CTBHHM: The Command Man Tames the Shrew

Created To Be His Help Meet, pp. 77-80

You might want to start out by getting a glass of wine. You’re going to need it. This week Debi tells us about the first of her three types of men, Command Men.

A few men are born with more than their share of dominance and, on the surface, a deficit in gentleness. They often end up in positions that command other men. We will call them Command Men. They are born leaders. They are often chosen by other men to be military commanders, politicians, preachers, and heads of corporation.

Notice the word Debi chooses there. These men aren’t born with more than their fair share of leadership. They’re born with more than their fair share of dominance. That distinction is something you should bear in mind through the rest of this post. Anyway, before going on, Debi describes Command Men as “created in God the Father’s image” and names Winston Churchill, George Patton, and Ronald Reagan as Command Men. So, how do Command Men relate to their wives?

They are known for expecting their wives to wait on them hand and foot. A Command Man does not want his wife involved in any project that prevents her from serving him.

Oh. That’s how. That’s . . . not okay. Basically, Debi says, a Command Man expects his wife to be his own little personal slave, ready to drop anything and do just as she’s told any minute of the day. Just the idea of being in a marriage to a man like that makes my skin crawl! Also, I’m pretty sure this is an insult to any man who displays leadership qualities. Being a natural leader is not the same as being an uncaring asshole. In fact, I’m pretty sure it’s usually the opposite. Does Debi take issue with Command Men’s tendency to treat their wives like personal slaves? Of course not.

If you are blessed to be married to a strong, forceful  bossy man, as I am, then it is very important for you to learn how to make an appeal without challenging his authority. We will discuss how to make an appeal later in this book.

Because the most important thing to bear in mind when you want to make a request of your husband, or offer a suggestion, is how to do so without challenging his authority. Duh. I have to say, Debi is really good at making things that should be simple and straightforward needlessly complicated. Also? Way to cement the whole master/slave dynamic here.

Command Men have less tolerance, so they will often walk off and leave their clamoring wife before she has a chance to realize that she is even close to losing her marriage. By the time she realizes that there is a serious problem, she is already a divorced mother seeking help in how to raise her children alone.

If a man leaves his wife before she even realizes there is a problem in their marriage, there has to have been a stunning breakdown in communication. Is it that hard for a man to say “I have concerned about the way our marriage is going, I think we should talk about it or perhaps get counseling”? And also? Way to lay down the threats again! Debi has just informed her readers that if they are married to Command Men, it’s their job to be good little slaves. Now she has to remind them of the consequences if they don’t comply.

A woman can fight until she is blue in the face, yet the Command Man will not yield.

A lot of my readers have been trying to read through the lines of Debi’s text to see what can be inferred about her own marriage and relationship with Michael. To be honest, the more I read and analyze the more I get Taming of the Shrewvibes. Taming of the Shrew is a play by William Shakespeare about a controlling and abusive man who marries a headstrong and free spirited woman and proceeds to “tame” her. It’s a horrifying play, really, and from what snippits of Debi’s personal life she reveals I wonder whether Michael did something similar with Debi. The above line, coming as it does directly after Debi states that Michael is a Command Man, is especially telling.

He is not as intimate or vulnerable as are other men in sharing his personal feelings or vocation with his wife. He seems to be sufficient unto himself. It is awful being shut out. A woman married to a Command Man has to earn her place in his heart by proving that she will stand by her man, faithful, loyal, and obedient. When she has won his confidence, he will treasure her to the extreme.

Once again, I find myself reading between the lines. Perhaps this is unfair of me, but when she says “it is awful being shut out” I find myself feeling that Debi is speaking from experience. Also, I have to say, I am highly uncomfortable with the phrasing Debi uses here—the idea that a woman must “earn” a place in her husband’s heart. It smacks too much of the emotionally abusive line “if you really loved me, you would . . .” If your partner says you have to “earn” his love—or her love—that should be a big flashing neon warning sign.

She is on call every minute of her day. Her man wants to know where she is, what she is doing, and why she is doing it. He corrects her without thought. For better or for worse, it is his nature to control.

Once again, I feel like Debi is talking about her own experiences being married to Michael—and once again I am getting Taming of the Shrew vibes. Also, I again feel like this should be offensive to anyone who is what we call a “natural leader.” Natural leader does not mean control freak or insensitive bully. And finally, since when are we bound to do things just because they are “in our nature”? Because of bad relationship patterns I learned during my formative years, it is “in my nature” to be emotionally abusive. But you know what? I fight that tendency. But a controlling, micromanaging husband? That’s his nature! Don’t ask him to fight it!

Here too I think is part of the man/God problem Debi has going on here. The New Testament talks about how Christ’s sacrifice allows us to turn away from our fallen natures. It’s just that Debi doesn’t think the controlling and abusive nature of the Command Man is fallen. And that’s in part because she is equating the Command Man with God the Father, and because she believes that God the Father is an angry control freak ready to literally render people mad if they step out of line. And if that’s the nature of God the Father, then it’s clearly not a fallen nature, but rather the way an upright Command Man should be. Man, God, ouch.

And now, if you don’t already have that wine I mentioned, you might really want to consider getting yourself a glass, because this is actually the point where this entire section takes a turn for the worse—and you already thought it was bad.

A woman married to a Command Man wears a heavier yoke than most women, but it can be a very rewarding yoke. In a way, her walk as his help meet is easier because there is never any possibility of her being in control. There are no gray areas; she always knows exactly what is required of her, therefore she has a calm sense of safety and rest.

You know what was awesome? Being an African slave in antebellum America! You knew just what was required of you and you never had to worry about the possibility of being in control of your life! Ah, the bliss—the calm sense of safety and rest.

Oh wait.

You want the real irony here? Debi Pearl actually wrote a children’s book as a tribute to Martin Luther King Jr. It’s astounding that she can’t see that the rhetoric she is using to keep women in their place is the same rhetoric that was used to keep African Americans in their place.

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Next, Debi praises the Command Man for being “willing to take the chance” while other men are held back by their fear of making mistakes or lack of confidence. She also calls Command Men “king-like.” She then discusses Todd Beamer, who took down one of the hijacked plans on September 11th, and describes him as a Command Man. Debi says that Command Men make decisions, bear responsibility, see the big picture, and sacrifice for the greater good. But then she says this:

If he is not an honest man, he will be selfish and use the resources of others to further his own interests.

Say it ain’t so, Debi, Say it ain’t so.

Sadly, Debi just drops this one line and then moves on without following up.

A King wants a Queen, which is why a man in command wants a faithful wife to share his fame and glory. Without a woman’s admiration, his victories are muted. If a wife learns early to enjoy the benefits of taking the second seat, and if she does not take offence to his headstrong aggressiveness, she will be the one sitting at his right side to be adored, because this kind of man will totally adore his woman and exalt her. 

First, why is it that Debi says a Command Man wants a wife to share his fame and glory? So that she can admire him. It’s like being a piece of furniture, only better, because you get to smile! Second, what is it that Debi says a wife has to do in order for her husband to admire her? Get used to taking second seat and not complain about his headstrong aggressiveness, of course! Why am I again left feeling like a piece of furniture?

If you are married to a king, honor and reverence is something you must give him on a daily basis if you want him to be a benevolent, honest, strong, and fulfilled man of God.

Earlier, Debi said that a wife has to earn her husband’s love. Now she says that a husband doesn’t have to earn his wife’s honor or reverence—those are things she must simply give him, regardless. In both cases, Debi is wrong, and she is also wrong to gender this whole love and respect thing, though it’s not surprising that she does, as the idea that women need love while men need respect is a common one in her circles. Anyway, anyone who says you have to “earn” their love is being emotionally abusive, as is anyone who says you owe them respect. Love and respect simply don’t work that way!

Now look out, here come more threats!

