Monday, June 27, 2011

The Problem With Michelle Bachmann

She is a Republican presidential candidate with rather extreme views on most things, but that is not the problem I want to point out here. It's something more fundamental. Matt Taibbi:
When Bachmann finished her studies in Oklahoma, Marcus [her husband] instructed her to do her postgraduate work in tax law — a command Michele took as divinely ordained. She would later profess to complete surprise at God's choice for her field of study. "Tax law? I hate taxes," she said. "Why should I go and do something like that?" Still, she sucked it up and did as she was told. "The Lord says: Be submissive, wives, you are to be submissive to your husbands."
And this is THE problem for fundamentalist Christian women who wish to enter politics. They are expected to be governed by their husbands. In Bachmann's case this must mean that if she became the president of the United States, it would really be Marcus who would be governing the country.

How do women like Bachmann get around this pretty big problem? You guessed it, I bet. They appeal to an even higher power than the boss in the family: God. If God tells Michelle to do it, she can bypass that submissive-to-husband bit:
The slate of five had been put together by a local Republican kingpin named Bill Pulkrabek, who this spring was jailed for domestic assault after he allegedly pulled his mistress down a set of stairs by her hair. According to Pulkrabek, Bachmann initially came to him asking for advice on how to defeat Gary Laidig, a moderate Republican state senator, but he advised her to run for the school board first. "We talked about knocking Gary off later," Pulkrabek recalled. And indeed, right after the school-board fiasco, Bachmann decided to take on Laidig.
In her later telling of the story, however, Bachmann substituted a higher authority than Bill Pulkrabek. It was God, she insisted, not a girlfriend-abusing politician, who instructed her to get involved in politics. "As if we didn't have enough to do, He called me to run for the Minnesota State Senate," she said in 2006. "I had no idea, no desire to be in politics. None."

All this clarifies the god-mentions of Bachmann and Palin. They have to do that, within their subcultures, because otherwise they would be expected to shut up and be governed by their husbands. Oddly, this resembles the way medieval women in the church acquired some independence: By stating that God spoke directly to them, poor, inferior creatures though they were, with no interest in sainthood.