CTBHH: The Jezebel Type

Created To Be His Help Meet, pp. 19-20

Debi starts Chapter 1, “God’s Gift,” with her signature act: A letter she received from a reader. This letter provides an excellent illustration of why women are drawn to Debi’s advice.

Dear Mike and Debi,

I want to thank you both for explaining what I was doing to my husband. I was definitely a Jezebel type…

Debi doesn’t say which article this reader was writing in response to, but given her reference to “Jezebel” she is almost certainly replying to Debi’s article titled “The Jezebel Profile.” So what does it mean to be “a Jezebel type”? You might think Debi uses the term to refer to being demanding, nagging, or “bitchy.” She doesn’t. Here is what she says about “the Jezebel type” in her article:

When the name Jezebel comes to mind, most of us see the painted face of a seductively dressed woman gazing into the eyes of a man who lacks good sense. The Bible portrays Jezebel in a different light.

Revelation 2:20 says that Jezebel “calleth herself a prophetess,” and men received her as a teacher. This was given as a warning to the church. The one whom you have received as a spirit filled teacher comes to you in the great tradition of Jezebel. We have observed that many wives have stalled their half of the marriage by assuming the spiritual headship of the home. They would teach their husbands. But consider 1 Cor. 14:34-35, “Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.”

I went back to I Kings to see what the Bible had to say about this woman Jezebel. The first thing I noticed was that Jezebel was more religious than her husband. She was spiritually intense. The Bible says in 1 Cor 11:3, “But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.” As a woman, our place is under our husband, especially in the spiritual realm. Regardless of our circumstances, when we take the spiritual lead, we have stepped out from under our head. We have tried to rearrange God’s designated place for us. We are no longer in God’s will.

(Note to the uninitiated: There are two Jezebels in the Bible, the Old Testament wicked queen Jezebel, and the New Testament false prophetess Jezebel.)

Something really bizarre is going on here. The Old Testament Jezebel, a queen of Israel, did not worship the Jewish God. She worshiped Baal. And yes, she led her husband Ahab, the king of Israel, away from the God of the Jews to worship Baal with her. Debi ignores the fact that Jezebel worshiped the wrong God – as in, completely omits that and instead speaks of her as being especially spiritual – and instead acts like Jezebel’s crime was being a “spiritual leader” rather than, you know, worshiping a false God.

In some sense, what Debi is doing here isn’t unprecedented. All throughout the Middle Ages priests and monks used images like Eve, deceived by the serpent, and Jezebel, false prophetess of the New Testament and wicked queen of the Old Testament, to deprive women of any form of spiritual leadership. Women were portrayed as deceivers, the spreaders of false doctrine, especially prone to being led into apostasy and in need of instruction in correct doctrine.

But Debi takes this a step further. The problem, according to her, is not about woman teaching correct doctrine or being prone to apostasy. It doesn’t matter whether a woman’s theological beliefs are accurate or not. The core of the problem, according to Debi, is women taking the “spiritual lead.” End and full stop. And the next section of the reader’s letter echoes this:

I was definitely a Jezebel type, but I have changed! I felt broken inside when I read your article. I asked God to help me learn what His views were of marriage and how he wanted me to respond to my husband. At first, I only made little changes in what I did for him, but at least my attitude was different. The truth has set me free.

I want to let you know that the changes in me have astonished me – and my husband! And, the changes in him have left me dumbfounded. He is more caring, eager to please, spends more time with the girls and myself, and the level of intimacy is wonderful! I had spent years scratching my head and wondering why he would not take a position of leadership in the home. I did not realize that I controlled many situations because I feared my husband would not handle them correctly. We had both grown bitter, and love-making was not love; it was necessary sex – when it was unavoidable.

In other words, being a “Jezebel type” means “wearing the pants.”

But then there is the inevitable question. The reader says that she and her husband had both grown bitter. Why? We can’t know. Clearly, she and her husband were unhappy in their marriage. They probably would have benefited from going to marital counseling. Strike that, they certainly would have benefited from going to marital counseling. They needed to communicate, discuss their differences, and work things out. But of course, that’s not what Debi recommends. Debi has a formula for the perfect marriage, and that formula doesn’t include communication. (Seriously, it really truly doesn’t, not once, not ever.)

