In a recent piece in The Federalist, columnist Inez Feltscher added her two cents to the topic of a woman’s weight.
The piece—which claims in the title that “Staying Fit For Your Husband Is One Of The Best Gifts You Can Give Him”—welcomed readers into the warm caress of 1955. In the first sentence, Feltscher mentions the “politically incorrect truths” that make happy marriages.
This isn’t the first time The Federalist has offered up questionable advice for women. Back in February, it published a glowing review of Suzanne Venker’s book “The Alpha Female’s Guide to Men and Marriage,” which encouraged women to “[shut] up for once and actually [listen] to what men have to say,” and “[have] sex with their husbands even when they don’t feel like it.”
Her advice? Don’t flirt and dress appropriately. Oh, and by the way, women should expect a certain amount of sexual tension at work, she added.
“When men and women spend eight or more hours a day in an office, sex is in the very air they breathe,” Venker said. “There’s no way to extricate it from the room. There’s no way to say, ‘Okay, men, we women are going to join you in the workforce, but at no time are you allowed to think of us as anything other than a man. Just ignore our breasts, our behinds, our perfume and our legs.’”
These articles use outdated, cookie-cutter approaches to male/female relationships. Men are not mindlessly carnal. Women are not sexless harpies. There’s a middle ground between making “the man who loves you put up with your worst” and being required to wear lipstick or “curb your caloric indulgences” to prove your dedication to your spouse.
Feltscher and Venker both reference our “post-feminist” culture, which they blame for marital hardships. Their pieces are reminiscent of pre-second-wave-feminism, 1950s advice columns for women that beget housewives who wore pearls while vacuuming and snuck swigs of cooking sherry in the closet at dinner parties.
The Federalist‘s advice may be outdated, but it seems to tap into the frustrations of a group of people who yearn for the days when men were men and women were June Cleaver. Despite their obsession with sexuality and gender, millennials are rethinking the ultra-progressive roles of men and women, especially in married relationships.
Twenty years ago, 58 percent of high school students said it was not the best family arrangement for men to be breadwinners and women to care for hearth and home. That opinion has flipped precisely, with 58 percent now saying such setups are ideal, the Council on Contemporary Families found.
On social media, many of Feltscher’s defenders lamented our culture’s departure from traditional values, calling her advice “common sense.” One Twitter user lauding the article wrote, “Any expectation that women live up to any standards of decency, morality, or pleasantness is considered controversial today.”
The Federalist is tapping into a passionate group of people that blame changing gender roles for much of society’s problems. “The anti-feminist movement,” populated by provocateurs like Gavin McInnes, identifies just as strongly with their beliefs as hardcore feminists do.
So as long as there are hot takes to be written about how women can improve their marriages or work lives with a softer voice and better hips, we can expect to keep seeing them.