The Art of Womanly Submission - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 15 Old 08-10-2008, 06:55 PM - Thread Starter
 
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This is something that I am sure many people have strong opinions about. What I am most interested in hearing is about the empowered type of submission and how to do this when in a bi-cultural relationship. Generally, IMO, American women (yes there are always exceptions) are taught that submission to a man is a bad thing. And in certain instances, I agree. But there is a type of submission to a man/spouse/partner that is also a good thing. How is this done?

I am american and DP is hindu. I am very independent and certain aspects of my independence has brought friction to my relationship because I have been of the mind that there is little room for any type of submission in a relationship with a man. But I think that there are times when it would be appropriate in my relationship, yet, having few role models in this area it is difficult for me to emulate and own as part of myself and the relationship I desire. I am not talking about the type of submission in which I am a powerless woman to the desires of my partner. Rather I am interested in the woman who is empowering herself through her submission and in turn her partner/spouse and relationship. Am I making sense? It is hard to explain something that is not fully understood? One person explained it to me as: The womans role is to find the pieces needed for the man to assemble something great. The woman would leave these pieces for the man to find and assemble, but that he wouldn't necessarily know where they came from or even who placed them there in the first place?

Help? Any suggestions? Please, keep your responses positive and relevant to an empowered vision of submission. There is an art to this and that is what I would like to discover.

TIA
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#2 of 15 Old 08-10-2008, 09:26 PM
 
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This doesn't answer your questions, or maybe it does, in some respects, but to me, there's no "Art of Womanly Submission." The art, IMO, is thinking about each yourself and your partner as individuals, and your relationship as a dyad. There is stuff that we all do, male or female, to make our relationships (with ourselves and others) happier, healthier and more fulfilling. Compromise. Communication. More compromise.

IMO, any relationship model that defines itself in terms of "submission" cannot afford empowerment, true empowerment, to either spouse. So your asking about an "empowered type of submission" is a huge non sequitur to me.

I'm sorry, I really would like to be helpful. My own DH has a culture/personality-based sense of authoritarianism that I can't work against, I need to work with, kwim? And I need all the input I can get. But I just don't understand what you're asking.

ETA: It occurred to me that The Art of Womanly Submission may be an established way of thinking that I'm just not aware of. I'm not as well-read or well-informed as I think I am sometimes . . .

but at least I'm honest about it? Apologies if I've stumbled and stepped on anyone's toes.
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#3 of 15 Old 08-10-2008, 10:59 PM - Thread Starter
 
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IMO, any relationship model that defines itself in terms of "submission" cannot afford empowerment, true empowerment, to either spouse. So your asking about an "empowered type of submission" is a huge non sequitur to me.
My initial response to womanly submission years ago would be that the woman is allowing the man to dominate, control, manipulate her. A liberated woman would never 'submit' to her husband. But in reality, all of us submit to someone in some way. A parent submits to a childs needs. An employee submits to a bosses needs. And so a wife/partner submits to her husbands/DP's needs. The DH/DP also submits to his DW/DP's needs but in a different way from the womans.

In my view, an empowered submission would be one that is free from domination and is serving the greater good. It's like a great leader, one who submits to the needs of his/her subjects to provide greater service. In a relationship you feel responsible for them (DP/DH) and serve from the role that has been assigned to you as a woman. I know that sounds very old school and sexist. I am trying to acknowledge that even though men and women are equals, we do have roles that are better suited to each. Like yin/yang. Together they represent wholeness, yet there is a little of yin in the yang and a little yang in the yin. Each has it's own way of accomplishing tasks, and each is predisposed to certain things that the other would find more trying. So together they are whole and complementary, yet respectful of the other because they recognize part of themselves in the other.

Does that clarify it at all? Submission is not the opposite of domination, it is more serving others for the greater good. But how is that done in a marriage or similar relationship? I know it is more than simply performing household duties while DP is away at work (I SAHM) for example, it is a way of being and a way of doing. The greater good also includes respecting myself and my own needs because to ignore them would not be in my own interest let alone that of the greater good.

Does any of this make sense? Like I said, it is hard to explain something that one doesn't fully understand to begin with because in this case there are cultural implications that are outside my experience.
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#4 of 15 Old 08-11-2008, 12:33 AM
 
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#5 of 15 Old 08-11-2008, 12:52 AM
 
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I think submission (as I understand it) is very empowering. In order to be able to submit out of love, I must have the freedom to choose to do so. If I didn't have that freedom I'd be under someone else's control and my actions would not be from the heart. So my Dh and I submit to each other. :
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#6 of 15 Old 08-11-2008, 12:57 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Hmm...your title brought out a very strong and unpleasant visceral response in me. Are you perhaps thinking of a word other than submission (which is VERY value laden in terms of power dynamics and patriarchy)? Are you maybe thinking about complementary relationship styles? Would another word perhaps garner more replies?

