CTNAHM: Michael is Finger-Lickin’ Good

A Guest Post by Aletha

Originally posted on Yllom Mormon

Created To Need A Help Meet, pp. 43—44

OK. We are STILL in the chapter where Michael lists the reasons men need wives. Here we go.

I Need Her to Keep Me Civilized

Men are basically uncivilized animals. Ask any man who has been in a war zone for a year. Most won’t talk about it, but they know. Ask someone who has been in a state penitentiary for ten years. The presence of women in the house, especially one whom we value, has a most amazing civilizing effect upon men. They keep us from being too crude. They cause us to build houses and decorate them, to cut the grass and clean up after ourselves. If the world had no females, men would live in the most basic shelters. They would not maintain regular employment and would be lawless. We institute law as a means of protecting our wives and culture.

Ah. I have often heard the argument that men are animals. I think it’s a bunch of bullocks; there are women that behave uncivilised, and men that are beacons of manners. Michael starts this section with another broad, gendered generalisation. War zones and penitentiaries are weird examples to use. In a war zone, there is tons of stress, killing, and fear. In a penitentiary, there’s cells, regulations, and a grouping of dangerous and/or mentally unstable people. These are both bad examples to use. In fact, I think the military has strong standards as to how one makes their bed, keeps clothes clean, etc. But the real reason I think these analogies is off, is because both groups are acting mostly out of their control. The military men have a general or the President or someone calling the shots. In the pen, wardens, parole officers, and judges make the rules. Both groups mentioned are acting on the orders of someone else. Though I suppose Michael would claim men should act under God’s orders, so maybe that’s why he came up with this analogy. Hmmmm. And women that are valued? I don’t even understand that comment.

Another thing. Why does Michael twist everything in such an odd way? Can the presence of women tone down a man’s instincts to be crude? Possibly. But I would contend if a man is crude, it’s more an issue with the raising than the wife. If parents raise children and enforce “No burping or farting or rude jokes in public. It’s impolite and crude.” , then children problem won’t behave that way. However, if the parents say “Oh, that’s boys being boys.”, then boys will learn that’s socially acceptable. I also don’t think it’s merely the presence of women that cause men to want to build houses and cut grass. And what about women building houses or doing lawn work? Show of hands, if you didn’t have a woman to “make” you, how many men would keep a job and be law-abiding? It seems to me, that even back when people were living in trees, if you wanted to eat, you had to work. I don’t think the presence of women could change that. Along those lines, call me silly, but I think the law was made more for the protection of everyone than just wives and children. Yes, married men care about their wives and children. Or at least they should. But that doesn’t mean every bachelor is lying in wait (because he obviously doesn’t work) to go about mischief!

God placed a nesting instinct in women, something that is missing in men. Because of the woman in their lives, men eat their vegetables instead of all meat. The women cause us to put a napkin on our laps and use another to clean around our mouths. We learn to say “May I” and “Pardon me”. In a world of all men there would be no napkins, probably no table, and no one would apologize for burping or farting.

I wish it were possible to tell Michael that people in general can have nesting instincts. Just because someone is born with a uterus doesn’t mean they were born with an insatiable need for the white picket fence. Then Michael claims it’s women that pull for veggies and napkins. Again, why does it have to be so gendered? Why can’t things just be up to the individual, rather than the biology? Though a “may I” and “pardon me” is certainly nice, it’s not just women who should teach them. Men can model good manners, too! And every time Michael mentions a world without women, I want to add a snarky crack about reproduction. One final thought-in some cultures, burping is considered a compliment to the chef. So it’s more of a cultural thing than a man/woman thing.

The few times my wife was away for a week visiting our grand kids. I forgot to take a shower and went to bed dirty. I found myself going three days without bathing. But as soon as I know she is coming home I clean my body and the house. What would I be without her? A man who doesn’t bathe has no right to make love to a woman. A shower is an absolute prerequisite. To approach her unclean is insulting and degrading. It shows a lack of respect. Women are much more responsive if you are like Kentucky Fried Chicken—”finger lickin good”. On the other hand, if your wife likes a little odor and grit, pay me no mind.

