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
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.
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.