Thursday, June 28, 2018

Maidens of Virtue: Scrapbooking Hell

I have a confession to make.  I hate scrapbooking with a passion that I generally reserve for important matters.   My mother-in-law made one good-hearted and genuine attempt to sell me on the joys of making scrapbooks soon after I married.   She loves scrapbooking and hoped it would be something we could do together.  I made it clear that was never going to happen.   I have a hard time explaining exactly why I hate it - but let me give it a shot.

  • With mild cerebral palsy, using scissors to cut little shapes out of colored papers is physically painful when the muscles in the palms of my hands cramp up and exasperating because I will have a spasm that causes the scissors to cut in the wrong place destroying the shape.  
  • I like looking at photos.  I like arranging and curating descriptions for photos if needed.  Adding a bunch of doo-dabs and frills around the photo distracts from the photos themselves in my opinion.  
  • Those doo-dabs and frills seem insanely expensive especially since the final project must be carefully protected from all forms of liquid or oil or light. 
I think most of these issues boil down to the fact that I arrange my home on utilitarian principles. That's my fancy way of  saying I don't like knick-knacks or purely decorative items that require more care than being hung on a wall and dusted every few months.   I add color and interest by purchasing or making visually interesting functional items.  I crocheted a three-color interlocking block patterned afghan made with 7 bold colors to add a splash of color to my beige apartment; it looked good and was warm.   I made a wall of metal hooks in our kitchen to hang pans, skillets, strainers and oddly shaped utensils; it's visually catching and freed up a lot of space in the cupboards.  The central decorative focus in bedrooms is a brightly colored or intricately patterned quilt; they are easy to swap out for guests and provide lots of warmth in an old farmhouse.

Keep this in mind as we slog through the scrapbook section; it's pretty close to my version of hell.

The scrapbook appendix starts with a nostalgic fable about how current maidens will someday show their scrapbook of purity to their grandkids:

"This is the scrapbook your mother and I made together during our Maidens of Virtue study. She was 14 and so full of questions. I felt terribly ill equipped to teach her since no one had ever taught me. As God faithfully revealed his truth to us both, I learned what it means to be a true maiden of virtue by watching God create one- your mother."

Elizabeth hugged her grandmother tightly. " Grandma!" she cried, " I want to become a maiden of virtue just like Mommy was. Do you think that's why Daddy wanted to marry her so much?"

" Yes, Elizabeth, I think your mother's purity and virtue probably had quite a bit to do with your father's interest in her." She smiled. (pg. 195)

First, I enjoy how Stacy McDonald manages to imply that Grandma was a sexual pervert; after all, Grandma had never been a "Maiden of Virtue".  (Also, I read "Maiden of Virtue" in a combination superhero-Oprah voice which makes the entire experience more pleasant.)

Second, don't marry a guy who is interested in your "purity".   That's a sign of abnormal psychology and you don't want to get into that mess.

Third, my husband's grandmother who recently passed away had been married to Opa for 66 years.  He first saw her on a boat passing under a bridge in the Netherlands.  He turned to a friend of his and asked "Hey, who's woman with the great knockers?"  (*After many detailed discussions with native Dutch speakers, the general consensus is that the closest English terms for breasts would be "tits", "knockers" or "hooters" depending on region.)  The well-endowed woman was the friend's younger sister - and Opa lost his ride home.  To this day, he swears it was worth walking 4 miles (and pissing off his friend) to find out who that lovely young woman was.   Their marriage survived living in two different countries where they didn't speak the language, four children and the problems of farm life - so I wouldn't put too much emphasis on the importance of "purity" in a marriage partner.

Virtue, on the other hand, is important - but only if it includes the virtues of patience, forbearance, courage, justice, faith (in the broader sense of believing in goals larger than self), hope and love.  If virtue is being used as a signal word for "I'm sexually inexperienced, see the third section.

Apparently, a major part of making the scrapbook of a "Maiden of Virtue" is forcing yourself to enjoy one specific style of femininity as evidenced by this strangely detailed list of ideas for page decorations:

Antique engravings or illustrations from books beautiful, feminine images cut out of old stationary, calendars, or greeting cards ( examples: flowers, babies, leaves, herbs, dresses, ladies, carriages, perfume bottles, bonnets, Victorian-style letters and graphics, teacups, teapots, baking scenes, and cottages) (pg. 197)

Yeah.  The Victorian Era - especially for middle/upper class women - is my version of hell.  I can visualize what that scrapbook page looks like and I want to consign the page to a bonfire.

What is the purpose of idolizing this anyways?  A young woman can fill a scrapbook with pictures of hoop-skirts, ball gowns and bonnets, but she's not going to spend her life wearing them especially if she's from the lower income levels of CP/QF.  I enjoy flower arranging, growing herbs and cooking - but making a scrapbook page of those things doesn't increase a girl's skill level in those areas nearly as much as actually doing those things.

Probably not allowed to make the babies look like they're getting drunk on perfume bottles that look like tiny flasks, huh?  And yet....that's what mine would have looked like.

Final note: Please don't destroy real books to make a scrapbook; that's gross and short-sighted.

The next series of projects is categorized under "Memory Making Projects" - but one of the projects feels a lot like a biography report I did in 4th-6th grade:

Memory making projects

Read a biography, or glean information from the encyclopedia or Internet about her life. Make sure you use the sources and take plenty of notes. Write down specific anecdotes or sketches from her life. Was she married? How many children did she have? Will she persecuted or murdered for her faith? What makes you think she was a Godly woman? (...)

Lady Jane Grey

Katie Luther

Corrie Ten Boom

Sarah Edwards

Susanna Wesley

Anne Bradstreet

Elizabeth Prentiss

Florence Nightingale

Your mother or grandmother

a Godly Titus 2 woman in your life (pgs. 201-202)

Good luck finding a biography, reference book or online encyclopedia on your mother, grandmother or that nice lady from your church. 

I ran quick internet searches for the other ladies - there's plenty of information on all of the women (especially if you recognize "Katie Luther" as Katharina Luther or Katharina von Bora) except Sarah Edwards.  She was the wife of Jonathan Edwards who preached "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God".  All I could scratch together on her was the fact that she was married to Edwards who was impressed by her piety and that they had eleven children.  I suppose Mrs. McDonald may view that as an adequate amount of information to scatter on a page among pictures of children playing with flowers in carriages with Gothic font - but I wouldn't send a kid off after such a scantly researched person.  Of course...she might have meant Esther Edwards Burr.  The third daughter of Jonathan and Sarah Edwards, she left behind a series of letters in a journal that describe her life and theological leanings.

I wonder if it is by design that the two women who were unmarried and childless were Ten Boom (who is about the only person on the list I would recommend a kid research because she's awesome) and Florence Nightingale.  I've got no beef with Nightingale - but I doubt McDonald has really looked into her actual life accomplishments in statistics, epidemiology, and professionalizing nursing compared to the romantic myth of "The Lady with the Lamp".

Mrs. McDonald has a thing about baths and cleanliness being next to godliness.  Enjoy this insanely detailed outline of how to make a page about the joys of bathing.

