Call it a feminist coincidence: Two books published in 1963 examine gender, sex, and marriage, but arrive at diametrically opposite conclusions. In The Feminine Mystique, Betty Friedan complains that “the only passion, the only pursuit, the only goal a woman is permitted is the pursuit of a man.” Meanwhile, Helen Andelin's Fascinating Womanhood urges women to embrace that primary passion, because it leads to ultimate fulfillment and complete happiness. We all know how The Feminine Mystique changed the world for countless women. But Fascinating Womanhood, while lesser-known than Friedan's polemic, has had its own powerful impact on notions of women and their potential. Like the bestselling how-to guides for would-be wives that followed in its wake—The Rules, The Surrendered Wife—Andelin's Fascinating Womanhood told women what they wanted, and then explained how to get it. Its central thesis asserted that the most essential gender difference is that “love is more important to a woman and admiration is more important to a man.” According to Andelin, nothing motivates men more than pride, and nothing causes them more suffering than a blow to it; men's need to be admired is so overriding that they cannot endure criticism or even rational conversation—which is why she informs women that “it's better to surrender your point of view to a man than to win an argument.” Instead, men must be manipulated. They might realize that they're being manipulated, but as long as this manipulation is perpetrated by saucy, pert, childlike women, men are okay with it. The means by which women manipulate men into loving, desiring, and protecting them are familiar: FW envisions women as weak, dependent, submissive, selfless, and in need of protection from a laundry list of dangers enumerated by Andelin. There's “abduction and rape, sometimes followed by brutality and murder,” as well as “vicious dogs, snakes, a high precipice, a deep canyon, or other dangers of nature,” and even “unreal dangers” such as “strange noises, spiders, mice and even dark shadows.” Women must also sympathize with their husbands' difficulties while never expecting sympathy in return, because a woman who reveals the truth about her emotional life risks injuring her husband's fragile pride by forcing him to see that he is not always an ideal mate. Now in its sixth edition, Fascinating Womanhood has sold more than 2 million copies. Over the years, the book has grown from less than 200 pages to more than 400, with most of the additional pages featuring testimonials from women whose miserable marriages were saved once they began following the book's advice. The most substantive differences between the first and latest edition are not additions but deletions: Even so committed an antifeminist as Andelin could see that revisions were necessary to make the work more palatable to modern women, despite her advice to live according to antiquated notions of femininity and family. Gone from the most recent edition, for example, is the promise that the book will teach women “how to get what you want out of life, until man becomes both master and slave,” a line that made too explicit FW's underlying message: Personal dignity, ethical responsibility, emotional maturity, and intellectual growth aren't as important as bedroom roles of master and servant so profound that they shape every aspect of a marriage. Also 86ed is the part where Andelin urges women to purposely botch household chores so men feel capable, needed, and amused as they correct their wives' mistakes. (“If it is the furnace that needs fixing replace some of the parts backwards or fail to get it running at all.”) What remains unchanged about Fascinating Womanhood is its baseline equation of femininity with the performance of—if not the actual state of—eternal youth. When the book was first published, this expectation was par for the course: In The Feminine Mystique, Friedan summarizes a 1960 issue of McCall's magazine by noting that “the image of woman that emerges from this big, pretty magazine is young and frivolous, almost childlike; fluffy and feminine; passive; gaily content in a world of bedroom and kitchen, sex, babies, and home.” To Andelin, the only problem with the magazine and with Friedan's analysis is that the image of woman is almost childlike. Andelin recommended that women become explicitly, intentionally childlike, writing that “childlikeness is one of the most charming traits taught in Fascinating Womanhood.” And Andelin's legacy is still very much in effect—not only for the adherents who blog about the book's wisdom or enroll in online “Marriage, the Fascinating Way” classes offering personalized advice on how to act like a little girl, but in the female infantilization enthusiastically embraced by popular culture. We're not talking merely about the obvious examples, like sexualized