Former Volleyball Star Gabrielle Reece Ignites Controversy With Marriage Advice: Being ‘Submissive’ Is a Sign of Strength

Gabrielle Reece and Laird Hamilton attend ‘The Wave’ book launch party at The Jane Hotel on September 14, 2010 in New York City. (Photo: Getty Images)

Gabrielle Reece, the former volleyball star and model who filed for divorce less than five years after tying the knot to surfer husband Laird Hamilton roughly 17 years ago, recently wrote a book explaining how she got her marriage back on track.

The key? In “My Foot Is Too Big for the Glass Slipper,” Reece credits an “old fashioned dynamic” and abiding by more traditional gender roles — and has created a firestorm in the process.

“To truly be feminine means being soft, receptive, and –- look out, here it comes –- submissive,” she wrote.

Reece elaborated for “Today’s” Natalie Morales:

“I think the idea of living with a partner is ‘How can I make their life better?’  So if I’m the woman and he’s the man, then yes, that’s the dynamic.  I’m willing and I choose to serve my family and my husband, because it creates a dynamic where he is then in fact acting more like a man and masculine, and treating me the way I want to be treated.  Which is — I’d like to be cherished, and I’d like someone to look after me in that role.”

But, perhaps anticipating the coming controversy, she added: “I think because women have the ability to set the tone, that the ultimate strength and showing real power…is creating that environment.  I think it’s a sign of strength.’’

Watch Reece defend her position on NBC News with Kate Snow:

Thousands of commenters soon weighed in, many of them critically.  One Huffington Post reader attacked Reece, the state of her marriage, and her parenting skills:

She may have saved her marriage, but she looks miserable. What concessions did hubby make? ZERO. Is this a good role model for her daughters? NEVER. Why is saving her too-quick marriage more important than her own self-esteem and her daughters? I don’t think a marriage like this will last after the girls go to college.

The website Jezebel criticized Reece’s decision to divide the “power dynamics” along “gender lines” without “considering, perhaps, that, in a bizarro universe where down is up and up is down, she would be the assertive partner in her marriage and Laird Hamilton would be the submissive partner…”

But Reece said to Snow: “If you want to have that dynamic where your guy isn’t like, your chick — guess what?  You better give him some love.”

Do you think Reece’s comments were controversial?  Misguided?  Or good advice?