I’ve got a lot of mixed feelings about this piece, but it is worth a read.
I venture to say the problem is shame, and our inability to look at it. Shame, at its core, is the fear of being unworthy of connection with others. Because connection is so fundamental to human well being, it’s a powerful and manipulative social tool. The smokin’ hot wife phenomenon is most rampant in a particular subset of Christian culture where shame is used for purposes of control and conformity, where men are expected to be manly and dominant, and women are expected to stay quiet and submissive. If you’re not these things, you’re not worthy of connection with those who are. In one way or another you’re shamed for these differences.
It’s also a culture where attraction is synonymous with lust, and where beauty and mystery are often seen as dangerous. How are these dangers controlled? Shame, of course. So I call balderdash on the smokin’ hot meme for a couple of reasons: One, in a shame-fueled culture, it too easily appears to be manly dominant men posturing over property value, and two, it puts women in an impossible double-bind. Her (quiet, submissive) beauty is both expected, (to find a husband and keep him from cheating) and vilified, (because her existence might lead men astray in action or in thought). A public proclamation of her smokin’ hottness puts her in the awkward social position of having her beauty publicly approved by her husband, (good) while also potentially making other men lust, (bad). What’s a girl to do?