If the wife of a Command Man resists his control, he will readily move forward without her. If he is not a principled Christian, he will allow the marriage to come to divorce. Like King Ahasuerus of Persia, if she defies him, he will replace her and not look back. If his Christian convictions prevent him from divorcing, he will remain stubbornly in command, and she will be known as a miserable old wretch.

Debi is of course referring to Vashti, the wife of King Ahasuerus. Vashti was banished because when Ahasuerus ordered her to come dance before him and his drunken companions, she refused. King Ahasuerus then ordered a search of his kingdom for the most beautiful women, and ultimately married Esther. The moral Debi is holding out here is simple: Obey your husband completely and without question, or he will leave you and replace you with a newer, younger model without a thought. And if he’s a Christian and doesn’t believe in divorce? Well, then he’ll be stuck with you as you turn into a miserable old wretch—perhaps driven mad, who knows! Debi’s insistence on threatening her readers in an attempt to cow them into unthinking obedience is really starting to make me angry here. But then, what do I know? I’m the one who thinks Vashti was well rid of the petty and dictatorial King Ahasuerus!

But it’s about to get worse.

A Command Man who has gone bad is likely to be abusive.

Finally! Finally! Debi admits there is such a think as an abusive husband! And now she’s going to address what to do if you’re married to an abusive husband! At last! Right?

It is important to remember that much of how a Command Man reacts depends on his wife’s reverence toward him.


When a Command Man (lost or saved) is treated with honor and reverence, a good help meet will find that her man will be wonderfully protective and supportive.


In most marriages, the strife is not because the man is cruel or evil; it is because he expects obedience, honor, and reverence, and is not getting it. Thus, he reacts badly.


When a wife plays her part as a help meet, the Command Men will respond differently.


At least now we know that Debi’s first response to the problem of abusive husbands is to engage in victim blaming. I honestly can’t say I’m surprised. Still, it somehow leaves me feeling saddened inside, like somewhere, somehow, a flower just died.

Before we really discuss this, though, we need to know what Debi means by “abusive.” Earlier, she suggested that it’s only natural and good for a Command Man husband to be controlling and micromanaging, to want to know where you are at all times and to want you to not commit to activities that might get in the way of you waiting on him hand and foot. She clearly doesn’t think any of that is abusive. So what is abusive, according to Debi?

Of course, there are a few men who are so cruel and violent that even if the wife is a proper help meet, he will still physically abuse her or the children.

Note that Debi says that in some cases men are so “cruel and violent” that even when a wife perfectly carries out her role as help meet he will “still physically abuse her or the children.” Before I look at what Debi says to do in this case, I want to finish the thought from above, because this passage reveals what Debi means by a man who is “abusive”—she means a man who physically abuses his wife or children. A Command Man who is manipulative, micromanaging, and controlling? That’s normal and good. A Command Man who demands absolute obedience and complete submission from his wife? That’s normal and good. In Debi’s book, it’s only the physical violence part that’s not okay. That is abusive.

This adds a whole new layer to Debi’s victim blaming apologia, because it reveals that Debi’s first response to physical abuse is to ask whether a woman is bringing it on herself by not being a proper help meet. Let’s look again at the victim blaming passage:

It is important to remember that much of how a Command Man reacts depends on his wife’s reverence toward him. When a Command Man (lost or saved) is treated with honor and reverence, a good help meet will find that her man will be wonderfully protective and supportive. In most marriages, the strife is not because the man is cruel or evil; it is because he expects obedience, honor, and reverence, and is not getting it. Thus, he reacts badly. When a wife plays her part as a help meet, the Command Men will respond differently.

Debi is saying, then, that if a husband is physically abusive toward his wife it’s not usually because he is cruel or evil but rather that he “expects obedience, honor, and reverence, and is not getting it.” It’s only natural, then, that he “reacts badly.” Your Command Man husband is hitting you, smacking you, and throwing you into furniture? If you would simply “play your part as a help meet” your husband would “respond differently.” Don’t call the police on your physically abusive husband—just shape up and be a good submissive wife, perfectly obedient and reverent to your husband, and the abuse will stop.

I have to admit it: It’s getting difficult to go through Debi’s book without letting my anger at what she is doing continually boiling over. I’m running out of words to explain just how heinous this is.

Now let’s go back again to the exception Debi offers:

Of course, there are a few men who are so cruel and violent that even if the wife is a proper help meet, he will still physically abuse her or the children. In such cases, it would be the duty of the wife to alert the authorities so that they might become the arm of the Lord to do justice.

In other words, if a Command Man is physically abusive to his wife and children, the wife should first ask herself if she has provoked him by not being a  proper help meet. It is only if she has behaved herself as a proper help meet and her husband is still physically abusive that she should go to the authorities about it. Otherwise, well, it’s basically her fault. (For more on what Debi says about the authorities as “the arm of the Lord to do justice,” see this post on similar comments made by John Piper on this topic.)

[Several readers have pointed out in the comments that Debi actually offers the wives of abusers and impossible situation here, as nothing an abused wife can do will ever actually satisfy her abuser. In other words, no matter how hard a woman tries to be a proper help meet, an abusive husband will always find fault with her. Thus Debi puts women in a double bind here, holding them to a standard they can never meet and ordering them to remain in physically abusive situations until they meet that impossible standard.]

In concluding this installment, I want to return to Debi’s suggestion that a Command Man rightly expects “obedience, honor, and reverence” and that the proper role of a Command Man is to give her husband these things. Remember that Debi began this section by talking about how a Command Man will expect his wife to wait on him hand and foot, and will micromanage her life and never let her have control of any pat of it (and Debi said this as though it was a good thing!). This, then, as laid out by Debi, is how a Command Man (rightly) functions, and this, Debi says, is the role of the wife of a Command Man.

Perhaps the reason this section was so hard for me to read is that here Debi lays out an abusive relationship in detail, and endorses it all as good. I’ve called Debi out on her abuse apologia before, but in this section Debi really outdoes herself. The fact that so many women read this book eagerly and take it seriously is completely horrifying. I think of the friend who gave me this book as a wedding present, writing on the inside cover that it was the best book about marriage she had ever read. She is now herself married. I can only hope that she has finally tossed her copy of the book where it belongs: in the trash.

On a slightly lighter note, Debi finishes her section on the Command Man with a series of additional bullet points. Here is one of them:

Mr. Command will not take the trash out, as a general rule, and he will not clean up the mess by the trash area. He may organize and command someone else to do it. Any woman trying to force Mr. Command into becoming a nice trash man will likely end up alone, trashed by her man.

Is anyone keeping tabs on the number of times Debi keeps coming back to the whole trash thing? I’m starting to wonder if the trash wasn’t possibly the last battle between Debi and Michael, after which Debi was finally tamed a la the Taming of the Shrew. But that issue aside, why in the world would Command Men not take out the trash “as a general rule”? That seems . . . really specific. I mean, really?

Next week we learn about Mr. Visionary.

CTBHHM: Why Was Marian's Husband So Loving?
CTBHHM: Playing Telephone with God
CTBHHM: What "Companionship" Means in Pearl World
CTBHHM: "I Am His Water"
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.

  • http://brokendaughters.wordpress.com Lisa

    I want to add:
    WHO determines whether the wife has actually been a ‘proper’ help meet and it is time to call the police, for example? Certainly not the wife. The husband, abusive or not, is in the position to determine this, and him alone. So, say, you have a completely brutal asshole for a husband, who beats you because he genuinely enjoys causing others physical pain, he will always, ALWAYS, find a way to make his wife look like she didn’t do something right. ALWAYS. I cannot repeat this often enough. ALWAYS.
    You cannot be a ‘proper help meet’ because he does not want you to be. So instead, he will keep telling his wife that she did XY wrong – the lemonade too sweet, the kids too dirty, the shirt not ironed properly. The wife then, by Debi’s definitions, loses all bases for coming out saying I did everything I could and he still does not stop. Debi may sound like she encourages people in abusive relationships to seek help, but she actually doesn’t because the final decision whether the abuse was justified goes to the abuser. And that, imo, is the very worst part of this logic.