schoolgirls in kneesocks and supershort kilts, or dumb-bunny stereotypes like The Girls Next Door. Childlike women are also the prevailing romantic heroines in movies, TV, and beyond. Not unaware of the very earnest and sober ways women are still told to cultivate what even Andelin acknowledges is a “ridiculous exaggeration of manner” so as to appear “cute, pert, saucy…trusting and innocent,” Nathan Rabin of the Onion AV Club coined the term “Manic Pixie Dream Girl” to describe the wild-yet-innocent cutie-pie who uses her childlike delight to entice some young male sad sack into a candyland of cutting work and skinny-dipping. From Natalie Portman in Garden State to Kate Hudson in Almost Famous to Katharine Hepburn in Bringing Up Baby, Rabin asserts that the archetype “exists solely in the fevered imaginations of sensitive writer-directors to teach broodingly soulful young men to embrace life and its infinite mysteries and adventures.” Furthermore, Rabin argues, these movies make clear that “the Manic Pixie Dream Girl archetype is largely defined by secondary status and lack of an inner life. She's on hand to lift a gloomy male protagonist out of the doldrums, not to pursue her own happiness.” But Andelin insists that a “fascinating woman” finds happiness precisely by assuming a secondary status and lacking an inner life. Being infantile, manic, pixie-ish, and dreamy is not just a cute way to act in movies; in Fascinating Womanhood, it's posited as an important ingredient in attracting a mate, which is the most important element of female happiness. Nowhere is this idea more abundant in current pop culture than in the Twilight franchise. Bella Swan can't properly be called manic, since mania is defined by wild mood swings and Bella is almost uniformly morose. But she has the pixie-dream-girl part down pat, what with her accident-prone fragility, her halting speech, her separateness from others, and her inability to participate in what most of the world knows as reality. And the extent to which the relationship between human Bella and vampire Edward depends on her childlike weakness—and his power to simultaneously threaten and protect her—is one of the more striking aspects of the series.
Bella's fragility and the protectiveness she arouses in him are things that Edward mentions often. He initially wants to feed on her; but, just as Andelin would predict, when he senses her vulnerability and admiration for him, his bloodlust is tamed, and he feels a burning desire to rescue her from would-be rapists, runaway vehicles, and vampires more vicious than himself. Meanwhile, Bella's overriding desire to be with Edward is complicated by the fact that she is human—and therefore aging—while he is undead and ageless. Edward would rather she retain her humanity than her youth, but Bella is desperate to become a vampire before she turns 20, so she can spend eternity as an adolescent. New Moon, the second book in the series, begins with a nightmare in which Bella has grown old: She's gray and wrinkled, while Edward is still a gloriously handsome 17-year-old. Despite the repeated assertion that Bella is mature beyond her years, she gauges her compatibility with Edward primarily on physical age, and is dismayed by each birthday—even spending life as an eternal 18-year-old is too old, because it's one birthday older than Edward. When she finally does become a vampire shortly before turning 19, Bella is thrilled to realize that she will be childlike for all eternity, a teenage bride and mother cocooned in a tiny family circle for the rest of her existence. Sounds fascinating, right? Indeed, Bella would have been the perfect Fascinating Womanhood case study. The book freely scorns women who “insist on believing that really sensible men, the kind they admire, would be repulsed instead of attracted to…a childlike creature” who stomps her foot and threatens to tattle to her husband's mother when he misbehaves. It also suggests that women foolish enough to hold this misconception implement the book's advice, then judge its aptness by men's reactions. (Fun fact: Helen Andelin and Twilight author Stephenie Meyer are both devout Mormons who graduated from Brigham Young University, so perhaps it's not surprising that the two women are prone to glorifying female submission and male strength.) And there's no need to worry that a skeptical woman won't be able to be harness her pouty inner infant. Says Andelin:
It's part of being a woman. Remember, it was not long ago you were a little girl, when these traits were natural to you…. When a woman matures there's a marked tendency for her to lose this childlike trait, especially when she gets married. She somehow feels that now she must grow up, without realizing that men never want women to grow up completely. Truly fascinating women always remain somewhat little girls, regardless of age.
