Here is my excited, chaotic, glowing review of Stephanie Gordon's book, "Ask Your Husband: A Wife's Guide to True Femininity" (the second edition.) You can find this book here.
This one took me awhile to read, mainly because there was so much I wanted to soak up - so much wisdom !! I used up so many sticky notes while reading this book... and I probably hurt my neck nodding in agreement to most of the authors quips and one-liners.
I've been wanting to read this book for awhile now (ever since Tim began talking about it on his YouTube channel "Rules for Retrogrades") and, even though I consider myself an anti-feminist, and was born and raised in a pretty conservative household, this book still had so much wisdom and so many gems that I had never heard of! I consider this book a goldmine honestly. If I ever get married (God willing) and homeschool my own children, I think that this book would be a great schoolbook for my girls! Actually, Catholic homeschool curriculums, like Seton Home Study, should totally pick this up as a schoolbook! And then they should pick up Tim's book, The Case for Patriarchy (which I am reading next!) as a schoolbook for the boys! Seriously.
I can't say that some things in this book didn't make me squirm- its never easy to be faced with your own personal vices and bad habits that need to be confronted - but I can't tell you how refreshing it was to read something that didn't just try to coddle me and "my feelings" while telling me nothing of value in the end. I've read so many books by well-meaning Catholic women that, in the end, just fall flat for me because its written in such a way that they don't want to offend, and they end up saying nothing at all except "Jesus loves you!". I don't know... maybe it's just me. I want to know what the Church teaches concerning women! I don't want to be "shielded" from what others may think may "offend" me. Just the fact that so many Catholics do this is, in itself, offensive.
Let me share with you some of my favorite quotes from the book:
1. (The) "shock" at the simple description of Christian marriage tells the true narrative of what feminism has done to the popular view of men and women. (page 4)
2. We live in a world with "thin skins and strong stomachs." as my husband likes to say. As such, we have strong stomachs for anything that brings us illicit pleasure and thin skins for anything that gives us offense. (page 76)
3. If the popular culture hates anything in this world more than a Christian man enjoying his headship over a grateful, happy, dutiful, and obedient wife, let me know. Conversely, if the left loves anything more than the universal abidance of their preferences (un-biological pronouns, various sexual debaucheries, murder of the innocent, ect.), let me know. (page 173)
4. The first mark of a happy home is not organically, hand-washed laundering but rather the close union of its head and its heart. (page 198)
5. Sisters in Christ can laugh, disagree, cry, debate, and empathize all in one afternoon gathering and emerge better friends for it. (page 267)
Oh gosh, I could quote this entire book. (On the majority of the pages I have more than one sticky note!!) But on to my favorite things about this book, because I am too lazy to write a coherent, professional review.
What I Loved
* Not only is "Mrs. Gordon" 's writing easy to read and follow, it felt like a wise, old sister was giving me advice that I needed (much like one of my favorite youtubers, "Mrs. Midwest.") It was to the point, relatable, funny at times, and, most importantly, rooted in Church Teaching. I loved how I felt I could easily get along with the author if we met at a pot luck after Sunday Mass. It was comforting to read such, at times hard to heard, advice and Catholic truth from someone like that. There aren't enough Catholic women out there who not only desire to know the whole Truth of what the Church teaches, but also have a good sense of humor and enjoy a good belly laugh!
* The Chapter "Inerrant Catholic Teaching versus Working Wives" was very eye opening! I had done quite a bit of my own research into Papal letters and encyclicals for my own book, but I had never heard of some of these! What a goldmine! The section that quoted from Pope St. John Paul II was especially interesting. It's funny how we get so used to a narrative that repeats certain quotes from certain saints and Popes, that when we actually go back and read the saints writing in its entirety that it doesn't even go along with the narrative in the first place. Talk about a plot twist.
I also really appreciated how the author went down a list of Popes, as well, including "Post Vatican II" Popes, showing that these teachings didn't suddenly become null after Vatican II. It's really quite mind-blowing when you read the actual documents from the Church and it is actually the total opposite of what the majority of Church members have been "teaching". But I suppose it's like that for most of Catholic Teaching. Bottom line - read the official Church Documents, writings of the Fathers and Doctors of the Church, and Papal encyclicals!! Because it seems that many prominent Catholics out there haven't, and are instead, preaching what the world says is true and not what the Church says is true.