    • KM

      This, exactly this. I kept thinking this as well while reading this. There will NEVER be a point at which abuser and abused will both agree that she’s done everything right and is not at fault. It will ALWAYS be an “I promise to do better next time” scenario, at least until something deadly happens.
      Which also brings up the point that I found even more disturbing. She mentions this man not only physically abusing the wife but also physically abusing his children! And then goes on to say that the wife needs to be sure that she is truly being a helpmeet before calling the authorities about his abuse of her and by extension THE CHILDREN. So you not only must endure abuse continuously until you’re sure you’ve done no wrong (which is impossible), but the children must also?! This is INSANE. Children, right along with adults, DIE because of these exact scenarios.
      Terrifying. Horrible. There are no words adequate for this.

      • Nea

        The Pearls are the joint authors of one of the most brutal “beat ‘em up right” so-called parenting books out there, and have been cited, by name, in more than one child death.

        Debi and Michael already know that their advice has killed children. Michael’s response is to brag how he laughs at his accusers.

      • KM

        Nea, I’ve heard of the book along with the deaths, but never Michael’s response. That is deeply chilling.

        What shocked me here was that this goes even beyond “discipline” or whatever shite they call it in their book. This is children also suffering for so-called faults of their mother in addition to whatever horrible things they may endure for their own actions. I just… It’s horrifying.

      • Nea

        The man is insane. I hadn’t realized just how much until I saw his philosophy filtered through Debi in this series.

        And it is horrifying. Not just that there’s someone out there like Michael Pearl, but that it has been so very lucrative for him to peddle his abuse to those who wish to adopt its message. They obviously think children are things, not people.

      • minuteye

        The thing I want to know, is if the Pearls advocate violence against children as an appropriate and even necessary form of ‘discipline’… how bad do things have to be for her to be calling it child abuse? And even then the wife should still only go to authorities if she has been perfect.

      • KM

        minuteye, exactly. It all comes down to the fact that there will never be a situation in the Pearls’ world where the man will be blamed.

  • http://criticallyskeptic-dckitty.blogspot.com Katherine Lorraine, Tortue du Désert avec un Coupe-Boulon

    This is clearly a description of an abusive relationship. There is more to abuse than battering, and Debi is worse for not realizing it. If I saw a friend in Debi’s situation, I would tell her to get some counseling cause I would be concerned for her safety and happiness. Debi wouldn’t. She’d be so happy for her friend.

    • http://www.carpescriptura.com/ MrPopularSentiment

      More than happy, she’d write a book telling the woman to stay in that situation and submit to it.

  • BringTheNoise

    Wow. Last week I suggested that a Command Man would “spend all [his] time ordering [his] girlfriend around”, but this is several layers of hate and evil lower than that. If this is the “happy” marriage Debi has with Michael, I feel so sorry for her – and quite frankly, I’m pretty concerned about her well-being too. She might be able to convince herself that if she acts like the good little slave, her Mast… err, husband will never harm her, but I’m not so convinced.

    • BringTheNoise

      Not to mention the emotional abuse she’s already suffered under the guise of a “normal, happy relationship”.

      And while I’m here: It’s only some trash, Michael, not nuclear frickin’ waste, you lazy slob! What’s so hard about taking a garbage bag out?

      • KM

        “Not nuclear frickin’ waste, you lazy slob!”

        Accidentally laughed out loud because we’ve probably all been thinking it.

  • http://complicatedfeelingsabout.wordpress.com Katherine

    This makes a whole lot more sense when you think of it as the conversation Debi is having with herself all the time. Like “I married this manipulative and emotionally abusive man before I really knew him and this is the list of nutty things I HAVE TO BELIEVE in order to make that work.” I’m really starting to see the whole book as reactionary. Also, this section, more than any other, shed some light on why Debi doesn’t believe in communication (just mind games!) because it is absolutely impossible to communicate with a person like that…. A person like Michael.

    • Nea

      I hadn’t thought of that, but you’re right. If you can’t communicate, you have to manipulate or snap. She’s probably done both.

  • Nea

    In a very strange way, I find this chapter a relief. Because at long last Debi has outright admitted, without any allusions or illusions, that Michael is emotionally (and sporadically physically) abusive, is selfish and unyeilding, will walk away when she tries to communicate with him, is unable to tolerate the slightest of questions or criticisms, is manipulative, lazy, and micromanaging to the point of acting like a stalker. She has finally come right out and said that “there are no gray areas” and that she has never had the slightest amount of control since her marriage.

    Unfortunately, the truth has not set her free because the rest of it is textbook Stockholm Syndrome, but somewhere under the good little house servant Michael has turned her into, the remnants of the original Debi still can articulate exactly how horrible a human being he is and how stifled and unhappy she is.

    And, bizarrely, Michael let this through. Michael is so narcicisstic and out of touch with reality that he actually thinks that this is a complimentary and praising description, instead of a point-by-point narration of a psychotic, immature, out-of-control personality. He is not as bright as he thinks he is, and underneath she’s a lot angrier than her words suggest, because anybody reading this with a clear head should be able to see a parade of red flags accompanied with deafening warning bells.

    • http://www.carpescriptura.com/ MrPopularSentiment

      But you know what the scariest part – to me – is? That there are friends and relatives who will buy this for newly and soon-to-be wed women, telling them that THIS is what they should expect, that THIS is how you know that a husband values you, that THIS is healthy. And so many of these poor, poor women are reading this and believing it because they don’t know better.

      Many young men (many young people!) will be pretty spoiled when they enter into their first relationship – particularly if they are marrying or moving in together young. Looking at my own relationship, my husband and I were both awful when we first moved in together. We’d both done some chores at home, but not that much, and our mothers did so much behind the scenes that there were whole areas where we didn’t even know work was being done at all! We’d have fights about who takes out the garbage, who does the dishes, who cooks dinner… I think that’s a very trying time in any relationship – but especially when the couple is going straight into it from being a “kid.”

      Thankfully, my husband and I are both feminists, so we worked out compromises, deals, ways to ensure that we’re each getting enough down-time to feel good while also ensuring that all the necessary stuff is getting done. But I can imagine what might have happened if someone had given me this piece of crap book when I was that age – impressionable and (let’s face it) stupid as I was…

      Imagine if I’d taken that “good little housewife” thing to heart and not demanded downtime for myself, or that my husband do his fair share. My awesome, feminist, caring husband might well have turned into a tyrant. Not because he’s evil, but because going from Mom doing everything to Wifey doing everything, he might have just never realized that maintaining a household is hard work. He might never have realized that stuff was actually being done. He might have developed a sense of entitlement (“Why do *I* have ot take out the trash? That’s never been my job!”). He might cling to whatever few things he does do, maybe little things like putting away a toy our son left out, and seen it as equivalent to everything that I was doing because – having never done real housework before – he might just not realize how much effort was going into maintaining the household.

      There are smart kids out there, but there’s a whole lot more like I was who are just plain stupid and naive. Giving young people books like this is so so so dangerous…

      • Noelle

        I looked over at the Amazon comments for the book, and this is one of the recurring themes. Young women are being given these as pre-wedding gifts, and many have no idea why so many people are calling it a horrible and evil book. Many of the people pointing out the book’s crappiness are the older and more experienced Christian women and men, and those who have been through abusive relationships themselves. Men and women both need to recognize abuse and how to get out of such situations as quickly as possible. Debi’s book instructs one how to keep abuse going as long as possible.

        The best advice for advice books is to not read them. Or at the very least not believe what’s in them without your own research. Ask people who have experienced what you’re struggling with how they handled it. Get a variety of viewpoints. This is much more helpful for something like parenting or marriage than any single book.

  • Christine

    And, just in case there’s no abuse involved, Debbi makes sure that you are guaranteed to be unhappy, because you’re going to sit back and let this strong personality take over, instead of offering him someone to support and challenge him. And you’ll never know what went wrong.

