1950s housewife / Trashfire

Image by the fabulous Stuart F Taylor

He’ll be home any minute so she has to do her hair. Curled and set, brushed out neatly before being shaped around her face so it looks like it was effortless. She selects her best outfit, one she knows he’ll find appealing. Emphasising her curves just enough but not too much. Making her look like an angel. Nails are polished. Legs already smooth – earlier that day she ran herself a bath and her skin is now powder-soft, like new-fallen snow. Bathed and moisturised and shaven and plucked and perfect. Man, I’m so glad I’m not a 1950s housewife!

This 1950s housewife looks in the mirror, applies a little extra lipstick. She already wears foundation, eyeliner, mascara, eyeshadow. Just enough to look pretty, not so much that she looks like she really tried. When he comes home, her husband would swear she wasn’t wearing make-up at all. That’s key: you’ve got to look pretty enough that they like you, but subtle enough that they don’t know you’ve put in the effort.

She double-checks that his beer is in the fridge – she bought the brand he likes earlier that day and makes sure there’s enough of it at exactly the perfect temperature. The kitchen is clean and tidy – it positively sparkles. The living room is tidy too, but she plumps the sofa cushions a little just to make sure it’s inviting. When he comes in the door she’ll run out to greet him, as if she’s been sitting there sewing or reading or doing some other thing, when really she’s just been listening for the sound of his car in the drive. His key in the door. His ‘honey I’m home’ as he enters.

She needs to hear these cues so she can leap up at just the right moment, then rush out to greet him at the door: casual and beautiful and effortlessly sexy, to welcome him home with a kiss.


Going about my own 2024 life, I’m so glad I’m not a 1950s housewife. How awful to have to do all that just because your husband’s coming home. I think this to myself as I lie in the bath, shaving my legs because my boyfriend said he might pop round after work for a drink and a fuck.

After the bath, I choose my clothes. Not for me a cinched-waist corset and A-line skirt, oh no! Instead I go for a black thong to match my push-up bra, because although I don’t own any lingerie, I like the basic colours to match when I’m trying to impress a dude. I pick the least tatty black knickers. The bra with the best … settings? Is that the word? Straps just tight enough to lift my tits so it looks like they’ve been placed upon a shelf, secured not by the first or second set of hook loops, but the third, so they’re crushed tight together to give a bury-your-face-in-it cleavage line in the centre. I complete the outfit with yoga pants because I want him to touch up my arse.

Mousse in my hair comes next, because I like it when it’s tousled and curly but if I just leave it to curl as it dries it’ll turn into a huge frizzy bush. So: mousse. On my chest of drawers there are four other products too – curl ‘creme’, bounce gel, whatever-the-fuck-else. I pick one at random in case that does the trick, then on top I still use mousse. You can’t fuck with a guaranteed thing, after all, and I need him to want me.

It’s so lucky I don’t care what men think of me, I tell myself as I stand in front of the mirror and apply the makeup I wouldn’t bother wearing if it were my sister or a friend coming to visit, instead of a hot boy. Two years ago I eventually gave in to the Il Makiage ads on Facebook and now I can’t stop using it. So I apply foundation, eyeliner, eyeshadow. No lipstick but that’s only because I’ve never been able to make it look right on my face. If he had a ‘thing’ for lipstick I’d have already bought for or five and spent hours teaching my foolish self how to use them. I take tweezers to my eyebrows and any other stray hairs that I find.

It’s so lucky I’m not a 1950s housewife, I think as I set the smart lights to ‘chill and sexy.’ So lucky I’m not obsessed with how I’m welcoming my man home (check fridge: the beer he likes, I’ve done well). So lucky I am a strong, independent 21st-century woman, as I line up tunes on Spotify that might make him think I have good, cool taste.

Thank fuck I’m not beholden to a man! I congratulate myself as I keep one eager ear turned towards the door. Hoping to hear his footsteps on the path. His key in the lock. His voice as he calls out my name.

Thank fuck I’m not a 1950’s housewife, I remind myself as I leap up from the sofa and rush out: casual and beautiful and effortlessly sexy, to welcome him in with a kiss.


I am bad at my job today

OK, hands up: this blog post is fucking rubbish. I had a vague idea for this comparison a while ago, as I was hurling on make up and yoga pants at the last minute because my boyfriend had texted me to say he’d pop round after work. It’s sat in drafts for ages because it feels… insipid? Weak? Unnecessary? I ran out of stuff to publish, so I sent this to Stuart in a panic, then after he sent this (truly gorgeous, perfect) image, I realised that the writing to accompany it was shit, and I wanted to delete every single word. It’s a pathetic comparison that I vaguely smiled at because I didn’t want to examine any further what this behaviour said about my actual life. Oh lol I’m such a tradwife! It’s just that in the past they had baking and A-line skirts, but now I have smart lights and a push-up bra! 

It’s vaguely true, but saying it is dull. And it’s likely to invite exactly the kind of bullshit that I’ll have to stamp on in steel-toed boots: oooh look, women are all actually secretly doing pretty things purely for the pleasure of men! Those slags who say they wear make up because they like it are actually just desperate to wriggle on my cock! Ask GOTN, she wrote a whole thing about it! 


