Mother's Little Helper: Vintage Drug Ads Aimed at Women

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Something I've discovered recently is how many prescription anti-anxiety drugs were marketed towards women or their husbands back in the day, to ensure that housekeeping duties would not fall by the wayside. I guess it makes women became desperate housewives they had to deal with the stresses of keeping the house clean, getting the kids off to school and shuttled to extracurricular activities, and making sure a hot meal was waiting for their husband when he got home. Then as woman entered the workforce, they had to deal with a job on top of all of that. No problem, just take the little lady to the doc's to get a prescription for Butisol, Thorazine, or that old standby, Valium, and your kitchen floor will be shining again in no time. We've come a long way, baby...I think? Let's have a look...

Set her free? Are you holding her hostage in your own home?

Those demanding brats have got her battered, alright. I have a better solution instead of Miltown: it's called a playpen. 

What's with the giant hand? Just kinda creepy. 

Boo hoo, grandma can't bake us ungrateful brats pies anymore; let's put her on Ritalin. 

Another unclean house, another bottle of Ritalin prescribed. 

This was the worst model choice for this product and ad. That lady doesn't look the least bit like she's suffering from anxiety and depression--look at the telling smirk on her face. She looks like everyone's oversexed aunt who just returned from a cruise to Aruba where she flirted with the 20-something cabin boys! Furthermore, I bet she smokes 3 packs of cigarettes a day which helps her cope with any anxiety just fine.

Now she can make sure you're nourished again before leaving for the office, especially as you're too lazy and clueless to cook bacon and eggs yourself. 

Because heaven forbid those popovers would come out of the oven uneven, jumpy nerves and all. 

Beer? Now that's my kind of medicine. 

I can't tell if the copy says the guys or the gays judge you. If she's making a fashion faux pas, then it's the gays...definitely the gays. 

And...jumping jiminy cricket! This is one of the scariest ads I've ever seen and frankly, racially offensive. It looks like James Brown morphing into Satan. Or maybe it's Aunt Esther from Sanford and Son. "Watch it, sucka!"


  1. "...And though she's not really ill, there's a little yellow pill."
    Yikes! Great finds though -- it really reflecta on the mentality, or should I say MEN-tality of the time. Make your own damn breakfast!

  2. Wow! I had no idea these ads were so commonplace then--"Fellas, we can't replace your wife with a Stepford Wive Robot--but have her swallow some of these, it should do the trick."

    This reminds me of the pilot episode of the Brady Bunch--Mr. Brady confesses to being nervous about the wedding & Carol tells him to "just take a tranquilizr, darling". Now I want one :)

  3. HOLY COW! I'm a nurse, and I had no idea there was such a push to medicate the Moms. Where in the world did you find these? You're a wonderkind.

    This gave women's lib the extra push they needed, ha ha.

    Doesn't it make you wonder what the future bloggers will say about our televised bombardment of the public? It cracks me up when a commercial implies that you should just tell your doc you need a certain medication - hey, we'll even give you the first one free!

    Great post! I'm going to send more readers your way today. :-)

    1. Generations were affected by these adds, families destroyed. My mom
      was one of the ones put on Valium when the real problem was trauma and abuse. She became completely non functioning, unable to care for us. They never provided support to
      address actual problems in homes, they just medicated the women. It was the opioid crisis of their time.

  4. Thanks so much for the comments, everyone! Cherdo, I did a Google search and found a great site of archived pharmaceutical ads divided by decade. I should have given credit in the post and wish I could remember the name now. So glad you all got a chuckle out of the compilation.

  5. And oh yes, today's side effects for these drugs make me feel that the fact they get pushed into pharmacies without any proper testing should really be against the law!

  6. Sorry ladies but We do this to OURSELVES. That the pharmacy industry sees a market and goes for it is just good business sense.

    We were told in the 70s by the leaders of the feminist movement that the only way for US to be happy is to leave our husbands and enter the business world and act like men. So we walk out, children in tow, and march off to the promised land. NOW we have kids to raise alone, bills to pay AND a house to clean, while working for faceless corporations who don't give a fig about us, while our now divorced husbands by sports cars and date 21 year old disco chippies.

    So what do we do? We start complaining about having to be superwoman or super mom and "gee feel sorry for us because we have it so hard trying to be the perfect everything."

    Who the heck said we had to be "perfect" all the time? WE DID!
    Of course we want a pill to solve our problems because WE created the problems.

    Ladies, unless you are doing cardiac surgery, most of the time "good enough for now" is sufficient. THAT is what we have to tell our daughters. That "having it all" means you have to give up something. So, YOU decide if you give up motherhood, a good marriage, or a spotless house.

    Bow where is my damn pill ???

    1. Wow you sound bitter… um most of these ads are were PRIOR to women’s lib most of the ads refer to housewives. You just wanted a place to blab your frustration.

  7. I can't stop laughing... your captions are gold! :-)

  8. Interesting history......but now America has gone the OTHER WAY! Everyone's addicted to pills, everyone's divorced, and men don't have the jobs. What does that say about America?

    I think we are confused. Women wanted family and have secure marriage in the 50's. Today they cant find men with any money or career. Single motherhood is 40% of how kids are raised now. Women are longing for any relationship that endures. Its very bipolar society.

    what is the answer? No more pills but also not more marriage and divorce. That's why so many young people now practice polygamy with multiple partners. White culture is lost again. Women are lost. Maybe the answer lies in the uncomfortable middle....a world where people realize they want husbands and family, their new priority, and they realize to have it they have to sacrifice part of themselves. But they also need freedom, but not to leave the relationship or cope with drugs, but maybe to experience it finally in a healthy limited way with their partner.....the way marriage and relationships used to function 50 years ago.

    1. Maybe you missed the entire point, but these ads are from 50 years ago. Tranquilizing your wife so she will perform housework and, ahem, companionship without complaint *is* white culture. You want to go back to those days of drugging women and institutionalizing those who refuse to comply? The good old days were horrific. White culture is soulless and bleak.

  9. As a boy growing up in the 50's and 60's I was forced to take Ritalin for years. It wasn't just women.

    1. No shit, Sherlock. The page is about how there were a ridiculous amount of ads targeted at men with the message "Get your woman under control with this," not "drugs that were only prescribed to women."

  10. Some of these drugs are fun downers, some are absolute horrible garbage antipsychotics. All are pretty addictive. Still valium is a good warm hug sometimes

  11. You for got codeine cough syrup's and Benzedrine in halers. "A little chew will do ya'".

  12. Would love to see the sources where these came from! I have had a hard time finding the original ones.


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