  • K

    Maybe I’m reading between the lines too much but the whole “he’ll divorce you if he isn’t a Christian” line sounds like something Michael must have threatened her with, in the early days. Like “you’re lucky I’m a godly man or this asking questions of me would make me leave you!!”. Creepy.

    • Nea

      Of course he did. Look at how often Debi talks about women being divorced, and how inevitably their lives are hard and their husbands remarry someone pretty. It’s very clear Michael has not just threatened her with divorce but told her that he can replace her with someone better in a New York minute.

    • KM

      No doubt he threatened her with this. She repeats it so frequently, it must be something that’s always lurking at the back of her mind. Where else would all of that repetition come from?

  • http://ripeningreason.com/ Rachel Marcy (Bix)

    This book reads like a cry for help.

    • TarnishedHalo

      This is exactly what I was thinking. I fear that this book is her looking for help under the guise of giving help because that’s the only way the Michael would let it be published. He is so egotistical that he didn’t realize the undertones that the book was written with.

      • wanderer

        Yes. I was thinking the title should be “How to Survive Marriage to a Man with Narcissistic Personality Disorder”

  • ako

    So the whole Command Man thing is an attempt to force “Guy with leadership skills and possibly even heroic tendencies” and “Selfish asshole who bullies his family and threatens them with abandonment or worse at the slightest hint of conflict” into the same category, in order to provide cover for abusers? I wish I could say I expected better, but sadly, that wouldn’t be true.

    This chapter is basically a great big reward for abusive men, because they can cloak themselves in the illusion of grandeur, they have pretty much all emotional abuse (and a certain degree of physical abuse) excused as part of their Command Nature, and even if they’re absolutely brualizing the family, it still gets blamed on their wives for not being obedient and deferential enough. (And an abuser with a strong sense of planning can make it impossible for their victim to show enough abuse and deference, because they don’t want perfect obedience, they want an excuse to lash out and hurt someone.)

    • http://www.carpescriptura.com/ MrPopularSentiment

      Impossible standards is one of the key red flags of an abusive relationship. So by definition, a woman in an abusive relationship is never going to be helpmeety enough.

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

    So much victim-blaming.

  • dj pomegranate

    Literally everything in this book is problematic, but one small thing I wanted to point out is how she always speaks of “her marriage…” It’s never “your (plural) marriage” or “the marriage” or even “her marriage with her husband.” This word choice jives with her whole premise, which is basically that men benefit from marriage but women NEED marriage, and because women NEED it, they need to actually invest in it, and because they are doing most of the investing (time, energy, effort, emotional work, etc.) the marriage is not “theirs (plural).” It’s just hers.

  • L

    My mom and I both read this when I was a teen… I feel like the whole book is directed toward wife of command men (sheesh when my type a mom tried to be submissive to my more passive dad it was awful all around). One thing about emotional abuse – my mother was the main verbal and emotional abuser in our quiverfull home – you cannot outrun it by being submissive enough. I tried. You can never be perfect enough to escape the abuse. Especially in a Fundamentalist home where every little thing is sin. Sigh when mom interrupts your school to ask you to change a poopy diaper of the baby she is holding? You are an evil, selfish, ungrateful daughter, and do not deserve to change the diaper, or be near the blessing from god and get the practice to be a mother. Mom will change it herself, yelling at you and banishing you ‘out of my sight, you sicken me’ (but don’t walk away while I’m talking to you).
    Apologize profusely when you spill something on accident because you are afraid of being punished for the sin of carelessness? Get screamed at for acting like and abused child.
    For real. Took me years to admit; I WAS an abused child.

    If I tried to be a submissive wife to a man like my mother, or even like my father, I would be constantly on pins and needles thinking I was failing, but it would never, ever be enough to save me from being horrible, selfish, and unlike able.

    Though to be honest, I thought at first that is what my husband should be like, just little less caustic with it than my mom.
    We’ve been married for years and I still have trouble believing my husband truly loves me because he never points out my flaws to ‘encourage and edify’ me. Spanking naked butt and lecturing (ie probably yelling and blaming everything on me, while attributing all sorts of evil motives to my actions and condemning my emotions) – those were how my parents showed love – like many other Fundementalist children experienced.
    I was afraid I had married a man who refused to ‘spiritually lead’ his family. And in fact by his own standards of what men should do he was ‘failing’. not controlling his wifey :) Now just by living and loving each other we’ve found our selves rather happily egalitarian, in some ways by default, and in some ways through working together. What a shock when my ‘leader’ told me to ‘submit’ by telling him what I want and think and not waiting for him to ask. He doesn’t WANT to walk all over my feelings. Like what the heck, are you really a man??. This was soooo hard at first because of the kind of marriage teachings I got my whole life. Nowadays I am not a Fundementalist and I’m not even a Christian right now. Definitely agnostic. The way I was taught the bible, it doesn’t work in my life at all.

    • Lori

      Thank you for sharing your story. I am so glad you have a healthy marriage, but what a childhood to overcome!

  • Red

    Okay, I’m going to say it again, just like everyone else is saying: This is clearly Debi’s attempt to rationalize the horrible marriage she’s gotten herself into.

    That has become so obvious to me that I would actually have to put forth effort to NOT see the autobiographical nature of this book oozing off every page.

    You know, I’m not married to a Command Man, or a Visionary Man, or any other “type” of man, I’m married to a PERSON. A person with whom I have a RELATIONSHIP. Debi should really look into that.

    And I, too, am horrified that anyone takes this book seriously. I never heard about this book until I was an adult, and I thought “Oh it’s just some crazy lady….surely everyone will see right through this utter nonsense…” Apparently not. That makes me very, very afraid.

  • Karen

    I noticed that the three other men she listed as Command types were pretty much the exact opposite of what she describes in their own marriages. I have nothing but contempt for Ronald Reagan’s policies, but he was so famously uxorious with Nancy that he allowed Nancy’s ASTROLOGER to determine the White House schedule, including the precise departure times for Air Force One. Churchill wrote some of the most delightful love letters ever written to “Clemmie,” and the relationship was so close even their own children resented it. I don’t know enough about Patton’s personal life to have an opinion, but his Wiki entry mentions that he was an expert on Joan of Arc’s military campaigns, and I don’t see someone who believes that women should be submissive mice becoming a fan of the Maid of Orleans. With everything else wrong with this chapter, pointing outta at she failed research in her choice of Command Men examples seems a little nitpicky, but I didn’t want this bit of slander against the men she lists to pass without comment.

    • minuteye

      I don’t know much about the other two, but Churchill suffered from a debilitating stutter which he spent most of his life trying to cover up, he prepared obsessively for everything, and even faked being an alcoholic to craft the persona he thought would work best. By claiming that good leaders are that way because they are innately born as “Type: Command”, Debi completely devalues all the work and sacrifice that had to happen for them to get that way.

    • http://sylvia-rachel.livejournal.com sylvia_rachel

      I would guess she picked those 3 guys because they are all thought of as military/war leaders and because they all have conservative cred, and is counting on her readers not knowing any more about their personal lives than she does…

    • J. J. Ramsey

      Yeah, Ms. Pearl rather unwittingly insulted all those guys she described as “Command Men,” didn’t she?

  • Khaliah

    You know, I’d think the last thing I’d expect a Christian writer to utilize to keep women in their place in a CHRISTIAN marriage is the story of King Xerxes, Vashti, and Esther.

    This is the same shitlord that said “a man should be ruler of his own household” when Scripture EXPLICITLY states that a husband is the head of the wife but must love her so much/treat her with so much respect that he’d be willing to die for her if necessary.

    By using this story, Pearl is essentially saying that “if your husband is a drunken lout who wants you to parade around for his amusement like you’re a sex toy, and you refuse, he has every right to go out and find a prostitute/mistress and if you complain, well, you’re just a selfish bitch who should have loved your man enough to degrade yourself to please him.”

