Independence, Submission and Subordination

The subject of the independent woman is quite boring to me. My mother always said that if you have to tell someone you’re independent, then you’re probably not. My mother was independent. She was strong, confident, intelligent and worked outside the home. When she came home she had no problem submitting to my father. Yeppers, I said the “s” word… submitting! (I think some women just called me some not nice names.) I know for some the thought of submitting causes them to cringe. And others question how can a woman be independent, yet submit to someone. Very good question.

A lot of people recite Ephesians 5:22-33 —22 

Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband...

but I don’t quite think they understand it. I freely admit that as a single woman I didn’t really understand.

I hear men say that they want a submissive woman. They want a woman who knows her place. One that doesn’t talk back and does as she’s told. One that recognizes him as the head of the household. I often questioned if they wanted someone who was submissive or someone who was subordinate. I was a bit leery of being submissive because what most described did not fit what the scripture said. I equated submission with being less than. This isn’t true. The definition of submission is to yield or surrender oneself  to the will or authority  of another. The definition of subordinate is someone that is considered inferior and subservient. Growing up I saw both.

Subordination is demeaning in a relationship. Actually seeing it in action can a make person want to remain single. independent womanMy cousin and his wife were my visual for the subordinate relationship. His idea of being the head of his household was to control everything his wife did and everything his children did. He led by intimidation and fear. On a daily basis he let her know that she was worthless and she should be grateful he married her. She worked every day and he made her check-in at certain times throughout the day. If she was late for a check-in he accused her of cheating and she was punished when she got home. Subordination is controlling, abusive and sometimes deadly. When she left him he was angry. In his mind, since he had authority over her, then he was justified in doing whatever he wanted to her. His reasoning was if he couldn’t have her, then no one would. He attempted to kill her. He missed her, but he shot and killed her sister who tried to protect her.

 Submission is willingly surrendering authority. That’s what my mother did to my father. My father was the head of the household and he set the rules. His rules were simple: 1) my mother was a queen and was treated as such, 2) my sister and I were queens in training and we would carry ourselves with dignity and respect , 3) he did what was necessary to take care of his family and 4) each and every day we would be shown we were loved in words and deeds. My mother treated my father with love and respect. She had his back and he never doubted it. My father was a strong, intelligent, courageous man who had no problem asking my mother for her thoughts on any problem. He consulted her because he valued her opinion. He always said my mother knew her place….. beside him.

**Personal Note**

By most standards, I am an independent woman. I take care of myself and my responsibilities. When the discussion of independence comes up I laugh because most assume I learned to be independent from my mother. I learned my independence from my father. Growing up he always told me I needed to learn how to do things for myself. He said the reason was simple… he wasn’t going to always be there to take care of me. He didn’t want me to be dependent on any man who didn’t have my best interest at heart. (Translation: Those who are willing to help as long as they get something in return.) I know what I want and I do go after it because that’s what I was taught. My father alsotaught me that the right man for me would help enhance and expand my goals and not curtail them.

While my father was teaching me independence my mother was teaching me interdependence. She taught me that it takes a strong woman to be independent, but it takes a stronger woman to depend on and trust her mate while,at the same time, letting him know he can depend on and trust her. My mother taught me to clothe my independence with gentleness and support when needed. She, like my father, taught me that not all men were deserving of my trust and support.

I have learned that truly independent women don’t go around shouting about their independence. They go about their business and taking care of their responsibilities without any fanfare. If a problem arises that they can’t handle they are strong enough to ask for help. In the midst of deciding if you can submit to someone get the definition clear of what you both expect from submission. Is it truly submission or subordination in disguise? Submission can bring unity and strength. Subordination negates your power. Know the difference. The choice is always yours.


Simply put she is finally enjoying life. Each day is a chance for a new discovery. She had a very sheltered existence and now daring to venture out into the world. She has taken off the limitations and trying new things. She is single by choice, but looking forward to her next relationship. Living in the Chesapeake, VA area for now, but open to the next move.

1 Comment

  1. larrydmiller2013

    April 1, 2015 at 12:57 am

    Loved the piece very strong words, very real stories.

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