This is a guest post by Harpy friend jessica gold haralson, who offered us an exclusive look at the new guide to etiquette we’ve all been awaiting from soon-to-be-ex-Countess LuAnn de Lesseps.
As we all know, television provides a dearth of Harpy-approved feminist entertainment, so most of us get laughs a’plenty from the farce so-called “women’s interest” fare on the idiot box. Bravo’s The Real Housewives franchise, one such trashy-tainment masterpiece, hasn’t failed in bringing the tacky: we’ve seen Atlanta’s Kim brag about her “Big Poppa” (and lie about having cancer!), the OC’s Gretchen flash diamonds from her cancer-stricken sugar-daddy, and frenemy Tamra defend her numerous plastic surgeries as an empowerful, feminist “choice”, by golly!
But the New York housewives have one-upped their sisters and flaunted their gauche privilege even further – by shilling things! Lots and lots of shiny things. Alex Van Kempen is promoting a tacky-ass jewelry line. Jill Zarin, too. Bethenny – God bless – is promoting something called a “Skinny Girl Margarita.” And a book that’s apparently doing pretty well, if Amazon is to be believed.
And today, the soon-to-be-ex Countess LuAnn de Lesseps released a so-called etiquette guide, Class With The Countess, which I’m ashamed to say I got in advance through a Bravo promotion. Part self-aggrandizing biography and condescending society manual, Ol’ Crackerjacks, as Gawker’s Richard Lawson loves to call her, doesn’t disappoint with the elitist, privilege-blind trainwreck.
Some choice quotes:
On living the dolce vita :
“The Italians adopted me as their own. Everybody just loved the American girl. They loved showing me the ropes and expressed their enthusiasm openly. They were introducing me to everything and everybody. I’d get my derriere pinched on the bus. Boys would follow me with love notes in their hands. There wasn’t a day I wasn’t offered a cafe. This was nothing like New York, where a pretty woman could go unnoticed. The Italians made me feel like a woman, because they put me on a pedestal.
Because nothing says “respect for women” like following someone home and grabbing their ass on a dirty bus. Not to mention idealizing them in your creepy Madonna-Whore complex.
On making sure some bitches know their place:
“Some nannies are so spoiled it’s like having another child. You have to make a nanny feel valued – whether it’s the level of her pay, the food she eats, or that she’s treated like a member of the family – but remember that she’s working for you. Don’t cater to her every whim. What’s important is they understand their position in the household.”
That’s right! Etiquette really means enforcing bullshit hierarchies, y’all!
On ideal seduction techniques:
Meet a man at a tech shop. Be a damsel in distress. Or go to Bed Bath & Beyond – men are lost in home goods.”
I’ll tell my macho father, who loves to cook, that he’s actually a pearl-clutchin’ sissy according to the Countess.
On otherwise dealing with men: “There is nothing wrong with making him feel guilty.”
On schadenfreude: There is an entire chapter called “Finding and Keeping A Man,” and the book’s dedication reads: “To Alex Count de Lesseps, without which there would be no Countess.” The duo are now filing for divorce. Burn!
But despite all the weird, sexist, classist fuckery – the Countess insists that men and women should both “know their place” several times in the book – there are some segments that are ostensibly useful, although outdated. For instance, there’s an entire spread on table setting (which, thanks to domestically disabled parents, I actually found helpful) and some convenient check-lists for hosting dinner parties or guests. However, I suspect you can find that advice elsewhere. But if you want a hilariously retro defense of gender roles via LuAnn’s so-called “success” (read: marrying into wealth) this book is for you.
Assuming any reader would have wanted to seriously buy this (although I doubt it) you’re far better off reaching for a primer by Martha Stewart, Miss Manners or even subscribing to Real Simple, which is filled to the brim with practical life advice. ‘Cause this book is a gussied-up version of The Rules, with some Steve Harvey and Marie Antoinette thrown in for good measure. And I only like my Marie A in Sophia Coppola movies.