Layers and Layers of Layers

"The Good Wife's Guide," an article in the May 1955 edition of Housekeeping Monthly, has been floating around the internet for many years-- you may have come across it-- but if you haven't, the article features eighteen tips on how to keep your husband happy . . . here are a few telling excerpts:

1) Have dinner ready;

2) Prepare yourself . . . touch up your makeup, put a ribbon in your hair;

7) Prepare the children . . . minimize all noise;

14) Don't complain if he's late for dinner or even if he stays out all night;

16) Arrange his pillow and speak in a low, soothing voice;

17) Remember he is the master of the house;

18) A good wife always knows her place;

and if this advice sounds absurdly chauvinistic and sexist, to the point of being satirical, that's because it is: there's never been a magazine called Housekeeping Monthly and the article is a hoax-- though many people don't know this (including, apparently the history department in my school-- one student of mine said they did a detailed analysis of the article as a historical document and the teacher had no idea that the article is an internet meme) and I think this is because so many people want to believe the article-- liberals want to use it as a document that concretely and definitively shows the oppression of women and their rights and intellect, and conservatives (check the comments on the link to the article, they're excellent) like it because it reminds them of a past that never actually existed . . . while women's rights has come a long way, Lucy's desire for true equality might be a more accurate depiction of the sentiment of the time . . . but what I really wonder about the piece is if it is liberal propaganda or conservative propaganda-- was it created by a feminist to sow discontent or was it created by a conservative with nostalgia for family values . . . or perhaps it was it created by someone with a great sense of humor; after teaching a lesson about these issues yesterday, and using the hoax-article (the kids were properly appalled, and some of them thought the article might be a fake . . . except for the kids who studied it in history class) while I was driving home, I saw a "Republicans for Voldemort" bumper sticker and had exactly the same layered epistemological-ontological thoughts-- was that bumper sticker made by a Democrat for other Democrats, to disparage Republicans, or is it a fun and ironic way to celebrate being a Republican . . . or is Voldemort actually a Democrat, and these Republicans for Voldemort a vocal minority?

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