The Stepford Wives: Attending to and Pleasing Our Men.
The Good Wife Guide (Housekeeping Monthly, 13 May 1955 Issue)
John Bull Magazine 1957 Cover
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No online discussion about the role of the good wife can commence until The Good Wife Hoax is inspected. This was a one-page fax of what it takes to be a good wife, originally circulated as a fax in the 80s. Taken in context, it would seem logical that many women, who pushed upward towards the glass ceiling in the male-dominated corporate America of the early 80s would look derisively upon the supposed values of the 1950s housewife.
Here at Stepfordwives.org, we feel that the good housewife cannot be relegated solely to the fifties, as women today continue to exist happily in the haven of the home. Some even give up their hectic office schedules to return to the stress-free safety of domestic tranquility. This is not to say that there weren't mavericks and brave feminists during the fifties. After all, Rosie the Riveter and us gals were out in the factories churning out war machines during WWII. Many got the taste of financial and occupational freedom: going back home when men return from war to reclaim their jobs took a heroic amount of sacrifice. However, many were glad to retreat into the home life and let their men take charge and become head of the household once again.
As much as we at Stepfordwives.org cannot fathom a life where we would have to go out to become the breadwinners, we wisely reserve our opinions on the women who chose to do so. After all, what is a sisterhood if we can't support one another? We only hope the professionally successful women will grant us the same courtesy regarding our men's decision for us to stay at home.
The advice provided in the 1-page of the Good Wife are as follows:
Have dinner ready. Plan ahead, even the night before, to have a delicious meal ready on time for his return. This is a way of letting him know that you have be thinking about him and are concerned about his needs. Most men are hungry when they get home and the prospect of a good meal is part of the warm welcome needed.
Prepare yourself. Take 15 minutes to rest so you'll be refreshed when he arrives. Touch up your make-up, put a ribbon in your hair and be fresh-looking. He has just been with a lot of work-weary people.
Be a little gay and a little more interesting for him. His boring day may need a lift and one of your duties is to provide it.
Clear away the clutter. Make one last trip through the main part of the house just before your husband arrives. Run a dustcloth over the tables.
During the cooler months of the year you should prepare and light a fire for him to unwind by. Your husband will feel he has reached a haven of rest and order, and it will give you a lift too. After all, catering to his comfort will provide you with immense personal satisfaction.
Minimize all noise. At the time of his arrival, eliminate all noise of the washer, dryer or vacuum. Encourage the children to be quiet.
Be happy to see him.
Greet him with a warm smile and show sincerity in your desire to please him.
Listen to him. You may have a dozen important things to tell him, but the moment of his arrival is not the time. Let him talk first - remember, his topics of conversation are more important than yours.
Don't greet him with complaints and problems.
Don't complain if he's late for dinner or even if he stays out all night. Count this as minor compared to what he might have gone through at work.
Make him comfortable. Have him lean back in a comfortable chair or lie him down in the bedroom. Have a cool or warm drink ready for him.
Arrange his pillow and offer to take off his shoes. Speak in a low, soothing and pleasant voice.
Don't ask him questions about his actions or question his judgment or integrity. Remember, he is the master of the house and as such will always exercise his will with fairness and truthfulness. You have no right to question him.
A good wife always knows her place.
It would be inaccurate to call the Good Wife article a complete hoax. As documented in the Good Wife Hoax Page at Snopes.com, the advice points closely resemble the information in what we at Stepfordwives.org consider our bible: Helen B. Andelin's Fascinating Womanhood. This bestselling tract was written by Andelin, a member of the Church of the Latter Day Saints, in 1963, as a response to Betty Friedan's Feminine Mystique. We at Stepfordwives.org have been told that we shouldn't bother with reading Freidan's book.
"One minute with Friedan is another minute lost with Andelin." That has been our mantra for many years.
Ira Levin's original 1972 novella The Stepford Wives was both suspense and witty satire. It told the story of Joanna Eberhart, a semi-professional photographer who moves to a small town in Connecticut away from New York City. Living with her husband and two children, Joanna notices the women of Stepford being staid, cheery homemakers who are obsessed with cleaning and cooking. Their husbands, a group of computer and chemical engineers spend most of their time in the Men's Association, where women are barred from entering. She befriends Bobbie Markowe, a neighbor who exhibits all the traits opposite to those of the Stepford Wives. Together, they try to drum up a consciousness-raising group for women and bring feminism into Stepford. Along the way, they notice a pattern of change occurring among the wives. After looking into the newspaper archives, Joanna discovers that there once existed a Stepford Women's Group headed by someone who is now only concerned with daily chores in her kitchen. How did this transition occurred and can Joanna escape the ever tightening grip?
