I was watching a dating show recently and the woman on the show was telling the experts that she wanted a strong man, one who takes control; a “man’s man” who knows his role in the relationship and can lead a marriage. I thought, “There is a woman who knows exactly what she wants! That should make it easy to find her a match!” A few episodes later, one of the men commented that he likes strong independent women, but that in the confines of a marriage it is nice when “the woman is the woman.” The woman on the show actually laughed in his face and got up. When he tried to explain his view later, she basically tuned him out and made him out to be a chauvinist. I scratched my head in confusion. I realized that I have seen this play out on TV many times and in the lives of people I know personally. We have distorted certain words and attitudes so that we don’t know what we really want anymore, and I think that we as women are just plain confused. Let me try to explain.
When we hear the word feminism, we think that to be a feminist we need to think that men are evil, women are all-powerful, supreme beings and that anything that even appears to “put a woman down” is wrong. But truthfully, the dictionary defines feminism as “the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes and the organized activity on behalf of women's rights and interests.”1 In that regard, I am—probably like most women—considered feminist. I want women to be treated equally in politics, economics and social rights, but that does not mean that I think all men are the gum on the bottom of my shoe. It also does not mean that I believe men should be manipulated by women and stripped of their rights and feelings to justify my own. If I want men to respect me, then I need to respect them.
On the other side of the coin, hearing the word submission conjures up images of women with bowed heads, allowing their men to push them around while they blindly obey. In today’s world submission also has the sexual connotation of women who allow men to tie them up, beat them, and abuse them verbally, physically, and/or mentally. In fact, submission is defined as the condition of being submissive, humble, or compliant. So, by definition we are submissive every day. How? Each time we are told to do something at work by our boss, we comply. You can probably come up with other examples. Why, then, is it wrong when in a marriage, someone is submissive?
I choose to be submissive in my marriage. Anyone who knows me knows that I am intelligent, strong, and opinionated, but within my marriage I choose to be humble and compliant. That means that I want a husband who is strong and can take control, a “man’s man” who I respect. If he let me do whatever I wanted and never questioned me, I would not respect him. On the flip side, he respects me enough to cherish my submission because he knows it is my choice. We discuss decisions and issues together, and he hears my opinion. Usually we come to a mutually agreed upon conclusion. But on the rare occasions when we don’t, he makes the final decision and I choose to submit to him.
So going back to being confused, we women want the strong man who takes charge and makes us feel safe and protected; it is not surprising that so many women gravitate to the “bad boy” or “alpha man.” But then we feel like we are being disloyal to our gender if we are happily submissive in our relationships. True feminism and true submission can happily live together in one place. I know because I live it, and I know many women who do as well. Believe me ladies, there are not many alpha males out there who are going to let you take the lead in the relationship; you will constantly be butting heads. Your relationship will be like running on a treadmill—you expel a lot of energy without getting anywhere until someone gets too tired and falls off. It is not disloyal for a woman to want to be with a man who likes to be the man, while she enjoys being the woman in the confines of their relationship. Now in the workplace, kick butt and take names, be independent and don’t let anyone—male or female—abuse their power over you.
Let’s stop sending the men in our lives mixed messages. We want them strong and in control, but we get upset when they take charge. We need to make up our minds. What do you really want in a man? Who do you really want to be in your relationship? Be clear about yourself so that you can find the person that is meant for you. If you are already married, communicate your needs and expectations to your spouse. Then work together to make a marriage that is beneficial to you both.
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