Dr. Val Farmer
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Rural Mental Health & Family Relationships

Readers Respond To Dr. Farmer's Column On Difficult Women

March 14, 2005

Demeaning and condescending. "Speaking as a farm wife I am greatly offended by your article. I have been married to a farmer for twenty years and I only reply to this article by saying it takes two. Your article is demeaning and very condescending to the women who go to work every day so that their husbands can play in the dirt with daddy.

"The husband has no responsibility in the marriage? The in-laws that try to cause problems should be considered in your little schematic, too. If you were the last therapist on earth I wouldn't send my pit bull to you."

Sexist, unduly critical. "We at our paper appreciate the Val Farmer column. I think the content is usually very good and helpful to farm families. This is why we print it.

"I did not find the column ‘Eight ways women can make a farmer miserable’ in that category. We did print the column, but I found it sexist, and unduly critical toward farm women.

"It smacked of the notion that the "little woman" should bend over backwards to please everyone in her life, make sure she had meals on the table, and be at the beck and call of those in her life more important than her. I would guess that was not your intent, still, that is how you came across.

"In the early years of my marriage I was a farm wife. I knew nothing at 21, having been raised in a city. I do understand what you were trying to say in this column. I think it woefully missed the point, instead coming across as superior, arrogant and condemning. You seemed quite caustic toward the fairer sex in this write-up.

"I would hope, Dr. Farmer, you will write your next column titled, ‘10 ways a man can make a farm wife miserable’ to give equality to your normally very wonderful addition to our paper."

Sexist, chauvinsitic, out of touch. "We are hearing rumblings of discontent with Val's column we ran Saturday - 8 ways a woman can make a farmer miserable. We're hearing things like sexist, chauvinistic, out-dated, out of touch, offensive. I'm expecting a few letters to the editor.

"Do you think Val is planning a partner column on "ways a farmer can make a woman miserable" to balance the roster?

"I figure that while some folks were upset, it must have come from what Val's seen in his practice and is applicable to many. One of those offended said, ‘I can see some point in the family biz/in-law advice, but for the most part it sounded like ‘shut up and don’t have an opinion.’"

Farm consultant responds. "I have worked with ranchers and farmers for my entire professional career and have a been an Iowa county director for five years. I was surprised that the ‘eight ways women make farmers miserable’ was not also applied to the males in the marriage. I work with female farmers, farm wives, and male farmers. These "eight ways" are expressed by all three groups.

"The female farmers and farm wives I interact with are trying their best to make a go of it. Many farm wives have told me that they feel shut out from the business side and are treated in a condescending manner. They all work full-time off the farm and bring home much-needed capital and insurance.

"I asked one of the most highly regarded farmers in Page County what was the secret to a successful farmer, and he replied, ‘Marry a professional woman with benefits.’

"Farm wives have also expressed to me that they wished their husbands would get a job in winter. To these women, their husbands are underemployed several months out of the year. With the extra time, their husbands start criticizing them, make even more demands on the 40-hour-a-week-employed spouse, and do none of the domestic chores.

"Perhaps in your next article, you can list ‘Eight ways to strengthen the business partnership.’"

Just what they needed. A farmer's wife called to say that the article was just what they needed because they were having so much trouble from her daughter-in-law. It looked like they were going to have to either find some way to buy out the son or lose the farm!

I saw a bit of myself in it. "I just read your article in our paper. I saw a bit of myself in it, I'm not a farmer's wife and none of my friends are either, but I noticed myself and my friends in this article and I will be forwarding links to it to those friends I saw in it too. I have a friend right now who's divorcing her husband, and the only reason I can see for her to be doing so is that he just simply did not make enough money.

"So, I wanted to thank you for shining a light for me on to the parts of me that I didn’t even realize what I was doing. I realize that it is NOT my husband’s fault that we live in a rural area and I personally I rather like it, but the problem is that is that we all need to do, particularly in winter time, so we can keep from getting fat and resentful."