Fascinating Womanhood exhorts women to develop childlikeness in several key areas: Childlike Anger (“When you are angry”), Childlike Response (“When he is angry or cross”), Asking for Things, Childlike Joy, Childlike Trust, Outspokenness, Changefulness, Youthful Manner, and Youthful Appearance. But can a woman who, unlike Bella, must age physically and mentally still retain all these qualities? Andelin died in 2009, at the age of 89. The biographical note at the back of the 2007 edition of Fascinating Womanhood lauds her “storybook marriage” of almost six decades to Aubrey Andelin, a dentist and real-estate developer who himself wrote a marriage manual, Man of Steel and Velvet, first published in 1981; the Andelins raised four sons and four daughters and had 60 grandchildren. We don't know whether the fascinating Mrs. Andelin remained childlike and dreamy even as she approached 90 years of age. It might seem that our culture, with its obsession with youth and abhorrence of age, would be unable to produce an alluring, flirty octogenarian. But just as the tenets of FW can be located in the newish crop of Manic Pixie Dream Girls, so too can they be seen in the enduring cult movie Harold and Maude and its beloved elderly heroine. The puritanical Andelin would be horrified by the hedonistic Maude, with her penchant for stealing cars, nude modeling, and extramarital sex, but that doesn't change the fact that Ruth Gordon's Maude is a Manic Pixie Dream Crone who exemplifies Andelin's prescribed childlike behaviors, with the exception of “childlike anger.” Seventy-nine-year-old Maude never becomes angry: She reacts to men's anger by smiling sweetly and purposely misunderstanding them. When a policeman trying to make sense of her admission that she is driving a stolen vehicle with no driver's license says, “Let me get this straight,” Maude replies, “All right, then,” and drives away while shouting, “Nice chatting with you!” As for her relationship with 20-year-old Harold, Maude is no cougar: Her seduction of Harold occurs not because she offers him adult opportunities, but because she offers him a childhood—the chance to do things like turn cartwheels on a hillside or wander through a field of daisies. She instructs him to be “impulsive” and “fanciful”; her joie de vivre is so infectious that it enables her young paramour to “feel like a kid,” an experience he has heretofore missed out on. Maude even claims the youthful role of life's cheerleader, standing up and shouting, “Go, team, go! Give me an 'L.' Give me an 'I.' Give me a 'V.' Give me an 'E.' L-I-V-E. LIVE!”
But her cheering is in service of someone else's life: Despite the fact that she's healthy, passionate, and vibrant, Maude takes her own life on her 80th birthday. She justifies the act by asserting that 80 is an ideal age to die: “Seventy-five is too early,” Maude tells Harold, “but at 85, well, you're just marking time and you may as well look over the horizon.” But the real reason for Maude's suicide is that it leaves Harold not just richer and wiser, but unencumbered. Maude's willingness to disappear ultimately serves male development and autonomy. Her embrace of Harold and discarding of her own life are just what is needed to transform the formerly morbid, macabre boy—and that, of course, is also the ultimate goal of Fascinating Womanhood. “In a miraculous way, when you accept [a man] at face value, he is more likely to change,” writes Andelin. In fact, she adds, a childlike woman's appreciation of and admiration for a man, regardless of whether he deserves it, can “transform a man from an apparently stupid, weak, lazy, cowardly, unrighteous man into a determined, energetic, true, and noble one”—as well as a man ultimately alive to life's fascination, and therefore youthful and vibrant in ways other men may never be. This is what Maude's childlike love of and trust in Harold accomplishes, and what Manic Pixie Dream Girls do for the heroes of their films. What this demonstrates is that womanhood is never fascinating for its own sake. The story of a fascinating woman is always, ultimately, about the man who wants to protect her: his power, his leadership, his happiness, his security, his growth. Fascinating Womanhood ends by informing women that its teachings will make them happier, then stresses, “You are in a precarious position as the wife. You can build or destroy him.” Thus, the book's focus is revealed: A good woman's job is to support and nurture a man who takes little responsibility for his own character. And that focus reveals the appeal of Fascinating Womanhood: