Was Asking Bachmann About “Submission” a Sexist Question?

VIDEO: Michelle Bachmann: “Fool for Christ”

Campaign video of Michelle Bachmann describing her submissiveness to her husband and to “god’s will” and calling herself a “Fool for Christ.”

Was Asking Bachmann About “Submission” a Sexist Question?  Short answer: No.

During the Republican/Tea Party candidates debate last night in Ames, Iowa, the Washington Examiner‘s Byron York asked Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (R-MN) if she “submits to her husband.”  The question arose out of Bachmann’s own declaration that she has been guided to make decisions about and throughout her career by her God as commanded by her husband, describing it as his idea and his will that she attend law school, get a degree in tax law, and run for Congress.  As evident from this video, she paints herself as not previously having entertained these choices before her husband suggested she take them up, and expresses some reluctance in making the final decisions.

When York asked the question of Bachmann last night, she answered by underscoring the respect in her marriage and deflected the question effectively (from a political standpoint) by talking about her and her husband’s mutual “respect.”

While the extremely conservative audience at the debate booed and hissed at the question itself, numerous Tweets sent by political observers suggested that “a male candidate” would not have been asked this question and that the question itself was both sexist and inappropriate.

I don’t think it was either, nor do I think that historically the roles played by a spouse have been irrelevant among male politicians, as the attacks on Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton in the past have shown. The role of Hillary Clinton as an advisor in the health care debate in the nineties was, for example, widely excoriated by the right, which at the time declared she had too much influence as an “unelected official.”  If Bachmann is in effect declaring from the get-go that her decisions would depend on her husband’s approval, the question arises, who would we be electing should it come to pass that Bachmann becomes president?

There is no doubt that there is sexism in both politics and the media (to name two sectors of our economy in which it is deeply entrenched). But that doesn’t mean every hard question asked a woman candidate is sexist. Politics is hard, brutal and often nasty. One might wish it were not so, but you can’t avoid it at this point, at least not totally. If Barack Obama, John McCain, Mitt Romney or another presidential candidate had at any time said they “wouldn’t make a move without their spouses,” or that they had begun a political career, not out of their own desire but at the behest of their spouses, the same question would arise.

The reality is that in any healthy marriage or partnership, such as between the current occupants of the White House from what I can see, things do get discussed, and of course, your spouse, assuming you married them in part because of mutual love and respect, is likely one of your closest sounding boards, if not advisors.  But that is different than saying: “I wouldn’t make a move on policy without the approval of my husband or wife.” That is what Bachmann strongly suggested in her own earlier statements. To be honest, I don’t even believe her; It seems too unlikely to me that a woman with her personality and forcefulness would be doing so many things she really doesn’t want to do just for the sake of her husband, and I think she uses this language in part because she believes it but in part because she is “playing to the biblical right,” as are so many others in the current crop of GOP and Tea Party candidates.

But all that being said, we are witnessing the ascendance of people who see it as their role to transform the United States into a country based on “biblical law.”  I don’t care if we are talking about a woman or a man: I want to know what their beliefs are and what their politics mean for this country, me, my family. It is totally fair game to force her hand on this and other issues of ideology, and in fact, I hope that hard questions about these issues are put to all of the candidates who make religious belief a central aspect of their campaigns.

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  • freetobe

    She actually answered the question perfectly as all the good christians I used to know did. In fact this sounded how my parents used to try and explain inequality of men and women in the Bible. Not meaning any harm it brought me GREAT harm!

    The fact that the “submissive ” word only pertains to women and not men is the problem. I would not have problem if it had been written fairly to begin with but I guess it is not possible for some men to be fair and who made white men the almighty rulers anyway? That is NOT in the Bible. They pick and chose what suits them and the hell with the rest of us.

    What bothered me more about listening to this was that the crowd booed the question as if to say it is ok to treat women as UN-equals its in the Bible fools!

    Religions have caused more wars more hatred because of misenterpretation of any book I know of.

    Their should be a note on the cover-WARNING violent ,sexist contents read at your own risk.

  • beenthere72

    As it was so eloquently put in the comments section on HuffPost:


    We know she wears the strap-on in that house.




