Instructions on the fine art of doormatry

Amanda’s post on the dangers of letting your daughter go to college led me to this site, and boy is it something. The idea is that it’s an instructional for fine Christian ladies learning the art of submission, first to their fathers and then to their husbands. And it’s thoroughly disturbing, to say the least.

The site is run by two sisters, Elizabeth and Ana Sofia, who encourage women and girls everywhere to submit themselves to male authority. These women are good writers and they aren’t idiots, but their suggestions are pretty Orwellian and terrifying. Case in point:

We received a letter recently asking about the balance between a father’s authority and a daughter’s independence. Knowing that this question is a common one among girls making the transition from childhood to adulthood, we have decided to post our response to this family.

Dear damsels thinking yourselves in distress,

Your parents have both written to us to ask us our advice and encouragement on your situation (parents and maturing daughters striving to understand the balance between authority, liberty, maturity, submission, and responsibility.). What we would mostly like to do is share some of our thoughts on family dynamics in a household of adults.

Many stay-at-home girls believe that, as they become adults, their fathers’ jurisdiction over their lives will lessen. They feel that, in order to mature into individuals able to think and act for themselves, they must be “liberated” from another’s input into their lives. This is because we’re drowning in a culture that doesn’t understand what the Bible says about individualism vs. unity, autonomy vs. authority, or license vs. liberty.

Dear girls – don’t be afraid of losing your “individual personhood” or the ability to think for yourself, and don’t think that those are the signs of an adult. Any two-year-old girl has a mind of her own and most certainly thinks for herself. Every woman knows her own mind – it’s part of being Eve’s daughters. It’s not a sign of maturity to struggle for autonomy – that’s toddler stuff. The sign of our maturity and adulthood is when we willingly submit ourselves to God-given authority and therefore to God Himself. This is a struggle, and it requires strength, wisdom, responsibility and spiritual maturity.

Here is the difference between a child and an adult: a child has to be told what to do. An adult should have the intelligence and maturity to take the responsibility to pro-actively look for ways to further the father’s vision. From a child, a parent can’t expect much more than obedience. An adult son or daughter in a household should have a lot more to contribute to the family mission than mere obedience. An adult daughter, raised well by conscientious parents, will be able to think, will know how to live sensibly, will be discerning and self-controlled and self-disciplined, and will be wise and have understanding that may, in some areas, exceed that of her parents.

The sign of maturity isn’t that we simply “obey” our parents’ commands, but that we understand deeply what our parents’ hearts and goals are, and can anticipate and even exceed what they expect of us. A mature, adult daughter who deserves her parents’ trust most certainly isn’t the one who says, “I’m not a child anymore, Dad! I’m an adult! I’m old enough to decide for myself when to get up, and it’s not something you have authority over anymore!” (Literally, “I’m mature enough to demand my own way, and throw a tantrum and threaten to run away if I don’t get it!”) But she also isn’t the one who says, “Ok, ok, Dad, I’ll get up when you tell me to.” The mature daughter is the one that takes the initiative and says, “Dad, what time would you like me to get up? I know that spending time with your family before you leave for work is important to you, and I love that about you… so how can I help make it happen?” This is one thing that makes us different from mindless automatons with no wills of our own (which some girls seem mortally afraid of becoming.)

In other words, you should not only do whatever your father says, but you should be able to figure out what he wants ahead of time, and you’re a failure if you don’t. Also, independence, autonomy, and the ability to think for oneself are “toddler stuff.” True maturity comes from shutting up, recognizing your secondary status and submitting to your betters. Right.

Your mother mentioned that communication is an issue. This is an issue in every family, including our own. Women need to have a realistic understanding of how men – even the best men – communicate. It’s not the way women do. It’s not the way women expect them to or want them to. Every father has a hard time knowing how to communicate with his daughter. But there are ways that a daughter can help her father communicate with her.

Observation one: Daughters often need to initiate, especially at first.

Observation two: Daughters need to be really, really careful about the tone in which they pour out their hearts to their fathers. A father’s protective, shepherding instinct will make him naturally feel that every problem distressing his daughter is his fault. Daughters have a tendency to think sharing her heart = dumping all her frustrations and burdens and emotionalism and accusations on the shoulders of her poor dad, and then feeling even more emotional and distraught when he responds by acting bewildered and defensive. This doesn’t actually nurture the father-daughter bond.

Be honest with your father, unless it has something to do with you being unhappy or frustrated. Then lie.

God wants our hearts and all that they contain to be surrendered to our parents – and ultimately to God – to be molded and directed. Making yourself vulnerable in this way requires Trust. You must trust your parents, that they ultimately desire what is best for you, and that they are qualified to lead you and guide you simply because they are your parents chosen by God to raise you.

It also requires Faith. Faith that God will lead you through your parents, imperfect though they are. And faith in God’s promised blessings for your obedience.

When your parents have your heart you will truly “delight in their ways.” You will love what they love, hate what they hate, and desire their approval and company and even “think their thoughts after them.”

