Women who are in relationships with men: Have you ever been told it’s your responsibility to make your man feel like a man? That no matter how successful or powerful you become, it’s your job to make sure your man never feels intimidated by you, because men need to be the leaders of the household?

Men have to feel like the heads of the household. They have to feel like men.

A recent Brutal Fruit campaign that’s supposed to be “celebrating and acknowledging the achievements of women” decided to focus instead on lecturing women about how we need to look after the egos of our men. Needless to say, the campaign backfired pretty horribly, but as I watched the awful 11 minute video, I was reminded strongly of my early twenties, when it was decided I was old enough to learn from the ladies of the community (represented here by the Woman’s Bible Club from our local church), how to be a wife.

As these old hens clucked away, sharing recipes and gossip and advice, they also explained to me how things worked. Men have to feel like the heads of the household. They have to feel like men. A good wife remembers she has one extra child, her husband, and that his emotional needs come before even the emotional needs of the actual children. A good wife never criticizes, demands, or complains, but rather gently makes suggestions, using a combination of diplomacy and psychology to deal with her husband, always being careful never to harm the most precious and delicate object in the household: his ego.

I realised these women didn’t respect their husbands at all.

To these women, I realised, men are not adults who can handle criticism or real challenges. They’re children who have to be manipulated and bribed and told constantly how good and wonderful and powerful they are. They would tell these men they’re the heads of the home, and let them make all the decisions, and even if the decision was bad or the wife had more knowledge to deal with the decision, they’d let the men think that the decision they’d made was absolutely perfect.

It was so manipulative. It was so condescending. I realised these women didn’t respect their husbands at all.

Really, if it’s a woman’s job to make a man feel like a man, how fragile is his masculinity in the first place? If we believe women need to constantly pretend to be lesser than we are in order not to intimidate men, how little do we think of men? Do we really view them as so insecure and delicate they can’t handle being challenged or questioned? Do we actually believe men are so incapable of shining, that we have to dim our own lights around them so that they don’t feel so bad?