Sunday, February 15, 2015

The Stepford Husband

 

 

Where is the picture perfect town of Stepford? And what is it about this pretty postcard place that brings out the very best and the very worst in your nearest and dearest?

 

Katharine Ross in the film adaptation of The Stepford Wives (1975)

 

All the beautiful people live in Stepford, Connecticut, an affluent suburban Eden populated with successful, satisfied husbands and their beautiful, dutiful wives. For Joanna Eberhart, a recent arrival with her husband and two children, it all seems too perfect to be true -- from the sweet, accommodating Welcome Wagon lady to all those cheerful, friendly faces in the supermarket checkout lines. But just beneath the town's flawless surface, something is sordid and wrong -- something abominable with roots in the local Men's Association. And it may already be too late for Joanna to save herself from being devoured by Stepford's hideous conformity. 

 

Good Katharine Ross...

 

The Stepford Wives by Ira Levin concerns a town where the women happily go about cleaning, doing laundry and cooking gourmet meals to please their creepy husbands. The main difference is that the homes of Stepford are kept unusually clean by wives who are unusually beautiful and unusually buxom. Unfortunately, Joanna, the feminist newcomer to this idyllic community, discovers that the Stepford Wives are not real at all. They are robots, created by a neighbor who designed animatronics at Disneyland. The men of Stepford have replaced their spouses with more attractive replicas, ones impervious to the social influences of 1970s radical feminism.

 

Killer Robot Katharine Ross!

 

After the publication of Levin's dark novella in 1972, it was adapted for the screen in 1975 and the adjective “Stepford” soon entered everyday use (“blandly conformist and submissive” says the Collins English Dictionary). No such place called "Stepford" exists in Connecticut, or anywhere in America, yet "Stepford" exists in the mind's eye as a patriarchal fantasy and a feminist's nightmare. When the 1975 film version came out it was met with outrage and boycott by some in the feminist movement. They saw it as an ironic fantasy for men threatened by the bra-burning forces of sexual liberation and equal opportunity.  At the premiere in 1975, the film's director Bryan Forbes was assaulted with an umbrella by a woman whom he described as a "militant libber".  Forty years later, in February 2015, the premise still holds up as a biting satire about perfection and the dark side of the American dream. 

 

Replace her with a robot? You must be a misogynist.

The term Stepford Wives has become a household word in the course of thirty some years since its inception. Though no such town exists in Connecticut, the state of mind in the code of a Stepford Wife remains a point of debate between those who celebrate homemaking versus those who feel domestic chores are a patriarchal conspiracy to keep women from entering professional careers.

Read more at: http://www.stepfordwives.org/diary/stepfordwife-com-guide-to-the-stepford-movies/ | Stepford Wives Community Bulletin : To Serve Man is Not A Cookbook, it's a Pleasure!
The term Stepford Wives has become a household word in the course of thirty some years since its inception. Though no such town exists in Connecticut, the state of mind in the code of a Stepford Wife remains a point of debate between those who celebrate homemaking versus those who feel domestic chores are a patriarchal conspiracy to keep women from entering professional careers.

Read more at: http://www.stepfordwives.org/diary/stepfordwife-com-guide-to-the-stepford-movies/ | Stepford Wives Community Bulletin : To Serve Man is Not A Cookbook, it's a Pleasure!
The term Stepford Wives has become a household word in the course of thirty some years since its inception. Though no such town exists in Connecticut, the state of mind in the code of a Stepford Wife remains a point of debate between those who celebrate homemaking versus those who feel domestic chores are a patriarchal conspiracy to keep women from entering professional careers.

Read more at: http://www.stepfordwives.org/diary/stepfordwife-com-guide-to-the-stepford-movies/ | Stepford Wives Community Bulletin : To Serve Man is Not A Cookbook, it's a Pleasure!

 

But what exactly is a Stepford Husband? Do I mean blandly conformist and submissive? According to the Urban Dictionary, a Stepford Husband "provides, protects, and caters to his wife. He allows her to be a stay at home wife and mother. He supplies her with her weekly allowance of a substantial sum of money." Working in the context of Ira Levin’s original definition, a Stepford Husband is an entirely different species of animal altogether. He is conniving, angry, murderous and, most of all, he is misogynistic. A Stepford Husband wants his better half pressed, contained and in thrall to his ego. Liberated women, after all, are outspoken, aggressive, opinionated and stand as a threat to patriarchal delusions of order.   

 


Lockwood-Mathews Mansion in Norwalk, Connecticut (1868). Used as the Stepford Men's Association in the 1975 film.

 

And in this battle of the sexes, where do the murderous men of Stepford conspire? Behind the closed doors and smoke filled rooms of "the Stepford Men's Association" a 19th century New England mansion where women, if invited, arrive as themselves and exit looking like porn stars. It pains to tell you that there is no "Men's Association" for me to join in Midtown Atlanta. And, as the primary breadwinner in our household, I have no plans to duplicate She Who Must Be Obeyed in the image of my own chauvinism as some sort of sexual and domestic slave. She Who Must Be Obeyed is quite perfect as she is, thank you very much.

 

Just like Stepford?

 

But in the last two and half years of living in the whitewashed neighborhood of Virginia-Highland, the double barreled, gilded ghetto of white picket fences and clunking SUVs, I often find myself transported to that sepia hamlet. I can see the idyllic facade of Stepford in the faces of the trophy wives wandering the aisles of Trader Joe's market. And I can see its creeping menace, and fear of castration, in the grimacing faces of their bread-winning hubbies. Stepford is no place in America and yet it is every place in America. Welcome to Stepford. You have come to the right town.

    

Robots? Don't forget the lube oil.