CTBHHM: Single Moms Turned Lesbian

Created To Be His Help Meet, pp. 67-72

Debi’s purpose in this entire section is to make her readers terrified of the thought of divorce. Her goal is to make sure that her readers won’t even think of leaving their husbands (no matter how miserable they are or whether they are abused) and that her readers will be so afraid of their husbands leaving them that they’ll do anything to keep them. Her purpose is not to help her readers learn how to foster healthy relationships or a healthy sense of self, but rather to keep them so scared they’ll stay put no matter what.

So, continuing in this theme, Debi offers a letter of warning from a reader named Carolyn. This is one of those letters that I highly suspect Debi is making up.

Dear Pearls,

I would like to tell you my story that others might be warned. I am 52 years old and have been alone for 23 years. I never thought this would be my lot in life. It never crossed my mind that my husband would leave me. I made many mistakes in my relationship with my husband.

Today, I see and hear young wives, and older wives as well, thoughtlessly making those very same mistakes with their own husbands. They take for granted that he would never leave them and file for divorce. This sense of security seems to give them the feeling that they have the liberty to take their stand, in myriad ways, against the wrongs, failures, and inadequacies of their husbands. I see it as either ignorance or a refusal to obey God’s injunction to wives, or a combination of both.

This is why I write my story—to open the truths to the wives who are truly ignorant, and to warn the resistant wives. I cannot answer for my husband’s responsibilities and duties. That is between him and God. But if I had known then what I do now about God’s commands to wives, i.e., what a man needs and what I could do to fill those needs, it would have made a big difference.

Weirdly, this letter is written as though the author is fully aware that it’s going to be featured in this book. Huh. How about that.

Anyway, look at the use of threat here: If wives remind themselves daily that their husbands could leave them at any moment, then they won’t dare to “have the liberty to take their stand.” Reading that line literally made me sick to my stomach. And that’s what this is—utterly and absolutely sick. If you are living your life in fear that your husband will leave you if you stand up for your own rights and needs, you are in an abusive relationship.

Next comes a whole lists of bullet points of all the mistakes Carolyn says she made in her marriage, mistakes that resulted in her marriage falling apart and her husband leaving her. This list reads like it’s written by Debi as a list of things not to do. Let me offer a few of them by way of example:

When my husband acted selfishly at home, allowed his temper to flare, and sometimes said curse words, and then went to church and acted spiritual, I wish I had prayed positively for him instead of withdrawing a little emotionally from him and letting my cynicism and lack of confidence in him be so manifest. I wish I had openly showed love and acceptance of him for himself, not impatiently waited until he acted right.

When he acted like a jerk, I wish I had remained quiet and prayed for him, loved him anyway instead of letting him know what I thought about him and his actions.

When he spent money I thought we didn’t have, I wish I had remained quiet and trusted God. I wish I had shown continued confidence in him, regardless of his decisions.

When he needed a woman to believe in him, admire him, approve of him, accept him, regardless of his failures, I wish now that I had been the one to give him those things.

It’s the usual, really. She should have admired her husband even when he “acted selfishly” or “acted like a jerk,” and she wishes she had approved of his financial decisions even when she thought them unwise. Her supposed failings lay in not offering her husband unadulterated praise and in offering her own input in family decisions. This is really Debi’s modus operendi here.

A couple struck me as falling in a slightly different category, though:

When he tried to make up to me for some failure, I wish I had not been so cool, waiting for him to “suffer” a little more and be more intense and sincere about his apology.

When we were in the company of his family or our friends, I wish I had not taken on a martyred air when he left to go off and do something on his own.

It is generally wrong to rake someone over the coals when they’re trying to apologize and wrong to try to control someone using emotional manipulation rather than just talking to them about things that bother you. These things are wrong totally regardless of gender. But one thing that strikes me here is that these are the sorts of tactics that women following ideas like Debi’s frequently fall back on. After all, if you’re not able to just talk about things that bother you, it’s only natural to use what other means you’ve got to address them, and when you’re married to someone who rarely admits failure, it’s only natural to respond by making the most of those times they do. These things don’t happen—and definitely shouldn’t happen—in a functional relationship.

But then there’s this:

When he wanted me to do something, and I didn’t want to do it, I wish I had cheerfully complied instead of making him sorry he asked. Hardheadedness is not a trait to endear any woman to a man.

. . . wut. Somehow I can’t read this without assuming that Debi—oh, I mean Carolyn!—is talking about sex here. And that is so not cool. Although I get a small feeling of the above here too—making someone “sorry they asked” is never a good idea, but simply complying with whatever wants you to do is not the only other alternative.

After going through all of these bullet points of failings, Debi—or Carolyn—moves to the conclusion of her story:

Time passed. The marriage strangled to death from the load of mistakes, sin, and selfishness on the part of both of us. One day, to my shock and surprise, he just left. And what do you think happened then, dear reader? The children and I were plunged into near poverty.

Say it ain’t so.

Look, I’m not trying to make light of the fact that single moms are disproportionately living in poverty, I’m really not. I’ll have more to say on that score in a minute. It’s just that this is the thing Debi is holding over women’s heads here, so I’m not surprised that that’s what Carolyn—or Debi—or who knows, maybe it’s Mike!—chooses to lead with here.

He no longer felt the natural desire to protect and support his family. I received the minimum child support. It was never enough. When the house and the car needed repairs, there was little or no money to have the work done. Things slowly fell apart. People would help, but no one quite knows what to do with broken families.