The term Stepford Wives has become a household word in the course of thirty some years since it's 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.
Though there have been several adaptations of Levin's book, we shall stick with the original text to create a list on how to become a Stepford Wife.
APPEARANCE:Be the picture of traditional femininity. Get your hair and nails done and be dressed well all the time, even if it's going out to the driveway to fetch mail. Remember, you have to achieve robotic perfection. That means all that work and time will be going into appearing in tip top condition and being ultra-neat.
(note: Director Bryan Forbes made the first Stepford Wives movie. Because he insisted on his wife Nanette Newman being cast for a role, and she did not have a slender figure, wardrobe for the movie had to be drastically altered to "hide" her shape. This led to the flowery frocks that people have incorrectly come to associate with the image of the Stepford Wife. The Stepford Wife is a product of the male imagination at it's most lubricious level. If you are at a loss for references to such imagination, pick up a copy of FHM magazine and multiply that with a Maxim magazine.
1. Always wear your makeup.
2. Always take care of your hair. Not a strand should be out of place.
3. If you are not well-endowed in your torso area, use bra inserts, augmenters, or the chicshaper. Large bosoms featured prominently in Levin's original story.
4. If you are not thin, wear a girdle.
5. Wear tight, but conservatively-cut clothing to show off your assets. (Remember to wear an apron during housework)
6. Look in the mirror. Imagine yourself as a girl in a television commercial; you should look flawless, at all times. The picture of the Stepford Wife is the picture of a person who is healthy and takes good care of herself.
ACTIVITY:Now you are ready to start your day. You are a domestic goddess and the home is your domain. Your home away from home is the supermarket. And the only higher power you answer to (and only when you are spoken to) are the men in your lives. That means, in order: your husband, your son, and then other men.
7. Clean clean clean! Everything needs to be spotless. Even if it takes a dozen repeated rubs, scrubs, and buff in the same spot. Clean and clean some more, in every corner of the house.
9. Shop at the supermarket. Push your cart slowly. All items need to be placed in your shopping cart neatly, methodically, and in an orderly fashion.
MANNERS:Stepford Wives are the model of etiquette. They are quiet and they speak softly. They use good manners, apologize often, and are perennially cheery. A Stepford Wife smiles as smiling is an act of submissiveness and agreeableness.
10. Practice gracious and polite behavior even when you are alone. Eat with the silverware in place even when you eat alone. Etiquette and proper manners begin at home, when no one is looking.
11. Never raise your voice.
12. Always say "please" and "thank you" for the smallest things, in public and private.
13. Always apologize for the smallest things, in public and private.
14. Do not possess any strong opinions on any subject, unless you are expressing enthusiasm for cleaning products or food ingredients and recipes.
15. Your man is No.1. He is the kingpin in your life. You answer first to him, then to your son, and then other men (and only when you are spoken to).
16. Don't read, because who has time when you have this much housework to do and so many men to attend to?
(After returning from work, school, travel, or whatever has separated you, begin with a good greeting)
Always greet him at the door with a cheerful face and a soft, loving voice.
Clean yourself, put on makeup, powder and perfume.
Good news first, grievances (administered gently) after a nice delicious dinner.
Always dress to please your husband, and only your husband. No one else.
Reserve a special soft voice that is used only when communicating with your husband.
Always be thinner than necessary to promote fragility.
Dress for your husband. Use the perfume your husband likes.
Don't dress for other women's approval.
If you have to clean, cook, or do work that requires physical exertion, wear appropriate clothes, but bathe and change into feminine delicate clothing before your husband returns.
Exchange loving and affectionate words with your husband: always make sure he knows you appreciate his hard work and hsi role as head of the household.
Put your husband's hopes and interests before yours.
Don't ask your husband for many unnecessary things. Consider his needs before yours.
Always try to please his guests and his family members.
Do not continue friendships with people he does not want you to be friends with.
Never allow strangers or other men to be alone with you when he is not around.
Always display hospitality to his guests, making them feel comfortable and well attended to.
Be patient in difficult times.
If your husband wants something done, or wants you to do something, do it with a smile. Only say no if you feel it will bring irreparable damage to your body, psyche, and morale.
If your husband is angry, keep silent. Don't question him or try to find out why he is angry.
Always be the first to apologize.
Apologize for your husband's distraught at other people's misdeeds and mistakes
Do not leave the house without his permission. If you have to leave, call him and let him know where you will be.
Don't be on the defensive when he is in a ill temper or treat you poorly. Always answer with obedience and a submissive desire to put him in a good mood again.
