Once upon a time, everything was horrible.
Not that things are good now, but if America is like a party, in roughly 200 years, it went from being a party where someone gets shot to death in an argument over Doritos to a party where someone loses an eye after an argument over Bugles.
In 1831, guess who things were especially bad for?
Seriously, take a guess.
No, not black people. OK, well, yes, black people. For sure black people. Like #1 spot on the “Who had it the worst in 1831?" list DEFINITELY goes to black people. But that's not who I'm talking about.
I meant women. Yeah, women. Sorry, women. You guys have pretty much had it bad since the start of time, and 1831 was no exception.
Illustrating this point, NPR got its hands on some insane behavior guidelines from a set of books called “Moral Encyclopedia.” They were written by a man named Charles Varle, Esq. of Baltimore.
And needless to say, the “Esquire of Baltimore” was a real dingleberry.
One notable section centered on a series of rules that women of polite society should follow in order to be, like, cool and pure or whatever, according to The Dingleberry Prince (that's what his mom called him), Mr. Charles Varle.
NPR curated a list of 18 rules Mr. Varle had for women in the 1830s. These insane rules give contemporary readers a rare and telling glimpse into the sort of dingleberry-filled hellscape women lived in during the time.
Sadly, these are 100 percent real.
1. "Avoid everything masculine."
Don't use pencils. They are basically tree penises.
2. "Be not too often seen in public."
Yeah, you know, like Batman. Just be like Batman.
3. "Consult only your own relations."
Yeah, "helpful friends who give good advice" are only for prostitutes.
4. "Don't even hear a double entendre."
Yes, Thomas, I do love big weiners. Preferably with mustard. And no hair.
5. "Endeavor to write and speak grammatically."
Use only one "s" when spelling "yasssss."
6. "Fondness for finery shows as bad a taste as neatness and simplicity imply a good one."
OK, this one I just don't understand. I think it's about pooping.
7. "Form no friendship with men."
Mr. Varle, like many contemporary men these days, was constantly frustrated by "the friend zone" -- otherwise known as "the thing men call the state of someone they want to have sex with not wanting to have sex with them."
8. "Give your hand, when necessary, modestly."
Handjobs, right? He's talking about modest handjobs? Like handjobs where you keep one pinky up? That sort of thing?
9. "If you talk in society, talk only about those things which you understand."
Yeah, ladies, listen to this guy explaining how he understands how women should behave tell you that you should only talk about stuff you understand.
10. "Know that a man of good sense will never marry but the pious, industrious and frugal."
I think he meant to write "I'm a virgin."
11. "Let not love begin on your part."
Yeah, the trick is, get a dude to fall in love with you and then marry him and cross your fingers you'll end up liking him before you die.
12. "Make no great intimacies with anybody."
This would also work as a rule for samurai.
13. "Never be afraid of blushing."
It's just blood rushing into a part of your body when you get excited. Like boners. Although, I guess that comes into conflict with rule #1.
14. "Pride yourself in modesty."
Yeah! Be proud of how unproud you are!
15. "Read no novels, but let your study be History, Geography, Biography and other instructive books."
Ugh, NOVELS! THOSE THINGS! WHO CARES? THEY'RE NOT REAL! NOT LIKE THESE COOL HISTORY BOOKS WE ALL WROTE ABOUT HOW SLAVERY IS THE BEST.
16. "Sympathize with the unfortunate."
Yeah, like, for example, if you ever meet a dude who wrote a big list of insane things for women to do because he's a lonely virgin with no penis, be nice to him.
17. "Trust no female acquaintance, i.e. make no confidant of anyone."
TRUST NO ONE. BE JASON BOURNE.
18. "You cannot be too circumspect in matters of love and marriage; and remember that whereas the character of a young lady is considered angelic, any blemish in it, would withdraw the respect men have for you."
What Mr. Varle is explaining here, ladies, is that the key to being a respectable woman is simply this: Just be perfect.