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April 19, 2014 10:19 AM Morning music, The Cosmopolitans, “(How to Keep Your) Husband Happy”

By Kathleen Geier

There’s no doubt about it: with the Democrats’ decision to run on women’s issues and the gender pay gap this election is making Republicans very, very nervous. So far, they’ve have two basic responses to Democrats: one is to flat-out lie about the GOP’s record on women, pretending that it’s pro-equality. But the reality is anything but, as Talking Points Memo’s Lauren Rankin argues here. As Rankin demonstrates, that the last time the Republican Party supported women’s rights in any significant numbers, Jonathan Livingston Seagull, earth shoes, and fondues were all the rage.

Besides lying, the GOP’s other strategy where women’s rights are concerned has been to double down on the old school gender essentialism, hard. Perhaps the most notable example of the latter strategy is that they’ve rolled the 89-year old Phyllis Schlafly out of mothballs to argue, essentially, that if you girls start making more money, you’ll never catch a man. “The pay gap between men and women is not all bad because it helps to promote and sustain marriages,” she claims.

Given the Republicans’ unabashed nostalgia for the gender apartheid of the 1950s, I thought it would be a great time to post an unsung punk/new wave feminist classic: “(How to Keep Your) Husband Happy” by The Cosmopolitans. Am I the only person who knows about this song? I’ve mentioned it to other knowledgeable punk/post-punk/alternative rock fans, and none of them had ever heard of it. Be that as it may, The Cosmopolitans were a female-fronted, New York City-based band active between 1979 and 1982. Like The dBs, who played on some of their records (and who are another great band from that era), they were originally from North Carolina. This is their best-known song, and it is a demented delight: think feminist B-52s. Apparently, the lyrics are based on an exercise record from the late 1950s that actually existed, and that was owned by the mother of the band’s frontwoman, Jamie K. Sims.

I can easily imagine some of the Mad Men ladies listening to the original recording and earnestly attempting to follow the tips, can’t you? (Well, in the early seasons, anyway).

Though the song is over 30 years old, I fear the irony might still be lost on some. The rest of us can enjoy it in the spirit in which it was intended.

Kathleen Geier is a writer and public policy researcher who lives in Chicago. She blogs at Inequality Matters. Find her on Twitter: @Kathy_Gee

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