The Sexes: Total Fascination

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A class of middle-aged women is practicing foot stomping. "That's right," says the teacher, "now walk briskly to the door, pause, lift your chin higher, and look back over your shoulder." The women are taking one version of a lesson in "How to be cute, even adorable when you are angry," an exercise the Fascinating Womanhood movement uses to bring husbands to heel.

Later the women will learn how to pound their fists on their husbands' chests in childlike rage. "Men love it," says the movement's founder and guru, Helen B. Andelin, 55. A devout Mormon, she developed her methods years ago when she felt her own marriage going sour. Now, after eight children and 32 years of marriage, her husband adores her, she reports, and even helps out at the Fascinating Womanhood Foundation in Santa Barbara, Calif. Eleven thousand teachers have been trained to teach feminine arts and craftiness the Andelin way in schools and churches across the country: in the past 14 years 300,000 women have taken the eight-week, $15 course. Their primary text is Andelin's 1965 book, Fascinating Womanhood (Pacific Press; $6.95), which has sold more than 400,000 copies, and is about to be issued in paperback. Students will be paying $12.50 for a new kit that includes the paperback edition of Womanhood, plus such items as the Domestic Goddess Planning Notebook, for listing tomorrow's chores, and the Love Book, for scribbling down the endearments her husband will utter once the wife learns her lessons.

Righteous Power. Basically, Andelin preaches conservative Christian doctrine on the need for wives to submit to husbands. She also teaches a kind of psychic judo for women to use on their mates: give in to get what you want, because submissiveness will bring "a strange but righteous power over your man."

Beneath all Andelin's devotional trickery lies a core of compassion. For example, she suggests that before a wife tries to reform an alcoholic husband, she should fast for three days to get some idea of the pain withdrawal will cause him.

Andelin is not the only woman preaching a potent antifeminist message rooted in conservative Christian teachings. Her most popular rival is Marabel Morgan, 37, of Miami, a housewife and mother of two. Morgan's book, The Total Woman, released quietly in late 1973 by Fleming H. Revell, an obscure New Jersey publisher, sold 370,000 copies at $5.95 to become the nation's top non-fiction bestseller in 1974. (It was missing from most bestseller lists because it was sold mainly in small-town shops and bookstores unpolled by the list makers.)

Total Woman courses, which Morgan started four years ago, last only four weeks (one two-hour class a week) and cost $15. Her students, who have included Singer Anita Bryant, the wife of Astronaut Frank Borman and those of a dozen Miami Dolphin football players, have been taught to find happiness by living entirely for their husbands. Like Fascinating Women, Total Women celebrate male dominance and depend on guile and sauciness to get their way, but they use sex more overtly than their Fascinating sisters.

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