We Are Not Born Submissive: How Patriarchy Shapes Women’s Lives

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2022.06.07 : View this Review Online | View Recent NDPR Reviews

Manon Garcia, We Are Not Born Submissive: How Patriarchy Shapes Women’s Lives, Princeton University Press, 2021, 234pp., $22.95 (pbk), ISBN 9780691223209.

Reviewed by Ellie Anderson, Pomona College

Five years after the climax of #metoo, a surprising development is afoot: women’s submission is trending. The tradwife movement in Britain and the Christian US celebrates housewives submitting to their husbands “like it’s 1959,” as blogger Alena Kate Pettitt puts it. In a more ironic vein, TikTok videos about smooth-brained bimbo feminism encourage young women to give in to the objectification that society inevitably places on them. In such a landscape, the question arises: Why do so many women consent to their own submission? This is precisely the question guiding Manon Garcia’s book. Garcia’s answer is that femininity is itself structured as submissive, and hence women take pleasure in submission because it appears to be the best of their limited options.

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