This is called “seeking after the hearts of your parents” just as King David was “a man after God’s own heart.”

Similarly, your parent’s hearts should be able to trust in you, as it says in Proverbs 31, “The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her…” This means that they will have confidence in your obedience, when they are watching and when they’re not, that you will demonstrate loyalty to them and to every thing they have taught you, in what you speak and do, in public and in private.

Loving someone means giving up your own preferences and personality and turning yourself into their clone.

Don’t be impatient for Prince Charming to rescue you from your father’s “heavy hand,” thinking that once you’re married to your perfect husband, your authority problems will vanish. It’s folly to think it will be easier to respect and submit to a husband than a father.

We’re not ready to consider ourselves eligible for marriage until we’ve learned to trust an imperfect individual with our lives. To communicate with a man, which will always be a struggle. To submit to an imperfect man’s “whims” as well as his heavy requirements. To order our lives around another person. To accept the burdens a man places on us cheerfully. To esteem and reverence and adore a man whose faults we can see clearly every day.

These are things we will face every day as wives, just as we face them every day now as the daughters of our fathers. We need to practice now, trusting our heavenly Father to lead our earthly fathers, and our earthly fathers to lead us, even though we know they’re not perfect.

Dear girls, if you have a father who wants to be your Christian authority and protector, and lead you in paths of righteousness, you are three of the most blessed girls in America. Most the girls who write to us after having read our book beg for help because their fathers still don’t have the vision, and aren’t really comfortable with their daughters trying to live the biblical model at home; or that their fathers don’t have their own businesses and don’t have anything for their daughters to do; or that their fathers are indifferent to them, and uninterested in their lives. You have a father in a million. Let him know how grateful you are for him.

If you believe that your purpose in life is to submit to male authority, then no, marriage isn’t going to be much better than living in your father’s house.

Anyway, check out the rest of the site — it’s something. But it’s disturbing for reasons beyond the obvious “wow it’s fucked up that there are still women who believe they’re sub-human and undeserving of the same rights that their male relatives enjoy.”

It’s disturbing because it’s part of a continuum of domination and control, and while it’s fun to shake our head at the real nut-bags, the ideas behind their mentality are common and deeply-rooted. The vision of women as property and your personal “helpmeets” (to use their terminology) is the same vision of women that begets everything from intimate partner violence to child marriage. Amanda has a great post up about men who kill their female partners, and what I found striking were the parallels between the sense of entitlement that that religious patriarchs exercise and the mentality of men who feel entitled to abuse and kill their wives and girlfriends. Amanda writes:

In pretty much every situation, the man was attempting to control his wife or girlfriend through violence. Since it was an attempt to control, the violence escalated when the victim showed resistance, so unsurprisingly, most of the murders or attempted murders occurred after the victim left her abuser, made plans to leave him, or threatened to leave him. There were a few infidelities, but they were never the direct cause of the crime—most of the jealous killers made up the infidelity in their minds (some even accused their wives of having sex with male relatives like uncles or fathers, they were so out of their minds with paranoia) or attacked their ex-wives after the women terminated the relationship and moved on. Some of the killers were not jealous, but just killed or tried to kill because they were irate at losing their wives and the services/money they saw provided by their wives, but regardless of the nuances, across the board Adams paints a picture of men who feel that women are their property and who try to control their property through violence. Only one man seemed sincerely sorry at all that he’d objectified his wife repeatedly throughout their marriage in such a way.

None of this is surprising to feminists, who have long situated intimate partner violence and sexual assault as crimes of control and entitlement. They’re also strategies of more generalized domination. Rape and domestic violence are not isolated events affecting only the women and girls who survive them; they’re hate crimes, and they have the effect of injuring individuals and terrorizing entire communities. Women everywhere live on “rape schedules.” Women everywhere deal with the consequences of being viewed as property, even when those consequences are subtle. One obvious example is reproductive rights: The fact that forcing women to continue unwanted pregnancies is even up for political discussion demonstrates just how deeply we hold the idea of women as property.

Amanda has another post up about the Marry Our Daughter hoax site, and how it hits a little too close to reality. Some of the men who responded touted their “family values” as a reason they wanted to marry one of the girls on the site, and Amanda quotes James Dobson infamous argument that women push their husbands into domestic violence as a way of creating a socially acceptable space to leave a marriage. She also highlights the fundamentalist Mormons who blame rape survivors for not being appropriately submissive.

And that’s another theme here: Women are always wrong.

Women beget violence by being demanding or hostile, and they do it on purpose for their own selfish ends, according to people like Dobson. Women who experience violence weren’t properly submissive, according to people like fundamentalist Mormon leader Warren Jeffs. The model of daughter-submissiveness follows this mold — it isn’t about being Daddy’s Little Princess or an indulged, spoiled child. It’s about shaping your entire existence around Daddy’s whims, and living as his servant. It’s about never asking for anything, and never asserting yourself. From Visionary Daughters:

“Fathers need to prepare their daughters to be wives who are under submission, helpers to their husbands, mothers, keepers at home, and domestic entrepreneurs,” exhorted Scott Brown. “There is a real danger in raising picky, un-pleasable daughters who are unable to follow an imperfect man. We have no business raising wimpy ‘prima donna’ daughters.”

