Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Homeschooling with a Meek and Quiet Spirit: It's Your Mom's Fault

This posts links with the next two posts to discuss Teri Maxwell's idea of why so many homeschooling mothers feel overwhelmed, overworked and underappreciated.  A quick paraphrase is "It's your mother's fault you feel like chores are never ending while never having any free time and expecting help from your husband."

This post covers how previous generations of mothers failed to teach their daughters how to keep a home.  There is also a hidden agenda to justify why children - especially daughters - should shoulder lots of domestic responsibilities without their mother feeling guilty.

The first group of guilty mothers stayed home - but sent their kids to school! *gasps in mock horror*

Many homeschooling moms were raised in homes where their mothers were home all day while the children went away to school. If our moms wanted to, they had six or more hours in a day to devote to house cleaning, laundry, and organizing. Perhaps because they stayed home, having time to do lots of housework, they were of the "children are only children once" philosophy. This often meant they didn't require very much of us as far as chores and responsibilities were concerned. (pg. 87)

Monday, November 20, 2017

Maidens of Virtue: Introduction and Chapter One

After a short break from emotional purity (Emo-Pure) books,  I'm moving into books on how to raise children to be Emo-Pure.

The first book that I am reviewing is "Raising Maidens of Virtue: A Study of Feminine Loveliness For Mothers and Daughters" by Stacy McDonald.

I discovered this book thanks to Amazon's "Recommended for You" feature.  Yes, I've bought enough CP/QF books that Amazon now finds me new ones to read on my own.  *sighs*   The one redeeming feature is that Amazon's big data has rather confusing data point now; I also enjoy biographies of spunky "feminist" women and every non-fiction analysis of natural disasters or shipwrecks I can find.

Stacy McDonald writes at the blog "Your Sacred Calling" which hasn't been maintained much in the last few years - but she does have an active Facebook feed.  She has 10 kids and has managed to marry off 5 of the 10 - which is pretty good for a CP/QF family with a lot of daughters.

The hardest part about starting this book is trying to figure out how to describe it.  Amazon and Mrs. McDonald describe it as a Bible study; I disagree.  Snippets and dabs of the Bible are included throughout - but the book is not about the Bible really.  The closest I can come is a collection of essays or an anthology that has been poorly edited.   A good anthology - or Bible study for that matter - arranges the works by connecting themes.  This gives a smooth transition between items. This collection has no transition between items and only a rough idea of themes across chapters.

The chapters are kind of arranged by topic - but the topic changes are jarring.  The first chunk of chapters are on how feminism has ruined chastity, how un-modest the Western world is and how much prettier the world was a long time ago (presumably in a galaxy far away as well....).

The middle chunk is by far my favorite because the reader is thrown between the evils of blue jeans - an entire chapter! - to how being dowdy is as bad as being impure to why God expects women to smell good all the time.  (These chapters caused me to laugh so hard while I was reading in bed that I woke my husband up - and he's a deep sleeper.)

The last chunk is a mish-mash of Emo-Pure hype, glorifying homemaking/farming and promoting unquestioning obedience in women of all ages.

The minor problem with this book is that Stacy McDonald and I are very, very different women.  She enjoys warmth, enclosed spaces, houses decorated with lots of tasteful odds and ends, and talking quietly with your girlfriends while drinking tea.   I wear sandals until the danger of frostbite requires shoes and am routinely upbraided by little old ladies for wearing too few layers of clothes during Michigan winters. (One little old lady recently told me to start dressing myself in as many layers as I put on my son.  That made me laugh.)   I believe in functional beauty which means I pick colorful objects that I use frequently so I don't have to deal with decorative junk.  I'm notoriously bad at picking the right vocal volume for talks - and it's not because I'm quiet.

The book starts with a foreword by Jennie Chancey who coauthored another book with Mrs. McDonald, Mrs. McDonald's acknowledgements, and a detailed description of how to use the book before reaching Chapter One.  In a 200(ish) page book, the introductory material takes up 13% of the book - and adds nearly nothing to the material.

The first chapter is a three-page humble-brag by Mrs. McDonald over how excited she is to review her work after 10 years and find that's it's still pretty darn accurate.  Most of the writing is about how moms need to focus to make sure that their daughter's inner heart is as pure as the outer Emo-Pure image that the rest of the book cultivates.

