Barefoot, pregnant, and slaving over a hot stove
November 16, 2009 8:14 AM   Subscribe

Where the expression "barefoot, pregnant, and slaving over a hot stove" came from? What is the history of it in English speaking countries?
posted by ivanka to Society & Culture (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
"The phrase "barefoot and pregnant" was probably first used on August 27, 1963, by Rep. Paul Van Dalsem, an Arkansas state legislator. Van Dalsem, frustrated with the efforts of the Arkansas Division of the American Association of University Women, told a Little Rock civic club that in his home town that if a woman "starts poking around in something she doesn't know anything about," then "We get her pregnant and keep her barefoot." Van Dalsem's comments were reported by the local media and later picked up by national press."

From Wikipedia
posted by azarbayejani at 8:18 AM on November 16, 2009

Here's a reference to "barefoot and pregnant" from a 1958 newspaper (2nd para, middle col), referring to a Dr Hertzler.
Some forty years ago, Dr Hertzler advanced a hypothesis which young women of today seem bent on proving correct. "The only way to keep a woman happy," he said, "is to keep her barefoot and pregnant."
I can't find with a quick search who Dr Hertzler was, or whether that's a genuine citation, but it's possible it was Arthur E Hertzler.

"slaving over a hot stove" is usually a separate expression - I've heard that often enough on its own, while I've never heard the "barefoot and pregnant" part. Here's a reference from 1887*, although Google News dates it from the twenties.

*Note that this is only what Google Books claims is the date and Google Books' metadata is notoriously dodgy.
posted by Electric Dragon at 8:49 AM on November 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

I always hear 'barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen'. Maybe a regional difference -- I'm in the southeast US.
posted by 2xplor at 9:08 AM on November 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

I agree with 2xplor, and I am in the Midwest. I have heard 'barefoot and pregnant' on its own before, but much more rarely than with the 'kitchen' part tacked on.
posted by Carillon at 9:13 AM on November 16, 2009

I'm with Electric Dragon. I've heard "keep 'em barefoot and pregnant" (occasionally with "and in the kitchen" included) and "slaving over a hot stove" regularly since I was a child in the early 70s (upper Midwest), but I don't think I've ever heard them used together. I'm fairly sure that Mr Van Delsem was not the first person to use the phrase -- Dad always claimed he'd heard it first in the Army in the early 1950's, from a platoon mate from the Deep South.
posted by jlkr at 10:09 AM on November 16, 2009

> Here's a reference from 1887

They didn't talk about "an Italian take-away" in 1887; it's probably at least a century later. When are they going to do something about the metadata??

From page 138 of The Decline and Fall of Practically Everybody, by Will Cuppy (Holt, 1950): "Peter kept Catherine barefoot and pregnant most of the time."

From Forbes, Volume 64 (1949), page 13: "By early 1949, TWA was—in the words of its new president, Ralph S. Damon—both 'barefoot and pregnant.'"

Now, here's another metadata perplexity; Google Books claims this is from 1919: "The mountaineers down in North Carolina used to say that to keep a woman faithful you should keep her barefoot and pregnant." But Proceedings of the session of the Association of American Railroads is a serial publication that continued at least through the 1950s, so unless someone can turn up a physical copy and check the date, I think this has to be discounted.

Note that Wikipedia's "probably first used on August 27, 1963" is utter bullshit and needs fixing.
posted by languagehat at 11:37 AM on November 16, 2009 [2 favorites]

I have fixed wikipedia. If anyone wants to clean up language, feel free.
posted by kingjoeshmoe at 12:32 PM on November 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

In Australia the phrase was "barefoot, pregnant, and chained to the kitchen"
posted by jannw at 5:29 AM on November 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

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