Uh oh: Feminist stereotype alert

The oh-so-enlightened show Wife Swap is featuring a “fanatical feminist” (cue scary music) in their season premiere.

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84 Comments

  1. SarahMC
    Posted January 3, 2008 at 8:51 am | Permalink

    Angie, if you are the woman from Wife Swap, please note that the majority of (regular) Feministing commenters are NOT interested in your physical appearance. Most of us are defending you for your views, and not paying much mind to how you look.
    Kudos!

  2. angieboss
    Posted January 3, 2008 at 8:57 am | Permalink

    Oops…a little help from the littlest one on my lap.
    Here are some things you might not know..
    My name is hyphnated Best-Boss, but they dropped tat on the show and my other job is a batterer intervention program facilitator – I work with the guys who abuse their partners. I say my clients are their partners, I just happen to work with the men. Again, too much for ABC to handle-so they dropped that part of my life.

  3. sgzax
    Posted January 3, 2008 at 9:03 am | Permalink

    I was kind of hoping the fat thing would ease off once some people had watched the actual show. It really had better, because I’m enraged by the suggestion that some people are less worthy than others just because of their failure to fit a narrow definition of what is acceptable. On a Feminist site. Nice.
    About the show:
    I would be interested to know whether Feminist Mom had been coached by the producing staff to rip up that picture, because it was the only unreasonable decision she made. In every other instance she was lovely toward the Pageant Daughter and she had some great ideas to get her to see that there were some other things she could be doing.
    It was kind of tragic to see Pageant Daughter revert when the Swap was over, but I guess it’s part of the cycle of abuse that the victim has to placate his/her abuser. She has to live with her Dad, and I suppose I shouldn’t judge the girl for her survival mechanisms.
    Another observation: the show is such an unnatural construct. Did anyone notice that the Feminist family’s younger wanna-be Princess daughter already had fancy dress-up clothing for play before the swap took place? And make-up? Which means that her family was already allowing her to play dress-up and the great “accomplishment” of the Pageant Mom in getting them to allow sparkly behavior, or whatever, was a fiction constructed by the producers. Ah, reality TV.

  4. angieboss
    Posted January 3, 2008 at 9:03 am | Permalink

    Thanks Sarah…other tidbits, one of my rules was to protest a beauty pageant in Buffalo that weekend, but ABC nixed it.
    I also wanted to teach her to change a flat, and Alicia said yes, but Ralph nixed it. So, for me, the frustrating part was that her new “feminist” life was spent cooking and serving others…not exactly what I had hoped for

  5. SarahMC
    Posted January 3, 2008 at 9:07 am | Permalink

    It’s so enraging that as much as anti-feminists whine about women “using” men, they actively attempt to keep them dependent on men. So they’re protesting against things of their own doing.
    Like the changing the flat thing.

  6. angieboss
    Posted January 3, 2008 at 9:11 am | Permalink

    The photo was a copy – which Ralph knew – notice he didn’t give a crap about me ripping it.
    I told Alicia later that day that it was a copy and the producers were honked off – but that didn’t make it on their air. I do wish I hadn’t ripped it.
    And great for noticing that Clara already had a full dress-up box. Of course, it also has a doctor’s lab coat and firefighter’s hat, which she steadfastly ignores.

  7. sgzax
    Posted January 3, 2008 at 9:15 am | Permalink

    When Feminist Daughter was learning Latin at the end I turned to my husband and said, “We have to raise our daughter to be like that.” But then we admitted to each other that our laziness might get in the way of the great project just a bit.

  8. WabiSabiLife
    Posted January 3, 2008 at 9:20 am | Permalink

    I watched the show last night because I was interested after seeing mention of it here, and I am enjoying Angie’s inside scoop right now.
    I also read many of the message boards at abc this morning. I was expecting to find a real mix of feedback, but many, many people are appalled by the pagaent family. Angie’s eldest (Katelyn?) has been called “awesome”, and “my new hero”. There were also comments that “I want my daughter to be just like her!” This makes me happy that intelligence and self sufficiency are considered good things by mainstream America.