I’m not going to quote the entirety of Carolyn’s letter, but she explains that she had no job training and had to take entry level positions that paid very little. And . . . this is why education is so important for women. This is also why being a stay at home mom can be a very dangerous choice—the stay at home mom is dependent in her husband’s income. If she and her husband trust each other and have a strong and loving relationship, and preferably an egalitarian one, things can turn out just fine. But if not, well, the woman ends up with no resume, no job skills, possibly no education—and thus no choice but to either stay in a miserable marriage, perhaps with an abusive husband, or to leave and face huge challenges when entering the workforce and quite possibly a life of poverty. It is this choice that Debi is holding over her readers’ heads as a threat.

Some of you don’t believe that this could happen to you. In fact, you may well be thinking that it would be a relief if you could get him out of the house. You think, “Well, I’m healthy and strong. I’m emotionally secure. I can handle it. I am pretty and will find a good man. I have a family who will help me. I have a good church to support me, and could get counseling, etc. At least I would have peace in the house and could then live as I wanted to. I wouldn’t have all the problems to contend with.” These are all things that foolish wives may think. But I know better. My experience, as well as thousands of others, proves this outlook to be a lie. Carolyn.

And . . . this is why I think Carolyn is Debi. I mean, this is supposed to be Carolyn’s personal letter to Debi, and she’s leading her conclusion with “some of you don’t believe that this could happen to you”? Really?!? This entire last paragraph makes utterly no sense in a letter written from Carolyn to Debi. It just sounds like, well, Debi.

And it’s Debi once again—once again—making her threat explicit. If you don’t roll over and be a good submissive wife, well, your husband will leave you and you’ll be thrown into grinding poverty. So forget about silly things like your “rights” or “needs” and set about smiling at your husband.

I really want to stop here, but if I do then I have to write about this same garbage again next week, so I’m going to blow through the rest of this so we can finally move beyond Debi’s threats of the horrors of life as a divorced woman.

Look around you. There is a new breed of women today. They serve your table at the local restaurant they mow grass, work in the hospitals, and direct traffic. There are thousands of these ladies; they are everywhere doing anything they can find to do. They are mostly single moms. they dress cheaply; their hair has a ragged cut, and the dark circles under their young eyes testify to their faded hope. They are a new army of workers. Employers can underpay them because they are desperate for work You can depend on them because they would not dare take the chance of losing their job. they are distracted because they are thinking of their unhappy children or the baby-sitter’s new, weird boyfriend who comes over when she is at work.

Debi’s right on one score: there are legitimate problems with the situation faced by many single moms in our society today. They often face huge economic disadvantages. But there are ways to solve this and help mitigate the problems these women face, and guess what? Telling them that the solution is just to be good submissive wives staying in their husbands’ homes isn’t one of those solutions. The real answers are things like education and job training and more flexible career options. Debi’s solution, in contrast, is to give each one of these” faded” and “ragged haired” women as a gift to a man, and tell him to keep her fed, tucked away safely indoors, and securely in her place.

While Debi doesn’t discuss welfare here, I’m pretty sure she’s against it, because it helps lessen the threat she and other teachers like her have to hold over women’s heads. Allowing women, especially those women who are mothers, to be happy and financially secure without being married, whether that’s through education and career training or through programs like welfare? That’s definitely a bad thing in Debi’s book. The greater the grinding poverty faced by single mothers, the greater the threat Debi has to hold over women’s heads.

Sometimes they team up with another single mom to share resources, childcare responsibilities, and troubles. Lately, I have been reading how many of these single women are turning to each other for comfort—sometimes for intimacy. Do you think anything might ever drive you do that? A new breed of women.

Yes, Debi went there. Apparently being a single mom makes a person turn lesbian.

In all seriousness, though, what in the world is wrong with single moms getting together to share responsibilities, resources, and emotional support? That sounds like a really good idea, actually.

They are independent, in charge, and stressed. They grow old early, trying futility to care for unruly children whom no man wants to stepfather. They grow bitter as they watch eligible men look over their heads at girls much younger than themselves, who have no strings attached. And they grow fearful when they realize that the men who have shown interest in them are hiding perverted intents toward their cute little youngsters. Their kids are angry and often get into trouble.

Independent, in charge, and . . . stressed. In Debi’s world, women should be glad that they don’t have to be the ones in charge, because that’s stressful. A childlike life of being taken care of, with all the big decisions made for you, is far preferable.

As for the other bit . . . Debi seems to have a very low view of men.

But all of this was not your fault. No, it was your husband who committed adultery, your husband who was angry or got into porn, but he seems to have a life of ease now with plenty of money compared to your miserable condition. He takes the kids every other weekend and spoils them, making them hate you all the more. he seems to be so vital, so alive and full of smiles. He has money to entertain them, and they know you as a grumpy penny-pincher. They think his young girlfriend is really cool.

More threats. Like I’ve said, there’s some reality behind these threats. Women do tend to suffer financially after a divorce while, statistically, men actually end up better off financially. The sad result of this sorry state of affairs is that people like Debi can use this as a threat against women as they breeze along informing women that they don’t have rights and that their needs and feelings are illegitimate.

When you discover a lump in your breast, your teens don’t care or understand the gravity of the situation. You struggle alone with your fear and take yourself to the doctor, knowing that even though this might not end in death, it is the end of hope.

Slippery slope alert! If you don’t obey your husband, he’ll leave you and you’ll get breast cancer, says Debi!

Having gotten to the utterly hopeless bottom of her slippery slope, Debi returns to the beginning:

It all started when you were mad about a TV commercial, or when he watched the car races on a Sunday afternoon. It all got worse when he wanted you to do something exotic sexually.

See, I told you Debi—er, Carolyn—was talking about sex earlier!

Divorce is never planned, but it is almost always preceded by certain avoidable reactive behavior and events. Don’t let it happen to you.

Debi’s message to women: Divorce is your fault. Don’t let it happen to you, because you will turn lesbian and get breast cancer. So shut up, forget about your needs, submit to your man, and put out.

What are the messages to take away here?