But I am going to go out on a limb here and suggest that part of the reason for this couple’s discontent may have been that they believed they were supposed to have certain roles in their marriage, but they both knew they weren’t actually following those roles. Most of the women who write to Debi are already churched. As this reader makes clear, they believe that husbands are supposed to be the leaders and that wives are supposed to submit, they’re just not sure exactly what that means or how to attain that, and Debi helps them out.

Of course, Debi’s interpretation is slightly different. She doesn’t think that these men become bitter because they’re told in church that they’re supposed to be the leaders in their homes but that’s not happening. Instead, she thinks that these men become bitter because they’re, well, men, and that’s what men do when a woman takes a leadership role. More from the Jezebel article:

The second thing I observed was that Ahab was emotionally volatile—unstable. Is your husband prone to retreat? Is he bitter, angry, or depressed? When a woman takes the lead, she is playing the masculine role. Unless her husband fights her for supremacy, he must assume second place. And men who are forced into spiritual subjection to their wives tend to be angry and retreat like Ahab.

In other words, when a woman takes the lead, “playing the masculine role,” it causes her husband to be “bitter, angry, or depressed.” Note that there is no consideration that two individuals could share leadership. Nope. Marriage becomes a fight between husband and wife for supremacy. One must have it, and the other must be in “second place.” Equality is not an option. That Debi has come to this conclusion really makes me want to know more about the early years of her marriage. It’s a conclusion absolutely not borne out in my own experience, or in the experiences of many, many of those I know. Equality in marriage is possible, Debi or no.

Beyond this point about hierarchy not being necessary, note that there is also an assumption made here about men – that they need to be the leaders in their relationships, or they become “bitter, angry, or depressed.” If a woman doesn’t let a man lead, he will – naturally – be “angry.” What evidence does she provide for this? None. She’s making a pretty big claim about men’s nature here. Basically, she’s saying that unless men are in charge, they’ll be forever bitter and angry. This strikes me as … juvenile and immature of them?

Anyway, that, then, is “the Jezebel type.” This reader’s crime was that she took leadership in her home. Because she took leadership, her husband was “angry, bitter, … depressed.” Because this reader knew that neither she nor her husband were fulfilling the roles they were supposed to fulfill, she was bitter too. When she read Debi’s article, she was convicted (aka she felt guilty). She does not say exactly what she changed in her dealings with her husband, but presumably she stepped back and started being submissive and letting him make all the decisions – and presumably she started to focus on “serving” him with love and joy. And the result was a transformation of both him and their relationship.

Again and again, Debi promises her readers that if they just start being submissive and serving their husbands with a smile, their husbands will suddenly turn into the men of their dreams. This is fascinating. Submission and service isn’t simply portrayed as womens’ duty – though there is that too – but rather as a way women can get men to stop doing X, Y, Z annoying thing and start being what they want them to be. This strikes me as … manipulative? Not healthy, surely. Healthy would be communicating, compromising, and cooperating. But of course, none of those things are in Debi’s playbook.

Back to the end of this reader’s letter:

When we first married, I started this little nonsense thing where, if we had a blow-up, I would say the “flower petals chant” under my breath, “…He loves me not.” And if we were having a fun time, I would say, “He loves me.” After several years, I realized that I had stopped saying, “He loves me,” and almost daily I was saying, “He loves me not.”

Guilt washes over me when I think of the wasted years and how blind I was to my own faults. It has been very hard to confess. I am so thankful to now know my palce as my husband’s helper and friend. Yesterday my husband slipped in and grabbed me from behind. I felt his whispered breath in my ear and realized he was saying over and over again, “He loves me, He loves me, He loves me.” Tears poured down my face in thanksgiving, and while safe in his arms, I took up the chant, “He loves me, He loves me, He loves me.” No one knows how precious those words are until you almost lose them. Thank God he helped me see the truth before I totally lost my one true love. Learning to be the help meet God created me to be,

Liz

This is the promise Debi holds out. Is your marriage troubled? Is your husband bitter? Is he not being the leader you believe he’s supposed to be? Are you tired of fighting? Then follow my advice, and you will have the man of your dreams, and the relationship of your dreams – and of course, you’ll become the wife of your husband’s dreams. And of course, Debi throws around anecdote after anecdote as proof that her formula works.

About Libby Anne

Libby Anne grew up in a large evangelical homeschool family highly involved in the Christian Right. College turned her world upside down, and she is today an atheist, a feminist, and a progressive. She blogs about leaving religion, her experience with the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements, the detrimental effects of the "purity culture," the contradictions of conservative politics, and the importance of feminism.