So they don’t necessarily want women to be helpless — they want them to be servants who are bright enough to guess what Daddy wants done before Daddy even asks for it, but not so bright that they actually start thinking they have rights and things. Vision Forum never promotes domestic violence or physically punishing women who step out of line. But if you consider another person property, and if you consider their autonomy an affront to your God, where is the argument against physically abusing them if they step out of line — especially if physical abuse is the only way you can keep them under control?

They make no bones about the fact that their world view is based on patriarchal rule — just check out The Tenets of Patriarchy.

The first, and apparently the most important, is that God is a dude, and that men are God’s glory on earth. Women are men’s glory — not quite as close to God as men, and certainly not quite as important or human as men. All of the tenets are pretty good, but this one might be my favorite:

Fathers should oversee the process of a son or daughter seeking a spouse. While a father may find a wife for his son, sons are free to take initiative to seek and “take a wife.” A wise son will desire his parents’ involvement, counsel, and blessing in that process. Since daughters are “given in marriage” by their fathers, an obedient daughter will desire her father to guide the process of finding a husband, although the final approval of a husband belongs to her.

How generous!

The wording is important, though — men “take” a wife, and fathers “give” their daughters. While fundamentalists take these words literally, fathers “give away” their daughters in some of the most secular weddings. No one thinks twice about it.

Raising generations of obedient girls is dangerous. When girls are taught that they should seek to please men at all costs and that they should seek out domineering, egomaniacal men, they’re being set up for disaster. Men who raise their daughters like this and men who abuse their partners are the more extreme ends of the spectrum — but in the middle are lots of “normal” men who every day feel entitled to women’s bodies, women’s labor, and women’s submission.

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57 comments for “Instructions on the fine art of doormatry

  1. DiscGrace
    September 17, 2007 at 12:32 pm

    We got married in Mr. DG’s family’s church, even though neither of us are very religious – both of our families are (especially mine, gack). When I said there was no way that anyone was “giving me away”, my mom almost had a conniption about tradition and respect for my elders and blah de blah. I was startled (and very pleased) when the minister who married us informed her that he would NEVER preside over a ceremony where the bride was treated like she wasn’t a thinking person who was darned well giving herself away to the person she preferred. Woo Methodists!

  2. Mnemosyne
    September 17, 2007 at 12:49 pm

    “The sign of our maturity and adulthood is when we willingly submit ourselves to God-given authority and therefore to God Himself. This is a struggle, and it requires strength, wisdom, responsibility and spiritual maturity.”

    You know, from a religious point of view, I can completely understand feeling that God has a plan for you and that you need to submit yourself to His will.

    I don’t understand how that then translates into putting your very human and mortal father into the place that should be filled by God. Isn’t that turning your father into God? Aren’t you worshiping your father instead of worshiping God?

  3. September 17, 2007 at 12:57 pm

    Daughters have a tendency to think sharing her heart = dumping all her frustrations and burdens and emotionalism and accusations on the shoulders of her poor dad

    Well, fine then. If my daughter wants to dump her burdens on me, then I’ll take them. Of course, I always thought my duty as a father was to help my daughter when she needed help, and stay out of her way when she needed to chart her own path — and I’ll be sorely disappointed if she ever wants to live under my direction.

  4. Alix
    September 17, 2007 at 1:03 pm

    Aren’t you worshiping your father instead of worshiping God?

    I’ve always thought that’s the flaw in their argument.

    But then, I always thought that “God’s plan for your life” included using the brain and the will he gave you…

  5. Myca
    September 17, 2007 at 1:11 pm

    I don’t understand how that then translates into putting your very human and mortal father into the place that should be filled by God. Isn’t that turning your father into God? Aren’t you worshiping your father instead of worshiping God?

    Well, the Biblical progression is more or less God–>Christ–>Man–>Woman. The man is the spiritual head of the woman just as Christ is the spiritual head of the man.

    I mean, I think it’s bullshit, clearly, but I don’t think that the people who believe in it are pull it out of their collective asses. They’re pulling it out of the Bible.


  6. September 17, 2007 at 1:23 pm

    I don’t think that the people who believe in it are pull it out of their collective asses. They’re pulling it out of the Bible.

    Wait … there’s a difference?!


    Things we learn on this blog …

  7. Myca
    September 17, 2007 at 1:31 pm

    Wait … there’s a difference?!


  8. September 17, 2007 at 1:48 pm

    It gets worse. Go read the posting about how to answer “The Question” (i.e., “What do you do”)

    Here are some choice responses:
    “ I’m studying cultural warfare. Shall I tell you about my findings?”

