Almost two years ago, I watched the news (always depresses me or pisses me off or both…I don’t know why I ever attempt it), and I heard this phrase and the words never left me. They still ring in my ears, in fact.
“Think of his wife.”
I’ve been thinking a lot about this statement, meant to guilt a woman into refraining from criticizing a man’s character. The woman, the man whose character was in question, and the man who gave this ill-thought out, patronizing command are all public figures. The man who uttered this phrase wanted the woman bringing up ‘hurtful’ things about a man to have empathy for how her words…her TRUE words…would affect that man’s wife, in some show of feminine, sisterly solidarity, I guess. It just galled me. So now, 2 years later, I’m blogging about it.
“Think of his wife.”
Reasons this statement is ridiculous:
1. A truly honorable man doesn’t fear dissent and critique, because he is confident that his values are just and shared, particularly *by his wife.* He certainly doesn’t need his friends (who are really only defending the parts of him they see in themselves) to defend his character, particularly not using his wife’s supposed fragile sensibilities as a reason to spare him criticism.
2. I wonder if anyone has ever said, to guilt a man out of criticizing a woman in any way…not only her character, but her style and appearance…’Think of her husband.’ Because if it’s been said, I’ve never heard it. And I HAVE heard a LOT of critique of women, myself included, that includes character assassination, victim blaming, AND insulting of style and appearance. No one’s saying, ‘Think of her husband,’ to silence that critique though.
3. It’s not ‘criticism’ to state facts about events in a person’s life. For instance, if a man once drove, got pulled over, and blew over the legal alcohol limit, he is a drunk driver. These are facts. They aren’t critical opinions. There’s an old proverb that says, ‘If you don’t want anyone to know about it, don’t do it.’ If a man doesn’t want his wife to hear criticism of him, he should consistently behave in such a way that people are wary to criticize him. In other words, that man should ‘think of his wife,’ before he takes action that could lead to potential questioning of his character.