    Because that’s what happened. Xerxes replaced his wife on a damn whim, with a HAREM GIRL no less, because she didn’t want to sacrifice her dignity for his dickery.

    Oh wait. That’s the whole model for Christian marriage, according to Pearl. Silly me. Sanctity of marriage, folks.

    • Petticoat Philosopher

      Yeah, her interpretation of that story is also completely ridiculous. I heard the book of Esther plenty as a kid, since there is a Jewish holiday dedicated to it. (Purim.) And we were certainly not taught to think of Ahasuerus (Xerxes) as a “Command Man.” He’s only a “Command Man” in the sense that, as king, he has the authority to make commands. But actually, he’s a weak fool who is easily manipulated and led by others with more commanding personalities. As Haman’s puppet, he would have exterminated all the Jews of Persia. This guy is NOT the hero! In fact, I recall that my parents had a “Purim for children” cassette tape when I was little that told the story with songs, and that Ahasuerus was introduced by the narrator as “a very silly king.” Really.

      If anything, his treatment of Vashti creates the dramatic tension in the story that makes Esther’s revelation of her Jewish identity and plea for her people’s lives seem all the more heroic. We know exactly who she’s dealing with here–a guy who casts off a wife because she didn’t bow to his whims of the moment and who, furthermore, is able to be talked into a genocide by a guy who’s got beef with the entire Jewish people because one of them didn’t bow to him. Some leader. As both a woman and a Jew, Esther seriously put herself on the line. It’s she who comes out looking good here.

      Considering how tragically autobiographical this section feels, this probably doesn’t make me the best person in the world, but I can’t help LOLing at Debi’s epic biblical interpretation fail.

      • Christine

        I know this book is a lot older, but I seem to recall hearing about some other super-conservative “family” values-type Christian having a very non-conventional interpretation of Esther. I think the original might have been too feminist. All I remember is that Esther got criticized for deliberately going out and trying to look pretty so that she could sleep with the king. (For those unfamiliar with the story, that deserves a very serious WTF.) And, because consistent logic is overrated, I think Vashanti took some heat for not listening to what the king told her to do.

      • http://sylvia-rachel.livejournal.com sylvia_rachel

        In most interpretations of the Purim story that I’ve seen, Vashti’s refusal to obey isn’t portrayed very positively — part of what enables Esther’s dangerous gamble to succeed is that up to that point, she’s taken care to behave as the king expects her to, rather than standing up for herself. But I’ve *never* seen an interpretation that treats Achashverosh as the good guy. He’s venal. He’s emotionally immature. He’s all the things you say. And the reason Esther has to step up and put herself in danger is that instead of making any effort to get reliable intel so he can make good decisions, he listens to whoever’s got his ear at the time. Haman’s the villain of the piece; Esther and Mordechai are the heroes; Achashverosh is basically just a plot device. Mr Command Man my toches.

      • Christine

        I’m not used to seeing Vashti as a hero either, it’s just that if you’re going to smear Esther, you’d think that Vashti becomes the good guy. (That said, I do have a fair bit of sympathy for someone who doesn’t feel like being paraded around for her husband’s drinking buddies to ogle. Especially if the practice of the dancers being there for the men to have sex with had started already by that era.)

      • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ M

        I don’t remember Vashti ever being a hero, per se, but she always got a ton of sympathy at Purim. Like, she should never have been asked to dance naked for anyone, her refusal was right and just, and being divorced and banished was totally uncalled for. So that sucks for her. However, for the story to continue this has to happen, so … moving right along then. Also, this just shows how Ahasueros was weak-willed, easily manipulated by his advisers, and just not very bright in general. He’s not the villain, but he’s definitely not a good guy either.

      • Rachel

        The hilarious thing — well, not hilarious, but sadly ironic — is that by bringing up Achashverosh as a “Command Man” example, Debi completely ignores that half of the book of Esther is about how Esther deliberately manipulates him, changes his mind, gives her honors and property, reverses a decree ordering the death of her people, and made her adoptive father his second-in-command. She basically wraps him around her finger. She stands up to him! It could have been her death, but she stands up to him!

        Debi needs to spend a lot less time listening to her husband and a lot more time reading the damn Scripture.

      • Holly

        I think what your remembering came from a sermon series on Esther done by Mark Driscoll. If I’m remembering right, I believe his wife also used the Esther/Vashti story as an example of how the Bible commands submission in marriage in their book, “Real Marriage.” I wish it was confined to the Pearls/Driscolls of this world but I can remember hearing similar interpretations in the fundamentalist/evangelical churches I grew up in.

      • Petticoat Philosopher

        Yeah, Vashti always got a lot of sympathy at my family Purims too. Not a hero, but she’s also not a major part of the story. She basically just sets the stage and can also be seen as a device to develop the character of Ahasuerus. And, of course, it provokes him to decree that husbands should be the rulers of their households which, like I said, basically sets the stage for Esther’s heroism and lays out exactly what she’s up against. And, yes, it’s true that part of the reason Esther succeeds is because she’s taken such care to be a Good Girl. But it’s not necessary to conclude that that makes her morally superior to Vashti–it just makes her more shrewd, better at navigating the power dynamics that govern her life. Esther submits because she has to for strategic purposes, not because she’s fulfilling her role as meek helpmeet to some Wise, Great Leader. No amount of squinting can turn Ahasuerus into that, no matter how conservative one’s interpretation of the story. Like others have said, he’s not the villain, but he’s foolish and suggestible enough to be manipulated by the villain. I think my kiddie Purim tape got it pretty right with the “very silly king” interpretation. :-P (And now I’m giggling because I just thought of “On second thought, let’s not go to Camelot. It is a silly place.”)

        Actually, if you think about it, it’s Haman that is the Pearl model of the “Command Man.” Controlling, obsessed with power, and prone to rage and violence when people don’t treat him as a god, as Mordecai did not when he refused to bow to him.

      • Mogg

        Surely if any character in the Esther story is a “Command Man” as Debi defines it, it’s Haman – the man who has a complete meltdown and plots devastating, over-the-top revenge on some dude for not bowing to him in order to restore his vision of how the world should be.

  • http://theclapp.org/mt-blog/ Larry Clapp

    > “A Command Man does not want his wife involved in any project that prevents her from serving him.”

    Yeah, citation needed.

    Were Churchill, Patton, and Reagan (her examples) like that? I don’t know anything about Churchill’s or Patton’s wives, but I can’t see Nancy Reagan putting up with that crap.

    Actually, though, Wikipedia does mention Patton wanting to discuss with his wife whether he should or shouldn’t retire after the war. That doesn’t sound like Debi’s portrayal of a “Command man”. So either Patton wasn’t a Real Command Man, or (shock) Debi is wrong.


    • Karen

      I commented on this upthread. Debi picked three men whom she thought her readers would recognize as Good Conservatives, without actually researching their lives at all. Neither Clementice Churchill nor Nancy Reagan were submissive doormats; they weren’t feminists, but they certainly had public roles.

      • Nea

        Not just Good Conservatives but Famous Conservative Leaders, this being all about leadership and all.

        Y’know, we’ve all been focusing on Debi’s horrific advice for women and we’ve all let slip through that she compares Michael leadership and wisdom to Reagan, Churchill, et al. Can’t decide if that’s more of his egotism and he thinks he’s just like them, or if she’s trying to butter him up. Considering what she says about him in the rest of the chapter, I’m assuming it’s his hubris once again.

        Considering that she’s started with how fanatical “manly” her man is, anyone want to take bets on the other two types of men being lesser beings, on account of the crime of Not Being Like Michael?

      • BonnieLB

        Or, her husband gave her several examples of Command Men who he thinks he resembles.

      • ScottInOH

        I was wondering about that, too, Nea (how she would paint the other two “types”). At some point, Debi said they were other facets of God, so I figure they should also be perfect, but I can’t help but expect that the Command/Father facet is “more equal” than the other two. We shall see…

  • The_L

    “First, why is it that Debi says a Command Man wants a wife to share his fame and glory? So that she can admire him. It’s like being a piece of furniture, only better, because you get to smile!”

