Thursday, April 30, 2015

A crash course in sex, gender and sexual orientation: Part Two

Alrighty.  Let's start with a quick refresher course from the previous post:
  • Physical sex refers to which secondary sex characteristics a person has.  The binary nature of the system creates problems when someone has a reproductive system that is not fully female or male.
  • Genetic sex refers to the compliment of sex chromosomes (X and Y) present in a person.  Ususally, a someone with a female physical sex is XX and a male physical sex is XY - but this cannot be determined without medical testing AND is not always true.
  • Our sexual characteristics are determined by hormonal cascades during early embryonic development.  These cascade generally produce female and male people, but can "misfire" and create individuals that have incomplete reproductive systems.
Next, let's discuss gender and gender identity.

Gender identity is the sex that a person's brain identifies itself as.  For the majority of people, their gender identity matches their physical sex.  For a minority of people (~0.01%), they identify mentally with the opposite physical sex.  The biological underpinnings of gender identity are less understood than physical sex development, but a variety of studies have shown that there seems to be a combination of genetic and early embryonic hormonal exposures involved.

Having a gender identity that is different from physical sex is not disturbing to all people.  If the difference is causing distress to the person, the DMV-V has named the disorder gender dysphoria.  The previous name - Gender Identity Disorder - was criticized for reinforcing the binary classification of gender identity and physical sex.  The treatments for gender dysphoria vary from individual to individual.  Some people may benefit from psychological help to determine the best method to live within their gender identity. Some people transition to their gender identity without changing their physical secondary sex characteristics.  For some people, biological treatments like receiving hormones develop secondary sex characteristics that match their gender identity is beneficial.  Surgery to change the person's external genitalia to match their gender identity is also a treatment option, although problematic since current surgical techniques can lead to reduced sensation in the genitalia and infertility. 

For people who are adults with gender dysphoria, it is unlikely that the CP solution of adhering to strict gender stereotypes will do anything except make the person even more miserable than the standard CP misery.  

Since normal childhood experimentation with gender identity is viewed as pathological in CP, a child with gender dysphoria faces an especially hard life.  (Bluntly, I was a tomboy from age 6 to about 14.  I would own one summer dress and one winter dress and wear each about twice a year for major holidays.  My parents were fine with my clothing choices.  God only knows how I would have reacted to being required to wear a dress.  My little brother also had a pink girl's swimsuit for one summer when he was a toddler.)

Gender is the culturally assigned roles and values that defined as masculine and feminine.  The best examples I've seen have been in pre-school kids I saw when being substitute teaching.  In wealthy mostly Caucasian school districts, the little boys didn't wear the necklaces in the dress-up corner.  In areas that had large Asian or Hispanic populations where adult men frequently wore gold necklaces, the little boys would pile on the necklaces.

Now, CP/QF prides themselves on rigid gender roles.  The tricky bit is that the sub-culture is young enough that some questions are still being hammered out.  Examples:
  • Should girls be taught traditionally masculine skills like carpentry or plumbing?  Many bloggers seem to avoid skills like that for their daughters (see Raising Olives) but Debi Pearl seems to think girls should.

  • Do girls always have to wear skirts? 
    • Even infants?  Do the rules change before and after puberty?
    • At home?
    • While white-water rafting? 
    • Is it better for girls to wear modest pants when doing tasks that are dangerous in a skirt, to not do the tasks, or to risk severe injury? ( I have nightmares about pictures I've seen of Genevieve de Deugd wandering around a junk yard in a cute skirt and flats.  Plus, her hair is SO long I hope she puts it in a tight bun when she's working with lathes or welding.)

  • What jobs are allowed for unmarried daughters?  Should young wives work outside the house?  How about women whose children are grown?

  • What amount of interaction should men have with their young children?  Do dads change diapers, get up with a crying infant or help with potty training?

  • Are men allowed to work in traditionally female jobs?  Can a married father work as a nurse?  How about an administrative assistant?

  • In terms of food production, what is a masculine or feminine job? 
    •  Is a family vegetable garden supposed to be run by a man or a woman? 
    • What if the garden produces excess vegetables that are sold at a farmer's market? 
    • What if the garden is scaled for wholesale to a retailer? 
    • How many livestock fit between male and female roles? 
    •  What about grain production?
    • Who is responsible for putting up food for long-term storage?
  • Are there any areas that are a woman's sphere of influence?
    • Does the mom who is home-schooling get to choose curriculum or is that overridden by the father? 