For me, the first few paragraphs of the chapter are a glimpse into a common issue in CP/QF life - pride.
When I was a young, twenty - something, pregnant mom without varicose veins, without morning sickness, and free of any back pain or fatigue, I arrogantly wondered what all the fuss was about. Pregnancy was fun! When I heard older women talk about the difficulties of pregnancy, I presumed that perhaps I was simply stronger than other women or maybe I just loved motherhood more than they did. I hardly even felt pregnant... until I went into labor.

However, each of my successive pregnancies became increasingly difficult. (Yes, I know, I deserved it!) Finally, I had to admit that maybe the women who struggled during pregnancy weren't whiny or discontent; they simply had a little more experience. They hadn't been speaking from the fresh zeal and vigor of youth, as I had been; they had simply lived through a few more days of harsh reality.

In my arrogance, I hadn't yet discovered that, although motherhood is deeply satisfying and children are indeed a blessing, some days, pregnancy is painful, and weariness is almost always inevitable. Even after they're born, children are hard work! (pg. 21)

I suppose "arrogant" is one description of Mrs. McDonald's attitude during her first pregnancy - but I see it as an expression of too much pride.  My understanding of pride is when a person gives themselves too much credit for a situation that ended well because of outside forces. 

In this example, Mrs. McDonald mentions that even as a young woman she knew on some level she was having an easy pregnancy.  She had no morning sickness, no fatigue (which boggles my mind), no back pain and no varicose veins.  That pregnancy sounds like fun - or even magical!  Instead of being grateful for the luck of the draw that gave her an easy pregnancy, she ascribes the easy pregnancy to "being stronger" than other women.

Look, even when I was in my early-twenties, I knew the difference between strength and luck.  Strength is what those older women who survived rough pregnancies had.  Luck is what Mrs. McDonald had with her first pregnancy.

I don't know if Mrs. McDonald was into CP/QF when she was first pregnant - but she describes a mind-set that makes her very susceptible to high-demand groups.  She believed that her good pregnancy might be a sign that she "loves motherhood more" than the other women.  That's a strange belief from objective standards - but the statement demonstrates a belief that the correct mental state directly affects the world.  That's a great sign for someone who is recruiting for a high-demand group; the high-demand group is offering a newly discovered set of methods that will allow her to control her life through correct thought! 

Welcome to "Maidens of Virtue"!  I hope you enjoy the wild and crazy ride.

Completely off-topic: My son is old enough that he's starting to be able to pincer-grip objects.  This means he finds paper fascinating.  Rather than waste good scrap paper, I've been ripping apart my copy of Anna Sophia and Elizabeth Botkin's "It's (Not That) Complicated" and giving him a few pages to play with at a time.  Watching him crumple and gnaw on the pages has been deeply satisfying for both of us!

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Preparing to Be A Help Meet: Background Information

I've been learning about the Pearls for the last two years as I've learned more about the Christian Patriarchy movement.    I have found Michael and Debi's books to be laughably bad - at best- and horribly abusive at worst.

Honestly, the first time I read this book, I tried to write some blog posts on the topic, but her writing was so absurd that I had a hard time.  I mean, no one would really believe the weird and contradictory crap she spews out.....right?  I'm a 30-odd year-old woman who was educated in a fairly liberal Catholic school system, earned a science degree with a teaching certificate,  and taught in inner city schools.  I met my amazing husband online through a dating website.  We've been married about two years and I can say that precious little of the advice given in this book would have been helpful at all during our dating, engagement or married life.  Since the advice was so clearly stupid, why bother writing about it?

Over time, though, I realized that there were women, young and old, reading this book.  Young women who had had a sheltered life who would not have the life experience to see the toxic messages.  Mothers coming from tough lives who wanted a better "Godly" life for for their daughters do not realize that they are giving their daughters a new form of hell to protect them from a different set of problems.

I write this as an outside critique both from a practical stand-point and an occasional theological standpoint.  I'm a Roman Catholic so my critique is slanted towards the religion I know best.  I have bounced a lot of the ideas of my husband who is a member of the Reformed Church of America.

And here we go:

Preparing to Be A Help Meet is an instructional self-help book aimed at unmarried young women and newly married women.  Debi Pearl's purpose in this book is to help women learn the skills needed to be the wife GOD wants you to be.