    I got to this point before I wanted to strangle something. Considering my reaction to other CTBHHM segments on this blog, I may be becoming desensitized.

    I also want to burn every copy of CTBHHM out there, but I feel that such an act would be an insult to fire. Using it as toilet paper would be an insult to both bottoms and the stuff that you’re wiping off of them.

    I can only feel sorry for all the trees that were sacrificed to make this execrable book. There are no words to adequately describe just how mind-bendingly horrible “an abusive husband is YOUR fault” really is.

    • http://sidhe3141.blogspot.com sidhe3141

      “I also want to burn every copy of CTBHHM out there, but I feel that such an act would be an insult to fire. Using it as toilet paper would be an insult to both bottoms and the stuff that you’re wiping off of them.

      I can only feel sorry for all the trees that were sacrificed to make this execrable book. There are no words to adequately describe just how mind-bendingly horrible “an abusive husband is YOUR fault” really is.”

      Come to think of it, CTBHHM seems a bit like FATAL. Both of them are about presenting an incredibly screwed-up view of women, sexuality, relationships, and the world in general as something completely normal, with absolutely no sense of self-awareness or idea that their perspectives are Not Healthy.

    • Brightie

      You could, say, reduce them to pulp, make them into recycled paper, and then make them into various good-quality books and art as a statement of dramatic irony…

  • butterfly5906

    I find it interesting that she specifically includes that both “lost” and “saved” men will respond like this, because becoming physically and emotionally abusive when you’re not treated with “honor and reverence” is not exactly the sign of a good Christian. I thought the bible had something to say about humility, and blessing those who curse you, and turning the other cheek… Nope, apparently none of that actually applies to husbands.

    • Petticoat Philosopher

      Yeah, I find that interesting too. I mean, isn’t evangelicalism all about how being saved transforms you and your “fruits” and stuff? lol. A lot of the female submission gurus seem to basically rest their arguments on the idea that submitting to a Christian husband is a-okay because, of course, a CHRISTIAN husband you have nothing to fear from, a CHRISTIAN husband will love you and treat you as his own body! I definitely don’t get the idea from most conservative evangelical leaders that their basic message is “saved man, lost man, eh, tomato, to-mah-to.”

      • ScottInOH

        You’re absolutely right. It’s supposed to be OK for the Christian man to be in charge, because he has been told to love his wife as Christ loves the Church. But as Debi tells the story, the only difference is that the Christian man won’t let you out of the marriage. Which could be a whole other entree into how she and many conservative Christians see a successful marriage: simply one that doesn’t end in divorce, which of course you can ensure merely by outlawing divorce.

  • saramaimon

    my main question is WHY oh WHY would a woman join this movememt who hadmt grown up this way?

    • SirWill

      The short answer? They don’t. They find themselves dragged into it, one day at a time.

      First starts the dating. Almost inevitably, there’s warning signs, but in the heat of the moment they’re easily missed because of the excitement, the hormones rushing, everything. Plus an abusive personality is going to be on their best behavior when the relationship is starting out, simply because if they let it all hang out in public, they’d get arrested in about a minute.

      As the dating goes on, the abusive partner gets their hooks in as deep as possible. Whether it’s marrying within a month, like the Pearls here, or getting the girl pregnant, or ‘bonding’ with her kids if she already has them, the tools vary.

      And then slowly, those hooks are used to drag the other partner down, day by day, until it becomes NORMAL to the abused. That’s the truly horrifying part in my view. That things end up so screwed up that you think this is the way everybody lives.

      And what may truly be the worst part? The abusive partner in this hasn’t usually calculated this in advance, though some do. Their personalities just bend this way. They may have impossible standards for how other people should be in relation to themselves, but standards for themselves at all. I’m using my brother as an example here, as while he’s matured into a respectable human being, he certainly wasn’t to me while we were growing up. It took my stepdad kicking him out of the house, him living with our dad for a couple of years without bending to manipulations, and being married(now divorced) to a woman who was MORE manipulative and abusive than he had been. Or maybe about the same. It’s hard to measure these things.

      And even after all that? While I forgive him, I can never, ever, forget the things he put me through when growing up. He was a dumb stupid kid, and he learned from it somewhat, but it’s not my responsibility to make him a better person. He has to want it and work for it. To his credit, he has.

  • http://sylvia-rachel.livejournal.com sylvia_rachel

    I’m not much of a wine person, and it’s two in the afternoon, so I substituted a bowl of the chocolate pudding I made yesterday. Good thing, too, because even that much chocolate almost wasn’t enough to get me through this bit. Bleecccchhhh.

    I’m with everyone else upthread who said this is more of Debi describing and trying to rationalize and justify her own awful marriage. Of course we already knew that she’s all about the victim-blaming (not just women — kids, too) but this part is just so much more horrifying … honestly, I can’t even find a tiny kernel of what was once good or useful advice in anything quoted in this week’s post. It’s just straight-up vomitrocious.

    I bet Debi thinks “Every Breath You Take” is a romantic love ballad, too ::hurl::

    • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ M

      Mmm chocolate pudding. I’m a mixed drinks girl myself, and I just couldn’t justify pulling out the tequila at this time … maybe later tonight, if I still have the icky feeling in my brain. One or two tequila sunrises* ought to do the trick!

      *Tequila sunrise is a drink made with orange juice, tequila, and grenadine. If you add peach schnapps, it turns into a Leona’s Solar Flare (yes, it’s named after a League of Legends character. The Internet is full of awesome).

      • ArachneS

        Lol, that snippet about League of Legends just made my day.

    • littleblueheahen

      Wine, shmine- I had to break out the *ahem* combustible refreshment for this one. I’ll pass it around if anyone would care for a toke ;)

  • SirWill

    I’m fairly convinced that if you tossed this book in the trash, the trashbin would spit it back out.

    If you threw it into the fireplace, it wouldn’t burn. Just sit there, like the One Ring.

    If you ejected it into space, space would say “I’m not touching that!” and throw it back.

    If you threw it into the sun, the sun would collapse into a supernova in defiance of several laws of physics.

    If you threw it into a black hole, it’d stay intact at the center of the damn singularity that crushes all other matter into an infinitely dense ball of time-ripping death.

    How can we destroy this!? HOW!?

    • Molly

      I can’t remember what the standard procedure for destroying a Horcrux is, but I’m betting that if we managed to destroy Created to be His Helpmeet we’ll still have to track down the six other vessels Michael Pearl bound his soul into via dark wizardry.

      • http://sylvia-rachel.livejournal.com sylvia_rachel

        Basilisk venom is one of the things that works … also the Sword of Gryffindor.

        Would you have to track down and destroy every copy, I wonder? Or is there some Ur-copy on the Pearls’ hard drive that, if you destroyed it, would destroy all the print copies by some kind of sympathetic magic? That would save a lot more lives with less effort (although you’d have to infiltrate their compound, carrying both a basilisk fang and the Sword just in case, which might be pretty tricky).

      • Petticoat Philosopher

        Maybe if you destroyed the Ur-Copy, all the other copies would becomes powerless, like with the Three, The Seven, and the Nine when you destroy the One Ring. So it might have to be the Cracks of Doom, after all. Although, maybe whoever undertakes the journey can bring along the basilisk fang and the Sword just in case? They can’t hurt.

        Other ideas: maybe an Ark of the Covenant? Would that make it melt?

      • A Reader

        I love this comment so much.

      • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ WMDKitty

        At this point, only God Herself could destroy it.

      • Molly

        Petticoat Philosopher–it’s already being taken care of by top men.
        Top. Men.

      • Rae

        sylvia_rachel: The best way to infiltrate their compound would be the TARDIS, I think.

    • saraquill

      Well, you know how the One Ring needed to be destroyed where it was made? If we take the Ur-Copy and use it as a bludgeon against the Pearls, that might do the trick.