(FWIW I'm Hindu and I've seen patriarchy in the temple/community, and it doesn't have much to do with the concept of yin/yang or liberated thinking/ modes of being. Just power over another in the name of culture. The more educated Hindu women are just as apt to wear the pants, and how. Not that I'm condoning any imbalance of power in a relationship.)
Yeah, I know, submission is a loaded word. It is hard because anymore, submission is seen as allowing domination and inequality. I don't think that is it's original form. I think one can submit to negative situations or one can submit to positive situations. I don't adhere to any single belief system and my use of the yin/yang was only meant as an example of something I am trying to explain yet I feel that I know little of. Sorry if it didn't make sense.

RainCoast, I like that you are hindu and that modern hindu women are just as "apt to wear the pants". Until about a year ago, I lived in a community and had hindu women as close friends. The way they responded to their partners needs/wishes/likes was different than what I experienced with my american girlfriends. It was like they were really in charge but let the man think it was he calling the shots? There was also a certain sweetness to their actions when serving their DH/DP, a kind of selflessness in that moment. My query isn't about patriarchy, religion or whatever. I have done some google on this today and somewhere read that the one who submits is the powerful and wiser one. Something about how the wife, husband and child all have power over one another because they are all submitted to love.

Right now, I still think submission is the right term because it is about allowing, and acceptance. Well, at least in the context of my original query and thought.

Thanks for the replies so far.
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#7 of 15 Old 08-11-2008, 01:00 AM
 
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There are a bunch of threads over in Spirituality, albeit pretty strictly looking at things from a Christian point of view, that may be of interest to you.
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#8 of 15 Old 08-11-2008, 05:01 AM
 
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There are a bunch of threads over in Spirituality, albeit pretty strictly looking at things from a Christian point of view, that may be of interest to you.
I was going to suggest that, too. I've lurked on some of them because I find it an interesting topic. I think you're more likely to get some recommendations for reading, forums, perspectives, etc. over there. As Liquesce says, though, the vast majority, I think, are from a Christian perspective.
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#9 of 15 Old 08-11-2008, 02:41 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Popsicle - We cross-posted. Thanks for your response. That part about being free to submit when done out of love, makes sense to me.

Liquesce and Darius - Yeah, I'd have a hard time reading there. Thanks though. I'm all about spirituality, but was brought up in a strict christian home and have rebelled . Really, I get uncomfortable with all of that because of stuff I witnessed while in the religion. And often times it is about submitting to God which is simple in the way that it leaves out personal and cultural differences experienced in a relationship between two humans. Really, I just have personal issues with that crowd when things are in bible/religion mode. Not that I don't like the people, I just do best when I keep out of those conversations. I would like to explore submission from a context outside of religion and hopefully from within a multicultural relationship.

I think that maybe how I am submissive and what my DP thinks to be submissive acts are not matching. I don't want to be hindu (well, only part of me does ) necessarily, but just as my DP has become more american in his actions since living here for nearly 10 years, so I feel that some of my actions should become more hindu (not in the religious use of the word) so that certain rough spots could be smoothed over, nurtured and eventually nulled. I have known a few modern hindu women who were submissive to their partners in a gentle way of serving them, yet they were not dominated, controlled or otherwise being a servant to the men. It was very beautiful to witness, some of the most simple acts, performed with great reverence and love.

Surely I am not the only one in a MC relationship where subtleties of certain behaviors could be improved if one could learn how to submit to their DP/DH in a way that is more pleasing to them and still empowering to everyone involved.
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#10 of 15 Old 08-11-2008, 11:11 PM
 
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I applaud the maturity and flexibility you're demonstrating by giving this so much thought. You are really dedicated to your dh.

As I read these posts, I was thinking that there are three kinds of "submission" which have been discussed so far. (1) The submission we first think of that means being dominated, giving up freedom, and losing oneself in the other. (2) The submission that is manipulative, letting him think he's in charge but organizing things to "guide" his choices and (3) that hard to define submission that you're asking about. I think there really is a number three, but I'm not sure. It could just be called Love.

I'm really curious about your dh and his wishes. Has he been clear about what he wants of you in this respect?

Anyway, I'm not coming from anywhere wise with my remarks, just intrigued by the concepts you've broached.

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#11 of 15 Old 08-12-2008, 11:26 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I applaud the maturity and flexibility you're demonstrating by giving this so much thought. You are really dedicated to your dh.

As I read these posts, I was thinking that there are three kinds of "submission" which have been discussed so far. (1) The submission we first think of that means being dominated, giving up freedom, and losing oneself in the other. (2) The submission that is manipulative, letting him think he's in charge but organizing things to "guide" his choices and (3) that hard to define submission that you're asking about. I think there really is a number three, but I'm not sure. It could just be called Love.

I'm really curious about your dh and his wishes. Has he been clear about what he wants of you in this respect?

Anyway, I'm not coming from anywhere wise with my remarks, just intrigued by the concepts you've broached.
Thank you

So my DP. I really don't want this to be about him, but he is part of it of course. He is not completely clear about his wishes with this. He says that it is something I am supposed to find out. It's funny, he doesn't want to marry another hindu, yet he thinks that I should know certain subtle things that would be commonly known by a hindu woman. They are generally cultural type things, but not things that are generally associated with being cultural, I guess because they are so subtle. I think that he feels that certain things are common to all women regardless of culture.

