Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Stepford Wives--The Club!

For those of who who missed the Stepford Wives (and I am still trying to purge the 2004 remake from my mind--this post is only going to reference the Ira Levin novel and the 1975 film), the story is pretty simple.  An aspiring photographer, her lawyer husband, and their two daughters leave Manhattan for the suburb of Stepford, CT.  Joanna, the photographer, notices that almost every woman in Stepford is obsessed with domestic chores, dresses like a runway model, and looks gorgeous.  And they idolize their husbands.  However, there are a few exceptions--a couple of new arrivals who have other interests.  And then, they change.  Finally, just as Joanna is about to flee, she finds out the truth.  The local Men's Association has been bumping off the wives and replacing them with docile, beautiful robots.  The story was intended as a satire, and a warning about the need for feminism in a world where women are still expected to fill that role and be nothing more.
It was never intended as a suggestion.
While Googling the book and movie, I found there is an actual Stepford Wives Organization.  Turns out it's a group of housewives in Connecticut (surprise!) who have taken the Levin novel as a how-to guide, rather than a warning.  The group emphasizes submission to husbands, dressing conservatively but feminine outside the home and like some sleazy pin-up in the bedroom, working only if the husband asks, and being the perfect stay-at-home mom.  From their website:

Stepford Wives Organization is a website that supports the idea of the homemaking wife who is not only the cheery domestic goddess, but a fantastic dresser, neat as a pin, a lady with good manners, and a gracious, well-behaved, obedient wife who always puts her man first.
Stepford Wives Organization supports and promotes the Stay-At-Home-Mother.
Stepford Wives Organization celebrates the good housekeeping days of the 1950s.
Stepford Wives Organization also believes in the freedom for anyone and everyone to pursue their dreams. We never have a cross word to say about other people's decisions to lead their lives. If we have an opinion- which is seldom- we speak quietly to our husbands in the privacy of our homes. If we have an opinion on the matter, it would be our husband's opinion.

My personal favorite is the "Dressing" section--women are not only encourage to diet down to a frail figure, but are expected to adopt a hyperfeminine, "Daddy's Little Girl" look--ruffles, bows, tight dresses and skirt suits.  First of all, asking a grown woman to dress like "Daddy's Little Girl"--yeah, there's nothing pervy there.  Secondly, what message are we trying to send?  Most men would rather have a smart, competent woman as a lifelong companion, rather than a simpering idiot whose every thought is how can I please my may-unn.
In the "Pleasing Men" section, they take advice from the anti-feminist backlash literature of the 1960s and 1970s, including Fascinating Womanhood (written as a direct response to The Feminine Mystique), and Marabel Morgan's Total Woman.  Their etiquette section even goes so far as to suggest that women skip dinner in order to be on call while their husbands eat!  (And what could be better to keep that trim waist than living on the brink of an eating disorder?)
Now, I don't live in Connecticut, and these women wouldn't give me the time of day (From their blog: "none of us are Muslims or Jews"), so why does this bother me?  Because women like this vote (although they will only do so if they vote like their husbands)!  They have an Internet presence!  They may have countless people who agree with them!  (There is a blog called Ladies Against Feminism that wants to repeal the Nineteenth Amendment.  And then there's Debi Pearl, and her Created to Be His Help Meet, which essentially advocated the same thing.  People like this exist.)  While it's ideal for a husband and wife to mutually respect each other, organizations such as this are not advocating respect between two adults of comparable intelligence and ability, but a domineering man having complete sway over the simpering, passive, submissive girl-child that he now controls.  Even under the best of circumstances that can lead to resentment.  And when the circumstances are not the best--domestic abuse, isolation from friends and family, marital rape, financial control...
Again, please note that all links are for informational purposes ONLY.  I do not advocate any of the views presented in any of the websites linked. 


  1. Is there any chance that the website is a satire?

    Unfortunately, there are plenty of other websites that aren't. Debi Pearl is one example - the only thing more horrifying than her marital advice is her child discipline advice (which basically consists of carrying around some plumbing line so that you can hit your child from infancy onward).

  2. Since they link to Fox News and Godly Womanhood sites, I think it's highly unlikely.


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