Real Housewives of New Jersey star Melissa Gorga has written an advice book, Love Italian Style, for people who want a marriage as hot and happy as the one she has with her husband Joe. Her entire ethos on the subject boils down to this sentence: "Husbands want their wives to submit; wives want our husbands to dominate."
The amount of sexism, gender essentialism, and caveman logic within its pages is so appalling that it's difficult to believe that her book is anything but a cry for help.
It's very clear—from her anecdotes, observations, and tips—that she's married to a controlling asshole that barely views her as human, let alone an equal. He won't "allow" her to go on overnight trips without him, he has a say in the clothes she wears, didn't want her to get a job (even before she became a mother), and he has gotten violent when Melissa does things that he doesn't like.
Joe—Teresa Giudice's brother—seems to restrict any expression of individualism or independence on her part—including this book. He constantly interjects throughout with his own opinions on how women should behave. His are perhaps the most egregious passages in the book, particularly his thoughts on sex.
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 her clothes off. She wants to be dominated.
Women don't realize how easy men are. Just give us what we want.
That is rape and it is insane that it got past the publisher.
But even when reading the parts that she writes—and if there's one nice thing I can say about her book it's that she definitely wrote it!—it's basically just a transcription of the "education" that he's given her.
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.
It's kind of sad how she's seemingly his sex slave.
Happy guys let more go. Issues get brushed off. Quickies count. Say what you want, but it's the truth.
[A] woman needs to keep herself in shape. She has to be seductive. She must be willing to try new things for her husband's pleasure and her own. And, most important, she has to be available for sex.
There's real passionate sex and maintenance sex. You need them both for a healthy marriage. Maintenance sex keeps the wheels greased, the lines of communication open, and the fights to a minimum.
Under a section titled, "YOU CAN DO JUST ABOUT ANYTHING FOR TEN MINUTES," Melissa writes:
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.
Here's a good example of how Melissa's wisdom is simply the digested garbage that Joe has fed her. Here's a passage from Joe on why women are the reason that men cheat:
Refusing to initiate is a Top Three reason men cheat. The ugliest girl in the world could come on to a man in that state of mind, and he might have to go for it. He thinks, At least someone wants me.
In another chapter, Melissa basically repeats his words:
The way I see it, if a wife is a puttana, her husband will never feel the urge to go outside the marriage to actual whores, or strip clubs. He won't hit on women in bars, or drool over his friend's girlfriends or the secretary. He'll rush home to his wife, who makes sure he'll have a good time (the best time) in the comfort of his own home.
She says as much about his "instruction."
His style was to make corrections and to teach me from the beginning days of our marriage exactly how he envisioned our life together. Joe always says, "You got to teach someone to walk straight on the knife. If you slip, you're going to get cut." Even if something didn't bother him that badly, he'd bring it up. He wanted to make sure that I knew, for example, if I ran out to CVS and he came home from work to an empty house, he didn't like it. He'd call me and say, "I don't care if you're out all day long. But I don't want to come home to an empty house."
A "Joement" on equality:
To be on 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.
His thoughts on childcare:
I don't feed babies, or change the diapers. My father never wiped my ass, and I don't wipe my babies' either.
On double standards, parenting, and some more of his weird sex shit:
My sons can have a separate entrance to the house. They can come and go as they wish. They can have anyone up to their room. I don't care. But I want to keep my Antonia my little girl.
My wish is for her to have on boyfriend for a very long time. They have a mutual breakup with no bad feelings. Then she marries the next guy. That would be ideal. I don't want her to ever have her heart broken. The only way I can see to helping her romantic life work out that way is be really strict and overprotective about who she sees, when she goes out, and what she does.
I know it's a double standard but I just don't care! I don't see it so much as restricting Antonia, but as protecting her.
Here is what Melissa tells herself (and her readers) about compromising yourself as a woman in order to please your man.
The routine of making dinner and keeping a clean house is how I stay grounded. It keeps me humble.
