Wives deserve a voice. Amber Pawlik

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Why I Disagree with Gabrielle Reece that Wives should Submit

Gabrielle Reece, a volleyball superstar and model, recently came out with a book My Foot is too Big For This Glass Slipper, in which she says submission is the key to a happy marriage and “true femininity.”

First, this does warrant a bit of marveling. Gabrielle is a drop dead gorgeous woman who is extremely athletic. She is easily a feminist poster girl—athletic like a man but also attractive. Feminists don’t care as much about the attractive part but to sell feminism to other women, it helps. That this 6’3” Amazon woman has come out and said a matriarchal relationship did not work for her is of note.

I don’t want to disparage Gabrielle but I can only imagine what she was like before her epiphany. Given the epiphany was to become “submissive,” my guess is she was what many women are like now: dominating and controlling. To rectify the situation, instead of being dominating over her husband, she lets him be dominating over her. Or, perhaps her realization was to simply stop being dominating and controlling. If so, then kudos for her. However, I am concerned about the repercussions of her solution and the message it sends wives.

I have been a long advocate that there are gender differences between men and women. Their physical design is different—the activities that each can do well are going to be different. However, I am very concerned over Gabrielle’s use of the word, “submissive.” This is the very reason women have been running from anything labeled as feminine, for they believe it means being seen but not heard; obedient; and without their voices heard.

I am opposed to any relationship that is authoritarian in nature—a belief of mine that has grown with age and experience in the work field, as a wife, and as a mom. The idea that a good relationship is based on one person deciding what to do and the other doing it is proving to be a bad one in relationships across the board, be it employer-employee, wife-husband, teacher-student, or parent-child. When all involved in a relationship realize that each person has a voice and that it should be heard, the relationship is much better.

This is something I’ve heard from other wives a lot. Many, many women go into a marriage with the idea that the man of the relationship is best suited to make decisions and her role is to make him happy. It is not a terrible idea; a young woman madly in love often adopts it. Through age and experience, I strongly believe that this is a bad model for a relationship. Women are more than capable of having very rational and good ideas and should speak up with those ideas. A marriage can serve as a check and balance, but this only works if both people contribute ideas and thoughts. If there is one bit of advice I could give a new bride it is this: You have a voice!

Further, a woman (and the man) should be able to have their needs and wants taken care of in the relationship. If the premise of the marriage is to make the man happy, a wife’s needs may go unsatisfied. I have seen this happen many times and it is a natural rub in any relationship. What one person finds fun and exciting is extremely strange to the other person. They cannot understand or even acknowledge that the other person wants something that seems like it would be no enjoyment at all.

I talked to one woman whose husband wanted her to go on vacation twice a year to see his mother. It was a major expense for them, and she used all vacation in one year to do this. I knew this woman for years and she mentioned it nearly every time I saw her. Clearly, it upset her.

In marriage, I am of belief that whatever you want to do to make you happy you should just do. There are of course boundaries to what you can do, but the overwhelming majority of people want perfectly rational, peaceful things. Don’t blame, criticize, or get upset with your spouse. Just whatever it is you want to do, do. Take full responsibility for your own happiness and look for those areas that are fully within your control to control. What I have found is that when you do this, by taking the leadership role in your own happiness, your partner is more than happy to see you happy. You can show them, “Yes, this is what I meant!” It could be anything: a more disciplined approach to finances, weight loss, more fun vacations. I have found when people do this, the partner usually wants to join in on the fun. The person getting their needs satisfied is almost always a better wife or husband for it. I have a saying, “Husbands, take care of your wife and she’ll take care of you!” Yes, I mean it in that way.

Isn’t this what marriage should be about? Having the time of your life while still being married. If both are committed to listening to the other, respecting each other, and coming up with mutually agreeable solutions, it is possible. This is the only way to have a truly blissful marriage, where both people can be who they are while still within the bonds of marriage.

I am glad that Gabrielle rejected matriarchy but I am concerned about her solution of “submissiveness.” She will probably insist that what I describe is not what she is saying. But when she throws around the word "submit," it is.

Amber Pawlik

Objectivist Sexuality: An Outline for Happily Ever After
Amber Pawlik
Objectivist Sexuality discusses gender, dating, love, sex, and relationships from an Objectivist viewpoint. Objectivism is the philosophy of Ayn Rand. This book discusses sexuality from a philosophical perspective but it also has a practical purpose: to give men and women the principles and values necessary to define, seek, and ultimately find the love of their life. The topics covered include masculinity, femininity, love, dating, sex, relationships, feminism, sexual evolutionary theory, homosexuality, and many others.

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