Powdered and perfumed

Create a "Powdered and Perfumed" page. Find Scripture verses pertaining to cleanliness and purity, and place them in hand-drawn "bath bubbles." Write out short statements that were meaningful to you during the section of study. Be sure to communicate why you think cleanliness is important.

Use graphics, photos, stickers, or drawings of things pertaining to the bath. Decorate further with dried lavender, rose petals, or decorative soap wrappers.

Graphic or drawing suggestions:

Old fashioned bathtub, shampoo bottles, perfume bottles, herbs, soap, towels, bubbles, bathroom, Victorian dressing down, vanity table, slippers, rubber duck, scrub brush, water faucet, clotheslines, wash bucket. (pg. 203-204)

I can see an immediate problem for me.  I do not own and do not want to own decorative soaps - or the wrappers they are sold in.    I'm sure there are ways to place decorative soap wrappers in a scrapbook tastefully, but mine would end up being crumpled messes held in place with Scotch tape.  Eventually, the wrappers would drop into the lap of unsuspecting victims like a mis-sized glitter bomb.

Earlier, Mrs. McDonald rightfully pointed out that floral material needs to be stored in waxed paper envelopes within the scrapbook.  Decorating the bath section with rose petals and lavender will both hasten the breakdown of the scrapbook from acids within the plants and attract a fascinating series of mites.  (Ask me how I know...)

The repeated descriptions of lotions, soaps and powders are making my skin itch.....

The best way to normalize a new, strange ritual is to include descriptions of a daughter pledging her heart to her father over and over and over:

A daughter's heart

Compose a poem or letter to your father describing your trust in his guidance. Let him know by your words that you are committed to remaining pure and are thankful for his protection and leadership.

You could take the idea from chapter 18 and plan to give a symbolic " heart" to your father as a gift. has various unique and reasonably priced heart charms to choose from. Ask your mother if she is interested in contributing to your project by buying a chain or pin from which the charm can dangle. It will be a great blessing for him to have a reminder that you have willingly surrendered your "heart" to him.

Make a "kingly protector" scrapbook page. Fill it was father-daughter momentos. Include poems, letters, photos, postcards, or other reminders of your relationship. Be sure to include special photos of the giving or receiving of heart charms, promise rings, or other symbolic gifts. (pg. 204)

I laugh every time I think of the poor fathers whose daughters stumbled into EmoPure themselves who get this insane letter from their daughters.  I suspect that if I had handed that letter to my dad, either he - or more likely my mom - would have had a serious sit-down talk with me about....dunno really.....growing up?  Being an adult? Not letting fear control my life?  The creepiness of an Electra complex? 

Much to my surprise, the site is still fully operational - but hardly what I would call affordable for most CP/QF families.  The cheapest heart charms are $30.00 each.  I also cannot find any masculine jewelry that could hold a heap of heart charms. 

How many letters can you fit on a scrapbook page?  One?  For families in which the father doesn't do long distance travel, how many letters or postcards do dads write to their kids?   Of course, mine would be decorated with scraps of theatrical lighting gels that I purloined interspaced with Canadian coins and bills. When I was a kid, I was fascinated by lighting gels - but I wasn't allowed to play with them because the oils on hands can degrade the material... so I collected the tiny scraps leftover from burnt gels from my Dad's productions.   Dad took a yearly trip to Stratford, Canada with his high school students to watch a well-done Shakespeare play.  He brought us back souvenirs - but my favorite was always the far-cooler Canadian coins.   Long live the loonies and toonies!

Courtship and marriage
 Write a short letter to God indicating your trust in him and that you are committed to remaining faithful to your future spouse (whether a husband or the Lord, if God calls you to remain unmarried). Decorate it with beautiful fonts, stickers, flowers or other embellishments, and place it in your scrapbook. Include Scripture that relates to purity, trust, faithfulness, contentment, and joy. Pray that God will guard your future husband's heart and help him to remain pure in thought and deed for you as well. Ask the Lord to bless your womb and give you children to train up for his glory.

Warning! Be careful to guard your heart against of obsessing. Remember that God is sovereign and it is possible he may call you to single maidenhood. Remember, God will not only equip and give you special grace for whatever he calls you to do, he will also give you joy in it! Therefore, be content. Ask your mother if she feels it is wise for you to do this project. If it might cause you to fall into temptation, it is better that you skip this one. (pg. 204)

Warning!  This is a bad idea.  If young women are following this advice literally, they are stuck writing a strangely divided letter that declares their trust in God who will decide if they should marry or stay single - but the girl would really appreciate it if God keeps her future husband's heart pure...and blesses her womb with kids....unless she's going to be single. 

I don't know which would be worse - coming upon this letter years later as a SAHD in her late thirties who expected to be a mother celebrating her 15th anniversary by this point or coming upon this letter as an unhappily married woman who is feeling trapped because of her large family and few job prospects.

We have one post left in this series: A series of ridiculously shallow questions on the great classic novel "Jane Eyre" by Charlotte Bronte!

Monday, June 25, 2018

Spiritual Self-Defense: Make Your Plan - Part Two

I believe that the Botkin Sisters have succumbed to a terrible unintended by-product of Purity Culture or Emotional Purity: they believe that they are worthy of love and respect from a good man only because they are virgins. I think it is this belief more than anything that leads them to the strange standoff they are in now where victims are not to be blamed for being raped while still holding beliefs that if women just do everything right they will not be raped.  The Botkin Response to sexual threats runs a disturbingly high chance of escalating a dangerous, but survivable situation into a situation where the victim ends up dead or in the ICU.  The only way that risk is acceptable is if the Botkin Sisters believe that being raped is a fate worse than death - and that's a terrible way to go through life.

I, on the other hand, would prefer to be alive.  I've got a son who I would like to see grow up.  I don't want my husband to be a widower.   I'll do whatever I think is the best option for getting me home alive and safe - including not screaming like a stuck pig if I know there is no one to hear me.

Digital or analog clocks that are broken are still right twice a day - and given enough time the Botkin Sisters and I will agree in broad terms.

Decide before you’re in an emotionally volatile situation what you will and will not allow in the way of physical contact, one-on-one time, verbal affection, emotional bonding, etc. – and be ready to stop any interaction in its tracks if it steps over the line, no matter how much you love or trust the person doing it

That's solid advice.  Hell, it's the overarching theme of "Jane Eyre" by Charlotte Bronte.   When I was dating, I consciously decided what level of physical contact I was comfortable with based on the status of the relationship.   This never felt like a ground-breaking idea to me - but after reading so much Botkin drivel I need to state it again.  I make decisions based on how actions fit within my moral understanding of the world.  I've never phrased it - even in my head - as what it is ok for a man to do to me - but rather what I was ok with happening.

The Botkin Sisters and I divulge on making decisions about one-on-one time, verbal affection and emotional bonding, I suspect.  I have a loose set of boundaries on each of those for men who are not my spouse or a close relative to reduce the risk of falling in love outside of my marriage.  My guidelines aren't like the Pence Rule, though, because I trust that as long as I stay within the bounds of basic professional behavior I'm not going to end up in dangerous territory.    Really, that standard makes decision-making easy.   I've gone to dinner with male colleagues because I do that with female colleagues as well.  I don't use verbal affection unless standard workplace praise counts.