It offers women the illusion of power. Not authority, since they can't make anything happen except through manipulation, and not control, because they can never take charge of any situation. But working behind the scenes, they can, if they're sufficiently patient, subservient, sympathetic, timid, innocent, pert, and childlike, get the man and the life they want—or should want, if they're real women. Sure, the flip side of this philosophy is that every failure and disappointment in a marriage—lousy sex, lack of communication, poverty, and infidelity—is ultimately the wife's fault. But shouldering all the responsibility for those failures is preferable for some women to admitting that they don't find domesticity fulfilling, or married the wrong man, or have a marriage so dysfunctional that the only way to find happiness and peace is to leave it. Not only that, but the illusion of power remains eternal, because the fascinating woman never ceases to be who she was as a child; she has always had the power to manipulate the men around her, men who are just as immature as she is—also by design. The fascinating woman and the Manic Pixie Dream Girl must never grow up, because that way, men never have to grow up, either. Peter Pan might lose most of his hair while his beard goes gray, but at heart, he's still a little boy, and his companion in life reflects that: She's not Wendy, but Tinkerbell. The “dream” supplied by Andelin, Bella, and the Manic Pixies past and present is one of a Never-Never Land where, although we cannot stop time, we can do without sobriety and reasoned maturity, and where a childlike fascination with the whimsical and fanciful is the way out of, never into, every nightmare of crisis and grief.
Holly Welker has an MFA in nonfiction writing and a PhD in English literature from the University of Iowa. Her work has also appeared in Best American Essays and the New York Times.
33 Comments Have Been Posted
I love this article, and
Shelley replied on
I love this article, and couldn't agree more with it. I went to see New Moon last night with some friends (I think half of us actually wanted to see it, and the other half more wanted to laugh at the ridiculous pseudo-romantic one liners), and reached similar conclusions about the film's anti-feminist sentiments. Bella wants to stay a little girl (even though she's technically still almost 90 years younger than Edward), Edward is way over-paternal, and I hate that most of their relationship is this:
Bella: I'm so ugly
Edward: you're pretty
Bella: I'm worthless
Edward: no you're not
I mean, come one, any guy would hate being in that kind of relationship.
There was, however, one line in the article with which I disagreed:
"Helen Andelin and Twilight author Stephenie Meyer are both devout Mormons who graduated from Brigham Young University, so perhaps it’s not surprising that the two women are prone to glorifying female submission and male strength."
I'm a devout Mormon and will graduate from BYU, my mom is a devout Mormon who graduated from BYU in the 70's, and both of us are pretty hardcore feminists. Being both a Mormon and a feminist is not mutually exclusive.
reply to "I love this article, and"
Daryl replied on
To Shelley, author of the previous comment: Holly is a Mormon, and a feminist. Search for her work on the Internet, and read some of it. I bet you'll like it.
In response to the comment
pam replied on
In response to the comment below:
"I'm a devout Mormon and will graduate from BYU, my mom is a devout Mormon who graduated from BYU in the 70's, and both of us are pretty hardcore feminists. Being both a Mormon and a feminist is not mutually exclusive."
Yes, the Mormon religion is so well known for its champion of strong single women. Joe Smith was a champion of single women, which is why he "married" thirty-some of them and popped any number of teenage virgins, sometimes multiple virgins a month. That you can write about Mormons and feminism and not see the problem is evidence of you cognitive dissonance, which is a necessary ingredient of belonging to the Mormon church. Denial is not just a river in Egypt. You and all the Mormon “feminists” do not make any decisions in the Mormon church. You can’t even get to heaven without a husband. And your husband can’t get to the numero uno heaven unless he has multiple wives. Your just reward as a faithful Mormon wife is to go to heaven and be your husband’s brood mare (along with any other women he can add to his spiritual stable), pooping out babies for all eternity. Sounds like hell, to me.
I'm not even a Mormon, but...