What the heck happened in this paragraph? One minute we’re talking about civilised behaviour, then next, sex? Head/wall. Is anyone else getting the impression that Michael assumes because he is a certain way, every man is? Just because you don’t like to bathe, Michael, doesn’t make every man that way. My husband, for example, is fastidious about showering. Even when I’m not there, he doesn’t neglect basic hygiene! We’re trying to get licensed for foster kids, and one way that the agencies measure the level of care kiddos require is if they are able to keep themselves clean and groomed. It’s considered a problem if a 10 year old needs help and reminders to bathe. I can’t even imagine a man in his 60s (unless he has physical/mental limitations) that needs to be told to take a shower.

I’m still trying to figure out how he jumped from “my wife’s coming home, I need a shower” to “What would I be without her” to “take shower to get sex”. It’s nice for both parties to be clean, and not just for sex. I’m shocked that Michael uses the word “respect” when talking about a woman. I think this is the first time that he’s used the word in this way. And he makes a good point. Stinky, unclean men aren’t being very respectful to their wives. The reverse is also true. I’m just confused because Debi’s book says “never say no to sex regardless”, and Michael’s book admonishes cleanliness. Once again, there seems a disconnect between what Michael and Debi say. Which is weird, because they co-edit/co-write their books, right?

May I just say, the finger-lickin good part just made me throw up in my mouth? I’m not going to go into my mental images there, but that line just left me feeling icky and gross. Whoa. I just noticed something. Michael talks about the woman’s preference! There at the end, “if your wife likes…” I’m pretty taken aback here. And I’m not trying to be rude. This whole chapter has been “Do this so your wife will do that for you”. Suddenly she gets a say in his hygiene?

Obviously God put the civil side of his nature in the female gender. We need our wives to help us be civil and to establish social order. She is given to us as a help meet to manage this side of our existence I said all that to make one statement. A man’s home may be his castle, but she is lord of the manor. Bend to your wife’s wishes when it comes to the house. My wife owns the house and the kitchen. She tells me what to do and what not to do in the house, and I obey her. She can’t make me wash dishes, but she can tell me where I can put my feet and where I can take my shoes off, and where I can drop a dirty towel. Don’t contend with your wife over the house. It is her nest. Our job is just to gather the sticks, build the nest, bring home the food, and get her pregnant so she can fill it up with little bundles of joy. We men tend to need this direction and structure supplied by our wives. It is their created nature and we should honr that.

I’ve said this before, but where in the Bible does it say that God divided his attributes into male/female parts? If men are created in God’s image, shouldn’t they get the same parts and attributes? Also, I’m noticing that Michael doesn’t seem to take much responsibility for his actions. “She is given to us as a help meet to manage this side of our existence.” No, Michael, you need to manage your own actions and emotions. That’s not your wife’s job. It’s called being a fully-functioning adult.

Something funny I noticed. In 2 sentences, Michael uses the words “home, castle, manor”, as if they can be used interchangeably. If I remember history correctly, there was a king in his castle, and he ruled a country. The country was broken up into smaller plots of lands called duchies (or estates), where lords were in charge of the manor (and serfs!). So if man is the king of the castle, and women are the lords of the manor, then…yep. She’s still under him. Does that make children the serfs? I don’t think ‘bending to the wife’s wishes’ in the home is the right strategy. I think both parties should state their expectations and work together to accomplish them. Good communication is important in any relationship! Though if the man’s options are “Micromanage the Home” and “Let Her Run the House How She Chooses”, the latter sounds better. I guess what people in these types of relationships don’t realise is there isn’t ONE and only one way to have a successful partnership.

I am amused with how he specified his wife owns the house AND the kitchen. Priorities, I guess. And of course Michael doesn’t do dishes. Probably not laundry or cooking either. The whole “Our job is to…” sentence really ticked me off. It felt that he was saying “Look at how much you do, mighty man. Let your wife play house. Give her some babies to amuse her and keep her on the straight and narrow. It’s what she REALLY wants!”

Overall, it is not the wife’s job to keep her husband “civilized”. He should be regulating that himself. After all, he interacts with the world on many different fronts. He should be able to act like a rational adult, and not expect the world to bend to his wishes. It’s not woman’s nature to be responsible for all the icky/boring parts of life, Michael! No matter how much lip-service you give to words like “respect” and “honour”, I will never believe you mean it until you act like women matter. Their needs, their opinions, their wants, their likes/dislikes, their dreams. Let me know when you’re OK with women having those (especially if they differ from yours), then maybe I will trust that you are an authority on marriage!

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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.


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