Sunday, November 6, 2016

It's Not That Complicated: Chapter 12-Part 2

I love this section!  There are two themes running through the middle of this chapter.

 Theme one: A pair of highly sheltered very young women have determine what ALL men need in a wife. This theme is a hoot because any person who has been in a satisfying long-term relationship can shoot massive holes in this theme (and believe me, you will be seeing me take aim.)

Theme two: Anna Sofia and Elizabeth Botkin are the most eligible women ever since they have all of the skills a man needs! This theme is rather depressing because it shows that neither of the Botkin Sisters - or their "editors" - can recognize a massive personal bias.

For every girl we know asking why so few young men are "ready," we know a young man asking where the ready and eligible girls are. Our brothers and their friends have told us that many of the qualities girls have cultivated to make themselves "eligible" are things that won't come up on young men's radar screens, and the qualities that young men are most looking for have been neglected. [...]
The first step in understanding how we can become "helper suitable" is to understand what exactly a man is supposed to be doing that he would need help with. A man who is taking Dominion (Genesis 1: 28), discipling the nations (Matthew 28: 19), and feeding Christ's sheep (John 21: 15 - 17) is going to require more of his wife then the ability to iron a shirt, cook a meal, and look good on his arm. We may not be able to predict whether our husbands will have a use for stenography skills over musical proficiency or business acumen, but what every good man we'll need from his wife (no matter what he does) will be a willingness to get her hands dirty, be stretched, learn new things, work hard, and die to herself. (pg. 215)
  • Ninety percent of my graduate program is learning how to read technical papers and how to check for mistakes in the procedure.  
    • Tip One: Make sure that the reference group or sample group is representative of the population as a whole.
      • The reference group for this "case study" is the Botkin Bros - two of which would have been teenagers when this book was written - and the friends of said brothers.
        • Implications: The reference group is highly sheltered and members of the same closed system of beliefs.  At the same time, many of the members have been raised by the same people and are more similar in beliefs than an average random sample from a closed system.
      • Outcome: This "case study" may be of value if you are a) a Botkin Brother, or  b) a friend of the Botkin Brothers, but is of limited value for the rest of humanity.
  • I don't mean to be wry, but being a good cook IS a way of feeding Christ's sheep.  See most ministries involving homeless people.  
  • I'll be willing to bet that business acumen - as indicated by the ability to hold a job, grow a career, or build a business - will be much more in demand than either stenography skills or musical proficiency in the absence of business skills.
  • In the real world, relatively few available men are in business for themselves.  Most people work for other people.  As such, most men (and most women) don't need specific skills from their spouse to grow their career.  My husband gave me a few new ideas for labs to do with my students and a listening ear when I needed to blow off steam.  That's honestly about as much as most spouses do directly for the other spouse's career.
Godly men need women who have intrepidity, courage, and sturdy virtue to come alongside of them in the rigors of  their lives. They also need wives who have a good grasp of such things as current affairs, worldview, and politics, and who care about the things their husbands are interested in and involved in. They need helpers who recognized that loving their men means loving the mission and the work their men are called to do (pg. 215-216).
  • OMG!  All men totes need the three things that the Botkin Family likes to pretend they are good at - current affairs, "worldview" and politics!   You should totes marry us!
  • Any bets on how much the Botkin Sisters understand about:
    • Educating politicians about the benefits and drawbacks of using Generally Accepted Agricultural Management Practices (GAAMP) as guidelines for nuisance suits involving farms?  
    • The potential benefits and problems with implementation of Common Core standards with the legal testing requirements in Michigan? 
    • Common issues with the standardized testing options available for determining how well secondary and post-secondary students understand the nature of science?
    • And yet, I know single men who work in each of these areas - and really don't want to hear about "worldview" or - God forbid - Geoffrey Botkin's thoughts on Brexit.
  • The best irony - the Botkin Sisters know women who were poorly prepared for what their husband actually needed from them in terms of career skills!  To be fair, this example was published after the book, but the Botkin Sisters have never retracted their views on this point.  I've linked the blog post about Genevieve (Smith) de Deugd's experiences of her first four months of marriage.  I've also pulled some choice sections: 