First, Debi is using the very real financial challenges single mothers have as a threat to keep women in relationships they might otherwise leave. More than that, she is using the potential of poverty-ridden single motherhood as a stick to enforce her message that women need to be submissive and obedient wives—if they think about their own needs, Debi insists, their husbands will leave them. And then here comes a life of poverty and stress.

Growing up in an upper middle class home, I didn’t truly realize until reading this section how important it is to erode the structural economic challenges ordinary women face, and also the dire situation stay at home motherhood can place many women in. College was always a given for me, and I have always known that if my marriage were to turn abusive I could leave and still maintain my financial security. For women with less privilege than I, though—and I get the feeling that these women are the target audience of Debi’s book—this is not the case. I suppose I should thank Debi for this, because she’s helped me hone my feminist approach to basic economic issues.

Next, Debi seems to have a very low view of men throughout this entire section. According to Debi, if a woman doesn’t roll over and play dead, her husband will leave her. Who are these men who can’t take criticism or input from their wives? Who are these men who leave their wives if they find they don’t get the sex on demand they thought they were entitled to? Personally, I don’t want to have anything to do with Debi’s men. They sound insecure, selfish, and feckless.

Finally, Debi’s advice runs clear against every bit of mainstream marriage advice I’ve ever heard. Her suggestion is never that couples should work on their relationships, iron out their differences, and form a cooperative partnership. No. In contrast, she over and over tells women that the way to a happy marriage is to simply obey their husbands in everything and to never criticize their husbands or offer input. How does this foster bonding or understanding or the union of two spirits? Debi’s portrayal of marriage sounds almost worse than her portrayal of single motherhood.

Ugh. Just, ugh.

About Libby Anne

Libby Anne grew up in a large evangelical homeschool family highly involved in the Christian Right. College turned her world upside down, and she is today an atheist, a feminist, and a progressive. She blogs about leaving religion, her experience with the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements, the detrimental effects of the "purity culture," the contradictions of conservative politics, and the importance of feminism.

  • http://yewnique.wordpress.com/ yewnique

    Thank you for doing this series of reviewing CTBHHM so thoroughly.

    I’m stunned at the material that is in the book. This book first came into my radar several years ago when some mums on a homeschooling forum board were praising it highly.

    I’m glad I never bought the book.

  • OurSally

    That Debi has a very clear picture of how single mums live. The picture she paints is consistent and detailed. I suspect there is some very personal experience here.

    • Nea

      As I understand it, she herself has never been divorced. However, apparently she has been cheerful, smiling, and supportive while her hubby blew family money so badly that they were reduced to making the kids eat animal feed. So the grinding poverty part and the need to grit your teeth while your man does something suicidally destructive to the family… yeah, she knows those. From other excerpts I’ve heard, she (or presumably Mike through her) also announces that even if sex is painful, STFU and put out, so that is another personal experience for her.

      I personally cannot wrap my head around someone who is putting up with grinding poverty and painful sex and thinks that things could get WORSE if she leaves. Aside from the easily inferred notion that Mike has made clear he’d replace her with in a New York minute.

      • Cathy W

        Aside from the easily inferred notion that Mike has made clear he’d replace her with in a New York minute.

        …with someone younger and cuter, while you, divorced single mom, will lose your looks.

      • Nea

        And the babysitter will be seeing more action than you will – in your own bed yet! (Debi sure has this thing about the babysitter getting it on while working, doesn’t she? Where the heck does that come from, aside from her apparent belief that everyone is panting to get it on with everyone else they see?)

  • http://counterapologist.blogspot.com/ Counter Apologist

    “Now that’s some fucked up repugnant shit.” is the immediate reaction after reading this post.

    I don’t really have any other words to describe what that book was trying to do.

  • Tracy

    Well, my girlfriend did “turn lesbian” after her divorce…but the “lesbian thing” and the growing emotional conflict she felt inside were the root causes of the divorce. Of course, Debi would have probably hated how my girlfriend acted in her marriage and then blamed the divorce AND our lesbian relationship on her not being a properly submissive wife.

  • ako

    Yeah, I think feminists have better ideas for dealing with poverty and economic inequality than “Spend the rest of your life tending physically, emotionally, and sexually to someone you may not even like, and never, ever, ever complain about anything!”

    Of course, feminists don’t think all men are total selfish sex-obsessed beasts who will abandon their family at the slightest hint of inconvenience, and only ever take an interest in women with kids if they’re plotting child molestation.

    And that “Oh, no, you might turn lesbian!” thing is kind of hilarious. There’s the basic “Sexual orientation doesn’t work that way” aspect, and on top of that, she really made it sound better than the alternatives. If the options are 1) being alone, lonely, and cancer-ridden, 2) joyless obligation-ridden sex with someone who will abandon you the moment you express any needs, or 3) a relationship with someone who’s ready to share resources and responsibilities, and offers comfort and intimacy, wouldn’t the third one be the best?

    • http://musings.northerngrove.com/ Jarred H

      If the options are 1) being alone, lonely, and cancer-ridden, 2) joyless obligation-ridden sex with someone who will abandon you the moment you express any needs, or 3) a relationship with someone who’s ready to share resources and responsibilities, and offers comfort and intimacy, wouldn’t the third one be the best?

      That thought certainly occurred to me.

    • Sue Blue

      My thoughts exactly. It’s horrifyingly laughable how Debi thinks that a lesbian relationship is somehow worse than being abused, humiliated, degraded or poverty-stricken. It’s also horrifying how the men in her world are such emotionally-stunted troglodytes. My husband would hate to be chained to a doormat like Debi. He likes it that I can support the family if he should lose his job or get sick. He wants me to speak my mind and enjoys intelligent conversation. Neither he nor I can imagine me being a household slave like this woman.

      • NW

        “Emotionally-stunted troglodytes”. Awesome. I might have to steal that phrase….