  • jose

    The husband would be probably one of those who feel “deballed” when the woman is making anything else besides sandwiches and babies. It’s not nature, they’re raised and educated that way. If you tell a boy from the cradle he gets to order his wife around and that he’s her head and that she’s there to serve him, and then he gets married and he doesn’t get to have that, he’s going to be bitter, duh.

    Sure, one way to appease the him is to tell the woman to change in order to become what the boy was promised. However those who value autonomy and equality would be opposed to that.

    Also, convenient to say it’s just how God made them (inequal), so it becomes an article of faith beyond questioning. From the first link: “God made us the weaker vessels.” Religious control of society through the control of individuals.

  • Rachel

    Libby, I’m really confused here. Is the verse in Revelation referring to the Queen Jezebel, or an entirely different Jezebel? (I’ve never read the New Testament.) Because you refer to them as different people, and so do the Bible commentaries I’m finding online (some say the later Jezebel is named so in reference to the first one), but Debi Pearl bases her interpretation of “The Jezebel type” on the idea that they’re the same person. I looked up the verses and they could go either way: is there this huge divergence in fundamentalist thought about whether they’re the same person or different? I thought fundamentalists were literal enough that they didn’t need commentaries to sort this out.

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism Libby Anne

      They’re two different people. The verse in Revelation is about a woman named Jezebel who was involved in a early Christian church. Her views were denounced as heresy, and the orthodox Christians accused her of leading people astray with her false beliefs. Totally different person. Debi, though, sees them both as manifestations of the same “type,” which she therefore calls the “Jezebel type.” Each woman, after all, was a leader and was leading men astray. In her mind, I suppose, all women who are leaders and “lead men astray” are identical.

      • http://eschaton2012.ca Eamon Knight

        Just to confuse things: Given the symbolic character of Revelation, I would guess the contemporary woman’s name wasn’t really Jezebel, rather the writer (don’t know what the current consensus is on authorship) was likening her to the Jezebel of the OT, as an accusation. The people he was writing to would presumably know the specific individual he was talking about.

        Whether any of that occurred to Debi Pearl, I wouldn’t presume to know….

  • http://tellmewhytheworldisweird.blogspot.com/ perfectnumber628

    Wow… I’m speechless at Debi’s interpretation of Jezebel- that her problem was she was a spiritual leader, rather than that she was manipulative and generally interested in killing people.

    As a Christian woman, I’ve heard a lot of talk about how my hypothetical husband needs to be my spiritual leader- so when I’m dating, I MUST date guys that are more spiritually mature than me. I have heard the advice, sometimes explicitly, that a woman should maybe be a little cautious about being a strong, devoted Christian who follows Jesus wholeheartedly, because that makes it less likely that she’ll find a man who’s even MORE devoted than she is (and therefore ruins her chances at having a good marriage).

    This is such BS. You know something is horribly, horribly wrong when Christian women are being told DON’T be so serious about following Jesus.

    • http://ripeningreason.com/ Bix

      I don’t think Debi has a problem with manipulation–I think she supports it as a means to get what you want. People manipulate when you remove from them the ability to make their own decisions.

      • http://equalsuf.wordpress.com Jayn

        And since she advocates women abdicating the ability to make their own decisions, the only options are

        A) Be manipulative
        B) Accept that your needs may not be met

        Neither is healthy, and I’m curious which one Debi advocates (I’m guessing a rather messed up version of A). A means a continual power struggle, and B means not valuing yourself.

    • Rosa

      wait, there are Christians telling women not to be wholehearted Christians because they might not find a husband?

      I’ve heard some churches accused of idolizing marriage and family but never seen it be so blatant. There’s not supposed to be anything in front of your duty/relationship to God, is there?

      • Leigha7

        It nearly says that in Debi’s Jezebel article. She says that women aren’t even supposed to suggest that their husband needs to be saved, because he’ll spiral into horrible self-hatred if his wife suggests he might be less than perfect (that’s little more than a restatement by the way, she honestly thinks that).

        So even if a woman is married to a non-Christian man (however that would happen), she’s not allowed to do anything to convert him. Yet he’s supposed to be the spiritual leader, and she is supposed to “live joyfully in the context he provides.” I was getting confused trying to untangle that, because if you’re reading the Pearl’s and following the ideal of women being submissive, you’re probably very religious, so how are you supposed to obey God by submitting to your husband’s spiritual leadership that’s less spiritual than you need to be to care about submitting.

