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Monday, June 27, 2011

My most inflammatory post yet

Recent exploits include... [oh those famous words]

-An assortment of graduation festivities including my own rather small grad party, which was followed by a roof-raising barn dance attended with dear buddy Eva and spent alternately catching up with old friends and dancing with Joseph of Road to Freedom and other fame.

-Summer vacation in Southern California. We decided to leave on very very short notice, in the midst of homeschool book sales, robotics events, and other fun things. The first night was spent in Willows CA, a Northern California town of the rice-farms-and-train-tracks variety. A column of flying bugs formed in the streetlight, we went for a walk and were shrieked at twice by the occupants of cars passing in the night, and I swam in the hotel pool [unfathomably warm to this sun-starved child of the PNW]. The next day dawned predictably warm and sunny but by evening we were shivering in the coastal fog of San Luis Obispo [and, in my case, sitting dejectedly in the hotel room in a patriarchy-induced gloom]. Next day, after an exciting incident during my [brief] stint as driver, an undisclosed number of bottles of coconut juice, and a lot of Tom Petty enthusiasm, we reached our destination at my grandparents' assisted-living residence near the beach. Ensconced in the hotel down the hill, we spent the next few days making forays to various posh areas of the county for shopping, food, and swimming. I notably managed to avoid getting a sunburn.
On the way back home, armed with nectarines, sandy flipflops, and still more coconut juice, I spent my time alternately between driving and brooding over an imposing to-do list in my notebook.
Some of this immensely productive time closeted in close proximity to a notebook resulted in the start of a few unpolished thoughts regarding the patriarchy movement.

One of the homeschool book sales boasted about six copies of Debi Pearl's Created to Be His Helpmeet, thankfully the work of only one seller [who probably invested in them all to dispense to her can only hope she changed her mind later]. Never having read the infamous work, I skimmed through a copy. The chapter I read was on chastity, which the author appears to think revolves solely around modesty, in the case of women.
Note: potentially offensive material below. Offensive to any thinking person who isn't used to hearing women compared to animals, that is.

Claim: the verse that says a man who lusts after a woman has committed adultery with her in his heart, means that the woman is complicit [complicit: adj. or noun, depending on whether you are talking to Bethany or my dictionary, meaning to blame, in league, culpable, guilty with another party]. The woman is consenting and complicit in the adultery because the phrase is 'adultery WITH her', not 'adultery AGAINST her'.

My response:
Your reasoning is only valid if there are other uses of the two phrases, to mean different things. There aren't. Can you give me even one example of 'adultery against' being used? So therefore, if it doesn't exist, you can't argue that the other phrase means anything out of the ordinary.
Second point: if Jesus was truly saying that the woman was also to blame....he would have said that right out, SURELY, especially if it was such a vital point.
[Note from the devil's advocate: this begs the question, if the woman truly isn't to blame, then why isn't it called rape and not adultery? A disturbing question, except that punishments for adultery were more severe than for rape, I believe.]

Claim: actually this isn't a claim, this is an out-and-out lie. This amazing chapter on chastity attempts to scare and insult women into 'modesty'. There are various excerpts from readers' letters, mostly men. They twice refer to women as pigs [and as a 'cow']. Why? Just why, do the worst insults towards women always revolve around characterizing them as animals? The first instance was a letter from a man who was enraged at an immodestly dressed woman: he called her 'cow' and 'pig' in his mind. Dear Debi Pearl somehow thought this worthy of publishing and impressing on the minds of young women. Thank you for adding one more voice to the thousands that scream at women, from inside and out of their heads. Now she has another 'biblically' sanctioned name to call herself.
The second reference came from a man who just hates to see women let their belly fat show. He goes on to say that it reminds him of the gold ring in the sow's snout analogy. [I believe he compares the women themselves to the sows, but even if he doesn't the image is clear enough.] This reader states that he 'doesn't mind the fact that they're fat so much, but that they flaunt it like they think it's hot' [paraphrased]. These fat-flaunting women [does such a thing exist?] remind him of 'biscuits with the uncooked dough popping out the middle' [paraphrased].
Does this even need refuting? Probably not, but I can't resist.
1) How about overweight men who let their belly fat show, also with apparent pride? By his standard, women should be telling them that THEY certainly aren't hot, and remind them of their own resemblance to biscuit dough.
2) Thank you for yet another condemnation of women judged to be overweight. Rest assured that your sense of duty has also served to attack women who consider themselves fat, often with no cause. Like the first reader, you've just thrown one more stone.
3) This is an arguable point, but...who gets to decide what is 'hot'? Hasn't the American media been doing a darn good job of that for years, without your chiming in? Wouldn't it be revolutionary if the people themselves were allowed to decide if they were 'hot'? Of course, it may not be semantically possible for a person to judge themselves attractive or not, assuming that means 'attractive to other people', but even so: attractive is entirely a matter of personal taste. And that may just mean that that roll of belly fat that reminds you of biscuit dough and swine could be hugely attractive to the next man.