Saturday, April 25, 2015

A crash course in sex, gender and sexual identity: Part One.

The recent furor (in some circles) over Chris Jenner has clarified for me some of the main misconceptions about transgender identity.

 Today, I'd like to start a series of post on the biological basis of sex and gender, move in to some basic logical assumptions from these biological realities, and end with what I believe some "next steps" are.  Oh, and probably go into a side-note on sexual identity since it ties  in as well.

 (For the curious, I'm a heterosexual cis-woman.  I'm not going to pretend I understand what it's like being transgendered.  I do know that change happens through both the bravery of the oppressed in society AND through the privileged groups in society challenging other members of the privileged group on hurtful and false beliefs.)

Problem number one: People use linguistic shortcuts that lead to massive confusion.

Bloggers keep using the terms "sex" and "gender" interchangeably and with far too wide a definition. 

Here are some biological / psychological terms used to better discuss the ideas that comprise "sex" and "gender".

Physical Sex: The definition of "sex" in this case describes the reproductive system especially the secondary sex characteristics of a person.  Humans have an instinctive ability to class other humans into two groups.  Humans who develop breasts, hips and little body hair are "female".  Humans who develop facial/body hair, increased muscle mass, and a deepened voice are "male".  This division has been found in all cultures throughout history and can be extremely difficult to circumvent in psychological experiments. 
For example, imagine two groups of people of different races and sex all dressed in white t-shirts and jeans.  One group makes statements that are "conservative" in nature.  The other group makes "liberal" statements.  Since both groups are wearing identical clothing, people will misremember quotes by gender (confusing one woman with another) and race (confusing one Caucasian with another) regardless of the side.  If you put the two sides in different colored t-shirts, the misremembering quotes by race nearly disappears while misremembering by gender stays constant.  From this, psychologists and evolutionary biologists believe that identifying humans by sex is biologically programmed.  In other words, babies are born with a script in their brains that says "Females look like this.  Males look like that."

Notice that this has nothing to do with cultural cues or expectations.  This is simply a decision about which of two binary categories ("female" or "male") a person falls into based on physical characteristics.

Using a binary system for physical sex has one big problem: some people are born with indeterminate external genitals.  This can happen because there are several different hormonal cascades and anatomical processes going on mostly independently of each other to form different parts of the internal and external reproductive systems during the first weeks of gestation.  If the fetal cells don't produce enough hormones, are exposed to the wrong hormone, or the cells are missing receptors to recognize the hormones, a reproductive system can form that is neither entirely female or entirely male.  (My high school kiddos were always curious is a person could develop an intact female and an intact male reproductive system.  The short answer: No.   The primordial gonads become ovaries OR testes. This is hormonally regulated and determinate so a dose of estrogen makes the tissue "become" female or a dose of testosterone makes the tissue "become" male.)  The best advice I've heard for parents who have a kid whose physical sex is not clear at birth - make a best guess from the doctor's advice on which physical sex the kid is, use the pronouns that match that physical sex, and be willing to change those pronouns when the kid is old enough to tell you what gender they are.

Genotypic Sex: This one has been tripping bloggers up left and right.  In humans, all living people have at least 1 X chromosome.  This is because the X chromosome has genes on it that are required for life and completely unrelated to the reproductive system.  For example, the X-chromosome has genes that control blood clotting and immune system regulation.  Some people have two or more X chromosomes. 

These people can be either male or female. 

See, the X chromosome doesn't do a ton in terms of sexual development.  In humans, the default sex that develops during the embryonic period is female through a built-in set of genetic instruction.

Humans without a Y chromosome will develop into a human with a female sex.

Now, the Y chromosome is different.  To start with, it's a ton smaller than the X chromosome and only carries a handful of active genes.  One of those genes (SRY) triggers male sexual development during the embryonic period.    SRY sets off a different set of chemical cascades that stops female reproductive development and promotes male sexual development.

Most people with a Y chromosome will develop into a human with a male sex.   But not all.

There are people who are of the female sex who have XY genotype.  This is caused by an allele on the X chromosome that blocks the effect of testosterone on fetal development. 

