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How to be a Perfect Woman
(as if having ovaries is not enough.)
From Perfect Woman
by William Wordsworth
I saw her upon nearer view,
A Spirit! yet a Woman too!
Her household motions light and free,
And steps of virgin liberty;
A countenance in which did meet
Sweet records, promises as sweet;
A creature not too bright or good
For human nature's daily food;
For transient sorrows, simple wiles,
Praise, blame, love, kisses, tears and smiles.
America is in a crisis.
Women today have absolutely no idea about how to be a real woman. At least, that's the idea. You ladies know the story, the so-called "women's magazines," the movies, tv, all trying to remind us what we're doing wrong.
The sad part is, we've really never been able to get it right. From the earliest holy writings, to the bible, to the fumblings around our "wandering" reproductive systems by Hippocrates and the "doctors" of the Dark Ages, to Freud's emabarrassing pokes around in our psyches, to the frightening marriage and health books of his time, of the depression, of the fifties, to about half of the magazine and print ads since, to, finally, Oprah, Dr. Laura and "The Rules," we've never been able to fulfill our role. However, we've been quite willing to part with our hard-earned dollars in the hopes of, at least, looking like we're trying.
You've heard the laments of politicians and crackpots who write letters to the editor decrying the state of today's youth. These kids today are so much worse than they used to be, well, when I was a kid. Music is mindless, immoral and dangerous. And nobody can tell the difference between men and women anymore. Of course, these statements come straight from the 1920's.
Merritt Brunies & His Friars Inn Orchestra; vocals by Lew King; recorded 3/2/1926.
Hey Hey women are going mad, today
Hey Hey fellers are just as bad, I'll say
Go anywhere, just stand and stare
You'll say they're bugs when you look at the clothes they wear
Masculine Women Feminine Men
which is the rooster which is the hen
It's hard to tell 'em apart today
Sister is busy learning to shave
Brother just loves his permanent wave
It's hard to tell 'em apart today
Girls were girls and boys were boys when i was a tot,
Now we don't know who is who or even whats what
Knickers and trousers baggy and wide,
Nobody knows who's walking inside
Those Masculine Women Feminine Men
I would wonder why we are still trying to instruct each other in proper womanhood, when history tells us "It'll never work, when I remember: oh, yeah. There's money to be made. Lots.
This has been floating around the web for awhile now.
How to be the perfect wife
"PREPARE THE CHILDREN
Take just a few minutes to wash the children's hands and faces (if they are small) comb their hair, and if necessary change their clothes. They are little treasures and he would like to see them look the part."
There's a nice parody of this little list of instructions here, at the Cozy Homepage
"PREPARE THE CHILDREN
Feed the children in advance of his arrival if possible. If this is not possible, feed them in the garage or storage shed."
Parody Two, from MUT3K : The Fascinating Womanhood Way
"Tom: As opposed to the Rampaging Manhood way...
Mike: ...or the Carefree Childhood way...
Crow: ...or the United Way
M & T: Huh?"
PREPARE THE CHILDREN:
Crow: For their daily beating at the hands of a desolate, drunken brute.
Take just a few minutes to wash the children's hands and faces (if they are small) comb their hair, and if necessary change their
clothes. They are little treasures and he would like to
Tom: Bury them.
Mike: Cower at his arrival.
look the part."
Problem is, this page is nowhere to be found in the book, "Fascinating Womanhood." From snopes.com: How to Be a Good Wife:
"The question here is whether the piece quoted above really came from a home economics textbook. Is it real, or is it yet another of those "look how far we've come" fabrications? Well, so far nobody has turned up the infamous textbook that supposedly included these ten steps. The list is often attributed to Helen B. Andelin's book Fascinating Womanhood, first published in 1963 to provide instruction in "The Art of Winning a Man's Complete Love," but no such list appears there either." The page does have some good quotes from the real book, however.
There is plenty of evidence for the existence of instruction books on being the perfect woman. Let us begin with the real Fascinating Womanhood.
"Fascinating Womanhood teaches a philosophy based on fundamental principles of truth, in form women can readily understand. A woman learns how she can win and maintain her husband's love and devotion while placing his happiness as a primary goal. She gains an image of the ideal woman, the kind of wife that will bring a man happiness and whom he can love and cherish. She learns how to become a fascinating woman, and how to understand men, their needs, problems and varying moods and how to react to them in a way to bring peace to the household, rather than discord. She also learns how to react when a man is thoughtless, unfair and harsh, and how to be charming when angry or hurt.
