Taking Tea in the Kasbah

I have not yet taken the opportunity to get up on my soap box here in the kasbah, but recent articles and events are pushing me to dig it out of the closet, dust if off, and step up on it for a brief while. Far better writers and more well-spoken people have commented on this particular topic, but I am going to put my two cents out there anyway.

Recently, I read an article posted on Twitter about “The 5 Ways Modern Men Are Trained to Hate Women” by David Wong (more on this below). Reading those excuses reasons for the misogyny that pervades our society reminded me of something I had purchased many years ago in a record shop, something that I had originally bought to give as a joke gift to a friend who was getting married. I didn’t end up giving it to her and instead kept it for some odd reason, possibly as a reminder that people actually bought this crap and lived their lives by it.

The more I thought about it, the more I felt compelled to share it with you, my intelligent, well-adjusted, socially conscious readers.

Without further ado, I give you my horrifically craptastic “How to Keep Your Husband Happy” album by Debbie Drake, complete with liner notes on how to carry out such an endeavor:

These days I can take photos of things like this with my phone instead of buying them and save my money for more important things, like furnishing the writing cave and buying random objects to leave as clues for British actors. But sometimes a purchase just HAS to be made. And sometimes these items of disturbing freakishness are given as gifts to unsuspecting friends.

But back to the album. I thought I would use this post to share the wisdom printed on the back cover for all the ladies out there who are in a relationship with a man. This is for all of you who are NOT AWARE OF THE IMPORTANT THINGS YOU SHOULD BE DOING TO KEEP YOUR MAN HAPPY:

“The obese wife knows she is a disappointment to her husband. Fighting against weight is one of the surest way of fighting for husband’s continued love, and getting it.”

Got that? Fight your weight or you are a disappointment and will lose your man.

I also learned that “it is the obligation of every woman to bring out her best features. Give your husband a chance to admire in you what he admires in other women.”

Wow. I had NO IDEA it was a woman’s job to GIVE MEN A CHANCE TO ADMIRE US like they do all of those OTHER WOMEN. But wait – aren’t all of those other women doing the same thing? It must be exhausting to be a man with all of the women constantly giving them chances to admire them.

The back of the album is also a plethora of advice on how to take care of your body parts. Because what are we women but a mere collection of body parts meant to be examined and scrutinized by men? I present them here for you in simple, easy to remember snippets:

Hair – “Shampoo it at least three times a week and remember to lie in a reclining position to bring blood to the head and pull your hair near the roots.” This seems simple enough – wash hair and lie down. Easy peasy.

Eyes – “Everything should be done to enhance their beauty” and by “everything”, Debbie Drake means do this exercise: “open your eyes as wide as you can while at the same time opening your mouth and pulling your upper lip tightly down over your teeth.” I’ll leave this one for you all to try on your own in the privacy of your own bathroom.

Hands – “Practice a graceful position with hands up, since when you hold your hands down, the veins stand out and make them look ugly.” Note to self: walk around with hands in the air, NOT down at my sides like men are allowed to do.

Arms – “Heavy, flabby arms can make a woman appear much older than she is.” I am wondering if I keep my hands in the air, will this lessen the appearance of arm flab?

Bust – “Acquiring and maintaining an attractive bust line is something you must work on all the time.” She recommends the exercises on her record for this. Since the only record player I have no longer works and is haunted, I can’t elaborate on this one for you. Use your imagination.

Waist – “When a man thinks of a tiny waist, he thinks of someone young and feminine. When you need to take an extra inch off your waist, wear a tight waist cincher and do the waist exercises in this album.” A waist cincher? While doing the exercises? WTH?

Hips – “A man likes to see hips that are round and firm and lifted.” Oh, o.k. Good to know. *hikes hips up into rounded, firm, lifted position* *falls over*

Thighs – “There is nothing more unattractive than fat thighs. Men love firm thighs.” Glad she cleared that one up for me. I had been wondering about this one.

