An Open Letter

Dear Former Child Star Who Needs Publicity For Her Book To Keep Her Family Afloat Since She Doesn’t Get Much Work Anymore And Her Husband Is Retired From The NHL,

Congratulations on being a submissive wife to your husband! I know I shouldn’t be giving you or your opinions any more publicity, which is why your name has been redacted from this post, but the kind of revisionist family values BS you are spouting lately – not that any of us have heard anything from you in a looooong time – really sticks in my craw.

It’s your right, of course, to say what you want; I would never claim otherwise. But let me exercise my freedom of speech to tell you where you can stick your ideas about the roles of men and women in a marriage/relationship. It’s one thing, you see, to do what works for you in your own marriage; it’s another thing to use this backwards and outdated idea of gender roles as publicity. Between you and that famous volleyball player who also needs to submit to her husband’s will to keep the peace in her marriage, I’ve had just about enough of your proselytizing (look it up) as if you were some kind of moral authority and not someone who is on her latest desperate attempt to revive her career by selling a lifestyle brand.

I’ll start by referring you to a blog post by Lainey Liu, who outlines the hypocrisy of your position, given that you are most likely the breadwinner in your family:

I’ll continue by quoting a response sex columnist Dan Savage recently gave to a reader:

‘There was an article in The New York Times recently about how young men still aren’t doing their fair share of the cooking and cleaning. “Women today make up 40 percent of America’s sole or primary breadwinners for families with children under 18,” Stephen Marche wrote. “[But] men’s time investment in housework has not significantly altered in nearly 30 years.”
Reading Marche’s piece—in which he makes the case not for men to do more housework (God forbid), but for men and women to live together in filth—made me say, “So glad I’m gay.” Out loud. On an airplane. I sometimes have that reaction when I read stories about “the gender wars,” which Marche is currently writing a book about, or when I read smut-shaming bullshit about straight men and porn. But Marche’s essay elicited a different sort of so-glad-I’m-gay response. It went something like this: “I’m so glad I’m gay because my husband and I don’t have the option of defaulting to the stupid gender norms, roles, expectations, neuroses, and riptides that plague so many straight couples.”
So despite the fact that we’re both men, my husband and I do not live together in filth. When a bed needs to be made or a dish needs to be washed or a floor needs to be mopped—or a spouse’s cock needs to be sucked—one of us makes, washes, mops, or sucks it. When there’s something that needs doing, we do it. We don’t sit around staring at an unmade bed or a dirty dish or a grimy floor or an unsucked spousal cock and think, “I have a dick—so bed-making/dish-doing/floor-mopping/cock-sucking isn’t my job.”’ – Savage Love, December 18th, 2013.

Gender norms are norms because people allow those attitudes/stereotypes/ideas about whose role it is to do something to affect their lives and their decisions. But as LGBTQ couples prove, those gender roles mean absolutely nothing when there’s laundry to be done and only two guys or two girls to do it. They are just social constructs – powerful and enduring social constructs, to be sure – that will only continue to exist so long as couples perpetuate them.

Lastly, I’d like to take exception with your idea of submissiveness as weakness. I know, I know, that’s more or less the formal definition, but hear me out. I daresay the submissive partner in any BDSM relationship would argue against the idea that they are weak, or powerless, or being unfairly taken advantage of, mostly because they are fully engaged in expressing their sexuality while submitting to their more dominant partner’s attentions. Ditto aggressive bottoms. And let’s not forget psychology’s greatest contribution to the pop lexicon in the last 50 years, passive aggression, as essential to a submissive person’s arsenal as a faked orgasm.

So you can go on being “submissive” to your husband, clamp your white-knuckle grip on those gender norms, Former Child Star, but you’re not fooling anyone. While some women are genuinely stuck at home, raising their kids with little to no help from their husbands, you’re out on a publicity tour to promote the book you didn’t really write.

If there was ever a time to know your role, this is it.


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