By JASMINE DURSUN
One of the newest New Jersey housewives has been causing an uproar this past month, and it isn’t because she’s been having altercations with her co-stars on The Real Housewives of New Jersey.
Melissa Gorga’s new advice book, Love Italian Style, gives readers insight about the steamy marriage that she and her husband, Joe, share. But the spicy marriage she advocates seems to boil down to sexism, gender essentialism, and more seriously, marital rape, according to critics. Her satisfaction with the routine of “making dinner and keeping a clean house,” dressing to “please your man,” and having sex on her husband’s command, even if she isn’t in the mood to, seem more like cries for help than promotion of a happy union.
Inside Love Italian Style and the Gorgas’ public response
Throughout the book, Joe Gorga offers his own perceptions on marital topics, from “not feeding babies or changing diapers” to justifying cheating actions if a wife “refuses to initiate” sexual contact. He also highlights his disapproval to coming home to an empty house, the double standards he has for his sons versus his daughter, and his aggressive thoughts on sex, particularly on “how every woman wants to be taken” and advising if your wife says no, to “turn her around and rip her clothes off” because she “wants to be dominated.”
Most Amazon reviews rate the book as 1 star, mentioning that the sexist content, selfish point of view and poor grammatical errors make the book a flop. Even a 5-star rating is sarcastically written, referring to Melissa as a “daring writer” to advocate rape in the new age. “I look forward to her next book, ‘Hitler: Pretty Nice Guy,'” the review scathingly concludes.
But despite the passages that have alarmed audiences, from the “training” she received from her husband in their marriage to sharing with readers that she doesn’t even excrete in her own home, Melissa defends Love Italian Style, stating that the controversial rape passage is “disgusting to [her]” and “horrible.”
“It’s just about the playfulness, it’s about teasing,” she told E! News. “It’s about being aggressive and trying new things in the bedroom. It’s not about, ‘Hey honey, I have a headache tonight,’ and your husband’s going to take it from you. Come on.”
The controversy surprises both men and women alike
The strict gender barriers are a factor that cannot be defended, according to Anna Milovich, a SUNY New Paltz
student. Milovich, 20, states that Joe Gorga’s actions are “clearly abusive to both his wife and daughter” and that his ideas are “controlling and violent.”
“It’s really horrifying that these creepy, f—– up, antiquated sex and gender roles are still so prevalent,” she says. “While Gorga’s writing reads like a ridiculous caricature of 50s suburbanites, the truth is that many of these ideals are still entrenched in our society. The difference is that most people are self-aware enough to pretend it isn’t happening.”
Anthony Iasparri, 20, of North Arlington, blames Gorga for putting herself in the relationship with her husband. “She says that she deals with all the stuff he puts her through for the marriage essentially,” he says. “I think that’s stupid how she can say that. She’s so blind to what is actually happening and she justifies it with her answer being ‘It’s for the marriage.'” He does acknowledge Joe’s misogyny because of his dominating personality, pointing it out as possible “mommy issues.”
The Gorga couple made an appearance on the Bethenny Frankel talk show alongside Tiki Barber and his new pregnant wife, Traci Johnson, which aired on Sept 24. The male Gorga only supported his rape-like tactics to getting his wife to have sex with him, saying, “She fights it. She fights it, but I always win.”
As happy as they want to appear, the Gorgas seem to have the most difficulty showcasing that their relationship is healthy. At the end of the day, no matter how hard Melissa Gorga works, she returns home as her role of “Daddy’s sleeping pill,” as Joe Gorga shared on The Bethenny Show.