Casey replied on
...didja really have to be such a condescending asshole? I assumed Bitch was a feminist safe-space, was I mistaken? |:^S
Reply to comment | Bitch Media
chair rail replied on
I'm gone to tell my little brother, that he should also pay a quick visit this blog on regular basis to take updated from latest information.
mormon feminist shout-out
Joanna Brooks replied on
"Womanhood is never fascinating for its own sake"--the last four paragraphs of this piece should be required reading throughout the world of Mormondom. Seriously. What a great piece! Thanks, Holly. Thanks, Bitch!
Lisa replied on
That was a great article. It is a shame that with all the progress we have made as women, there are still people out there who are more than willing to teach this empty-headed and self-destructive tripe to young women.
Goddessintraining replied on
Have you practiced the art of fascinating womanhood? Have you strived to become an "angelic - human? Have you even read the book? I think maybe you shouldn't knock it till you try it. Ive lived it. Im grateful for my femine power. The power to do good, be a loving supportive mother. And someday a devoted wife. I think this article gravely misconstrued the purpose, meaning & beauty of this theory & frankly I dont know any men who can honestly say theyre happy being married to a bitch! Theres alot of unhappy, single, feminist, ball busting, anything u can do I can do better, lonely women out there crying, "why cant I find a good man"
I see them every where in the single scene. I just want to shout "The good guys are afraid of bitches!"
Bitches attract spineless assholes!
I prefer to be fascinating. :)
I couldn't agree with you
Anonymous replied on
I couldn't agree with you more. My mother recommended this book to me, and at the moment I'm *completely* baffled as to her motives - in all my childhood memories, I don't remember her behaving this way, but she swears this book has saved her marriage over the years. Well... she and I have some talking to do, I guess.
Thankfully, as I've shared passages of this book with my husband, he's shared my bewilderment and outrage. He has assured me he loves me just the way I am, and if I ever behaved the way this book suggests, he'd kick my ass to the curb - after having my head examined!
The author goes so far as to claim men may "admire" women like me (boisterous, expressive, pant-wearing, financially savvy corporate executives), but could never legitimately be attracted to one, or dare to love or marry one. Well, sister, I'm a living, breathing, walking, talking (loud and proud) contradiction then.
My husband said, "Honey, I knew who I was marrying, and I love her now more than I loved her then." We've known each other 18 years, and just celebrated our 12th anniversary. He's known every version of me, stood by me, and loved me all the way.
This book is a travesty. With each turn of a page, I kept hoping someone would yell, "just kidding!" and the satire would finally be revealed. No such luck.
Great piece, Holly!
Therese replied on
Great piece, Holly!
Works like "Fascinating
Kelsay replied on
Works like "Fascinating Womanhood" are the ones that teach women that it's okay to get beat as long as your husband is happy. It's on the verge of despicable. Wonderful article! I loved the Twilight connection.
Trying to be Fascinating
Latayne C Scott replied on
I was a faithful Mormon "girl" at BYU when Fascinating Womanhood was the gold standard for Mormon young women. In the dorms we often talked about some of the ideals of this book. It had a lasting effect on me in several ways.
1) Even at the time I recognized that it gave strategies to maneuver a man to do what you wanted by letting him think it was his idea.
2) That seemed right and good to me, because in Mormon society, women don't hold any public leadership roles in which they can actually "command" a man to do anything. So this was a good strategy -- but all in good fun, I thought.
3) Even after I left the Mormon Church that I so loved (because of doctrinal issues), Andelin's book and principles continued to affect me. For the first years of my marriage, I never let my husband see me in curlers or without makeup -- a fascinating woman would get up before her husband and do all that, so he would always see her at her best. (That strategy went out the window after the arrival of our first child, who had his own needs and didn't care if my hair was curled.)
4) Most telling of all, now that I look back at it, was the fact that one of Helen Andelin's sons went to BYU at the same time as me. He carried around a sense of entitlement -- and all of us who were not part of "Mormon royalty" (related to any of the Church's leadership of the past or present) or not inherently beautiful knew we shouldn't even try to attract his attention. I have often wondered about how his wife has handled that kind of pressure for a lifetime. I don't envy her.
