Similar to my other text ‘What weakens the mind of a woman’ I would like to reflect upon one of the lines in the play Heidi Chronicles, by Wendy Wasserstein. The male character Scoop tells Heidi on his weeding day:
“Do I love her, as your nice friend asked me? She’s the best that I can do. Is she an A plus like you? No. But, I don’t want to come home to an A plus. A minus maybe, but not A plus.”
Ouch! This is what I call a punch line – literally! It hurts because it is true. Western men like intelligent women, no doubt, but when a woman proves to be more intelligent than the man, or more successful than the man, tension is unavoidable. It is as if men had it planted in their genes the idea that they have to come first, that they have to provide for the family. Most career women don’t stay with the same partner for long because they would refuse to step back to give way to their husbands, and most ueber intelligent women also change partners regularly because they feel bored, since not every man can level up with them. In short, top women are much of a headache for men, just like Scoop explains. Fun with them is guaranteed, but short lived.
So, must all feminine women suffer an inferiority complex for being a good match for a husband, filling their days with housewife duties? At first, reading Friedan’s Feminine Mystique I got a bit upset with the tone of language, because she makes the reader believe that all housewives are stupid, like the one that Scoop here wishes for himself, but then what both he and Friedan, plus all the aggressive feminists forget is that being a housewife, especially nowadays, opens many doors. It is not about cleaning and cooking and serving as a chauffeur for the kids, and as a psychotherapist and lover for the husband, but it is also about having fun: studying, going shopping, relieving stress in a good kick-boxing work-out session, visiting hairdressers, participating in cultural day trips, helping out with charity organizations and the list goes on and on for those women whose husbands earn enough money to entertain them.
A housewife can be happy when she knows exactly what is coming at her, so if this is the case with Scoop’s wife, he is right by choosing one woman that will provide family harmony and not regular, fierce and frustrating tête à têtes. In other words, it is about rediscovering another way to matter in life, since having a job isn’t the only personal satisfaction a woman can have. She can feel respected, accomplished, needed and missed in other areas, too. Not to mention that if having a job is about helping the society to transform, to improve, does not every society begin with birth? So, a mother’s job is of no value?
In terms of inferiority complex, it can come from every side: at home and at work. A woman just has to compare herself with others that she will always find a reason to feel bad about herself: her thin hair, big butt, small house, laughable holiday destination, salary, job duties, children, etc. Why compare? Why be so unhappy and unfulfilled all the time? Again, Scoop’s line delivers a certain truth:
“On a scale from one to ten, if you aim for six and get six, everything will work out nicely. But if you aim for ten in all things and get six, you’re going to be very disappointed. And, unfortunately, that’s why you ‘quality time’ girls are going to be one generation of disappointed women. Interesting, exemplary, even sexy, but basically unhappy.”
Of course that hereby I am not diminishing the importance of Feminist Movement, because being a woman myself, I know that if today women enjoy so many liberties it is because women before fought for them, yet I just would like to conclude saying that everything is not so black and white, it is not about having shaved or unshaved legs, when a woman could end up deciding to shave only the lower leg, leaving the rest of her body looking like a wild bush. Yet again, if she feels happy shaved, unshaved or half shaved, she must decide it for herself, not because a women’s committee says she has to walk around forgetting about her sex.
If all A Plus women were happy I wouldn’t be writing a word, but most just aren’t. Scoop’s first line portrayed here shows some signs of misogyny, hoping that a woman would not progress intellectually or career-wise in life, but not only he but Heidi, too, know that this is true, regardless how it hurts. A woman must know what she wants, because having it all is just unreal.
Luciana B. Veit