Christianity for the Rest of Us

Christianity for the Rest of Us


The Real Housewives of Proverbs 31

posted by Diana Butler Bass

As a working mother who lives in the Washington-metro area,
I admit that I’m dreading Bravo’s new program The Real Housewives of D.C. (begins 8/05).  I took some comfort in the Washington
Post’s scathing advance review of it:

Every word of the title is wrong, except “the” and “of.”

Real:  What can that even mean anymore?

Housewives: Remember when that bordered on slur?  The surgically taut eyes of certain Real Housewives must ache from wink-winking every time Bravo has them say the name of the show.

D.C.: Always the artificial
no place . . .

What woman in her right mind would submit to this charade?

Bravo’s botox-injected shouting match that makes women look
like idiots is coming to my town. 
In their defense, Bravo insists that the D.C. series will have more
intellectual and political content, being socially relevant.  But I doubt it. 
Bravo, which used to toy with cultural irony regarding materialism now
cloys us with “real” Lindsey Lohans (sans the talent) and slightly better
educated Snookies as a way to up the ratings. 

I’m no snob when it comes to reality TV.  I love Top Chef (also
Bravo) and confess to have sobbed more than a few times while watching The
Biggest Loser
–both of which actually have some moral content.  What is the point of the Real Housewives?  Is this pure escapism?  Is it an alternative reality for
recession-weary women?  A mirror
into middle-class aspirations?  What
women secretly wish to be?

Whatever it is intended to be (my tween daughter says that
it is only supposed to be “funny”), the main problem with the Real Housewives
franchise is that it depicts women using stereotypes in a way to entertain
that, if inflicted on any racial or ethnic group, would give rise to legal
action, boycotts, and public outcry. 
It pictures women as grown-up mean girls, the sort everyone hated in
high school and who have now parleyed their cruel social climbing to the bigger
stages of New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta, and D.C.  The shows denigrate women by implying that they get ahead by
being materialistic gossips and marrying the right men.  Even the criticism lends itself to demeaning
women.  Example?  The mostly-liberal Washington Post
likens the word “housewife” to a “slur” and asks what woman would “submit” to
the show.

Excuse me, both Bravo and WaPo, but “housewife” is neither
glam-reality nor a slur especially in the suburbs of Washington, D.C.  And women here are not the submissive
type.  Washington women toil at raising
their children, work at home and in offices, run businesses and the federal
government, volunteer at non-profits and serve in religious communities.  The real women of D.C. spend their time
caring for others, nurturing the next generation, and trying to make the world
a better place.  We sit in traffic
jams and on corporate boards.  We
are creative, energetic, busy, and often overwhelmed.  And, for what it is worth, we are too invested in working hard and doing good
too spend even an hour watching a show that does not come close to the reality
of our lives. 

When I think of my D.C. housewife friends and neighbors (who
are politically and theologically liberal and conservative; who are Christians,
Jews, Muslims, and secularists), I do not think of some faux-Hollywood
glamour.  Instead, they bring to
mind the description of the good wife of Proverbs 31. Although this passage is sometimes hijacked by conservative Christians, it is a surprisingly apt description of contemporary women–and most especially, religious feminists.  In the words of the writer of Proverbs, the “capable” wife  ”works with willing
hands” and “rises while it is still night and provides food for her
household.”  She is savvy, charitable, just, creative, strong,
and dignified; and she “opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is
on her tongue.”  She “looks well to
the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness.”

The Real Housewives of Proverbs 31? It would be closer to reality
than any of the Bravo celebri-wives, who make a mockery of the ancient wise
words “Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord
is to be praised.”  Could that be
the actual point Bravo is trying to make? 
Maybe.  But I suspect not. 



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Comments read comments(14)
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Joy

posted August 5, 2010 at 7:44 pm


It’s quite interesting how this whole charade is playing out…. Speaking from the point of view of knowing at least a couple of these women personally, it’s extremely disappointing to see what Society raves and rants about, and what is depicted as heroism.
The comforting part of all this, is that at least none of these women are in line to win a Nobel Prize. At least for now, in this day and age you never know. You are absolutely right about the real women of DC being hard working nurturers for the next generation.
My prayers is that these women are echoed in prayers for more solidity in their definitive qwest to live out the activities of the proverbs 31 woman with much grace. After all is said and done, we are all fighting a good fight of faith and I trust the good Lord will honor the works of their hands.
As for the self proclamation of look at what I am doing for society being depicted on the show, well let’s have God be the judge of that. After all men look on the outside but God looks on the inside. The truth always prevails.
Here is to all the unsung heroes that are making distinctive difference in people’s life. May your cup never run dry!!



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Vi Jesusberg

posted August 6, 2010 at 5:32 pm


are the women so kept in control in this man made religion that no one will respond to this idiot that calls himself a rev.



