This chapter was largely anti-FW. It was not titled “Defending Mrs. Andelin” – that is the title that I gave this review of it. The documentary is supposed to shed light on and look at the controversy of Fascinating Womanhood, and this chapter adequately relates that. It did wonderfully relate the strength of the two sides: feminist women and fascinating women. The feminists were outspoken and much more animated and outright with their criticism, while the fascinating women relayed their points – which are just as strong – in a soft, dignified way. The production team did a great job at subtly relating that and giving their viewers plenty of food for thought.
Because there was no clear defense presented from a pro-FW point of view to the allegations made and opinions shared by the ultra-feminists in this chapter, I feel that it is only fair that I defend it here. I was an authorized teacher of Fascinating Womanhood for many years and knew and worked with both the late Mrs. Helen Andelin and her son Brian (who has also passed away) on FW.
The psychotherapist who said that her mother and sister learned to manipulate men by FW seems to have had a mother with more more problems than what she is trying to pin on FW. If her mother was manipulative and lived a double-life, she was not following FW completely, as she did not apply the teachings of the chapter about developing a Worthy Character and about being a woman with self-dignity. A woman of Worthy Character is not manipulative nor double-minded. A woman of self-dignity will not keep going with a marriage in which she honestly fears anything from her husband, including being herself; she will find the help she needs to make the marriage one of open communication and that is completely safe or, if need be, separate from her husband.
That her mother chose not to make her feelings and whatever else known to her husband was also a failure to live the teachings of FW in which a woman expresses herself openly and honestly and asks for the things she wants and makes her desires, wishes, and wants known; these just happen to be the teachings of Childlikeness, which the psychotherapist is condemning, while saying her mother should have been this way. Her mother’s issues that are being blamed on Fascinating Womanhood seem to be more likely caused by a lack of mental health care/mental health issue recognition available to women at the time, a lack of having a qualified Fascinating Womanhood teacher available to clarify the teachings – though she could have written to Mrs. Andelin and had these things cleared-up, her mother’s refusal to get the mental help she needed, or her mother’s conscious choice to live a double life and be manipulative of her husband. If her mother earnestly misunderstood the teachings to the degree that her daughter relates, then perhaps she (no offense intended) had a significant learning disability or was a very mentally fragile person due to childhood trauma, genetics, or something like that.
There’s one more very telling thing about this psychotherapist to be noticed, and that is that she neatly rolls up her feelings toward all men by saying that “…Expressing anger in that way, of course, presupposes that the man is going to take care of you, and give you all, you know, meet all of your needs. Uhm, and that doesn’t happen in the real world”. She can’t speak for the whole world. I have known, and do know, many married couples who meet their spouses needs that only they can. Many women the world over have the needs that only their loving husbands can meet met by living the teachings of FW. Once again in this documentary, we have someone stating that something just can’t happen for anyone because they haven’t experienced it themselves. It’s tragic that a psychotherapist in this day and age is so close-minded and I have to wonder if, by her being this way, she helps or hinders her patients. My writing that may sound cruel or judgmental in light of the fact that I’ve never met her or followed any of her teachings, but isn’t that what she’s doing to Mrs. Andelin?
A Little Note about Childlikeness…
To be trusting of and dependent upon someone – in the case of FW, one’s husband – to fulfill his God-given role isn’t a bad thing at all. For a wife to be open, honest, and spunky with her husband when she is angry is not a bad thing – it can be a healthy thing.
There seem to be three main ways in which women handle anger towards their husbands for medium offenses (light offenses should be overlooked as often as healthy and heavy offenses should be dealt with in all seriousness) in America today. The first is to respond in destructive anger (note: Not all anger is destructive). The second is to be silent and smolder inside; to say or do nothing but hold the hurt and or anger one feels inside. Both of these ways are unhealthy. The third, which is the healthiest on one hand but sometimes damaging on the other, is to go into a lengthy lecture with one’s husband about what he did wrong and really end-up psycho-analyzing the whole thing to death, which can lead the husband to agree just for the sake of, frankly, getting his wife to shut-up. No one likes a nag, especially a husband. Such lecturing can cause a husband to avoid his wife and be dishonest with her, and both of these things are destructive to a marriage. On the other hand, there’s Childlikeness. Using this method clears up a hurtful or angering incident quickly, honestly, and without lecturing or arguing. With Childlikeness, a wife vents her true feelings, the husband knows he’s honestly offended her, and both can move on quickly from, and with full remedy to, the situation. If you haven’t read that chapter of Fascinating Womanhood or have had trouble understanding it, do consider reading or re-reading it, won’t you?
The ultra feminists in the movie continually refer to Mrs. Andelin as merely “Andelin”. To address a woman by only her last name is a decidedly masculine way to address her. These ultra feminists appear, by their body language, facial expressions, tones, and word choices, to seethe right under their skin with hatred towards Mrs. Andelin and her message, though they are speaking professionally. When they refer to her as “Andelin”, this seething is bubbling over a bit – like a simmering pot of beans in which a few bubbles just have to rise up and pop now and then. To their credit, they have are displaying a much nicer way of relating their hatred of the book and Mrs. Andelin than the generation of feminists preceding them did. To their detriment, the hate is still obvious, though they try to hide it by deceit; being deceitful doesn’t help their cause. And it’s kind of funny, actually, that they are using ladylike manners of professionalism to try to discredit Mrs. Andelin – who they hate because she taught women to be ladylike. I believe the word is irony, right?