        It makes no sense, really.

        Aside from the article, some churches teach that women’s duty is all but solely to her husband. The church I went to said that women should submit to their husbands NO MATTER WHAT. Even if he told her to stop going to church and help him with his meth dealing and prostitution ring (they did not use that example), she was to submit. If she submitted, she would go to heaven, regardless of what he made her do. It was his responsibility to make sure he only made her do appropriate things. There was a clear hierarchy of God > church > husband > wife, and you were mostly only supposed to worry about the level above you (which, uh, also implies that the church is to be obeyed no matter what, being the next step down from God, which is a nice place for them to situate themselves).

    • Doe

      I have heard this argument many times in its secular incarnation, which is that women prefer their male partner to be more educated and/or make more money, so women shouldn’t get too much education. The people who say this crap think that they are helping women out, because of course every woman wants to be a mother and wife and if they get too educated they will lose that chance or have to (gasp) date down!

      • Cathy W

        ….did they ever rephrase that as “men prefer their female partner to be dependent on them”? I have more formal education than my husband, and I earn a higher salary than he does. For a while (by our choice) I was the sole earner in the family. Nobody has ever asked me if it bothers me – but plenty of people have asked him if it bothers him, and some went so far as to question his manhood because it didn’t.

    • sara maimon

      may be a different jezebel. Jezebel in the book of kings was the wife of King Ahab of Israel, the story goes when she saw her husband was depressed over not being able to obtain a certain plot of land she concocted a plot to have the owner killed. There is something very wrong in comparing a strong woman to an evil murderer.

    • Jezebel

      *tosses Debi Pearl over a cliff and feeds her to my mom’s dogs*

  • Attackfish

    How does she explain two men being friends then? If men must be in charge in any given situation or become bitter, then how do two men deal with a bond of equals? Or a relationship in which one man is the leader and the other the follower” Wouldn’t the follower become angry and bitter? Or is there something magical about one member possessing a uterus (because I’m sure she doesn’t consider trans women real women) that makes a man bitter and angry about not being in charge of that person and their uterus?

    • http://ripeningreason.com/ Bix

      I once read something by a pastor arguing that all men lead all women, and women should let men know they’re being led. He gave this hypothetical scenario: A man is lost in an unfamiliar neighborhood, and sees a housewife working in her yard. He asks her directions to the freeway. This is tricky territory, because it involves a woman passing on knowledge to a man (danger! danger!), so the woman must deliver the directions in a manner that lets the man know he’s still leading her.

      If someone feels threatened by a woman’s superior knowledge of the local roadways, that person is fantastically insecure. Real leaders don’t need the constant affirmation that they’re in charge. This constant maintenance on the part of the led is absurd, and I think it exposes the idiocy of the entire concept.

      In terms of same-sex friendships, though, I’m guessing they follow church hierarchy?

      • machintelligence

        This is obviously a bogus example. REAL MEN never ask for directions (from anyone.)

      • Attackfish

        Given that these types tend to be really big on parental authority, what about mothers and sons? Or especially widows and sons? Can she guide a son to adulthood while he leads? Crazy making.

      • Attackfish

        In terms of same-sex friendships, though, I’m guessing they follow church hierarchy?

        Her logic makes church hierarchy not make sense either. Wouldn’t a male parishioner, if all men need to be in charge, become angry and bitter because he isn’t in charge in his dealings with the pastor?

      • http://eschaton2012.ca Eamon Knight

        Good grief. I mean, the corporate world — to say nothing of the military — solves this problem every day, routinely: superiors constantly need information from subordinates, in order to make correct decisions. Not only are the authoritarian fundies creating an artificial problem by making the hierarchical model universal in inter-gender relations, they then have to tie themselves in knots figuring out how to get around it.

        Maybe the woman should have to stand to attention, salute and say “Sir!” as she’s giving road directions ;-).

      • http://ripeningreason.com/ Bix

        From what I’ve read on other blogs, men do get angry and bitter about their dealings with pastors, who can be very intrusive. I have zero personal experience with this though, so I’m not the best person to be answering. But my impression is that almost all relationships fit into a hierarchy.

        And yeah, I’m not even sure how women are meant to indicate that they’re being ‘led’. Meekly downcast eyes?

