Virtual Voices

Eye-opening substitution

Culture

I was leafing through the February 18, 2008 Newsweek at the optometrist's office and found this article: "How to Train a Husband." Subtitle: "Want an obedient spouse? A new book says you should coach them like animals."

Having not much else to do while I was waiting for my son, I decided to play with this a while, and switch around all the gender words as I read, starting with the title:

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"How to Train a Wife: Want an obedient spouse? A new book says you should coach them like animals." (Wow! Much more arresting.)

Paragraph one: "…Sutherland, a journalist who spent a year at an animal-trainer school and decided to apply the trainers' techniques to [his wife's] annoying habits."

The article cites a current BBC reality show called "Bring Your Husband to Heel," in which a dog trainer teaches women how to make their husbands sit and stay. I wonder how that would play if we snapped the leash (or "lead") on the wife rather than the hubby.

I don't know what goes on in the inner sanctum of publishing, but I'll bet my revised version of this Newsweek article --- even presented as tongue-in-cheek --- would be dead in the water if I pitched it to an Editor. I know that partly from hanging around the greeting card section of CVS, where you will find "stupid husband" cards but no "stupid wife" cards. And I know it partly from just being alive in a century and a country where there are carefully enforced, unstated double-standard gender-bashing rules.

Andrée Seu
Andrée Seu

Andrée is the author of three books: Won't Let You Go Unless You Bless Me, Normal Kingdom Business, and We Shall Have Spring Again. Follow Andrée on Twitter @Andreespeterson.

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