What Women Want

sexist vintage illustration housewife and vacuum cleaner

Vintage Advertisement Hoover Vacuum Cleaner 1953

Happy days are here again… sexism is not in jeopardy!

Once upon a time when patriarchy ruled, the American housewife was perceived as the most envied gal in the world and a new vacuum cleaner was enough to send her over the moon.

Apparently it still does

When a category on a recent episode of Jeopardy asked “What Women Want” the answers were disturbingly retro.

Instead of things women really want like, oh say equal pay or paid maternity leave, the correct responses were herbal tea, good fitting Levis and a vacuum cleaner!

These notions are as antiquated as these vintage ads.


Happy Homemakers

vintage Hoover Ad Housewife vacuum cleaner

“You’ll Be Happier With a Hoover” Vintage ad 1948

Smart husbands have long known a vacuum cleaner that beats as it sweeps was sure to make their better half’s heart skip a beat with excitement. After all what red-blooded American man doesn’t want to get their wife in a Hoovering Mood.


vintage illustration housewife vacuum cleaner

Vintage ad Hoover Vacuum Cleaner 1946

Isn’t this about what a husband really says at Christmas time when he gives a Hoover Cleaner to a wife?  asks this Hoover ad from 1946.

“I want you to work less. I want you have more leisure. I want you to save your strength. I want to make it easier for you to keep the home we’- re so proud of. I want you to have a cleaner to help you- and I want you to have a cleaner the world says is the finest.

And she wants you to help!



vintage illustration Housewife Bride Eureka

First Steps in Happy Homemaking -Vintage ad Eureka Vacuum 1953


Nothing stars a new home and new romance like a vacuum cleaner.

But hubby be careful what you want. Your wife’s affections may soon be displaced by her love of her  vacuum cleaner.


housewife eureka vacuum cleaner ad

“Pete is my husband-but my new Eureka Roto-Matic is my honey. It’s the most wonderful thing that’s happened in homemaking in years!” Vintage ad Eureka Vacuum 1953


Like a stubborn stain that won’t come out, sexism still lingers.

Visit My Shop And Check Out The Retro Housewives Collection

© Sally Edelstein and Envisioning The American Dream, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Sally Edelstein and Envisioning The American Dream with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


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  1. I have a rule at home: Never buy my wife a gift that plugs in (corollary: it’s OK to buy her a new mobile device).

    I have a rule at work: Never make ads that discriminate, stereotype, patronize or belittle anybody.


  2. Yeah, when the little woman opened her Christmas gift, she was so pleased, she went right to the kitchen and made hubby his favorite supper! Later, hubby got another surprise after the lights went out, the dear romantic darling!


  3. I’ve seen a “Hoover for Christmas” ad from 1924, emphasizing the “tools” in her “workshop” (her home), that “Brave little woman,” and ending “Don’t disappoint her again this Christmas.” Apparently this ad campaign worked for 30 years, if you don’t count all the women who said “thank you” and then burst into tears in the kitchen. Of course, in 1924 the alternative to vacuuming was dragging the heavy carpets out to the laundry line and beating the dust out of them — and onto yourself — so there was an element of thoughtfulness in giving a vacuum back in 1924. I just hope it wasn’t a substitute for a more personal gift! What could say, “The honeymoon is over,” louder than a vacuum for Christmas?


  4. Pingback: Christmas in July….er…April! – Life and Times in English 401

  5. Pingback: Ideal woman and ideal feminist | What is feminism anyway?

  6. Hi! Would I be able to use the ‘You’ll be Happier With a Hoover’ picture for my dissertation please?


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