    • http://www.facebook.com/lucrezaborgia Lucreza Borgia

      Ah…but option #2 is the godly one! The purpose of marriage and life in Debbi’s world is to serve god, not make yourself happy. If you follow her convoluted logic, that suffering via servicing god will eventually make you happy if you just submit hard enough.

  • Aviatrix

    Ah, if only we could turn the clock back and live in the world of a Jane Austin novel – minus the feisty, opinionated, independent female characters – and live for finding the right match and being well taken care of. Then all would be well with the world. Uh huh.

    • Nea

      That’s… minus most of the female characters in all the books, when I stop to think about it. And a couple of the heroes as well – Elizabeth, after all, taught Darcy how to be teased and not always taken seriously, so obviously THAT marriage is doomed!

  • BabyRaptor

    Speaking as someone who has to pay child support (the father has custody of my son-by my choice), you can’t just decide to pay more. At least in Texas, where I pay child support, the state handles it. The amount the judge decided on is taken out of your check before you even see it. And if you walk over there and hand them more in person, it doesn’t count. In fact, it can get used against you if the custodial parent and their lawyer are tricksy enough.

    Another thing that people whining about child support never seem to consider: The payer still has to survive. They have their own bills to pay as well. Does this mean they should be scrimping on supporting their kids? No. But if the payer doesn’t have a safe home, food, and transportation, how are they going to work to pay at all?

    Lastly, she *can* go to court and get the amount raised if she can prove need. She’s not stuck with the initial amount the judge assigned in the original court date. And she would have been told this at said date.

    Debbie likely wrote this, and she didn’t even bother checking basic facts. Nothing new, though, I guess.

    • Sam

      We have different experiences with child support; I live in Virginia and am the “child” in the situation (now 21), and the way support was calculated (I snooped in some legal documents in my teens – oops!) was my mom’s income (custodial parent) plus my dad’s income (we stayed with him every other weekend), converted to a percentage; ie he made 55% of their joint income and she made 45%. Then they calculated how much it cost to take care of a child, and thus determined how much my dad should pay. The catch was this; they only calculated health insurance and food! Thus, my dad only paid a couple hundred a month per child, where my mom spent about 90% of her income on us.

      Also, even if the non-custodial parent cannot just give more money, he or she could pay for other things; ie they could take the kid school supplies shopping, pay for music lessons or participation in sports, or even part of college tuition – this is something that my dad decided never to do. Also, he didn’t pay anything for the first 10 years of my life and was pretty neglectful when we were with him; but my mom didn’t have the money to take him to court, so it’s not so easy to raise the amount!

      • alr

        It differs so widely by state. My brother was required in his agreement to pay for his son’s health insurance. He also paid a substantial amount of child support which was figured as a percentage of his income. On top of that he has consistently bought all of his son’s clothes, paid school fees when his mom decided he should go to a boarding school, paid for all extracurricular activities, etc…This year, his son decided he wanted to finish high school with his dad for sound educational reasons and because it is better for his college plans. My brother was only able to obtain a “temporary custody order” which means that the kid lives with him, he shoulders all expenses (mom is contributing nothing) and mom still receives the same amount of monthly child support. The system is totally screwed up.

      • BabyRaptor

        I should have worded it more carefully…I didn’t mean to imply that it would be a cake walk, just that it was an option. Thanks for catching that.

    • Leigha7

      Wait, giving your ex and your children more money can count AGAINST you? Instead of worrying about all the people skipping out on paying child support at all, they’re worried about the people paying EXTRA? (and yes, I know it’s not an either/or thing)

      Sigh. This is what’s wrong with our society today.

  • Paula G V aka Yukimi

    I don’t want to be a grammar nazi but anyway here I go: In this paragraph:
    “It is generally wrong to rake someone over the coals when they’re trying to apologize and wrong to try to control someone using emotional manipulation rather than just talking to them about things that bother you. These things are wrong totally irregardless”

    It should be regardless and not irregardless since that word doen’t exist afaik.

    Btw, I wonder how people can read this book and take it seriously. Perhaps I come form a too different world, perhaps it’s because it’s being deconstructed, perhaps the people reading it were too sheltered or afraid… but it’s just so out of it, so unrelated to reality …

    • Uly

      http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/irregardless

      How can a word that millions of people use every day, that is understood even by those people who don’t use it, “not exist”? It may not be your preferred word choice, it may be widely considered to be nonstandard, but it most certainly does exist.

      • Pauline

        I can’t give you an argument for how it can not exist, all I can say is…
        Pleease don’t use it? Please? It’s… I can’t even explain… it’s like fingernails on a chalkboard… aaah I have to go away now, sorry….

      • Kodie

        Ok, they can have “irregardless” but they have to give up “could of”.

    • Anya

      “It should be regardless and not irregardless since that word doen’t exist afaik.”

      *doesn’t. Also, you’re missing a comma (possibly two, depending on how tedious one wishes to be).

      When you aim to correct another, be certain that you are correct yourself.

    • Generally Speaking

      This is one of my grammar pet peeves as well. It’s either irrespective or regardless.

    • Paula G V aka Yukimi

      Okay, I’m never going to try to correct anything again. I’m not a antive speaker btw. I was just trying to help.

      • Generally Speaking

        It’s all good, Paula G. I think there’s a pretty big difference between what you were pointing out as a grammatical error with the use of “irregardless” and the errors that were pointed out to you. Yours appear to be simple typos.

