Making Marriage Work: A History of Marriage and Divorce in the Twentieth-Century United States

By Kristin Celello | Go to book overview
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4
RADICAL FEMINISTS,
LIBERATED HOUSEWIVES,
AND TOTAL WOMEN
SEARCHING FOR THE FUTURE OF MARRIAGE, 1963–1980

Bettina “Tina” Balser, the protagonist of Sue Kaufman’s 1967 novel Diary of a Mad Housewife (later released as a film with the same name in 1970), should have been blissfully happy. Granted, after her graduation from Smith, Tina needed to undergo psychoanalysis so that she could learn to embrace her femininity and to realize her true wifely aspirations. But clearly her therapy succeeded: she and her husband Jonathan, an attorney, live with their two young daughters in a large New York apartment. Jonathan has recently come into a significant amount of money, and Tina is able to keep house with the help of a full-time maid. On the surface, she has acquired all trappings of a happy wife and mother.

Yet Tina is desperately dissatisfied, so much so that she fears that she is losing her mind. She feels disgusted by her husband’s social climbing and resists his demands for a “little ole roll in the hay.” Jonathan, in turn, belittles her in front of their daughters and ques

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