Until depressingly recently, modern culture still considered women little more than cattle that bizarrely insisted on acting like people. That kind of attitude brought us a whole lot of bad things, but sometimes people screwed up and -- in the course of their mission to keep the cows from getting all high and mighty and thinking they had rights -- they accidentally brought us things that are really nice to have. Such as ...
#6. Minimum Wage Was Originally Intended To Keep Those Weak Women Away From Prostitution
Joe Raedle/Getty Images News/Getty Images
In the early 20th century, people started wondering if working people to death for whatever coal residue they could scrape off the mines might not be in line with American values. Starting with Massachusetts in 1912, more and more states began enacting laws that established exactly how many pennies employers would have to allow workers to pry from their cold, monocled hands -- but only for women and children. Why? Because "woman has always been dependent upon man," and just like children, they need "special care" ... or they'll turn to hooking.
And this was before giants went extinct, so life for hookers was pretty rough.
See, before that, labor laws were thought wholly unconstitutional, as they interfered with the free market and all that. People started to accept them only after a bunch of paternalistic buttwads argued that we needed to protect all these feeble, lost women who had somehow stumbled into the workforce. Many started to worry about what would become of the poor dears who were fleeing the nest with no idea how incompetent they were. What if they couldn't compete with the boys and resorted to becoming, as Frank Reynolds calls them, who-ers? They couldn't make up for low wages with long hours because, as one judge argued in a 1908 case, women were simply too weak to work more than 10 hours a day. (Of course, after working 10 hours a day for table scraps, everyone would start to consider prostitution.)
So when these labor laws were struck down in 1924, it was actually regarded as a win for women's equality. A few years later, though, a little thing called the Great Depression happened, and people started to wonder if they might have taken this whole thing in the wrong direction. In 1938, the Fair Labor Standards Act (spearheaded by Frances Perkins, the first woman appointed to the U.S. Cabinet and a feminist icon if there ever was one) established the minimum wage as it exists today -- for people with all types of genitals, this time.
U.S. Dept. of Labor
"You're welcome, dicks."
#5. Automatic Vehicles Were Introduced To Make Driving Easier For Women
When car manufacturers started producing automatic transmissions in the 1950s, a generation that wasn't entirely sure giving up the horse-and-buggy thing was the best decision breathed a sigh of relief. As much as some people might brag about it, no one likes driving a stick, for the same reason no one rents pornos anymore when the Internet is right there. Even better, it wasn't just transmissions -- every power button on your car was developed during this time. In the era of microwaves and washing machines, it just made sense to hop on the bandwagon and automate as much as possible.
There was only one problem: Those kinds of labor-saving technologies were "for women," and women didn't buy cars.
Really? Wonder why?
Nobody knew how to sell these cars to men without insulting their masculinity, because this was a time when you couldn't sell dudes a razor by touting the advanced technology of sticking 12 blades on it. They didn't want to imply that men needed an "easier" car. They had no problem flat-out declaring that women did, though.
What they figured out was that they could convince men to buy these smooth new rides and protect their fragile egos by advertising it as a nice thing to buy for the wife. "This effortless, expensive toy isn't for you," they winked. "Of course not; no self-respecting, hard-working, rational man would indulge so frivolously. Get it for the little woman, who is dazzled by shiny things and can't be trusted to crank all those shafts without running over an orphanage."
From simple morons.
Even if they did secretly want it for themselves, they could explain it to their buddies over an eye-roll and a martini as "keeping the missus happy," and now none of us has to bother with the stupid clutch.
#4. Wristwatches Were Considered A Girly Fad Until They Were Adopted By The Military
Although largely obsolete in recent times thanks to the super-computers in everyone's pockets, a fine Rolex is still the go-to fashion accessory when a man wants to broadcast "I am a successful provider; please meet my exquisitely tailored pants area." As such, this century-old New York Times article brings two baffling discoveries: 1) Wristwatches were at one time thought of as a "silly-ass fad," and 2) people were saying "[adjective]-ass [noun]" 100 years ago, including the New York Goddamn Times.
The New York Times
"Say, George, shall I go with 'silly ass' or 'whack as fuck'?"
Wristwatches were considered silly and/or assy for pretty much the same reason selfies, pumpkin spice lattes, and yoga pants are today: They were girly. (Although in the case of yoga pants, at least there is some descriptive merit to claims of assiness.) Since they were worn on the wrist, which is a body part only women have, they were likened to bracelets and shunned with an adamant "no homo." They were mocked in silent movies, and no man would have been caught dead wearing one, preferring instead the rugged pocket watch, i.e. a tinkly little charm dangling by a dainty chain.
That is, until World War I.
Waltham Watch Co.
"We can now guarantee with 73 percent certainty that your penis won't fall off."
WWI was the first major war after the widespread adoption of telephone service and other remote communication tools, allowing soldiers to coordinate across long distances. It was kind of important, though, if you get instructions to do something at 16:00, that you actually know when 16:00 is. Pocket watches weren't ideal for this environment: You have to spend precious seconds rooting around in your pockets, they could be dropped, that hand could be better occupied with a rifle, etc. Military leaders started to realize that those silly-ass ladies might be onto something after all, and soon every soldier was required to wear the conveniently hands-free devices. Once civilians saw the manliest of the manly walking around with goofy bracelet clocks strapped to their wrists, they started wearing them too. We all learned our lesson and never, ever made fun of women for wearing comfortable, versatile, universally flattering pants.