Thursday, April 16, 2009

Mad Housewife

So maybe it's the feminist in me, aware of the "women belong in the kitchen" jokes told by so many people in this country, but when I came across Mad Housewife wine in a store the other day, I was kind of put off. At first, it was just a feeling of uneasiness. Maybe I just didn't like the name. But when I went to do some investigating online, I realized I had more reason to be unhappy than I had first believed.

The Mad Housewife website is striking first of all in the several pictures of "the Mad Housewife" who smiles, dressed in what appears to me to be a retro wardrobe, perhaps a throw back to the 1950s, a time of "traditional women's roles" such as mother and homemaker. I find it interesting that the website so embraces these images when the very title of the label seems to contradict it: It is, after all, Mad Housewife. Not Happy, Content Housewife.

Next, if you click on the image on the home page that reads "who's hungry? check out our delightful recipe section!" you will be taken to a page that includes recipes and gift ideas. Under the heading "Gift Ideas" is a link to Save the Ta-Tas. Save the Ta-Tas is an organization that sells products to raise awareness of breast cancer in general and raise money for breast cancer research specifically. However idealistic this mission sounds, it does not cover the fact that Save the Ta-Tas are objectifying women (especially women with breast cancer), turning them into their body parts, in order to raise money. A link on the Save the Ta-Tas page even says "Show us your ta-tas!" Objectification is never okay, especially if the organization claims to be doing something good for women. (Save the Ta-Tas also has a men's shirt that says "Save a Life Grope Your Wife" but that bullshit is another post all together...) And Mad Housewife supports this.

Then there is the recipe for Mad Housewife Sangria, "aka a Slutty Mad Housewife." You can find the recipe on the Mad Housewife recipe. The aka name disgusts me. This is a product being sold, I assume, by a woman meant to appeal to female consumers. The use of the word "slutty" on a website that also promotes "Save the Ta-Tas" convinces me that this is not an attempt to reclaim words. It is simply buying into old, sexist ideas of advertising meant to put women down.

I'm upset that my initially unfounded bad feeling about this product proved, afterall, to have a foundation. Contact Mad Housewife cellars if you are sick of seeing products advertised in ways that carry harmful messages about women.

I was going to say more about this, but this actually led me to some other things I want to investigate for possible blog posts. Leave your thoughts in the comments section.


Anonymous said...

Actually the "grope your wife" may actually work. As a breast cancer survivor whose husband found her lump, I mentioned this to my oncologist and she said a huge number of women report their partners finding the lumps. (Especially those of us with larger breasts.) So while you may not like the wording, the idea is not a bad one.

Amelia said...

Your comment presents a very legitimate point, Anonymous, but the fact of the matter is that that particular t-shirt only had its wording to go on to spread its message. So the fact that they chose the word "grope," which means assault, leads me to believe that it is indeed assault they are promoting.

I hope that you were not assaulted when your lump was found. I hope that the touching that led to that discovery was not an assault.

Amanda Lynn said...

I have both worked in a prosecutor's office and studied criminal justice, but I have never once heard the word grope defined as assault. It is possible that groping may occur during an assault, but it is also possible that groping can occur between two consenting adults. defines groping as: "Slang. an act or instance of sexually fondling another person." How is that assault? I agree that the wording "grope your wife" is crude, but grope is not equivalent to assault.

Amelia said...

Good point, Amanda Lynn. It is possible that I am letting my own connotations get in the way a bit, but I have never heard the term used in a consensual fashion. I think that at least says something about the greater cultural meanings of the word.

Or maybe I'm just off.