So, while I’m on this thread, let me touch on a sensitive subject. Submission. Of the female sort that is… I could probably be classified as a feminist. I believe that women are entitled to be treated fairly, even equally. I believe that we should be long past the dark days when women weren’t allowed to vote, or own property, or get an education or make decisions related to our well-being. I know that women are and can be strong, capable, intellectual, accomplished and that we can achieve great things. I believe in equal pay for equal work and most importantly that women should be free to make decisions regarding our reproductive systems.
That being said, I acknowledge and respect the differences. We’re built differently. We have a different physiological structure. We have different hormonal systems. These differences don’t negate our equality, but they shouldn’t be ignored or taken for granted. There are still very fundamental things that women do naturally that men cannot do. The reverse is also true. There’s no denying it. Men cannot carry and deliver babies. Men cannot breastfeed. Women cannot produce semen. A penis is a penis, a vagina is a vagina. They are not interchangeable. They do not do the same things. We’re different and it makes no sense to deny that. I’m not talking about gender identity. That’s a whole other topic.
It’s amazing now to look back at where we’re coming from. A few centuries ago I’d be completely dependent on a male relative or spouse from birth until death. A few hundred years ago, I probably wouldn’t be able to learn how to read and write. A few decades ago, I’d have no say in who got elected to high office in my country. I wouldn’t be able to own my own vehicle and be able to take out a loan. At 35 and unmarried/divorced I would be dependent on my father or senior male relative for my shelter, my food, my clothing, my overall well-being. Dependent and submissive were not a choice in those eras, they were how we stayed alive and healthy. Even today in some cultures this is the reality of many women. We’re not so far away from that yet, not nearly far enough away. But by virtue of my place of birth, my family’s beliefs and socio-economic status, I am educated, independent, employed and empowered.
And yet, I overheard a family conversation about 7 years ago, that gave me pause. The wife of a family member was opposed to a decision made by her husband but refused to discuss it with him because she was told, by her religious leader, that she was supposed to submit. Say what now?? Submit? Me? Hell to the Nah! It made me question my respect for her because seriously, who the fuck was I going to submit to. I was the alpha in my current relationship and fully expected to continue to be. The word played in my head like an expletive. Because fuck that! I could pay my bills, own my own things, maintain a job, access higher education all in my own time and on my own dime, so seriously, submit? No thank you. But my mind wondered. It’s in the Bible after all… And regardless of my current opinion of religion, I still have respect for the teachings of the Bible because I have found wisdom there. But, I thought, this must be one of the things that they got oh so wrong. Ever the inquiring mind, I looked it up. And sure enough… Guess what? That same verse that’s bandied about by entitled men does not in fact exist in a vacuum. There’s a very important verse that follows that oft quoted one. Believe it or not, there are instructions for the men as well. The man is supposed to cherish and respect and show affection to us. He’s charged with providing for and protecting us and with being willing to die for us… That’s actually quite a bit. And that got me thinking…
What really is this submission of which they speak? And since it doesn’t exist in a vacuum, if the man follows his part of the instructions, if I were confident in his willingness and ability to do as he was charged, would I be more amenable? Yeah, actually, I would… Now hear me out. I’m a whole person. Even in an active relationship, where I’m Me the wife/life partner, I still have to function as Me the employee (soon to be business owner), and Me the student (soon to be Masters graduate). There will always be areas in my life where I have autonomy and even dominance. Submission in relation to my role as a partner will never nullify those and also does not negate me stating my opinion, making suggestions or even stating my opposition to something. In that regard, I still have a challenge with her choice. The negative repercussions of the choice she made are still playing out to this day.
Ideally, the male is after all told to offer his respect. And if I trust the person and believe either that he is capable of making a wise, informed decision or that he is able to recover from any negative consequences of the decision (yeah, I’m probably gonna say ‘I told you so’), then what’s the point of resisting? Resisting to the point where it causes conflict and strife doesn’t make sense if I have confidence in my partner. Not having confidence in my partner probably means he shouldn’t be my partner to begin with – a decision I have in fact made. Blind submission to the point where I silence myself may never be for me, but concession and capitulation are not as unappealing as they once were.
My very type A, alpha female personality does not mesh well with passive, type B, beta male personalities. Sadly, they seem to be predominant in my culture. I haven’t lost hope though, I’ve seen evidence of what I’m looking for. So, as I continue to evolve along this journey of self-awareness, I realized something important, I have no challenge with submitting, as long as my I have confidence in my partner’s ability to lead…