While reading through The American Trouser Controversy on Simcha Fisher last night, I was struck by the emphasis on male headship. A reader suggested that strangers who yell at women about being submissive to their husbands secretly want women to be submissive to them. Many readers had no problem with the idea of being submissive to their husbands (thus the humour of the husband-signed "Pants Pass"); they just didn't see why they should be submissive to male strangers, too.
Of course, the whole "Wives Obey Your Husbands" thing is so controversial in itself, I don't know if I want to go there. How much simpler if St. Paul had written, "Wives, be easy to live with." That's probably what he meant. Hey, I have an M.Div., you know. But there's Male Headship in Marriage out of the bag anyway, and I wonder who let it out in the first place.
I suppose the idea of Male Headship in Marriage floats about my local Catholic TLM community, although as most of the men aren't married, it remains somewhat academic. Like most university educated guys, B.A. had imbibed a number of feminist (one might argue humanist) ideas by the time he fell in with traddish types, so his thoughts on male headship include the inherent dignity of women and their ability to think for themselves. He also believes firmly in his grandfather's sage marital advice of "Anything for a quiet life."
The way male headship works in my house is that the male has the responsible 9 - 6 job, and the female floats about writing this and studying that and buying the groceries and running off to Poland. So I personally have nothing to complain about. I can even use male headship to my advantage in social situations, e.g. making a graceful exit. I seem to recall saying to someone, "B.A. says I must leave now, and I suppose I must obey him" and my interlocutor suddenly scowled like a cross goose and said "But of course you must obey him. It's in Saint Paul!"
This scary discussion of Male Headship in Marriage is, of course, meant to be propaganda for the Single Life. It's actually quite old-fashioned propaganda for the Single Life. Refusing to get married and living as virgins forever was a way Christian women could achieve the status held by Christian men. Proto-nuns, like nuns, were semi-sacred beings who remained mostly autonomous. Brides of Christ, they couldn't be bossed around by other men. I forget now who was in charge of them, but I assume it was ultimately the local bishop, who dealt with them as a collective and if there were personality clashes it would be between him and the most senior proto-nun.
If you stay single, you don't have to worry about male headship. If you are a single man, you remain free from its responsibilities and if you are a single woman, you never have to ponder what its inverse, female footship, means for you. From my own married perspective, it means doing your best never to hurt your husband's feelings and trying not to sin too often against his idea of what a comfortable dwelling looks like. It does not mean marrying a tyrant and encouraging him in his tyrannies so that you can look like a holy martyr. As a life choice, that's just perverse.
Incidentally, wanting to choose your clothes for you is a RED FLAG. Believe me on this one. Grumping because your skirt is too tight is one thing, but going out to J.C. Penny to buy you something full and frilly is psycho.
If you are simply appalled by the idea of female footship, then I am sorry and I sneakily suggest you stick with your Novus Ordo crowd instead of hanging with the Trads. Of course, you could survive if you (A) have a sense of humour and (B) have read Mulieris Dignitatem. You might also want to train up your inner Aggrieved Domestic Longhair, so you can hump up your shoulders, let down your claws and yowl when some non-husband man tries to push you around. Pfft! Pfft! Miarraw!