TH: Good evening, and welcome to The Thinking Housewife. My guest tonight is the eminently fictitious Ellie Forthnaught, founder and sole proprietor of an interesting new venture in education, the New Wave Academy for Women.
Welcome, Mrs. Forthnaught.
Mrs. F: Thank you. Thrilled to be here.
TH: Mrs. Forthnaught, – may we call you Ellie?
Mrs. F: No, no. Please call me Andy. That’s what all my friends call me.
TH: Fine then, Andy. Tell us about this idea of yours. I understand you intend to revolutionize women’s higher education in America.
Mrs. F: Oh well, I’m no revolutionary really, but I recently announced – at a virtually unattended press conference in the nation’s capital – my plan for a chain of prestigious academies for young women. The start-up date is uncertain, but the plan calls for two dozen academies eventually, with four hundred students each.
TH: This is serious. Sugar?
Mrs F: Thank you.
Mrs. F: There’s likely to be one in every region of America. That’s the goal.
TH: The name of these academies?
Mrs. F: The New Wave Academy for Women. It’s simple and memorable.
TH: Are you wealthy?
Mrs. F: Funding is uncertain. I don’t have any start-up funds as a matter of fact and I don’t expect to find sponsors soon. The plan is well-developed and that’s what counts. Tuition should be in the range of $5,000 per year. I tried to crunch this number to make it less, but that would entail feeding the women only bread and water.
TH: That’s unconstitutional.
Mrs. F: That’s what I thought.
TH: Now, these are four-year institutions. And, what will women study?
Mrs. F: The first year will involve intensive de-programming of students. Most will have been exposed to pernicious ideas. At times, it may seem like breaking wild horses, but I assure you wherever there is error, truth tastes sweet. By the second year, the women will be ready to learn.
TH: And, then?
Mrs. F: Our subjects will fall into two categories. One, there will be traditional higher education courses in the liberal arts: history, literature, mathematics, science, music, art history, and philosophy. In short, the whole Gordian knot of human affairs and ideas will be crammed into their pretty little heads in an entertaining and compelling fashion. New Wave students will be chosen for their avidity for learning so this shouldn’t be much of a problem.
TH: And, the second category?
Mrs. F: The second category will involve the womanly arts, including homemaking, psychology, child development, domestic crafts, etc. Not too much, not too little. Most women today emerge from college tens of thousands of dollars poorer and with no inkling how to live their real lives, not the slightest knowledge about men or children, about sickness or health, about rich or poor. They are untutored. To put it unkindly, they are idiots, and have spent a small fortune becoming so.
TH: Were you an … idiot once?
Forthnaught: Me? Oh, fortunately I was interested in archaeology in college and in my senior year I went on an expedition in Crete with the famous Professor James Hoovenhollen.
TH: The Professor Hoovenhollen?
Forthnaught: I fell in love. We married and had six children.
TH: But, your name is Forthnaught, Andy.
Forthnaught: James died ten years ago. I am now married to Allan Forthnaught.
TH: Not every woman can have a Professor Hoovenhollen, or a Forthnaught. What will New Wave women do when they graduate?
Mrs. F: One question will be strictly forbidden in the hallways, the classrooms and the dormitories of New Wave. That is this: What will you do? This question regarding the young womens’ futures after graduation will have already been implicitly answered by their way of life and by the curriculum at New Wave. What will they do? They will wrest civilization from the clutches of certain doom. What will they do? They will raise the next generation and love men. What will they do? They will perpetuate what is highest in their culture and extend the delicate bonds of community and family. They will defend beauty, guard revelation, and cherish the old and the sick. “But, what will they really do?” some will still demand to know. These are people who insist on one answer and are satisfied with only one answer. Here it is: New Wave Women will do nothing!
TH: I foresee protests.
Forthnaught: Yes, protests and pickets. From both the left and the right.
TH: Have you ever been publicly flogged?
Mrs. F: I expect things to calm down so the girls and my teachers can get to work.
TH: This type of education, isn’t it … aristocratic? I mean, aren’t you imposing your values on others?
Mrs. F: Once they go out into the world and astound people with their beauty and grace, their well-behaved and intelligent children, their contented marriages and their orderly homes, many people will accuse New Wavers of elitism. “Not everyone can be like that,” people will say, “and therefore no one should be like that.” This is the great leveling argument of democracy run amuck. We should all strive to live for money and only for money because some people are poor. We should all live for our jobs and nothing but our jobs because people need jobs. We should all have ill-kept homes and children who watch television because not everyone has orderly homes and children who play outside.
It’s strange but this same leveling argument is not applied to Old Wave Women. No one makes the same cry of elitism against the woman senator or the woman corporate executive or the teacher. Somehow she is permitted to reach the pinnacles of her endeavors without being accused of elitism. Why can’t domestic women excel at what they do? Odd, isn’t it?