    “Today’s family has Dad working here, Mum working there and Sally and Jo off here and there with Grandparents playing golf in Florida. It is a totally fractured model for a sick society. My family has discovered the Biblical model for family rejuvenation. We have our vision and mission and are working together to see it fulfilled. Can I tell you more about it?” (Psalm 96:7)

    “I desire to be married one day, and I understand from Scripture that the best place to prepare for that blessed estate and for the awesome responsibility of wife, mother and homemaker is at home learning alongside my own mother. She is teaching me how I can be doing good to my husband and not evil all the days of my life including right now.”
    (Proverbs 31:12)

    “I’m studying domestic engineering.”

    “I’m wary of being another man’s helpmeet and desire first and foremost to work to make my father or my husband successful rather than putting my efforts into making some other man successful.”

    “Let me tell you something exciting. I have found many highly educated men and women in the field of my interest (in books, through online learning, via night classes or however) who are mentoring and discipling me. They insist that I not only learn the material but apply it to my life and live it. This means that my schedule includes much time devoted to serving my family and my church.”

    “The frequent reports I hear about university’s defiling campus environment and coarse material has caused me to search for a way to learn and extend myself while still being able to walk a path of purity. I found the answer. What I’m doing is this…”

    “I’m autodidactic. I’m teaching myself or putting together my own course of study on subjects such as…”

  9. j swift
    September 17, 2007 at 1:55 pm


    Somewhere between God/Christ there is the Bible which is where all this tyrannical posturing originates. God’s plan for you, as it were, is the work of fallible humans and speaks to ancient cultures. The fundie scam that arose and is practiced today is a tool of social competition, dominance and control. Blaspheme on so many levels. That will stand in my mind until God, say, crashes the Oscars and puts in a personal appearance.

  10. Myca
    September 17, 2007 at 2:05 pm

    This post (and Amanda’s) is interesting to me personally because I’m in a relationship with a Jehovah’s Witness woman who considers herself feminist, is an adult, and is attending a very good college . . . and when she and I expressed interest in each other, her entire family took me aside (mother, father, and underage brother) to explain that I am not qualified to date her, because, being non-religious, I am not qualified to serve as her spiritual head.

    And when she decided to pursue a relationship with me regardless, they announced to her that this convinced them not to let her brother go to college.

    Because college is where you learn things like “adult daughters aren’t your goddamned property” and “for an underage brother to have a hand in controlling the romantic/sexual life of his adult sister is fucking creepy.”

    It’s all that same mindset where a woman is property . . . first the property of her father, then the property of her husband . . . and really, the reason I’m ‘unqualified’ to date her is that she is not property to me.

    Which is the reason she is dating me. Because gosh, she doesn’t consider herself property either.


  11. Shinobi
    September 17, 2007 at 2:26 pm

    I wish I hadn’t had lunch before I read the quotes in this post, that was a serious waste of 10 bucks.

    I’m so glad I don’t believe in God. He sounds like a misogynistic asshole.

  12. September 17, 2007 at 2:44 pm

    What you’re failing to appreciate is that “submission” is something all Christians are called to. The subordination of ones own ego to God, society, ones wife, husband, the interest of other or your children is replete throughout the Christian narrative.

    To remove one aspect of it and pound it into the Hegelian master slave dialectic is to ignore its vitality and sublime complexity.

  13. Kyra
    September 17, 2007 at 2:51 pm

    You know, it’s things like this that lessened my occasional worries about hell and “what if it’s true” after leaving Christianity—the way they would tell me I have to live to avoid hell is hell already, so even if it were true, only living my own way will get me at least some happiness.

  14. Bitter Scribe
    September 17, 2007 at 2:53 pm

    Boy, these people are really into “submission,” aren’t they?

  15. Myca
    September 17, 2007 at 3:04 pm

    What you’re failing to appreciate is that “submission” is something all Christians are called to. The subordination of ones own ego to God, society, ones wife, husband, the interest of other or your children is replete throughout the Christian narrative.

    Except, of course, that men are called on to ‘submit’ to the mythical sky daddy, while women are called on to submit to their family members and romantic relations.

    So what this ends up meaning IRL is that men get told what to do by the church (which is bad, yeah), and women learn that it’s their heavenly-mandated role to be told what to do by men (which is way way worse).


  16. September 17, 2007 at 3:06 pm

    Fitz, I get that. All Christians are called to submit. The difference is, men are only called to submit to God, whereas women are called to submit to men and God. There’s still a hierarchy there, and women are still in third place.

  17. hydropsyche
    September 17, 2007 at 4:03 pm

    As always, please remember that these folks represent the loony fringe of Christianity and, as DiscGrace pointed out in the very first comment, there are many many many Christians who buy none of this nonsense.

  18. Entomologista
    September 17, 2007 at 4:04 pm

    The thing about Paul (which is where this man-is-head nonsense comes from) is that it has been suggested by theologians that the part they love so much was cut-and-pasted in at a later time. They think this because if you read the full text the parts before and after the women-should-submit part have little to do with the rest of the text. Granted, I think the whole Bible is just a collection of laws and stories from ancient societies, mashed together with the ramblings of a few madmen. Anyway, it’s not like these crazies are going to read the Bible analytically so it makes no difference.

