By Kristi Paxton
I fingered through a pile of magazines yesterday while waiting for my mammogram. “Good Housekeeping” was on top. Instead, I reached for “Men’s Journal.” I suppose this makes me ripe for gender counseling, but let me explain.
Men’s Journal’s cover promised topics about YellowstonePark, Training for a Triathlon and How to Build a Better Kitchen. Well OK, there was one lame title, “Golf Gone Wild,” but the full headshot of Jake Gyllenhaal more than made up for that slip-up.
In comparison, Good Housekeeping sported headshots of three movie stars aged 37, 44 and 55. Judging by appearance each had a personal trainer, a zillion dollars and a full-time makeup artist. Front page copy insinuated that women could be happiest at these advanced ages, and that sex and sit-ups (and cleaning house?) would guarantee it. I’m not buying.
Merely a title “Good Housekeeping” is enough to scare me off. In 1974, my boy-husband and I wanted to rent a dilapidated farm house and the landlord had only one qualifying question: “Is your wife a good housekeeper?” Granted, the 70s were unenlightened times, but I wanted to point and scream, “What about him?”
In 1994 and in full illumination of the women’s movement, I landed an interview for a coveted promotion. Same question. Shocked, I begged for clarification, “Are you asking about the organization of my office and safety of my workroom floor?” My interviewer replied, “No. How clean is your home? I can always judge a woman by how well she cleans her house.”If that question had been asked a male—well, that’s a moot point because it never has been asked of a male.