Plus, the sex chromosomes (X and Y) are the only pair in the human body that can be silenced (or turned off) when there are multiple copies.  This is standard operating procedure in XX humans; one of the two X chromosomes is randomly silenced in each cell.  This is also why calico cats are generally female - each colored orange or black patch of fur is caused by the silencing of one X gene while the white comes from a complicated interaction of genes.)  The Y gene is pretty near silent after the first few weeks of gestation.

Why did I bring that up?  Well, like all of biology, genotypic sex is more complicated than XX and XY.  You can have XO (only one copy of an X), or XXX or XXY or XYY or XXYY....the list goes on, and on and on.  Of all of these genotypes, only XO (Turner's syndrome) gives changes that are visible - and really only visible if you've studied about it.  We don't really know how many people are walking around with sexual genotypes other than XX, XY and XO. 

So,  when anyone tells you that Chris Jenner is XY in all of his cells, the only logical response is to ask how they saw his karyotype - the process of visualizing all of the chromosomes in a cell.  It's the only way to find out what genetic sex a person is.

Important take-aways:
  • Physical sex refers to which secondary sex characteristics a person has.  The binary nature of the system creates problems when someone has a reproductive system that is not fully female or male.
  • Genetic Sex refers to the compliment of sex chromosomes (X and Y) present in a person.  Ususally, a someone with a female physical sex is XX and a male physical sex is XY - but this cannot be determined without medical testing AND is not always true.
  • Our sexual characteristics are determined by hormonal cascades during early embryonic development.  These cascade generally produce female and male people, but can "misfire" and create individuals that have incomplete reproductive systems.
In my next post, I'll look at how "gender" and "gender identity" are different from physical sex and genetic sex.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Preparing to Be a Help Meet: Fleas - Part 3

Again, Debi need to reach out to someone who was dating during the early 1970's.  This story is pretty funny, though, and has some important messages to us all.

Do you believe God leads and guides people before they get saved?  Maybe even guides them in who they should marry?

Um.  I don't know because Catholics don't get saved - so I've never thought about that.

Here is what God did to my friend, Patricia.  She should be thankful; her rebuke was not nearly as bad as spiders.  So get ready to start scratching.  This is Patricia's flea story.

How are spiders worse than fleas?  Flea bites itch like hell.

God Knew me Before
Jesse started checking me out my first day at work.  For some reason he unnerved me.  When the people in my department would go on morning break, Jesse would stop by my table to chat.  I would jump up and go back to work.  I never knew what to say when he was around, so I would flee.  I think he is a King...bossy, dominant, forceful, and I don't know...he just seemed so classy that it scared me.

Nothing says "potential boyfriend material" like the words 'bossy, dominant and forceful'.

[Kingly Man interruption: Young men do well to bear in mind that a girl is who she is when she's not trying to impress a man.  A wise man observed, "Someone who is nice to you, but rude to the waiter, is not a nice person.]

The advice is pretty good.  The real test of a person's character is how they treat people who they are not trying to impress.  I don't know why the advice is addressed to young men, though, in a book marketed to young women.

Everyone in our circle of friends dated.  It was expected.  It was during the early 1970's and neither of us knew the Lord.  People I worked with encouraged me to get my own apartment so I could do my own thing.  To my regret, I listened to the troubled people who prodded me.  Once alone, I stepped into a new foreign world, a world filled with peers who pulled me far away from those who loved and cared for me.  My parents were very upset with my new life.  I soon learned why.


It's so funny watching people scramble to explain why freedoms they were allowed as young adults should be eliminated for future generations.

Let's be honest: the majority of young adults live outside of their parents' home - especially if they can support themselves financially.  Most date at some point.  Most parents welcome both as signs that the children they raised have grown into adulthood.

One day a girl at work told me, "You have to get it, you need to get on the birth control pill...everyone is."  She escorted me to Planned Parenthood.  Because I didn't want to risk my new friend, I went ahead and accepted the pills.  I felt sick, pushed into a life I didn't want.


That's the most absurd story yet! 

Why would a girl at work randomly tell Patricia she needed to be on the Pill?  Was Patricia sexually active?  Had horrifically bad periods?  Seriously, people don't just start yakking about birth control options over lunch unless someone brings it up.

Patricia had to have said she wanted to go to Planned Parenthood.  She also would have needed to talk with a nurse and explain that she wanted birth control pills.  No one hands out hormonal birth control options like candy. 

Plus, no one forced her to take the pills once she accepted the prescription.