I'm really curious about the emotional boundaries part.  I get physical boundaries.  I get how to set boundaries around time or activities.  How do you set boundaries around feelings?  Equally important, how do you prevent crossing that boundary?

The next quote shows how being raised in a cult can lead to surreal spiritual beliefs:

All boundaries should start with a strong internal sense of how much God values our safety, our holiness, our sexuality – and a willingness to create sensible barriers to keep these things safe from trespassers.

"God values our sexuality" is a phrase I've never read, heard, or thought before.     God values so much about us: our sacrifice, our helpfulness to others, our praise of God, the way we care for ourselves, others and the world, our ongoing efforts to overcome our faults, our efforts to reform the world.... the list goes on and on!   Thanks to a K-12 Catholic schools, I've learned that God's Plan seems to get done in spite of humans' best efforts to thwart it.  The Bible records Tamar's bravery and wiles when she gets pregnant by her father-in-law after he refuses to marry his son to her in violation of Levirate marriage rules.  If God valued sexuality above everything, Tamar should have been struck down or punished in some way.  Instead, she gets pregnant with twin sons - and survives a nasty nuchal arm breech birth!  Bathsheba - derided as a fallen women by conservative Christians - is the mother of Solomon.

The next paragraph I've quoted is mostly written in sentence fragments.  Since God appreciates our charity towards others , I'm going to assume that was a decision by the Botkin Sisters to emphasize the myriad of ways you can set up boundaries.

We can’t tell you what your specific boundary lines should be, but we will say that a lot of unnecessary pain and regret is avoided by keeping a distance from danger zones. Making restrictions for being around certain people alone, or allowing certain kinds of physical contact, or going to certain parts of town alone at night. Setting guidelines for how much interaction we have with someone (over any medium), how intimately we talk with someone, how dependent we let ourselves become on someone or vice versa, or how exclusive the relationship is. Maintaining borders around kinds of interactions that really do belong inside the marriage covenant. Putting barriers around our time, our emotions, our bodies.

"I don't want to tell you what to do, but here's what to do..."    *giggles*

 Look, I don't think most of those ideas will work out as easily as the Botkin Sisters think they will.   Oh, people certainly have the right to set whatever boundaries they like - but there are always unintended consequences.  To me, the Botkin Sisters have given up adulthood in exchange for a fleeting sense of security surrounding sexuality.   I grew up in an area of town that the Botkin Sisters wouldn't visit at night alone.  It's the same area I taught in for years.  I am deeply certain that the Botkin Sisters would never be alone with most of my male coworkers - which is a shame.   The funny bit is that those down-trodden rough around the edges areas of town are generally pretty safe for the people who live there - but learning that requires moving out of the Botkin Family home.    Yup, the Botkin Sisters will be pretty darn safe from willingly falling in love if they never allow themselves to be open with unrelated males.  It's a pretty effective way to remain single as well....

The next quote is oddly framed due to a long, rambling sentence/paragraph that I cut in the middle.  This is the second time the Botkin Sisters decide to mention tonic immobility in humans - and I think the subject deserves more discussion.

And when we’re startled or frightened, we’re also up against the brain’s hard-wired responses to stress or danger, which can include freezing. Freezing is not a sin, or a sign of weakness; it’s part of the body’s “defense cascade,” and we should expect to encounter it. But it’s also something that can be overcome.

Soldiers train to be able to control freezing under stress, ...

Tonic immobility is a real defense mechanism that humans share with a whole lot of other animals.  The best local example for me of an animal that uses tonic immobility is an opossum.  Opossums play dead when threatened - but "playing dead" implies that the opossum has far more control over their reaction than they do.  Tonic immobility literally overrides the ability of the opossum to move while flooding the mammal's body with painkillers to reduce the likelihood of shock killing the animal.   We had a half-grown labrador retriever that managed to corner an opossum in our backyard one day.  Instead of leaving the possum alone when it "died", she started nudging it happily with her nose and trying to flip it over.   My mom and I rushed outside, corralled the dog and moved the opossum to the relative safety of our enclosed compost bin filled with fallen leaves.   It took the possum a good 20 minutes to be able to get up and move after my mom and I went inside with the dog in tow.

Why do I bring this up? 

Well, the Botkin Sisters are mixing up tonic immobility in dangerous situations with the momentary freezing response that many people have when a sudden, potentially dangerous situation occurs. 

The momentary freezing response has happened to me when I was in a car accident, when faced with a pop quiz, when I see a person injured, and when I saw some campers climbing over a fence into an area where tall weeds hid sharp, rusty metal.    The difference is that training - or a clear command - or a few seconds - is generally enough stimuli to break someone free of a momentary response.  When I froze at camp, I snapped out of it when the whistle I was wearing thumped my chest.  I grabbed the whistle, blew it three times (which is the US is used at camp pools to signal "Get out of the water and buddy up!"), and belted "Freeze!" to get all the campers to stop moving.   My whistle and yelling "unfroze" several other counselors who grabbed the kids in danger and pulled them to safety.

The fact that the Botkin Sisters mention soldiers training to avoid tonic immobility is ironic since it is because of the military that psychologists understand that tonic immobility cannot be entirely prevented by training.  No matter how realistic training is, a certain percentage of people will have tonic immobility triggered by warfare. 

And really, that makes sense. 

We discuss "fight or flight" but the actual response in nature is "hide-or -fight-or-flight".   Fight or flight both assume that the victim has a decent shot at fighting off or running away from an assailant.  Hiding - or even pretending to be dead - is generally the best option for women or children as well as men who are not evenly matched.   Tonic immobility allows a person under attack to play dead effectively; they cannot voluntarily move. 

There is a downside to tonic immobility; people who have that reaction show much higher rates of PTSD after the event.  We don't know yet how the two are connected - but the Botkin Sisters are not doing anyone any favors by pretending that living at the gun range and "hating sin" will prevent tonic immobility in rape victims.  A far kinder message is that your body was trying to protect itself; you might wish you had screamed or fought - but your body recognized on an unconscious level that the attacker would become dangerously violent if you resisted - so your body prevented you from doing that. 

 (On a random side note, there's a Canadian reality show known as  "Mantracker" where a trained wilderness search and rescue guide pairs up with a local guide to see if they can locate and capture two contestants who are heading for an unknown endpoint before the contestants get there.  The main "tracker" admits that he has a much harder time with female contestants because male contestants consistently run when the tracker approaches them on horseback.  Female contestants, on the other hand, hunker down and remain stationary until after the tracker decides he must be in the wrong area and leaves. )

The Botkin Sisters eventually get around to rehashing their favorite Biblical duo of Abigail and Bathsheba.

David’s reputation as man “fighting the battles of the Lord” seems to have reached Abigail prior to the news that he was on his way to kill all the men of her household, but rather than assume that this godly man “must know what he’s doing,” Abigail confronted God’s warrior with what she could see and he could not. Bathsheba – perhaps in awe of David, perhaps in desire to please him, perhaps in fear of disobeying him, perhaps trusting that he knew best – ultimately abetted him in making the worst mistake of his life. Abigail, in keeping her spiritual senses turned on, drew him back to the path instead.

