Meaning: A new breed of woman whose housewifeliness is basically independent from marriage, chores, and domesticity, and instead revolves around dieting, gossiping, and shopping while drunk.
Usage: “Yet across the various spinoffs, the real housewives reliably engage in all kinds of confusing, contradictory, neo-housewife behavior: they proudly show off their incompetence in the kitchen (as when Adrienne Maloof of Beverly Hills washes a chicken with hand soap) or their lack of interest in sex (as when her neighbor Lisa Vanderpump jokes about treating sex as a twice-annual gift to her husband) or their limited patience.” — from this past weekend’s New York Times Magazine
You should know it because: It’s always good to know what you don’t want to be, and who wants to be a neo-housewife? Nobody who also wants to be my friend, I’ll tell you that. Of course, for most of you that is not in fact a punishment. Still, although Carina Chocano‘s New York Times Magazine piece was well-done and nicely provoking, I only agree with her notion that Housewives of the Real or Desperate variety are “post-feminist” insofar as I think “post-feminist” is mostly code for “I don’t really know what feminist means.” Had we achieved a world—and not just a white upper-class nanny society—in which most mothers aren’t still (to get all Shulamith Firestone on you) child-bearing, child-rearing, overworked, underpaid inferiors to men, maybe then we could talk about “post”-feminism. But when reproductive rights are a partisan issue, no, we’re not there yet.
Yeah, it’s great that these ladies don’t feel the need to do the dishes or change the diapers. It’s a shame they don’t feel the need to do anything else, either. No matter how I try, I can’t read that as even remotely subversive or empowering. It doesn’t look post-feminist so much as it does post-real.
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