    I wonder how these women deal with the idea that they don’t matter, that they aren’t people. It must fuck you up something awful.

  19. Em
    September 17, 2007 at 4:12 pm

    Faith that God will lead you through your parents father (why don’t they just say this, it’s what they mean anyway), imperfect abusive though they are. he is.

    Until he pays my therapy bills, all incidental related costs, a surcharge for lost time of life, and a premium for pain and suffering, fuck that shit. Until he grovels before me and I can kick him in the nuts and laugh, fuck that shit. Until he drops dead and I dance on his grave, fuck that shit.


    Faith. Waste of my precious life.

  20. SarahMC
    September 17, 2007 at 4:29 pm

    The thing is, they admit that men are “mortal” and “imperfect.” But while imperfect women should change their ways to suit the men in their life, imperfect men should be trusted and followed (and certainly never asked to change).

  21. syfr
    September 17, 2007 at 4:30 pm

    That first quote made me wonder something: what if you grow up, become an adult, and decide that the family mission is wrong?

    Also, the only reason I would have my father walk me down the aisle is because it really means something to him, and I want to give him something because he is one of the most wonderful, supportive people ever in my life, and I care more about giving him something he cares about than I do making that particular statement. When I ask him about this, in a purely theoretical way, he replies that he has no opinion, it would be my wedding, and I should do what I want.

  22. Lizard
    September 17, 2007 at 4:38 pm

    Oh, yikes. That site is full of excerptable gems, but this posting is among my favorites:

    ….it was not so long ago that my ambition was to be the first woman prime minister of New Zealand. And it was even less time ago that I was working a highly paid legal executive job for a prominent solicitor. The Lord has done quite a work in my life since this time. He has turned my heart to my father, my family and my home.

    …..Over the past three years I have invited the younger girls from Church over many times…Together we have done scrapbooking, made feminine hair accessories, polished our father’s shoes and tied his ties, discussed how we can be a comfort and a blessing to our fathers and brothers, talked about spiritual journaling and made journals and flower pens, attended a French Fair, supped together and gone on photographic shoots dressed as Victorian High Society Women, buried time capsules, danced English Country Dances, discussed Christian Fashion and Style, drafted skirt patterns and discussed dying to self.

    I don’t know what “dying to self” means, but if this were my life, it’d be something akin to “dying inside.”

  23. September 17, 2007 at 4:42 pm

    what if you grow up, become an adult, and decide that the family mission is wrong?

    Ah, well in that case you’re clearly a sinful little girly and you’ve not been submissive enough. Questioning and disagreeing with the family mission? Someone’s been getting too much edumaction.

  24. zuzu
    September 17, 2007 at 4:43 pm

    How did Fitz get back in here?

  25. SarahMC
    September 17, 2007 at 4:45 pm

    Victorian High Society Women

    Wouldn’t they fit right in during the Victorian Age? Or even the Dark Ages.

  26. Lizard
    September 17, 2007 at 4:46 pm

    Okay, can’t resist one more from the same author:

    ……we had no bacon and bacon had been very expensive. Nevertheless, I set off to the store and asked the Lord if it would be possible for the bacon to be on special at $4.98 for 900gms (less than half of what it normally is). When I got to the store you’ll never believe it! Bacon was $4.98 for 900gms. And the sour cream, which I also needed, was on a ridiculously low special too – a blessing I hadn’t even asked the Lord for! I beamed my way out of the store. The Lord is good!

    See, a JEWISH God would never have put the bacon on sale! Team Jesus for the win!

  27. September 17, 2007 at 4:49 pm

    Here is a piece of what I wrote on my blog, earlier today:

    “It is a worldwide disgrace at how the United States treats its women.”

  28. September 17, 2007 at 4:54 pm

    ….it was not so long ago that my ambition was to be the first woman prime minister of New Zealand.

    Lizard –

    This quote HAD to have been quite a while ago, as we’ve had a female prime minister for AGES now, and she wasn’t the first such.

    I’m a kiwi btw, despite living in Chicago.

  29. Lizard
    September 17, 2007 at 5:03 pm

    Sarah in Chicago, I wondered about that too, as the author seems to be only in her mid-twenties. Perhaps God showed her the folly of keeping up with current events, too….?

  30. September 17, 2007 at 5:04 pm

    Lizard –

    I’m suspecting that reality in general isn’t something that is high on the list for these people.

  31. zuzu
    September 17, 2007 at 5:14 pm

    So Jesus is using divine intervention to get you half-price, half-rancid bacon now?