Marabel Morgan wrote The Total Woman in 1974, almost ten years after Helen Andelin's landmark Fascinating Womanhood. The principles are essentially the same, a call for tranquility in the home, arrived at from a wife dutifully attending to her husband. It begins as a standard conservative marriage advice book would, with a smattering of references to biblical scriptures. What distinguishes The Total Woman from previous titles in the genre, is its exploration into sexual situations, where us women are urged to be creative, vocal, and openly show our enthusiasm for our hubby's body and sex. This, we at Stepfordwives Organization, applaud as sound advice. After all, no marriage can stay afloat purely on good cooking and shiny floors alone!
The following are some choice passages from Marabel Morgan's The Total Woman (ISBN-13: 978-0671732110 )
"Whenever your husband asks you to do something, he expects it to be done without reminding you. The next time he delegates a job to you, write it down. Give it top priority on your list. Many a husband is so convinced that this plan works that now, instead of asking his wife to do anything for him, he just writes it down on her master sheet". pg. 32
"Starting tonight, determine you will admire your husband...admire him as he talks to you. Concentrate on what he is saying. Let him know that you care. Put your magazine down and look at him. Even though you don't care who won what game yesterday, your attention is important to him. Let him know he's your hero. Don’t interrupt or be preoccupied." pg 58
“Adapt to his way of life wholeheartedly, even if he doesn’t come home for weeks. When he is home, make life so attractive he won’t want to leave. Don’t make him feel guilty and don’t complain. Instead treat him like a king and cater to his needs.” pg. 68
"She is queen. She, too, sits on a throne. She has the right, and in fact, the responsibility to express her feelings, but of course, she does so in a regal way. Though the kind relies heavily on her judgment, if there is a difference in opinion, it is the king who makes the final decision." pg. 71
"It is only when a woman surrenders her life to her husband, revers and worships him, and is willing to serve him, that she becomes really beautiful to him. She becomes a priceless jewel , the glory of femininity, his queen." pg. 80
"Many a husband rushes off to work leaving his wife slumped over a cup of coffee in her grubby undies. His once sexy bride is now wrapped in rollers and smells like bacon and eggs. All day long he's surrounded by dazzling secretaries who emit clouds of perfume. What do you think you will be thinking of? Who do you think he would pick? This is all your husband asks from you. He wants the girl of his dreams to be feminine, soft, touchable when he comes home. That's his needs. It's that first look he gets when he comes through the door. It's that first look you give him. The quickest way to spin him around is to change your appearance. Will he be starstruck by the way you look tonight?" pg. 92
"When you look smashing, you can forget yourself and concentrate on the other person. In marriage, that's the name of the game—to concentrate on the other person!"
"Remember, fellow wives, a man thinks differently than we do. Before a man can care about who a woman is, he must first get past that visual barrier of how a woman looks. So your appearance at 6:00 P.M. should have top priority! Those first four minutes when he arrives home at night set the atmosphere for the entire evening."
"Determine to be a charming atmosphere adjuster tonight. Greet him at the door with your hair shining, your beautifully made-up face radiant, your outfit sharp and snappy—even though you're not going anywhere! He'll feel more alive just coming home to you, when your whole countenance and attitude say, 'Touch me, I'm yours!'"
"Your attitude during your husband's first four waking minutes in the morning sets the tone for his entire day. The atmosphere for love in the evening can be set by you even before breakfast. Give him a kiss first thing tomorrow morning. Rub his back as he's waking up. Whisper in his ear. Slip into the bathroom to clear a few cobwebs before he wakes."
"As your husband leaves for work, stand at the door and wave until he's out of sight. That's his last memory of you, in the open doorway. Make him want to hurry home."
"Remember that the tone for the evening is set during the first four minutes after your husband comes home tonight. His senses will be anticipating food and sex. If he wants to make love tonight, love him extravagantly and wastefully. If you pour out your love on him unconditionally, he'll want to love you in return."
A secretary interviewed by the Miami Herald about extracurricular activities between the girls in the office and their bosses was asked, "Do men at the office ever talk much about their wives?" "Hardly ever," she said. "In all the time I've worked in an office I've never heard a man say, 'I'm married to the best woman in the whole world.' I'm always surprised when a wife comes into the office. She never looks as good as her husband. I think men get better looking with age. But, unfortunately, women don't. "That's why a woman, it seems to me, has to work extra hard—make a real effort—to be an exceptional wife. To be considerate, attentive, as attractive as she possibly can be, especially when her husband is 35 or 40. She wouldn't get up in the morning and serve him breakfast looking like a witch if she knew how the girls in the office look. She'd be a lot nicer to him in everything she did. She'd try to live in his world."
