I don't actually know any of the "Real Housewives of D.C." In fact, nobody I know knows any of these purported "real" women. This ridiculous program, which premiered tonight, claims to highlight a unique set of people indiginous to our city. But I know real housewives. I was raised by one.
This moniker, housewife, has a lot of connotations to it. They are simple, they are shallow, they are desperate. Except that they aren't. In fact, I find myself continually disgusted by the Bravo version of what a housewife is. This definition has reduced something honorable, something amazing, to a trite, ridiculous caricature. If we are to believe what Bravo is feeding us, via D.C. or N.J. or Atlanta or the O.C., a "housewife" is a vapid, empty, shrew whose only concern is where she might find her next pair of Jimmy Choos or blonde pool boy. But my version, the real real version of a housewife is so much more than that.
The real housewives of D.C. are the women I was raised by, grew up with, and spend time with by choice. My mother, who is one of the most vibrant women I know, is a housewife. She chose, during the height of feminism in the 1970s, to give up a very lucrative career to stay home and raise my sister and me simply because she cared about the kind of women we would become. She spent time with us, playing house, teaching us to read, making us lunch, driving us to school, and shopping at Sears. She did not spend her time at high-end salons, shopping at Neiman's, and looking for the next big party. She is a real woman, like many real women across the country. She made a career of being involved in my sister's and my education, via the PTA and the Board of Education, because she so believed in the people who were teaching us to be a part of society, to be better people.
My mother isn't the only one. I have long since entered the time where my friends have become wives and mothers. And we have chosen the paths of our mothers -- as vast and varied as that is -- to work and live and give and raise children in ways that will bring about a generation that is better than our own. Because that is our life's work. One of my friends is an attorney who had an adorable baby last year. She has continued to work while staying devoted to her husband and child. She does not crash White House parties or pretend she is a polo heiress. She is a brillant attorney and a committed and amazing mother. She has demonstrated strength like I have never seen.
And I am a housewife of D.C. So, I'm sorry, Bravo, but a housewife of D.C. is not some empty, useless bobblehead who sits at home waiting for the next big sale in Georgetown. I work 40+ hours a week, I come home and make dinner, I meet my friends for fun after work, and I like to think that I make the world a better place each day that I'm here. I don't make a million dollars. I don't shop in Chevy Chase. And the only pair of Manolo Blahniks I have, I bought at Filene's on a super duper discount (no, really, super duper!).
The one thing that we all have in common is that we are thinking, feeling, real-life women who are much more than the caricature that is presented on prime time television. So, when you think of the Real Housewives of D.C., please, think about who we really are and don't let the b.s. that makes T.V. ratings dictate your vision of what a housewife is. We are stay-at-home moms, we are working moms, we are childless women, and we are women who have empty nests. We are U.S. Senators, Supreme Court Justices, we work at CVS, and we drive your bus. We are women who are proud of who we are. But the one thing we are not is empty, shallow, party crashers who have nothing but a falsified cheerleading record to offer. We are the real (housewife) thing!