According to This Christian Group, a Woman’s Dominion Is…

Libby Anne, a former “daughter of Christian patriarchy,” has a lot of insight about her former life. Like how one Christian group is “training” children to be “dominion-oriented.”

This is an example of what Vision Forum, a group for Christian “families,” thinks is an appropriate image for their DVD about Christian boys:

Ok… boy fishing with his father and grandfather. Seems harmless enough.

And what’s an example of Vision Forum’s image for training Christian girls?

Right… because good Christian girls better be educated about… knowing how to do the laundry. Very liberating.

Ophelia Benson points out another problem with this:

Take a good look at that picture. That little girl has no mouth — it’s been covered up by her stack of laundry. Vision Forum has given her a niqab made out of a pile of clean clothes. No wicked feminist back-talk coming out of her, you can be sure.

Libby Anne explains the significance of these DVD covers:

Vision Forum tells girls that they can be great — if they stay in the home. It tells ten-year-olds that they can do their part in taking dominion by doing the laundry even as their brothers are trained in far, far different pursuits…

I would say that I don’t think Vision Forum has any idea of the messages it sends to young girls with images like this, except I that think it does. And revels in it. I was one of those girls, and I received the messages loud and clear. My worth was defined by how much housework I did and how well I could take care of babies.

By the way, Vision Forum has a habit of dismissing women who are leaders of any sort.

Check out this image:

And then check out where those pictures originally came from… wow.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the chair of Foundation Beyond Belief and a high school math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago. He began writing the Friendly Atheist blog in 2006. His latest book is called The Young Atheist's Survival Guide.

  • Anonymous

    At my first glance at the first video, I misread the subtitle, and thought it said “Living the Fifth Amendment”.  I guess that would have to be their “Fathers and Daughters” video? :)

  • Pony

    I know it’s not what they intended, but the altered image makes it look like she’s stabbing him in the genitals. :D

    • Valhar2000

      Some people claim it looks like she’s giving him a hand-job. I think that improves the whole thing significantly: it makes it look like a scene from a porn movie in the 70s, back when porn was actually sexy.

      Whichever you look at it, its always fun to watch dirt-bags shoot themselves in the foot.

      • Anonymous

        Sexy? Ew. Everyone was so… hairy back then.

        • Wren Combs

          That is exactly what I miss.  People in porn now look too much like Barbie and Ken.

      • http://erica-brooks.blogspot.com Erica

        My first thought when seeing it was totally hand-job. I can’t really unsee it now.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Johan-Malmsten/692433017 Johan Malmsten

    Wait.. is she reaching down his…? And the old man in the background is appropriately chocked… “a parable about the hearts of fathers and daughters”? Are they implying that the CD is a heartwarming and educational tale of incestual relations between fathers and their daughters?!

    At least that’s what I get out of that cover…

  • http://twitter.com/unlimitdbravado Salmon Pink

    The image alteration is just the sexist icing on the foolish cake of religion-induced ignorance!

  • Patrik

    So they changed her from knighting him to polishing his armor? Job well done!

    • http://twitter.com/arensb arensb

       If she were polishing his armor, wouldn’t there be a cloth in her hand?

      No, I think she’s giving him a hand job.

      • http://www.nowhere-fast.net Tom

        Yeah, that’s what I thought, too.  It makes the old guy in the background even more creepy while she’s “polishing the armor.”

      • Nordog

        I think Patrik’s use of “polishing his armor” was, ah, euphamistic.

      • Patrik

        Indeed, I was trying to be subtle about it. And I figured “polishing the rocket” wouldn’t work as there were no rockets back when shining (and well polished) armor was in fashion. :P

        • Anonymous

          Actually, the Chinese have used rockets in warfare from at least the 13th century on

        • NorDog

          How about, “She’s squeezing his squire”?

          It has the advantage of both utilizing a term contemporary to the picture, and rocks with some alliteration.

        • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ Anonymous

          She’s, ah, “polishing his lance”…

        • Drew M.

          Polishing his hilt?

  • http://www.facebook.com/AnonymousBoy Larry Meredith

    “Take a good look at that picture. That little girl has no mouth —
    it’s been covered up by her stack of laundry. Vision Forum has given her
    a niqab made out of a pile of clean clothes. No wicked feminist
    back-talk coming out of her, you can be sure.”

