Originally published in The Christian Post
A self-help book based on Old Testament principles of the Bible written by a 43-year-old married Italian journalist and mother of four advising women to be submissive to their husbands in marriage is now causing an international uproar from feminists around the world.
The book, Cásate y sé sumisa, translated Get Married and Be Submissive, has even drawn the ire of a high ranking political figure in Spain in the form of that country’s health minister Ana Mato, who according to The Telegraph, said: “I think it is inappropriate and disrespectful to women.”
According to the report, from the very first pages, author Costanza Miriano declares to women: “we are not equal to men and to not recognize this is a guaranteed source of suffering.”
She further advises women that when dealing with their husbands in a marriage: “You must submit to him. When you have to choose between what he likes and what you like, choose in his favor…when your husband tells you something, you should listen as if it were God speaking.”
Miriano, who has been married to her husband for 15 years, further explained to her readers that: “A husband can’t resist a woman who respects him, who acknowledges his authority, who devotes herself loyally to listening to him, to remaining at his side.”
She also reportedly shares advice in the book, which has not yet been translated into English, on dealing with housekeeping problems.
“If you’re not an experienced cook or the perfect housewife,” she explains in the book, “what’s the problem if he says so? Tell him he’s right, that it’s true, that you will learn. Seeing your sweetness and your humility, your effort to become what he wants, he will also change himself.”
“Women forget that they can’t have it all: working like a man and being at home like a woman. Power is not designed for women,” explains the translated excerpt of the book in the report.
Francisco Javier Martinez, the Archbishop of Granada, called the book “very interesting from a Christian point of view,” but it has enraged women’s groups in Spain, who have demonstrated and publicly ripped up copies of the book.
Activists from the group Anonymous have also weighed in on the book through a video message labelling it misogynistic and oppressive.
“We’ve had enough of the Church seeing us as mere objects to satisfy men, reproduce and clean,” said a campaigner.
In a BBC interview, however, Miriano defended her position explaining that when she speaks of women being submissive in her book she is not advocating submission in a marriage as something negative.
“I don’t know the coloring the word has in English but I don’t use it in a negative way it’s a word taken from the Letter to the Ephesians. It doesn’t mean in any way being like a doormat for the husband. I use it in the etymological sense of being beneath or underneath providing the support like a column supports a roof because we as women we are stronger,” explained Miriano.
“We are able to put person in relation[ship]. John Paul the II wrote that the woman has the genius, the talent of the relation[ship] so we are able to be the heart of the family. Submission is something very, very good for a woman,” she explained.
When the BBC interviewer asked her why the Spanish health minister wants the book withdrawn, she explained perhaps she had a problem with the use of the word “marry.”
“I really don’t know. I thought it was because of the word ‘sumisa [submissive]’ but I found that there are many books with the word ‘sumisa’ in the title sold in the Spanish shops like ‘Diario de una sumisa’… so, I think the problem is with the word ‘cásate [marry]’ because I think that being submitted to a husband is felt like something terrible. I don’t know why,” she said before explaining that she also wrote a book for men with a title that translates to Marry Her and Die for Her.
Responding to a question on why some women were so angry about the book, she said: “Maybe we are not free from the need to be recognized. When a woman is completely at peace with herself, is completely fulfilled, she doesn’t need to be recognized and she can take a step back, not in the sense of being a doormat but of being completely able to be the column.”
When asked if her book was saying feminism damaged marriage, she replied: “I am a worker. I work as a journalist during the day and I write books during the night. I have four children. I think that women who ask the same rights of the men are lacking in imagination and ambition because we are so different from men.”
In trying to explain why Miriano’s book became so popular in Spain and Italy, Sam Owen, a relationships coach and psychologist, said it was due to the breakdown of society.
“There are now so many single parents and broken homes, and married couples that are still together tend to be parents and grandparents. If people are hankering for an old-fashioned marriage, it’s often because so much of it worked so well,” he said.
“We are a lost society when it comes to relationship roles within marriage,” added Owen. “Due to a rapidly changing world, the desire for women and men to be seen as equal, and the drive towards having everything – children, a successful career and a happy spouse – husbands and wives are feeling confused about what their role is within the marriage and family unit, and this creates discord.”