        Don’t stop trying to be helpful. Perhaps the world would be a better place if we could all learn to handle benign criticisms without feeling the need to become defensive. After all, no one is perfect. :)

      • Calico

        The beauty of English is that portmanteau words like irregardless can start out being wrong and, over the course of time, become right by virtue of accepted usage. “Irregardless” has been in use for over a hundred years and people have been complaining about it the whole time, but it seems to have staying power, so maybe in another hundred years it will be deemed correct :)

      • http://eschaton2012.ca Eamon Knight

        Sometime in the late 1960s, someone on the radio used “irregardless” and my Dad went off on a rant about illiterate radio hosts. Apparently it made an impression on my young mind, as I’ve loathed the word ever since. However, descriptive grammarian that I am, I don’t have any *principled* reasons to oppose it.

        But I reserve the right to cringe ;-).

  • Christine

    Her lesbianism threat is so ridiculous. If you think it’s wrong then why would decide to have sex with another woman? And if you don’t think it’s wrong, why is it a threat? (Debbie isn’t implying that single mothers end up getting sexually assaulted by other women, so I think my implication of volition is in line with the threat in the first place.) It reminds me of a Ken Ham book I read. “If you don’t believe the Bible is literally true then you can’t say that homosexuality is wrong!” Completely ignoring the fact that if you no longer believe in your basis for being homophobic then you won’t CARE that you can’t say it’s wrong.

    But Libby – being a stay-at-home parent (particularly a stay-at-home-mom) isn’t where the risk is. It’s in not having work skills. I’m officially a stay-at-home-mom now (I was never officially on maternity leave, but for the sake of a resume the first year counts as mat leave), and if something happened to my husband I could easily find decent work. It might not be in my field, but it wouldn’t be a huge problem. Worst case I’d go and finish my education (yes, that pays less than working full-time retail, but there are bursaries for child care, and it’s more flexible than this mythical full-time retail job), and then use that for my current resume. Most women who stay at home have more work experience after graduation than I do. The problem is that a) in Debbie’s world women aren’t supposed to have work skills at all and b)she’s trained them out of all the soft skills as well, like taking initiative.

  • http://eschaton2012.ca Eamon Knight

    Is anyone keeping track of all the Bad Consequences of Not Being A Wifely Doormat? By my reckoning we’ve now got that you’ll be a shrieking lesbian madwoman with breast cancer living in a dumpy duplex with a dozen hostile children (did I miss any?). Which for some reason reminds me of the nursery rhyme about the Old Woman Who Lived In A Shoe.

    Oh, and Shrieking Lesbian Madwomen would be a totally awesome name for a gender-bending feminist punk band ;-).

    • Noelle

      And an even better name for an all-straight guys band. Some folksy banjo music I’m thinking.

      • http://eschaton2012.ca Eamon Knight

        Hey, I play banjo! (sort of) And acoustic guitar. And have hair down past my shoulders (thereby lending a properly hill-billy/hippy schtick to the enterprise). OK, when I form my band….(yeah, right)…..

      • Karen

        alt-Bluegrass, definitely. They can open for Hayseed Dixie, the AC/DC Bluegrass tribute band.

    • Anonymouse

      Not only will you be a madwoman living in a dumpy duplex, but she paints any man who might love a woman, even if she has kids, as a sexual predator out to defile her children. Debi hates men *and* women, apparently.

    • http://www.megancaldwellchandler.wordpress.com Megan

      Don’t forget about the bad hair cut.

    • Kathleen Margaret Schwab

      You forgot the part about men hitting on you so that they can molest your kids.

  • http://brokendaughters.wordpress.com Lisa

    When you wrote that you suspect Debbi making some letters up, it felt like an epiphany for me. Of course she did! I mean, I didn’t see it that way when I read it a few years ago. But you’re right…. it sounds so staged. Wow. Seriously. Makes so much more sense now. Why did I never think of that option?

    • Petticoat Philosopher

      Honestly, it would surprise me more if any of her letters were NOT made up.

  • alr

    What is it with the notion in some fundagelical circles that every woman is mere moments away from a lesbian relationship. There was a popular book in those circles (in the area anyway as the author was local) when I was in college about women’s friendships. It was basically a lovely book about how women can and should support each other and nurture friendships. Except for the cautionary chapter about how you must be cautious to avoid getting too close to a friend or you might become lesbians. Totally out of left field in the context of the rest.

    • http://eschaton2012.ca Eamon Knight

      What is it with the notion in some fundagelical circles that every woman is mere moments away from a lesbian relationship.

      ….same as they think us guys just can’t wait to get it on with each other, and the only thing that keeps us straight is the fact that we can’t marry another guy, so we can have sex AND watch football AND drink beer, all with the same person. Or something. Ed Brayton once ridiculed some nut-job who likened gay sex to cocaine addiction — apparently, once you have it even once, it’s such a mind-blowing trip, you just can’t turn back (which makes one suspect something about the nut-job in question).

      • Steve

        Some of the people who write such crap are madly projecting. It’s a huge temptation to them, so they think everyone else feels the same.

      • Randomosity

        I find it hilarious how obsessed with sex fundamentalists are.

      • Kagi Soracia

        It’s really only hilarious when you haven’t dealt with the twistedness of it for your entire life.

    • http://sylvia-rachel.livejournal.com sylvia_rachel

      What is it with the notion in some fundagelical circles that every woman is mere moments away from a lesbian relationship.

      Honestly, the more I learn about fundagelical ideas on (heterosexual) marriage, the more that notion makes sense to me. I mean, I personally am not at all tempted to jump into bed with any of my female friends, because not only am I towards the straight end of the sexuality continuum, but I’m happily married to a dude who loves me, respects my intelligence and competence and values my opinion, is a great dad, is there for me when I need him, and takes out the garbage when necessary.* But if being married meant being married to a guy like the ones we’ve been meeting in Debi’s book — the kind who acts like a selfish jerk, spends money we don’t have, demands kinds of sex I’m not comfortable participating in (and/or demands sex whether or not I’m into it), doesn’t pull his weight around the house, and on top of all that expects me to worship the ground he walks on — well, all of a sudden the shrieking lesbian madwoman option seems a lot more attractive…

      (I’m kidding, of course. Mostly. I obviously am not saying that sexual orientation should be regarded as situational. Just thinking out loud about one of the many, many, MANY ways in which Debi’s model of marriage is made of fail.)