Big life lesson: No one can push you into a life you don't want without using violence or coercion.  Being a wimp who can't speak up for herself doesn't make your friends bullies - but it does make you a great mark for abusive

During my youth I had disdained my parents' religion, but now I felt a need to try again.  I didn't want my rebellious friends leading me down paths I didn't even like.  I wanted to think for myself.  One Sunday, I went back to church but left in the middle of the service; I knew I was being rude, but it seemed so dead.

A minor theme of this chapter seems to be "Adult women who act like pre-teens".  Waiting until the end of the service to leave would have required patience and a sense of humor.  It would be different if the service was triggering or insulting - but wandering out because you are bored makes you sound about 12.

The more I was with my new friends the less I thought about God.  One night I went to a party. Jesse was there.  I was still nervous around him, but since he was there I was forced to talk to him.  Then he asked if he could call me and maybe we could go out sometime.  I said; "Sure!"  I really didn't think he would ever call me.

Wow.  Patricia's a door mat, not a person.

I've been at parties with people I didn't want to talk with.  Guess what?  I didn't talk to them.  It's not hard; just pretend you're bored at church and wander off. 

If you don't like someone, don't give them your number and tell them you'd like to go on a date.  That was really rude. 

Not long after that Jesse asked me on a date.  After just a few dates, somehow I felt that I would be his wife. 

Notice the conspicuous lack of details about what she liked about Jesse.  Maybe one of her pesky friends left a bridal magazine on a table in the office and that caused Patricia to get married. 

 My relationship with my parents began to improve, so I moved back home.  Even so, I would not have admitted to my parents or even to myself that I had been willful and rebellious towards my parents in my recent lifestyle.  I still felt they had just not understood me.  I had a lot of baggage (self-centered will) in the attic of my life, and it would come back to haunt me, but at that time all I could think of was Jesse.

Psst!  Debi, the SAHD movement didn't exist in the 1970's.  Shoehorning this story to fit the 2000's CP trends makes the story absurd.

Well,  more absurd.

One evening while having dinner with my family I announced that I might marry Jesse.  I didn't know for sure, but down deep in my heart I felt peace.  Jesse made a similar announcement to his family.  Neither of us knew about the other's declaration. 

*Raises an eyebrow*

Smooth, Patricia.

I stuck to talking about my boyfriend all the time and making heaps of favor - sized jams and butters.  Ok, I wasn't very subtle, but my family won't be having a new favorite story of the time I announced I may marry my boyfriend - you know - if he asks.

A month later, in January, he proposed.

Hmm. Does asking Patricia to get married mean that Jesse is pushing her into a life she doesn't want?

After our engagement, I realized Jesse was Jewish.  Wow! Was I excited! As a young child I had a deep love and respect for the Jewish people.  I felt that Jesse was a gift from God. 


Wait.  Patricia didn't know the religion of her boyfriend before they got engaged?  Even if Jesse wasn't practicing Judaism, wouldn't he have mentioned something about how they celebrated (or didn't ) Christmas?

 Six months later we married.  I thought that such a fairytale romance would surely lead to happily ever after.
May God prevent such fairytales.

AntiPearl:  Synopsis from King of the Hilll - Luanne Virgin 2.0 - the episode satires people who marry near-strangers to avoid having sex outside of marriage.  Luanne Platter has known Rhett for less than 24 hours at this point.

"[Luanne Platter]  announces that she's excited to be "Mrs. Rhett Platter". Luanne informs an amused Rhett that she was afraid that she wouldn't like his last name, and quickly changes her mind when Rhett tells her that his last name is Van Der Graafs. She loves it, and is equally pleased with the encouragement of Uncle Hank, who hails them "the Van Der Graafs"."

Preparing to Be a Help Meet: Fleas - Part Two

Debi's mind works in strange, strange ways. 


Before Patricia's flea story, I want to tell you one of my own insect nightmares.  Years ago I got mad at my neighbor for being offensive to her husband.  I stewed, fumed, and even fussed about it to some friends.  I knew I was acting ugly, but I kept my grudge.

Debi is angry that her neighbor is being rude to the neighbor's husband.  Debi is so angry at this behavior that she's ruminating on the slight and gossiping behind the neighbor's back.

Is Debi twelve?  This is age-appropriate for twelve-year old girls, not an adult woman. 

She actually has a grudge about her neighbors' marital life.  How insane.