  9. angieboss
    Posted January 3, 2008 at 9:27 am | Permalink

    New friends,
    You have made my daughter’s morning. She was concerned that she appeared socially awkward (after all there were no shots of her with her group of friends-just the artifically constructed ones with the crew)-she has been really encouraged by the positive feedback she’s gotten so far.
    Alicia was willing to appear on camera without makeup (another one of my rules) but dad nixed that one,too. And he was just as creepy as he looked. In fact, he said, “Sex sells and my daughter is a product.” But not clean enough for ABC
    Anything else you want to know?

  10. SarahMC
    Posted January 3, 2008 at 9:32 am | Permalink

    I didn’t realize ABC was allowed to override your rule decisions! Geez.
    Could it be any more clear that pageantry is child abuse? I wish that dad would get a visit from CPS. Fucker.
    I’d venture a guess that he’s sexually abusive.

  11. sgzax
    Posted January 3, 2008 at 9:37 am | Permalink

    I wonder if any WifeSwap participants have ever called CPS? I really think Pageant family would benefit from a visit.

  12. Roxie
    Posted January 3, 2008 at 10:02 am | Permalink

    I did watch the show cause, well, I wanted to see how it turned out.
    I was really impressed Angie! Especially by the way you kept such a cool head when trying to communicate with the other father. I don’t know if I could’ve done the same…I was kinda screaming at the TV
    Also, I figured out that it was a copy! You didn’t come off like a person who would rip up the OG picture w/o the father’s knowledge.
    I was also very impressed and inspired by your eldest daughter. She was great! She opened to the new experience, but firmly asserted her boundaries. If I ever have a daughter, I’d want her to be like that.
    It was sad the way the other parents enabled their girl. I really do hope she’s doing her own homework.

  13. SarahMC
    Posted January 3, 2008 at 10:11 am | Permalink

    Angie, if I were you I’d have been terrified that the producers would twist everything I said/did so to make me out to be a “feminazi,” and giving people a warped perception of feminists.
    Luckily that didn’t happen, but were you worried they’d misrepresent you?

  14. Femilala
    Posted January 3, 2008 at 10:28 am | Permalink

    I watched the show, and thought that Angie was a wonderful example of what I would like to be like if I ever become a mother. I was also especially impressed by her ability to (attempt to) communicate with the girl’s misogynistic father in a calm manner, because some of the things he was saying were making me physically sick just to watch on television.
    Angie, I really admire what you were able to accomplish with that teenage girl, and I hope that she really was able to take something from her experience with you. Her face when you told her that you were proud of her was a wonderful thing to see. It is unfortunate that you didn’t get to make all of the “rules” that you wanted to, but the little bit of leeway that ABC did give you was inspiring to watch. I agree that it would have been nice if most (all?) of her learning experiences hadn’t been related to cooking or serving others, but I really hope that she gained as much confidence in herself as an actual human being as she seemed to.
    And add me to the chorus of voices who absolutely LOVED your oldest daughter and her attitude about life!
    Also, on a note unrelated to the show, I think it is absolutely wonderful that you work with the partners of battered women. Thank you for the fantastic and important work that you do.

  15. A male
    Posted January 3, 2008 at 10:30 am | Permalink

    “Could it be any more clear that pageantry is child abuse?”
    Particularly pageants nationwide for young girls, where they dress, smile, pout and strut like sex objects, such as those JonBenet Ramsey participated in; with the kind of families akin to what I referred to, who consider their children “real dolls.” Also, many of the “young and teen fashion” or child and teen modeling pay sites, which also sell photo collections and videos.

  16. SassyGirl
    Posted January 3, 2008 at 10:59 am | Permalink

    Angie,
    Your girls rocked, especially the oldest! Her maturity and intelligence were inspirational, that girl had so much natural “sparkle” that she doesn’t need any of the artificial stuff! You must be so proud!
    I have to admit, I was worried about how you would be portrayed, but was impressed. Pageant dad was a jerk and I thought that you handled him nicely.

  17. sgzax
    Posted January 3, 2008 at 11:07 am | Permalink

    I went over and looked at the WifeSwap discussion boards. I’m happy to say that the mass of people commenting were supportive of the feminist family and horrified by the pageant family.
    I’m also not the only one who smelled a child molester in Pageant Dad. I hope someone in Pageant Daughter’s school saw the episode and figures out how to reach out to her.