  32. September 17, 2007 at 5:19 pm

    zuzu –

    that’s so not kosher hon ;)

  33. September 17, 2007 at 5:27 pm

    Has anyone else noticed how much like B&D literature the Visionary Daughters site sounds. Substitute “submissive” for “daughter” and you would have a great series of rollicking dungeon scenarios. The rhetoric is reminiscent of that notorious anonymous Victorian porn rag, The Pearl! There’s no spanking, but otherwise it’s a total rip-off of erotic subjugation literature, with a “daddy’s dirty daughter” sort of flavor. And their pictures! Jezebels, both of them! Playing the “one dark, one light” roles to the hilt. Is it modest to streak your hair blonde? Who are they putting that makup on for, that fuck-me lipstick, if it isn’t for Daddy and Brothers? One gets the sense that their good daughter act is constructed for the cameras, that they are play-acting their lives — willing subjects of a family of religious nut-job filmmakers, they can be the stars of the show, Christian T&A.

    I think you’re taking all of this too seriously. Yes, they express the misogyny that underpins Western culture, but they’re divas of misogyny, reveling in playing daughters in drag: the women men want women to be. Spending time fighting them, or giving them power by suggesting they’re credible to more than a fringe audience is a waste of time. They’re sillier even than Anita Bryant or Marabelle Morgan, ditzy refugees from a churchified “Friends” episode. They’re the equal and opposite reaction to the “do me feminists” and just as deserving of an ironic gaze. Playboy promoted the “do me” girls, and the fundies promote the “Deserving Daughters” — the most obvious sort of self-serving cant.

    But don’t feel sorry for these women, don’t think for a moment they believe they don’t matter or that they aren’t people. They think that by playing the roles they play, they can capture the spotlight, and they can! Model good girls! Movie stars! Doted on by the men around them, who certainly understand that their own pretense of Christian masculinity rests on the voluntary gesture of submission of two women who might change their minds at any second. Talk about power!

    I despise people whose tactic is ruthless manipulation of those around them, for their own ends. But I don’t make the mistake of confusing those people with the people who are really oppressed — all those women whose subjugation isn’t fun and games and filmmaking. Daddy’s Daughters are simply a distraction.

  34. ACG
    September 17, 2007 at 5:29 pm

    It gets worse. Go read the posting about how to answer “The Question” (i.e., “What do you do”)

    Hmm. In my experience, being unable to answer a simple question like that is a sign that whatever I’m doing, I know it’s wrong and am ashamed to tell people about it.

  35. Felicia
    September 17, 2007 at 5:37 pm

    Any two-year-old girl has a mind of her own and most certainly thinks for herself.

    No. A child can think for herself, but does not realize the influence her parents have on her. An adult, on the other hand, is capable of thinking beyond what her parents taught her. She can decide for herself what she believes. Unfortunately, a girl who remains the servant of the men in her life can never mature to that point. See The Feminine Mystique.

  36. MizDarwin
    September 17, 2007 at 6:38 pm

    Kali Tal–Don’t know if I agree with you about the harmlessness, but there is a wholly BDSM vibe behind this. Google “Christian Domestic Discipline” if you want more hard-core.

    I wish these people would just admit their kink and live it quietly to themselves. Dress it up in leather, honey, not ideology.

  37. Neko-Onna
    September 17, 2007 at 7:08 pm

    I personally like the link to “Ladies Against Feminism”. It’s a “laf” all right! Ever notice how all of these sites always use Victorian clip art? It would lead you to believe that: 1.) the Bible was written in 1880; or 2.) its really a Harlequin romance novel…

  38. September 17, 2007 at 9:24 pm

    Every woman knows her own mind – it’s part of being Eve’s daughters. It’s not a sign of maturity to struggle for autonomy – that’s toddler stuff. The sign of our maturity and adulthood is when we willingly submit ourselves to God-given authority and therefore to God Himself. This is a struggle, and it requires strength, wisdom, responsibility and spiritual maturity.

    Every woman knows when she has to poop – it’s part of being human. It’s not a sign of maturity to poop – that’s toddler stuff. The sign of our maturity and adulthood is when we force ourselves not to poop. This is a struggle, and it requires strength, wisdom, responsibility and spiritual maturity.

    I love how substituting a few words can highlight the logical problems with fundies’ arguments.

    A /= B
    doesn’t mean
    ~A = B

  39. September 17, 2007 at 10:32 pm

    Suddenly, I’m really grateful that this sort of thing wasn’t so advanced during my fundie teen years. Our church was sexist, and we got a Paul sermon about submissiveness now and then, but it wasn’t as creepy, thought-out, and sick as this crap.

    I really feel like vomiting after reading that. In fact, I feel exactly the same way I did when I saw some video of a “bride” kidnapping in Kurdistan a few years back; that girl’s anguished face haunts me, and the idea that somewhere some girl in America is being treated almost the same makes me just as sick. This is utterly disgusting. Any parent who thinks of their child in this way is unfit to raise a human being.

    I suppose I should be grateful this exists, in some way, so that the logical endpoint of such thinking can be exposed for the hateful abuse it is.

  40. September 18, 2007 at 3:54 am

    These people want women to be everything. Smart, poised, totally in control of everything, perceptive if not psychic, able to keep their kids from screaming, and their husbands from ever feeling hungry or horny by preempting his every need, all the time.