One night I grabbed a house coat to put it on and out fell a dangerous spider.  I freaked!  Spiders are the worst scary thing! 

OMG!  Spiders are totes scary!  Wanna go to the mall after practice?  I can get my mom to drive!

See, Debi still sounds like she's about twelve.

For the next week or so I thoroughly shook out every piece of clothing I put on. 

That's a sane and sensible reaction.  Spiders get into houses and like to hide/rest in dark, warm, enclosed areas like clothing. 

Somehow I knew God was rebuking me for badmouthing my neighbor.  Several other times I had a spider jump out of my towel or coat.


How did Debi decide that?  I've never badmouthed my neighbor for being snotty to her husband and I've had spiders jump out of clothing, towels and even (gasp!) bedding.

I don't recommend combing your memory for potential problems every time you see an insect.  The two aren't related - and you'll just end up jumpy, guilt-ridden and paranoid.

 I lived in tension, nervous for the judgement I knew God was waiting to give me the first time my guard was down. 

Now I'm confused. 

 I always figured "Divine Judgment" was quick, clear and dramatic.  "Debi badmouths neighbor; God infests her house with spiders; Debi stops" is the traditional story line.  In that genre, God doesn't sit around messing with you; the punishment is quick and precise.

 Now sometimes the story has a twist where the person doesn't believe in the punishment is divine, repeats the old behavior and receives a more visible punishment that causes them to stop.  But Debi seems aware that badmouthing her neighbor is wrong AND that spiders are being sent by God to punish her.  Did she just decide to keep on bashing her neighbor and hope the spiders got lost on the way to her house?

(Bluntly, I don't believe in divine punishments.  The world has plenty of consequences for acting like a jerk without needing God butting in.  For example, I bet Debi's gossiping, judgmental ways have caused her to have far fewer friends than most of her neighbors.  No need for spiders for that cause and effect.)

Early one morning I heard someone beating on my door.  I jumped out of bed and grabbed my jeans off the floor.  You guessed it, I had one leg all the way in and was hopping around trying to shove the other leg in when out popped the biggest hairiest, most terrible looking spider this side of Papua New Guinea.  I fell on my rump kicking and screaming and fighting with those jeans.

Debi would have been farther ahead to have STOMPED on the spider rather than thrashing around on the floor. 

  I never did find the spider, but I tell you I shut my mouth about my neighbor and have kept it shut.  Furthermore, I gave up on jeans.  They are too hard to get off.

Hmm.  What if the spider is a subconscious projection of her guilt about being so rude?  Maybe the spider exists only in her mind....

Actually, Debi never really stopped talking about that neighbor.  I suspect the entirety of her book "Created to Be a Help Meet" is one long crab fest about that neighbor.

Jeans can be tricky to get off in a hurry but they are much safer in a lab or most agricultural settings than a long skirt.  Plus, imagine how hard it would be to get a spider out of a long peasant skirt.

If you continue in the sin of bitterness or speaking badly of a fellow believer, and you don't have any fear of God doing weird or scary things to you, then you'd better check your relationship with the eternal God.  Chances are you don't have one....a relationship, that is. He does not let believers continue in sin.

God lets us do as we wish.  That's the essence of free will.  In Debi's world, God apparently strikes out at people using arachnids, but Debi still could choose to bash her neighbor.  God didn't STOP her from doing that.  (And - at the risk of beating a dead horse - SHE'S NEVER STOPPED PICKING AT HER NEIGHBORS.)

"What shall we say then?  Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?  God forbid.  How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?" (Romans 1:1-2) (sic)

I'm not great at memorizing Bible verses, but I can tell you that that's NOT Romans 1:1-2 or the first few verses of any of the Epistles.  They start with a greeting like letters often do.  Plus, the verses are obviously referring to a previous idea.  There must have been a typo because it's Romans 6:1-2.

Equally notable is the fact the verse doesn't support spiders being used as a tool to punish gossiping women.    I guess you could stretch Exodus 8:16-32 and Exodus 10:1-19 if you wanted to.

Speaking of weaponized insects:

AntiPearl:  I love Bob's Burgers.  Nico and I use the term "wool of the sheep" now because of this insect driven vignette.

