The Protection of the Submissive Dependent Wife under Patriarchy

Jojo at Simple Southern Spirit has written a good article titled “My Parents’ Failure” regarding the marriage of her parents, the dysfunction of her parents’ marriage caused by a misplaced prioritization on having an “equal” or egalitarian relationship that in practice led to constant power struggles and arguments over whose job was harder and whether or not the other person was doing their “fair share.” In the process of the parents arguing with each other trying to make sure they as adults were “equal” to each other and that the division of the work of the family was “fair” the children were shortchanged. As is entirely predictable the children are treated unfairly as the adults argue among themselves and fight for dominance in order to achieve feminist style “gender equality.”

As Jojo says in her article in the last paragraph (emphasis added):

“There are a number of other problems with their marriage. The point is it’s a disaster. It’s not supposed to be since it’s a modern “equal” marriage, but it most certainly is. I don’t want that. I won’t have that. I won’t work so I’m away from my children all day and then feed them unhealthy food because I’m too tired to cook. The most important thing is there will not be a power struggle between my husband and myself. He’ll lead and I’ll follow. He’ll provide the income and I’ll provide the home and child care. We’re not going to share our responsibilities. I understand providing an income for a family is a huge responsibility. I’m not hesitant to say it’s a responsibility I don’t want. It should be my husband’s responsibility and I’ll revere him for taking it on. Us sharing our responsibilities would only set us up for failure.”

In the patriarchy of the past conflict in the marriage was resolved very simply and easily; the wife submits. Very simple. Problem solved. The wife submits and therefore there is no conflict. Can it really be that simple however?

Marriage is the mechanism by which men give to women so that women can give to children. The resources of both the mother and the father are directed towards the children. It is unfair to the children for the man to not give to the woman because if the woman is not supported by the man then by necessity the woman will not be able to dedicate herself to the children as she will be distracted by fending for herself instead. So there is nothing equal about marriage at its very foundation. Man gives to woman, woman does not give to man. That is the fundamental originating inequality between man and woman that all other inequality between man and woman is derived from. So equality between husband and wife necessarily means the shortchanging of the children, this is before we even get into the secondary pathological effects of “gender equality” such as the mutual struggle for dominance and associated power struggles two people in close contact with each other who each see themselves as “equal” get into.

However, what about the wife? What happens to the wife when she is dependent upon the man and is to submit to the man? Isn’t the wife just asking to be abused in such a situation? Who or what will protect the interests of the wife?

Now we are getting into the heart of what patriarchy really is. Patriarchy is male dominance but patriarchy combines male dominance with serving and protecting women. Male dominance all by itself is not a workable or functional social system precisely because male dominance all by itself is an open invitation to abuse. Men can see this just as much as women can see this. Indeed men may be able to see this better than women in many circumstances. What is the solution to male dominance run amok? God! God is the solution to male dominance run amok; God is what makes male dominance work. God has power over the man, the man is obligated to obey God, if the man willfully and flagrantly disobeys God he will be punished!

A marriage between a man and a woman is not just between the man and the woman; God is the ultimate authority in the marriage that delegates to the man the powers of the man and delegates to the woman the powers of the woman. God is also a kind of intermediary in the marriage; the man serves the woman as a means of serving God and the woman serves the man and more importantly the children as a means of serving God. The role of the husband is a Godly role for a Godly purpose; it is not just about the man being good to the woman.

Marriage is based on mutual self-sacrifice on behalf of the other, it is covenantal rather than contractual, it is mutual generosity rather than mutual selfishness; it is not at all about fairness or equality, it is instead about both obeying God and serving God and always trying to be good themselves and encouraging the other to be good also.

A woman is in a bad situation if the man she is with has no sense of God or a God concept because the woman can never earn or deserve what she needs and what she is entitled to simply on the basis of what she gives to the man. The woman’s contribution to the man has to be less than the man’s contribution to her because the woman’s role and purpose is only secondarily to serve her husband; it is primarily to serve those who are dependent upon her, namely her children or other members of her extended family or people in the community at large if she doesn’t have close relatives in need of her maternal care. The woman has a Godly purpose beyond her husband her husband is obliged to support her in. The man must see this higher purpose of the woman that is part of his higher purpose as a man that he is bound to support as her husband. The right of the wife to the support and protection of her husband is primarily due to this feminine idealistic service to others that is the woman’s purpose as a woman; it is not based on what the wife gives to her husband directly.

Still, beyond this idealistic picture of how things should be, in real life things go wrong and people, both men and women, do not always act as they should. Under patriarchy the rule is male authority to serve women’s interests. The man is the guardian and the woman is the ward. The man’s authority is superior and the woman’s interests are superior. In the context of marriage the man is to act on behalf of the family as a whole. The woman’s authority is superior to her children but the children’s interests are superior to the woman’s interests so the husband should prioritize his children’s interests above his wife’s interests in the case of a possible conflict of interests between the mother and her children. Similarly a husband should give more weight to the expressed desires of his wife than the expressed desires of his children consistent with the wife’s greater authority relative to her children.

