The XX Factor

GOP Debates: Bachmann Says Submitting to Her Husband Means Respecting Him

AMES, IA - AUGUST 11: Republican presidential candidate Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn. and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney are pictured during the Iowa GOP/Fox News Debate on August 11, 2011 at the CY Stephens Auditorium in Ames, Iowa. This is the first Republican presidential debate in the state ahead of Saturday’s all important Iowa Straw Poll. (Charlie Neibergall-Pool/Getty Images

In the past, Michele Bachmann has said that she decided to pursue tax law because her husband, Marcus, told her to. As our own Libby Copeland outlined in a Slate piece in June, here’s how Bachmann’s decision-making process went:

“Why should I go and do something like [become a tax lawyer]?” she recalled thinking. “But the Lord says, ‘Be submissive wives; you are to be submissive to your husbands.’”

At last night’s GOP debate, moderator Byron York asked Bachmann if she would take this submissive philosophy with her to the White House. Bachmann took this question in stride, according to the Washington Post, “sarcastically” thanking York and then saying:


“I’m in love with him. I’m so proud of him. And both he and I — what submission means to us, if that’s what your question is, it means respect,” she said. “I respect my husband. He’s a wonderful, godly man, and a great father. And he respects me as his wife. That’s how we operate our marriage.’’

Attorney and Democratic activist Christine Pelosi said last night in Politico that York’s question was sexist. I must disagree here. How is asking Bachmann to explain and contextualize her past statements sexist? To Bachmann’s credit, she gave a wonderfully polished response to a fair—though pointed—question. Though that answer was good, as Slate’s John Dickerson points out, Bachmann spent most of the debate sparring with fellow Minnesotan Tim Pawlenty, and Mitt Romney came off the best of the lot.