Latayne C Scott
James B. Young replied on
I noticed that you removed the fine comment from the guy who posted earlier this afternoon. He was commendatory of the article, but pointed out the incorrect attitude that some women think they know better than men on what men think than the men do. Keep that up, and the men will do what they always do when women act this. Ignore you.
Kelsey Wallace replied on
I may have accidentally removed the comment you're referencing earlier today whilst diligently attempting to combat our ever-growing collection of spam. We've been getting so many "fake messages that seem real but are actually just ads" lately that I may have been a bit too delete-happy. I hope the person you're talking about re-posts his comment! (I won't delete it this time, I swear.)
Thanks for letting us know, and don't worry, we don't think we "know better than men on what men think than the men do." We love to hear from women and men, so keep commenting!
Harold and Maude
Mumtaz Mahal replied on
And here I was thinking Maude was the original cougar!
I really like your article
Anonymous replied on
I really like your article and agree with you. I think the book is stupid to say that women should be subservient to men and act a certain way just so they can get married. I want my future husband to love me for all that I am, especially my independence. However, I thought what you implied about mormons was a really low blow. I am a mormon, and I don't believe in any way shape or form that women are less than men. Everyone assumes that mormons are awful people who suppress women, but I know for a fact this is not true. It's easy to stereotype all mormons. All my mormon friends would think "The Fascinating Girl" is bull. Other than that, I liked your article and thought what you said about Twilight was right on.
personal reinvention under an old hat
Mo replied on
Pam (and all are welcome to discuss) it's important to remember that, for personal reasons, a religious person can reinvent their relationship with their faith, sometimes in fact reconstitute virtually the entire contents of it, but still want to apply the same label to themselves. This transformation of faith can go either way (from Jihadist Muslim to Liberal Morman). It's important (or at least useful) to consider "members of a faith" individually, and this seems especially deserved by those who are changing for the better! All of us are on a spectrum of reinventing bad old tropes (I say this as someone who predominately avoids them, but still understands the occasional socially-compelled need/desire for their appropriation --- other common examples are Christian holidays and marriage!)
Otherwise, thanks to the author --- this is a fascinating article that will be popping up in my mind and conversations!
Deb Jannerson replied on
is a Mormon feminist also, if I'm not mistaken.
Adulthood is stressful and
pennywhite replied on
Adulthood is stressful and often terrifying. Who wouldn't want an easy out? This is the carrot on the stick that has lured young women away from autonomy since the inception of patriarchy. Heck, I'm a single mom in a failing economy. I'd pout and stomp my pretty little foot to con some moron into supporting me and taking out the garbage for the rest of my life. Sadly, though, it's a bait and switch deal. The vow of eternal protection and care quickly reveals itself to be a form of extortion: you demean yourself and function as a hot little commodity, or I will toss you onto the junk pile and purchase a newer model. How many unskilled mothers have been tossed out on their asses (along with their children) when the heat of life experience melted their disney princess masks? The most tragic thing about "Fascinating Womanhood" is that it's selling a dangerous lie.
Miles replied on
I can see what you're saying.
I've never had kids cause I couldn't see a way to make it work in America without both of us being exploited.
When I was 14 years old my
Anonymous replied on
When I was 14 years old my mother handed me The Fascinating Girl to read. I read it and while Andelin's reasons for becoming "fascinating" were outdated and stupid, when I tried some of her advice, son of a gun if it didn't turn the head of all those boys in class. Who knew a ribbon in your hair and laughing at their stupid jokes could work so well.
If anything it empowered me to use the femininity I had in order to do what men have done for centuries- to get what I wanted from them. I never once felt the need to be submissive, I simply learned from the book that most men don't want a rottweiler for a girlfriend.
As a married adult I read the Fascinating Womanhood. It had less use to me because I wasn't trying to attract the attention of men, I had it. While it never hurts to change out of sweatpants before your husband comes home, June Cleaver was a tv character and I am a real woman with kids, work and a husband that is my partner, not my boss.
