Tuesday, January 10, 2012

My Feminist Rant of the Day

Recently I found a link to a website on Pinterest that just pushed all my feminist buttons and I just needed to have a good rant about it. It is a cutesy blog about "strengthening marriages," but to my admittedly very jaded eyes it just screams "ignored wives trying to get self-absorbed and checked-out husbands to actually acknowledge that they exist."

I freely admit that the concept of "dating" your spouse is a really good one-- I've always been an advocate of that-- but the idea (which the website implies) that it is entirely the wife's responsibility to plan dates, "spice up the marriage" and "focus on her husband" really rubs me the wrong way. I'm all for dating, but whatever happened to just getting some food and having an honest, real conversation for three hours? Or maybe having your husband take a turn putting in some effort to plan something fun and creative? You know, like a loving, mature relationship of equal partners? But beyond these *minor* irritations, it's just plain hard for me to not instantly hate a website where one of the writers lists as the craziest thing she's ever done: 

"Get ready for it..........I modeled a swimsuit on TV just 8 weeks after delivering my triplets!" 

Well you know how I react when that happens... Seriously?! Ohmygosh, I just HATE it when I do that. My DEAR hubby was so {embarassed} for me when I did that. ROFL! You are SO {crazy}!. .... So way to pin a rose on your nose. Yes, I'm a bitter old woman. I think we've established that. [Disclaimer: I make no pretense to being impartial, objective or fair in my representation of this website. I reserve the right to quote only the *best* portions of said website.]

So here is their intro:


"We began this lil’ venture of dating our spouses, just like anyone else…..waaay back before we said, “I Do”! Back when dates were the most important element of our life and held a high status over all else. {WINK} Being at the top of our lists, the focus on dating helped us fall MADLY in love with the men we now call our DEAR husbands." 

I don't know about you, but dates were always the most important element of my life and held a high status over all else. {Wink} Dumb things like my education, developing my talents or trying to contribute to the world were always on back burner, FOR SURE.
 
"We all know that marriage can become TOO comfortable {a.k.a. routine} and dating your amazing spouse – the way you did when first falling in love… is the sure-fire way to keep that SPARK in marriage!" 

And that means crazy, over-the-top dates like having dinner on a table set up in the middle of a traffic median. What better way to fan the flames of romance?

Lest you question their cred in giving marriage advice, they have pictures of each of the "divas" posted to prove their attractiveness. http://www.thedatingdivas.com/meet-the-divas/  But wait... one of these things is not like the other. No, wait. They all are. Exactly like the others. Over-made-up. But who could love a woman without piles of make-up on? Whew. You wouldn't want to get marriage advice from anyone who was unattractive. {Eek!}


Their website tells us how all of these girls had the same "problem":

"Each of them was married to a super-duper hottie, of course, but they were discovering that they were letting LIFE take over...and weren't focusing on their husbands as much as they would like!"

Gasp! Oh no! Everyone knows that a woman's greatest purpose in life is to focus on her husband! How could they? The obvious solution? Over-planned cutesy dates, making sure to choose their husbands' favorite take-out spots instead of their own. (Because we all know how selfish those mommies are. Stuck on themselves and their babies! Hardly any sex at all! Good grief, what's a man to do? Any problems are always due to the wife not focusing on her husband like she needs to. Duh.) P.S. I'm glad they reassured us that their husbands are "hotties." Why would you waste time on a guy who wasn't physically attractive above all else? That is the most important thing in a person, right?


Before I get angry responses that there is nothing wrong with devoting time/attention to your husband, craftsy-ness, "not letting yourself go," doing nice things for your husband, being unselfish in a relationship or actually planning a date, I freely acknowledge and concur with all of the above. I'm sure many of the date ideas mentioned on the website are really good and would be fun. I'm not implying that women should just ignore the needs of others, be selfish, be ashamed of being craftsy or promote boring/serious dates that aren't "super-cute" (well, at least not too much). But my personal experience is that way too many women with families become totally caught up in the needs of others and lose track of the fact that they are people too, with needs and feelings of their own.

I guess my beef with the whole thing is the implication that it is the wife's responsibility to "focus on her husband" and that if the quality of the relationship is sliding it is because she needs to make things great for him, rather than a relationship being a partnership and built between two people. And I think there is a very strong cultural bias that makes women feel like they are failing personally and need to fix something if their partner is disengaged or not meeting their needs. I'm not implying that you can or should try to make someone else change, but you shouldn't immediately assume that it is your fault because you are failing or doing something wrong either. Each partner needs to attend to his/her own needs, their partner's needs and their needs as a couple and work through those together.

