Take Care To Avoid These Mistakes,” because, apparently, driving while female is confusing.
However comical this grandmother's sentiment is, at the core of her message is the notion that women can, and should, help uplift each other. And it's encouraging that this kind of advice is resonating with so many of us today.
Whatever advances have been made to level the global playing field for women, there is no doubt that sexism is an ongoing problem; it was for Ella's grandma, and it is for us today. Whatever we can do to find humor and relief amidst the daily microaggressions that we face is valuable for sure.