"We knew that working together on projects and in Pete’s sawmilling/woodworking business would add another dimension to our relationship, strengthen our marriage, grow our friendship and be a whole lot of fun!"
  • I'll give the de Deugds' credit: working in a spouse's business can either be great for a marriage or destroy a marriage in short time.  
    • For our marriage, we've decided it's healthiest for me to stay outside of the farm in terms of a career.  Family businesses can bring a lot of family baggage and I'm a better resource for my husband as a person outside of the system.  
 "Being a daughter in my father’s home and helping him was predominantly an intellectual and sedentary lifestyle. Being a wife in my husband’s home and helping him involves a lot of manual work and is a very active lifestyle. I’ve had a lot to learn."
  • I am intrigued by the fact that Genevieve thinks her dad's ministry that promotes homeschooling was more intellectual than doing sawmilling and woodworking.  I'm guessing that that dichotomy is mainly due to the fact that she's still learning about running a sawmill and woodworking.  The more advanced woodworking and sawmilling skills require some pretty solid mathematics skills.  
  • Is having Genevieve learn how to do some really basic work on the machinery really the best use of her talents?  Presumably, she learned a bit about marketing and website design in her work with her dad.  Rather than have her duplicate what her husband is doing, wouldn't the family have been better served by having her work to increase business?  (Or - gasp- bring in independent income through a job/career of her own?)
  • When I was first dating my husband, I thought that I would be learning how to milk cows and do other basic labor around the farm.  When we got more serious, my husband was very clear that he wanted to marry a wife who would be a partner in his life - not a substitute milker.  Plus, I could bring in more income and benefits by having an outside career.  When I moved out to the farm, I realized that my main benefit to the farm was understanding more about human resource management to give my husband support as the amount of time he spent managing workers increased.   I've still never milked a cow or driven a tractor; it's just not a good use of my time or skills.
  • I hope that she learned that wearing skirts around a shop and in junkyards is not a safe idea.  I've given up wearing shorts on the farm when I'm working in the shop or up in the haymow because my legs get cut up but good.  
Back to the Botkin Sisters....

A girl recently asked us what is the number one thing that most girls fail to learn in order to be ready for marriage. For years, we've been advocates for girls amassing a rigorous education, vast inter-disciplinary knowledge, boatloads of practical skills, and the like. But since watching two of our brothers choose their companions for life, we've had a slight shift in our understanding of what men really need. "The capacity for deep relationships," we replied. A wife and mother's job will call out many different strengths and abilities and each of us, we explained her, but the most important of all will be our ability to develop real relationships. If we get married, the biggest impact of our lives will come from our relationships with our husbands and our relationships with our children. If we never marry, the biggest contributions of our lives should still be our fruit for relationships with those around us (pg. 218).
  • Again, the Botkin Sisters begin with a vision of wifehood in which the wife is mainly a tool.  Actually, they never move off of the idea that women are supposed to be handy tools for men.  Their view of marriage isn't two people joined and growing within a marriage and raising up kids to be healthy adults; instead, women are a tool to develop relationships between people.
  • I do appreciate the Botkin Sisters' understanding that our main legacy is from our relationships with others; that's a worldview I can support.  I am disappointed, however, that the Sisters can't make the next connection that our relationships outside of our families can be as vital, as fulfilling and as live-changing as being a daughter, sister, wife and/or mother.
There is one post left in this series!  One post.  Wow.  There is an entire chapter on contentment, but there's no meat to it so I'm not going to waste time going over it.  I've got my next book picked out - a short one for a break from the Botkin Sisters for a month or two.   Last post: The Botkin sisters make a list of things that they are allowed to judge people on.  Plenty of fat-shaming, too.  May as well go out on a "high" point.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

It's Not That Complicated: Chapter 12 - Part One

Chapter 12 is titled "What a Man Needs at His Side: How to Become a Girl a Man Would Want as a Wife as Well as a Friend.  Ironically, I can start by parsing the problems with the title of the chapter.
  • The first word of the chapter title is an interesting Freudian slip.  The Botkin Sisters use "What" - a term used to designate an object in English - instead of "Who".  A man apparently doesn't need a woman; he needs a tool.
  • Girls shouldn't marry.  Girls are by definition immature and still growing.  A man who is looking for a wife is looking for a woman or a lady.  (If a man is looking to marry a girl, he's not going to be a good husband.)
  • A healthy friendship is the cornerstone of a marriage.  CP/QF bloggers and talking heads get all wound up about sex and raising children - and forget the basics.  The tools used to keep a long-term friendship going are the same tools that are used in a marriage.

We knew from the beginning that this could not be a book about how to get married, as neither of us have had any personal experience doing that. However, in writing about how to be the kind of woman that the men around us need us to be, we knew that we couldn't ignore the elephant in the room: girls want to know what young men need in the one woman that is going to stand by them for the rest of their lives. What do they need in their best friend? What do they need their helpmeet? (pg.209)