To the editor,
I found Rick Cowman’s July 8 Religion article “Standing by Your Man” to be paternalistic, reactionary, and condescending. It represents the oppressive and limiting ideas about women, men, marriage, and relationships that had to be overcome in order for women to be able to do things like vote, play sports, own property, and enter careers besides teaching and nursing.
Progress happens despite articles like this, not because of them. This type of attitude contributes to battered women staying in harm’s way because they have been taught to blame themselves for their husbands’ behavior. “If only I had modeled a Godly attitude and quiet spirit, this wouldn’t have happened. I shouldn’t have nagged him.” The notion that one partner in any relationship is always right or should always be in charge just doesn’t sync up with reality. Both partners bring strengths and weaknesses, and each has accountability for their own attitudes and behavior.
Many happy marriages are based upon an equal partnership between two fully committed adults who mutually and openly support, respect, and challenge each other. Submission and obedience are not part of the arrangement. And surprisingly enough, honest and direct dialogue is usually more effective in promoting change than silently modeling desired behaviors.
Is “MODEL A QUIET SPIRIT” a euphemism for “SHUT UP!”? And what should a wife do who doesn’t possess a “quiet spirit”? Try to “model” one anyway? Pity the poor woman with a lively spirit, an outgoing, fun-loving, or even raucous spirit! According to Rick Cowman’s advice, it seems that her options are to change her personality or avoid getting married.
The 50’s called. They want their minister back.