Why the Submission Question to Michelle Bachmann was SexistSomervell County Salon-Glen Rose, Rainbow, Nemo, Glass....Texas


 

Why the Submission Question to Michelle Bachmann was Sexist
 


12 August 2011 at 9:09:09 AM
salon

I find myself in an uncomfortable position of wanting to come to Michelle Bachmann's defense this morning. Not because I in a million years would ever vote for her, her positions are far too extreme for me, and certainly not simply *because* she is a woman. But because I believe there are some cheap tricks being played on her ONLY to make her look weak on account of her sex.

I did not watch the GOP Iowa debate last night. I won't be voting Republican, because I like public schools, health, libraries, taking care of the poor, etc, all values that Republicans do not share. But I did read that Michelle Bachman was asked by the Fox debate moderator 

"As president, will you be submissive to your husband?"

MB apparently took the question in good humour and then later tried to say that submission is the same thing as respect. Um, No, it is not.

But why in the world was that question even ASKED in the first place? To me, it was a subtle way of saying "Hey, you're female, and you may just, on a whim, have your husband calling the shots, and lead the rest of the country that way.". Sexist because the same type of question was not asked of any men there, ie, "If your wife tells you to do this or that, is that what you will do?". For example, Rick Perry has said that his wife is the one that told him to run for president. Would he be asked "Rick Perry, if you are president, will be you be submissive to your wife". I'm guessing not in a million years. The sub-message in asking MB that question was "You are a woman subject to men telling you what to do".

Now, if the question had been "You believe in theocracy (God rule) on the earth. Your religious view is that women should be submissive to husbands. How would that affect you as president?" I think that would be an appropriate questions because it is tied to an ISSUE that affects people. The vague "As president" only encompasses a personal belief and frankly, I don't give a hoot whether anyone wants to be submissive to their husbands in their private lives. Do I AGREE with that? No, but with freedom of religion, even kooky religion, a woman can be submissive if she wants and believes that is God's way. IN other words, it's her private business. Her belief becomes *public* business when it becomes something she would, as an elected official, attempt to enforce over other people. Another *better* question to me, would be, if your husband tells you he wants to have abortion rights taken away from all women, would you vote that way in order to be submissive to him? I like what this article says

That was a good response and ought to settle the issue. After all, Bachmann hasn't shown any sign that her husband is calling the shots in her political career. A "submissive" woman wouldn't be where she is today. So it's insulting that she was even asked, though she dealt with it gracefully.

The same question might be thrown at any conservative Christian married woman in Bachmann's position, but it shouldn't be. She has pursued a professional path distinct and separate from her husband's. Would anyone expect a Christian woman who's a neurosurgeon to "submit" to her husband's directives on medical matters? I hope not. So why presume that Bachmann would let her husband make policy decisions if he's First Gentleman?

And I don't remember anyone asking Hillary Clinton the same question. She probably wouldn't have taken it with the same good humor as Bachmann.

I felt the same way when all that stuff about MB's migraines came out. I NEVER heard, ever, anything about migraines that men have in office. Have you? Ever recall someone saying to any male congressman "I know you get migraines and have to take Excedrin, can you really be a good congressman since you get severe headaches?". It's the next step from the old "Women menstruate and get PMS, can we REALLY trust them not to wan to drop the bomb once a month?".  I don't see people asking Rick Perry, who has been wearing orthopedic shoes due to dang back surgery, how he feels and insinuate that he might not do a good job due to taking medication (oh, you know he HAS to be) in recovery.

There is ALWAYS a sexist undertone when a woman gets asked blatant questions like this. Again, HAD the issues been kept to, it would have elevated this to a higher level and point. Both Michelle Bachmann and Rick Perry believe in theocracy, which at best is completely inappropriate except in private life and at worst, is treasonous. How about better questions from the debate moderators in the future, because if the GOP is attempting to alienate women, it's doing a fine job.

 

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Comments!  
1 - pstern   12 Aug 2011 @ 10:57:50 AM 

With all due respect, and I understand why you would feel the way you do, the question was asked due to a previous comment by Bachmann herself when she stated:

Said Bachmann:

“The Lord says be submissive. Wives, you are to be submissive to your husbands.” – Michele Bachmann, October 2006.

In addition, the Tea Party originally stated that Bachmann believes in the reference to the Bible that states something like: a woman should be subserviant to her husband.

So, you may want to send a comment to Bachmann rather than to jump on the guy who recently asked her this question.  The Fox commenter obviously wanted to get a rise from the audience and maybe Bachmann, but in my opinion he did nothing wrong because she had let that proverbial "cat out of the bag." 

Obviously, the Fox commenter got what he wanted.  ;)

Here is an article, by the way which was written by a woman, Jill Lawrence, that confirms the quote by Bachmann.

 

 


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2 - salon   12 Aug 2011 @ 11:08:51 AM 

Let me be clear. I believe that it's fair game to ask her about this in the context of an issue question. She did not say last night Wives Be in Submissions to her husband but some years back. I do think it's fair game but not as a stand-alone proposition. I think a better question would have been, instead of this blurt, "MB, back in 2006 you said X. Do you believe that your view is one all women should legally follow and would you introduce legislation to ensure that?" The WAY this was couched, without any context and without any issue to tie it to, sounded sexist. Do I think that she needs to be examined for this view? Yes. But, again, I don't care if she PERSONALLY believes that, although I do not, I want her to be asked "So, are you for a theocracy in which the men are in charge and you submit and pass legislation for all women?" or "So if your husband tells you that abortion is now to be legalized, would you pass legislation that affects all women". The question as said by Wallace was just a bad one.


