The Surrendered Wife, by Laura Doyle: a critique

Although our level of intimacy is similar and length of marriage is analogous to that described by Ben, my wife knew before we married that she needed a man to take her in hand.

Ben's reference to Laura Doyle's The Surrendered Wife caught my attention because closet feminists sometimes claim Doyle's surrendered wife to never be in need of spanking—a subject which Doyle conveniently avoids.

Moreover, I find Doyle's version of the surrendered wife is disingenuous on its face. According to Doyle's cult classic, the surrendered wife need not tell her husband that she has surrendered her will to his. Although Doyle offers many genuinely good ideas, this lack of openness allows the woman to retain power—power that she can withdraw at anytime. Thus, Doyle's surrendered wife is free to manipulate him in a new dimension.

Even ignoring the above, an equally troublesome issue emerges. Central to Doyle's concept is the belief that if the woman surrenders, the man will as well. It is as if Doyle believes that the invisible hand of mutual surrender will always keep the marriage upright. Marriages are seldom as neat and clean as Doyle portrays them. Those that are, all too often degenerate into roommate relationships.

The difference between Doyle's surrendered wife and the Taken In Hand wife is that the latter accepts her husband's natural inclination to take charge—even if it is over her objections. In this regard, she puts everything on the table—including the fact that she surrenders her will to his.

It follows then that her willingness to take a spanking is symbolic of the woman's new attitude. She realizes that spanking is as much about acceptance and security as it is about power.

When a woman is willing to truly surrender, a curious reversal occurs. What was once an inconvenient ritual to be endured as a child becomes a liberating experience. That which was once an article of faith in an angry politically correct diatribe is now little more than a stumbling block to intimacy.

Despite the objections above, Doyle's book is worth reading.


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This book is a start

Personally I was thrilled to see this book. It shows that the feminist army is in retreat. Finally the mainstream is urging men to be men. There is no way we could expect a discussion on discipline and spanking in this kind of book *yet*. Once men get their natural authority back and start to regain confidence, who knows? It might be the norm to discuss such things. I've enjoyed discussing this book with friends who are feminists. Finally there is a meeting point between my ideas and what is considered *normal*

Like the previous commentator I find it is a bit manipulative to avoid telling your husband what you are trying to achieve. Many of my feminist friends found the whole thing manipulative and just a more subtle way of gaining control. However, overall I feel the publication of this kind of book means the whole concept of submission becoming more acceptable.

It is a shame she says you should not submit to a man who *hits* you since that made me feel she wasn't addressing me. She could have put something like * with the exception of consensual spanking* but then as I said, I don't think the mainstream is ready for it.

Keeping it from him

Is the suggestion that you should keep surrendering to yourself manipulative? I suppose it might be, but I think that the reason for this suggestion is actually a lot less sinister. I think that Doyle suggested keeping it to yourself to avoid situations like the following:

The shrewish wife is trying to learn to surrender... but being a shrew, she tends to take two steps forwards and at least one backwards. If she has told her husband of her intention to surrender, that may have raised impossible expectations in him, such that he will be angry or disappointed if she does not manage to surrender overnight (and she won't). He then lectures her about surrendering and in letting her know how badly she is doing, he then inadvertently makes it psychologically even more difficult for her to continue trying to improve.

Even if he is aware of this danger, he might still throw surrendering in her face in a moment of crisis.

Even if he does not do that, the mere fact that he knows what she is aiming for might put her into a state of mind in which she cannot improve, because she feels watched and judged by him. This can happen even when the man is very very nice and non-judgemental.

I think that what Laura Doyle is suggesting shrewish women strive to learn is something only they can teach themselves, not something their husbands can help them with (or not easily anyway) and that that learning process might be fragile and easily inadvertently sabotaged. I could be mistaken, but I think that this is the reason she says to keep surrendering to yourself.

There are things in the book I think are manipulative, but my impression was that that was not actually one of them. However, it has been a while since I read the book.

Good point

I think you have a really good point.

I'd also like to add that Doyle's book is a book for women on the concept of them surrendering. It's not a book on turning a 'mainstream' relationship into a surrendering one.

While it could be a useful read for some men, it's not written to be a guide for men on how to handle the situation.

And I think there are quite a lot of relationships out there that could improve from the woman surrendering, yet with a man that shouldn't be trusted to hold a complete power over the woman.

I'd even argue that what Doyle describes is really about the woman trying to see if something works for them, and the man's patterns changing as a function of that.

The Surrendered Wife was essential for my Taken In Hand journey

Since beginning the practices outlined in The Surrendered Wife (without discussing it with my husband) I have personally been MUCH more successful and my husband has naturally become more dominant. Things we were trying to do, but failing at, before, are now becoming the "usual" since utilizing The Surrendered Wife information.

Now, becoming Taken in Hand is coming a great deal easier and it is happening much faster and in more amazing ways than before we (er, I) began adhereing to the Surrendered Wife beliefs.

"The Feminist Army is in Retreat"?

Oh dear.... where to begin.

I am most certainly a "surrendered wife" (though not in the silly pink rose way of Doyle's book....). I am also most certainly a feminist. And I sure hope our army is not in retreat...

Good men, authoritative men do not need women to be weak in order for them to be strong. Good men want political equality and opportunity for their wives, sisters, and daughters. A Good man knows that some women thrive best within the home, making lunches and making beds—but he also knows that some women do best curing cancer, running countries, running businesses. The good, secure, and truly authoritative man supports his wife, daughter, sister, mother in accomplishing that which she was put on earth to do.

A Taken in Hand relationship is about the structure of a personal, loving relationship. Its not about politics, its not about how we women relate to the outside world of demands and work—its about our home, and what we bring to our men and family.

My husband NEEDS the gains feminism has brought to me... he needs my college education, my hard won skills, my earning abilities. He needs my opinions, and even my ability to fight for them (even though I'd rather not). Without these attributes, opportunities that were hard-won by feminism, I would not be the partner he needs.

My husband is the head of our household, to be sure. Because we feel this is the best way for us. It is not the best for everyone!