Husband & Wife Articles


Women Need Men

What excessive feminism gets wrong

By Carrie Gress

You’ve probably heard the feminist assertion that “a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle.” Sadly, far too many women have bought into this notion, as even a short time watching television will confirm. Women are portrayed as the wise sages, while men are clueless, until they finally let a woman take charge.

What this narrative has glossed over, however, is the reality that women aren’t reporting any improvement in their lives since downplaying the important role of men in their lives. In fact, as I report in my book Ultimate Makeover: The Transforming Power of Motherhood, there are few signs that women in general are very happy. Obesity, depression, substance abuse and suicide rates are much higher than they were when men and women understood their complementary roles within a family.

Men’s important role in the lives of women starts very early. Of course, biologically, we all know no human life could exist without a man’s contribution, but it certainly does not stop there. As the baby develops in the womb, embryology shows, the cells that contribute to the baby’s protection are from the sperm, while the nurturing cells originate from the egg. And after birth, as pediatrician Dr. Meg Meeker makes clear in her book Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters, the father significantly influences his daughter’s life, for good or ill. Daughters who do not receive the kind of love and attention they need from a father often struggle with a “father wound,” remaining unsure of themselves in tangible ways.

While many people view it as terribly old-fashioned to have a father walk his daughter down the aisle to be handed off to her husband, this act underlines something important about the feminine heart. The soul of a woman matures and is able to take flight, or truly love others in her own unique way, when she has the keen awareness that she is loved, first by her father and then by her husband. The loving union she has with these men, one often a precursor to the next (for better or worse), is very important when it comes to her own ability to love.

Without a deep understanding of her own lovable-ness, a woman remains unsettled, continuously trying to find love but, far too often, in all the wrong places. Because of the nature of sin and brokenness, it is at this stage that a woman is most vulnerable to abuse and manipulation.

Conversely, when a woman is secure in the love she receives from a father (or a surrogate), she is free to become the woman God has created her to be and to give of herself selflessly to others. Simply put, women thrive when they are confident in the love of their fathers and husbands. Christianity, in its wisdom, forbids polygamy. It does so for many reasons, among them the truth that women flourish when they are singled out and uniquely loved by their husbands.

When a woman knows she is loved, she is more able to give up the self-scrutiny of her own unhappiness, and let her peacefulness shine through. I recently read about a man who was on the verge of engagement, but he had cold feet. The cold feet were complicated by his attraction to a married mother. The attraction was puzzling to him, particularly when looking at these women in earthly terms – his girlfriend was stunning and accomplished, while the married woman was not very attractive, overweight, and not remotely ambitious. The young man took his troubles to a wise priest who was able to help him to see that he was attracted to this mother because she was settled and secure in her vocation. She was a woman who knew the love of her husband. But the priest also helped the troubled young man see that this was what their union would bring to his girlfriend through the love he would pour out for her.

The one thing the feminist fish analogy gets right is that many women are in over their heads in deep water. We are awash with secular feminism’s excesses, which pour out of schools, advertisements, magazines, television shows and literature. So it will take some time for us to regain our footing. Men, this means that you will have to be very patient with us, pray and fast for us, and will need to be there with a strong presence, even when we foolishly tell you we don’t need you. With your patient love, and God’s grace, we will figure it out together.

Carrie Gress holds a doctorate from The Catholic University of America and is a philosophy professor at Pontifex University. She is the author of Nudging Conversions: A Practical Guide to Bringing Those You Love Back to the Church, and Ultimate Makeover: The Transforming Power of Motherhood. A homeschooling mother of four, she and her husband, Joseph, live in Virginia. Her website is