But perhaps my favorite part of the album is the “Checklist for Keeping Your Husband Happy”:

1. Firm and graceful body.

2. Be at home when he arrives. (If you MUST work, try to arrange it so you’re home first.)

3. Clothes, sexy, – for your evenings home.

4. Be interested in him and the things he does.

5. A good conversationalist.

6. A bright smile over morning coffee. (This paints a good mental picture of you all day.)

7. Nice voice. (Keep it soft and musical; also a pretty laugh.)

8. Excess fat (taboo).

9. Well-set hair. (Brushed and clean)

10. Mentally alert. (Try reading)

11. Pin-curls (if they are a must, pin up after the lights are out and wear a bed cap)

12. Perfume – just for him, when he’s home.

13. A regular manicure.

14. A weekly pedicure.

And there you have it, ladies. The sure-fire way to not only keep your man happy and interested in you, but also how to loathe every part of your body and be driven to insanity while doing it all.

I have no words to capture my disgust with this.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I think exercising and taking care of ourselves by eating healthy are GOOD THINGS. And I would be a big, fat, flabby-armed liar if I said I didn’t put thought into how I look when I got dressed in the morning or when buying clothes or how I present myself. I wish I didn’t think about it as much as I do, but it’s there – the self-loathing troll that I fight against every day.

AND AND AND… it is such a soul-crushing, profoundly sad thing that girls and women are taught, both directly (like the album above) or indirectly (like what I’ll share with you below), to belittle and hate themselves, that we are told over and over that you are only worth what men think of you. Which, according to Debbie Drake and David Wong, isn’t very much.

In the article titled “5 Ways Modern Men Are Trained to Hate Women”, David Wong (for cracked.com) responded to all of the commentary out there following all of the derogatory, asinine comments about Sandra Fluke following her testimony before Congress. David explores, in his opinion, the top 5 ways men are socialized to treat and think about women which I’ve summarized for you here:

5. We Were Told Society Owed Us a Hot Girl – through movies, books, t.v. shows, and any other forms of media, boys and men are given the impression that they are owed a “hot girl” whenever they desire one, which, according to David, is pretty much ALL the time.

4. We’re Trained from Birth to See You as Decoration – so not only does society owe men a “hot girl”, but girls and women owe it to boys and men to be slim, beautiful and sexy all the time (remind you of a certain record mentioned above?). If we’re not all of those things all of the time, then boys and men will make derogatory comments and feel justified and entitled to be angry when doing it because they are always thinking about sex.

3. We Think You’re Conspiring to Ruin Us – this is the flip side to #4. If we are beautiful and sexy according to male standards, then we are intentionally messing with their heads (and their male parts) and making them even more sex-crazed than they usually are. Again, David is suggesting that boys and men are socialized to blame girls and women for all of this.

2. We Feel Like Manhood Was Stolen From Us at Some Point – David points out that all of the innate male urges around sex and sexuality were, at some point in history, celebrated. David suggests that when boys express their sexuality, they have been given messages that it’s bad or not o.k., for example, to masturbate in public. This has apparently resulted in frustration, humiliation, and a sense of powerlessness in men. Women are to blame for all of that, too.

1. We Feel Powerless – according to David, men always feel powerless because all they are thinking about is women and sex and how to get it. Because of this, women supposedly hold special power over men and they end up resenting us for it. Thus, men feel justified in making crude comments.

While David is listing these points as a way to explain the disgusting behavior and attitudes of some men, I personally think a lot of his points are really just excuses for men to hide behind. I’ll give you #’s 4 & 5 but only because some of what we learn about relating to the opposite sex is influenced by the media no matter how much we try to avoid it, box it up, put it on a shelf, or ignore it. But the other points? Not so much. To me, they sound like excuses to continue perpetuating the undermining, demeaning, misogynistic views of women.

