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04/23/2011 Sent by Anna

Not A Lot Has Changed

Dear Mrs. Retro,

Your website is valuable and indeed it calls for some real thinking (I'm not going to dispute these are all educated women), but it propagates a lot of stereotypes that are common in society. People look down on housewives? No, they don't. People look down on ambitious, successful women who are lawyers, doctors, etc.. because -- even though society has made progress -- it hasn't made enough progress to accommodate these women as vulnerable and emotional people.

Women who work, or women who have solid, high-paying careers (work can mean a number of things) are often seen as tyrants who are unwilling to take care of their family, who are 'stubborn' and 'masculine.' So no... retro-housewife isn't some 'deviant' website that cuts from the norm. The norm still is the prototypical, feminine mother-figure in an apron. Just look at magazines, ads, books, movies, commercials. Who do you see holding the Tide box or Mr-Cleaning the tabletop? Who do you see making sandwiches, steaks? Why are there so many women's magazines which assume that we just love making cookies and make-up? Women's magazines have not changed very much since the 40's.

Not a lot has changed since the 40's except for the emergence of women in Universities and workplaces. But this emergence does not signify a change of attitude (or a complete change of attitude). You'll find men who value successful women and who are willing to split the housework (I've been lucky), but not all of them want to do this. For a good majority of men, a housewife is the perfect solution to being lazy and inept. I'm sorry, but I think a man should at least be able to pick up a skillet. To me, someone without culinary skills of any kind would be utterly unattractive. In fact, it took me years before I found someone who would cook me a proper dinner!

- Anna

Dear Anna,

Your logic is backwards. Women's magazines don't make assumptions about what women want to read; they do market research, as do the companies which buy advertising and then decide what to put in the magazine.  The last time I was at the newsstand, I was overwhelmed by the sheer number of magazine titles available for me to choose from - on every conceivable topic. So if you don't find women's magazines interesting, you won't suffer from a lack of reading material.

Why should a man be able to pick up a skillet? Most men I know are actually able to cook, so that is not really the issue. What sane person wants to work a full day and then come home and cook and clean? Why do you think men should listen to you on how to lead their lives? Do you listen to men on how to lead your life?

If you found a guy that is in sync with your views and your relationship works, then be happy. I disagree that the 40s housewife is still the norm, although I think she is making somewhat of a comeback. If you want to have a career, nothing is stopping you. I don't see why you are threatened by feminine women in aprons, though. They exist, have always existed, and hopefully will always exist. The reason for this is because it is one of the few jobs in the world where you can make a real, tangible, verifiable difference in the lives of others. It certainly has its ups and downs, but done properly the return on investment is one of the best there is.