One of my little projects on the trip to Cal was to attempt to show that the God of the Bible doesn't hate and detest women. It's still a work in progress. [Not sure how much of a joke that is supposed to be.] But here is a point: women are never referred to as animals in the Bible. That mention of rings and pig's noses? 'Like a gold ring in a swine's snout, is a beautiful woman who lacks discretion' [Proverbs]. The comparison is actually gold ring == woman, pig's snout == lack of discretion. Now it is difficult to tell where to draw the line between just being a gold ring, and being defined by being in a pig's snout, but I think it is pushing it far to say that the Bible calls women pigs [which neither Pearl nor the readers ever claimed: they just assumed it].

[Another note from the devil's advocate: the Israelites would detest the very thought of swine, which were so unclean in their culture: along with menstruating women, of course. See why I said the whole proving-the-Bible-loves-women project was a work in progress?]

Advertisement break! The notebook here has a page that reads:
Every child is an engineer. Somewhere along the way they learn that STEM is 1) hard 2) needs math 3) is not cool.
We need to make engineering:  not easy, you can't just ignore math, but it can be cool AND needs to be shown to be relevant, fun; whatever it is to young kids.

Back to the patriarchy war:

The next installment came after I'd gotten my unfortunate paws on Nancy Leigh DeMoss's book, 'Lies Women Believe', which, I must add, our college pastor mentioned favorably in his address today. I always get worried whenever any pastor besides our regular one stands up in the pulpit and it's usually with good cause.

DeMoss says that what we really need to do is not love ourselves in order to love others, but love ourselves less. She claims that it is impossible for a person to hate themselves [and makes the requisite disdainful mention of 'modern psychology'], because 'no man ever hated his own body, but loves and cares for it'. Thus, low self esteem is nonsense, we never need to love ourselves more, etc etc.

I'm not sure I can argue that in all senses it is possible to hate yourself. However, how do you deal with suicide and self-injury? Would anyone injure or kill someone they really loved? I can't imagine it. How can you argue that someone who committed suicide really loved and thought too highly of themselves?
Oh, and if I wanted to parse words in the same way that patriocentrists do...I could claim that because that verse talks to MEN, it refers only to the male gender and not to women. [So women are able to hate themselves, just not men.] Just like the pastoral books of the New Testament were written only to men [and don't apply to women] because they're addressed to 'brothers'. Makes no sense..but it does in their heads.

While I'm at it, collecting incoherent random bits of is a shameless plug for Hillary McFarland's book Quivering Daughters, just because I saw a post from the patrio lady who wrote to rather viciously attack said book back in the fall. She [patrio lady] says that she doesn't even want to mention that book's name because no publicity is worse than bad publicity.

With that.....I depart.


Anonymous said...

Interesting, Bethany, very interesting.

You give me much to consider.

I have some thoughts.
First thought is suicide: Have you ever thought about committing suicide? If you have, who were you thinking of when you were considering it?

Second thought is Matthew 15.17-20 expresses the problem of Exodus 20.17, Deuteronomy 5.21, and Matthew 5.28. [Look them up.]

In tandem to Second thought is Second thought subsection b.: Deuteronomy 22.27-29. Is rape complicit?

Now remember, so you are not deceived by my proof texting, you should read the entire Bible with these verses in their full context.

Third thought is "I've never been overly impressed with anorexic chicks." I know, I know: Another one of those animal comparisons.

Final thought:

Smile. You look so serious when you don't.

Elizabeth said...

These thoughts all make sense to me... and that bull about not being able to hate oneself is ridiculous! I've hated myself passionately, and contemplated suicide (oh, and Tragedy, I was thinking about my mom-she remained married to my psycho dad only to ensure my education and was the most miserable person I know, and I knew that with me gone she could finally be free from him. It was one of the hardest nights of my life, seeing my mom in her condition, and self-loathing and the idea that the world would be better off without me that drove me to that balcony). I have known several people who genuinely hated who they were, and know a girl that self harmed, and the fact is that self hatred is REAL and EVERYWHERE, people just pretend they're okay because they don't want to weigh others down. Anyway, I agree Bethany, and while I do believe modesty is important, there is a safe middle ground between nun and immodest :).
In response to your comment, I'm excited for you too!!!! This time is exciting and scary and EXCITING :D lol! Haha, you've got me beat by two days in the freedom department ;). And it sounds like Cali was a lot of fun! I've always wondered how the west coast compares to the east... I'll make it over there someday :).

