The Stepford Wives
Interesting movie. Not all that good in my opinion but thought provoking. There are probably going to be spoilers here so if that bothers you you may want to come back after you’ve seen the movie. The movie is about a town called Stepford which is supposedly in Connecticut. Mapquest says there is no town anywhere in the United States. Hardly surprising at this juncture.
In Stepford there is the Stepford Men’s Club which meets at the Stepford Manor. This men’s club has pretty much one purpose. Designing and manufacturing robots to replace the human wives of the men in Stepford. The men’s club first convinces men new to the community that having a robot wife would be better than the human they are currently married to. The club then sets about the task of making a robot that looks and talks like the human woman it will replace. This involves having a few meetings at the home of the new member so that the artist in the club can draw the features. Later, another member of the club stops by and asks the wife to write down all the places she has ever lived and make a recording of a list of words in her voice. With this information the club then sets about the task of building a robot that looks and sounds like the woman. The president of the club is a retired Disney executive they call ‘Dis’. He is also the mastermind of this fiendish organization. As can be guessed, he is a very controlling individual very convinced of his own wisdom and knowledge. The process takes about four months. The husband and wife go away for a weekend and when they return the wife is interested only in cooking, cleaning, caring for the children and submitting joyfully to her husband’s every whim.
The case could be made that The Stepford Wives is a commentary on the traditional roles of women in society. The main character of the movie has a budding career as a photographer which she is interested in pursuing. It comes out in the course of the movie that her husband would like her to stop taking pictures and focus more on her duties as a mother, wife and house keeper. One might conclude that The Stepford Wives is telling us that traditional role models for women cast them into mindless robots deprived of self-expression or pursuit of their own interests. It was interesting that the robot wives in the movie wore long demure dresses while the wives not yet replaced wore sexy, revealing clothing. The main character throughout the movie does not wear a bra and it appears that the set was kept at about 55 degrees so that her nipples remained firm and obvious.
The main character at one point goes into a neighbor’s house looking to talk to the woman who lives there. She can hear what is obviously the woman she is looking for in the ‘throes’ of sexual activity with her husband. This scene furthers the commentary on traditional roles of women in society, stating that women should seek only to bolster and affirm their husband’s masculinity at the expense of their own desires, interests or pleasure.
The movie’s ending was disappointing to me, in part because I like movies with strong, victorious endings. The Stepford Wives is not about entertainment so much as it is social commentary. The Stepford Wives sets out to instill a fear of societal norms in the hope of inspiring change. At the very least, The Stepford Wives sets out to make its audience think about what the social norm dictates as the roles of women. Given that The Stepford Wives inspired me to write this entry, I have to admit that it is effective in its endeavor. That doesn’t mean I liked it.
Thinking through The Stepford Wives caused me to think through my own life and marriage. Early in our marriage my wife and I agreed that she would stay at home with the kids. Me being a product of the women’s lib generation, this agreement between my wife and I mostly consisted of me accepting that what my wife really wanted was to stay home, raise children and be a wife. 17 years of marriage and 15 years into raising children I now understand that raising children and maintaining a household are very difficult, demanding, and potentially rewarding endeavors. I’ve spent most of my working life in the corporate environment and can honestly say that my wife works a hell of a lot harder than I do. The notion that stay at home moms have it easy was developed either by people who have never raised children or by people who wanted to justify not having to work so hard.
In my own family there is no doubt, I support my wife so that she can do the important work of our family. My contribution to society through my efforts at various computer firms such as Microsoft and Apple are insignificant. The most significant contribution that I will make to society is to take seriously my responsibility as a husband and father which will in turn provide the model by which my children will make their contribution to society. In the example that I live for my children I affect not only my own generation but also generations to follow. One of the primary motivating factors in our decision to leave the comforts of corporate life and start our own company was so that I could make more of a contribution to and play a bigger role in the raising of my children. The kind of work that we have ventured into has provided a greater creative outlet for my wife in that we sought something that would allow both of us to contribute in order to more evenly distribute the load of provision.
The Stepford Wives was not entertaining and I can’t say that I recommend it. I didn’t like it and wouldn’t watch it again. It was thought provoking and it was interesting to consider some of the assertions made in the movie.
In the course of writing this article, I came across this which I found interesting. Feminists never actually burned their bras.