        Also, the mother-son thing is disturbing. It makes no sense to me that someone a woman gave birth to and raised should have ‘authority’ over her.

  • Petticoat Philosopher

    Your last few paragraphs are pure gold, Libby. You make a really excellent point–for all the talk of God’s Plan and Woman’s Duty etc., there’s a good bit of pure self-interest woven into her advice. “How to make your man into just what you’ve always wanted him to be through roundabout manipulation instead of actual communication.” Honestly, her words read more like a Cosmopolitan article with a lot of bible verses thrown in than anything else.

  • smrnda

    There seems to be this idea in all her writing that equality is just impossible, that someone always has to be in charge.

    I think this is a feature of authoritarians. They can’t imagine goodness coming from equality and everybody getting a say, it has to come from someone in charge.

  • http://www.texannewyorker.com jwall915

    The couple in Debi’s anecdote just sound really immature. You’re right in that they do not communicate and they could use a few sessions with a good marital counselor. I really was flabbergasted at the woman muttering “He loves me not” where he could hear every time they had a fight. That is just so immature and petty, no wonder the guy was angry and bitter all the time!

    I totally agree with you in that Debi’s advice is just pure manipulation. I always thought it was that women should submit out of wifely, biblical duty, even if that meant they got abused. The way Debi puts it (submitting will get you your dream husband and make him act the way you wanted all along) is very under-handed. The whole thing just sounds like a recipe for disaster.

    • smrnda

      I think lots of Fundamentalists enter marriage immature since they’re prevented from learning relationship skills through dating and their social contacts tend to be a bit scarce.

      And Bix – the whole ‘asking directions’ thing. this is where intelligent, thoughtful people ask themselves why it’s such a big deal for men to ask directions – why is it somehow, unmanly? If a woman has more info than a man, why does she have to perform in a way to suggest she doesn’t?

      • http://ripeningreason.com/ Bix

        I know–displaying a gap in knowledge (no matter how stupidly trivial) is obviously seen as a weakness and therefore unmanly. And if the followers see the leaders as being weak, what’s to keep them in their place? So they place the burden on the followers to assure the leaders that they aren’t smarter or more knowledgeable or more capable than they are. Which isn’t even how good leadership functions–leaders should be able to take advice and criticism. They shouldn’t expect to constantly have their egos stroked. That makes tyrants. So their entire concept of leadership is off, no matter how often they talk about men being servants and considering others’ welfare, blah blah blah.

        The whole thing is just so screwy, but I think the root of it is the belief that women aren’t to be trusted with knowledge. Because of Eve, I guess. There’s probably several dissertations worth of anthropological research in there.

      • smrnda

        It might be an American thing. I find men from other countries say “I don’t know” and are less self-conscious about asking questions, even ones that can make you look incompetent.

      • thalwen

        It’s quite a stupid concept. Historically, the best leaders were not the smartest but the best at delegating which makes sense. Anyone running something big can’t do it alone and even managing your home is more efficient if those who are best suited to the task are the ones that do it. But it isn’t about good leadership, it’s making sure a woman is always subordinate to a man, even if that will be detrimental to them both because it upsets the patriarchy and damages a man’s poor fragile ego (it’s really amazing that fundamentalist men get anything accomplished at all without a group of cheerleaders constantly re-assuring them that they’re doing everything correctly.)

    • Rosa

      Evangelical and fundamentalist preaching seems to veer wildly between “you should do this because God says so, even if it hurts” and “you should do this because it will give good results”. Sometimes in the same sermon or the same article.

      It’s like how if you’re a rebellious child and things happen to you, it’s because you are being punished for being rebellious; but if you are a devout churchgoer and bad things happen to you, it’s because your faith is strong enough to be tested that way or God is working through troubles to teach you something.

  • Sarah-Sophia

    I read a really good biography about Jezabel by Lesley Hazleton that points out the problems in the biblical story (Like if someone hatched a plan to kill someone it would not be a good idea to write down the plan and send it out to multiple people). When Jeremiah was refering to her harlotry, he wasn’t refering to sexual promiscuity but the fact she was submitting to other gods, but people think of it in the literal sense because of the stereotype of the promiscuous foreigner.

  • Ibis3

    In this post, you seem to take for granted that there actually is a reader who wrote this letter to Debi. I’m highly sceptical. I think this was made up by Debi so she could provide “evidence” that her method of marital submission is actually the panacea she claims.