I'm always baffled that the Botkin Sisters think the stories of Abigail and Bathsheba are substantially different from each other.    Here's my understanding of the two stories: 
  • David wants Nabal's food and drink for one hell of a party in spite of the fact that Nabal needs that food to fulfil his obligations under the Law to his workers.  Nabal says "no". David comes to destroy Nabal et al., which Abigail prevents by giving David what he wants and flattering him.  Nabal has a stroke when he realizes what his wife has done.  David married Abigail.
  • David wants to have an affair with Bathsheba after he breaks the  Law by spying on her while she's undergoing a ritual washing at the end of her period.  Bathsheba - who we can assume realizes David is as crazy as Abigail did - complies by having sex with David.  When Bathsheba finds out she's pregnant, David doesn't want to get caught so he tries to get her husband Uriah to sleep with her to mask the paternity.  He refuses because there's a war going on and he's a good commander.  David has him killed.  David marries Bathsheba.
If women need a take-away from those stories, a good one is that God won't hold it against you if you placate a warlord to try and save your family.   Hell, God must like Bathsheba on some level; her second child with David is Solomon.  CP/QF preachers always leave that tidbit out - but God gave Solomon to Bathsheba, not Abigail. 

Most disturbingly - the Botkin Sisters are so wound up in how Abigail and Bathsheba affected David that they miss the horrific tragedies of the two stories.  Abigail manages to placate David only to have her husband die within a short time.  Nabal sounds like a jackass - but he was a fairly wealthy landowner whose wife had a certain level of freedom and respectability.  When he dies, Abigail becomes one of David's multitude of wives...which may not end well for her as an old woman if she didn't bear David a living son.   Bathsheba is stuck between a rock and a hard place; David is capricious and violent.  Having an affair with him was probably the safest option - and we'd have never heard of her if she hadn't had the bad luck of getting pregnant.  David has her husband killed - and then the child that she conceived died after an illness.

Just to be clear, I don't want any woman to have to make the choices Abigail and Bathsheba did - and I'm aghast that the Botkin Sisters can hold them up as simple black-and-white examples of morality.

The last quote is creepy in terms of how shallowly the idea that victims aren't to blame for rape has actually percolated into the Botkin Sisters' brains.

Specifically, have good relationships and communication with wise, mature people who could help you. Don’t wait until there’s an emergency to try to find people like this, establish your own credibility and integrity, and build good lines of communication.

Question: Why do young women need to establish their credibility and integrity with people prior to a sexual assault?    Young women are not asking the "wise and mature" people to act as a prosecutor, judge and jury after an attack; they are asking simply to be believed and supported.    There's a wide gulf between the level of evidence required to convict an accused person of rape and the level of evidence needed to connect a friend with the local sexual assault support services. 

I'm glad the Botkin Sisters are starting to look critically at their previous views on sexual assaults - but there's still a lot of room for them to grow.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Spiritual Self-Defense: Make Your Action Plan - Part One

I'm trying to figure out why this series by the Botkin Sisters on a divine plan revealed in the Bible to prevent rape, abuse, or guys saying "You look pretty today.  Wanna go on date?" took more than two posts to complete.   The first post decries that state of the world today (as all Botkin posts do) and the second post lays out the right way to do things.  Boom.  Finished.

And yet, there are still four more posts in the series filled with strange, surreal ideas.....

Right off the bat, there is a sentence that encapsulates the Botkin Sisters' confusion around sexual assault and normal responses:
An inappropriate or dangerous overture comes like a bolt from the blue, and suddenly we’re having to make split-second decisions under high stakes, intense adrenaline, and sometimes tonic immobility (the freezing response.)

Let's separate out the easiest part first.  "Inappropriate" does not automatically mean "dangerous".

 Inappropriate in mainstream society means that a person has violated a widely held social norm.  A boss asking their direct report out on a date would be inappropriate.  In CP/QF land, inappropriate is stretched to mean any activity that doesn't align with the family's standards of behavior so something that would be viewed as appropriate by mainstream society - like a single man asking a woman on a date with no parental oversight or a dating couple hugging - is labeled inappropriate.  This broadened meaning of "inappropriate" makes discussing anything involving sexuality more confusing because we've now lumped a broad category of actions into a single category.

Dangerous is more straightforward because both groups agree that a dangerous situation is one where one or more people fear immediate or short-term injury to their person, reputation or property.  An inappropriate situation can be dangerous if the victim is concerned that addressing the inappropriate behavior will allow the other person to retaliate against them with consequences that exceed the normal level.

The strangest part is that the Botkin Sisters conflate all inappropriate and all dangerous situations into fraught moments that require immediate action.   That's simply silly; most inappropriate actions and some dangerous situations can be mitigated simply by stalling for time. 

Tonic immobility is a real thing  - but the Botkin Sisters have it messed up in this post.  Again.  I've typed that so many times.  Tonic immobility is an involuntary freezing survival instinct in which the brain of someone who is in a very dangerous situation overrides their voluntary muscle control and floods the brain with chemicals that dull pain and keep muscles relaxed.   In easier terms, a person's body decides that it is time to stay still until the danger passes and proceeds to do so regardless of if the person wants to or not.  It's been studied in police officers and members of the military.  It is less well studied in rape victims but no one doubts that the same actions come into play in violent crime situations.

Well, the Botkin Sisters include their new standard statement that victims don't deserve or cause crimes - which we all agree is a good step - and then explain how victims clearly screwed up by asserting all of their rights as people:

When we realize that being wise and wary enough to avoid danger sometimes means choosing not to exercise the full extent of our rights to go where we want, when we want, with whom we want, it can be tempting to say, “But that isn’t fair!” or “But their sin isn’t my responsibility!” And both are true. But if we love wisdom, hate evil, and value our safety as much as God does, we have to be willing to let the reality of other people’s sin change how we approach certain areas of life.

So...if you are a victim of a crime, you were in a bad place with a bad person or at a bad time - and you should have avoided it.   I mean - Ms. Torres was nannying in the home of a married religious leader who lead a group who preaches the importance of morality and avoiding sexual sin when she was molested by said religious leader.    Clearly, she should have known better because.....oh, wait.  This is terrible advice that won't work at all for the majority of abuse and sexual assault that occurs in homes and between people who already know each other.

I'm all about sensible precautions to reduce the likelihood of being a victim of crime committed by random strangers - but the Botkin Sisters take this to a crazy extreme.   One of the women mentioned casually in "Good Girls and Problem Guys" to obey the limits set by fathers in terms of where they are allowed to go, whether they need chaperones and curfews like the Botkin girls do.  Now, I had restrictions on where, when and with whom I was allowed to go places when I was a pre-teen and young teenager.  By the time I was in my late teens, my parents trusted me to make good decisions which included staying safe.  All my mom asked was that I wake her up when I came home late (i.e., after she went to bed) so that she wouldn't worry that I hadn't made it home when I had.  The fact that the Botkin daughters have never been freed to make their own choices implies one of two things.  Either the girls are exceptionally immature and reckless as adult women or their family is overly restrictive.

Equally importantly, restricting time around scary people and places isn't a particularly great defense.  The time I was most concerned about the behavior of a strange man who was following me was when I was exiting a grocery store in the middle of the day.  Learning to be cognizant of surroundings and the people nearby is a far better choice - and much more effective.