(Three cartoon preteens are sitting by a campfire.  The youngest, Louise (9), is reading from a post-apocalyptic survival guidebook.  The oldest, Tina (12), is a member of the "Thundergirls" a wonderfully accurate satire of Girl Scouts. Gene (11)is the girls' brother. Tina is holding a bunch of pointy sticks as they read about how to build a shelter.) 
 Louse(reading): "Remember the 30 sticks you've sharpened to a deadly point?"
Gene: Yeah.
Louise(reading): "They will now be utilized."
Tina:  Oh, I thought they were for some kind of skit. Thundergirls do skits around the campfire.
Louise (skeptical and snide):What skit would that possibly be for?

Tina: I don't know. You should see some of the skits that get produced.
Gene:Look at this part. They say insects can and should be weaponized.
Louise (reading again) "Beware of any organization that rewards members with empty titles or trinkets. These are the wool of the sheep."

~Bob's Burgers "A River Runs Through Bob"

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Preparing to Be a Help Meet: Fleas - Part One

I made a blogger decision to skip Chapter 14.  It's a story about how Sheila and Shad Williams saved their marriage through Jesus.  The problem?  First, their marriage wasn't in (much) trouble.  Second, they were married at some point before 1975. 

Yup.  Debi has started padding the book with stories from her contemporaries rather than using her shaky creative writing skills.

Moral To The Story: Who you are as a single girl will be who you are as a married woman.  If you are lazy, you will remain lazy.  If you are rebellious, you will carry it into marriage.  If, at present, you are obedient and cheerful and a servant to others then your marriage will be blessed.

Yes...and no.  People's personalities can undergo fairly drastic changes until age 35-ish.  After 35, personality characteristics become less malleable.  Clearly, marrying someone with the expectation that their personality will change dramatically is a poor choice.

I object to the sentence that was underlined in the book.  First, I object to the horrific abuse of the English language that occurred in writing that sentence.  Second, being obedient, cheerful and a servant will not lead to a blessed marriage if you married Michael Pearl. 

A Caution: Beware of spiders, fleas, snakes, bats and mice, in addition to any other small terror that might come your way.


I like bats.  We almost always have a spider or two that live in our bathroom.  I call the spider Gwendolyn. 

It's time for a few basic lessons that will help you transition into becoming a wife.  You will learn that God expects you to honor and reverence your husband even when he quietly allows you to continue your disobedience.  If you do not learn, God can and will come to your husband's aid if you ignore your husband's wishes.

According to the first chapter of this book, God can't do anything unless you pray and a legion of angels gets involved.

That's easy enough to avoid if you marry someone who doesn't pray. 

In this chapter Patricia tells us how God used Fleas to help her come to understand that quiet disobedience would not be tolerated.  Over my lifetime I have observed that God uses all manner of things to get his children to conform to his will.  Knowing that God is thus working to mature us is comforting and, at times, scary.

Debi's God is trite, petty and terrifying. To me, this a reflection of Debi's small-minded nature and wish for vengeance against everyone she doesn't like.

AntiPearl:"God created man in his own image.  And man, being a gentleman, returned the favor."* 

(*Not sure who the original quote should be attributed to; I heard it in "Inherit the Wind" by Jerome Lawrence and Robert James Lee.)

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Preparing to Be a Help Meet: The Wedding - Part 6

Debi spends quite a bit of time asking Yetta questions about her wedding.  Since I find going over the details of a wedding of a person I don't know dull, I'm just gonna pick out pertinent questions.

Q: Your flowers were great, too.  I liked the fall colors.  They must have cost a lot?
A: I have a story about the flowers.  When Kent and I first began to see each other we both started saving money for our wedding and our honeymoon.  Together we decided how much we would spend for each part of the wedding. 

I like that Yetta and Kent decided the budget together.  Planning finances together as a pair is a crucial skill for spouses - and a skill that Debi is far to willing to skip by declaring that the man is the only voice that matters.

 We had decided to do very basic flowers; then God blessed us with the unexpected.  For several years I had been going to the nursing home to pick up and do the laundry for an old lady who had had a stroke.  When I knew I was going to be married, I called the old lady's son to let him know my sister would be doing the laundry from now on.  The man said to me, "Yetta, I am a florist.  I have my own shop, and I would like to do the flowers for your wedding as a gift for what you have done for my mother."  All those beautiful flowers were a gift.  He arranged everything.  The color and style was his choice.  After all, that's what he does professionally, so I figured he would know best.This story - as always - makes me feel conflicted.