      *Actually we have now outsourced this chore to our 10-year-old. But YKWIM.

      • Stony

        I have to refer to Libby Anne’s two box model. To fundagelicals, once a woman stops being a Good Wife (and remember, the divorce is her fault), she goes into the Big Godless Box of Every Kind of Sin. So she must, by the rules of the BGBoEKoS, come into contact with homosexuality and pedophilia and every other kind of perversion that’s in that box. It’s pretty black/white thinking.

      • Rosa

        it’s also weirdly reminiscent of polygamy apologists saying that “of course it’s wonderful to have a sister-wife, so you have someone who will help with the kids and the housework and listen to you when you have feelings.” Because there’s no way a MAN would do those things.

  • smrnda

    I would like to ask Debi why women should marry men in the first place, given what immature, insecure, narcissistic jerks she thinks men are. She can’t even describe her own husband without making it obvious that he’s an obnoxious case of arrested development. I think she’s a “I’m miserable and I’d have for anybody to be happy.”

    • http://ansilica.tumblr.com/ Aighty

      I get the feeling that if you were to actually ask her, the answer would be something like, “Because if you don’t you won’t be living a godly life and you’ll burn in hell forever.” But that’s just speculation on my part; obviously (thankfully) I am not her.

    • Saraquill

      My guess is that she’s invested so much in this existence that she’s afraid to step back. That, or Mickey filled her head with threats about what would happen if she considers leaving.

  • Anonymouse

    “There is a new breed of women today. They serve your table at the local restaurant” Uhm, whut? Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote about she and her sisters serving food in a winter camp in the 1800s…waitresses are hardly a new and exotic thing.

  • Stony

    Debi makes me angry, she really does, and she probably rejoices in that type of response thinking it just means “I’m convicted in my sin”, which makes me angrier.
    1. I would rather live in that crappy duplex at minimum wage rather than live another day with my first husband. Lucky for me I had a …gasp… college degree and bankable skills and was already working. I’ve had a 20+ year career, stress and all, and it’s made me happy and fulfilled. More so than he ever did.
    2. Yes, indeed, my current husband could walk out any time and leave me. And so could I. I would rather stay with someone who wanted to be with me, than someone staying under the conditions Debi lays out.
    3. My sister had a fine marriage, raised some kids, got some early grandkids, and her husband died suddenly. Like “no will, no insurance, no nothing” suddenly. Through absolutely no fault of her own she comes closer to Debi’s dystopia than anyone else I know in real life. But that doesn’t fit Debi’s narrative, does it?

    • Nea

      Through absolutely no fault of her own she comes closer to Debi’s dystopia than anyone else I know in real life

      That’s the part that complementarianism/patriarchy always leaves out. The man can be as faithful and loving as the day is long, and he could still die or be disabled. He can manage the family money well and invest wisely and the economy can still tank out from under his plans.

      My father is very much the provider they talk about – loving, far seeing, investing, hard-working… (he’s also very liberal which they wouldn’t approve of. Nobody’s perfect. :)) That hasn’t stopped him from having a heart attack, or from the company he spent his life working for being bought out and him getting screwed on retirement health care, or from the economy flushing many of their investments. My mother, who is very competent but hasn’t held a paying job since the 50s, is TERRIFIED that he’ll go first, wiping out the pension and social security that they live on.

  • http://equalsuf.wordpress.com Jayn

    “Employers can underpay them because they are desperate for work You can depend on them because they would not dare take the chance of losing their job.”

    Yet this is the EXACT situation she is advocating women put themselves in in their relationships. She uses a real problem in society to scare women into seeing their marriages as the same trap, all the while denying that it’s a trap at all.

    • ArachneS

      This kind of thing is bad enough in the workplace, and she advocates for it within people’s relationships, inside their homes. How twisted do you have to be, to call for women to be so desperate and dependent on a man, that they will do anything, put up with anything, say anything rather than take the chance that the man, their financial sustenance, will not stay with them?

    • Kit

      I second this comment – it’s like Debi doesn’t even realize that this situation is actually exactly what she’s offering women. Replace “employer” with “husband” and it’s the exact same thing.

      Also, I’m pretty sure I stopped breathing from sheer disgust when I read the excerpts from Debi. When I realized I still needed to breathe, I mostly felt nauseous.

  • Landon

    Debi is a messed up woman. When you drew my attention to it, at first I thought Michael must be asking for something REALLY weird in the bedroom, and this whole thing – the book, the ministry, everything – was Debi’s way of rationalizing why she keeps agreeing to it. The only thing that’s changed is that now I’m convinced it’s something relatively tame and that Debi is even more neurotic than I previously suspected.

    But I’m pretty sure her husband, whatsisname, is still a jerkass, regardless.

    • Mogg

      Given that “watching car races on Sunday afternoon” is terrible, awful jerkiness in Debi’s world which will cause wimmins to react if not following her advice, I tend to agree.

  • http://theotherweirdo.wordpress.com The Other Weirdo

    Sometimes they team up with another single mom to share resources, childcare responsibilities, and troubles. Lately, I have been reading how many of these single women are turning to each other for comfort—sometimes for intimacy. Do you think anything might ever drive you do that? A new breed of women.

    Wait! There was a TV show about two single women, both with children, who moved in together to share resources. That was about 20 years ago, if memory serves. Debi is nearly a quarter of a century out of date with her advice.