"Focusing on your husband" can perpetuate a cycle where the wife over-functions in their relationship (often while under-functioning in regards to meeting her own needs) to desperately try to get the husband to engage. Meanwhile, the husband habitually under-functions in the relationship and slides along while his wife tries to compensate for him ignoring what should be his contribution to the relationship. She pursues/he distances. She over-functions/he lets her take care of everything. (See Harriet Lerner's "The Dance of Anger," "The Dance of Intimacy," et al). And issues like that might need to be addressed more directly than by making sure your make-up is cute and you have an elaborate plan for your upcoming date. But that's just my nerdy philosophizing. And if you don't agree with me, at least you'll get some great marriage mileage out of the following ideas:

  1. http://www.thedatingdivas.com/just-the-two-of-us/hijack-kidnap-him/ Personally, I think handcuffing your spouse to your arm and dragging him to get take-out is always a good idea. What guy doesn't love being dragged to his favorite take-out spot in feathered handcuffs? Super-cute!!! {WINK} 
  2. http://www.thedatingdivas.com/kiirsten/lingerie-for-him/ Um, seriously? We all know the solution to a low female libido is not attention to HER sexual or emotional needs, sharing, emotional connection or feeling heard, but just Batman underpants. ("But honey, I found this great idea on a website...")
  3. This one is particularly barfy. http://www.thedatingdivas.com/kiirsten/after-the-baby/ The thing every new mom needs to be told after surviving nine months of pregnancy and delivering a baby is to...
  • Be sure to lay out your husband's pj's for him so he can relax
  • Send notes to him "from the baby" on his phone all day long
  • Don't talk about how hard your day was
  • "Dress up cute for your man and be there for him. They understand what you are going through so they will be happy with anything that you do. So dressing up cute (or even a little skimpy – ahem, especially if you are nursing – WINK) would lead to other things without involving intercourse [while you're on your post-baby 'pelvic rest']."
  • Buy him a Willow Tree statue of a dad holding his baby with a cute note attached. [What every man dreams of! Okay, who knows? Maybe there are men that are into that kind of thing....]
  • And since no man could possibly survive six weeks without sex, they will prep you on how to care-take him there too. Phew. Because the most important thing you need to think about during those first six weeks is NOT recovering from a major medical event, adjusting to parenthood, trying to maintain your sanity with no sleep, meeting the needs of a new baby, adjusting to breastfeeding, recovering from stitches/tearing/afterpains or wondering whether you (including your nether parts) will ever feel/look/function the same again. (Or maybe wondering how YOU will survive without "getting some" for six weeks or how it will work if a baby screams in the middle of it or if it will ever not be painful post-episiotomy or tearing.) No, the most important thing is making sure your husband can survive that six week "dry spell" while you are "selfishly" wrapped up in the baby. Because the only possible reason for a woman to exist is to do cutesy things for her husband, provide sex and have no needs/thoughts/feelings of her own, right?? And everyone knows the only way that a women feels fulfilled is by having a man who wants to have sex with her. 
I'm not saying that you don't need to include him in parenting, address your husband's feelings or his physical/emotional/sexual needs upon becoming a father, but the implication that it's the wife's responsibility to anticipate/fix everything is downright pukey to me. How about a simple, "Honey, this is what I am feeling and needing right now. What are you feeling and needing right now?"

Sure, I could also make snarky comments about the men's websites full of tips on "lookin' good for your spouse," how to date your wife, "spice it up" and make sure your wife is "fulfilled" during the six weeks she is on pelvic rest after a baby, except-- oh wait. There aren't any. Actually, I lied. There are a few websites on "How to Date your Wife," but the only ones I could find were either written or co-written by women. You mean we have a cultural void in that area? You're kidding! Too bad.

11 comments:

Tenise said...

I love you. Hahaha.

janeannechovy said...

Preach it, sister. Good heavens, the "divas" make me sad.

rlmquest said...

That was so funny! Now I don't feel so guilty about not doing my husbands laundry, never making his lunch, heaven forbid ever ironing his clothes and I don't own one piece of lingerie.

And he still loves me!

And I still love him!......how can I not....he does help me make the bed in the morning and sometimes makes it all by himself. It's the little things that count.

Lisa said...

Karen,

Don't know how I missed this post. Glad I found it. Your Awesome!

Lisa

Jadie said...

I threw up a little in my mouth reading about the "Divas." And you are absolutely right--underneath the barfiness is a sad, sad commentary on male/female relations.

Kimbra said...

I am not sure how I stumbled across your blog, probably because I was looking up The Dating Divas & you had quite a few links back to their site? Not sure. Anyhow – I stopped to read your post.

I was expecting to read a post praising this website and was shocked to see that it was actually a post bashing it instead. I had to sit back for a moment to digest what was written and then I noticed that you had a “Mormon Mommy Blog” button on your sidebar. That just made me more sad. Are you indeed LDS?

I wanted to reach out to you to share some insight that you might not be aware of. I hope you understand that this comes from a good place in my heart and when I saw the mormon blog button, I hoped you would not jump to conclusions or feel anything but a sense of understanding..

I, too, am LDS. So are all of the women who run the website, The Dating Divas. I am lucky enough to actually know a handful of them. One of the head gals running the whole thing was in my old ward. She was {and still is} one of the most outgoing people I have ever met! She just exudes happiness, confidence, and love. Her marriage was one that many people envied. I consider myself in a pretty happy marriage, but these two just seemed to stay in the honeymoon phase all the time. Not in a way that made others uncomfortable, but in a way that made others want to treat their OWN spouse better. Seeing the two of them together was really special, a wonderful team effort.