"For super sex tonight, respond eagerly to your husband's advances."
"Sexual intercourse is an act of love. Express your love by giving him all you can give. A woman's hands should never be still when she is making love. By caressing tenderly, you assure him that he's touchable. Tell him "I love you" with your hands. / Psychological test results reveal that infants who are not touched lovingly suffer emotional deprivation as adults. This basic need to be loved, touched, and comforted continues throughout life, in your life and his. He depends on you to reassure him that he's desirable to you. He needs confidence in this area where he may be vulnerable. Your husband wants you to want him sexually. He wants you to enjoy love making as much as he does. If you fail in this area, he is devastated. Down inside, he feels he is an utter failure. Believe in him and tell him so. Let him know he's your special project in life. "
"Be prepared mentally and physically for intercourse every night this week."
- Be available
- Be fun to talk to
- Be flexible and hear his side
- Be understanding
We ladies at Stepford are proud to present our step-by-step list on creating a warm, gracious reception to our men when they return home from the office at the end of their workday.
The following is a sensible order from 15 minutes before he enters the front door to a relaxing after-dinner glow by the fireside. Of course, this list is subjected to change, according to his mood of the day. After all, we are flexible and can always change our schedule to accomodate the day he is having. Remember our motto here at Stepfordwife.com: To serve man is not a cookbook, It's a Pleasure!
Preparation to greet him ( 4:30 - 5:30pm )
- 4:30pm Last minute check to see that dinner is in order
- 4:45pm - 5:15pm Refresh your makeup, go over your hair and make sure your dress is crisp.
- 5:15pm - 5:30pm Prepare his favorite refreshing cold drink or cocktail and make sure it's ready to go on a small serving tray
Honey, I'm Home! ( 5:30 - 5:40pm )
- 5:30 - 5:35pm Put on your biggest smile and greet him at the door with a hug, an appreciative peck on the cheek and a warm "welcome home darling!"
- 5:35 pm Help him take his coat off, and hand him his drink. Hang up his coat while he sits down in the foyer with his drink
- 5:35 - 5:40 Bend down and untie his shoes while he has his drink. Get his nearby slippers, put them on, then put the shoes away. Ask him how his day was. (if the question is met with a grunt, don't push further, just cheerily say, "well, I'm glad you are home now!"
- 5:40pm Bring the remainder of his drink on serving tray and accompany him to the living room where he sits down. Make sure his drink is topped off before going off to the kitchen.
Dinner ( 5:41 - 7:00pm )
- 5:41pm - 6:00 pm Make sure dinner is set up nicely on the table and everything is in order. Remember to go back and check on his drink!
- 6:00 pm - 6:45pm Dinner is served. Remind him he can eat first as you run around to serve, refill, and maintain dinner service. If you fall behind on your own dinner, either snack later or skip a meal. It will do wonders for your waist!
- 6:45pm - 7:00pm Accompany him back to the living room and asks if there is anything else you can get him.
- 7:00pm - ? If he appears to want peace, give him space and quietly let him know you will be in the kitchen if he needs you. If he seems like he wants to talk, sit down and listen. Don't give your opinion unless he asks you what you think. Just listen. If he is getting frisky and in the mood, by all means, give your best performance. Never mind what kind of day you had!
Stepford Cardinal Rules::
- Don't complain about the day you have had. If he asks you about your day and you had a bad one, just say "It is much better thank heavens now that you are here!"
- Don't list the problems that you need him to take care of until after dinner.
- Don't push for details about his day. Keep it short and sweet. A man needs silence and peace in his home after a day's work. We are meant to be seen, not heard!
- Make minimum fuss, especially if he seems short.
- Never ask why he is acting the way he is acting.
- If he wants you to be a listener and asks you to sit. Stop what you are doing and sit down immediately. Whatever you were doing can wait.
- Always keep your ears on alert the moment you leave the room. Keep your ears tune for your name to be called, a finger snapped, or a sign that he needs you to get or do something for him.
This site was last updated on April 14, 2015 4:23 pm EST.
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Stepfordwives Organization is not a public organization. It does not seek to convert nor encourage how people should behave outside our community. We do NOT take donations, collect any information or funds. We are NOT an introductory service and we do NOT provide any matchmaking assistance . We are a group of women who document our way of life and try to share our information with like-minded people. The term "Stepford" is utlized at Stepfordwives.org / Stepfordwife.com as a trope and cultural idiom, and bares no relation to any fictional character(s) or fictional works. Any similarities in name are incidental and are not representative of individuals who are not associated with our organization.