Our Era of Dirty Laundry

By Baird, Julia | Newsweek, March 8, 2010 | Go to article overview

Our Era of Dirty Laundry


Baird, Julia, Newsweek


Byline: Julia Baird

Do tell-all memoirs really help heal?

There are many ways to wreak revenge on cheating spouses aside from simply divorcing them: humiliation, destruction of property, public shaming. One Australian woman tried to auction a pair of "humongous" black lacy underpants--found at the bottom of the bed she shared with her husband--on eBay. The pants, she wrote in her listing, were so big she thought they "may make someone a nice shawl or, even better, something for Halloween." Included was a "tiny," empty condom wrapper found under her husband's pillow. An eBay spokeswoman said going through the public-auction process was "obviously very therapeutic" for this woman.

Or was it? We often assume that public anger, spite, or exposure is a healthy form of self-healing, despite the fact that there is little evidence for this. We are not shocked when someone reveals intimate details of former relationships when walking away from the ruins--we have come to expect it. When we joke that Elin Nordegren attacked her husband Tiger Woods with a golf club, when Elizabeth Edwards writes books about resilience, or when Jenny Sanford publishes a memoir confirming that her husband is indeed a self-involved cad (and tightwad), we cheer and roar. No more little woman on the sidelines! No more sniffles and silent suffering. No more being treated like rubbish by men who think they can escape punishment by virtue of status or wealth.

In our narrative of the feisty, spurned woman, the private, silent stance of wives like Jackie Kennedy Onassis and Silda Spitzer seems archaic. The advice these women would once have been given--"Don't air your dirty laundry in public"--now seems quaint, a relic of an era when people thought pain was a private emotion. It seems retro to suggest that it might not be dignified to share personal problems with the world, with people who might be embarrassed or who would gossip and dissect, point fingers and judge.

Part of the movement toward self-revelation was a necessary corrective provided by feminists who argued, persuasively, that the personal is political. After all, wasn't the whole idea of hiding dirty laundry meant to protect powerful, appallingly behaved men from any sense of shame? In most households, it has not been the men who have scurried away with piles of grimy washing to scrub, soak, bleach, and wring until linens could be presented to the world again. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Our Era of Dirty Laundry
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.