Fascinating Womanhood

Fascinating Womanhood , by Helen Andelin, was published in 1963, but was based on some pamphlets written in the 1920s and 1930s. Even in its time (which was a little before the “sexual revolution” but when feminism was still thick in the air nevertheless), it was a traditionalist expression, with a Christian theme. It has since sold millions of copies, and has been the subject of numerous books that are commentaries on the original. The book has its own page at Wikipedia.

Mostly, it is a practical guide of specific do-this and do-thats. But, within it lies a more abstract principle of what makes a good wife, in any era. Implicit within this is also: what makes a good husband. Andelin’s own husband, Aubrey Andelin, also wrote a book about this, Man of Steel and Velvet, which takes up this topic in more detail. This is also a worthwhile book, although it is not so timeless or important as Fascinating Womanhood, and also, to read the first implies the second to some degree.

At first, I considered the title to mean “how to be fascinating (to men, and thus manipulate him to get what you want),” and the contents do address this, but now I take the title to mean that “being a (traditional, stay-at-home) woman is fascinating” — that marriage, home and family is a complex and rewarding milieu, and does not involve only changing diapers, or cooking without shoes. When we consider how many “smart, educated” women fail at this miserably, even as they dismiss it as too menial for their oh-so-specialness, it would seem that it is a task today that would strain even the ablest women.

I consider both books to be required reading for both men and women today.

Published by proprietor

Happily married, with children.

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