This term I am taking a US Women's History class and, in reading one of the assigned texts, I came across this quote from a 1960 issue of Seventeen magazine.
How Do You Rate as a Girl?
1. Do you wait for a boy to open a car door, even though you both know you are quite capable of managing it yourself?
2. Do you listen responsively to a story you have heard before rather than squash the pleasure of the boy who is telling it?
3. If you are going to the movies with another girl, do you look presentable enough to cope with an unexpected encounter?
4. If you bureau drawers or closets were open to view without warning, could you stand the inspection without apologies?
5. In a serious discussion which includes both sexes, can you keep form being overpowering even though you know a great deal on the subject?
6. If a boy forgets his manners, can you restrain yourself from correcting him?
7. Are you able to refused a kiss without hurting a boy's pride and sending him home in a huff?
8. If that special boy told you he liked your long hair, would you keep it long to please him?
9. Have you the courage to be nice to a boy whom the other girls consider to be a bore?
10. In stores, are you apt to moon over pretty lingerie and perfume?
Scoring: Seven or more yeses: you are a veritable flower of femininity! Five to seven yeses: there are a few thorns. Under five: ouch!
Wow, um, can you say propaganda? There is a quote from "The Secret of Being Feminine." For Teen Only, February 1963:
"You can and should pursue your own interests and always do your best, but not to the disadvantage of that boy in your life, whether he be your date, your steady or someday....your husband."
So go out and be yourself! Just do it inside this little box we have made for you. It reminded me of being at a CES fireside when I was 23 and one of the apostles (I don't remember which one) said that there are too many aggressive women out there and that we need women who are courageous enough to be soft, compassionate, nurturing, welcoming, and feminine. I decided right there that I wanted to be those things. I would be those things.
Just like American culture encouraged females to be who they are, but to do so within the provided box, Mormon culture says to be yourself as long as you have and develop certain qualities.
It's nice, right now anyway, to be free from the box and just be me.