Italian author Costanza Miriano’s best-selling book Cásate y sé sumisa would normally be a cause of celebration for feminists as another successful female author who has soared in popularity. However, the book’s title is translated “Get Married and Be Submissive” and advocates a life of married women of “loyal obedience, generosity and submission.” While soaring in popularity in both Italy and Spain, feminists have publicly destroyed the book in protests and some have called for Miriano to have the book banned as promoting violence against women.
The book was published by the Catholic Arbishopric of the southern city of Granada in November and became an instant best seller, primarily with women. It is currently number 15 on the Amazon bestseller list. It applies the teachings of Saint Paul to modern marriages.
It is certainly easy to see why many women would take offense as such passages as “We [women] like humiliation because it is for a greater good.” Then there is the observations that “It’s true, you’re not yet an experienced cook or a perfect housewife. What’s the problem if he tells you so? Tell him that he is right, that it’s true, that you will learn. On seeing your sweetness and your humility, your effort to change, this will also change him.”
This is not something that I plan for a stocking stuffer for my wife, who would likely use it to beat me into submission. However, I am astonished by the quick response of some feminists and liberals to go from opposition to suppression of the book. We have been following a trend in the West to curtail free speech in the name of tolerance or non-discrimination. For recent columns, click here and here and here.
France has been particularly aggressive in the rollback on free speech, including the recent move by Jewish students to attack free speech on the Internet. We have seen the same desire in the United States (here and here and here), though our first amendment continues to insulate much of our unpopular speech.
The effort to ban Miriano’s book is a continuation of this trend. What is so disturbing is that it seems more often heard today from the left in the name of non-discrimination or as a way of fighting “hate speech.” (here and here and here). Miriano is advocating a mix of religious and social values, which these women believe should be banned.
I certainly do not object to the protests over the book. However, when those protests seek action to ban or destroy a book, we need to seriously examine the direction of Western countries in banning speech and ideas. This is more than banning a book. It is an effort to ban the idea — or at least the publication of an idea — in the name of tolerance.
I am hopeful that most feminists would not support such action against a writer and would see the danger of book banning and burning. However, we will have to come to grips with the increasing conflict between free speech and anti-discrimination values. Obviously, I fall on the side of free speech in such disputes. We cannot achieve tolerance in society by showing intolerance for different views and values.
What do you think?