Offering to provide flowers for Yetta's wedding as a thank you was a generous and handsome gesture for the old woman's son. 

My conflict comes from the fact that the majority of good works don't result in huge dividends.   No one who reads this book should expect a relative of someone they helped to offer to cover wedding expenses. 

I also find Yetta's willingness to let the florist choose the color and style....odd.

I liked picking out the flowers for our wedding.  I hope either that she didn't care about the flowers or explained the basics of her preferences - fall colors; country style, or Asian inspired or whatever - and let him pick out the rest.

Since I am telling my story, I would like to tell all the girls reading this: if I were young and just getting started in a job, I would start right away to setting back ten percent of all I made for my future marriage.  I am glad I was able to save for a few months, but just think if I had saved for years!

I would hope that stay-at-home daughters who are working outside the home could sock away at least 10%.  I suspect, though, that minimum wage jobs or family businesses + huge families still at home means that many of these women are subsidizing their younger siblings food and clothing.

  I really think young women need to know that it is not someone's job to supply all their needs and pay for everything for their wedding.  If they come into the marriage like that, and they expect to be provided for as a daughter, they will come into marriage with that mentality.  They will have little to give, and will just be a taker.  Anyway, that 's my opinion.

There's a strange lack of nuance in that paragraph.   I agree that no one is guaranteed or entitled to their parents - or their parents by way of TLC - will pay for their wedding. 

On the flip side, many parents view paying for a daughter's wedding as a honor.  My parents would have been hurt if my husband and I refused to let them pay for any part of the wedding. 

Of course, I was raised to expect to support myself with a career.  Since Debi et al expect adult , unmarried women to remain servile to their parents' wishes wants and desires, I think it is reasonable for the daughters to expect financial support for their weddings.

But then, I also think parents who require courtship have a duty to actively seek out partners for their daughters and should receive societal disapproval for failure to do so.  *cough* Duggars *cough*Botkin*cough*  You want the control; take the responsibilities that come with it.

Q: Are you sad you had to wait so long before the magic day?

A: It's funny because I was happy being single.  Even as the years passed and everyone around me married, I still felt my life was blessed and full.  I stayed busy. I made myself useful to a  lot of people.  I didn't stay at home moping.  Sure, I had days I was a little sad thinking I might not ever find My One True Love  and have children.  I think those down times are from the devil.  I am so glad I spent my life working, reaching out to others, and loving life.  I'll pour that same fullness into my man.

People kept saying something like that to my husband since he made it 31 *gasp!* before he married.  Yetta was much more polite than I was.  I'd look at people and say "Well, he hadn't met me yet...." and then stare at them until they went away.  If they didn't change the subject, I'd add "So which of his previous girlfriends do you think he should have married?"

Ask an embarrassing question; get one in return.  :-P

Q: Now for the moment of truth.  What has been the one practical that has been difficult on you as a new wife?

A: I wouldn't say that it has been difficult on me, but it has been somewhat of a challenge having a meal on the table three times a day, or at least breakfast, then packing him a lunch and then a good meal in the evening.  A man likes his food, and I surely want to please my man.  It is easy to forget to plan a meal that includes laying out the basic foods (like meat to thaw) and then walk in the house at the last minute and wonder what to cook.  I have to make myself buy and plan ahead.

Debi, she's been married for two weeks.  For most of us, that's EASY. My answer would have been "um....writing thank you notes that don't sound canned?  Is that a thing?  Learning how to load a dishwasher is kinda tricky, I guess, but so much easier than hand washing them.  Uh....yeah. "

You had a taste of your future as Michael's wife: sexual assault, emotional neglect and being treated as dumb servant in your first two weeks. 

That's NOT NORMAL.  You should have run away.

AntiPearl: The picture on the left is my husband, me, Oma and Opa (Nico's grandparents).  We got married in late June because it worked for my teaching schedule.  Opa, when he heard about the date, teased me that the proper time of the year to get married was between November and January to avoid messing with the farming schedule.  He'd then look extremely sad and mention that he'd have to miss a day of chopping hay.  My "revenge": His boutonniere is made of corn leaves, alfalfa flowers, and some ripe wheat so he'd have some farm crops with him all day.  What I didn't realize is that having the bride pin the flowers on is a super-huge honor in the Netherlands; he was so proud and it's one of my favorite memories.