Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Wonderful World of Wifedom: More of the Same

In my "Marriage and Family" class today, (where, predictably, we study the "dynamics" of a "healthy" marriage and family) the prof gave us a photocopied handout of a 1955 article in Housekeeping Monthly magazine, entitled, "The Good Wife's Guide", a instructive list of duties and tasks that the wife must complete in order to please her husband, sustain her marriage, and thus conserve her status as a domestic slave:

Numero uno, the most obvious, states: Have dinner ready. "This is a way of letting him know you have been thinking of him and are concerned about his needs." writes HouseKeeping.

#2: Be happy to see him.

#3: Prepare the children....comb their hair if the time of his arrival, eliminate all noise of the washer, dryer, or vacuum. Try to encourage the children to be quiet.

#4: Make the evening his. Never complain if he goes out to dinner, or places of entertainment without you.

Highlights (and my personal favorites) include:
  • Make him comfortable. Have him lean back in a comfortable chair or have him lie down in the bedroom. Have a cool or warm drink ready for him.

  • Arrange his pillow and offer to take off his shoes. Speak in a low, soothing, and pleasant voice.

  • Listen to him. You may have a dozen important things to tell him, but the moment of his arrival is not the time...remember, his topics of conversation are more important than yours.

  • Don't question him about his actions or question his judgement or integrity...remember,he is the master of the have no right to question him.

The writer then adds a nice little bow to the entire piece, ending with: "A good wife always knows her place."

Of course, the class (majority of whom are women) took turns lashing out at the article, lamenting on how ridiculous and degrading they found it.

And it is.

It's just that this 50's article still isn't too far from the mindset of most women today. Sure, morons like to go on and on about "how far we've come" and how many "choices" women have; but most of these women choose to get married early, and sit on their asses for a life of laziness and luxury as a housewife. Most gals still believe in the very same marital values that this article describes, no matter how many times they'd deny it aloud. Because it's still an unconscious thing: women still fantasize about being brides in Vera Wang gowns and tieras. They still kill themselves to cook and clean and work and be Stepford soccer-mom and a fantastic sexual partner and be thin and attractive and fresh-looking and sexy all AT THE SAME TIME. As long as Kelly Ripa (and other bimbotic, celebrity mom/wifes) continue to bounce around Beverly Hills in Chanel and wonderbread babies on their arm; proving to America with a gushing smile that, yes, it is possible to Have It All--then the myth of the Perfect Wife lives on.

And we will continue to look articles in the so-called "women's magazines" with titles like, "How to Tell If He's Into You" and "The Naughty Sex He Craves" to tell us what be and how to be and what to do in order to Keep Our Man. Its just that in 1955, we had Housekeeping Monthly. And now we have Cosmopolitan.