  • Renee

    I honesetly think Debi is a victim of physical and emotional abuse. I wonder sometimes if she does all of this because her husband has basically brain washed her into thinking it is all true. Maybe if she can turn OTHER women into her self image she wont feel so alone? I don’t know but the Pearls are one screwed up couple with really horrible ideas about marriage and child raising. I feel sorry for Debi, like I did Kate in Taming the Shrew.

  • Karleanne

    I just threw up in my mouth a little. Scratch that, a lot.

  • saramaimon

    i wasnt asking why women wimd up in abusive relationships, i meant why do.they join such movements of their own free will

    • Khaliah

      More often than not, it is because they are raised to think that men who control their lives, men who are insensitive to their feelings, etc are normal and are simply excelling in performing their role as the “head” of the family. Women are taught this in particular, as a sort of way of circumventing the strides early feminists made to put them on equal level with men.

      The teachings always go back to Genesis, where many people scathingly refer to Eve as the “first feminist” because she *gasp* made a decision without her husband’s supervision and guess what happened? Fall of Man. Childbirth is a bitch and a half (imagine poor Eve going through that and thinking she was dying). So the basic core belief is that a woman making her own decisions is essentially a copy of Eve, and thus doomed to failure because she’s too stupid to make the RIGHT decisions on her own.

      Women who wind up in this sphere of thought are brought up to believe that anything outside of pleasing husbands and having children is evil, a sign of following down Eve’s (or worst yet, the feminists’) destructive path. In a way, you could say that they are isolated from any ideologies that factually refute these beliefs/arguments, so they grow up believing this worldview is the truth and that it is the safest path for them to take.

      This ideology, though, is destructively formulaic, because many Christians (especially Christian women) go into marriage thinking that everything will be just peachy if they submit and keep quiet because that’s what Christian wives do. They’re never taught about Christian men who twist Scripture, Christian men who are verbally and mentally abusive but never lay fingers on their wives in order to keep up appearances, Christian men who cheat, etc. They’re sold a lie that marriage is the safest place to be, and a Christian man’s arms are the safest place to be because God put him in the headship position for a reason, right?

      But this isn’t introduced as a life of coquettish dependence. No. They’re taught that it’s right, that it’s good, that it’s fulfilling, and most importantly, they’re taught that if they truly want to please God, they have to eschew a career, education, birth control, work, and anything else that gets in the way of being a house-cleaning, cookie-baking, sex-dispensing doormat.

      It’s odd. Even as a Christian myself, I have to wonder why we’re taking family/social cues from a culture where women were LITERALLY second-class citizens.

      • http://www.carpescriptura.com/ MrPopularSentiment

        I’d also add that, much like in the case of abuse, it’s a lifestyle that creeps up on a person, trapping them before they realize what’s going on. If a woman were raised in a household free of this crap and someone just laid it all out for her at once, she’d just scream and run in the opposite direction.

        But women can be primed for these messages by culture. For example, she might have an image in her head of the “perfect family” that involves a protective husband who cares for her material needs so she can stay at home with her brood of well-behaved children – an unrealistically unmessy ideal, but one that many of us are fed. Or, as many Twilight readers are being taught, she may believe that a man who is constantly calling her, demanding to know where she is, micromanaging her time, freaking out if she speaks with another man, etc is a man who cares, whereas a man who gives her freedom and respects her privacy clearly just doesn’t love her.

        Then there’s the slow creeping. Maybe she already has a fear of having a dysfunctional family because of her previous history, or because her present relationship just isn’t working out, or because her children are struggling. Maybe she’s just experiencing that natural fear that her children won’t have perfect lives. So she starts reading. It starts with advice about setting firm boundaries for children because freedom makes them feel unloved, or causes them to become spoiled. Then it’s wanting a stable, peaceful household, so she looks at ways to avoid fighting with her husband – and maybe she happens to fall on advice that tells her that allowing a fight to happen is destructive, so it’s better that she merely stay quiet and agree to accept fault rather than “rock the boat.” Then she reads a little more, then a little more.

        She’s neck deep before she ever discovers what she’s really gotten herself into, or how much of her self she’s traded in for that peaceful, loving family she’s trying so hard to create.

        No one falls into these things with open eyes. It’s a process of slow wearing down, one idea here and another there until, one day, you find that you’ve built yourself a cage.

      • Monika

        I’ve always thought it was strange that Eve was meant to be doing something wrong. She ate from the tree of knowledge! She is a hero. She gave us everything we enjoy today. Yes pain and disease are not so great but knowledge also brings the tools to fight them.

    • http://abasketcase.blogspot.com Basketcase

      What the other two have said. You join what appears to be a normal church, and gradually start being taught these sorts of lessons. It becomes what you expect surprisingly quickly.

  • http://theotherweirdo.wordpress.com The Other Weirdo

    You know, you’re a braver woman than I am… a man… LOL! for sloughing through this whole thing. I would have gouged out my eyes and pulled my brain out through my nostril just to unread and unremember this crap.

    Anyway, I was particularly creeped out by this line which you quoteod:

    A woman can fight until she is blue in the face, yet the Command Man will not yield.

    As soon as I read it, I immediately got a mental image of a woman literally blue in the face, as in beaten and bruised. I don’t know whether this Debi person was brought up like this or if she’s fallen into this abyss all on her own, but I’m getting a very strong Stockholm vibe from her. What she writes mirrors quote clearly what I’ve heard her husband say.

  • Copper

    I don’t think all the fiendfyre in the world would get rid of this book and if you fed it to a basilisk it would spit it out for being too poisonous. I can’t really add anything that hasn’t been said, but this terrible ideology makes me physically ill.

  • Mafrin

    When I started reading your posts on this book, I was so angry with Debi. I now find that the pity I feel for her far outweighs any anger.

    She is such an obvious abuse victim, one who has engaged in a huge amount of mental gymnastics to prevent herself from losing her mind. And I find it really hard to stay angry at such an obvious victim. I’m now more saddened than anything, and I really really want her to get help. It’s all just really sad.

  • Anonymous

    Thats disgusting. Command Men are abusers, even if he isnt beating her, what Debi described is abuse.

    I think Michael abuses Debi. This is why she talks favourably about abusive situations and blames the woman.

    This whole book should be titled “Im trying to make myself feel better about the fact that I married a control freak who beats kids, who I had known for just a few days”

  • A Reader

    Debbi Pearl’s strict-gender-role/obey-your-abuser bit actually just made me sick to my stomach. It blows my mind and depresses me that people actually listen to her for advice.

  • http://allweathercyclist.blogspot.ca/ JethroElfman

    Debi has a video, for anyone who wants to hear her description of the Command Man from her own mouth, “You can say, “he’s a jerk”… which he will be” (4:29).

  • saraquill

    We know that children have died due to the turd of a book “To Train Up a Child.” Do we know if any have died because of this book?

  • Katherine A.

    The Pearls sell abuse manuals. Michael corners child abuse and Debi advocates women to have and stay in abusive marriages. A match made in Hell.

  • Judy L.

    “A woman married to a Command Man has to earn her place in his heart by proving that she will stand by her man, faithful, loyal, and obedient.” Sounds the qualities one looks for in a dog. Or, in the case of the Pearls, the qualities one ‘trains dog, or a child, to have, by beating them regularly and breaking their will. (Operative word in all abusive relationships, both worldly and divine: Submission.)

    “When she has won his confidence, he will treasure her to the extreme…She is on call every minute of her day. Her man wants to know where she is, what she is doing, and why she is doing it. He corrects her without thought. For better or for worse, it is his nature to control.” Definitely for worse, as this is the textbook description of a possessive, controlling, abusive partner. You don’t get a marriage license with a man like this – you get a restraining order!