I remember her saying once to me that she thought her husband and her needed to step it up again in the courting department. I think I just looked at her dumbfounded. Lol She then went on to explain that she has never been happier but that she and her husband used to take turns planning fun & creative dates & that they had become a little lax in the past year with how crazy busy life gets once you get married. She just didn’t want to become a grumpy old couple who didn’t hold hands anymore. (Those are my words, not hers….she explained it in a way that probably would make a lot more sense.) Anyway, she was determined to show love to her husband on a daily basis….and he was already doing that. I don’t think I have met anyone else who was showered with more roses or compliments than this gal – all from her husband.

My husband and I went on a few group dates with her and a bunch of her friends –most of those gals became part of the diva team on that website after my friend moved away. I can tell you from a first-hand experience that all of their marriages were extremely happy. I think it’s easy to get a honest glimpse into marriages just by being around a couple one time. We were around all of them at least four times and I have never had so much fun. Lots of laughing going on! ☺

These couples have completely normal marriages, actually, not true - they have above average happy marriages. They watch TV, go to movies, go out to dinner, etc. They just also throw in curveballs often enough that it keeps the spice alive. If you browse the site further, you will see that they take turns posting creative dates. They don't do an all out date like that every weekend, but like I said before, they do it often enough that things are still fun for them.

Kimbra said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kimbra said...

Your statement that these wives are ignored OR have absorbed or checked out husbands is definitely not true. Those couples have strong marriages that are the definition of a true partnership.

I winced when you spoke so unkindly about the gal who had triples. I thought back to the conversations I’ve had with this sweet woman who so desperately wanted children for years and year. She was one of the couples that went on our dates. They were finally blessed with triplets via Invitro but by having those triplets, it completely did a number on her little body. When she was asked to be on TV to help out with a show, she panicked but did it to help a friend out. I just don’t think she deserves someone to make fun of her helping another out. Imagine just having delivered three bowling balls, and wanting to wear nothing more than baggy sweaters to cover up your now sagging skin….but then having a friend in a bind when her models for her business cancelled right before appearing on a popular morning show. This sweet woman swallowed her pride and pitched in. Having had several children myself, and having gained quite a few pounds with each one, I would have been so embarrassed to put on a swimsuit in front of anyone. I don’t know if I would have been able to help a friend out if that was what was needed.

About their appearance - these girls aren’t overly made up. If you looked at the pictures again, you would see that one isn’t even wearing make-up. Granted, yes, they are all very attractive – but it’s a beauty that is both inside and out.

If you explored their site further, you would see that their husbands do equally as many things for the marriage as these gals do. Many of them have written guest posts or planned something which was highlighted in a post the divas put together. Their husbands aren’t bloggers – my own husband would die before posting his journal or pictures of us online. ☺ Anyway, knowing one of these gals really well and having spent times with a lot of the others, it’s definitely equal across the board. These ladies aren’t suffering from needing attention from their husbands nor are they craving for more. They have some of the healthiest marriages I’ve seen.

Kimbra said...

Their point isn’t to serve their husbands. Their point is to make sure that both halves are continuing to work on the relationship. They have stated that over & over again in different posts. Their husbands are completely supportive and do just as much as these ladies do.

They receive emails from men and women alike asking for advice in different areas. After receiving a ton of email asking for advice on spicing things up after having a baby – they put together a “Baby Week” with posts all about that. The post you were making fun of was actually a response to those women who wanted ideas for after the baby comes. Their intent is to help other couples and they obviously do it in their free time without pay on top of all of their crazy schedules.

These gals completely embrace & advocate communication, basic team work, etc. I am pretty sure they have raved about the popular Love Languages book which focuses on that as well and they recently wrote a book that helps couples work together to strengthen their marriage. It was released a few months ago and they have only received positive reviews.

I was able to have a really neat conversation with the head gal after she had moved away and started this website up. She shared with me some of the amazing spiritual experiences she’d had while starting this process of building a website dedicated to strengthening marriages. This website had helped so many marriages already and I truly think it’s inspired by the Lord. I don’t want to go into depth about her spiritual experiences but it’s very apparent to me that the Lord had a hand in the creation of this website and continues to do so.

I could have browsed this post and walked away shaking my head never to return. But, I just felt like you should know the story behind what you are mocking. These women are in very happy marriages, they are insuring they don’t ever fall into a slump, they want to help others who may be struggling to have a happy marriage, and I wholeheartedly believe that the Lord is helping them in this journey. If you are truly a Christian, you would see the good in this and not publish things that are so hurtful about others. I am not here to judge and I like to think people just don’t know both sides. I hope you have a wonderful marriage and if you ever do need any fun ideas, they really do have great ones! ☺ Have a wonderful day!

K kid said...

@Kimbra: To each their own. I guess my blog is probably not your thing. I'm not trying to be offensive, unkind or hurtful, just stating my opinion. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your point of view.

2busy said...

I found you on Mormon Mommy Blogs. I love your sense of humor and ability to just tell it like you think. I am a new follower...

I have to agree with your rantings here. Responsibility for keeping this alive should be placed equally in the marriage. We try to date once a week. Sometimes it ends up every other week. Dinner or a movie but rarely both.