Just in case you don't believe her alone, the book is peppered with side comments by four men.  Debi divides all men into three categories - Steady/Priests, Visionary/Prophets, and Command/King.  Apparently, the Visionary man is 27-year-old single artist while the Steady is a Web designer aged 26 who is unmarried. The Command Man is actually two men who edited this book.  One is married, the other is unmarried.  I have a sneaking suspicion that the married Command Man is her husband Michael Pearl.....

She starts each chapter with a title page involving a MORAL and a CAUTION.  I will include these bizarre tidbits in the portion of the chapter that actually supports those ideas.

I am not including the whole book - simply the choicest bits that shed insight into Debi Pearl's mind and the extra-biblical lifestyle she espouses.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Homeschooling with A Meek and Quiet Spirit: Reasonable Expectations, Consequences, and Emotional Boundaries

I've reviewed several books on this blog - and the theme connecting the books is absolutely terrible advice. 

We've heard Debi Pearl's idea that girls should learn to make cheese because they might marry a dairy farmer who needs a wife who can make cheese.  (I've still not found an real-life situation where a woman who married in saved a dairy farm because of her cheese-making skills.)  The Botkin Sisters' advice to never show interest in a guy prior to his asking permission to court from your father is pretty atrocious.  Sarah Mally's worst advice was holding the Princess' life as being a shining example of Christian living when a better description would be nearly-terminal-ennui.

From that background,  I had a nice surprise in "Homeschooling with a Meek and Quiet Spirit" by Teri Maxwell.  She has some good advice in the chapter on "Anger" that could save parents and children a lot of strife:

Consider for a moment a sin or habit that you have been praying about and would like to see changed. Here is a simple example from my life. A few years ago, Steve said he would like me to put a cookie sheet under the electric fry pan so that the heat from the fry pan would it damage the kitchen counter. High goal for Mom, but shouldn't be too tough, since she likes to please her husband and surely doesn't want to burn her countertop. However, Mom has never put the cookie sheet under the fry pan in all her life! She is usually preoccupied when working in the kitchen and finds herself forgetting, time after time, to put that cookie sheet in place. I did not want to forget. I did not purpose to ignore my husband's request. I just didn't think about it!

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Babblin' Botkins: "Good Girls and Bad Guys": Four Types of Guys - Part Three

In hindsight, writing the posts about how ATI/ATIA/IBLP teaches people to brainwash victims while discussing how the Botkin Sisters mangle any understanding of human sexuality, consent and criminal behavior has been an absolute drag.

On the other hand, I don't live that shit and never have - compared to the poor souls who think this crap is real - and Biblical to boot.

This last section is trigger-laden for sexual abuse survivors - so please, don't read this if that will bother you.  I mean - it's the Botkin Sisters so their views manage to be punitive, half-baked, and trite at the exact same time.  Go pet a kitten or take a nap or whatever you need for good self-care.   We've got your back.

The Botkin Sisters have messily divided the men into three groups (with an assumed fourth group):
  • Assumed Group 0:  Men who are attracted to a woman, follow her family's courtship guidelines flawlessly and never by word, action or existence cause a woman to choose to pursue an physical relationship banned by CP/QF.  (The group is assumed - and peopled by imaginary men.)
  • Group 1: Men who don't follow the family courtship guidelines instantly and perfectly.
  • Group 2: Men who act like a woman they are attracted to has the skill and intelligence to choose if she wants to romantically interact with him.  (This is also known as "normal US dating culture")
  • Group 3: Men whose relationship with the woman causes her to freely chose to pursue a physical relationship,  any form of sexual abuse or assault that isn't being raped by a stranger (which the Botkinites term "molesters"), and "creeps".  (It's the worst example of "One of these things is not like the other" we've seen so far.)
Today, we get to meet Group 4: Violent rapists.    Needless to say, I find this division between groups of sexual criminals abhorrent.  I've seen the hurt and pain caused by "non-violent" sexual abuse; non-consensual sexual activity is ugly and hate-filled.  Pretending that abuse by family members or known adults is somehow less harmful than being attacked by a stranger is sick - and telling of how rampant it must be in CP/QF society.

[00:44:21] Ok. Oh, yeah. So the last type of guy. The last and the worst is the violent criminal. And, yes, these men are out there. And so the first thing that we will recommend is that you embrace whatever rules or limitations or boundaries or curfews that your father has given you for your protection. If your father counsels you not to be out after a certain time or not to go to certain places without a bodyguard, you should listen to him. Our dad has made rules for us like this. And um... we follow them. Like, like Anna said earlier this really is our dad's business.
That's absolutely worthless advice. 

