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Hits and Mrs.

A new generation of female bloggers is championing the importance of being a good wife and partner.

May 16, 2010|By Whitney Friedlander, Los Angeles Times

Growing up in Newport Beach as an only child to a single mom, Cox says her enthusiasm for the wife-and-mother role grew when she saw all her elementary school friends getting picked up at the curb when school let out and she was shuttled off to the YMCA for after-school care. Her blog, where the word "wife" is written in capital letters, includes rules for domestic bliss (WIFE rule No. 17: "The perfect WIFE should shave her legs every day or every other day." WIFE rule No. 14: "The perfect WIFE should have the most beautiful and neat handwriting. This always comes in handy when writing Thank You notes, Addressing Cards, and Sharing Recipes").

While not blogging, she's parlayed years of personal assistant gigs for the likes of Lindsay Lohan and Scarlett Johansson into her current position as a domestic assistant and organizer for philanthropist Monica Rosenthal and her husband, TV producer Phil Rosenthal. Cox says it should give her plenty of practice for her planned life, as she helps with grocery shopping, organizing dinner parties and other duties.

Cox says she's one of the first people her friends call when they get engaged, possibly because of her two giant binders of articles about wedding and party planning.

So, what's her dating life like? Cox is somewhat mum on that, saying she usually dates only men she meets through mutual friends.

"[But] I've always been told I have very high expectations when it comes to dating men, which I always found to be an overexaggerated statement," Cox says. "I think my expectations are not over the top but should be the norm. I think it's important for a man to practice opening doors, calling instead of sending a text, putting forth the effort to make plans in advance instead of waiting to the last minute. It shows that he ultimately respects you and your time when paying attention to you and the small details."

While Cox and the other bloggers haven't exactly hit the mainstream tipping point — their comparatively small number of monthly page views keeps them off the radar at ComScore, an Internet marketing research company — they do seem to have loyal readers and have encountered a few outside opportunities.

Lilien says she received personal e-mail compliments from retro-loving home design maven Jonathan Adler and she has parlayed the blog into a styling gig for Anthology, a home and lifestyle magazine launching this fall, and a partnership with Alexis Swanson Traina of Swanson Vineyards in collaboration with Andy Spade and Jean-Philippe Delhomme for a Napa Valley lifestyle-driven website and blog.

Cox and her fashion sense got some love from Elle magazine. And in February, she taught the world how to bake a cake for the Style Network's "What I Hate About Me" program.

Browne has been on talk radio, and, although it wasn't in her Wingspouse capacity: She recently spoke on the importance of social media at the American College of Physician Executives' annual meeting in Washington, D.C.

Perhaps their readers are just trolling the Internet on their lunch breaks, looking for a bit of a fantasy life they can't have right now. That Pew Research Center study, citing data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, concluded that women now make up 47% of the U.S. labor force, compared with 38% in 1970. And in our stressed-out economy, most of those women probably have to stay employed.

Not surprisingly, feminists are not amused by the notion that women's roles in society are dictated in any way. "They want to live in this perfectly art-directed world," says Michele Kort, senior editor at Ms. "It's an illusion that if you have all the right clothes and right accessories that your life will be perfect. This is a throwback to stuff like [Marabel Morgan's 1974 self-help book] 'The Total Woman' … that a wife should be subservient and be all about making a man comfortable and having the perfect household … for the women of the '50s, it wasn't so happy-making."

The joys of domestic bliss have certainly moved the pop culture meter over the years. Before Morgan's seminars and books, (the first of which is possibly best remembered for the bit about greeting your man at the door clad in Saran wrap), there was Helen Andelin, who famously wrote and taught classes on how to be a domestic goddess and got the title of her 1963 book "Fascinating Womanhood" from a series of 1920s-era etiquette books with a similar name. Andelin died last June, but her theories are still discussed on various blogs and in chat rooms.

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