conservative anti-feminism and the Godly women

This is a post that long languished on hold in Pivot. I never felt like it was finished, and loathed the idea of putting something so interestingly complex but largely unexplored out there without any way for people to add to it. I kept going back, bringing it up in casual conversation. And tonight while poking through old archives to make sure I got everything, there it was. Long, now, but still worth checking out. I think.


I stumbled this week onto a small cache of modern, religious, conservative, woman… activists. They can’t be called feminists–it’s a term they reject soundly–but they’re decidedly FOR a woman’s honor and importance in the world…. as a delicate, prim, proper, Victorian biblically-strict homemaking idealized… doormat.

A few of the sites include:

I read and read, mouth agape. I showed them to a friend–also a 30ish, single, progressively-minded adult woman–and she too was sickly horrified… yet fascinated. It’s so incredibly far from any sort of life I would desire. Or any sort of spiritual faith I can muster. This is the capital-c Conservative part of George W’s base. And they scare me. They scare me because they don’t just take on this life for themselves. They raise their (many, many) children this way, and support changing the country’s social, political, moral and spiritual rules. They believe everyone should be living this way. Biblically. For the betterment of mankind.

A few of their salient points (and a good deal of commentary on how I feel about them, intended or not):

  1. The role of the woman is to support her family and husband, as the church supports God. She is to submit to her father until she is married, then transfer her obedience to her husband.

    “Man needed someone to see how much he could lift and to say “My you are strong”. But there was no one, Maybe he took a lap around the garden and there was no one to say..”Wow, you are the fastest runner I know!” God made woman to sit on the sidelines and cheer when a man succeeds. God made a woman to sit in the audience while her husband preaches and say. “That’s the best preacher in the world”. That is why God made woman. He made her to be man’s help meet.”

    — Mom of 9’s Place

    Yipes. First of all this screams “Hey, guy who likes to control women. Over here!” Nothing like an entire set-up where sexual, physical, and mental access is guaranteed by religious law. But forcing yourself on someone is wrong no matter what the angle, and the majority of husbands and fathers aren’t nutjobs who want to hurt their spouse or child. So say you have a good apple.

    Even then I can’t imagine my father (or any good father) wanting–or enjoying–their child’s constant fealty. Dad has no desire to pick my suitors (though I’m sure my mom would like veto power). My parents consider the task of parenting to be the production of stable, responsible, able adults. I don’t understand how a woman can become an adult at all–ever–if she is always the property (mind and body) of another person.

    Their take seems to infantalize women, view them as helpless and weak, as though they are untrustworthy or feeble-minded. They see women as of one mind only, and that mind is focused on helpful housekeeping, child-rearing. Domestic arts.

    I have no beef with housewifery–homemaking is a perfectly valid choice. People make lots of not-career-oriented choices like philanthropy, spiritual devotion, social or volunteer work, artistic expression, protest, world-wandering, etc. There are lots of things people can do with their lives that
    aren’t typical and don’t garner a paycheck. And that’s cool. If that’s what that person wants to do.

    And it’s ok if that’s what these women want to do. But many seem to believe that this is the natural role for women, and that all of us should stop trying to earn our living 9-5, getting education beyond high school, or attaining any positions of leadership in the community. And that’s not ok. SO not ok.

  2. Submission is a key term. Submission is explained as allowing the father/husband final say in all decisions. This does not mean there is no discussion, simply that if there is disagreement about the decision at hand, the wife/daughter should peacefully and completely accept the father/husband’s opinion.

    “Let me just say here that we should be setting an example that says to our girls…I am in the will of God…show them how to spoil their dad, so one day it will come natural to be the help meet that God intends them to be. Now I suppose that there are some young ladies out there that are wondering how all this should concern them now. Well girls, there is a father in your home, a boss at work, a preacher who needs your prayers, your obedience, start now where God has you and then when your TIME comes, the natural thing will be to do that which God has ordained.”

    — Mom of 9’s Place

    The thing that puzzles me most about this facet of modest Christian living is that, to a one, the women insist that they do not lose any ground by submitting in this manner. They profess that their husbands respect and allow for their choices, but at the same time confess that submitting without petty behavior (silent treatment, gruffness, or obvious disdain for a unpopular decision) is diffifult. Which says to me that they submit to unpopular decisions often enough that it rankles.

    Also, I would never in a million years be able to do this. I’m a Leo.

  3. Feminism is wrong-headed. Women are designed, by God, to bear children and tend the hearth. Women’s involvement in politics, business, or education should be severely limited. Before all else outside the home, she must be her best as a homemaker, helpmeet, and mother.

    “Of course there isn’t a “women’s libber alive that sees any truth in what I’m trying to say here. Do you know what these women’s libbers are? They are a group of confused women trying to find happiness and failing because they are searching outside of God’s Word and God’s plan. They say, “I have my rights too”. No they don’t-not yet! A woman does not have any right in this world until she’s done this.”

    — Mom of 9’s Place

    Generally, these women seem to wish to revert all of the advances in women’s rights, including sufferage. Because voting is a decision, and all decision-making power resides in men. If your husband wishes you to vote, you should ask him who to vote for.

    Wow. How would that change the American landscape? Half the citizens would go back to being non-citizens, to being slaves. A huge chunk of the workforce would simply disappear. Have these zealots considered who would be their teachers, their nannies, their maids? With the flood of jobs that women are in suddenly coming open, who will be the janitors and the fry cooks and the muckers of things — the jobs at the bottom rungs that noone wants?