The Sisters then decide to double-down by trying to make restricting women's activities is a kind thing to do....for the criminals....

The Lord wants us to take the dangers of other people’s sin seriously – even to the point of sometimes choosing to forgo our personal rights (or things that would technically be “lawful” for us), to do what is most wise, prudent, helpful, loving, and up-building, for ourselves and for others.

I expect daft writings from the Botkin Sisters - but this wins a new award. 

"Peeps, we need to worry about the souls of the men waiting to attack us in dark alleyways late at night!  If all women stay locked up safe at home, no men will ever be able to rape another woman and God's Kingdom will be upon us!" 

Nevermind that the solution does nothing to change the hearts and attitudes of violent people towards others; it simply hands the keys to the world over to them and declares that peace prevails. 

The Botkin Sisters probably don't realize this - but most of Europe attempted that method of appeasing Germany prior to World War 2.  Hint: It didn't work on any count.  World War Two happened and Germany enacted genocide on Jews, Romani, people with disabilities and people with different gender or sexual identities other than cis-heterosexual that had been turned away from other countries.

I doubt this plan would end better for women in the US.

*I apologize for the late post.  I was in a minor car accident Monday evening when a really poorly thought-out parking lot design led a pick-up truck to turn right in front my medium sized hatchback.  Thankfully, no one was injured - and the baby was at home with my husband.  The pickup truck received a barely visible dent where my car hit the side panel of the bed.,  The front end of my car is a mess so I spent Tuesday doing all of the random things that needed to be done for insurance and the repair shop while stretching to keep my torso and shoulder loose.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Maxwell Reading Criteria Review

I pulled out my copy of "Raising Sons to Provide for Single-Income Families" and realized that we are finished with the review!  The last chapter is simply a mild rehash of the first few chapters without any particularly interesting quotes to discuss.  The next Maxwell book on the docket to review is "Raising Great Conversationalists" - which amuses me on so many levels.   Before I start that, I realized that I've alluded to, but never discussed, the chaotic mess of rules the Maxwells have created around reading books.  We already know that the Maxwells abstain piously from any visual media, watching professional sports, playing team sports, owning outdoor recreation vehicles, hunting or fishing.  For me, getting rid of all of those activities would greatly increase the amount of time I spent reading.  The Maxwells, though, have managed to ban the vast majority of books written in English - so starting a conversation with them will be tricky.

Before we dive into the prohibitions, take a few moments to think of your favorite book as a child, as a preteen, as a teenager and as an adult.  Luxuriate in the details of the plot.  Enjoy the art of the writing.  Think of how much pleasure you have received from that book.  Realize that the Maxwell kids (especially the ones born after Sarah) have probably never read any of those books - and never will.

The section on the family's reading rules is in an appendix in "Managers of their Schools".  It's pretty much a bunch of Bible quotes with restrictions supported by the quotes.   The heart of the matter is summarized at the end of the first paragraph.

We would rather not read than to read what we don't see as matching up with Scripture.

If Steven and Teri Maxwell wanted to obey that dictum themselves, I can support their right to do that as adults - but they hold the same principles for their homeschooled kids.   Practically, their kids received no language arts training in any fiction or nonfiction forms of literature after the kids were reading fluently in 3rd grade.    Disturbingly, the Maxwell adults swear that their kids don't need to learn about things like "structure, style, theme, plot, character development, figurative language, imagery, symbolism and tone" (pg. 43) because their adult children aren't going to be spending time reading fiction as adults so why bother?

The obvious rebuttal is that non-fiction uses all of those things as well and looking critically at fiction when young makes adults more savvy consumers of written media.    (Bluntly, if you don't know that non-fiction uses all of those things, you have no business creating your own homeschool curricula for your kids; the Maxwells are clearly in over their head.)

I digress.  Think of books you like.  Let's see how long they survive on the list.  I've added books that I enjoy that are banned in italics followed by my thoughts and musings for each rule.

Themes/subjects that cause books to be banned:

  • Animal characters that act like humans (IOW, anthropomorphism)
    • Rejected books: The Berenstain Bears Series; Llama Llama Series, the Click, Clack, Moo series,  Corderoy, Curious George, Ferdinand the Bull, the Narnia Series, Charlotte's Web, Stuart Little, Watership Down, Animal Farm...and the first Chapter of Genesis along with the story of Balaam the Donkey.
    • There is an implication that exposing kids to anthropomorphism makes them unable to differentiate between truth and fiction.  In reality, kids get that animals don't really act like humans from the animals they see in everyday life.
  • Sibling fighting 
    • Rejected books: Every book where a child character has siblings.  Most books where adult characters have siblings.
    • At this point, the vast majority of kids' fictional books are out.  For most kids, their life revolves around dealing with the interpersonal stresses of living in families and schools with friends who have disagreements with them - so banning disagreements from fiction really limits the options for storylines.  
  • Disobedient children (without consequences) AND/OR
  • Bad role models even if the bad actors receive consequences for their actions.
    • Rejected books: the Boxcar Kids series, Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events series, Anne of Green Gables series, Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry trilogy
    • This section is contradictory because the first sentence of the paragraph states that the kids can't read anything with bad role models regardless of comeuppance - and after the required Bible verses - the last sentence states that books with kids who do bad things and are not punished should be banned.  So...which is it?
  • Silliness or foolishness
    • Rejected books: Anything I read before age 6 or so..... including Dr. Seuss and "Good Night, Moon."
    • I can't think of a children's non-board book that's still in play.  My 18 month old son's board book library would be down to books that are essentially early vocabulary books long with "Where's Your Hat, Abraham Lincoln?" and "Cheer Up,  Ben Franklin."
  • Fairy tales and myths
    • Rejected books: Peter Pan, Cinderella, Snow White, Beauty and the Beast, Rumpelstiltskin, Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox, Johnny Appleseed, Pandora's Box, Gilgamesh, Beowulf.
    • On a "positive" note, the Maxwell children will never be disturbed by the fact that the first few chapters of Genesis are taken from previous civilizations' writings.  Yay?
    • On the negative side, they won't understand why I was so excited to read that retting flax in dew compared to running water changes the color of the thread from silvery-white to golden-white.  You really can teach people to spin straw into gold.
  • Mythical characters, witchcraft and magic
    • Rejected books: Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Hobbit, the Harry Potter series, A Wrinkle in Time series, the Discworld series, some of the Goosebumps series.
  • Any discussion of luck. 
    • Rejected books:  Um...I'm drawing a blank on books that would be knocked out on this characteristic.
    • This one feels like a blanket chance for the Maxwell parents to take away any book that's made it past  the other stipulations.
Additional stipulations:
  • Books must be non-fiction or fiction that is plausible. (And on a completely unrelated note, Sarah Maxwell writes and sells these!  The appendix includes how to buy those....)
    • This knocked out any science fiction that might have survived. 
  • Books must be edifying and encourage people to a stronger walk with Christ.  However: 
    • Description of other world religions or mythologies are banned.
      • The parents pre-read history textbooks and use permanent marker to blacken out any sections that factually describe other religions.  
    • Any type of evil (defined as violence, crime, wickedness and sin) will cause the book to be banned.  
  • Stories involving war are also banned to avoid militarizing their sons. 
So...does anyone know of edifying books that have no mention of other religions, sin, violence, crime or war?   Because - and I'm dead serious - they knocked out the Bible without realizing it.  

