Poll: A Questionable Debate Question

bachman debateIn a recent American presidential debate, Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann, the only woman of eight candidates participating in the debate,  was asked the following question, “In 2006, when you were running for Congress, you described a moment in your life when your husband said you should study for a degree in tax law. You said you hated the idea. And then you explained, ‘But the Lord said, Be submissive. Wives, you are to be submissive to your husbands.’ As president, would you be submissive to your husband?”

April Young Bennett

April Young Bennett is the author of the Ask a Suffragist book series and host of the Religious Feminism Podcast. Learn more about April at aprilyoungb.com.

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11 Responses

  1. Diane says:

    Do, I believe this is a fair question, no, because husbands are not expected to be submissive to wives, However, I think most men now know that ,’happy wife = Happy life, so that would be submissive.

    Now, how they asked Michelle, “Do you wear grannie panties, or thongs, that would be completely fair, because how many Presidential candidates have been asked in jest, “Boxers, or tightie whities

  2. Noah says:

    I’ve been thinking a lot about this, how it appears both in scripture and in the temple, …how it isn’t exactly easy to sweep under the rug. However, I think you provide some illumination in the same post, i.e., happy wife = Happy life. Now it becomes more of a plea than a commandment. “Wives, please do not be difficult, stubborn, intransigent, contrary, defiant, disobedient, opposing, resistant, antagonistic towards your husbands…. For your harsh judgment can make them very miserable.” This doesn’t mean a husband makes decisions on behalf of his wife, but it does mean a wife, as a matter of compassion, bear in mind that her words, actions, and judgments can make a husband’s ability to fulfill his role as husband and father increasingly difficult. Husbandry is care and cultivation. To be a husband is to care and to cultivate. Wives have been endowed with agency–more than agency, in fact–life, death, and therefore, judgment. For a husband to do his job, his wife must submit to him. As we transition from patriarchal society to matrifocal one, I can only assume the plea for wives to submit to their husbands will become paramount.

  3. Jayme says:

    I think if she is submissive as a WIFE, that’s her prerogative. But if she were to be submissive as a president, that is a problem. In this case, she would have been elected, NOT her husband.

  4. Kmillecam says:

    I think it’s a fair question, not because it isn’t sexist (it is), but because she herself believes in that particular sexist delineation between man and wife. Absolutely fair game for that reason alone, let alone that she is on the record saying that she agrees that she should submit.

  5. alex w. says:

    I watched the debate, and yes, I think it’s fair game. She started it, so to speak, so she can deal with the subject that she brought to the political arena.

  6. Diane says:

    This question was asked merely to embarrass her. It has nothing to do with her ability to be President

  7. Alisa says:

    Because she said she believed a wife should be submissive to her husband in career decisions, and being President you make a lot of career decsions, it’s a valid point.

    Although I would not vote for Romney, I disagree with everyone thinking he would take his marching orders from Pres. Monson (I don’t think Pres. Monson would give him marching orders). I think it’s an offensive question. BUT if Romney had publicly said that he allowed his Church leaders to dictate to him how he functioned in his career and what specific choices he had made in the past for his career, only then do I think it would be a fair question to ask if his Church leaders would still be directing him in his career in the White House.

  8. Alisa says:

    Also, I find Bachmann’s response somewhat infantile and refusing to acknowledge responsibility for her choices, as if she had no choice but to obey a “higher authority.” When I look for a presidential candidate, I would like someone who understands that responsibility lies with him/her, not a spouse, not a church, etc.

  9. Starfoxy says:

    Here is why I don’t think the question was a problem. Her publicly stated religious beliefs require that she defer completely to an authority figure (her husband) who is not up for public election or under any sort of obligation to the American people.
    I don’t think it was a problematic question when people asked it of Kennedy (will the Pope really be the president with a Catholic in office?), or of Romney (will the LDS Prophet really be the president with a Mormon in office?).
    At least for LDS people who have been so thoroughly taught to follow the Prophet I have a hard time believing that the Prophet could call up President Romney and say “I have had a revelation that the US should do X” and have Romney say, “Well it’s interesting that you say that, but I’m going to have to disregard it because my religious beliefs are separate from my job.”
    If Bachman is so thoroughly invested in the idea of submitting to her husband then I think it is perfectly reasonable to suss out how much her non-elected husband is going to shape her actions as president.

  10. Janna says:

    What a great question! I answered “No because it’s sexist,” but after reading the comments, I think that it’s a fair question. In essence, the questioner is asking what factors might influence Bachmann’s decisions, which was probably a better question. But, since Bachmann has come out publicly saying that she does what her husband says, it’s fair to reference that response with a question.

  11. MZ says:

    I don’t know if it’s fair or not fair. I do know that sometimes when I make decisions for myself like getting my Masters Degree I tend to put the blame/credit on my Husband. So if someone who is very Mormon women asks me, “So you are getting your Masters how does your Husband feel about that?” It’s almost easier to say “well he hates it when I am not in school and it was his idea anyways,” ok so just leave me alone now. It’s not that I believe I should be submissive but I see myself saying the same thing she did out of desperation to drop the subject. I guess it’s an eye opener for me. Yet I am sure that LDS men get the same leading questions about obeying the Prophet.

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