Meet Granny Rhoda, who could be the “poster child” for the self-reliant frontier woman. She was beautiful, accomplished, fearless, neat, sweet-tempered, and had faith in God. An inspiration to us all!
“A ‘Granny’ of Other Days” The Youth’s Companion October 1, 1914, p. 516
“GRAN’SIR” Eli, the man who had grit and grace, pluck and wisdom, honesty and patience, religion and common sense, had a wife whom he always called “My better half.”
It is said that, as a girl, “Granny” Rhoda was beautiful, but not at all conceited. To one who spoke of her good looks, she replied, calmly, “But, dear me, it is so easy for a pretty girl to be ugly, and for a homely girl to be lovely.”
Granny Rhoda was an accomplished woman. She could shear a sheep; wash, dye, and card the wool; spin the thread and weave the cloth; cut and make a suit for man, woman, or child. She understood everything in the house, from the oven in the kitchen to the organ in the parlor.
Granny Rhoda was industrious. As a young mother, she used to rock the cradle with one foot, churn with her right hand, and keep the flies away from the baby and the churn with a peach sprout in her left hand, while she sang, cheerily, “What wondrous love is this, O my soul?”
Granny Rhoda was fearless. Her home, in early married life, was not far from a dense swamp. One night, when her husband could not get home on account of high water, and she and two baby girls were in the house alone,—two miles from the nearest neighbor,—some big black bears began to fight right under the room they were occupying. Jumping from the bed and putting on her shoes, she stamped on the floor, and shouted, “Get out of here, you bears! How do you expect a body to sleep when you are making so much noise?” And they went! She saw them in the moonlight,—three of them—as they scurried toward the swamp.
Granny Rhoda was neat. The places behind doors, under beds, and in the corners of the rooms she swept as clean as the middle of the floor. The back yard had to be as pretty as the front yard. Shoes had to be blackened on the heels. Face powder was not allowed to cover dirt.
Granny Rhoda was sweet-tempered. When everyone else was flustered, and the whole world seemed to be going wrong, she was calm. A neighbor woman once tried to quarrel with her over some trivial affair. Granny Rhoda heard her tirade patiently to the end, and then said, “Thank you, dear, I try never to get angry.”
Granny Rhoda had faith in God. She was ninety-two when she died. Her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren were with her. A few minutes before death came, one of them said to her, “Granny do you know that you are sinking?”
With a last flash from her big gray eyes, she replied, “No, no, I’m not sinking. I know what I’m doing. I’m rising. It is only one step through the air. Good night, children!”
Wow! What a woman! It made me think of the beautiful blond in the 1980s commercial for Enjoli perfume—the one extolling the virtues of the 24-hour woman: (See link below)
Cause I’m a wo-man, I can bring home the bacon Fry it up in a pan And never let you forget you’re a man. (Give her Enjoli, the 8-hour perfume for the 24-hour woman) I can work till five o’clock Come home and read you Tickety Tock (Tonight I’m going to cook for the kids!) And if it’s lovin you want I can kiss you and give you the shiverin fits. (Enjoli, the 8-hour perfume for your 24-hour woman!)
This woman was our role model in the 1980s—a gorgeous, well-dressed woman who could have a well-paying job while being a Super Mom and a hot wife! This blond has some kind of professional job, judging from her suit and briefcase, which she tosses aside to begin her job at home. (But how she manages to stop work at 5:00 PM is still a bit of a mystery.) We know she has at least two kids and one of them is probably a pre-schooler, since she’s reading Tickety Tock. We know that she usually cooks dinner, but tonight, for a change, her husband is going to cook! He may have an ulterior motive, however, because the next line is “If it’s lovin you want, I can give you the shiverin fits.” Hmmm. There’s an image. Well, at least he is offering to share domestic duties at least for one night. At least.
Many of us were impacted by this ideal. As young women with children in the 1980s, many of us believed we really could have it all—successful career, perfect home and children, loving husband, and time to do it all, even enjoy doing it all. It was even worse than that—we believed that we should have it all. We believed that we should expect all this perfection from ourselves. That we had to meet these high standards in all areas of our lives, or we were failures. We just didn’t have the right stuff!
I remember comparing myself to a friend who had a much more high-powered professional career than I did (and no children, incidentally), and another working friend who was a super cook and had a picture-perfect house (and a husband who cooked as much as she did and shared all the household and child-care duties). I sometimes chastised myself for not being able to meet their standards and wondered if I just managed my time better, I could achieve more.
Reflecting back, I see just how different their circumstances really were from mine!
So we know that this propaganda about Super-Women has been around for at least 200 years, because here’s the 1914 tale of Granny Rhoda, who lived to be almost 100 years old. Here’s the evidence—documentation of at least 200 years of revering the impossibly perfectly idealized wo-man.
Listen to the audio
What do you think?
Link to Enjoli commercial
Don’t miss this wonderful blog by a journalist who reacts to the Enjoli commercial above and tells about her own journey down this path