Gina Vaynshteyn
September 27, 2013 2:00 pm

Melissa Gorga from Real Housewives of New Jersey has recently written a book on marriage and how to sustain it. Love, Italian Style is composed for women who want to keep their marriage sizzling and happy. Her advice stems from real-life experience with her husband Joe, who also shares his delightful input on the role of women and their expectations in a relationship.

Before I tear this book apart, I want to address a few things. Yes, there are ways to keep your long relationship fresh and lively. I’m no expert, but here’s my two cents. Sex is important. Romance is even more important. But trust and communication tops everything. So when I say that Melissa and Joe’s relationship seems extremely oppressive, I’m basing this claim from the fact that Melissa doesn’t seem to really want sex and she’s also not treated as an equal in their relationship. It honestly doesn’t feel like romance actually exists between her and her husband based on the rhetoric in her book. Furthermore, trust and communication is something utterly laughable in their household.

Here are some excerpts from Melissa’s book:

“Men, I know you think your woman isn’t the type who wants to be taken. But trust me, she is. Every girl wants to get her hair pulled once in a while. If your wife says ‘no,’ turn her around, and rip clothes off. She wants to be dominated. Women don’t realize how easy men are. Just give us what we want.” –Joe 

Wow, okay, let’s step back for a second and think about this. Joe first states that he “knows what women want”. I’m curious as to why he thinks he’s an authority figure on this subject. Furthermore, if your wife says “no” you don’t f**king “turn her around and rip her clothes off”. That’s rape. I don’t care if this “dominance” is between man and wife, the fact is that it’s non-consensual. No means no. 

“In the beginning, Joe wanted to have sex every single day, at least once, if not twice or three times….If I didn’t give it to him once a day, he’d get upset. 

I can do something that pisses him off on a Monday, but if we had sex on Sunday night, it blows over more easily. But if we haven’t done it for two days and I give him attitude? It could be a huge fight.” –Melissa 

“Even when I’m exhausted and not really in the mood, if it means a lot to Joe that we connect physically, I’ll say, ‘I’m not so into it tonight, but let’s go.’

If it’s a hard ‘no,’ I try to be nice about it. Don’t swat him away, or say with a tone, ‘Leave me alone!’ Eventually he will leave you alone at more than you wish he would.” -Melissa

So, even though Melissa clearly does not feel like having sex, she will do it anyway, but only due to “necessity”. I thought sex is supposed to be a fun, enjoyable experience for both you and your partner. This sounds like work. It sounds like unavoidable, grueling work. Furthermore, it seems like there are consequences that result from Melissa’s “hard no” when she states, “Eventually he will leave you alone at more than you wish he would.” So, if you don’t feel like having sex you are subjected to the silent treatment? Neglect? Abuse? She sure seems to hint at it.

I’m trying really hard not to judge another woman’s sex life. Everyone has their own idiosyncratic ways of getting it on. I get it. But this woman wrote a book about it and I can’t help but question how this misogyny and obvious psychological abuse got past her publisher.

And it gets even worse! Not only is Melissa’s body completely and utterly objectified, but Joe goes on and offers some gems on the “ideal” dynamic between husband and wife:

“To be one the same level, everyone has to get off the high horse. I don’t care if the woman makes more money than the man, if he’s a janitor and she’s the president. After a fourteen-hour workday, if a man comes home and there’s no dinner on the table, and his wife is on the phone, watching TV, or on the computer ignoring him, he won’t feel respected.”

And I love this one:

“I don’t feed babies, or change the diapers. My father never wiped my ass, and I don’t wipe my babies’ either.” 

Joe’s version of “the same level” boils down to his wife being home when he returns from work expecting dinner to be prepared. What if his wife also works a fourteen-hour day? Does that mean she still always has to cook dinner and keep the house clean? I don’t understand how this dynamic levels out, quite frankly.

Ultimately, what we see here is a marriage that only works because one party allows itself to be controlled, used, and objectified. Marriages can work in all kinds of ways, no doubt, but not in the way this woman is describing in her book. Love, Italian Style should have probably been more aptly titled, Love, Stockholm Syndrome Style.  

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