A wife should have almost no power based on her own unilateral assertion; power is instead delegated to her by her husband and by the male community and by God. In a well functioning marriage a husband will delegate to his wife significant power consistent with her role in the family but the power of the wife is delegated to her by her husband rather than being a power she has the right to unilaterally assert on her own. At the same time however a marriage always exists within a broader community and a woman does have the right and obligation to assert power delegated to her by the male community; if a woman is to get in a conflict against her husband she should do so not on the basis of what she wants herself but instead on the basis of what she is entitled to based on what the wider community ethic says she is entitled to. The “male community” I am referring to here can be a church or other external source of authority that a couple relies upon for guidance. The ultimate source of rights for the woman comes from God; the “male community” being relied upon as a source of moral authority over both the husband and the wife should be relying upon the will of God as closely as possible in its teachings. The ideal is obedience to God as the ultimate goal.

The woman is not to protect herself and make demands unilaterally, she is instead owed protection and support from her husband and her husband is to be socially pressured into treating his wife well and outright punished by the male community for treating his wife poorly and of course men should be taught from an early age what their duties and obligations towards women are so that they will be socialized to treat women right and therefore avoid the need for more coercive measures being taken against them to enforce their duties on behalf of women. During coverture they actually had a system where a wife could unilaterally make purchases on her husband’s credit incurring debts the husband would then legally have to pay off; this being the mechanism by which the man’s legal duty to financially support his wife was enforced. This is a good example of the kinds of tools that can be used by the male community to enforce men’s responsibilities towards women.

So how are women protected from abuse in a patriarchal family system? First by the teaching of God based moral values and moral rules of how men should treat women so that a man will internalize a good sense of ethics regarding how he should treat women and what he owes women; what his obligations to women are. Secondly there should be a legal structure in place to impose upon men the basic duties a man owes to women; financial support of the wife by her husband and punishment against the husband for clear abuse against the wife being obvious examples of this. Thirdly there should be social ostracization and social pressure against men not treating their wives well in situations that may fall short of outright obvious abuse or violation of duty but are still bad behaviors on the part of the man nonetheless. Fourthly it is legitimate for the wider community to directly provide support and protection to a woman who is endangered by her husband being unwilling or unable or unfit to give to the woman such support and protection himself. The duty of Chivalry let us remember is a generalized duty of men on behalf of women not restricted to the marital context.

Men must protect women both directly and indirectly; the man has a duty to treat the women he is in direct contact with well and he also has a duty to treat women as a class well. This means the man not only has a duty to do good regarding his own family but also has a duty to enforce moral standards upon other men. Men must protect women and men must protect women from other men who are not protecting women as they should. A woman has two sources of rights; the rights her own husband delegates to her and the rights the male community delegates to her as an imposition upon her husband. A woman likewise has two sources of protection and support; the protection and support her husband gives to her directly and the protection and support the male community gives to her as an imposition upon her husband. On a theoretical basis the woman has a third source of rights and a third source of protection and support hierarchically above both her husband and the male community; this being the rights granted to her by God and the protection and support mandated on her behalf by God. God is the ultimate basis of what the male community assigns to the woman and what the husband owes to the woman on the woman’s behalf. Chivalry is a duty imposed upon men by God.

Pastor Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church has some relevant things to say regarding the protection of women’s interests in marriage while submitting.

The Respectful Wife – Real Marriage – February 5, 2012
25:59 to 29:52

“Wife number one who is disrespectful. She is silent and compliant. She is too silent and too compliant. She thinks “Well I’m respectful. I never disagree with him. I always tell him he’s fantastic. I let him make all the decisions. I’m very respectful.” You’re not respecting the Lord. Because you’re worshipping your husband. And the root issue for these women [is she reads] . . . “Wives submit to your husbands” and what she hears is “He makes all the decisions, he thinks through all the issues, he’s the boss, I just shut up and do what I’m told.” That’s not what it means. . . . He’s [Jesus is] not just always silent, passive, without opinion, no conversation, no communication. He’s not that way. And for a wife to submit to her husband is to submit to her husband in a way that Jesus Christ submits to God the Father. . . . A woman who is silent and compliant, overly silent and overly compliant, her issue is not that she’s a Godly submissive woman, her issue is that she struggles with fear of man. . . . There’s a difference between submitting and enabling. Submitting is “He is submitting to the Lord and I am submitting to him and helping him to honor the Lord.” Enabling is “He is not submitting to the Lord and I am still helping him to do things or do things in ways that are dishonoring to the Lord.” Why would a wife do that? And again back to the theme. It’s disrespectful! It’s disrespectful to the Lord and it’s disrespectful to the husband because the Bible says in Genesis 2:18 ladies you were built to be a what? A helper! And enabling is not helping. Enabling is not helping!”

In addition to this segment where Mark Driscoll emphasizes that the wife’s primary duty of obedience is to God, not her husband, and that the wife is to help her husband better follow and obey God himself Mark Driscoll also lays out a preference hierarchy of how serious disputes between a husband and wife should be resolved.

36:58 to 39:18 – Based on the Message Board

“But what do you do when you disagree? Good question, right? How do you disagree respectfully?”