    Seriously? Even I think that’s really reaching…

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001071231218 Andrew Pfaff

      I don’t think its stretching it all that much. When I saw the photo the first thought in my mind was that by covering part of the face it makes her look submissive.

      • http://www.facebook.com/AnonymousBoy Larry Meredith

        well the face of the little boy in the Father & Sons cover is ENTIRELY unseen. What’s the secret contemptuous message behind that? I guess it means that boys aren’t to be taken at face value, but instead admired for their deep god-fearing love for Jesus.

        and notice the men are wearing hats, but the boy is not. I’m sure that has some sinister implication behind it too.

        • http://twitter.com/WCLPeter Rob U

          You’ve never heard the old line, “Children should be seen, not heard.”?  I remember the preacher telling me that quite often when I went to church as a kid.

    • Varenneoraven

      Not really. Over the years many artists and photographers use the covering of the mouth to show a form of silencing. I got that from the photo. I also got the “you should love doing this.” vibe.

    • Lyra

      This is a movement that openly states that women should submit to their fathers for their whole lives until they are married off, at which point they should submit to their husbands. This is a movement that says that women don’t have the authority to teach men. This is the movement that says that the highest and only goal that women should aspire to is that of submissive wife and mother. This is the movement that says that the dreams of women should be to support the dreams of men.  This is the movement that says it is a woman’s calling is to be a man’s servant by keeping house.

      I don’t see why you would think it is “reaching” to say that this mentality is reflected in a picture of a girl half-hidden behind a pile of clean clothing that they chose for their proselytizing material.

    • Drew M.

      I noticed the covered mouth before I realized she was holding laundry. As Varenneoraven said, it’s an old bit of symbolism.

  • Jake

    Every time I see something like this, I wonder why any woman would chose to be a Christian fundie when something as simple as going to a different church would involve meeting people who don’t think she’s inferior.

    • Erp

      Well for some it is because they are raised that way.  Kids before age 18 have few legal ways of escaping even if they want to.    Add in if they are deprived of necessary training (e.g., Amish in the US who don’t give their children any education beyond 8th grade or Old Colony Mennonites in South America where the girls get even less education [except in housework] and only speak a language spoken by other Mennonites) and it can be difficult to escape even after that age.

      I’ll note even mainline churches are still escaping the women are inferior mindset, most have only allowed women ministers within my lifetime.  The Catholic church still treats women as second class and are going backwards (some dioceses are revoking the privilege of girls serving at the altar).    The liberal churches are scarce in the Bible belt and declining elsewhere.     Even the secular culture often hints to women that they are second class.

    • Sara G

      Because it’s all they’ve ever known.  They’ve been told that all other churches are outsiders, and corrupted.  They believe that their way is the only way to avoid an eternity of torture and punishment.

  • http://lovejoyfeminism.blogspot.com Libby Anne

    Thanks for sharing my story! For readers interested in the highly gendered nature of Christian Patriarchy, head over to Vision Forum (http://www.visionforum.com/) and take a look around. The messages are loud and clear! 

  • http://lovejoyfeminism.blogspot.com Libby Anne

    Thanks for sharing my story! For readers interested in the highly gendered nature of Christian Patriarchy, head over to Vision Forum (http://www.visionforum.com/) and take a look around. The messages are loud and clear! 

  • Anonymous

    That little girl has no mouth – it’s been covered up by her stack of laundry. Vision Forum has given her a niqab made out of a pile of clean clothes. No wicked feminist back-talk coming out of her, you can be sure.

    I think this is reading too much into it. I can certainly understand the symbolism of the girl doing housework, but as it stands I don’t see it as anything more than that. Of course, if a pattern could be shown as emerging, where women and girls bodies and faces are routinely hidden in published material, then I think you could be onto something. The doctored photo at the end is so outrageous it’s hilarious.

    However the Niqab comment is not entirely off the mark in one important sense. I’m entirely certain that dominionists see Islam as a huge threat and evil that must be given no quarter. I have no doubt they’d be on the front lines of banning mosques, or banning Muslim immigrants outright. Which is hugely ironic because when it comes down to their beliefs, they’re really quite similar to Islamic fundamentalists:

    - They believe the God of Abraham is a supreme father who punishes disobedience through “signs” in the form of earthquakes, disease, drought etc.

    - They believe that women are more vulnerable to sinning and more inherently wicked than men.