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Jacque

posted August 6, 2010 at 9:58 pm


Great article Mrs Diana. That’s the women that I always look up. The provers 31 women



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Angie

posted August 7, 2010 at 11:11 am


Great article…I have never watched The real houswives of D.C., most likely because I am far to busy with my family and work to even catch the weather most days, but it does not appear that I have missed much. My husband says that women are more spiritual than men. I think that God has given women a special gift of service. We, thanks to God, want to help and give to others. This gift of service extends not only to our families but to everyone we take into our hearts. I currently work as social worker and feel so blessed everyday I walk into work. I have been given the opportunity to love and serve the families I work with. I once heard a radio show that talked about how women should not work. I, feeling very confused, read Proverbs 31 and realized that God wants us to work with what he has given us. That can be a family to stay home with or a larger extended family at work. The point is to serve God with whatever he has called us to do as a wife, mother, and servent. We are to walk like Christ, where is the T.V show about all of the women doing that? I might actually carve out thrity minutes to watch that show. Thank you for such a great article reminding women that God has a request of us, to walk like Christ, giving to those who need a shoulder to cry on, a comforting word, a ride to the store, or just a few short words to remind us we are not alone. Thank you for this article that reminds us of God’s purpose for women. Rev. Dean I pray that you remember all the women in your life that have served you.



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Rodger D

posted August 8, 2010 at 10:38 am


I am a man I got Devorce in 1997 I have been alone ever cents.
I tell you the truth my life has been in shambles ever cants it true you don’t know what your missing tell it gone.
I never hurt her in any way but it was my jelessy that did it to much out side of my home being out side of the home to many men giving a woman the wrong kind of looks an charm.
But because I love her so much I let her go she said she was not happy with me. It’s not just to hold someone from being happy if you love her then you would let her go so I did. I never ask her to get a job.
I didn’t want her working I liked her the way she was. woman has the same right as a man working out side home is just much for one person.
So when God made a woman as a help mate for man He sure was right there.
I salute all of you, my writing and spelling is not very good please overlook it
There is a story about Woman that go all the way back to the gardon but I won’t go in to it, may God bless you please rest when you need to just want you to know that all men don’t think that way. and think you for being a Woman an or Housewife.



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JCG

posted August 10, 2010 at 5:23 pm


Love that you’re musing about the Real Housewives of DC, especially in the context of Proverbs 31. I’ve been thinking about these issues as well and wrote a post at Christianity Today discussing whether God sees me the way I see the Real Housewives: http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2010/augustweb-only/41.11.0.html



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frank

posted August 22, 2010 at 10:00 am


roger have you ever thought about getting it on the down low? kisses



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Steve Cornell

posted September 4, 2010 at 10:27 pm

ada

posted September 16, 2010 at 10:02 am


Women have been abused far to long its a no brainer,were coming back to save the world,just look at mother Teresa!Women bare the fruit!We care.Far to long men have ruled,Jesus had a bigger plan for women!To all the women in the world arise early take charge of your children,the peace keepers the innocent Arise!Make deciples of all men???????



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Ada

posted September 16, 2010 at 10:03 am


Save tommorow for the children!



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Patrick

posted September 18, 2010 at 5:03 pm


I see some of the posts are either rude, obnoxious or provocative.
There is good and bad in both men and women, maybe more in men than in women, considering the state of this world.
Bravo has long been a controversial network, producing or broadcasting either really good shows or really lousy shows, in some ways they are just like any other network. The worst American network is CBS because they show utter disrespect for their viewers and the viewers of many of their best shows. CBS essentially means Crappy Broadcast Service.
I prefer to watch dvds or videos, therefore choosing what I watch rather than what a “drug-addled”, greedy, television executive chooses for me.



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Your Name

posted September 29, 2010 at 6:35 pm


women are the root of evil… control your women and you will be blessed with happiness…I hope Adam was punished for being weak…



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Hilary Chaney

posted November 11, 2010 at 1:27 pm


I’ve just started blogging about my own manic break and hospitalization. It’s about recovery and treatment, but more importantly about discovery of a new post-religion faith where there is no hell, no original sin, you are God, and heaven on earth is real, radiant and right around the corner. A wild and triumphant ride. http://graduatingfromgod.blogspot.com/



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Olutayo

posted February 1, 2011 at 6:18 am


Very Apt Diana! I was just discussing this very issue of prov 31 with another capable woman who looks after her home and also does great business across boundaries and continents. we were both looking at the passage and clearly saw that the virtuous is not a push over, nor is a hard-nosed feminist but still secure in her femininity and has the respect of her man and community (unlike the stereotype as touted for ages by pastors and other believers).
We have, as a result of this conversation, been raising conversations with other women to re-orient their perception from weak, helpless women to strong women as stated in Prov. 31.
Good job!



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