Bethany said...

Thank you both for your comments.
First thought: whether or not someone is being thinking of themselves, or being selfish, when they ponder or commit suicide, does not have any bearing on whether or not they are also 'hating' themselves.

Second thought: I don't see what point you're trying to make with your first verse references. On the question of whether rape is complicit: I reread the verses in question and was horrified by the varying punishments [or not] for rape. But that's a subject for another post, I think.

Yeah, I forgot about the word 'chick' used to refer to females. But I'm not so concerned about that as I am about the insults for women which, at their worst, always center around animal references.

Elizabeth, thank you for sharing. I knew there must be many people who've considered suicide for non-selfish reasons, but hearing first-hand testimony goes farther than my vague general claims.
I think even the author of that book wouldn't deny that self-injury is a problem, if asked. [She certainly made no mention of it in the appropriate chapter, however.] Her main point was that even if people are hurting themselves [which she didn't acknowledge], they are still somehow doing it out of 'self-love'.

And yes: college preparations grow more and more enthused :D I cannot WAIT to get out on my own. We'll see how well I like it in a few months, hehe, but I suspect I'll do well. Look forward to hearing how things go for you :)

Anonymous said...


Love and hate are not opposites, instead they are requisites. When we love someone, we always hate the things that harm them. The question is: What do we love, when we hate ourselves?

For me, I think, suicide has been a focus problem. I get too focused on a problem, and I lose proper perspective.

Second, you did not read the verses in their full context. Without full context the meaning is obscured. Why is it that what Christ taught, when on earth, are the same things God taught in the whole of the Old Testament? Or do you not believe that?

If I think the Bible contradicts itself, then there are two possibilities:

1) The Bible is a lie.

2) I am incorrect in my interpretation of the Bible in at least one of the apparent contradictions.

Anonymous said...

There is no sin of rape in the Bible, just adultery, and not all parties are always equally guilty.

Libby Anne said...

Created To Be His Helpmeet...someone gave me that book when I got married. I'm so glad I was already out of the movement at the time or it might have seriously damaged my marriage! It almost ruined my sister's marriage, in fact, and her marriage was only saved when she realized the book was crap. Created To Be His Helpmeet is absolute poison and completely ridiculous. My mother keeps it with her Bible. Yippee.

Also, I leafed through DeMoss's book a month ago. My grandmother had it. My grandmother is not even a patriarchalist, she's like a northern Baptist, but her Bible study was reading it! I couldn't believe what I read - it teaches essentially the same thing as Debi Pearls' book. Shiver. Is it me, or is this stuff spreading? Double shiver.

Bethany said...

One of my friends is currently reading Helpmeet, and she thinks there are good things mixed in with the bad. I mentioned the dog-crap-in-brownies analogy [ a very handy one to pull out if someone accuses you of baby-tossing with the bathwater] but she isn't buying it...actually there probably are good things in that book. In fact definitely. But they are so mixed with the bad, that it is NOT worth sifting through, because you can get the exact same good from much better sources.
As far as patriocentricity spreading....I'm not sure. My theory is that some of the stuff we're seeing today is actually worse than a lot of what was accepted in the early 1900s, for this reason. In the pre-feminism days, there was a fair amount of oppressive patriarchy, but most of it was more moderate. Then came feminism, and a bunch of people who would have been pretty moderate without it went 'ACK! Feminism is evil, let's rush back to patriarchy!'. This may account for some of the views that would probably have been roundly dismissed at some 'less enlightened' times in history, such as the notion that women shouldn't work or go to college [which I think even the 1950s would have scorned]. So that's my off-the-cuff 18-year-old's diagnoses ;)

Patriocentricity is definitely more common in homeschooling circles than it was in the first days of home education, according to Karen Campbell [thatmom]. In my particular corner of the Pacific North-west it seems to be fading out, but I understand that's not the case at all in other parts of the country.

Lady Brainsample said...

Keep searching, Bethany. Keep the faith and keep asking questions.
And yes, it is possible to hate one's self. I had a horrible session of it a few weeks ago.