When Raymond can’t remember if his wife’s hair was long when they first met, Debra angrily sends him to sleep on the couch as punishment. When will television writers create wives that choose to leave their husbands in bed, rather than relying upon husband acquiescence? Feminists emphasize women’s agency: exercising power over women’s safety, emotional and physical, independent of male consent is an ongoing fight absent from family shows. Instead of questioning patriarchal presumptions about married behavior, television comedic sitcoms, fearful of losing viewership, re-affirm and perpetuate that the woman’s role is to maintain domesticity generally, centered especially within the bedroom and kitchen. This “cult of domesticity” identifying the home as the “proper” place for women stems from nineteenth century American “virtues” of piety, purity, and submission and continues to appear in popular media. I await the day that the woman behind “she made you sleep on the couch” decides differently.
This is an interesting observation on the way women’s lack of agency and request for male consent is treated in mainstream sit-com TV. I’d also like to add that women in these roles are often positioned as summoning the power they have through the power they are given (scripted) through the home (which I think you were also suggesting). While the saying goes, “A man’s home is his castle”, husbands on sit-coms are often portrayed as weak and fearful of his wife’s position as “evil queen” of the home.
You have a point about socially-contructed norms, but is this really issue. After all Raymond is respectful to his wife and obey’s his wife’s commands when he is asked to sleep on the couch and perpetually in all other situations in the show Raymond’s obeys his wife’s wishes. Don’t take this the wrong way, but I think there are bigger issues out there that need to be addressed like rape, violence, greater health care protection for women.