Simply perfect: Via Suburban Guerilla, botox may migrate from your wrinkles into your brain. But then, maybe that’s what cosmetic surgery advocates want–to turn all women into Stepford Wives! (Kind of like that 1994 Breeder’s song “No Aloha,” with the line, “Motherhood means mental freeze. Freezeheads. No aloha!”)
I always thought that it was simply perfect that Katherine Ross played the main character Joanna Eberhart in The Stepford Wives (the original and only decent 1975 version. That’s her on the left in a still from the movie.) Remember that she played Elaine Robinson in The Graduate (1967), and that movie ended with Ben and Elaine on the bus after she ran away from her wedding, both of them looking slightly confused and sad that after their grand gesture, they didn’t really know where they were going. Well, I guess we found out: next stop, Stepford! I suppose that was unsurprising, since the 1960s were much more about “liberations” that preserved male sexual access to women and male dominance. And, Ben was never really in love with Elaine–he was in love with the idea of being in love with her, and she was in love with the idea of royally pissing off her parents.
It’s interesting that in 1975, the male fantasy depicted in The Stepford Wives was one were the women were submissive and sexually available, and the movie’s position was explicitly feminist. (When Joanna gets suspicious about what’s going on with the women of Stepford, she enlists a sympathetic friend to help her join a Consciousness Raising group!) Children and their needs hardly factored into the movie. But, then, that’s actually accurate to my memory of the 1970s. Kids were left to raise each other in roving gangs of kickball or T-ball teams, or on bad weather days, we played Sonny & Cher or Donny & Marie in someone’s basement. Unlike today’s cosseted, bike-helmeted, car-seated, minivan-chauffeured, parentally-monitored little darlings, kids in my generation were the original latchkey kids, even if our mothers weren’t in the paid workforce.
If you’re interested in the 1970s, come to the Berkshire Conference, where we’ve got two sessions devoted to the 1970s, session 71, Queer Politics and American Identities in the 1970s and 1980s, and session 173, Towards a History of the 1970s in America: A Roundtable on Gender and Popular Culture, in addition to at least nine other individual papers on other panels. (Program details: just click here!)