The Resurrection of the "Bunny Boiler"

The XX Factor
What Women Really Think
Oct. 23 2009 2:57 PM

The Resurrection of the "Bunny Boiler"

Jessica Grose Jessica Grose

Jessica Grose is a frequent Slate contributor and the author of the novel Sad Desk Salad. Follow her on Twitter.


In the past week, the Today Show has done lengthy segments on two women scorned: Ali Wise, the former Dolce & Gabbana flack who hacked into her ex-boyfriend's voice mail account, and the even more psychotic former ESPN production assistant Brooke Hundley , who harrassed the wife and children of her ex-lover, ESPN analyst Steve Phillips. Both the tales had sexy, new-media twists, Wise with her voice-mail hacking and Hundley because she bothered Phillips's son on Facebook.


Wise is more of a garden-variety loon, or as Gawker's Hamilton Nolan puts it , "The most fascinating thing about Ali Wise's craziness is its very pedestrian nature-pedestrian on crystal meth, maybe, but still." Brooke Hundley went much further. According to the New York Post , "Hundley drove to the Phillips' home, where she dropped off the frightening letter before speeding off when she Marni arrived, hitting a stone post on the way out." The Post printed the letter , and Hundley rags on Phillips's wife for being a stay-at-home-mom in the most demented way possible: "While he's glad you decided to stay home," Hundley writes, "he enjoys being with me because I have more of a passion and drive to really do something with my life."

I wonder if these Fatal Attraction -ish cautionary stories-the pitting of terrifying career woman against sanity and family-are all the rage these days for a reason that Janet Maslin puts forth in her review of that film from 1987. They are part of the national hangover from a gilded age:

Years hence, it will be possible to pinpoint the exact moment that produced ''Fatal Attraction,'' Adrian Lyne's new romantic thriller, and the precise circumstances that made it a hit. It arrived at the tail end of the having-it-all age, just before the impact of AIDS on movie morality was really felt. At the same time, it was a powerful cautionary tale. And it played skillfully upon a growing societal emphasis on marriage and family, shrewdly offering something for everyone: the desperation of an unmarried career woman, the recklessness of a supposedly satisfied husband, the worries of a betrayed wife. What's more, it was made with the slick, seductive professionalism that was a hallmark of the day.

We just left another age of recklessness, financial and moral. Are these women Glenn Closes of the Internet age?


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