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3 - pstern   12 Aug 2011 @ 11:13:45 AM 

Certainly, that's your perogative.


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4 - Christian woman   12 Aug 2011 @ 1:13:07 PM 

The problem is MB's answer, not the question. She knows (and the booing audience knows) that the fundamentalist Christian idea of "submission to one's husband" is absolutely antithetical to her present endeavor.

Salon may not understand the complicated underpinnings of this fundamentalist principle, but all of us who have been raised under the principle and repercussions of "submitting" absolutely understand how razor-sharp is the edge MB straddles. Many of us wonder how she can even be in politics if she believes in this prinicple. And personally, I appreciate the questioner's knowledge of our vocabulary. The question is like an oath question; it is entirely in keeping with candidates' values and how those values will affect their public roles. No male candidates can be asked this particular question. It is truly not under their purview.

This is a dilemma for MB or any other female candidate who says she supports "submission." By having both constituents whose preferences in governmental policies she is elected to represent and having a husband to whom she is to "submit ... in everything" (Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.  For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.  Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything  -- Ephesians 5:22-33 New International Version ) MB should be asked this question. She is being asked, "Whom do you serve first?" In this version of Christianity, "submission" questions are always asked and must be answered. Usually, this kind of belief system requires "God's law before man's law" and for women who espouse submission, their husbands' thoughts and beliefs before the wives'. So to ask MB about submission is to ask, "Will you be the president or will your husband?" And that question was always the underlying question (and sometimes the outright question) to Hillary Clinton. 

Submission is a very different principle than respect between spouses, MB conflated the ideas. Respect between spouse is addressed separately in the Pauline books of the Bible. Submission to one's husband is a principle which keeps female Bible-literalists out of the pastorate and out of public speaking, let alone public debate. It does indeed mean that women who espouse this belief should check with their husbands before uttering a word outside the home. And if the husband does not agree with what the wife was going to say or do -- she must change her speech and her actions to reflect her husband's wishes.

The questioner in the GOP debate obviously knows the sexist nature of the principle -- that is exactly why he can ONLY ask it of a female candidate who has previously stated her agreement with it.

And the questioner did say, "As president would you. . . ?" That is exactly the issue here, because as the  questioner understands correctly, the fundamentalist Christian's political stance is that there is no difference between personal belief and public performance of one's duties.

Any woman who advises Christian submission to one's husband purports to obey a principle with which  most Americans do not agree. That woman has already "played the sex card"  and will be questioned about it by fundamentalists (the group MB is always trying to attract) as well as by centrists and democrats (small "D" intentional) who are not attracted by it. The question in this debate was not about gender, it was about religion in the workplace. The question by Wallace was clear and direct. MB instigated this question, yet her answer was neither Biblically congruent, nor was it consistent with her previous avowals. It is a question that both her supporters and her detractors deserved to hear addressed head-on.



5 - salon   12 Aug 2011 @ 1:21:10 PM 

I actually understand very well the fundamentalist thinking behind submission, was raised Southern Baptist. Have heard plenty of that baloney for a long time but I contend IF MB wants to believe that, she can, and IF she is a hypocrite about it, show me a hypocrite who is not. I absolutely believe she should be called on this but I do not like how this was done. I continue to contend that by asking a question with no context and no specific issues to address, the question was done BY FOX in order ot subtly denigrate by sexism. Doesn't mean I don't want to her her address this, just as I think Rick Perry will need to be grilled about his faux christianity. The delivery method backfired, though, and, at least for me, makes the GOP even more odious.


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6 - humanbeing   12 Aug 2011 @ 2:32:41 PM 

It's all just entertainment, isn't it, masquerading as 'news'?


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7 - pstern   12 Aug 2011 @ 3:48:16 PM 

Above all, it emphasizes or highlights why religion must be kept separate from state affairs.  Our revolutionary leaders were brilliant in many ways.  If the Religious Right gets its way we will all bow down to its desire to get its philosophy, religion, school textbooks, social rulings, etc. as part of our nation's norm.

I am totally AGAINST that effort and so should all of you.   

The main problem currently is that the Religious Right does NOT comprise the majority of Americans AND
its efforts in politics are against the Constitution as our leaders had intended.

The Right already has the freedom to live and worship, and can practice anything it wants under the Constitution.  It can have its own schools, churches and religious and social philosophies.  Its members can fit in socially however they want to.  They don't want abortions?  Fine.  The members should not have them.

***However, they cannot and should not be allowed to dictate how other Americans must live or act or fit in with their agendas.  If they run for political office, they should keep their religion out of our national business.   Currently, Perry and his religious brigade are NOT doing that.

We should all fight this religious affront to the death!  Our forefathers would expect us to.

.


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8 - pstern   13 Aug 2011 @ 5:28:24 PM 

Today in Iowa:

Today 2:50 PM Marcus Bachmann Addresses 'Submissive' Question

HuffPost's Jon Ward reports:

 

HuffPost asked [Marcus Bachmann] if he thought it was appropriate and fair for a question to be asked of his wife in the debate Thursday night about whether she would be "submissive" to him, her husband, if she were president.

"The answer was brilliant," he said.

I asked him again.

"They need to focus on what's important in this country," Marcus Bachmann said, pointing to jobs and the economy as the topics that should take priority. "It's unfortunate that they focus on things that are not as important."

 

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