I was cheering for Glenn Close during the Academy Awards to win Best Actress for her leading roll in “The Wife.” Her performance as the wife of a Pulitzer Prize author was stellar, and the story staged from the ’60s to present, was disturbing.
The movie involved a young woman who scandalously fell in love with her married literature professor. She earned many accolades for her writing, but in the 60’s female authors were seldom recognized, let alone published. Therefore, she spent her life supporting her husband as he wrote dozens of best-selling novels and achieved the highest literary award.
She took care of his every need; setting alarms, so he remembered his medication, making sure his clothes were presentable, and giving him signals if he had food in his beard.
Her husband not only received prestigious recognition for his exemplary writing but enjoyed numerous affairs with young women. The wife quietly endured. When presented the Pulitzer in Copenhagen, he spoke endearingly of his devoted wife and how he wouldn’t be successful had it not been for her love and dedication. What he said was accurate; he would not be receiving the award without her, because she, not him, had written all the books.
He had taken all the credit.
It was a disturbing story, because I lived through the same years, and knew women to be as, or more capable and accomplished than their husbands, but not socially promoted or recognized. Author, J.A. Jance, is an example. Her first novels were published using only initials instead of her full name, Judith Ann, knowing agents, publishers, nor readers would endorse a book written by a woman. She played off as a male writer.
On many occasions, I’ve encouraged men to recommend women for FSA (Farm Service Agency) boards, or to support women as county commissioners or school board members. Rural women are often as knowledgeable about budgets, taxes, farming, seed selection, calving, veterinarian needs, grain marketing, etc., as their husbands. Women usually have primary involvement in children’s education and general community happenings.
Thank goodness times are changing, but ignorance and inequality still ruffle my feathers.
With any change, the pendulum, having been too long on one far side, must swing to the other extreme to eventually settle in the middle, natural and free. It can’t start high on one side and abruptly stop in the middle. Change is a process.
Glenn Close expertly portrayed a woman with excellent skills and no voice, power, or recourse. She and her husband lived a lie for decades. Was it because of love? Power? Obedience? Necessity?
It is a thought-provoking movie, not a feel-good story. Deceit is not an ingredient in the recipe for good mental health.
Until the next time: Live while you live.
Jennifer Goble, Ph.D., LPC, is the author of “My Clients…My Teachers,” and the blogger and writer of Rural Women Stories: www.ruralwomenstories.com.
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