TH: You make it sound as if New Wavers will be perfect. You make it sound as if the whole world will be imperfect, except New Wavers.
Mrs. F: The aspirations of our students will be perfect, not their lives.
TH: Let’s talk about funding.
Mrs. F: I fear for the possibility of corporate sponsorship. New Wave women will make poor spenders compared to their mainstream counterparts. Frugality is one of the most charming of feminine arts. It is a social discipline, best practiced with like-minded others. Every day will be a Stone Soup day for a New Wave Woman if necessary. As long as she has a stone, her family and friends will eat.
Here’s what I figure. If New Wave women have an average of five children –
Mrs. F: Okay, six. If they have six children each, in 50 years the results of their work will be visible in hundreds of communities. People will wander into some of these lucky towns and notice something different. Residents say hello and smile. The rough edges are worn away and the hideous strip malls are gone. The children speak in full sentences and actually play outside. The old spend their days amid family. The food is delicious. Divorce is rare.
TH: It sounds as if you are imposing your values on others, Andy.
Mrs. F: New Wave is a school, not a prison.
TH: Isn’t this an attack on non-New Wave women?
Mrs. F: An attack?
TH: It’s fine for you to do whatever you want in the privacy of your home, Andy. Go ahead and be recklessly domestic if you want. If you’re into nouveau-patriarchy, that’s fine. But, you shouldn’t impose it on society or on other women. That’s not right.
Mrs. F: The school is voluntary.
TH: But, the idea might spread!
Mrs. F: I don’t believe -
TH: Do you think men will… like New Wave Women?
Mrs. F: New Wavers will gently persuade.
TH: This isn’t Sex and the City, I see.
Mrs. F: I’m hoping for even more academies someday, perhaps six in every state and five or ten in each major city.
Mrs. F: Yes?
TH: Have you ever heard of fascism?
Mrs. F: I used to tell my children they could have no dessert unless they -
TH: That’s fascism, pure and simple, Andy. Listen, before you go, could you describe for our readers your necklace? I can’t take my eyes off it.
Mrs. F: Oh, this? This is a bronze cast of a little medallion I found in Crete. You see, there’s a woman holding an urn on her shoulder.
TH: It’s lovely.
Mrs. F: It brings back great memories, memories of days sifting through antiquity with James, chisels in our pockets and dust on our shoes.
TH: Did you ever regret giving up archaeology and becoming a nobody?
Mrs. F: Me? Why no, not for a second. I moved forward in my life.
Mrs. F: That’s the opposite of backward.
Love your ideas.
Some who choose to educate their own children (at home) already have your New Wave Academy in session.
Thanks for the great reads, keep it up.
Yes, they do! And, it’s cheaper too. With the Internet, decent public libraries, companies that offer excellent courses on DVD and audio, the fascist Mrs. F. faces stiff competition. Good schools offer social interaction, but even that can be found in a healthy community. I support both alternatives.
The most often asked question of home educators is about socialization. I like the term you used ‘social interaction’ which means far more than being in a classroom of peers who are all the same age, and have the same tastes in clothes, music and hairstyles.
I look at your blog everyday and always feel the need to comment on it. Sorry to bug you. But I am so glad to get your feedback.
My mentor was exactly like Andy; however, she died a few days after Easter this year. She was the mother of a friend from high school and she inspired me to be a thinking housewife. My father left my mother for a man and both suffered a series of failed relationships we children were subjected to endure. My husband’s mother was married three times, her second husband was his father. She left her husband and her two kids to shack up with a co-worker who later died from alcoholism. We married with the definite intention of not only staying together ” ’till death do us part” but being happy and joyful for the sake of each other and our kids. That’s were my mentor came in.
Her husband came from a family where his father had seven other children by four women and only two had been wives at any point. She came from a family where her mother married repeatedly and had children from each marriage so all the children were half-siblings each being raised by a step-father. But they married and lived happily for more than forty years before she died of cancer. She was the mother of eight living children and one child who died in infancy. She had an adult daughter who was mentally handicapped. But her seven other children all contribute to her [the daughter's] physical and financial care. She will never fall through the cracks; there are so many hands holding her up. She was the grandmother of 48 children. Her daughters and daughters-in-law are ALL housewives and most home school their children. Her family is staunchly pro-life and socially conservative coupled with strong political activism. She had a powerful effect on everyone who met her. She took me, and other women like me, and nurtured us under her wing and reminded us that we could each be better than our own parents. She mothered the functionally mother-less. I could not miss her funeral despite the fact that I had a joint c-section and gall bladder removal two weeks before. Her loss is palpable beyond her family. For a simple housewife, her funeral was the largest I have seen. It is astonishing how the tide can turn in a single generation with a single couple. I know your piece was tongue in cheek, but it tugged at my heart strings.
The world needs more housewives.