After viewing roughly 1.2 million promos for it during the Winter Olympics, I decided to give NBC's new prime time show The Marriage Ref a chance during last night's "special sneak preview." Sure, the promos made it look like a boring, offensive excuse to parade NBC celebrities in front of the cameras and portray marriage as a hilarious prison, but Jerry Seinfeld created it and he used to have a show that was pretty funny. Yeah. USED to.
Call it a feminist coincidence: Two books published in 1963 examine gender, sex, and marriage, but arrive at diametrically opposite conclusions. In The Feminine Mystique, Betty Friedan complains that "the only passion, the only pursuit, the only goal a woman is permitted is the pursuit of a man." Meanwhile, Helen Andelin's Fascinating Womanhood urges women to embrace that primary passion, because it leads to ultimate fulfillment and complete happiness. We all know how The Feminine Mystique changed the world for countless women. But Fascinating Womanhood, while lesser-known than Friedan's polemic, has had its own powerful impact on notions of women and their potential.
Now in its sixth edition, Fascinating Womanhood has sold more than 2 million copies. Over the years, the book has grown from less than 200 pages to more than 400, with most of the additional pages featuring testimonials from women whose miserable marriages were saved once they began following the book's advice. And Andelin's legacy is still very much in effect—not only for the adherents who blog about the book's wisdom or enroll in online "Marriage, the Fascinating Way" classes offering personalized advice on how to act like a little girl, but in the female infantilization enthusiastically embraced by popular culture.
Audrey Bilger's article "Wife Support" appeared in the Art/See issue of Bitch and discussed how the word "wife" was evolving with the gay marriage movement. The article caught the eye of Seatte talk show the Menage, who intereviewed Audrey in December 2009. Here's the full rambunctious interview with hosts Julie Mains and Jennifer Austin. You can listen to the Menage online and read more on gay marriage by Audrey Bilger at the Huffington Post ("Why Straight People Should Be Following the Prop. 8 Federal Trial").
Transcript available for download
Have you been wondering what would be the perfect metaphor for being single in your forties? Well now, just in time for Valentine's Day, Lori Gottlieb and her godsend of a new book (Marry Him: a case for settling for Mr. Good Enough) have answered it: it's like irresponsibly drinking before driving, and then causing serious bodily harm to yourself or someone else in a horrific accident. No seriously:
I only ever flipped through Archie comics while waiting in line to buy groceries, bored by the overwhelming whiteness of Riverdale and confused by Jughead's hat. But it always seemed weird that a series about such a squeaky-clean golly-gee group of teenagers revolved around something as potentially controversial as vague polyamory. The series is over 70 years old, and its technology has changed with the times (Betty blogs and Veronica snaps pictures with her camera phone) but its gender politics are completely outdated. Betty's worship of Archie is portrayed throughout the series as admirable loyalty rather than creepy unrequited dependency, while Archie's inability to retain even a casual commitment to just one girl is framed as… completely normal. So this week's Douchebag Decree goes to you, Archie Andrews, you sly dog. Make up your mind.