    And what happens to the large number of unwed moms? The divorcee first wives? Half the marriages in the US fall apart. How do we plan to change that fact? Simply not allow divorce? Do we understand what will happen to the domestic abuse rate? Adultry, too, will become awful popular.

    Abortion is considered murder, so obviously they seek to overturn Roe. Equal rights decisions that came about through litigation, such as Title IX, women’s admission to the Citidel and other male institutions, etc., are also deemed unnecessary.

    They seem to believe that feminism is, in fact, a way of competing with men. A competition we should not engage in because, in the Bible, God made us *of* man and to serve as a helpmeet to man, not to be equal to him.

    I’m not sure how to argue with that. A very strict reading of the KJV can be interpreted to support these things. The Bible is full of parables and layered prophecies and holy laws. Scholars have debated for centuries its finer points. And faith is a funny thing–it is what it is, unchanging. And I don’t begrudge them their particular faith. I just can’t accept that theirs should also become mine.

    It’s the role of democracy to protect the minority from the tyranny of the majority. They’re protected–allowed to homeschool, to worship, to exist in the world and not of the world. It gives me pause when I wonder if they would do the same for me? By what I’ve read, obviously not.

  4. Married couples will have as many children as God provides. Children should be kept close at hand—home-schooled, sheltered from worldly influences. Children will only embark on extra-familial adult relationships with the approval and observation of their parents. Marriages will be arranged or, at the least, approved.

    Yipes. The idea of raising children the way my parents did (where they eventually leave, even if they aren’t sold off to a husband) doesn’t particularly interest me. The idea of having an unending stream of children in my home 24×7 until they marry… makes me want to seal off my uterus with concrete.

    And, wow, what a limited way to see the world. How would you ever learn anything? People have the greatest stories, the greatest gifts to give you. Why run away from those? And how would I ever pay for dozens of children? Health insurance alone would be astronomical.

  5. There are two camps on courtship. One camp says courtship should be allowed to occur, albeit closely supervised. (In this world, couples will be kissing for the first time at “I do,” so premarital sex isn’t even an option.) Many seem to suggest that unrelated children of the opposite sex will only touch after marriage.

    The other says that courtship opens the child up to heartbreak (falling in love with the risk of it not working out) and that arranged marriages with little prior contact are the solution. That way, there is no opportunity for heartbreak or extramarital feelings, or for a Godly child to become infatuated with someone inappropriate.

    One can’t really say (with a 50% divorce rate) that there’s a lot of room to talk, but arranged marriage just seems a step backwards. I know lots of other societies have or have had this practice, and it does create lasting marriages, but at what price? The price is paid almost entirely by women and it’s generally their autonomy. They can’t leave bad providers, they can’t leave abusers or cheaters. And let’s face it — statistics definitely suggest men do the majority of the beatin’ and cheatin’. So why are they in charge again?

  6. The stay-at-home mother is superior to the working mother.

    There are a lot of things that go into making someone a good or a bad mother. Attendance isn’t aptitude.

    The pressure these women are under must be tremendous. Can you imagine being responsible for a dozen children? Even a half-dozen gives me the shakes. And not just responsible for the basic things, but for their complete education, their religious training, their socialization?

    And, really, we shouldn’t even start with the growth of the children, but with their birth. Pregnancy and labor is no simple feat. It is natural, yes, but not without risk, pain, and trauma. Gestation is exhausting. Combine the fact that the husband is final arbiter of everything, including sexual access, with the complete rejection of all forms of birth control, and a fertile woman can be pregnant every single year. How does her body rest, recuperate? She can’t work, so her husband probably can’t take loads of time off to help. It’s unlikely with one income and many mouths to feed, that there is spare cash left over for household help, aside from friends or relatives if they’re available. What a stressful life that must be!

    And I’m not sure that’s superior. Having a mother whose attention is split so many ways, who is physically stretched too thin… I know the theory is faith-based, the idea that God will give you as many children as you can handle but do you really think that’s true? With all the unwanted children, the crack babies, the Jerry Springer ladies with multiple baby-daddies? Is that as many as they can handle? Or is it only through faith that one can subscribe to God’s family planning service?

    (The crux of that argument, though, is the paradigm shift. If God’s family planning service is only available to believers, then non-believers are being punished with unwanted children. But what is it those children are being punished for? And why do good Christians stand by and let that happen?)

  7. Now, ok, this one really makes me want to scream. And I can’t seem to find a better way to phrase it than simple direct quotation:

    “Civilizations crumble when women fail to harness men’s urge to sinful dominion through the evil use of force, or their sinful propensity to sexual straying.”

    — Patriarch’s Path

    So… basically what you’re saying is that women are responsible for crimes like rape and sexual assault, and marital injuries like adultry and wife-beating? And maybe even war? Seriously?

    The general support that I see for this, uh, argument, is that by women’s sinful behavior, she entices man to behave naughtily. I guess it’s easy to think of such germane explanations when you live life in a bubble. But I hardly believe that a serial rapist, terrorist, or abuser is really brought out by a flash of thigh or some porn. That’s something else, something hard-wired and broken, that forms people who lack the compassion and enjoy the compulsion for assault.

    Again, ok—say that’s the extreme scenerio. They’re probably not talking about actual criminal behavior. They just believe miniskirts and R-rated movies are what make men think about dirty sex. Riiiiiiiiiiiiight.

    When was the Kama Sutra written again?

One response to “conservative anti-feminism and the Godly women”

  1. Katastrophes Says:

    Helpmeets

    Wow. I like to think of myself as broadly (if not well-) educated. Someone who can interact well with fairly disparate cultures. And then Bascha goes and posts something that blows my mind.
    I’m not sure if I’ve ever met someone who asc…