    Also, I’m fascinated that she berates single moms for dressing badly and having bad hair. I’m pretty sure either Jesus or Paul or possibly both of them said women shouldn’t dress themselves up. And, there’s always OT which forbids the mixing of fibres which any modern stylish outfit most certainly does.

    • http://sylvia-rachel.livejournal.com sylvia_rachel

      Kate & Allie! I loved that show.

      And yeah, it’s kind of hilarious that Debi thinks this is a new and terrifying thing.

      • http://theotherweirdo.wordpress.com The Other Weirdo

        IMDB says that show premiered in 1984, which means that Debi’s advice is almost 30 years out of date.

      • Steve

        There is actually an episode where they pretend to be a lesbian couple in order to save rent:

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LAMEtWAbz5Y

    • Maria Lima

      I don’t want to be mean, but ending up with bad clothes and bad hair is ending up looking exactly like Debi.

  • SirWill

    Long-time lurker, first-time poster here.

    This is just horrifying. Seriously.

    When I was a kid, my parents got divorced. My dad and my mom just drifted apart as they got older. Or maybe it was ‘Mom grew up, dad stayed a teenager at heart.’ But there weren’t fights, there wasn’t hatred, and there wasn’t any problem about sending me and my brother to him every couple of weeks so we’d stay in touch. But it was for the best that they’d split. My dad never was really good with responsibility, and when I talk with him these days, it’s much more a friendly relationship than a parental one.

    But what Debi keeps saying is they should have stayed together, miserable, as the resentment built to the point where it would have ruined my mother’s mental health as my dad walked all over her. First, my dad wasn’t a bad guy, or a self-entitled prick, or even an egomaniac, he was just a bit clueless, and that added up a slowly-building frustration that stressed the marriage. Turns out there were other issues boiling under the surface I wasn’t aware of at the time, but they got divorced amiably before things could explode.

    And secondly? My mom got remarried. My stepdad? Old friend of the family AND best stepfather I could ever ask for. He wasn’t a pedophile, he wasn’t an asshole, he was caring, loving, and responsible. The kicker? He didn’t even like kids that much, but he loved my mom enough that he didn’t CARE that she had kids. He entered the relationship anyway, and everyone’s happier all around.

    So even with a milder version of the NIGHTMARE SCENARIO that Debi puts out that was my childhood, everything turned out pretty damn good here, my mother’s happy, I’m happy, and my father is, while rather distant, happy. Under Debi’s model? My mom would be a bitter woman still living with my dad. My dad would be making himself miserable, and probably blaming everything on my mom. I would probably be in a mental hospital, or if not, be a bitter person myself (Had a lot of issues growing up, with my brother, bullies, and clueless adults letting the problems build on for years) and I’d have missed out growing up under a great father figure who helped shape me into the person I am today.

    So Debi? If you’re really living this ‘Ideal Godly Life’ you think you are? Get the fuck out now. I say this for your benefit. It might be scary. It might go bad. But you’re better off taking ‘Might go bad’ than the current future that is ‘I know it sucks, but I don’t know the other way, that could be worse!’

    What’s unforgivable in my eyes is that she thinks that this kind of life is good for people, and better than her scenario ‘Single Moms Turned Lesbian’ So what if said moms did? If my mom did? I wouldn’t have cared, as long as it made her happy and that said new person didn’t turn out to be abusive. And abusive can apply to either stepfathers or stepmothers, or actual fathers and mothers for that matter.

    It makes me wonder what her advice would be to a wife who finds her husband raping the kids. A terrible thought in the back of my head says ‘Grin and bear it, he’s the man of the house and God said submit! You wouldn’t want to end up being lezzies with the widow across the street, would you?!’

    Makes me very, very glad. My childhood wasn’t the best, but it could have been a LOT worse. Debi seems to want to make EVERYONE’s worse. Misery loves company, maybe?

    • Nebuladancer

      Thank you for sharing your story. You are so right, and you are the reason Debi doesn’t want people to know about your situation: because it contradicts everything she says. And you are exactly right, what advice would she offer to a woman who discovered her husband raping her child. That was the very real situation faced by a lovely christian woman I knew. She put up with her husbands drinking, very poor financial decisions, even beatings because she had been raised on Debi’s advice. Only to one day find him raping her teenage daughter. She got smart really fast, divorced him, got herself and her daughter counselling, and eventually met and married a wonderful widow. How much pain could she have avoided for her daughter and her other children if she had dumped this kind of poison years before? Debi’s advice is not original, but it is dangerous.

      • Nebuladancer

        Widower, sorry.

      • SirWill

        Now that’s a horrid situation. I’m glad she managed to get out of it, and save her daughter from it.

        It goes to show you that even when people are told, and believe, and accept, wrong is right, evil is good, monstrous actions are hailed as holy, that people can wake up and recognize that a bucket of shit is a bucket of shit, and not a bucket of ice cream. It may take something large, something shocking to shake them out of the apathy, but it can be done.

        I’m not downplaying the pain here. Wounds heal, physical or mental, but the scars always remain. I hope the daughter is doing alright. It’s never easy living with the results of that kind of abuse, but people CAN heal, if given care, love, and time. And they have to want to.

        What keeps getting me about this kind of worldview is not just that it’s poisonous, it’s fractally poisonous. Take any idea out of it, and it’s exactly as poisonous as any other idea, and as the worldview as a whole. I have yet to see a good idea in it that could be taken out of it in isolation and be good on its merits, not on authority.

  • TheSeravy

    Reading Debi’s stuff really gets my blood boiling. She is prime example of how freedom of speech is being abused. Her only contribution to society is sexism and human misery. She may not be leaving bodies behind but Debi is ruining lives.

    • Kagi Soracia

      No, she is absolutely leaving bodies behind. Count on it. :/ This stuff kills.