Someone might look at Joe and think, "Chauvinist pig." He sounds like one sometimes! They might look at me and think, "Throwback." The way I see it, Joe is cleaning up messes at work all day long—things you can't wipe up with a sponge. That's his job. It's my job to clean up spilled milk. I just do it. There is simply no point to arguing about something that requires all of five seconds of my time and next to zero energy.
The icing on the misogyny cake:
When gender roles are confused, sexual roles are, too. If he's at the sink and then changing diapers, then who throws down in the bed? In our marriage, Joe is always the man, doing masculine things. I'm the woman, and I do the female things, including housework.
Melissa also recommends that you learn how to cook really really well, wear makeup everyday, shave your legs, watch your figure and go to the Burger King around the corner if you have to poop.
Girls don't poop. Me, never have. Never will. It just doesn't happen. Or, that's what Joe thinks! We've been married for nine years, and he has never once seen or smelled my business. How have I pulled this off? I don't do it when he's around or awake. In an emergency, I have my ways of pooping so he won't hear, smell, or see. It's a challenge.
Some other random tips, regarding fashion:
[M]y first rule of fashion is a gimme: DRESS TO PLEASE YOUR MAN
[T]he one thing I've come to realize is that I need to take Joe into account when I get dressed.
I always wear what I want and what I like, but I also aspire to be eye candy for my husband.
Naturally, there is a double standard to this:
This is one street that doesn't go both ways. If you notice, Joe never wears a wedding band. Joe has really chubby fingers (he will tell you so, too), and he thinks that a ring is the most uncomfortable thing ever. It used to bother me, but now I just tell myself that a wedding band is more of a chick magnet, kind of like a guy walking a cute dog or pushing a stroller.
On why your whore single friends are bad for your marriage:
Listen, we all love to hang out with our single friends. Who's more fun? But, let's call a spade a spade. You can't make a habit of it when you are married. It's always better for your relationship to go out with people who have more in common with you. You are less likely to get yourself in trouble…[T]oo many…"Girls' Nights" with the single ladies can only lead to temptation.
On why being suffocated is good for a marriage:
Back in our early years, we'd go to the bar, and I'd make the rounds and talk to everyone. When we got home, Joe would say, "I feel like we didn't hang out. Like you talked to everyone else more." Now, you might think, "Why is he so needy?" He's not. Joe doesn't need me to hold his hand at a party. It's about respect and loyalty…We arrive together. We stay near each other. We leave together.
How Joe keeps her in line:
Honesty can be flattering or instructive. It can also be brutal. When a man asks his wife to dress better or lose a few pounds, it can seem rude. I don't take comments like that as insults. Honesty is always a compliment. When Joe speaks his truth, he's giving me credit that I'm secure enough in myself to take constructive criticism.
If you haven't caught on yet, this guy is a total fucking asshole. But wait, there's more!
If he gets one ounce of flack from me, he flips a switch and goes off. I know it's not really about me, so I don't get riled up. I supposed I could get angry back him for getting the bulk end of his problems. But then again, that's what a spouse is for. You get to release your stress on someone you trust, who you know won't hold it against you. He' like to yell at a colleague, client, or employee. But he yells at me and doesn't screw up a business deal. I can take it.
There are several instances in the book where Melissa recounts Joe's violent outbursts, not to call him out on it, but to explain how she learned to modify her own behavior because of it. One time he broke the baby's highchair. Another time he threw a chair in the middle of a restaurant. It wouldn't be a surprise if he's put his hands on her. (One former friend recently gave an interview saying he has.)
In the book she often repeats the secret to a happy marriage is "about respect." But it's clear to anyone reading it that she's truly confused about what that means or how to get it. It would all be funny if it weren't so damn sad.
I used to want to hold onto my independence, even after we got married. I didn't want to need anyone, not even Joe. Now, I know that it's arrogant to think you don't need anyone. Need is only a four-letter word if you don't accept it as another one. F-A-C-T.