Not much I can add to this 1937 article:
Do modern women, for all their boast of freedom, still crave cave-man husband? A speaker at the American Sociological Association Convention declares that they do. As he puts it: “Super-ordination of the husband and subordination of the wife appear still to be the accepted status of most marriages and what the majority of wives still want and expect”.
Of course all the married women in the length and breadth of the land will rise up and with one voice deny this allegation. They will say: “Haven’t we got the very word ‘obey’ expunged from the marriage ceremony? Don’t a lot of us even keep our own names after we get married and go on calling ourselves Miss Jones or Miss Perkins even after we have a houseful of children? And we would like to see any mere husband telling us where we get on and where we get off: the nerve of them!”
All of which is, of course, more or less true. No one can deny that in this land of free and emancipated ladies that the head of the household often wears skirts than breeches. It is the wife who decides where the family shall live and what they shall spend; how the children shall be reared; whether they shall attempt to climb the social ladder or sit contentedly at its foot; who even buys her husband’s clothes and dictates his politics and religion.
“All of us know plenty of men who abroad speak with the voice of authority to which millions listen, but who sing small in their own homes with no one to lend them an ear. We have seen heroes with their chests covered with medals for bravery in battle, but who tremble before little two-by-four wives. And we could point you to any number of men who are autocrats in their business or professions, but who wipe their feet on the mat before they enter their own doors and say “yes ma’am” to the women to whom they are married.”
Human nature being what is and all of us, both male and female, having a streak of the tyrant in us, it follows inevitably that a wife will dominate her husband if she can. But, curiously enough, while she can’t resist the temptation to boss him, it doesn’t make her happy to do it. In her secret heart she wishes that he had backbone enough to stand up for his rights.
“For, in reality, women are still primitive creatures emotionally and so far as their relations with men are concerned they haven’t got a yard away from their cave mother’s point of view. They still admire strength, whether it be physical or mental, more than any other quality in the male. They still want some man to tell them what to do and make them do it. They still want to be a little afraid of the august godling to whom they are united. For all their swaggering and bragging about equality no wife really wants to be on her husband’s level. She wants to look up to him.”
If every woman had her heart’s desire she would be wooed by a brute with a club and dragged by the hair of her head to his lair, instead of getting a namby-pamby written proposal from a timid love who didn’t have even enough spunk to come and do it in person. If you don’t believe this just look at the stage and screen lovers over whom the fair sex go crazy. Big burly fellows who treat ‘em rough and knock ‘em down and marry ‘em in spite of themselves and who waste no time on silly soft talk in getting what they want.
“As I remarked in the beginning, virtually every woman will henpeck her husband if he will stand for it, but even while she is doing it she isn’t enjoying it because it tinges her love for him with a certain contempt. It makes her feel that she is stronger than he is, that she has better judgment, that he recognizes his inferiority to her and the picture of the clinging vine husband is not one that ravishes any woman’s fancy.
Invariably you will find that the happy and contented wives are those who are married to men whom they admire and respect and to whom they willingly defer. No slavish obedience is theirs to a tyrant, but a glad submission to husbands whom they believe to be wiser than themselves, with more experience of life and better fitted to deal with the problems of their mutual lives. Whenever you hear a woman begin every sentence with “John says” you have the strongest possible proof that she is happily married.
“And if this be caveman stuff it is the stuff out of which successful marriages are made”.