Gabrielle Reece, former volleyball luminary and wife of surf Olympian Laird “Anatomically Correct” Hamilton, appeared on the Today show on Friday to promote her new book and talk about the virtues of being a “submissive” spouse, because the best way to cultivate a healthy, modern relationship is to return to the timeworn traditions that turned married women into June Cleaver automatons.
Laird Hamilton, for anyone who didn’t get stoned and go see Riding Giants in IMAX, is a big wave surfer and former model. A lot of people within the surfing community might describe Hamilton as “aggressive,” which, when you’re in a lineup with your surfing broskies, is code for “dickheaded.” That’s not to say Laird Hamilton’s all-around dickheadedness has any bearing on what Gabrielle Reece thinks about modern marriage dynamics, but it might help clarify where she’s coming from in passages like this from her book, My Foot Is Too Big for the Glass Slipper:
I think the idea of living with a partner is ‘How can I make their life better?' So if I’m the woman and he’s the man, then yes, that’s the dynamic. I’m willing and I choose to serve my family and my husband because it creates a dynamic where he is then in fact acting more like a man and masculine and treating me the way I want to be treated.
In other words, Laird’s the man, and being a man, by Reece’s figuring, includes being submitted to, because “to truly be feminine means being soft, receptive, and –- look out, here it comes –- submissive.”
Reece further explained that her brand of submissiveness is not a sign of weakness, and while we can deconstruct the power dynamics of an assertive/submissive relationship, Reece splits those roles along gender lines without considering, perhaps, that, in a bizarro universe where down is up and up is down, she would be the assertive partner in her marriage and Laird Hamilton would be the submissive partner appearing on Today to talk about his new book and tell everyone how submitting to his wife is actually a sign of his masculinity.
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