I'm tempted to go to one of the Maxwell conferences and try and strike up a conversation with one of the Maxwell adult children about books....

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Spiritual Self-Defense: Know What God Requires - Part Three

This series of posts by Anna Sofia and Elizabeth Botkin is disturbing on a few levels. 

  • The divine plan they lay out works if a boundary-violation is serious, happens over an intermediate period of time and the attacker does not become violent when confronted.  For all other situations - and thankfully most situations are minor or fleeting - the response becomes overkill...or potentially dangerous.   

  • The sisters have taken a large step away from direct victim-blaming (yay!), but instead blame women for any actions they have taken that deviate from the Divine Botkin Response laid out in the series.  

  • Their theological skills are underwhelming at best.  

  • They've been so steeped in patriarchy that they cannot orient themselves to the idea that women (or children) have rights separate from what is licit for a man to do to another person.
The first three quotes are from the section elucidating how women fail to "Confront Sin at the First Stage".

The failure to confront men’s over-steppings at the beginning is often the first inch that we give. Perhaps we are flattered by a man’s attentions and allow them… or perhaps in discomfort or fear we deflect them in a way that sounds as little like “no” as possible – we turn it into a joke, we laugh, we change the subject, we try to ease out of the situation in a way that won’t make things uncomfortable.

Psst.  Anna Sofia, Elizabeth - let me let you in on a secret.  The vast majority of boundary
violations - especially those that occur within CP/QF lives - can be handled by communication leavened with humor.   There is no overarching uniformly agreed set of standards for platonic relationships between single men and women or courting couples so frequently one party will transgress the other party's deeply held boundaries.   This is not the time to lecturing the other party on their morality.   A simple "I don't ......" followed by a smile or laugh is a normal way of handling this issue.

On the flip side, there's a difference between fear of breaking social norms and fear of violence.  If the main reason a woman is telling someone to stop doing something is that she doesn't want to hurt their feelings, seem rude, interrupt them, or accidently teach a man, that's a great time to try acting a bit more assertive and seeing that the world doesn't end. 

 If the reason you are afraid is that you fear that the other person will move from a non-violent offender to an attacker, deflection and de-escalation are morally acceptable.  Remember the story of Abigail, Nabal and David that the Botkin Sisters love so much?  Abigail never reproved David for breaking about 10 Biblical laws when he wanted Nabal to throw David a huge party instead of caring for his workers.  No, Abigail realized that David was an extremely unstable and violent man so she offered him everything he wanted and flattered him to protect her household.

Sometimes the problem is that we don’t realize what a man did was even wrong. Perhaps we haven’t been taught anything about boundaries. Or, something very gratifying to our flesh, such as flattery, may not bother us, if we don’t know what God says about it (Prov. 26:28, Prov. 29:5). A physical overstepping-of-bounds from someone we’re attracted to may not repulse us in the same way as the advances of an old lecher, if we’re not steeped in God’s teaching on fornication, adultery, and “youthful lusts.” And romantic or sexual pressure being presented as “godly” from someone we look up to may not register as “lust” or “extortion” unless we have developed a healthy hate for those things which God also hates.  

Ok.  This paragraph is a mish-mash of  confused ideas even under the CP/QF understanding of licit sexual activities.  Remember in Anna Sofia/Elizabeth's world, licit sexuality is anything that happens that is approved by their father during courtship or by their husband after marriage.   "Flattery" isn't a sin - even with the strange mandates of CP/QF theology.  Under the mainstream understanding of consent as the method of determining whether a sexual activity is licit, the paragraph is a hot mess. The two illicit examples of being hit on by an old man who you have not shown interest in and the blanket idea of  'sexual pressure' are surrounded by legitimate sexual activities in which both parties consent.

Since this series is about helping young women navigate the world, how does using really vague terms like "romantic pressure" or "sexual pressure" help anyone?  There's a world of difference between a couple in which one party wants to move a bit faster sexually but respects their partner's desire to wait and a relationship where one party is being actively pressured repeatedly with threats to overcome their lack of consent.  Labeling both as equally sinful and stating that the only acceptable response is to say "You are sinning!" make women less likely to speak up when a boundary is crossed rather than empowering young women.

And don’t think you have to figure it out alone – where the rubber of specific situations meets the road of general biblical principles, most of us will still have a lot of questions, and we should not hesitate to ask a parent or trusted counselor, “Is it OK for a guy to…” or “How do you think I should handle…”

Anna Sofia/Elizabeth and their parental censors didn't blink an eye at including a model sentence that states "Is it OK for a guy to..." instead of "What boundaries should I have in regards to sexuality?"

No.  No.  No.

I'd be freaked out if a daughter of mine (or a female student) wanted a list of activities that were ok for men to do to her regardless of her feelings.  I'd be equally freaked out if my son asked me that question - but I doubt sons in CP/QF families frame sexuality in terms of what women are allowed to do to them; that shakes the foundation of the sexual double-standard in play.

Anna Sofia and Elizabeth disconcertingly switch between encouraging young women to stand-up to abusive authority figures and reinforcing that young women need to rely on authority figures to tell them what activities are legitimate.  Oh, the sisters attempt to separate the two groups by pretending that the Bible gives bright, clear guidelines on sexual activities that girls can understand - but that's completely untrue.  The Bible discusses the licitness of marital sexuality for heterosexual couples, the illicitness of same-sex intercourse, sex with temple prostitutes, besiality, and using withdrawal methods to deprive a woman of a child who would support her in her old age.  It has confusing rules involving unmarried women living in another man's home similar to the molestation accusations surrounding Doug Phillips - and states that polygamy a legitimate solution to that situation.  There's plenty of bad advice in the Bible surrounding human sexuality - and plenty of verses that can be used to make a man's behavior legitimate as long as a woman has been taught that the only thing she needs for consent to be licit is the approval of the Bible and a male authority figure.

That's the situation that makes asking a parent or authority figure for advice dangerous; abusive parents flock to abusive pastors who attract abusive or enabling congregants.  The lucky girls are the ones who have access to someone who cares about the girl's rights, desires and needs; the unlucky girls are surrounded by toxic people.

The next paragraph ends the section on "Stop Giving Opportunity" to the abuser:

Sometimes making distance between ourselves and an abuser takes physically fighting a man off. Sometimes it takes firepower. And sometimes it simply takes the moral strength to end a relationship with someone we love. But we need to take seriously the opportunity to stop men from sinning against us and God – for their good as well as ours.


Just for clarity, the law doesn't allow life-threatening force in the absence of direct threat to life, health or property.  Don't pull a gun on a single guy at a store who says that you are an attractive young woman and he'd like to go on a date.  (I'm being tongue-in-cheek - but the Botkin Sisters are seemingly incapable of sussing out different levels of response to sin.)

Here are the tricky bits.