I am not ‘women’, and women aren’t me. This comparison means nothing about women as a whole: there’ll have been some women in the 1950s who genuinely enjoyed this ‘man coming home’ ritual, and others who were only doing it because ‘please your husband’ was a rule they’d been taught to comply with, or else. Likewise today, there are lots of different reasons why someone might choose to do this. And there’ll be men who choose to do it too, for partners of all genders and none. Incidentally, I will only consider ‘feminism’ complete when I get a househusband of my own – ideally a puppyish, subservient, Gerard-Way-a-like who can cook like a professional chef and fuck like an SDS chisel.

In the meantime, though, I spend far more time than is healthy caring about whether men (or usually, one specific man) wants to sling one up me. I measure my self-worth – at least partly – by whether I am fuckable. The rest of my value broadly coalesces around whether I am projecting happiness (regardless of how I actually feel), being funny, kind, warm, mentally healthy, not being a burden on anybody, nice-to-kiss and oh yeah fuck shit definitely pretty much all of it rests on the opinions of men. Of course I try to make myself look pretty for men – impressing men (pathetic) is my primary motivation (yes I hate myself) in almost every aspect of my entire worthless life (lol). There are women who wear make up for other reasons: to please themselves; to impress colleagues or other non-romantic prospects; because they’ve got into the habit of it; because they’re professional clowns etc, but fundamentally I wear make up and yoga pants because I want men to love me. I want to be worthy of love.

I utterly and completely despise myself for this. The obsessive hunt for love from a man makes it borderline impossible to love myself. I can do it really well when I’m single, but the second I’m in a relationship it’s all hands on deck to crew the HMS Insecurity. Why do I still feel the need to do this for my boyfriend of at least 9 months? Why do I care if this guy sees me without eyeliner? He knows what my arse looks like without yoga pants, he can easily peel off my baggy jeans to get to the goods if he wants to. Why am I still performing femininity for a man who has told me on more than one occasion that he couldn’t give a flying fuck whether or not I shave my legs?

Maybe it’s a plea for attention. In the same way as I tweet and post and write blogs, putting make-up on and taking the time to do my nails is my way of yelling ‘NOTICE ME PLEASE. BE NICE TO ME PLEASE. I BEG OF YOU – TELL ME I’M PRETTY’. Maybe this is a way of displacing the worry I have that the rest of me – shambolic and scruffy and nervous and apologetic and overemotional – is a pretty shit package if you look too closely. I’d better wrap that package nicely to distract from the trashfire inside, and maybe one day earn the praise that I need so very desperately.

Maybe it’s something more defensive, like armour. If I stock up on the beer he likes and wear make up and tight yoga pants, he’ll see that I’m making an effort on all of these levels, so if I say the wrong thing or allow some negative emotion to flutter briefly across my face he’ll know that it isn’t deliberate because – here, look! I bought Hazy Jane and you like that! I painted my nails and it took me two hours! I’m wearing the thigh-high socks!

Perhaps I’m doing it for the same reason I’m overthinking (and over-writing) this blog post: because when I look in the mirror (or introspect hard, in a writerly way), right now I struggle to find a person I actually like, someone worthy of love and kindness and care. I don’t see that woman, so it feels fraudulent to act as if I am her. Far better to just acknowledge that I’ve failed. Say ‘fuck it, I’m awful, but at least I know I’m awful. Let’s append a thousand words to explain that this isn’t news to me, or paint my face to cover up the blemishes. Change the lighting so you never have to see me in detail, and set the mood with drinks and carefully-chosen music so there aren’t any awkward pauses if I forget how to summon the version of me that occasionally pleases men.’

Maybe it’s just a ritual that distracts from everything else. If I go through the motions of trying to look nice, I won’t have to think about how I should act – what I should say and do and how and when and why. Right now I am struggling to know how I should be, and adding meta-commentary about this allows me to occupy both territories at once: simultaneously doing The Thing and also hating myself for being such a Thing-Doer. Hedging my bets. How should I be? What should I do? Can anybody weigh in on what the right answer is please? Am I a good girl or a bad one?

When I originally wrote the ‘blog post’ above I wanted to raise a wry smile in you all about how silly I am for thinking I’m smarter than the women who came before. But I’m not smart, obviously. I hate myself more than I did when I drafted it months ago, now meta-despising myself for even temporarily believing that this thought was interesting or worth writing up. People used to praise me for being ‘honest’ but posts like the one above come about when I’m not being honest with myself or with you – when I try to write something that feels vaguely real but doesn’t actually expose any of the mess I’ve let spill out in this second section here. I’m not clever or special or funny or interesting for pointing out the 1950’s housewife thing. I’m pointing it out because it’s easier to do that than to explore why I feel so worried and sad and pathetic and weak and frightened.

But hey, at least I’m pretty! Or trying to be! And if you think that’s the wrong way to behave then I’m open to feedback! How can I please you? What should I do? Have a glass of beer while you decide! And check out my arse in these yoga pants, baby!




  • I know you’re not crying out for this sort of comment, but I’m gonna post it anyway.

