Wednesday, August 15, 2007

A Little Respect

What you may not realize is that Aretha Franklin's number one hit song, R.E.S.P.E.C.T., is a cover of a song written by Otis Redding in 1965. Despite the song's popularity and common affiliation with the feminist movement, it was originally written as a song about a man's desire for respect.

"What you want
Honey you've got it
And what you need
Baby you've got it

All I'm asking

Is for a little respect
when I come home" --Otis Redding


Sounds simple enough.

But...In my experience, women tend to place more value on love. We ask, "do you love me?" We spend hours, days, years figuring out ways to be loved or to be loved more. But how much time do we spend figuring out ways to increase the amount of respect we have? Not nearly as much as men.

How does a woman show her man respect?

Remember the Taming of the Shrew? Petruchio insisted on a little respect. Kate had to learn how to give it. The ensuing relationship was built on mutual contribution: Kate learned to respect him, Petruchio learned to love her.

Some interpretations of the play, I'm certain, portray her as a docile, domineered wife. However, in an earlier post on the Shrew, I suggested Kate might show some qualities of a biblically submissive wife. A simple reading of the play may not give that interpretation, but plays are meant to be seen, not read! The Ashland production this year, played to the interpretation that Kate learned to honor her husband, even respect him.

The preface, presented to add depth to the hearing of the play, even suggested Shakespeare's England may have known a few things about biblical submission. The point is: Kate did not roll over and play the doormat and is not to be mistaken for Ibsen's Nora Helmer.*

Why mention Kate again? Because she learned a few things about speaking to her husband and to others about her husband.

Just like Kate, most women I know have a way with words. Most importantly, we know how to cut with words, but that same ability allows us to build up with words. Perhaps the first step in showing our husbands respect is watching our words--how we speak to him, about him, and for him.

"She opens her mouth with wisdom, and loving instruction
is on her tongue."
--Proverbs 31:26

For more information about the issues of love and respect check out the book by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs called Love & Respect.

*Nora Helmer is the protagonist of Henrik Ibsen's play
A Doll's House. In Ibsen's play, Nora is the quintessential oppressed wife. She was a possession of her husband, not his partner. The marriage relationship served to dehumanize her and rob her of her own identity.

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