It’s also sad that women are often just as guilty of doing this to other women as well. The recent comments raised about Ashley Judd’s “puffy” appearance are just the tip of the iceberg: the put downs, the derogatory comments, the subtle and not so subtle ways women are viewed as objects to be picked apart.

I know there are LOTS OF GREAT GUYS out there who show respect and consideration to women as people with ideas, interests and intelligence and regard women’s sexuality as one part of them, not as the only defining thing to focus on or control. So, how is it that they can transcend the socialization that David Wong speaks of while some men don’t? How do we as a society rail against the pervasiveness of this kind of socialization of boys and men when it seems to be tightly woven into the very fabric of our culture?

Now it’s your turn to get up on the soap box: What do you think, intelligent readers? Would you like to borrow my record for some much-needed exercise tips? What do you think of Debbie Drake’s tips on keeping your man happy? What do you think of David Wong’s points? Guys – what do you do to shun or ignore the persistent societal pressures to objectify women? I’d love to hear from all of you!

29 thoughts on “How to Keep Your Man Happy & The Legacy of Such Ways of Thinking

  1. The waist cincher sounds terrifying…almost as terrifying as the outfit that Debbie Drake was wearing on the cover of this album. WHAT was she thinking? Is this what she meant by “Clothes, Sexy – for your evenings home”?

    • That outfit is creepy, isn’t it? She must have meant that to be sexy – otherwise why would she have put it on the album and posed in those ridiculous exercise poses? And speaking of creepy – the guy looking up at her from below is super creepy. I’d like to put a waist cincher around his neck. 😉

      • Is he supposed to be happily daydreaming about his wife, wearing that hideous and weird exercise ensemble? INSANE! It’s very stepford, or something…

        • Yes, VERY Stepford-looking. I would HATE to wear that ensemble when I exercise. I would alter it – cut it up and maybe put sequins on it. Because THAT would be an improvement.

          • pretty much ANYTHING would be an improvement over that. I would rather wear Olivia Newton John’s get-up in the final scene of Grease than put on that number! 🙂 (and I am sure I would look AWESOME in both of them…lol)

            • ONJ’s outfit would be WAY better than Debbie’s. In fact, I have one of those body-skimming leotards if you want to borrow it. It’s in my “Dodgy & Deceptive Disguises” closet. I personally prefer my Cat Woman outfit over the slinky spandex of ONJ’s. It’s a little more rugged for fence hopping and wall scaling.

  2. Crikey, but I love my dogs! They are SO much easier to please
    … and I can still wear my sweatpants! 😀

    • Our pets do not care if our arms are flabby or if we do those eye exercises. They love us, saggy eyes and all. 🙂

  3. Wow – Debbie Drake scares me! LOL!

    All I could think of when I read about how to take care of your body parts was the line from Judy Bloom’s Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret – “We must, we must, we must increase our bust!”

    Yeah, this makes me really happy that I have a respectable and rational husband! LOL!
    Great post!

    • Lol! Yes, I thought of that line from Judy Blume’s book, too! The whole album makes me want to laugh and cry at the same time.

  4. Does Debbie Drake really have astonishing gravity-defying powers like she does on that album cover? She should put on a costume and fight crime.

    • Fighting crime would be a better use of those toned thighs and arms than just being eye candy for the creepy guy staring at her, that’s for sure. Maybe I should draw a little cape on the cover for her.

  5. Wow, this is intense. Good post, Tami. It does frustrate me when women are told their only worth is their physical appearance. I do think that it can also go the other way–uber-macho women sometimes beat men down into the fetal position, which isn’t good or honoring to either party–but it’s hard to believe that Debbie Drake’s advice was legitimately selling just a few decades ago. I did like #s 4 and 5 on her checklist, though: making conversation and being interested are just good tips for relationships in general, even with girlfriends 🙂 Thanks for this well-thought-out post!

    • All good points, Alina. When either gender attacks the other with meaningless, harmful dialogue and insults, no good comes out of that. No one should ever be told their entire self worth is based on their appearance and what others think of them. Sadly, it happens way more from men to women.

