Bachmann 'Submissive' Question Ignites Debate Over Marriage, Sexism
A reporter's question to presidential candidate Michele Bachmann about marital submission ignited talk about the biblical role of husbands and wives and fueled the debate over sexism in the media.
In an obvious demonstration of disapproval, the crowd at Thursday's GOP debate in Ames booed after a panelist from the Washington Examiner asked Bachmann if she would be submissive to her husband in the White House.
Bachmann, a Christian, once spoke of how the biblical admonition "Wives, be subject to your own husbands as to the Lord" influenced her to become a tax lawyer. During Thursday night’s debate, she answered, "What submission means to us, ... it means respect. I respect my husband ... and he respects me as his wife."
Still, the question did not stop women from lashing out at the media for its treatment of the only female candidate for president.
Penny Nance, president of the conservative group Concerned Women for America, expressed her dismay at the question in a statement: "Byron York's question to Michele Bachmann about her relationship with her husband was incredibly inappropriate and downright ignorant.”
Nance continued, "Perhaps he should study theology a bit before asking a question about a complex biblical statement on the home."
Similarly, fellow GOP candidate Rick Sanctorum, a Catholic, said, "It's sad that these questions are asked because of ignorance of what the Bible teaches."
Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, cited the verse's source, Ephesians 5, to clarify that biblical theology demanding submission and love between husbands and wives relates to marriage, not the workplace.
Land told ABC News that while the wife is called to subject herself to her husband, "there is a good many more things a husband is required to do than the wife is required to do."
In Ephesians chapter 5 verse 23, husbands are described as the "head of the wife" and are called in verse 25 to "love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave himself up for her."
Land explained that the husband is called to be the head of the house and give himself in sacrificial service to his wife.
Given that both men and women are called to give of themselves in marriage, Nance lamented that the male presidential candidates were not asked the same or a similar question.
Earlier this month, women expressed similar concern for the unfair treatment of female politicians when Newsweek magazine featured a wild-eyed Bachmann with the words "Queen of Rage."
Miss America 2011, Teresa Scanlan, the latest of several female figures to denounce the portrayal, accused Newsweek on national television of being sexist for portraying Bachmann differently than it does other male politicians.
"Whenever they've had a male on their cover, even if they don't agree with them as far as policy goes, they portray them in a serious light; they take them seriously and they portray them in a positive light," she asserted.
Neither Bachmann nor former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin were given the same respect in their cover pictures, said Scanlan.
Palin was pictured on a 2009 Newsweek cover posing in a tight red shirt and bicycle shorts. Palin told Facebook fans that the picture was taken for Runner's World magazine and said its appearance on Newsweek was "out of context."
Scanlan said of Newsweek, "They simply try to degrade women and make fun of them and portray them in a negative light, and I think that shows extreme sexism."
She also criticized American culture for not taking sexism allegations seriously.
Bloggers, political pundits and even liberal group National Organization for Women also criticized the latest cover.
Newsweek also asked Bachmann about her submissive role to her husband, Marcus.
She told the magazine that she respects her husband but clarified, "In the White House I would be the decision maker."