Women Beware Women: The Stepford Wives, the 1975 Horror Movie in Which Independent-Thinking Women Were Turned into Subservient Clones, Has Been Remade into a Comedy Starring Nicole Kidman. We Asked Women from Various Walks of Life, from Scotland to Switzerland, Whether the Bleak Feminist Message of the Original Is Still Relevant Today

By Rowson, Jonathan; Phillips, Owen | New Statesman (1996), July 5, 2004 | Go to article overview

Women Beware Women: The Stepford Wives, the 1975 Horror Movie in Which Independent-Thinking Women Were Turned into Subservient Clones, Has Been Remade into a Comedy Starring Nicole Kidman. We Asked Women from Various Walks of Life, from Scotland to Switzerland, Whether the Bleak Feminist Message of the Original Is Still Relevant Today


Rowson, Jonathan, Phillips, Owen, New Statesman (1996)


Clare Rayner, agony aunt

I don't know why they would want to remake it. At the end of the original, the awful husbands won, and I think the new version feminises it and the women win. In a strange way, I think that somehow diminishes it. The original was a very feminist film. It was saying: "Is this really what you want?" I think there are still a lot of women today who would like to stroll around like Nanette Newman. It made the point that not all women are the same, but it was also saying that if women want to behave like that, then bugger it, let them. The film was a warning. I think that ghastly show Footballers' Wives does something similar.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Marcelle d'Argy Smith, former editor, Cosmopolitan

There still are Stepford Wives. Some women will ring you, get into the bath and then suddenly say: "Have to go, my husband is here." I still hear lots of women saying: "Oh, my husband would never allow that." Many women are shrewd enough to know that it pays huge dividends--beneath the docile compliance, they can do what they like and remain every man's dream. Basically, there are still women who will never go out and slog to buy their own swimming pool.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Meghna Abraham, NGO human rights lawyer, Geneva

The idea of women being placed into moulds is still very relevant. There have been gains through feminism, but now there are different kinds of pressure. For instance, you see young women in the UK going out in winter weather in extremely uncomfortable clothing just to look attractive. In Switzerland, even educated women are pressurised to look a certain way. Cosmetic surgery has become mainstream. Liposuction is fairly normal. There is intense focus on clothes and beauty aids, and especially anti-ageing techniques. There has been a considerable backlash against feminism. When I attended a social forum in India, young women were reluctant to define themselves as feminists because it is perceived as negative and anti-male. It may seem as if feminism isn't needed any more. Access to careers and education is no longer a problem, but now there are other kinds of barrier--for instance, the so-called "glass ceiling issue".

Jenni Murray, presenter, Woman's Hour

I'm happy to say I've never seen The Stepford Wives, but I am aware of its resonance. If the "perfect housewife" is making a comeback, I may as well kill myself, having entirely wasted my breath for most of my life. I get so tired of these outdated "sex war" stories. The happiest I've felt for a long time was earlier this year, when I chaired a Fathers Direct conference and heard significant numbers of men asking, "How can I juggle my job and my family?", just as women do. …

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Women Beware Women: The Stepford Wives, the 1975 Horror Movie in Which Independent-Thinking Women Were Turned into Subservient Clones, Has Been Remade into a Comedy Starring Nicole Kidman. We Asked Women from Various Walks of Life, from Scotland to Switzerland, Whether the Bleak Feminist Message of the Original Is Still Relevant Today
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