I am not a feminist. I admit that. I'm still a woman who lives a full, unapologetic life, sounding my barbaric yawp from the rooftops.
I find the charater of Bella Swan to be laughable, she is so dimwitted and irritating. However, not all those who are not feminists are Bella Swannabees.
Many of us who found good things in Andelin's books are strong, happy women who do not get from the book instruction to be submissive, but simply advice on how to attract the attention of men- when I was an akward teen, it helped a lot and I am glad the book existed. As an adult, I didn't find it to be of much value.
Now, The Art of Homemaking-- even for a bread baking stay at home mom dinosaur like myself-- that book made me throw it against the wall and say bad words.
Askita replied on
I like you. Do you have a blog?
This Here REEKS of Disingenuous-ness
Casey replied on
Ashley replied on
I happened upon this page entirely by accident, however, your point of view is intriguing. I completely agree that Bella Swan is an irritating example of femininity. On the other hand, I have to disagree with your view of Fascinating Womanhood. While I agree that parts of the book may wrongly inspire women to be dimwitted brainless Barbie dolls, it also has some good points. I am a married woman with 4 children. When you have children, you tend to become somewhat "independant" from your husband and he gets lost somewhere in the mix. I have used some of the book's principles and I have to say that the response from my husband was wonderful. Its awful to hear things like "Honey, I thought you didn't love me anymore" and "you never spend any time with me when I am home, that's why I go fishing anyway". My husband now spends more time at home with me and the kids. Did this require me throwing temper tantrums like a three year old or acting like a braindead dolt? No. There is nothing wrong with stroking your husband's ego, having a clean home, and teaching your kids to be joyful and respectful. There's also nothing wrong with allowing your husband to lead the home. That doesn't mean you have to be completely dependant on or su bmissive to your husband. This isn't the 1950's anymore. Its possible to use Fascinating Womanhood in this decade if you're intelligent enough to separate the old fashioned ideals from the timeless ones. Femininity is not a "life sentence". Its something that can be embraced in a million different ways, each one as individual as the person. Also, the book very clearly states in the first part of the book (understanding men : accept him) that women should never try to manipulate or force a man to change because not only is it morally wrong but that it does not work.
Miles replied on
As a man I'll admit that half of "Fascinating Womanhood" is right on.
Just like a woman wants a man to be decisive and tempting so a man likes a woman to be submissive and accepting.
Of course it can be overdone by both sides but it is undeniably attractive when done as the smaller part of an independent personality.
I know I've fallen prey to the idea of total intellectual honesty & maturity and it hasn't worked.
Women do want to be lied to just not most of the time.
And men want women to feign interest & submission as long as it's not the core of her personality.
I'll also admit it's scary in today's society for a man to be decisive and tempting.
He runs the risk of offending litigous american feminists and getting a rep as a creep.
I'm sure the obverse is true for women, they run the risk of being violated & getting a "bad rep."
This may be why males & females are rejecting these roles but it doesn't mean these roles don't work, especially in a relationship.
this is why we need Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinhem
m2theh replied on
I am LDS (Mormon) and most of the men that I know treat their wives like queens. And they only have one wife. It burns me up when people make blanket, critical statements about the LDS church without having actual facts on our beliefs. That said, Facsinating Girl and Fascinating Womanhood are crap. These books are the exact opposite of what my mother taught me and what I tell my daughter. No man worth having would want a wife who dumbed herself down to catch him.
I found out about this book from a friend. We sit around and make fun of this book.