The response of fleeing when threatened means that women lose control to most resources in the world.  Let's say I am taking a college class and I find a classmate's attempts to ask me out bothersome after telling him to stop.  Avoiding the classmate means I lose access to the lectures, labs, practice rooms, public speakers and study groups while the person who is behaving badly keeps control of all of them.   The Botkin Sisters routinely sneer at Weinstein victims who had the audacity to remain in his productions after being sexually harassed or assaulted - but not everyone has the luxury of living an upper-middle class lifestyle in their thirties paid for by their parents. If the women left, they were destroying their careers in a very difficult and competitive field.   Women have to make choices on how strongly they defend their bodies based on the economic conditions the women face in the worst-case scenarios of how the situation plays out.  That's not fair and it's certainly not right that abusers exploit that reality - but the Botkin Sisters denial of said reality is even less helpful.

All of the examples the Botkin Sisters imagine leave out the fact that abuse can be intermittent - so much so that the standard cycle of abuse includes a recurrent honeymoon period where the victim's boundaries are respected at least a little bit.    This ebb-and-flow cycle messes with the victim's view of the situation because the person who is harming them stops harming them for a finite period of time.  The victim becomes re-invested in the relationship because they hope that the abuser has finally changed this time.   It changes the victim's narrative from "This situation right now is wrong and harmful to me" to "That situation was harmful, but it is over now."

Recognizing this common cycle is important to understand how horrifying toxic the rest of this post is.  The rest of the post includes casual cruelty towards women (and in the Botkin world, all victims are women) who respond to abuse in any way that is different from the Divine Botkin Response.   The first example derides women who didn't scream during a date-rape situation:

However, many women also refrain from screaming during date-rape situations because they simply think that would seem ridiculous and over-the-top… and then press charges afterward because they do believe what happened was a crime. The desire to not want to make a scene is common, but if we believe rape is a crime, we must treat it as such at every stage, and be preparing ourselves to respond as aggressively and decisively as if we saw another woman being assaulted or raped.

The Botkin sisters swear left and right that being raped is not the fault of the victim (which is good), but they haven't thought through what that means.   In this situation, they've just blamed the rape victim for not screaming for help because the women are afraid of breaking societal norms.  The hypocrisy of the Botkin Sisters blows my mind since they've shamed women for breaking norms only held by the Botkin Family in "It's (Not) That Complicated" as well as teaching young women to submit mindlessly to males!  Any CP/QF woman who tries to stop an attacker risks being pilloried for being "unpure" or "tempting men" or being "outside of authority".  Added to the completely human reaction of shock, disbelief and confusion that comes from a boundary violation, it's amazing that any CP/QF woman has ever managed to defend herself from an attacker let alone report it after the fact.

This also ignores a real fact in self-defense: sometimes capitulation to one crime prevents severe body harm or murder.   Compare this to another crime that involves boundary violation - a mugging.  Do self-defense coaches tell men that they are morally required to scream for help and physically fight back against someone who wants their wallet?  Hell, no!  You hand the robber your wallet; better to lose money than be physically harmed in any way shape or form.  Does handing your wallet over under the threat of harm make the male victim more culpable in some way?  Hell, no!    Date-rape is no different.  Women assume that the man they are dating or courting won't rape them; that's the expectation of society.  If a woman is attacked by her partner, she's already realizing that there was a different side to him that she hadn't seen before - so how is she supposed to assess what will happen if she screams or resists him?

The bit about defending self as strongly as an outside victim is a red-herring.  The presence of a new bystander changes the likelihood of bad things happening to the attacker since there are now two witnesses to the attack.  Likewise, assuming there is only one attacker, a bystander who intervenes changes the balance of power to the side of the victim since there is now two people to fight off the attacker.  The simple existence of a neutral bystander increases the likelihood the attacker will flee - so comparing the morality of defense of another person to the morality of self-defense when alone is asinine.

The next bit is horrible for its blase condemnation of young victims of abuse with an anemic explanation that God doesn't hate people who are ignorant as much as he hates people who abuse authority.

What if we didn’t realize that something forced on us was wrong until years later? What if trauma blocked an old memory from our minds until recently? What if we long ago suffered a crime we knew was wrong, but had been taught that it was truly more biblical and loving to tell no one? Does God hold us guilty for staying silent in ignorance? And have we missed our window for crying out if we didn’t do it immediately?

Many of us were truly ignorant of God’s requirements at the time of an incident, and while that doesn’t change how God designed His system of justice to work, or the steps He requires of us, it does affect how He views our failure to take those steps.

Idiots.  I'm so sick of their half-assed attempts at Biblical interpretation; it's like they have an abridged set of Bible verses but have never read the actual books....

The Bible is very clear that women are responsible for obeying the Law starting at age 12 and men at age 13.  This is stated clearly and repeatedly in the book of Deuteronomy that the Botkin Sisters adore as the arbiter of sexual activity - so why do they ignore that here?  Holding children to a standard that is higher than the Bibical one is cruel - and an example of the extra-Biblical nonsense that the Botkin Family claims to abhor.   To be clear - the Bible does not blame children under the age of adulthood for failure to obey rules including anything involving sexuality.

Taking a step into reality - the idea that children or people who cannot consent are to blame for sexual assault or abuse is abhorrent and has been as long as I've been alive.   People who have been abused don't need the wishy-washy assurance that God doesn't hate them in spite of their failure to follow the Botkin Response magical steps; God made it clear in Matthew 18:6  that it is better for an abuser to drown themselves than to harm a child's innocent faith in God (and humanity by association).

The last section is about how important it is for victims to report what happened to them to some authority figure.  The Botkin Sisters begin this section with a detailed examination of how following this step will ruin the victim's life:

Going to the authorities, whether employers, parents, church officers, or the police, is often the last thing that a woman wants to do after suffering something traumatizing, humiliating, or painful. And on top of the horror of re-living the incident all over again, is the likelihood that she won’t even be listened to or believed. One of the saddest realities of our times is how often truth-tellers are met with the accusation that they are exaggerating or lying, which can lead to yet another volley of abuse against them. The cost of telling can be very high, and we can’t imagine anything giving a woman the strength to do it except the knowledge that God is the final judge, Who will execute justice on authorities for their oppression of the innocent.

*raises one eyebrow*

I don't agree with encouraging false hope - but holy shit, there's no need to tell victims that no one ever will believe them. Victims deserve to know that the first people they decide to tell will support them - and there are services available to help them.  In my geographic area, the YWCA run a 24/7/365 crisis helpline with access to trained nurses who will listen to victims and help them decide what the next step the victims want to take.  Other areas have that as well and RAINN can help connect people if they call 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).  If nothing else, the person on the other end of the phone at RAINN will believe you - and listen to the story you need to tell.

I'm a parent and I've been a teacher.  The kindest and most important thing an authority figure can do when someone discloses abuse is to listen and believe their story.  Yes, there are different rules that come into play when the legal system is involved or when a person is to be disciplined for a crime - but even if the person who discloses the abuse cannot meet that level of evidence, they still deserve to be listened to compassionately and to be protected from the abuser to the best of the person's ability.  Too often authority figures do nothing to protect the victim if the abuser cannot be found guilty in a court of law - but the bar to help a victim by finding new housing, providing therapy, adjusting a schedule or providing physical separation from the accuser should be much, much lower than the bar to send a person to jail.

Don't be a Botkin; don't pick apart what the victim did  "right" or "wrong".  It's none of your damn business and rankly unchristian to boot.