Mr. Lund, who stated that what Mrs. Andelin wrote about ‘pounding a man’s chest’ would nowadays be considered domestic violence, misunderstood what Mrs. Andelin meant. She never advocated a woman literally striking a man in any way. A good example of what Mrs. Andelin meant by this can be found in the movie Gone with the Wind. in the scene where Atlanta is burning and Rhett shows up to help get Scarlett, Melanie and the baby, and Prissy out of there. When he first shows up, Scarlett is distraught and exclaiming she’s going home to her mother and can’t be stopped. Rhett tells her that she can’t make it, so she turns to him in exhaustion and exasperation and weakly raises her fists sideways to his chest, like she is fighting as a sign of struggling against all that is wrong and her inability to fix it, yet can’t stop her inner drive to do just that – she is completely frustrated. He grabs her and holds her protectively and consoles her, giving her what she wants – a trip home. Scarlett did not physically beat or abuse Rhett Butler and he didn’t her in that scene. Mrs. Andelin never meant to literally beat a man’s chest.
It’s important to note that Mrs. Andelin was a big fan of the cinematic arts and saw many things like that in classic movies (remember, she grew up in the thirties and forties, when movies were really something) that she referred to as examples of living FW. We do live in a different day and age from when FW was written and Gone with the Wind and other classic movies were made. If there were to be an updated version of FW, this is one area (along with a few others and some dated wording) that should be cleared-up to avoid confusion.
The worst thing about this chapter of the movie was that an ultra feminist towards the beginning accused Mrs. Andelin of promoting the sexualization of children. For a feminist to state that ‘there’s a saying among feminist that infantinization of women leads to the sexualization of children’ is a case of dark disguising itself as light. Feminists, with the “free sex”, “anything goes” sex culture that they ardently promote, so much so that they demand sex education in elementary school and birth control and abortion behind parents’ backs in middle and high school, have some gall to try to twist Mrs. Andelin’s teachings into the very thing that they promote with fervor and force among American taxpayers. Some women have trouble understanding Childlikeness as taught by Mrs. Andelin and the feminists play on this especially hard in their attempts to destroy and discredit Mrs. Andelin and her teachings.
About a Childlike or girlish appearance, women and girls have both worn flowers in their hair and ruffly, lacy dresses for thousands of years, and they continue to in this very day and age. When Mrs. Andelin wrote FW, there was no Botox or relatively inexpensive medical and surgical treatments to look younger. There was basically the face lift, which was only affordable to wealthy women. Women used their dress and hair pieces to look younger, to draw attention away from the fact that they were aging, and to make themselves feel younger – which can make an older woman feel more attractive. Women still do this, but they also can more easily afford Botox and such. Women have always wanted to appear younger, because they feel more beautiful that way. Mrs. Andelin was trying to help women achieve this appearance. Youth represents freshness, vitality, and a freedom from the wear, tear, and worries that accompany women as they age.
As for dressing in a youthful or “Childlike” style, as Mrs. Andelin put it, it may be helpful to think of a haggard older woman and an older woman who keeps herself stylish and has a youthful (but appropriately mature) spunk and look about her. If you are young, you may have trouble understanding these things, but as you age, you’ll see it more clearly, I believe. A great example of this appearance is Mrs. Gilly Keuhn in this chapter of the documentary. Her hair is curly and red, she’s wearing a ruffly shirt, and she is very feminine and up-to-date in her style, for her age.
The feminists interviewed in this chapter and I have a few things in common. The most substantial of which is our age. We are all about the same age, it appears, and come from a line of feminism and anti-feminism that is thankfully fading. Today’s younger feminists and anti-feminists aren’t as harsh in their views and feelings towards one another it seems, and this is a very good thing. Both the feminists and anti-feminists in my generation swung the pendulum too far on many things and went after each other full-throttle; this way of behaving towards one another and other women, though fading away, can still be seen – take for example the way I am responding to them due to their response to FW – but the way we relate to each other and other women, it really seems, is changing for the better. We are meeting more towards the middle and being more constructive in working together on some issues.
On many issues, I can relate to and even agree with feminism. I believe that women and men are of equal value and worth. I believe that women must have self-dignity to live as God created them to. I believe that no woman is to be a doormat for any man or anyone else. And there are feminists who feel the same way about “classic” or “Fascinating” womanhood issues such as femininity, being a homemaker rather than a career woman, and living in harmony with the differences between men and women. Click here for a link to a recent article that expresses this common ground we are finding wonderfully.
Womanhood in America is moving ahead in a positive direction at this time in our history. I am glad (thus far) that this documentary has been produced. It is helping to nurture this new stage of Dignified Womanhood that is coming about in our nation. It is helping to open communication between women who hold differing beliefs about womanhood, where we’ve been, where we are, and where we’re going. The power of women who work together in sincerity for the good of all women is unfathomable. I find it awesome that we live in a day and age in which we are bringing this power about.