On the Sexual Superiority of Women

There was a bit of a ruckus online in the wake of Canon Press republishing George Gilder’s book Men and Marriage. It has taken me a minute to get up to speed on just what people are upset about. I’m suspicious that the flak is one part folks spending too much energy on Twitter, one part folks upset who don’t read broadly, and one part young men who don’t yet have a lot of time in the game yet being a little quick on the trigger. Regarding this last group, I should add that I am thirty-eight years old, which means I am young enough to be called a young man by the grayheads; and I am old enough to have seven children, teenagers, and tall tales about what an athlete I was back when I played college ball.

As a quick aside, I think I upset some within this group with a recent post in which I discouraged the excessive sharing of workout pics while calling your fellow gym mate a “king.” I am suspicious that there is some overlap between the group that was upset with me about that recent post, and the group that is upset with Canon for publishing George Gilder. I’m still getting my bearings. But I was told recently that there is a zealous young cohort that is even bringing back having nothing for breakfast but cigarettes and coffee. If my intel is solid, I will just say that I am impressed. And I encourage you to keep that kind of thing up as long as it keeps working for you. While I cannot swing the cigarettes for breakfast, and I can’t get on board with all the workout pictures, as far as I am aware, I’m with you on all of the important things. I am on team. 

I bring up this younger generation because that is where I think much of the heat is coming from on the Gilder book. This kerfluffle does not seem to be all smoke. There is something worth getting nailed down here. Before attempting to get it nailed down, I recommend the following three links to pieces from Scott Yenor, Doug Wilson, and Toby Sumpter. They are all quite good on the Gilder shakeup. 

Now for that item I think we need to nail down, namely the sexual superiority of women. Much of the concern arose from the following quote from Gilder: 

“The difference between the sexes gives the woman the superior position in most sexual encounters. The man may push and posture, but the woman must decide. He is driven; she must set the terms and conditions, goals and destinations of the journey. Her faculty of great natural restraint and selectivity makes the woman the sexual judge and executive, finally appraising the offerings of men, favoring one and rejecting another, and telling them what they must do to be saved or chosen. Managing the sexual nature of a healthy society, women impose the disciplines, make the choices, and summon the male efforts that support it.”

It is not surprising to me that a generation of men who are fed up with feminism balk at this quote. We have all had enough of Disney’s depiction of a numb-skull father being disrespected by his daughter, who lives under his yoke of bondage as she looks for liberty in all of the wrong places. But I do think that there may be something in the water if this quote has you so hot under the collar that you can’t see the truth in it. 

Put simply, woman is more glorious than man. Paul says, “Man is the image and glory of God, but the woman is the glory of the man” (1 Corinthians 11:7). We do not need biblical revelation for this point. Just look at the two creatures standing side by side. This is not a difficult observation. Man has his strength, woman her beauty.

“But,” you ask, “Gilder sure seems to put the lady in charge of sexual matters.” OK, I will bite. In the first place, I wouldn’t have said it just like Gilder did. In the second place, don’t take all the fun out of the world. The husband is the head of his wife, yes. And this certainly applies to sex. Wives submit themselves to their own husbands, and this certainly applies to sex. And the Bible also says that a wife has the right to control her husband’s body. That’s right, the right to control. And that power—to control your own body—is a power that you do not have: “The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife (1 Corinthians 7:4). So you have power over her body, and she does not have power over her own body. At the same time, she has power over your body, and you do not have power over your own body. This is the point where you are to laugh like a good Chestertonian and say something like, “The foolishness of God confounds the wisdom of this age.”

Here’s another thing. If a young man finds himself dumbstruck by the beauty of a lady, and in order to take her as a wife he must get the nod from her father (the way to go of course), then his interest in the fair lady does him all sorts of good. He really shapes up, which is a good thing for society. That basic principle is what Gilder is driving at in the quote above.

If I might throw a bit more salt into this soup that may now be at a rolling boil, Solomon tells us that the woman’s sexual glory is “more terrible than an army with banners” (Song of Solomon 6:4, 10). Habakkuk uses this same language to talk about the armies of the Chaldeans who were dreadful with “horses swifter than leopards” and “more fierce than evening wolves” (Habakkuk 1:8). Now, I’m not recommending that you tell your wife she is more fierce than an evening wolf. Use the Solomonic poetry at your own risk.

But I am saying that you should appreciate what Gilder is driving at: Women are sexually superior to us. That’s why many of us have gone to stealing them, and then we have fought wars over them. Read your Herodotus, man. That is why the angels once came down and tried to steal the women from us—and yes, that is another story to be told at another time. 

For now, the sexual superiority of women is why, when men act as they ought, they go to war to protect women and the children that crop up in their wombs. I have taught the principle of male leadership many times. Men who understand that God simply wired a patriarchal world are not thrown off by acknowledging the ways in which women are superior. In fact, acknowledging that very thing can motivate many men to marry one of these creatures and become her head. We need to see more of that kind of thing so go ahead and go get a copy of Gilder’s book: Men and Marriage at dadsareback.com.