Disagreeing Respectfully

Option #1 – Most of the time a husband and wife lovingly and patiently keep working for a unified decision.

Option #2 – Some of the time a couple cannot agree and so they bring in a third party, such as a ministry leader or biblical counselor, to help in the decision making.

Option #3 – Some of the time the husband makes the decision as the head and the wife follows it by submitting. If he is wrong he repents and she forgives, and together they work to fix their problem(s).

Men protect women both individually and collectively under patriarchy but women do not protect themselves unilaterally without reference to a male authority figure who is above them to whom they are in obedience to; the act of self-protection for the woman then being part of her obedience to either the male community or to God when she is seeking protection from her husband. This being contrary to the ordinary situation where obeying her husband is consistent with her being protected by her husband. There is a very important reason for this; that is that it is very harmful for a woman to protect herself, it is always better that she be protected by a man instead. This is because a woman who is protecting herself is driving men away from her and therefore driving away the support men can offer her. When a woman instead seeks protection from men through obedience to men she is drawing male support to her rather than driving male support away from her. In addition to this men can protect women more effectively than women can protect themselves because men are more powerful than women. So the goal is that a woman should always be in obedience to a man; the good man protecting her from the bad man if for some reason a man who should be protecting her turns against her instead. A woman should always place herself in a position where she can gain the support of men through obedience to the men she is seeking support from; this being a general rule that applies to the protection of women from male abuse as well.

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About Jesse Powell TFA

Anti-Feminist, MRA, Pro-Traditional Women's Rights Traditional Family Activist (TFA)
This entry was posted in Patriarchy, Religious Instruction and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to The Protection of the Submissive Dependent Wife under Patriarchy

  1. Pingback: How Can a Woman Deal With a Wayward Husband? | What's Wrong With Equal Rights?

  2. Sansa Lannister says:

    As a believer of gender equality, I disagree.
    As human beings we have the right to speak our minds. As human beings, we have the right to protect ourselves be we men or women. Conservatives fail to understand that women who protect themselves are not refusing a husband’s protection just as they will not refuse the protection of the law. It simply means she will be responsible for protecting herself, her husband and children just as her husband will be responsible for protecting himself, his wife and children.
    Men are human beings just as women are. There is no way a man can always be right. This is why marriage must be a partnership not a dictatorship because as human beings we are expected to make mistakes but the probability of two people making the same mistake is much lower than when there is only one person at the helm deciding for more than one. Putting the husband in such a position has been the norm because man has had the unfair advantage of education over women : for centuries women were deemed not worthy of being educated since their ‘primary role ‘ is that of a mother. Nonsense. A mother is just as important as a father. Are Conservatives trying to tell us that fathers need not have an emotional attachment to their children and that being the breadwinners is enough to fulfill their role as a male parent while the mothers compensate for this lack by spending all their time within the four walls of their homes? Such beliefs are regressive. Education is for everyone and two educated adults will make better decisions than one.
    Also is it beneficial to a country if only half of her population works while the other half doesn’t?
    Lastly, a man who refuses to protect a woman simply because she does not look a certain way is the product of an unhealthy society. Women are human beings. We are bound to act in different ways. If men are seeking to inhibit our individual natures by asking for such specific behaviour then it is the same as when a man refuses to marry someone based on the color of their skin. People adhering to such beliefs of supremacy can always justify their actions. As humans, we can justify anything just as we did with colonialism, slavery and Nazism to name a few attrocities we have committed.
    My point is men and women are equal and this should resonate in every sphere of our lives. If a wife is submissive so should be her husband when situations demand it otherwise there can be no mutual respect. Do we want the world populated by polygamists and women forced into head-to-toe coverings? We have living proof of what happens when there is a substantial difference of power between men and women and that is not a world any woman should hope for.

  3. Khal says:

    And you wonder why you aren’t marrried yet?
    I hate people who won’t let me have a say and unilaterally decide how our lives go down.
    I have walked out on many people who took the dictator route and alienated me as a person who should have a say in her life. You would think if they wanted to marry me they’d listen to my perspective and act on it. Wanted tenure as a mate.
    Its such a turn off when people act entitled and lack comprehension that two people exist in a functioning collaboration.
    From my perspective having someone submissive and lower down and a bossy leader who makes all the important decisions only causes pain in relationships, I submitted to this person and they paid me dust for my self censorship and crippling myself to serve their purposes. So much unneeded pain.
    Women do need to look out for themselves. Its just fact, some people in the world are self centered narcicistics who just wanna get off and use others. We must all avoid these jerkwads. The rapists, users, abusers, and otherwise.

  4. Pingback: In Defense of Male Dominance in Romantic Relationships | Secular Patriarchy

  5. Slamot says:

    Why would any sane individual let someone else consistently make all of their decisions for them? Men are not correct all the time by virtue of having a penis, nor does it make them more intelligent than their partners. A woman has a mind of her own. Why is your masculinity so weak and fragile that the thought of a woman contributing to the decision making makes you crumble?

    Someone who puts a stop to communication and thinks a woman should live under his authority and solely his decisions is immature and in no position to have an adult relationship. A man secure with himself doesn’t fear his wife’s insight.

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