    What really irks me is that Debi is setting up women to fail and blame themselves and really never get to the point where they think they can’t be better helpmeets. She says that if your husband is a controlling, abusive jerk, you can control his ‘responses’ (because apparently men don’t act, they only react) by being a subservient, subordinate, and obsequious slave, and you should only call the police if he’s being continually physically abusive with you or your children. But she says that if your ‘Command Man’ husband is a good Christian, you can change his behaviour by being a better helpmeet, and basically that if your husband doesn’t love you or abuses you, it’s because you’re not being a good enough helpmeet, and you need to try harder. But at what point is a woman supposed to accept that her husband is one of the ‘few men who are so cruel and violent that even if [she] is a proper help meet, he will still physically abuse her or the children’ if the measure of whether she’s being a good enough helpmeet is her husbands behaviour? The circular logic makes my head spin.

    Debi Pearl is suffering from the worst case of Stockholm Syndrome I’ve ever encountered. Either that or she really gets off on being mistreated or has found pleasure in now being a well-paid abuser herself. Libby: To be fair, Debi does get it right if she “believes that God the Father is an angry control freak.” From all available evidence, you have to admit that God is controlling, and vengeful, and capricious – definitely a ‘Command Man’.

    • Judy L.

      *’trains’ a dog…

      • Mogg

        Totally by-the-by, I find the expectation that dogs and mules need to be physically hit to train them pretty abhorrent. Possibly not quite as bad as the expectation that children must be always obedient, but even so.

      • KM

        Mogg, it’s probably not actually that “by-the-by.” I believe I’ve read that statistically, those who abuse animals are more likely to also abuse humans.

  • Yazikus

    I just watched that video, and my first thought was how do we rescue Kirsten??

  • Mogg

    Here’s a little titbit I found while doing a little bit of research on Michael Pearl – his hobby is knife and tomahawk throwing, and he’s extremely good at it. So not only an obviously domineering personality, but proficient with weapons… If I were Debi I’d be scared, too.

    • KM

      That’s terrifying.

  • Rilian

    I was in an abusive relationship with a shithead like this (who was an atheist) for 2 years. He wasn’t crazy at first, he dialed it up slowly, and always managed to “convince” me on things. But then I was like no I’m not putting up with this anymore, I’m so glad I got out when I did. Part of the problem was that I didn’t have anything else going on in my life, I was kind of depressed, and I latched onto him. When I realized I could do other things, it was easier to stand up for myself. Anyway, later on in the relationship, he very openly said that he wanted this, wanted a slave. God, there’s a whole religion based on this? Fuck.

    • Pauline

      The religion isn’t based on this. Unless you mean “there’s a weirdo splinter group of a religion based on this”–that would be accurate, because it seems like *Michael’s* religion is based on it.

  • Bugmaster

    Taming of the Shrew is a play by William Shakespeare about a controlling and abusive man who marries a headstrong and free spirited woman and proceeds to “tame” her. It’s a horrifying play, really…

    Well, that’s one way to read it. But there are also other, more subtle interpretations.

    • Rae

      I prefer the 10 Things I Hate About You version. It took me a while to grasp why it was so awesome that they changed the “shrew” character into a feminist but didn’t take that away from her at the end of the movie.

      (Dammit, I still feel sad about Heath Ledger)

  • saramaimon

    Debi seems to be a command woman herself which partially explains why she accepted such an authoritarian structure. she never realy got the idea of eqalitu on a relationshi so went for the either or. and in her case she gets a huge payoff. shemay be totally subservient to him, but she is second in command in the pearl wannabe empire.

  • Liberated Liberal

    Dear Debi and Michael,

    Go fuck yourselves.

    Kind Regards,
    A Formerly Abused Woman

  • Anon

    ‘A King wants a Queen, which is why a man in command wants a faithful wife to share his fame and glory. Without a woman’s admiration, his victories are muted. If a wife learns early to enjoy the benefits of taking the second seat, and if she does not take offence to his headstrong aggressiveness, she will be the one sitting at his right side to be adored, because this kind of man will totally adore his woman and exalt her.’

    Would you like to know about some queens Debi?

    Let me introduce you to some.

    How about Marguerite of Anjou, who led armies in defence of her husband and son’s throne and kept coming back until both of them were dead?
    How about Elizabeth Woodville, who survived being hated by her nobility, her husband being deposed and two of her sons being murdered?
    How about Catherine of Aragon, who – while Henry VIII was fucking around in France – had the Scottish try to invade and led an English army to deal them the worst defeat they’d seen in a long time and then sent her husband the severed head of King James?
    How about Eleanor of Aquitaine, who helped her son revolt against her husband, survived being imprisoned and outlived her two eldest sons (who were both kings) while still being the most powerful woman in England?
    How about Isabella of Castile, who was not only a queen in her own right and had to defend that but unified an entire country with her husband and funded Christopher Columbus’ trip to America?
    I could go on. I really could.

    You see Debi, not all queens are submissive little wilting flowers. Not then. Not now. These were women who grew up in a patriarchal culture much similar to the one that you idealise.

    And yet they were completely badass. They didn’t take crap from anybody, including the most powerful nobles in the rest of England (all men) or Spain (all men) or the Scottish army (men).

  • Camilla

    Huh, to my husband, taking out the trash is right at the top of his list of chores that default to being the man’s, and I just assumed it was one of those cultural things. Would it bother Michael Pearl if one of the neighbors commented that poor Debbie was always lugging those heavy trash cans around? Is that better or worse than having the neighbors see her mow the lawn or dig holes for fence posts?

  • Brightie

    There’s something that scares me here that you didn’t bring up… the bit about hurting his wife, “or the children.”
    So it’s not just “he’s beating up on you because it’s your fault.” It’s “if your kids are getting battered above and beyond even your twisted ideas of discipline and on the slightest provocation, if they are getting dragged around, thrown out the front door onto the pavement, or strangled, then it’s probably your fault.” This passage makes a woman’s sons and daughters hostages for her good behavior.

    • ako

      Yeah, it makes the kids hostages, and it encourages the wife to pour all of her energy into endless, futile attempts to placate the abuser instead of seeking the kind of help that stands a chance of actually stopping the abuse. So the kids keep getting beaten up without anyone protecting them, the wife is eaten alive by guilt and exhausting herself trying to hit an ever-shifting target of ‘good enough’ behavior, and the abuser gets to be as nasty as he wants with not only no negative consequences, but positive benefits coming from his cruel and selfish behavior.

  • http://pushthepulldoor.blogspot.com Don Gwinn

    Last time, you asked men to figure out which of the three kinds of men we were, and I allowed as how maybe I’m a Command Man.
    . . .
    I’d like to have that one back, please. I don’t want to be Command Man. If I were Command Man, I’d want to change. I almost don’t want to know what the advice for the other two types will be, but I can’t help myself. I know I’ll read it.

  • Kellen

    Had to stop and comment right away: FINALLY, someone who gets the horror that is “Taming of the Shrew.” I never understood why my father thought that play was funny. (And before anyone speculates, I should point out that his marriage to my mother has ALWAYS been an equal partnership based on mutual love, respect, and friendship, and that my mother would not put up with the Pearls’ BS for one second, nor would my father wish her to.)

    I submit as a pleasant contrast, the Bonanza episode “Woman of Fire,” which is how “Taming of the Shrew” SHOULD have ended. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EicSMsn4YgA

  • m g

    my m0ther in law spent 50+ years in a miserable marriage to a “command man”. he was selfish and cruel on a psychological level to her and the children. he also continued to control the kids as adults. kid#1 destroyed himself w/alcohol and passed on early, kid#2 stayed married to a drug addict for 15 yrs and cared little about her kids. kid#3 survived and is thriving, but only achieved this thru hard work, an open mind, and a strong wife! the “command man” had his whole extended family so convinced of his “leadership”, that he made some very foolish medical decisions and wound up dying a miserable, extended death. his family knew he was making a dumb choice, but were convinced they should not try to help/intervene. i guess the command man got his way. thanks for all you have done to expose this movement.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kelly.crawford.182 Kelly Crawford

    I can think of nothing else to say.