    - They believe that no woman should ever hold authority over a man.

    - They believe that it’s the women’s responsibility to not tempt men. All the responsibility for preventing harrasement and assault falls on the woman. Men are simultanteously absolved from guilt but also degraded, it being assumed that they are untamed animals with all the self-control of a horny bonobo.

    - They hold the notion of democracy in contempt and openly proclaim that holy laws should rule over everyone, whatever their faith or lack of faith.

    Take the most extreme elements of Christianity, Judaism and Islam and you’ll find that once you peel back the different uniforms and special words you get the same plot: A group of people who think god chose them especially, who hold the rest of the world in contempt and who consist in a group of insecure men and their docile parrot-wives. I applaud anyone with the strength to escape these extremists, and I doubly applaud anyone who takes the time to help others escape and to counter their influence.

    • Gus Snarp

      I don’t think it’s possible to read too much into it. These people are all about symbolism, and it’s quite clear they don’t think women should speak or hold authority.

    • Anonymous

      Just because it doesn’t appear to be a pattern in DVD covers, doesn’t mean that the message wasn’t intended on this one. When you see that the culture as a whole places such emphasis on women & girls being silent and submissive under the authority of men, it’s not a stretch.  Maybe not every cover has girls doing housework, but is there any question as to its deliberate use in this one?

      • Pseudonym

        One more thought: Even if it’s not “deliberate” (in the sense that this is what they were consciously trying to say) doesn’t mean that the message isn’t there. Unconscious decisions are still decisions.

  • Anonymous

    Having now gone through their DVD collection I see that though there’s an obvious separation of male and female roles, the whole “mouth covering” thing doesn’t pan out. In fact, the DVD featured above is sold with another DVD on “Biblical femininity” in which both women are visible.

    What I have noticed though is an absolute separation between fathers and daughters. There are a lot of fathers and grandfathers interacting with children, but these children are invariably male (see here
    here and here and here and here and here).

    Now, though I think it’s good to ask fathers to be engaged in their childrens lives, what seems to be the message is that fathers should only be interested in sons. I can’t imagine the effect on girl children to be reared thinking you as a female should be submissive and your only value is that which applies to being useful to men, while at the same time seeing how your father is obviously far more interested in your brothers than in you.

    • http://www.facebook.com/AnonymousBoy Larry Meredith

      I cannot agree enough about the mouth-covering photo. It’s unlikely that it purposely conveyed the meaning that women should be silent. It still think those believing that are reading too much into it, even after reading the 5 or so replies attempting to explain it.

      However, I’m not sure I entirely agree with your assessment of an absolute separation between fathers and daughters. As you can see here, they run a specific Father and Daughter Retreat:
      http://www.visionforumministries.org/events/fdr/
      They certainly don’t suggest that daughters should be independent, but they do suggest that fathers show interest in their daughters. albeit, only to “raise her as an industrious, family-affirming, children-loving woman of God.” They even claim that “fathers with no time for their little girls” is the work of Satan.

      • Anonymous

        Point taken. I was basing my opinion on the DVDs I saw, that seemed to be most concerned with father-son roles, but obviously I wasn’t looking at all the data. Your point also fits with the über-creepy “purity balls” where fathers and daughters go to bizarro proms together so that the girls can pledge their virginity to their fathers.

        Reading the page you linked actually makes me think of a different idea altogether; the blurring of the lines between husband and father. Girls and women are infantilized, reduced to helpless delicate beings whose “purity” must be protected and who should obey men. Husbands are expected to take on a much more paternal role with their wives. Instead of treating them as equals, they (ideally) to protect them, provide for them and also “lead” them. Likewise in that page fathers are expected to take on way more of an interest in their daughters future relationships and sex lives than one would expect.

        His most sacred duty is her protection and preservation from childhood
        to virtuous womanhood. He leads her, woos her, and wins her with a
        tenderness and affection unique to the bonds of father and daughter.

        OK, so maybe I’m jaded and cynical, but the very idea of my father “wooing” me gives me the friggen creeps.

        It makes me sort of sad though. The message of fathers being involved in their childrens lives is a really positive one. However the values being transmitted to the girls; that they’re value is as home/baby makers, that they owe their father and later husband obedience, that they should look to males for decision making, is really destructive.