 I've had one experience where I was followed by a man I didn't know and was getting seriously bad vibes.   It happened at a local grocery store in the middle of the damned day.   My mom survived a violent stranger sexual assault as a girl - and she was vigilant to keep all of us kids safe.  But she knew that there are no magic bullets in terms of times of day or locations that are always safe or always dangerous.  She took the time to teach us to trust our instincts and to never, ever be afraid of making a scene.

In that situation, I stared directly back at the man and asked him why he was following me.  He didn't reply.  He continued to follow me - so I walked up to Guest Services at the store and asked for a security escort.  They found the biggest male employee in the store and he walked me out to my car.  The other guy vanished.

Next, the Botkin Sisters try an amatuer-hour attempt at Biblical analysis that makes me queasy:
[00:44:56] We also need to know what God's Law requires of us to do in a situation like this. When we need to physically resist or call for help. In Deuteronomy 22, we find the principle that is that a woman's duty to resist violation is that at the very least it needs to start with --- it needs to be expressed in crying out for help. This, this duty goes beyond just saying "no" or telling somenone to stop. Just letting the guy know that you're not ok with what he's doing and that you are not a consenting isn't really enough.

The principle in Scripture is that we actually need to call for help. And bring in a third-party to intervene. And according to stories we've heard from women who .....we actually have a number of friends who were attacked and almost violated and they said that this takes a lot of courage and a lot of guts. 'Cause like I was saying earlier a very common response to this sort of situation is just to freeze up. I remember hearing one woman say "You know looking back it doesn't make any sense but the only thing running through my mind was that I didn't want to make a scene. I didn't want to make a ruckus or know... cause a disruptance.(​sic)" Umm. But if we don't cry out or make any move to resist, Scripturally we could be considered accomplices in the crime.

*slow claps*
These two hold themselves up as the mature flowering of homeschool education - which insults every homeschooled kid I've ever met.

Deuteronomy 22 is chocked full of obscure laws that no one follows anymore.  The first four verses are about how to deal with roaming livestock and how to set up a lost-and-found.  Verse 8 talks about making sure no one falls off your roof while verse 9 outlaws interplanting crops in vineyards.  Verses 10 and 11 - which are personal favorites of mine - outlaw plowing with a donkey and ox yoked together and wool-linen blends respectively.

After we've disregarded completely Deuteronomy 22:1-12 for obvious reasons, we reach verse 13 that starts outlining how to deal with sexual sins - and we should adhere to those diligently!

Yeah, right.

The strangest bit about the whole thing is that the Botkin Sisters don't even get the summary right.

 For engaged women living in the city who are caught having sex with a man not her betrothed husband, the burden of proof is if she cried out.  There is no discussion of physically resisting; in my opinion that is because the authors themselves understood(ish) the dangers of fighting back if no one is around to back up the woman.

For engaged women in the country, there is no burden of proof because no one would hear them if they screamed.

Is modern life anything like life in a city in ancient Biblical times?  People were living in very close quarters with non-existent privacy or soundproofing.  In a city, there were always people around - and always people listening - and always people ready to get into other people's business.

No, we essentially all live in the country now - and that's why no mainline denomination I know of holds Deuteronomy 22 as applicable at all nowadays.

Plus, the Botkin Sisters seem to have missed the reality of the "fight or flight" response.  "Flight" includes "freeze" as a defensive tactic.  If a predator - including a human predator - hasn't seen you, holding perfectly still in a hiding spot may well keep you safe.   Overriding that response is very, very hard because the body is following an old set of instinctual commands.

Remember, the Botkin Sisters sell women on the idea of being pliant, submissive and unobtrusive - so acting like women should be able to turn that off instantly and go all "female-Rambo" at the drop of a hat is disingenuous.

[00:46:11] And this is where our best weapon against evil comes in. We have to hate it as much as God does. One important byproduct of just really immersing ourself in the Word and in the Law is that it teaches us to love what God loves and to hate what God hates and the ability to hate sin is very important because our strength to resist sin is only going to be as strong as our hatred of the sin and our love of righteousness.

That would work if overriding cultural training combined with fight-or-flight response was a matter of correct, logical thinking. 

Alas - both of these require active practice as well as mental preparation so we've wasted another 30 seconds of our lives.