    Is this really that different from the modern media’s portrayal of women as both bread-winners, soccer mom’s, and maid/master of the kitchen? We want them to be cool headed; placing a bowl of mac ‘n’ cheese in front of their kids before they complain. We want them to be whores in the bedroom (see: new women’s libido supplements and any and every cosmetic ad) but only for their husbands. Women are only liberated in ads when they’re 20 somethings maxing out their credit cards buying junk for themselves, and even then the junk they buy is intended to make themselves perfect and desirable to everyone in order to feel remotely okay with themselves.

    I don’t need to go on. I’m not making a novel observation. I’m only expanding on the idea that these attitudes are at work even in mainstream and/or secular society… that women should always, in almost every culture, know what everyone wants and be extra-ordinarily talented in making it happen. (even when those things are in total conflict)

  41. September 18, 2007 at 4:09 am

    Imagine Buster Bluth as an evangelical. Jeez (pun intended).

  42. bmc90
    September 18, 2007 at 9:54 am

    Fortunately, my dad wanted me to go to a great liberal arts college and on to law school. If I hung around the house polishing his shoes, he’d encourage me to go seek gainful employment instead because I’d be driving him crazy, plus making him continue to support me, when I think he’s glad to be done with that as well. What would these ladies have to say to that? Is he shirking his duty as a father? How many men REALLY want to support their female children indefinitely in the hope that someone will come along and take them off their hands one day? What if no one does? I guess that’s probably the girl’s fault for not making herself attractive enough, right? If her husband deserts her when her father is in a nursing home, dead or broke, what is she supposed to do then, having never worked her entire life? I can’t believe how selfish anyone would have to be to put your own desire for an indentured servant ahead of creating a person who can support themselves if they have to. My dad would never be that greedy.

  43. Vail
    September 18, 2007 at 1:34 pm

    My parents sent me one of those creepy books about summiting to my husband. My husband was just as horrified as I was. My best friend suggested a nice bonfire to “purify” the house. I have since gotten into a fight with my mother as she is pissed that I don’t “believe” in the bible. I told her the bible was written by a bunch of men who were far from perfect. Even if God told them what to write I’m sure they “edited” for content, just as they “edited” out books of the bible. I am a firm believer of the “find God yourself” movement and refuse to go to church.

    BTW my parents pastor (the one filling their heads full of this crap) is currently touring Iraq with Chuck Norris. Be afraid.

  44. Tannenburg
    September 18, 2007 at 2:01 pm

    The most fascinating thing about this, for me, is the reliance on the Bible. As Vail mentioned, the sects of Christianity that produce the above “advice” look to the King James translation as the concrete foundation for their quotations and citations, which in and of itself is a very shaky foundation indeed. The “Bible” is not a unitary document, but rather formed from dozens of sources, pre- and post-Christ, some added, some discarded, translated through many languages and dialects. The viewpoints of each of the multiple authors, editors, and translators intrudes with each iteration, producing a document which is unique as a historical artifact but not a reliable bedrock for faith in my opinion.

    I’ll be the first to admit I’m non-religious (note I’m not anti-religious, per se) and look through the lens of a historian, not a theologian, but I know that, for instance, the much-quoted statements of St. Paul come from someone with a classical Greek education, steeped in Plato and Socrates and therefore informed by the social viewpoints and prejudices of that particular cultural strata – which indeed placed a lower value on women than more traditional Hebraic societies. Therefore can we say that this is God speaking or rather Paul filtering the words of others through his own assumptions?

    The position of women in any society is a social construct, not a divine order. Other social constructs with Biblical roots have been set aside – slavery, polygamy, rule by a divine priesthood, stoning for religious and secular offenses – and repudiated by societies which have reinterpreted and reconstructed themselves. Therefore to base the position and role of women in our society on a document which is a cobbled-together mass of different sources by different authors, interpreted through those author’s own cultural biases, translated through ancient Hebrew, Greek, Latin, French, Old English, and finally modern English – is this not, indeed, a very shaky position to advocate? Of course, those who are Biblical Fundamentalists impute Divine intervention at each step – in other words God’s inspiration moves the pen, not the individual’s own prejudices. If that’s so, God must be very, very confused, given the contradictions within the Bible.

  45. September 18, 2007 at 2:31 pm

    Other social constructs with Biblical roots have been set aside – slavery, polygamy, rule by a divine priesthood, stoning for religious and secular offenses – and repudiated by societies which have reinterpreted and reconstructed themselves.

    Not so fast. There are plenty of people (unfortunately, a huge number of them in my otherwise delightful hometown) who are working on reviving that kind of thinking, too. Most reasonable people would realize that such interpretations of the Bible are unsustainable and cruel, but folks like these think that their consciences and the suffering they see in the real world are really Satan trying to pull them away from the truth in the Bible.

  46. Tannenburg
    September 18, 2007 at 2:46 pm

    True enough. There’s a continuum of acceptance of change…and I’m more than willing to concede that there ARE people who want the “good old days” back.

    They should just remember that those “good old days” also consisted of Christians being thrown to lions in the Great Arena in Rome and the “Holy Land” under the thumb of pagan conquerors.