  • Alexis

    I was impressed however with the “Cowgirls” section on the vision forum website: http://www.visionforum.com/browse/productlist/?cid=604 Wow! A pink Red Ryder BB Gun, a bull whip, and spurs. Honey, we’re gonna have fun tonight, all approved by the Vision Forum, eeehaw!

  • Ingdamnit

    I have no mouth and I must scream

  • Gus Snarp

    One other thing about comparing those two video covers: the girl is working, the menfolk are relaxing.

  • Anonymous

    I had to go to the site to see for myself that the companion dvd to guys relaxing was a little girl carrying a pile of laundry. I never realized how blatant it was back when I was in xtian homeschooling circles. None so blind, I guess. Ugh!

  • http://diaryofamessylady.wordpress.com/ Lauren

    Looked through the site and while I didn’t see any other examples of a girl being silenced by having her mouth covered, almost every picture of a girl or woman has her turning her eyes downward. The picture on one of the CDs about how to interact with men reminded me of an Islamic ad I once saw about why women should wear hijab.

    http://media.visionforum.com/products/images/83452_m.jpg

    http://issmatblog.files.wordpress.com/2008/06/hijab.jpg

  • Anonymous

    So Vision Forum believes women shouldn’t knight men, but giving them hand-jobs is fine?

    Sexist pigs.

  • Rich Wilson

    Always interesting to drill back to the original blog post http://jensgems.wordpress.com/2008/01/17/a-pictures-worth-a-thousand-words/

  • Ophelia Benson

    What’s this nonsense about reading too much into it? On the contrary, it’s naive *not* to look for hidden messages in advertising and propaganda. The picture isn’t just some thrown-together accident, it’s carefully crafted to work on people’s emotions and biases. Does anyone seriously think it isn’t? Does anyone seriously think Vision Forum doesn’t carefully craft its images? Come on…

    Now I’m not claiming that anyone thought explicitly “we should cover up her mouth.” I am claiming that VF crafted the picture to portray a “good” submissive obedient dominionist daughter, and that making the pile of laundry almost too big for the girl to carry does that. I’m not saying anyone literally thought the pile of laundry was a niqab, I’m saying the idea behind both is the same – hide women and girls behind their domestic duties; obliterate them as much as possible; make them smaller, feebler, less visible.

  • http://profiles.google.com/legistech Sam G

    I’m willing to bet that if they’d had two pictures, one with the girl’s mouth showing and this one, they would have picked this one.

  • mysciencecanbeatupyourgod

    Guys – I work in entertainment. Weather telling stories or selling product, our job is to pack as much emotion and “message” into each image or sound bite as we possibly can. Depending on scheduling and budgetary constraints, ideally, every detail is painstakingly deliberated over and there is nothing that could be “misread” that isn’t intentional. If anything is misread, misinterpreted, if any thought or emotion develops in your head when you see the image that we did not intend, we have failed.
    Even if no one pro-actively said “let’s use a picture of a girl with no mouth” you better believe at some point someone piped up and said “hey, this girl doesn’t have a mouth, is that in line with what we’re trying to say?”
    If they had little time or money, it could simply have been the first stock photo of “cute little girl” that popped up on google images, but considering the effort they put into altering that Blair-Leighton painting I don’t think they had that problem.

    • Ophelia Benson

      Thank you. This is what I’m saying. It’s just naive to think the pile of fabric blocking most of her face is a mere accident.

    • NorDog

      Even if you’re wrong about the intention behind the picture of the girl “without a mouth” (and I don’t know that you are) I would find the picture somewhat disconcerting anyway.  Perhaps this has been mentioned here already, but I didn’t like the picture from the moment I saw it because it came across as a child overloaded with work.  Well, at least that’s the way it struck me.

      • http://lovejoyfeminism.blogspot.com Libby Anne

        Well exactly – children are expected to work. By the time a girl is twelve, she can usually run the entire household – of eight or ten – on her own. Which is good, because if her mother is incapacitated by another pregnancy, she might have to. 

        • Nordog

          While I suspect sacrasm, Libby Anne, I also suspect that you may agree with me that children should have household chores.  However, the photo in question seems to portray children as pack animals.

          Not good.

    • ladytlc

      That is very true! I too work in the entertainment industry. It’s very rare that a prop is just a prop.