Fascinating Womanhood also teaches what the feminine role consists of and the happiness which comes with its fulfillment. Also taught is the masculine role, the respect due this divine calling and the man's great need to be the leader of his wife and children."
From the chapter, "Feminine Manner"
The fascinating part is that Helen Andelin, the authoress, still has an active website. As one opens the page, a photograph of a lovely woman pops up. However, this woman seems much too retro-hip to be for real. She sports a soft, almost bouffant hairdo, large, white hoop-earrings, and a large, pointed collar. I thought, "This is my mother in 1974." I'm not far off. There is also a picture of her husband, Aubrey Andelin, on the page of his book - Man of Steel and Velvet.
It didn't take long to figure out that Fascinating Womanhood was written in 1963 (no thanks to her website; I had to find out in Snopes). Well. Who can blame Helen? The kind of real woman she advocates is exactly the kind who would hide her age: From her "success stories:"
"Michael has controlled the money for about five years. I quit work about five and a half years ago and it wasn't long after that he started handling the money. One day we were making a grocery list. He was complaining and saying I hadn't done it right. I said, you act like I don't know what I'm doing (pouty). He said, Oh, honey I didn't mean to make you mad. I'm sorry (I hear that often now.) He asked me how much money I needed, he usually gave me $40 or $50. I said, Whatever you want to give me. He gave me $40, I didn't say anything. He gave me $60 and said, Is that enough? I didn't say anything. He said, I cannot give you any. Then I said in a helpless way, Well, if you can't give me any then I just can't go to the store, can I? I ended up with $80. If I had argued in a hateful, nagging way I would have done good to have gotten $40. Michael has always been cautious with money so this was very surprising!"
This lady describes this experience as a special moment. It occurs to me as I read this. There is benefit in "going back to the way women used to be (regardless of the fact they never were)" That is, I can learn how to manipulate him into thinking I am completely helpless, so I will never have to work for a living and will hopefully receive a lot of frivilous gifts.
Franc, I don't like jewelry, okay?
So what is Fascinating Womanhood still doing on the web?
Simple. The Moonies.
One may order a copy of "Fascinating Womanhood" from the Unification Church's Bookstore. No shit. Really. See for yourself: Divine Principle
Found on a "Unification News" site: For Panamanian Women
Yes, Fascinating Womanhood is some kind of bizarre cult (okay, I'm exaggerating) where Stepford-Wife-hopefuls gather to hear Helen's message. Submission to your husband and the realization of God's Plan for Ladies is your ticket to Heaven; both literal and marital. How could I ever have a problem with that? Of course, as I pointed out earlier, Helen is only one in a vast ocean of admonitions to today's woman to fulfill her biblical role.
Biblical Femininity: Do I Really Have to Obey Him?
"Bible verses that clearly teach we are to obey our husbands: (Eph 5:24 KJV) Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.
That's pretty plain, isn't it? The church is supposed to obey God by DOING WHAT HE SAID, so are the wives to OBEY WHAT OUR HUSBANDS SAY "in everything."
This is the most feminine website I have ever seen. Every page is littered with flowers, lace, hearts, bears and cursive, unreadable writing. I suppose Jesus likes it this way. Not that there's anything wrong with that.
The Total Woman, or as we used to call it, "The Totaled Woman," by Marabel Morgan, was my first real introduction to crackpottery and the joys of secondary appreciation; i.e.: "It's so bad it's almost good." My mother was given this book when it came out, and I would sit on the red, orange and gold shag carpet and listen to her chortle out passages from it. The book is famous for its advice to greet one's husband at the door in only plastic cling-wrap. Yes, blame her. She figured it was the best way to receive that new washer and dryer.
The Surrendered Wife
"Naturally, emotional connection, lack of tension, dignity, having kindness and being able to relax always trumped getting the chores done or having things my way all the time. To remind myself of my new priorities, I adopted the word "surrender" as my mantra, because it was shorter and more to the point than saying, "stop trying to control everything." I repeated "surrender" to myself silently over and over again."
Not just a book, but another Way of Life! (Do the Moonies know about this yet?) Laura Doyle, just as Helen Andelin, claims that by following her methods, you can "transform your marriage into the union you always dreamed was possible." In a nutshell, stop nagging, hold your tongue, let him take over the manly duties such as "all of the finances" and the man who wooed you will return. It seems that a costly, four-week series of seminars is necessary for one to fully understand these concepts.
Pretending I was already married to my compatriate, I took the quiz. Good news! I got an 85. (Maybe because the "right answers" are pretty darned obvious.) Guess I don't need the courses. Phew!
Does this mean I qualify as a real woman?
review written by Alleee, 07/2002.