    I actually watched some of the debate last night, it was quite amusing.   I enjoyed watching the other candidates give her a good tongue-lashing.  Had to follow it up with some John Stewart so I wouldn’t have nightmares (though I still did).

  • heathen5701

    If a male candidate publically declared that his wife was the head of the house and he submitted to her in all decisions, the question would be valid.


    As it is, her wacky statements are enough for me to dismiss her as anything but low grade amusement.

  • jimthompsonmensrightsvideos

    Hooray for Michele Bachmann and showing America that women have all the rights they could want and no longer need to wear the “Lifetime Victim” mentality. She single-handedly sounded the death knell for 50 years of feminist madness.

    She’s beautiful, proud, sexy, and comfortable with her Conservative womanhood enough to say she would be submissive to her husband based on her Biblical faith.

    Now THAT’s a woman worth voting into office!

    I predict:

    1) Romney/Bachmann 2012

    2) Obama is de-throned

    3) De-funding of Planned Parenthood and other nonsense we can’t afford.

    Go Michele! You’re leading the straw polls!

  • littleblue

    The religious extreme right claim that America was built on Christianity and even support a modern times reconstructionist/dominionist theocracy.  In that context, why wouldn’t their religious views be questioned?  The question was valid; it wasn’t sexist just because it was (submissive) woman-oriented in the context of her patriarchal religion.  Her “evangelical feminism” is an oxymoron.  She isn’t supposed to submissive (which DOES NOT equate with respectful) to just her husband, but all men.  The church she recently left, not because she doesn’t believe in it but because its ultra-crazy beliefs will offend the broad population of the US, is a sect of the WI Evangelical Lutheran Synod.  This group in WI was recently in the news because women in the sect weren’t allowed to ask questions in the presence of men at a recent school board meeting and were required to write them down so men could pre-approve and read them aloud.  http://m.host.madison.com/mobile/article_932a56c8-36d4-11df-a17e-001cc4c03286.html 

  • wendy-banks

  • plume-assassine

    Michelle Bachmann hates other women; she doesn’t care about women’s rights, only her own individual power and status. And that facade of power was granted to her by misogynistic, theocratic men (like yourself – men who only value women for their “sexy” appearance and submissive qualities), men who could just as easily take it away, and are already thinking about it when they imply that she should be “submissive to her husband” and by extension to other men. Michelle is the type of woman who would use the rights and services that feminists fought for, while denying them to other women.


    Jim, let me ask you this, what kind of man is threatened by equality? When will you grow up and realize that feminism isn’t about superiority or subjugating men, it’s about equal rights & equal treatment? It’s about ending rape, violence, harmful stereotypes, economic/social disparity, all of which patriarchy continues to sustain. Men’s rights supporters such as yourself want women to sit down, shut up, and pop out babies. And if straight white Christian men — (the most privileged people on Earth who control almost every aspect of US society & government) — want to pretend to be the poor “victims” of women, then you are truly living in a fantasy land. Your BS is really that transparent.

  • ahunt

    Well Jim, I agree completely. Run, Michele, RUN…and win the nomination.

  • beenthere72

    I don’t think Romney is going anywhere near Bachmann.    Judging by the Republican debate, I’m not sure anyone on that stage wants to be anywhere near her.     Those of us with common sense don’t want her anywhere near our white house.  


    Nonsense we can’t afford?   So we can afford millions of needy babies born to low income women?   How many have you adopted?   We can afford women and girls dying by forcing abortion back into an illegal business? 


    Don’t we have more important issues to address than defunding planned parenthood?   Like maybe ending the wars?  Improving the economy?   Making sure Americans have affordable healthcare?   


    I saw somewhere else on the internet where you posted your wall of text that you’re an atheist.   Doesn’t a politician that prefers a theocracy offend and bother you?   Or were you lying about being an atheist? 