  18. incitewxriot
    Posted January 3, 2008 at 11:38 am | Permalink

    Does anyone know if this particular episode is streaming anywhere? I really wanted to see it, but one of my best friends is leaving for Iraq and her farewell dinner was last night, so I missed it.
    Thanks!

  19. merichan
    Posted January 3, 2008 at 11:42 am | Permalink

    i have decided not to breed for a myriad of reasons…
    but, in a parallel universe where i do, how these girls are raised is EXACTLY how i would go about it.
    angie, thank you for raising what will become strong, independent women.
    your eldest, i am sure, will become a microbiologist that helps cure something…
    and i LOVE how you accepted your middle child’s desire to play dress-up even though it’s not your thing.
    shows that you trust your daughters to make decisions for themselves.
    thank you.

  20. KIM7813
    Posted January 3, 2008 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    The sexy within sane limits is actually I’m referring to is that we don’t put up with disembodies parts of women or the idea of doing something we’re uncomfortable with…This is what I was trying to say.

  21. sgzax
    Posted January 3, 2008 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the clarification, Kim, because I didn’t get that when you said:
    That is no feminist. That woman is more like Andrea Dworkin. She does look rather fat…
    or…
    Actually, she’s EXTREMELY FAT. She looks too much like a blob.
    So now that you’ve regained your sanity you do understand why everyone else took offense? Oh, good.

  22. Jem
    Posted January 3, 2008 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

    Had to watch the show – mind you with a lot of reservation – but I was very impressed with how Angie kept her cool. Like someone else mentioned, I would’ve lost it completely on that creep. That a-hole ordering her to the room, calling her names, insulting his daughter…he is a disgusting father. One of the things that came to mind is, gee, whatever therapist this girl ends up with…jackpot $!
    Also, just like others, I absolutely adored the oldest girl, and even the middle one (when she hit the table and told both adults to stop arguing I had to cheer for her).
    But going back to the level of patience I wouldn’t have had – I admired that.
    Now, to KIM, et al. I am really fucking tired of weight getting dragged into a lot of threads when it has nothing to do with the original topic. NOTHING. Keep those damn comments to yourself.
    “3.) Seriously, WHY is her weight a topic of discussion? What the everloving crap is that? I thought the way she came off on the show was frankly awesome and that there was a ton to discuss in the show, both in terms of the stuff she said (she was really articulate and well-spoken) and in terms of the way she was presented; and people are talking about her WEIGHT?! What the hell?”
    My thoughts exactly, Kylie.

  23. angieboss
    Posted January 3, 2008 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

    My last two emails…
    one from Bitch mag requesting an interview and the other from a beauty pageant director with an invitation for Clara to come crown other princesses.
    It’s like a twilight zone out here guys….

  24. A male
    Posted January 3, 2008 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

    Hello, angieboss
    Are you a regular here?
    Bless you for your work. I’ve heard some truly terrible stories from staff and victims at the local women and children’s shelter. May I ask your opinion about counseling and therapy (in addition to TROs) vs. immediate arrest of abusers? What is your experience with women as abusers?

  25. Kmari1222
    Posted January 3, 2008 at 7:19 pm | Permalink

    I love you angie.

  26. angieboss
    Posted January 3, 2008 at 7:31 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for your kind words.
    I don’t work with women – it’s more difficult to find folks to work with the guys. I will say my program has 7 classes a week for men and only 1 for women. I haven’t been in the field long enough to have an educated opinion, but my intuition and limited experience tells me jail and then cognitive accountability training together stand the best chance of success. Research is murky here.
    It was pretty important to me for the guys to see me act carefully and intentionally without losing control when Ralph was attacking me. They need to know you can feel afraid or threatened and still act with integrity.
    I’m still learning…
    I have been a regular lurker, but never posted before.

  27. KIM7813
    Posted January 4, 2008 at 12:08 am | Permalink

    Actually, the only reason everyone was commenting on how fat she is was because it was overly obvious.
    That’s the problem, if you’re fat, people tend to overstate the obvious.
    I am actually trying to curb that habit of pointing out the obvious, but it’s hard.
    Also, I have weight problems, but it’s not that out of control. I’ve been trying to control my weight for health.