  • wanderer

    Lovely how one mean woman in the whole of history is worse than all the hitlers and khans that were men.

  • Aimee

    I have a soft spot for Jezebel. I played her in a skit at church once (a church that had far more activities for kids than any other church we ever went to) and it felt really delightful to be powerful and selfish, even though I died at the end. And eaten by dogs. I am not saying she is an admirable character per se, but she’s hardly any worse than those who killed her.

    And now I suppose I really am a Jezebel. I am more religious than my atheist husband, I am pagan, I engage in what would be called witchcraft, and I am wearing make up.

  • http://biblicalpersonhood.wordpress.com Retha Faurie

    Jezebel 1:
    a) killed God’s prophets. (1 Kings 18:13) Libby is right that Debi absolutely cannot conclude here that it is wrong to be more religious than your husband – she was more anti-religious than her husband!
    b) had a submissiveness that went beyond the letter of her husband’s orders to the spirit of getting him whatever he wanted. That made her work to get her husband the vineyard he really wanted (1 Kings 21).

    Jezebel 2:
    a) Falsely called herself a prophetess, a much more subtle way of undermining prophesy than Jezebel 1.
    b) taught believers to fornicate. Direct mention is made of people committing adultery with her. Even more so than Jezebel 1 with the vineyard story, she was committed to giving men what they want.

    If there is something like a Jezebel spirit, it will be the spirit of
    a) Perhaps, not respecting messages from God … and
    b) Man-pleasing: Doing and saying what will give males what they want.

    • Attackfish

      Doesn’t Debi know that the first Jezebel was just lonely because her husband wouldn’t stop chasing that great white whale?

    • Anna

      It really speaks to the poor biblical scholarship of the Pearls that Debi would take the sin of FALSE PROPHECY, lying in the name of God, a sin that from what I can tell is regarded throughout the bible as an express ticket to death and/or hell depending on the period, and reduce it to “see she’s a girl. she shouldn’t be in charge.”

  • Aniota

    How Debi announces complete submission as the panacea for marital problems up to the ability of transforming husbands of any character into loving individuals really reminds me of the one and only review anyone ever needs to read about the infamous crap “50 Shades of Grey” (that the male protagonist is named Christian is purely coincidental – right?) by Katrina Lumsden:

    “Now I’ll be totally honest, the biggest issue I have with Fifty Shades of Shit is neither the sex nor the horrible writing. It’s the plot. Thin as it is, it’s still there, its core message being that, given enough time, you can change someone.
    [...]
    It’s a book about a girl who has absolutely no sense of self, who sacrifices any pretense of individuality in order to hold onto a man who doesn’t even show her the faintest glimmer of respect.”
    http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/340987215

    Remember that thread about truly loving husbands? Some fridge horror for me now…

    • Sarah-Sophia

      Like

    • Rilian

      “”It’s a book about a girl who has absolutely no sense of self, who sacrifices any pretense of individuality in order to hold onto a man who doesn’t even show her the faintest glimmer of respect.””

      I was in a relationship like that for two years. I finally came to my senses and left. This re-affirms my decision to never read that book.

    • Elise

      There was some anger from the legitimate S&M community. I read that they were upset that there was no consent or safe word. My understanding is that S&M sex is JUST as consensual as vanilla sex. Partners ask for permission, there is trust, and either party can pull out of any time.

      Again, despite the variety of sexual expression, one thing remains clear: consent consent consent consent. There didn’t seem to be any consent in 50 Shades of Rape.

      • http://biblicalpersonhood.wordpress.com Retha Faurie

        While BDSM is usually consensual, the submissive is very often someone who will please others – submit or consent to things – up to the point of her(his?) own detriment, in order to feel accepted.
        Many subs(submissives) have self-destructive urges too, with participation in BDSM as a substitute for activities like self-cutting, which they are also familiar with.
        Some find the thrill of such activity addictive, causing them to accept ever-worse pain and, as with addictions to anything else, being ever less capable of saying no.
        When there are no non-BDSM people around, many in the community will admit that mental health issues are much more common than average in their communities.
        Although there is consent, it is often the consent of a person whose issues (too submissive, or self-destructive, or addiction) make her or him less able to make wise choices. Combine with the mental health issues common among dominants, there are many dangers to S&M. In fact, the mental health profession regards both sexual sadism and sexual masochism as disorders.

