The Problem (Circa 1930’s)…
Why are people so cruel? My life is being ruined by the stories that are going around about me, and all without foundation. I happen to live in a very house-proud neighbourhood, where nearly all the women spend morning, noon and night in housework and boast that you can see yourself in the kitchen stove, eat your dinner off any floor in the house and all the rest of it. Well I believe that a woman should keep her house clean and tidy, but I also believe that a woman should keep her mind alive, by reading good books, listening to good music, seeing good films, and so on. What is the result? My neighbours whisper among themselves that I am a sloven and a gadabout; they openly pity my husband and even commiserate in a veiled way with my children.
What am I to do about it?
It sounds perhaps a cowardly course to suggest, but if it be anyhow possible move to another district. The admirable housewives by whom you are surrounded will never understand your point of view, and nothing will ever stop them cackling over their own spotless nests.
That is what they are really doing. They do not really mean what they say about you but they simply can’t resist the opportunity which you offer them of boasting how perfectly their homes are kept. Also they are a little resentful because you have something which they do not and cannot possess- an appreciation of things of the mind.
If you cannot move- and moving house is always an expensive and frequently an inconvenient business, enlist the active support of your husband in a determined campaign against these hurtful stories. you say he is openly pitied; well get him to proclaim loudly and forcefully whenever the opportunity occurs how marvellously you do the three jobs of running the home, keeping y ourself abreast of modern culture, and minding your own business. Do not, of course, bring the children into your campaign in any way
Your husband might still be pitied, but at least the two of you will be showing a united front and you will have the support of his sympathy and understanding. The chances are that before long your neighbours will give you both up as un-understandable and will cease to gossip about your affairs.
Be very careful not to give them any real reason for their stories of your slovenliness.
Taken from the charming “Everybody’s Best Friend” by Mr Harold Wheeler.