* "The Leader Who Won't Lead" chapter is so helpful. It answered many of my own questions on the issue. The author noted, truthfully, that the portrayal of the Christian husband by the godless left is pretty far from reality; Christian men are hardly bullying, male-chauvinists. As the section is titled, the "Most Common Situation" is "No Alpha in Your Beta Soup." She explains that "many modern men are followers and not leaders." This, I have certainly noticed everywhere, and it grieves me. Oh to see the day when Christian men rise up and take their responsibilities! And, in turn, Christian women embrace their own vocations as well!
* The section where the author quotes St. Josemaria Escriva is so, so good! It is not only helpful, but St. Josemaria wrote with such a clarity, and such an understanding of the daily struggles, that his advice is stellar.
* I could probably just save a lot of time and just say that I loved the whole book...
Complaints Concerning This Book
I've read some angry reviews and comments concerning this book, and now that I've finally read it myself, I'd like to counter some of them. I'm not saying these women didn't read the book but... their comments are literally the opposite of what I found in the book.
1. "'Mrs Gordon' is a hypocrite because she's writing a book when she says women shouldn't be working outside the home."
Really though, Mrs. Gordon dedicates an entire chapter on this very question and explains it fully. Spoiler alert: She's not a hypocrite. Please read the book, not just the blurb.
2. "This book totally goes against Church Teaching and the Bible!"
Goodness. I really don't know where this comes from to be honest. Not only is there an entire chapter (Chapter 5: Inerrant Church Teaching versus Working Wives) where the author dives deep into literal Church teaching, which not only supports the claims that the author makes in this book, but it seems to use even "harsher" tones than the author herself in some instances. And concerning the Bible? The author quotes from the Bible throughout the book, especially in the second Chapter, and pages 105 - 121 which is jam packed with scripture that supports the author. And again, the reader is given the impression that this book is instead writing about Church Teaching (which of course includes the Bible), instead of Church Teaching coming in and supporting the views of the author. If that makes sense?
3. "The author of this book promotes wife-beatings / abusive marriages."
Yeah, not really sure where they got this one... the whole book (especially Chapter 3, that speaks on how husband and wife should be best friends) promotes a Christian marriage. Last I checked, it was Christianity that began changing how the pagan world viewed women in marriage.
Not only does the author clearly show marriage as one of mutual love, respect, deep friendship, and holiness but she includes a whole section "Less Common and More Important: Submission When There Is Abuse, Neglect, or Addiction" starting on page 245, where she says, "The wife may, according to Church Teaching, protect her soul and body in instances where the husband is putting either in grave danger." (page 246) The whole section is well worth the read.
4. "The author annoyingly shows off her perfect marriage and expects all of us to live as she does"
Didn't see any of this, to be honest. The author clearly explains Church Teaching on the topic of marriage, women, submission, ect, and then gives examples of how she tries to put the Church's directives into practice in her own marriage, while stating "(here) is my unfashionable 'cutting-corners-laundry-list.' I'm sure many of you have developed lists similar to mine. Like many of you, over time I've added incrementally an item or two to my list -- usually after a new child is born." It was a helpful example of how she tries to put her husband and children first. An example. Not a dogma-that-every-wife-must-follow. Again, back to one of the quotes I shared above, "The first mark of a happy home is not organically, hand-washed laundering but rather the close union of its head and its heart. (page 198)" Close union? That doesn't sound abusive to me. The only thing the author might be "guilty" of is working hard at her own marriage and *gasp* reaping the good fruits.
This book is one that every Christian woman should read. It isn't fluff. It explains Church Teaching in an honest, down-to-earth way. And if women are truly getting angry about this book, then they are either confused as to what the Church really teaches on the matter or they simply haven't read the book in its entirety. It makes me sad that so many women have been raised in such feminized homes, that the idea of a rightly-ordered household, with the husband as leader and protector is something that makes then angry. The peace that comes from this rightly-ordered household is something that most women have never experienced and therefore, they seem to think its something they must rebel against. But let us take care. Let us open our wounded, feminized hearts to the Teaching of the Catholic Church. Pray about it, and then read this book!