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    Auction Finds

    ‘Good woman’ metal sign is not funny at all

    I’m sure most people who saw the sign chuckled out loud or silently. Maybe a few of us found it offensive, but moved past it.

    It was a metal sign with black lettering on a white background. An auction-house staffer had hung it on two rusty nails on the side of a wooden table inside the auction house:

    WANTED!
    GOOD WOMAN
    Must be able to clean,
    cook, sew, tune engines
    and polish automobiles.

    Must have sports
    car and garage.

    PLEASE SEND PICTURE
    OF CAR AND GARAGE

    I’m sure this was supposed to be an innocent “ha ha” sign for both men and women, but it showed a disrespect for women. We’re supposed to treat it light-heartedly with little thought. But such signs impart a deeper message for thinking people. They give society the license to treat women as insignificant, and tell our boys and girls that it’s okay to do so.

    They have the same effect as Donald Trump’s vulgar comments about women and sex – a cave-man attitude that has inspired his supports to attack folks who do not look like them.

    good woman sign

    The “Good woman” sign at auction.

    Words and images do matter.

    Every now and then, I get feedback from readers who come across my blog posts about the awful depiction of African American children in books from the early part of the 20th century. The most comments were about Inez Hogan’s series of books about a boy named Nicodemus, which several readers loved as children. The images of black children did not influence how they viewed black people, they said. I respect their opinions but I find that very hard to believe. I’m certain that Norman Rockwell’s children left a much more positive impression than Hogan’s Nicodemus and his family.

    As for the “Good woman” sign, I found variations of it on the internet, including one that referred to fishing and a boat. You could buy it for $9 at Walmart and $9.99 on other sites.

    I also Googled to see if there were any male equivalents of this sign, but found none. The only one that came close was for a good man to watch a fisherman’s wife while he was out on the water.

    This type of sign is especially poignant in light of the recent presidential election, where many non-college educated men and educated women saw Hillary Clinton in much the same light (although she did have her own baggage, some of her own doing. But so did Donald Trump). During the election, I listened to one woman say that a woman should not be president. Unfortunately, the reporter did not ask her why not.

    Metal signs turn up at auction pretty often, and a few years ago, I came across another with the same undertones as the one at auction. I’ve also written about signs that promoted products, offered prostitutes on Coney Island and showed the location of fallout shelters. Those, however, were pretty innocuous.

    In light of the campaign and the election, the “Good woman” sign was both telling and sad.

    What do you think?

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