  • Ladycopper5

    Yay, I finally get to see Vision Forum on here!  You guys, considering Doug Phillip’s history of absolute howlingly awful double entendres with both art and what he says, I doubt they were trying specifically to say “shut up, woman,” in this one, though that IS what they believe.  Doug and his bunch are fascinating and scary.  His dad is Howard Phillips of the Constitution Party.  A forum I belong to spends large amounts of time discussing their evil beliefs and increasingly large influence… and making never-ending LOLDougs.  It’s an addiction.  http://www.freejinger.org/viewtopic.php?f=8&t=24 

    • http://annainca.blogspot.com/ Anna

      I love Free Jinger, plus all the snark about the Duggars over on Television Without Pity. It’s amazing how so many people seem to worship that family without knowing anything about what they actually believe.

  • Annie

    Wow!  I’m not surprised that this is what they believe, I am just a little shocked that it would be advertised.  In a CD “talk” titled, “What’s a girl to do?  How to wisely invest your daughters time”, the description states, “A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways. The same is true of
    double-minded parents. Across America we have met evangelical parents
    who desperately want their daughters to grow to be virtuous women with a
    love for home. Notwithstanding these good intentions, many of these
    same parents continue to build their daughters’ future on a feminist
    model. Frankly, most Christians are unaware that the Bible offers clear
    guidelines for how wise parents can invest their daughters’ time for the
    glory of God. This tape offers hope and direction for the woman of God
    who desires to cultivate virtue while fully exercising her gifts.”

    Not the dreaded Feminist Model!!!  These poor girls…

  • http://www.facebook.com/chriswarr78 Chris Warren

    But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.(1 Timothy 2:12)As one gawker commenter notes: http://s10.thisnext.com/media/largest_dimension/056BD291.jpg
    Great image! I can see the church sewing circle hard at work turning these True Christian™ needle points out.

  • http://bltnotjustasandwich.com/ Sue

    There seems to be a misunderstanding of the book illustration. We know that the woman is holding a sword, and the picture should be called “The Circumcision of Lancelot.”

    http://powerscourt.blogspot.com/2008/07/circumcision-of-lancelot.html

  • randomatheist

    I guarantee the downward glancing woman in the altered pic is intended to imply her submission to her “Lord”, being her husband. Also, those purity balls mentioned above are pervy in the worst sense of the word. There’s a huge xtian homeschool group here in my area that does one every year. Creeeeeeeeepy. Even when I *was* a fundie I thought those were odd, and I’m glad my older kids never were interested in them. 

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_OAUXAA362EXWLYVMPJOKLFB5JQ Incipient Madness

    Gotta say that the Bible itself is divided on this whole women with authority thing. While Paul did talk about the whole submission thing and  forbade women to have positions of authority in church, the risen Jesus did directly command Mary Magdalene to preach and spread the word. Presumably Jesus would trump Paul.

    But I still must say that women have a better chance these days if they ditch Christianity. But what really bugs me are gay Christians like at MCC and Covenant Baptist. That’s just wrong. God really does hate fags, but most of us atheists are chill with all that.

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

    Hail and well met, my Lady.

  • Steph

    Anyone else notice that the boys are “Living” and the girls are being “trained”?

  • Steph

    Anyone else notice that the boys are “Living” and the girls are being “trained”?

  • Steph

    Anyone else notice that the boys are “Living” and the girls are being “trained”?

  • Tayler2720

    Nature makes the distinctions between boys and girls.  Girls are going to be mothers as adults, and i don’t see anything wrong in guiding or encouraging them in household/women’s activities.  Why don’t we make the same negative comments when we see pictures of boys hunting or playing football?? Feminist ideas are declining with the younger generation, especially because of the high rate of divorce and related conflicts.

    • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ Anonymous

      “Girls are going to be mothers as adults, and i don’t see anything wrong
      in guiding or encouraging them in household/women’s activities.”

      Holy. Hell.

      I hope you never have daughters.

    • Guest

      No, they’re not.  Maybe in fundamentalist christian sects they are, but a lot of cultures and nations are moving on towards equality for all individuals – be they male, female, or somewhere in between ;) .  I’ve never had much interest in household chores/duties and I’m fine with that.  My mother is a strong, independent, and an equal partner to my father – and they’ve been happily married for 35 years.  So stuff it with the whole “feminism means people are unhappy and divorcing” crap.  People divorce for many different reasons.  Perhaps you should do a little research on that topic before you spout off mysognistic nonsense that features red herrings and double standards.


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