[00:46:39] And we also believe that if we are serious about resisting evil we should back that up with some resistance training or maybe even some firepower. Taking a self-defense class, maybe organizing one for the young ladies in your church, studying situational awareness, carrying pepper spray or a gun, all of these would be good lawful options. We both carry. And um if you want to take this option we would recommend that you take a gun safety course, get some training. Train and practice often because just having a gun with you isn't any good if you don't know how to use it and you are not comfortable with it.

I've never gotten used to how CP/QF society overreacts to some threats while underreacting to others.  The Botkin Sisters have wandered through sexual crimes - but seem strangely unaware of abuse in families and by people in authority.  Now, the Botkin Sisters have created a safety regime that's appropriate for traveling in remote wilderness areas - have a strong male around! carry pepper spray! be armed! - to be used in middle America. 

Situational awareness / self-defense is phenomenal - but using both of these requires being allowed to control who crosses personal boundaries.  Stay-at-home daughters have no practice in that!  They've been dragged along to massed family gatherings, expected to be the drudge worker at church and practiced being subservient to everyone their entire lives. 

I'm not sold on either guns or pepper spray as a form of defense against other humans.  During an attack, the victim is already at a disadvantage by being surprised without adding tricky weapons to the mix.  Pepper sprays only work at fairly close range - around 10-13 feet -which is far too close to allow an assailant for my tastes.  I've sprayed myself in the face with enough harmless chemicals - hairspray, non-stick cooking spray, WD-30 - to not trust that in an emergency I'll be capable of spraying the assailant and not myself.    My husband and I did carry bear spray when we were in Yellowstone on our honeymoon - but I relied more on my incessant loud talking and the bells I had on my pack than the spray.

Guns increase the risk of death by suicide by far too much for me to feel comfortable dragging a handgun everywhere with me.  Also, my son is nearly crawling and starting to grab at every object he can reach.  I love him too much to risk him dying in a firearm accident.

Totally random side note: Soon after I moved out to the country, a relative of my husband's moved to a solidly middle class bedroom community near here from cow country.  Since that area is more populated (or something), she and her husband wanted her to have a firearm for self-defense.  When they told me that, I laughed so hard I cried.  I grew up in Wyoming, MI - which is a nice enough blue-collar area - but does have a local, home-grown gang presence and some occasional burglaries at empty homes.  Folks in the bedroom community often refer to Wyoming as a "ghetto" - partially from generalized racism, but mostly from good-ol' American classism.  Anyway, I told her that the standard home defense weapon of choice in Wyoming is a baseball bat - and I'd happily buy her a used Louisville Slugger of her choice.   It's multi-use, requires little or no training to use effectively, needs no maintenance, is very cheap, and sends a nice, clear message when you answer the door with it resting on your shoulder. :-)

[00:47:17] Also if you are dealing with or have dealt with criminal behavior, you actually really need to let someone know. There are times when the right thing is to go to your parents, there are times where the right thing is to go to your elders and there are times where the right thing is to go to the police. This speech isn't the speech to address all that, unfortunately. And finally, if a crime is committed against you that you tried to resist, you tried to call out for help, and it didn't work out. You know what? In the Lord's eyes, you are completely 100% innocent. You are not damaged goods. You are not soiled or tarnished. Even if your virginity has been taken away from you, your virtue has not been compromised.

I have no use for the Botkin Sisters as people. They can't bring themselves to say the word "rape" or "sexual assault".  They brought disgusting purity metaphors into the talk - which is horrifying beyond my ability to describe.   They can't even say "It's ok to go directly to the police if you've been hurt" or "here's a toll-free help line".

Here's my adult talk:

If you have been a victim of sexual assault, abuse or incest, you can call 1-800-656-4673 24/7/365 days a year to get in contact with a trained sexual assault counselor who can help you decide what to do next in terms of reporting the crime to the police, getting medical help, and providing a listening ear.   They know the resources in your area and are there to help you.  You can do this if you were hurt today or decades ago.  You can do this if you are a man or a woman.  The line is open to anyone.  It is confidential - unless state law requires them to report the abuse of a minor or vulnerable adult.

If you'd prefer, RAINN has a live chat online  .  For men who survived childhood sexual abuse, 1in6 offers support including a weekly online support group.

For those of us who have not been victims, listen to others.  Speak out against cultural beliefs that minimize the damage of abuse and assault.  Don't be a Botkin.