  47. Kathleen
    September 18, 2007 at 4:16 pm

    Wow. I’m not sure what to say to what I read there, but I’ll give it a go. I’ve given up on Christianity precisely believe I couldn’t pretend anymore. Couldn’t pretend that I thought the bible was anything more than a mashup of myth, designed to explain phenomena that was incomprehensible to the ancient mind (Noah and the flood, creation, etc-too many to mention them all) and a bunch of made up shit designed to support an agenda, specifically to keep everybody in their place. Of course, unless you’re a wealthy white person, preferably male, from a western nation, that place is not at the top. And of course, there’s that hierarchy that others have mentioned, with God at the top, then men, then women. I may go to hell for saying this, but I don’t want anything to do with a God who has decided that some of the people are good enough to be their own person by virtue of the fact they’re a penis owner, and some of the people are suited only to keep their mouths shut and do their masters’ bidding, by virtue of their being a vagina owner. I do believe in a God, by the way, but I don’t believe God is a boy. Mention that to your average Christian, or use the word she to describe the Creator, and it’s guaranteed to start a major shitstorm.
    Anyway, these two girls are just regurgitating the pap they’ve grown up hearing. Someday, who knows when, they’ll come to their senses and look back in horror.

  48. exholt
    September 18, 2007 at 4:17 pm


    This advice column almost reads verbatim as another in a long line of authoritarian screeds where one must place complete unquestioning trust in a supposed “superior”. Too many examples of how such thinking has aided and abetted the rise and maintenance of authoritarian governments and individuals within families or other social groups. In many ways, this is reminiscent of historical arguments justifying the use of slavery and the passage of various discriminatory laws because of the supposed “racial inferiority” of POC.

    In short, I echo other commenters who felt this is bizarre. What kind of cloistered world are the Sofia sisters living in?

  49. Tannenburg
    September 18, 2007 at 5:23 pm

    I glanced at the original “Visionary Daughters” site linked above and came across the phrase “the persecuted Church” in the “about us” section. I think that gives us a very revealing glimpse into the mindset; these people see themselves as victims, oppressed by the forces of secularism – feminism being a particularly potent component force – a true minority, a village of the Righteous surrounded by the babble of heathens.

    It is the appropriation of the language of victimization which is particularly telling. With that they can assume the mantle of martyrdom, always a powerful symbolism within Christian tradition. In this they enter into a contest of victimization, i.e. a game comparing relative oppressions/victimizations. The contrast is the removal of religious symbols and phrases from secular use (Christmas trees from town squares, the Ten Commandments controversy in courthouses) versus marital violence, abortion and reproductive rights, and so forth. I’m not making any bones about where my particular sympathies lie, but it’s a compelling self-image nonetheless. It is useless to argue with them that they’ve had two-thousand years plus of being in charge, thank you very much, and perhaps it’s time for a more balanced distribution of power. In their world they are the persecuted, every fiber of “modern” society a vicious and personal assault upon them. In other words, the cultural side-effects of change – women present in the workforce, female education, and so forth – are not just the shifting of society into a more equitable arrangement but a personal, visceral attack upon the fundaments of who and what they are.

    They feel under siege, victimized, pursued by the rabid dogs of secularism. The opposite side, of course, sees itself struggling with the Sisyphean Rock, pushing uphill against centuries of chauvinism, what gains made in the past three decades under constant danger of reversal (female contraception, abortion rights, equal pay for equal work, sexual harassment in the workplace, spousal abuse.)

    And you know…both sides are right. Their values are under attack…and the precepts of feminism are under attack as well.

  50. September 19, 2007 at 10:44 am

    Tannenburg, speaking to your

    If that’s so, God must be very, very confused, given the contradictions within the Bible

    , here’s a set of JUST New Testament contradictions that’ll make your head spin; to say nothing of the contradictions between “testaments” or within the Old Testament.

  51. bmc90
    September 20, 2007 at 5:12 pm

    My mom’s father died when she was 2. I guess she had no real purpose in life for the first 19 years (until she married my dad – who she supported when he got laid off in the 80’s). Yeah feminism!

  52. MJ
    September 23, 2007 at 8:26 am

    How pathetic! Nobody should control other people, no matter how old the father/mother is to an adult, female or male!

  53. Jo
    September 25, 2007 at 2:18 pm

    Re: walking down the aisle —

    I let my father walk with me down the aisle when I got married, but in the place of “who gives this woman” was “who supports this couple in their new lives together”, wherein BOTH sets of parents were called upon to say “I do”, followed by the rest of the congregated.

    This was the compromise, but I and my partner won out — and my dad’s feelings weren’t hurt.

    And yes, “this couple” and “their lives” were on purpose. :P

  54. maria
    April 13, 2008 at 12:39 pm

    Okay, that post was really scary.

    From the way it was written, it seems those women really had those terrible ideas pounded into their heads even when they were little girls.

    I pity them. From the way it’s written, they seem to be pleasant and intelligent. Such a waste that they had to be intensely indoctrinated in those ideas.

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