      • S.Dennis

        I wouldn’t be surprised if, of all people, members of the S&M community have a more intellectual and intentional relationship with the whole concept of consent, exactly because they ride such a fine line between consent and force. Individual relationships may be less (or more?) consensual than a ‘vanilla’ relationship, but it wouldn’t shock me if in S&M there is more *awareness* of issues of consent.

      • Kali Blaze

        If anything, to be healthy, BDSM has to put more emphasis on consent than vanilla relationships. There is an awareness of constant negotiation – you sit down and talk about what is and isn’t desired, what is and isn’t acceptable (as the two are not always the same – in any relationship, we sometimes do things that aren’t our first choice for the enjoyment of our partner, and our partners do likewise!), and what signals a removal of consent.

        While in theory, vanilla folks SHOULD have good understanding about consent, the older I get and the more I look around, the more I am uncomfortable with mainstream ideas about consent. ‘yes means yes’ is so much more helpful, more effective, more JOYFUL than ‘no means no’, not to mention being easier to navigate without harm. A soft negative can be hard to read unless your threshold is raised to looking for an affirmative. Also, it makes sex collaborative instead of one pushing for sex and the other acquiescing or refusing.

  • Mattir

    Funny how much more appealing dominant/submissive relationships are when they’re actually negotiated by participants with safe words and guidelines and periodic reappraisal of the rules or switching of the roles. I guess, though, that the negotiation and general communication would void the Imposed By Jesus(tm) certification.

    • smrnda

      Yes, the church has to serve as a mediator between the couple. The wife goes to women’s Bible study and a woman tells her what her husband wants. The man goes to men’s Bible study and a man tells him what his wife wants. Then they act this out in their marriage. If something is going wrong they take some time alone with the Bible or in prayer or consult a spiritual mentor.

      • Fina

        That’s not communication though – not any more than reading marriage books would be. Especially if we are talking about a church group that gives advice like Debis here!

        The problem isn’t the submission she advocates, but that she doesn’t advoate any communication and a one-size-fits-all ruleset for submission.

        Because submission isn’t something that works for everyone in every regard. Some people don’t have a problem with letting their partner take the lead in bed – but that doesn’t mean that it applies to any other part of their relationship. Or they like submissive behaviour in little things – such as fetching food and drinks for their partner. Again, doesn’t mean that it applies to any other area.
        The same goes for dominant behaviour. Taking the lead like that – without consulting their partner – is uncomfortable or unacceptable for some people, because for them it detracts from their partnership.

        Dom/sub doesn’t work for everyone, and it doesn’t work the same way for everone either – saying that it does just doesn’t make any sense at all. Just like with every other relationship advice.

    • Richter_DL

      There’s always Goreans, but I doubt they’re carrying out God’s will, as found in cheap and horrible bondage porn books.

      This more reminds me of far more sinister things than rampant fetishists. This sounds like advice given out by fundamentalist magazines and websites in the Islamic world. I don’t know about you, but I find that rather troubling.

  • Ann

    I also notice that when men get sulky, depressed, bitter, etc. at not being automatically in charge, the solution is to put them in charge. If women are sulky, depressed, or bitter at being dismissed entirely, the solution is to just suck it up. Men are such emotional, fragile things in this philosophy, and I wonder how anyone could teach such BS and still think that these parodies of men should be in charge of anything.

    • smrnda

      This seems to be one of the contradictions – men are both natural leaders, providers and protectors, but are also so fragile and insecure. If someone is fragile and insecure, they need therapy.

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  • Leigha7

    So I read the whole article about the Jezebel Profile, and aside from some confusion on the logic of the spiritual leadership nonsense (which I mentioned in response to another comment), I was pretty much just going along thinking, “Yeah, I’ve seen all this before.” Then this happened:

    “Hurt feelings are a way to control. Silence and emotional retreat are ugly, destructive ways to control both your husband and your children. Anger, sickness, exhaustion, and even fear are all used to control those you care about.”

    Libby Anne, I know you’ve mentioned before that emotions in your family growing up and in other similar families were fiercely regulated, but…SICKNESS is a method of control? Seriously? If you ever get sick, or tired, or scared (?), you’re trying to control your family? What the…? I can’t even… Bah!

    All the more ironic given your observation that she’s using submission to manipulate (although I do believe it’s unintentional, it seems more like “submit because it’s the right thing to do, and you’ll be rewarded” than “submit so your husband will do what you want”).

    Seriously, sickness?! What is WRONG with these people?


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