THE CONCEPT OF SUBMISSION IN MARRIAGE

It is a typical Nigerian belief that women are supposed to ‘submit’ to their husbands in marriage, and when a person asks why, the person gets referred to The Bible. Nigerians are quite religious, so yeah, “do as The Bible says”. But its not just about what religion wants, its about how patriarchy has come to settle in the subconscious of Nigerians, its about how misogyny is embraced by men, and women are to support it, because they are expected to submit to their husbands, thereby obeying him and agreeing with him. Religion isn’t the reason for patriarchy or sexism or misogyny, its only an excuse to continue it. Of course, Christianity for one supports sexism, it clearly talks about submission and the role of women as ‘helpers’ to men, but it is not the reason why the society has come to embrace it, because if it was, it would mean that people love the word of God so much and they obey it. We all know that is a big lie. The so called men who ask their wives to be submissive because The holy Book said so, still commit adultery, they lie and cheat people. The Bible compelled men to love their wives, if men really loved obeying God, they won’t be mistreating their wives. So, if religion was really the reason for the disguised misogyny, men would have to love their wives first, before asking for submission. This will ensure that a male will not misuse his wife’s submission to him as an opportunity to mistreat or control her. If a man cannot love his wife and entirely obey God’s commandments, then he has no business demanding submission from a woman based on The Bible.

Aside from the grounds of religion, some people who are conventional still believe things should always remain the way they have always been. Although, this is not a valid or a strong point, I would still like to address it. Quite a number of people, including females, think of feminists as trouble makers because they do not agree with the tradition of ‘submission’. They think ‘a man is the head of the house, while a woman is the neck’, meaning one cannot survive or exist without the other, therefore, there is no need fighting against submission, since you will still have an opinion, what they do not understand is the meaning of submission. Submission means to obey, according to Merriam Webster dictionary, it means ‘the state of being obedient: the act of accepting the control or authority of somebody else’. This means that, once a woman submits to her husband, she is supposed to do his bidding at all costs. It is understandable that some men are trustworthy enough to not always put their interests first before their partner’s, but I’ve hardly seen any like that. I know of a woman who was a lawyer before she got married, after she did, her husband told her to stop working and she had to stop, because she ‘submitted’ to him. The concept of conformity on the part of the female automatically gives rise to patriarchy, because it clearly expresses marriage as somewhat a ‘master and slave’ relationship. This perspective is the reason a lot of women are stuck in unhealthy marriages.

Domestic violence happens to be one of the evils of patriarchy, and ‘submission’ plays quite a role in it. When women are physically abused in marriages, the typical advice given to such ladies to avoid any more abuse is to always obey their husbands, probably because the man believes he should be obeyed by his wife at all times, therefore, he feels emasculated whenever she questions his authority. Not that you can argue with that, because a lady agreeing to submit to her husband means she always has to obey, so, she’s probably wrong for not obeying. The concept of ‘submission’ cannot only lead to physical domestic abuse, but emotional and mental abuse as well, which is not shocking. Even kids have a say with their parents, how much more a lady to her hubby? Nobody can live a Happy life while being ordered around. 

The truth about subordination is that, the man owns the authority and the least a woman can do is to obey. If a man does not plan to control his wife or boss her around, then he has no reason to ask his wife to submit to him. Respect and ‘submission’ are not mutually dependent, your partner does not have to show conformity to acknowledge the fact that they respect you, respect is something you earn, not demand. As for the argument of religion being in support of patriarchy, The Bible also supports some other things people do not like, examples are slavery, war etc, patriarchy can just be a part of those. Equality doesn’t hurt anyone. Even though ‘equality always feels like discrimination to the privileged’, it really isn’t discrimination.

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