Disco Grandma

Way Off Bass reprints 1988 advice on Writing for Children and Teenagers as “a perfect example of reverse-sexism/racism/ageism/whatever-ism.”

If you have a story in which Mom is in the kitchen while Dad is repairing the car, and Betsy has just returned from her ballet lessons at the same time Rob has come home from a rough and tumble game of football – you can be certain that the story will be rejected. . . Let at least one of the characters reflect today’s thinking. Dad might do the cooking because Mom’s job does not permit her to get home in time. Don’t become absurd by going overboard. We don’t want Dad cooking, Mom repairing the car, Betsy playing football, and Rob taking ballet lessons!

. . . Gone are the white-haired grandmothers who always wear aprons and cook turkeys on Thanksgiving while Grandpa sits in the living room, smoking a pipe and showering his family with a supreme knowledge of how to live one’s life. More likely, widower Grandpa might be shuttled off to a nursing home because his presence is making life difficult in the home, or else Grandma has no time to bake because every Monday she takes her disco dancing lessons.

Why can’t Grandpa bake on Mondays and disco dance on Tuesdays?

About Joanne


  1. She can’t bake Mondays and take lessons Tuesdays because the nubile young things in Tuesday’s class make comments about her so she doesn’t feel comfortable.
    And she can’t bake Tuesday because she pulled a muscle making a fool of herself on Monday.

  2. Walter E. Wallis says:

    And grandpa is busy trying to keep an engineering practice going while envying the electricians comfortably retired on their yachts.

  3. I’ve got a sneaking suspicion that the grandma/disco thing was tossed in at the last minute just to see if anyone was paying attention.

  4. I don’t see what the fuss is about. Recommending that people don’t use only traditional stereotypes is reverse sexism? The author explicitly warns against going overboard and reversing all the roles. If merely failing to faithfully replicate the 1950s advertiser’s ideal family image is “reverse sexism”, then that doesn’t leave any room at all for a non-sexist way of life.

  5. Grandpa is in the living room smoking a pipe, because he just got back from chemotherapy and the medicinal herb eases his nausea…