This month’s Esquire features a gift-buying guide that manages to simultaneously insult men and their wives in one fell swoop.
“Gifts That Will Keep You Married” begins by asserting that this year’s crop of cheating scandals might be making women question their husbands’ fidelity (because women only read gossip rags and, even then, preferably ones with one syllable words.)
So, what does Esquire suggest to solve your marital tension? Why, buy her things, of course.
Even if you’re not philandering, chances are good your wife is starting to look up from her tabloids with suspicion, if not outright terror. Let her know how much matrimony really means with these gifts to solve common male marital flaws.
The piece goes on to outline the “ideal gifts” to counterbalance your flaws as a husband. For the “oversexed,” it suggests a ladylike Kate Spade clutch. For the heartless cuddle-phobe, a really warm scarf.
Not much of a snuggler? I bet your girl could use a hug. But if you can’t put out, you might want to try turning to one of Yokoo’s absurdly cozy neck warmers and scarves.
And finally, the kicker. For the cheater: Get her a divorce.
You know, the one where she gets everything. Then you can both move on to more important things. Like buying gifts for other people.
What are they trying to accomplish? Not only is it suggesting that women can be “bought off,” it’s creating the illusion that material goods can take the place of honest communication and compromise in a relationship. Oh, and that human vice is as black and white as “you’ve cheated, let her go and move on.”
The story may have been able to pull this off if it had been written more tongue-and-cheek, but the whole thing reeks of honest-to-god earnestness. The overview boasts “seventeen fantastic ideas—no matter what kind of husband you are. Because a lady deserves to be happy for the holidays.”
To be clear, there’s nothing wrong with giving your significant other presents to help the process of healing. Gifts have symbolic power, and we dig that. Also, not all the suggestions on this list are totally off. They suggests a cookbook for the kitchen-challenged and a monthly flower subscription for the forgetful. Good calls in both cases.
But it’s when it tries to tackle truly complex problems—like emotional detachment or infidelity—where the article falters. Hell, if marital discord was as simple as buying a scarf, then divorce rates wouldn’t be sky high (and scarf companies would be making billions).
So, to the how-to-piece that bunches men and women into neat manufactured boxes: sorry, but we’re just not buying it.