    When I first met you, you were very nervous, but I could tell you were acting brave. Two days later, almost exactly to the hour, you had had a few drinks and were openly talking about getting bummed with a bunch of people you had never met before. I’m absolutely certain that you hadn’t spent however long primping yourself before the post-conference drinks session.

    You were adorable when nervous, but even more so during a discussion about bumming. I’m of the opinion that you’re at your most attractive when you’re just being you.

    • Girl on the net says:

      That’s very sweet of you to say ILB. I am definitely always nervous at these things, although a bit of dutch courage does help quite significantly =) But yeah you’re right – I don’t spend that long primping and preening before that sort of thing, this is something I think I mainly do to impress men who I want to love me. Or sometimes when I need a bit of armour (I’m going to a dressy-up event soon and I will spend aeons getting ready because I feel like if I don’t look pretty/smart/fancy then everyone will know I’m a fraud). But yeah usually I trust other people to make their own minds up about me, and it doesn’t bother me too much if some of them think I’m a twat (I am sometimes, I’m not for everyone), there’s something really irritating and broken in my brain that isn’t letting me let go of the whole ‘impress men’ shit.

  • Mark Clum says:

    My partner (53F) and I both found this to be oh so true! Thank you for your continued musings- we will continue to read them with relish.
    There’s a fun story that I need to share with you sometime about my mother, a favorite dress, and frog legs. It’s right on target with this post.
    I’m signing up again to receive your posts. I didn’t get to the link in time and it expired.

  • Aaron says:

    GOTN, let’s get one thing out of the way early – this post is NOT rubbish, or anything like it. It is excellent, for – to my mind – some of the same reasons that you don’t seem to like it. One of the reasons I love your blog posts, as much as your fiction, is for their honesty, even when – even ESPECIALLY when – you’re saying things that might invite disapproval or condemnation.

    Your continual willingness to share things that demonstrate that life is complicated, and messy, and involves conflicting emotions and needs, is not only personally brave, but it one of the reasons why your work sits above others who, on the face of it, write similar material; i.e. porn in written form. You write that the 50’s housewife post wouldn’t have been ‘honest’, but in my opinion it absolutely would have been, and I would have totally raised the wry smile you were hoping for when you originally drafted it. You are one of the most self-aware people I have ever known, and while I obviously regret the pain and angst that this sometimes seems to cost you, it is a good thing.

    You are a good person, GOTN, and more so for being honest about your self-doubt and insecurities. Because – as I know you know so I hope I’m nort mansplaining so much as reminding – we ALL have those. But you vocalising them makes it very much easier for the rest of us, who DON’T have the courage to share them publicly, to accept, acknowledge, and address them.

  • Euclidean Point says:

    This is one of those posts that makes me want to sit down with you and have a chat over a cuppa/pint. Because even trashfires can love themselves and be loved. And they can toast a marshmallow like nothing else.

    • Girl on the net says:

      “they can toast a marshmallow like nothing else” – LOVE THIS so much <3 Thank you so much for your kind words, I would happily buy you a pint and talk your ear off =)

  • fuzzy says:

    I prefer get dressed up (dolled up?) and do nice (romantic, thoughtful, sweet even if small) things for my spouse than for a date with someone I’m getting to know. People I’m getting to know need to see all sides of me. My spouse has seen the good, the bad, and the ugly; so it’s important to me to make an effort on a continuing basis in our relationship. Like my habit of getting her flowers every 4-6 weeks No Matter What.

    And i constantly work on myself and check myself — I’m up to the point of living our shared life and doing “my share” of things without having to be asked, told, reminded, or needing “credit” for contributing equally. My box might be 1960 cis-white-male, but the software (and some of my processing) has been upgraded continuously.

    The issues you are expressing are shared by lots of us. Talking about it will help some of us, even if you don’t come pre-prepared with a smart neat somewhat coy answer ahead of time.

  • The One says:

    There was a time a while back when the man I was fucking (sometimes still fuck) thought that I was GOTN because so much of what you write seemed to him (and to me) like it was extracted out of my head. What I mean is that I am once again telling you that the stuff you write is almost terrifyingly relatable, like you can see my thoughts. (Obviously you can’t see my thoughts, they are your own thoughts and their similarity to mine is purely coincidental). This post was so on the nose that I shed a single silent tear of acknowledgement. Again, ha.

    • Girl on the net says:

      This is so flattering to me? I genuinely can’t get over the idea that people are speculating about who GOTN is, and that I’m relatable enough that you reckon we’re so similar. Thank you for your comment, this made me smile =)

  • Tartwithacart says:

    A cringe post about being cringe—I love it. Good job being where you are, even when where you are is a big cesspool of lies. I know what it is like to know you are wrong and not know if your idea of right is even right. To do great for a while, and be brought low by something old come back to visit and stink up your living room. You will figure it out. This is a beautiful snapshot of the unfinished process, in all its eye-watering glory. My dad used to tell me that green blackberries were just another flavor of blackberry. It’s ok to not be who other people know you are. You are still you even when you hate it, and though it is your responsibility to change, you don’t have to be there already. It’s ok to be afraid. From many thousands of miles away I see you making it—and I want to make it too. Thank you.

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