I do think that the 3rd type of submission, as you called it, does have to do with love. I'll have to ponder that, cuz can you have love without submission and vise versa?

I do think that in my case, it would do us good if I would put more effort into attending to some of his needs. Like I didn't pay attention to the time today, and at 3 he had to call into work to see if they needed him to come in. They did and the poor guy had to go to work without eating. We have completely different eating habits, as in he is hungry much more than I am. I have never eaten very much. In fact, he loved that during my pregnancy I ate a lot more and so did he because of it. When I realized that he was going to work on an empty stomach I felt badly and resolved to myself to pay more attention to that for his sake. Yes, he is quite capable in the kitchen, I think he is generally the better cook between the two of us. But this is what I believe is one example in his mind of how I don't submit or attend to his needs at times. It's not that he EXPECTS me to cook for him, I really do think that he wants me to just notice such things more. If I were to do so, would that be submission?

Gotta go, teething DD. Thanks for all the responses!
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#12 of 15 Old 08-12-2008, 11:51 PM
 
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Like I didn't pay attention to the time today, and at 3 he had to call into work to see if they needed him to come in. They did and the poor guy had to go to work without eating. We have completely different eating habits, as in he is hungry much more than I am. I have never eaten very much. In fact, he loved that during my pregnancy I ate a lot more and so did he because of it. When I realized that he was going to work on an empty stomach I felt badly and resolved to myself to pay more attention to that for his sake. Yes, he is quite capable in the kitchen, I think he is generally the better cook between the two of us. But this is what I believe is one example in his mind of how I don't submit or attend to his needs at times.
I'm not really clear on why this would be termed submission though? To me it sounds more like normal relationship give and take: each partner doing things to care for the other. To go with the given example, when I was getting up early to pack my husband's lunches it wasn't in either of our minds me submitting to him ... it was me doing something for him because it made me happy for him to feel happy and healthy and cared for, just as he did things for me for the same reasons. It sounds more like the small day-to-day selfless acts that come from taking care of someone who takes care of you.
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#13 of 15 Old 08-16-2008, 04:55 PM
 
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There is stuff that we all do, male or female, to make our relationships (with ourselves and others) happier, healthier and more fulfilling. Compromise. Communication. More compromise.
I believe that ANY relationship requires COMPLETE submission from both parties. It is up to the specific couple to find that peaceful balance. In some relationships the man submits to the woman's need to be a leader! This is normal and healthy. It is just as healthy for a woman to submit to the man's need to be a leader. I believe this can be done, and is done in our household, with complete love, respect, CONFIDENCE in eachother as working partners, a balance of responsibilities, a balance of authority, and acknowledgment of the needs of everybody, and a very very good listening ear!

In our home, my husband is the leader, and he takes the roll naturally. And I give it to him with complete confidence in him. I know that my voice is heard, and respected, and I respect the decisions he makes for our family. Try not to let women who prefer to be leaders make you feel like you have to do that too! There is nothing wrong with a woman who likes to be led, and a man who wants nothing more than to lead his woman and his children. Sometimes it is how he shows that he cares, and It can be so beautiful!
sorry if my spelling is awful.
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#14 of 15 Old 08-16-2008, 05:19 PM
 
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Thank you

He says that it is something I am supposed to find out. It's funny, he doesn't want to marry another hindu, yet he thinks that I should know certain subtle things that would be commonly known by a hindu woman. They are generally cultural type things, but not things that are generally associated with being cultural, I guess because they are so subtle. I think that he feels that certain things are common to all women regardless of culture.

can you have love without submission and vise versa?
Like I said before, love DOES require complete submission from everybody! man and woman. I think this is the third kind, and hopefully the type your man asks of you!
My husband, born and raised chinese, has funny little things about him I had to figure out on my own. You'll catch on, dont worry! As long as he doesnt mind your misunderstandings, and doesnt hold them against you (a part of his love/submission to you MUST be complete patience and to help you do what you need to do) you will find a comfortable niche.
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#15 of 15 Old 08-16-2008, 05:35 PM
 
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The DH/DP also submits to his DW/DP's needs but in a different way from the womans.

Like yin/yang. Together they represent wholeness, yet there is a little of yin in the yang and a little yang in the yin. Each has it's own way of accomplishing tasks, and each is predisposed to certain things that the other would find more trying. So together they are whole and complementary, yet respectful of the other because they recognize part of themselves in the other.
I agree with yin/yang completely. And to me that has to do with loving submission to each other, but I dont really like what you said above. DH/Dp submist to his Dw/Dp's needs but in a different way from the womans. That isnt really right . . . hmm . . . This is such an abstract idea in general, but also (forgot to quote it) when you pointed out that a great leader submits to the needs of his country, I was thinking that Dh would be the great leader, and you are the country, otherwise he's doing ALL the leading and your doing all the submitting while telling yourself your the secret leader. That is just brainwashing yourself! You've got to be honest with yourself as to what YOUR position in the relationship is, and decide if your okay with it!
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