  6. OMG, but I was simply laughing my fool head off and at the same time semi-rolling off my chair (which I believe might be an exercise on Debbie’s album–just as my downward facing typing hands are surely hideously ugly! And thank God hubby isn’t in the room to witness this horror.)

    Although, no question, this rollicking hilarity landed with a sobering kerplunk when I landed on David’s flame-inducing comments. It’s enough to burst my waist cincher and tear out my pin curls. Seriously, but what the hell?!

    A most excellent post, Tami!

    • Thanks, Barbara! I hope you didn’t hurt yourself trying to do those “exercises” in your chair. And in pin curls, no less! I think Debbie would be IMPRESSED.

  7. on ,
    Kim Griffin said:

    I think this is a great post, Tami ~ your commentary cracked me up!

    It’s sad (but true) that most ~ or all ~ of this thinking is woven into our society. It’s like a bad current that permeates our thinking.

    I find myself struggling with things like ~ should I wear makeup? Why am I wearing makeup? Who am I wearing it for? OR With regards to my gray hair popping up ~ color it or let it be? If I color it ~ why am I coloring it?

    With the kinds of ideas that you talked about still floating around in society ~ in all different forms ~ it’s really difficult to battle when it comes to your children. Everywhere they are bombarded with these crazy notions in obvious ways and not so obvious ways. I guess the way I address it with them is by example and conversation. To be sure they love themselves as they are and not to depend on what others think of them.

    Are the messages getting through? I’d like to think so, but really only time will tell and I have a feeling I’ll be slaying that ugly dragon for them (and for me) for the rest of my days. My costume? Pin curls with a bed cap, waist cincher (of course), a stepford smile and a bottle of perfume as my weapon…

    • Thanks, Kim! I struggle with the same sorts of things, especially so when it comes to raising two girls. I feel like I am battling the ugly fire breathing dragon with a popscicle stick some days (for them and for me). It kills me when they cut themselves down over their looks. KILLS ME. The Older is quite into make up and looks and I’m hoping when she comes out of the teen years, she’ll find that her true beauty is in who she is as a person. The Younger isn’t as concerned with that stuff right now and I hope that continues.

      LOVE your costume. I’ll meet you outside on the corner so we can go kick some dragon butt later. 😉

  8. My husband told me yesterday that he was reading a Men’s Health magazine (he works at a hospital and was wasting time in a waiting room) and it said that men should do little things for their women, like give unexpected massages, but little gifts, send lovey texts. I thought, well, that sounds lovely.

    Until he followed it up with, “Yeah, according to the article, that’s how to get more sex.”

    So, apparently, the article wasn’t about doing things to strengthen the relationship, but how to get some. Awesome.

    Guess we haven’t come all that far from the “Ways to Please Your Man” days.

    (Love that you bought that album, btw. 🙂 )

    • Articles like that are so freakin’ sad to me. Why is it so hard to look at relationship building as just that – ways to strengthen connections between two people – instead of as a vehicle to get more sex? The irony is if you take sex out of the equation and focus on true, meaningful connection, there would probably be more sex going on because the relationship isn’t being used as a pawn to get it. I could go on and on about this but I’ll spare everyone here.

      When I saw that album in the store, I stared at it with my jaw on the floor for a good five minutes. I couldn’t walk away from the audacity of the words on it and knew I had to buy it, if for no other reason than it would make a great gag gift. Some day I’ll have to play it on a record player so I can laugh and cringe at Debbie’s exercise tips.

    • Yes! Very creepy. I think this is even more creepy in some ways because Debbie Drake was serious about what she was saying.

  9. on ,
    Lee I said:

    I lived through the decades of all that crap and outlived the men in my life. The wars are over for me, and now I’m just dazzled to discover that Palmolive refers to its constituent parts. I had never made that connection.

    • Advertising can be so insidious that way. Glad to know the wars are over for you. I am working my way to that place one inch at a time. 🙂

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