  28. A male
    Posted January 4, 2008 at 1:16 am | Permalink

    “Actually, the only reason everyone was commenting on how fat she is was because it was overly obvious.”
    Considering 38-60% of Americans are either “overweight” or “obese” by new and old federal government standards, I did not consider her “fat,” and not worth mentioning. So she is a realistic looking woman, not a would be Barbie doll portrayed as a spoiled fool like that family’s daughter. I wonder what that daughter’s reaction will be when she fills out.
    You should see what is considered “fat” in a hospital, as in, unable to move unaided, threatening the health of my back; or requiring a crew of firefighters to assist male and female nurses to get a female patient off a toilet. It happens in my community, and my classmate (male) was one of those who had to call 911 for a woman stuck on a toilet in her room. That is heavy.

  29. echj
    Posted January 4, 2008 at 2:39 am | Permalink

    I personally was completely creeped out when that dad was doing the spray tan on his daughter. There were a lot of gross moments with that guy, but that seemed to sum things up for me.
    I’ve been a lurker like Angie but have decided to start participating (New Years!) and wanted to weigh in with the others here and say Kaylyn was so poised and awesome, and I’ll bet she’s going to grow up to be an amazing, inspirational woman. I thought you were great, Angie.

  30. dancin'daze
    Posted January 4, 2008 at 10:32 am | Permalink

    Kim: “Actually, the only reason everyone was commenting on how fat she is was because it was overly obvious.” Who, exactly, is everyone? You seem to be dominating the fat comments on this thread. Just because you are fixated on peoples’ weights, doesn’t mean the rest of us are. When I first saw the preview, I was really pleased that ABC actually exhibited a normal looking mom, rather than that desperate housewives crap.
    All these comments about appearance definitely disgusted me, considering what this website is supposed to be about.
    However, let me add to everyone else in saying: Great Job Angie! I was really impressed by your patience and your open mind. I wish you more success with both your career and your family.

  31. BluCheez
    Posted January 5, 2008 at 8:48 am | Permalink

    UPDATE: Here’s a video clip of the beauty queen daughter. Seems like she lives in a bubble of her own beauty.
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/01/04/this-weeks-must-see-vide_n_79615.html
    It’s the first clip on this HuffPost page

  32. JennD
    Posted January 5, 2008 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

    Angie, I was extremely impressed with how you handled yourself on WifeSwap. I hard a hard time just watching that family, I cannot imagine what it was like to live there for two weeks! I found myself crying for that poor girl, she’s missing so much and she doesn’t even realize it.
    I was also extremely impressed with your daughters and with your husband! They all came off really well and handled their side of the challenge amazingly.
    ABC portrayed your family’s homeschool as being solely for feminist reasons, but I suspect it also has a lot to do with your religious beliefs as well. Am I right? I was disappointed that that aspect was left out because I think the Quaker element could have added more dimension and it’s something that even a lot of other Christians aren’t familiar with.
    Your middle daughter winning the pageant was a bit of a surprise, only because she didn’t have the years of brainwashing- I mean training- in all the artificial smiling and posing that is involved in pageantry. Was the win influenced by ABC? I thought she was going to lose, be in tears, and learn that being judged my her looks sucked. I still can’t decide if the win was a good thing. Do you feel like it negatively re-enforced that being judged on superficials is a positive?
    Thanks for posting here!

  33. angieboss
    Posted January 6, 2008 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    I still don’t know about the pageant – I haven’t heard the whole story. I suspect she just won one of the categories. I agree with you – it’s soty of lose-lose. If she won, then it was an affirmation of …lots of things and if she lost, she would learn maybe that it sucks to be judged on your looks. But at what cost? The swap was so tough for her I am glad she had good feelings about it, but we’ll be turning down all the offers to coach her for free.
    And as for Quakerism, you’re absolutely write – it’s a huge part of who we are (as Scientology informs the G family). Quakers believe in simplicity and integrity, conflict resolution and equality – all of those things that I struggled with at the other house. Karen even preached at my meeting! But it didn’t neatly tie in with the show’s agenda, so…

  34. JennD
    Posted January 7, 2008 at 4:23 am | Permalink

    You’re not going to take up those generous coaching offers? Shock! lol
    Thanks for answering my questions. I know the show is intended as mindless entertainment, but a situation such as yours and the G family makes me wish for a two-hour documentary instead of forty-minute fluff. I wanna see what Karen preached at your meeting!

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