I had heard these verses read in praise of a worthy woman many times. And, never, had I sensed any underlying threat in them. Wouldn't any woman want to be like this--working with her hands, responsible for getting the food to her family--not just shopping for it, but planting it, too. She works day and night. She makes the clothes for her family--nice clothes, and she makes clothes to sell, too. Her whole family praises her. Everybody does.
Then someone pointed out to be the underlying danger in these verses. Must a woman be a wife to be worthy? Must a wife work from dawn until past dark to be worthy? Can her husband be proud of her if she isn't busy all the time.
She is praised for her house work and also for her work outside of the house. Yet, none of these worthy attributes she has shown has deemed her fit to take a seat among the elders in the gate.