Are Submissive Wives Anti-Feminists?
Picture this: A woman is at home, cooking, cleaning. Her husband comes back from work, gives her a tender kiss, takes off his coat and awaits his dinner at the table. It has taken me just a couple of sentences to, perhaps, instil anger in many feminists. Maybe for some, I have gone completely against their definition of feminism. Besides, this woman seems to be entirely dependent on her husband. She doesn’t work herself so depends on him financially, which leads her to stay at home and take on both a physical and emotional form of submission.
Now, what if I went on to say that this kind of submission was the woman’s choice? The word ‘submission’ leads many people, especially feminists, to raise their brow and suddenly point out a major opposition to the gender equality ideal. ‘How could a woman choose to take on the submissive role in a relationship? Surely the man forced her into it.’ My family come from the Eastern and Southern parts of Europe where many women still take on traditional roles and are very much happy about it. My grandma has worn black clothes ever since her husband died. She feels as though she has no life ever since it happened, but the obedient life she has led and the sacrifices she’s had to make have given her a great deal of satisfaction. She wouldn’t have had it any other way. For some women, a feeling of empowerment and strength lies behind their decision to be submissive and many feel as though the traditional roles balance out the lives of the man and woman. Many women in many different societies remain obedient to their husbands. Does this make them anti-feminists?
We talk about women having a choice to do what they want, yet, housewives or women who choose (emphasis on the word ‘choose’) to take on the more submissive role in a relationship are seen as anti-feminists by some. Housewives in particular could be described as lazy and tradition is now seen as backwards. Women who long to live their lives in accordance with traditional values become victims of scrutiny and judgement. Their choices don’t please other women and don’t ‘live up’ to what it means to be a feminist. We talk about feminism being inclusive of everyone no matter their race, gender, sexual orientation, but it’s clear that some feminists are turning against others. Some women then go on to ask themselves ‘what does it take to be a feminist?’, ‘what am I doing wrong?’ Something no woman should ever have to ask herself. If women are questioning other women’s choices, then every woman is still bound to a certain idea of how they should be living.
Feminism is ultimately about choice. If we end up with some women too scared to call themselves feminists because they don’t think they have ‘what it takes’ to be one, then something is wrong. If the word ‘choice’ is included somewhere in a woman’s explanation of her way of life, then she is as much of a feminist as the next.