Lastly, the Botkins decide to let us know that you can report people to authorities in a way that the Botkins will look down on you:

When we take the principles and goals of real justice to heart, it makes a big difference in how we choose to break our silence. Will we seek attention and self-aggrandizement? Will we pursue a path of personal vengeance, simply trying to inflict pain and humiliation on the one who hurt us? Will we wait for dozens of other victims to come forward first? Or will we swiftly go to those who can actually bring the offender to account in pursuit of real justice?

So....damned if you do and damned if you don't.  Nice.

If you make a fuss, you are seeking attention selfishly.  If you don't make a fuss, you are failing other victims.  If the attacker feels bad, you did it wrong.   If you emulate "Kill Bill", you did it wrong, too, because everyone knows that katana attacks are only allowed to prevent a rape.   (Personally, after reading this, I'm a whole lot more partial to a knife-wielding protagonist; may as well get the satisfaction of blood vengeance if you're going to be pilloried for doing everything wrong.)

Don't be a Botkin; be a human being.  The world thanks you for it.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Spiritual Self-Defense - Know What God Requires - Part Two

A rite of passage for Catholic teenagers in the area I grew up is watching a well-meaning friend of yours attempt to convert you away from Catholicism into some form of Calvino-Baptist Christianity using "The Roman Road". 

 The Roman Road is a series of verses from the Book of Romans that walks people through the stages needed for a correct conversion experience and away from their previous unsaved sinful lives. 

The reason this is a rite of passage is that watching your friend attempt to recite something like 6-8 verses from Romans in the correct order is rather agonizing to start with.  Even the most zealous teenager starts to make minor mistakes like inserting the chapter and verse numbers at the end of each quotation.  That's a shame because "The Roman Road" is more like a Drunkard's Path quilt than a straight line; the verses are not sequential let alone consecutive - and the teenager is generally unprepared for having a friend say "Why are the verses out of order?"  (Some other questions/comments that generally stop the conversation dead are "You realize we read Romans in church a lot, right?  This is not new information to me" or my favorite "Are you sure you've memorized that verse correctly?)

After belaboring their way through a few paragraphs on how much weight God puts on obeying him mindless by following ideas like the Botkin Response against sin, Anna Sofia and Elizabeth Botkin finally decide to start laying out the four easy (or agonizingly hard in their opinion) steps to responding to sin.  Here are the steps in my words:

  1.  Tell the other person what they are doing is wrong.
  2. Separate yourself from the person who might sin against you.
  3. Yell for help.
  4. Tell authorities about what happened.
Simply scanning the article for the Bible verse references they use brings up Genesis, Proverbs, Romans, 2 Timothy, Luke and Deuteronomy.    The verses are not sequential or consecutive - and the Botkin interpretation of the vast majority are suspect.

Allow me to start with the most egregious example. 

Anna Sofia and Elizabeth gleefully hold up the story of Joseph and Potiphar's Wife as an example of how Joseph followed the Botkin Response for steps 1 and 2.   

I'm still trying to figure out how.....why.....who in their right mind would pick that story to support a method of self-defense that is supposed to be "devastating" to attackers. 

 Allow me to do a fast recap of the story in Genesis 39.   Potiphar's is Joseph's Egyptian slave-owner.  Joseph is a handsome man and Potiphar's Wife wants to have an affair with him.  He says no.  She propositions him repeatedly.  He says no repeatedly. 

The Botkin Sisters rave happily over Joseph's incorruptibility!  Following God is great!

This is the point where the Botkin Sisters drop the story like a hot potato because the rest of the story might scare off their readers.  See, one time Potiphar's Wife gets a hold of Joseph's clothing causing him to escape without his clothing.  She hangs onto his clothing and accuses him of attempted rape.  Joseph is sent to prison.

The second half of the story is important if you are a CP/QF woman because it demonstrates that society frames a discordant story to blame the victim so that the rest of the group avoids uncomfortable feelings.  The idea that Potiphar's Wife would willingly have an affair with a foreign slave - even a handsome, skillful slave like Joseph - was repugnant to the other members of the household.  That situation would weaken the authority of Egyptians over foreign slaves while the attempted rape of Potiphar's Wife demonstrated that foreign slaves were untrustworthy and dangerous and deserved to be kept under close scrutiny.   In CP/QF society, men are religious leaders in authority similar to Potiphar's Wife while young, unmarried women are in a powerless group of people like Joseph.   In much the same way, when women accuse men of sexual misconduct in CP/QF society, the community coalesces around the men who are accused by questioning what the woman did to seduce the man.

I have two more minor points on this issue. 

First, Joseph didn't follow the second step of separating himself from Potiphar's Wife as thoroughly as the Botkin Sisters claim he did.  How could he?  He's a slave who cannot leave his master whenever the slaves pleases.  In one of the paragraphs, the Botkin Sisters snidely deride a victim of Harvey Weinstein for allowing herself to remain around him when he's crossed personal boundaries.   The Sister's lack of compassion or empathy is staggering - but it is also a natural side-effect of having lived a sheltered life where they have never needed to earn a living.   Quitting a job has both short-term and long-term ramification on a person's life;  storming out of a producer's office and quitting in a huff means taking an immediate financial hit since the person loses their income when they quit the job.  The person who leaves is putting an ugly black mark on their career.  People who worked with them who are unaware of the harassment will be under the impression that the victim left a job without notice for whatever reason the harasser decides to tell everyone else.   

Second, Joseph never told the authorities what happened to him.  Joseph - the beloved of God whom fortune smiles on - understood intuitively that attempting to rebut Potiphar's Wife's story would only create more danger for him and so stayed silent.   CP/QF young women are in the same boat.  Until this post was published, our best guess as to how Anna Sofia and Elizabeth would respond to a person disclosing a sexual assault to them is that they would blame them partially unless the woman could prove she screamed when attacked.  And as a frequent commentator pointed out, that was the liberated viewpoint in the family; Geoffrey Botkin has recommended bring back the death penalty for fornication - including women who didn't scream when raped.  Vision Forum's sister-cult of IBLP/ATI has an entire worksheet to help counselors work through how best to blame victims for sexual crimes.  The SBC is struggling with newly surfaced documents about how Paige Patterson discouraged a seminary student who was raped from reporting the attack to the police because it would reflect badly on the church - and put the victim under probation. 

If you are a CP/QF girl, I can see where Joseph's story makes sense.  In a situation where Joseph was powerless, he stayed silent and eventually God rescued him.   Sometimes that's the best option.  Sometimes that's the only option....but not always.

The Botkin Sisters ignored the story of Tamar and Judah in the previous chapter.  Judah withheld one of his living sons from becoming Tamar's wife when she had been widowed previously without children.  Tamar fought back by dressing up as a temple prostitute and getting pregnant by Judah.   I concede that her revenge is specific to the time and culture in which she lived, but she was as powerless as an unmarried CP/QF daughter is today, but she managed to right a wrong through cunning and perseverance. 

IMHO, she deserves as much discussion as Joseph in this story because she demonstrates that sometimes the road to justice can be long, exhausting and dangerous - but that some people in some circumstances can travel that road.

My husband's grandmother passed away last night peacefully in her sleep.  I will most likely be off-line more than normal this week to support my husband and his family during this time of grief.