Take my wife, try the veal, etc.
February 27, 2003 2:53 PM   Subscribe

Women in the Middle Ages [er, 1969] and now. Here are funny articles on money, work, sex and some other things, from the wonderful Pussycat Magazine. Women may have "come a long way, baby" - but have men? Do some of them still secretly approve of - or yearn for - the ideal woman of days gone by? Or, given the present climate of surrendered wives and secondary virginities, are there still some women who agree? [Even though I harbour a secret suspicion Pussycat Magazine is at least partially written by men...]
posted by Carlos Quevedo (12 comments total)
maybe this is a good place to remind anyone curious about post-modern romance to read a s byatt's possession (the main plot hinges on textual analysis, so i guess the film is pretty dire in comparison). i read it over a decade ago and thought it wonderful; i re-read it during the last couple of days and it's improved with time. byatt would claim, i think, that things can be a lot better for both sexes than they were a century ago (not the 60s, but not the middle ages either).
(interesting comparison of british and american editions)
posted by andrew cooke at 3:23 PM on February 27, 2003

Women may have "come a long way, baby" - but have men?

No. But modern feminists will tell you they have nothing to do with that.
posted by WolfDaddy at 3:45 PM on February 27, 2003

Oh my goodness...that "surrendered wife" stuff is scary!

The control women wield at work and with children must be left at the front door of any marriage [...] a step-by-step guide that teaches women how to:
  • Give up unnecessary control and repsonsibility
  • Resist the temptation to criticize, belittle or dismiss their husbands
  • Trust their husbands in every aspect of marriage - from sexual to financial...and more.

That's funny, I thought such a step-by-step guide already existed - it's called "The Normative Patriarchal Society That Has Forced Women Into Submissive Second Class Roles For Ages And Has Only Recently Started To Be Dethroned"...
posted by freebird at 4:02 PM on February 27, 2003

# Resist the temptation to criticize, belittle or dismiss their husbands

What's the point of being married then?
This is why most men actually want to get married as quickly as possible; they just yearn to be criticized, belittled and dismissed as often as possible.
posted by spazzm at 4:10 PM on February 27, 2003

Miguel apparently requires an alias to sate his posting jones
posted by scottymac at 4:10 PM on February 27, 2003

I've recently re-examined a lot of traditional male-female relationships from a purely biological sense, i.e., women are compelled to seek out the best sperm and best provider and men want their sperm to be used. Marriage gave women support for offspring and men (legal) exclusivity (instead of "if you mate with another man I will kill you.")
The sexual revolution turned that on its head. Women are still compelled to seek out the best sperm (based on some inner knowledge) *and* to seek out the best provider, often not the same man (based on his prosperity and stability.)
They often *do not* wish to *ever* mate with the provider male (the "sexless marriage"); but are still compelled to seek out males that "turn them on."
This has been great for sperm donor males.
Provider males are finally coming around to see that they are getting royally boned in this deal, and so are demanding paternity tests at birth to assure themselves that they are dealing with their offspring, not the children of some punk in a leather jacket who hangs out at the laundry. If they find out that they are just being used as a walking credit card, they get divorced before paternity becomes final.

The bottom line: biology vs. the law. who wins?
posted by kablam at 4:52 PM on February 27, 2003

Well, the thing to remember is that above all, people are flexible, men and women. While there may be a genetic tendancy to find the 'good provider' for women, the amount women do so varies, and the idea of a 'good provider' can vary widely between different groups and different classes.

Just remember that flexibility of behavior is one of human's strongest qualities, and you can't go wrong.
posted by stoneegg21 at 5:48 PM on February 27, 2003

The "surrendered wife" thing sounds weird and backward, but when you take away the obvious sexism and apply the concept to both parties in a marriage, it does have some merits. Not all battles are worth winning, and some are not even worth fighting. Marriages are a lot more fun when you're not fighting with your partner about stuff that doesn't f'ing matter in the long run.

Of course this approach assumes genuine friendship between partners, and not just a marriage based on great tits, or a father for the children.

Let your partner win one once in awhile.
posted by filifera at 7:45 PM on February 27, 2003

A Surrendered Single recognizes that if she wants to attract the man with whom she can develop intimacy, she cannot control relationships. She cannot determine who asks her out, how he'll do it, when he'll call or e-mail, or if he'll commit to her. A Surrendered Single may have unwittingly been trying to control, manipulate and force relationships previously, but no more.
She doesn't hunt for Mr. Right–she attracts him.

think i might do this myself actually.
posted by sgt.serenity at 10:23 PM on February 27, 2003

For some couples, discipline and spanking are important and perhaps essential methods of achieving this harmony. Fondly and firmly.
posted by madamjujujive at 12:39 AM on February 28, 2003

Do some of them still secretly approve of - or yearn for - the ideal woman of days gone by?

Carlos, that supposed article from a home ec. textbook may be totally fabricated. The textbook it appeared in has never been found. My suspicion is that it's a parody written since. Snopes has it as undetermined (search under "how to be a good wife" on www.snopes.com for the debunking).

I do think our general level of consciousness has changed in the last 35 years. Men are doing more housework. Staying at home with the kids is considered an option available to both men and women, not the woman's destiny. But that's in general, as a society.

I have a 39 year old brother who really thinks he shouldn't have to do any housework though his wife works full time and they have four children.

A former female friend of mine did a lot of whining about how it was a man's job to take care of a woman. Her plan for her life was to shop, dance, and have fun - and to get married, so she'd have a husband to take care of all the hard and boring responsibilities. Now 40, she hates her job, and has no education, no savings... and no husband.

There were jerks and idiots 35 years ago and there will always be jerks and idiots. Meanwhile the rest of us have tapped into the ideas that we should look upon each other as partners and equals, and be responsible for our own laundry and destinies, and our lives are the richer for it.

What struck me as I read all of the linked materials is that the good advice contained within is equally applicable and useful for both genders. Courtesy, respect etc. are good things. Taking your lunch to work saves money. Good grooming and good listening skills attracts the opposite gender (or the same one if that's your preference).

I'll gladly take this kind of advice, and leave the gender-defined rules to the those Surrendered and Promise Keeping types. They seem to like being cast in restrictive, artificial little moulds. I don't.
posted by orange swan at 2:16 PM on February 28, 2003

After reading the beginning of the surrendered wife thing, it seemed to me that it was common sense advice under a controversial name, to garner more media attention or something. The suggestions, along the lines of, don't try to control everything, don't constantly criticize, don't be a backseat driver, don't buy his clothes for him - all seemed reasonable. But the more I read, the more she seemed to really fetishize the idea that she was the Surrendered Wife - she used it as a mantra, she started "surrender circles" and a "surrender seminar" - she really seemed to get off on the idea of being submissive.

It occurred to me that perhaps there was a reason - she was an overly controlling person to start with, and this messed up a lot of her relationships (as it can do) - so instead of learning to be part of a partnership, actually engaging with another person, she switches to the other possible role in her scenario. And in a way she maintains control, but now it's control over herself - like an anorexic, she clearly dictates what's allowed and what's not, but instead of doing it outwardly to her husband who gets annoyed, she does it inwardly to herself, and everyone's happy.

to which I can say, whatever works for you, but I'd prefer relationships to be interactions, not stances.
posted by mdn at 3:49 PM on February 28, 2003

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