Victoria G replied on
I find it quite intriguing how people judge things they don't know, understand or even have the capability of understanding. How many of you are married? How many of you have even given this AMAZING book FW a chance? It has absolutely transformed my marriage. How many people are "enslaved" or "submitted" to other things? Alcohol, drugs, television, friends, outward appearance, approval of others, men, food, etc. And yet one of the most important relationships in our lives as husband and wife we are suppose to stand firm in our "independence", "freedom", "self-will"? How many "teams" have ever won a championship out of being independent from one another? A marriage is the same. When there is division, the breakdown of the relationship occurs. I have experienced it time and time again. Sure my husband is NOT ALWAYS right and yes he makes mistakes...but how is MY pointing that out EACH time going to nurture the relationship? How many of you appreciate that type of response from a parent, friend, boss, partner, etc? Not many of you I am sure. So, why wouldn't I as a wife instead look past his faults and support his qualities? Yes, that would make me Fascinating and more loved by my husband it is simply human nature.
What are your relationships like Holly? Are you happy? Married? Divorced? In one bad relationship after another? How quick we are to listen and take advise from people who have no experience or who are in dysfunctional relationships themselves. When you state: "she (Andelin) informs women that “it’s better to surrender your point of view to a man than to win an argument.” Instead, men must be manipulated. They might realize that they’re being manipulated, but as long as this manipulation is perpetrated by saucy, pert, childlike women, men are okay with it."
REALLY now? Would you rather be right or would you rather be happy? How many times in any relationship has arguing your point to be right helped you in any way? And what was the point of it all? Ego, pure and simple. So, really a woman refusing to take part and be right is TRUE humility. And as far as manipulation...please, tell me that you NEVER have manipulated anyone in any way, to get your way (and this is usually done for selfish reasons)? So, if we do it for selfish and self-centered reasons then why is it so bad if we are doing it with good intentions and for peace and happiness in our home?
You make many statements based on misinformation and lack of experience in your article I can go on and on refuting them, but there is no point for those who are too closed minded and unwilling to look at their own fears, hurts and destructive beliefs in their own relationships and willing to try something different no matter how outlandish it sounds, looks, tastes, feels or how other people judge, point, criticize, etc. I AM TRULY in a happy and fulfilled marriage and he tells me EVERYDAY he is too...how many of you can say that? And yes FW is a HUGE part of why this has come true in our life.
Victoria, I loved your
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Forever Your Girl | Bitch Media
J replied on
I must say, i believed this was a pretty fascinating browse when it involves this subject.
Liked that the material
I'm a little late to comment
Anonymous replied on
I'm a little late to comment on this post cause I don't/wouldn't read this blog
the feminist women that are/were the primary protaganists of second wave feminism died alone (like the young desolate Valerie Solanas), married and were abusive to their spouses (Betty Friedan) or sought out younger/prettier mistresses for her unwed partner (can't remember her name)
in my family, two, now grandmother/sisters:
1) a Rhodes Scholar married in college, chose the "Fascinating Womanhood" route and was happily married for six decades, had five children which adds two married generations beneath her that have followed a similar path and are so far, really good (the women you could say have always had a geniune, brilliant bloom about them)
2) Harvard educated educator chose "The Feminine Mystique" route, divorced for four decades now, raised five children with poor literacy, who don't respect her, can't stand each other and have many social issues that include divorce, alcoholism, and suicide
which path should a woman chose?
humankind doesn't learn from the mistakes of its past, multiple times feminist idealogy (i.e. Sparta, today) has reared its head and destroyed society, only to have to rebuild from its ruins (can't come fast enough)
I have only read Man of Steel and Velvet and would absolutely give it five stars on Amazon
Don't be so smug!
Patricia replied on
I met Helen Andelin 20 years ago after reading her book several times. I desperately tried to be "fascinating" for my husband. Guess what, ladies.......it won't work if your husband has Borderline Personality Disorder. No amount of being cute, sassy, dependent and childlike will make a guy with BPD change his ways. No amount of "fascination" will change the hardwire of a man's brain if he is damaged and disordered. I believed Helen when she said I could make my husband a "better person." I did everything she recommended for many, many years. It didn't work because although I was the best person I could possibly be, it didn't penetrate my husband's severe personality disorder.
So---if you are married to a guy with Borderline Personality Disorder, Fascinating Womanhood won't work for you, even if you jump through hooks, bow and scrape, kiss his butt each day and do everything Helen tells you to do. The investment will be wasted and you will end up devastated.
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