  • Anya

    I’d love to try to break Debi’s (and, by obvious extension, Michael’s) brain. My husband is Asatru, so I’d write a letter that began with, “my husband has turned from God and decided to worship the beings described in Norse legend.” I’m supposed to follow my husband; he is my only path to god. But he’s turned away from god! If I submit, then I go against god. But if I do not submit, then I also go against god. And I cannot speak to him about it, because I am a woman, so I cannot have a personal relationship with god, and I cannot start a quarrel with my husband. OH NOES WHAT DO I DO PEARLS, PLEASE TELL ME? I’d do it if I thought that they’d actually respond, but I have a feeling that they wouldn’t.

    • Kathleen Margaret Schwab

      Oh go for it. I’m dying to hear what they say.

  • KarenH

    So…I’m 52 years old. My ex and I split in 1992 and I haven’t had a long term relationship with a man since. My son is grown and married to a lovely young woman who has a child from a former marriage. I adore that child. My work life has had some ups and downs–some bad downs–two lay offs. But since I’ve changed jobs (from executive secretary to typesetting), and I make a great wage–more than sufficient to support myself. The ex and I co-owned a condo apartment for many years, so when we sold it 2 years ago, we split proceeds in excess of $100K. And now I own a cute little brick house with a big yard. I suppose someone less charitable might call it ‘dumpy’, but let’s face it, with my son married and with his own household, just how much house does one person need?

    My friends are mostly women, but somehow I’ve managed not to sleep with any of them. And I don’t have breast cancer. And I socialize pretty regularly with the ex and his wife, both of whom I like and admire. My son and DIL are hoping to be expecting their first “ours” baby soon, and I like my job pretty well.

    The sky just doesn’t seem to be falling in my world.

  • Sam Grover

    Boy, I should be expecting to be served with divorce papers soon. I am an abominable wife. I get angry. I let him know I’m angry. I’m also sarcastic. After all the Debi articles you’ve posted, I know if I ever met her, I’d horrify her. I have to wonder if she has ever seen a pretty happy couple where the wife is not the doormat. I can’t imagine her not realizing what’s she’s written is claptrap. I know, she thinks she’ll be rewarded once dead.

    • Judy L.

      We’ll all be rewarded when Debi Pearl dies. Although, she and her master have raised a brood of now-adult children who believe this horseshit and will carry on the ministry.

  • Anonymous

    Single mothers dress badly and look tired? Has she never seen a Quiverfull mom of 5000 in her frumpy outfits who might as well be a single mom with the amount her husband does around the house or with the kids.

    If being a single mom turned you lesbian, why is the single mom I have a total crush on not realising that the two of us will be perfect together? She is still straight, despite this and being outnumbered by gay/bisexual people in our group of friends, as sexual orientation isnt a choice or something that can be caught from being around gay people.

    Debi believes sexuality is a choice, yet says that men are sex obsessed, bossy, controlling douchebags who women have to obey even if they are abusive or complete idiots. Seriously, no wonder these kind of people are so threatened by homosexuality, if it was a choice, why would women ever want to court/marry a man if they are supposed to be like that.

  • Ember

    The more CTBHHM reviews I read, the more I’m convinced that Debi didn’t have anything to do with the book. Micheal wrote the whole thing and told her to plaster her image all over it because this shit would never fly coming from a man.

    • Red

      Ember, you stole the words from my mouth. I was just about to say this. The further we go into this book, the more it sounds like a selfish man describing the kind of woman he wants. I mean, maybe Debi technically wrote the words, but I wonder if Michael is the one who came up with the concepts for each chapter.

      FWIW, I don’t believe that ANY of the letters in this book are legit. I think she made them all up.

    • Leigha7

      Regardless of which of them wrote it, they have some serious self-esteem issues, because there’s a lot of hate towards both women AND men in this book. If anything, I think it’d be worse if he wrote it, given all the “every man will leave his wife at the slightest provocation, and is also one temptation away from being a pedophile and/or a rapist” stuff.

  • Sophie

    “If you are living your life in fear that your husband will leave you if you stand up for your own rights and needs, you are in an abusive relationship”

    Alas that is my mother’s relationship. She is also expected to run the house and two teenage boys on the same amount of money he was giving her five years ago. She is not allowed to question what he spends his money on, but has to account for every penny of hers. Plus she does all the cooking and cleaning, for which he has impossibly high standards. The irony being that she complains bitterly about my father, who she separated from 29 years ago, but they had a much more egalitarian relationship. I would feel sorrier for her if she didn’t try to push her bitterness on to me and try to make me unhappy because my partner is wonderful and she’s jealous.

    To be more on topic – whilst I greatly enjoy your recaps of this horrible book, I wish I could smash Debi’s and her husband’s faces into the ground.

  • alavine

    And the great question is: Why do women who didn’t grow up this way, why do they join this movement in the first place? My first reaction would be to get as far away as possible.

  • Kathleen Margaret Schwab

    Michael has put Debi through hell to make her like this.

  • caraboska

    I understand marriage to be an arrangement where the two parties are joined together by God. What Pearls seems to be advocating is an arrangement held together by a control-based system. She indeed appears to be unable to comprehend any model of relationships that is not control-based. The model of marriage she advocates fails in fundamental ways to correspond to Biblical norms. Thank God for allowing me to stay single long enough to realize this, so that I was never caught in this type of relationship.

    The bottom line: What Debi Pearls advocates is not marriage, but fornication.

  • Leigha7

    So apparently if your dad walks out on your mom, you’ll resent HER and wish she could be more awesome like him? Funny, literally every single person I know whose father left their family resents HIM for it and loves and respects their mother for doing everything she could for them.

    I’m also a bit disturbed by the idea that apparently every man who would marry a single mother is a pedophile. It’s true that sexual abuse is significantly more common from stepparents than biological parents, but that’s no reason to malign all stepparents, or all men who would willingly be stepparents.


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