Byrne: on Bachmann

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Byrne and Duncan, on the left. He's definitely wearing the pants...

Facebook reminded me that a year ago I was wondering what “Eat, Pray, Love” would have been like if it starred Byrne Miller. Speaking of praying and love, this week I’ve been wondering what Byrne would make of Michele Bachmann.

It happens often. I get worked up about an issue and long for the days when I could have talked it out over a bottle of Merlot on Byrne Miller’s porch. My feminist warning flag went up when reporters starting asking the only female candidate if she’d be submissive to her husband as president. I was relieved not to have to defend Bachmann when I learned that the whole thing started back in 2006 when she said she only got her degree because her husband told her to. I looked up the interview. Here’s what she said then: “The Lord says, ‘Be submissive, wives. You are to be submissive to your husbands.’” Here’s what she says now: “”What submission means to us, if that’s what your question is…it means respect.”

First, on the definition of submission. “Look it up,” Byrne-the-intellect would have told Bachmann. “The meaning is quite distinct from ‘respect.’”

Byrne would have no problem with championing submission – or domination, role-playing, or dressing up in French maid’s outfits. Whatever consenting adults choose to call sex – Byrne supported it. Celebrated it. Remember – this was the woman who brought Mark Dendy’s half-naked female dancers to the Marine Corps Air Station’s stage even though it almost cost the Byrne Miller Dance Theater its city arts grant.

Bachmann’s back-pedaling on the controversy she herself created is what would have raised the famously arched eyebrows of Byrne Miller. Hypocrisy got under her skin. You don’t pander to one audience – in Bachmann’s case religious conservatives who take the Bible’s gender roles for women literally – then change your tune when talking to a larger audience at the Iowa straw poll.

I suspect that Byrne wouldn’t have expected better from a candidate as empty as Bachmann. Her sharpest rebuke would have been to the journalists. She adored reporters, me included. But they missed the mark on this one. You can sense the squeamishness among the national press corps. They love a sex scandal, just not serious questions about sex. Especially not questions concerning the only female GOP candidate, with a “pray away the gay” husband calling the shots from a household without a dictionary.