Fascinating Womanhood was originally published in 1963 by Helen Andelin and was based on a set of booklets published in the 1920s and ’30s. Since its publication, it has sold two million copies. Depending on your side of the feminist coin, Fascinating Womanhood is often either used to describe the proper role of women in the home or seen as a surefire way to ignite the feminist in even those who would rather bake a cake during the revolution.
One of the more known elements of the book, and something that is often circulated on the internet and discussed in women’s studies classes, is an abbreviated list of dos and don’ts for women collected from between the pages of Fascinating Womanhood.
And while I have to assume that some women do find this list to be sound advice, I do not. In fact, it does little to promote equality and partnership in marriage, but rather it is centered on male dominance. In fact, I find some of these elements of this book just as insulting to men as women. So I’m going to take this sucker line by line and give a modern day husband’s response to the 1963 Fascinating Womanhood’s dos and don’ts.
Don’t try to change him.
Ha! Ha! Yes, you should! You should be trying to change each other! The fact is, change is a huge part of marriage and family. The person that you marry is going to change. They are going to grow and progress, and your job as husband and wife is to support those changes, encourage the good ones, and help each other squash out the bad ones.
I’m sorry, but if you think the person you married is some never-changing hunk of perfectly crafted stone, you are wrong. This is not to say that you need to marry a fixer-upper, but change should be expected in marriage, and if either person doesn’t like it, then marriage isn’t for you.
Don’t show indifference, contempt, or ridicule toward his masculine abilities, achievements, or ideas.
Wait…so if the ideas are masculine, then your husband needs your 100% support — is that what she is saying here? Or is it that I’m not secure enough to handle criticism when I do something hyper-masculine and totally douchey? No. Listen, masculinity does not make a man’s ideas superior. I’m sorry. Perhaps this is a clever way to say that women are supposed to fake an interest in what a man does and says because they are…the man’s ideas? No, I’m not buying that either. My wife is into a lot of things that I’m not. And I am into a lot of things she doesn’t really care about. That’s just two people coming together. I’d change this to “show interest in ideas that both partners share and support each other in all other positive aspirations.” Yes, that sounds nice.
Don’t try to excel him in anything which requires masculine ability.
Oh shit! No! No! If you want to take up drag car racing, bear wrestling, or become the next American Ninja Warrior, go for it. If that makes your husband uncomfortable, tell him to deal with it. There is no masculine ownership. There are just abilities. It’s time we all realized that.
Don’t let the outside world crowd you for time to do your homemaking tasks well.
Wait…is she saying that your first obligation is to homemaking? Listen, in 2013 40% of all households with children under the age of 18 include mothers who are either the sole or primary source of income for the family. Sorry, guys, bringing in the check isn’t what it used to be. Homemaking and income is a partnership of equal responsibility, and if a woman wants to put down the dishrag to pursue her education or some other thing outside the home enrichment, your family will only benefit.
Don’t have a lot of preconceived ideas of what you want out of life.
Screw that. Chase your dreams. I mean, don’t be afraid to let your dreams change and adapt. And if things aren’t what you want, work with your partner to make those dreams a reality.
Don’t stand in the way of his decisions or his law.
Yeah…but what if is his decisions, or law, are stupid. I’m not saying you have to be a jerk about it, but if someone in the marriage is making a boneheaded decision, husband or wife, it’s best to speak up.
Accept him at face value.
You need to trust each other, but if you have questions about his intentions, it’s best to ask them. In today’s day and age, we can freely communicate our concerns and ask questions of each other. Cool?
Admire his manliness.
I think all men like a compliment, but you don’t need to discuss his masculinity as if it’s some sacred thing. How about this? Admire each other because, you know, love.
Recognize his superior strength and ability.
No. Please don’t. In fact, next time he squeezes a 9-pound child out of his body, you can compliment him on how strong he is. But until then, let’s just complete each other on our abilities and strengths, and realize that no one in the marriage is superior, penis or no penis. Deal?
Be a Domestic Goddess.
Let me know how that works out. In the meantime, talk to your husband about his goals and aspirations, ask him to do the same of you, and see if you can help support those goals inside and outside the home.
Revere your husband and honor his right to rule you and your children.
And that’s where we put on the brakes. No! No one rules anyone in marriage. Let’s put that thinking aside right now. In fact, anyone with children knows that half the time, they are the bosses. How about we rewrite this as “revere each other and work together to generate a home of love, support, and partnership.” Yeah…that’s better.
I’m a father, and while this list of dos and don’ts may have made a lot of sense in 1963, right now, it doesn’t. I’m sorry. This is an egalitarian age that takes two people sharing responsibility and working with their strengths. It’s about partnership and not dominance. And honestly, that’s a good thing. Two people loving each other and working together, equally, is absolutely beautiful.