The Stepford Wives
I grew up in rural northwest Jersey, a beautiful verdant mountainous area of rolling hills and lush valleys. As a kid, I neglected to see its peaceful quaintness. Now I enjoy driving through the pleasant countryside and wooded suburban lots.
I do, however, see the sinister side of such a life…. ”Soo-borb,” enunciated Jenna, the spoiled narcissistic TGS actress on “30 Rock”. I see it in the dissatisfied looks on the faces of the pretty, fashionably-dressed housewives walking through the outdoor malls of Chester. In the quiet visages of resignation of mothers doing the weekly grocery shopping. The message seems to be clear: housewifery is boring.
Do the dynamics of one working spouse + one stay-at-home spouse really work? Or is the Asian model of an inter-generational family more like the ideal family unit?
I don’t think the urban/suburban enclaves of New York City’s boroughs are immune to this suburban ennui either. Sitting at one of my nephew’s classmate’s birthday parties, a father noted, “What was that book called, the one talking about bowling alone even in the midst of a neighborhood community?”
“Bowling Alone,” I said, Robert Putnam’s analysis of how suburban life is separating rather than uniting families and diverse groups. It’s possible to be just as segregated in an urban environment too; look at how people jest at the seemingly superior airs of Park Slope residents or mock the laid-back attitudes and styles of Willyburgers.
Suburban life at its most extreme might mimic “The Stepford Wives”. Marriage and its accompanying social norms ultimately involve an imbalance of power, whether through resources, intelligence, or social networks.