  • concerned-feminist

    Michele Bachman is actually Jim Thompson in disguise. You can’t be empowering to women by continuing to submit to male authority & demanding other women do the same. A woman should be there by her own accord based on her competence as a candidate, not because the men she doinks for favors think she’ll be good at getting the female vote & add a bit of “sex appeal” for the men as well. Michele Bachman has gained her status on virtue of being an attractive female who carries out the male agenda & nothing more. This is NOT what feminism is about. Feminism is about encouraging women to be judged on the same merits as thier male counter parts & held to the same standard. Feminism is not about just giving women stuff because they’re female, that in & of itself is sexist because it implies that women are not capable of working for thier privilages like men are & are not capable of being independent & self-suffient on  thier own.

  • concerned-feminist

    Jim, you realize how weak & “un-manly” you sound being so “threatened” by these supposed “inferior” women? Awww… is widdle Jimmy scared of a girl? 

  • concerned-feminist

    Jim is no athiest, he believe that only HE is God & all life must bow to his will, if not it’s “Wah! Wah! I’m so righteous & women that tell me no (which I think is all of them) are meanieheads! My issues are my own, but I wanna blame women because I have no idea what it’s like for them, so obviously they need to be villified for having those vagina thingies that they never let me play with! I have a pee-pee & I’m bigger than them, but they still beat me on all levels.”

  • concerned-feminist

    They were allowed to learn how to read & write? BLASPHEMY!

  • fiona-carmody

    I appreciate your comment, although I want to point out that it is ridden with a certain sexism. What does a strap-on have to do with anything? And aren’t the other candidates just as unbearable? It pains us all to see a woman like Bachmann being so destructive towards those with whom she shares a certain amount of life experience – namely, females. But there is a reason that the most sexist of people are rooting for Michele and crying “sexism” at the slightest hint of dislike towards her – because she could split us all up by making feminists, progressives, and democrats all sexist. Don’t let her bring us down.

  • beenthere72

    I was quoting someone else but I think the joke of her wearing the strap-on relates to the fact that her husband is awfully effiminate and suspectfully gay.      If you haven’t done a little googling on him, I suggest you do. 

  • crowepps

    “She’s the man of the family.”  “Her husband is effeminate.”  Why does the whole ‘real woman’ and ‘real man’ meme have to be dragged into it?  Is the idea that she is unqualified for politics because her husband isn’t a manly man and that means there’s something wrong with her for not being feminine enough to ‘inspire’ him to manliness?  Certainly if her husband is gay and in denial that would explain some of her anti-gay hysteria, but the underlying motives don’t matter to me because the attitude is enough – xenophobes aren’t qualified to lead because they can’t cope with their fear.


    Personally, I find the woman’s insistence that she’s always right and nobody else knows what they’re talking about absolutely terrifying.  She strikes me as someone who would misinterpret situations and cheerfully push the button to obliterate mankind because she would have absolute confidence doing so would force Jesus to return.  I’m very much afraid that the majority of the American people are stupid enough to vote for her based solely on the fact that she looks ‘hot’ on TV and they’re thinking of the election as a season of ‘Survivor: Candidate’.

  • beenthere72

    I would have no problem with him if he weren’t doing the whole ‘pray the gay away’ thing and receiving federal funding for it.   They’re such hypocrites.   There is likely so much about the Bachmanns that we don’t know about yet and I hope it all comes to light.  


    I am equally as terrified of having her anywhere near the White House.   I don’t understand how people can consider candidates like her leading our country as if the only decision she’ll be making is whether Planned Parenthood gets funding or not.     Obama and main stream media really needs to speak out about how it’s so much more than that and something we don’t want these lying hypocrites.   These people will destroy our country and our economy. 


    This site has been tracking Michele’s antics for a long time: http://www.dumpbachmann.com/

    You’ve probably already seen it, but posting it in case anybody else missed it. 



  • crowepps

    I think he’s draining the taxpayer’s dollars by providing substandard medical care.  I think she’s a delusional fool.  Making those points is absolutely okay and I support your doing so.  But stigmatizing him as a closet queen sounds bigoted and it actually makes you look bad which unfortunately makes them look ‘picked on’ and arouses sympathy for them.  I think arguing against them is more effective when done by sticking to the facts instead of mocking them.  In addition, that way we don’t unnecessarily hurt the feelings of our LGBT allies.