SMM: Chapter 2—What Daughters Have Been Missing

A Guest Post by Kate

Originally posted Time To Live, Friend.

In this chapter we learn that fathers are supposed to be our best friend and confidant!

“Our fathers are supposed to be dear, trusted confidantes and friends….our knights in shining armor, our protectors, our guardians, and they are even supposed to represent God to us” (17).

I’m just not even sure how to start responding to this. Confidante and friend? Knight in Shining Armor? God to us? Where does it say that in the bible? Oh right:

The Extra, extra Apocrypha 3:1 Daughters make sure you tell you fathers everything, because they are your best friend and confident and your knight in shining armor. Tell them everything, because it’s dangerous for you to start coming to your own conclusions about things! Remember you can’t make decisions for yourself, and there is no such thing as privacy!

Just kidding, it doesn’t say that anywhere. So how are they getting to this conclusion? Why the emphasis on this relationship?

According to the Botkin sisters it’s because,

“In this generation, girls are facing a lot of problems. In fact, this year young women are facing a lot more problems than they did a century ago [such as…?]….We know more than we wish to know about the problems facing troubling young women…they are facing all kinds of complications, conundrums, cynicism, and confusion over where they’re headed in life. They struggle with a proper idea of femininity and masculinity, a healthy view of authority and submission, a sense of direction and priority, the concept of protection and security…” (15, emphasis added).

Once again, the Botkin sisters are sensing a problem and only seeing one cause and solution. Because you’re feeling confused about life and/or feeling a lack of meaning and purpose it’s because you rejected your solepurpose in life—you didn’t listen to your father and you don’t want to be a helpmeet and wife and mother.

Never mind that feeling that confused or depressed about life could mean anything from you have a food allergy, to you need to do a better job taking care of yourself, to you should reconsider your choice of career if it’s making you unhappy.

The Botkin sisters have probably never questioned their purpose in life (being a wife and mother). Because they have never been allowed to dream outside of the box, they can’t understand that feeling confused about life is NORMAL! Feeling angst about changing something in your life or pursuing a dream doesn’t mean it’s wrong—it’s the emotional inertia you feel when you’re changing from the status quo. And well, of course it’s a lot easier to just live at home with your parents, not have to worry about classes, grades, rent, bills, or “adult” things until you find a husband to do it for you! (Although, no guarantees that you won’t suffer from depression doing it that way).

They conclude, instead, that these “problems” stem from girls

“…missing a functional, confiding, loving relationship with their fathers. Oh sure, they have happy, casual buddy relationships with their dads, but this is not a substitute for a strong biblical relationship that edifies, inspires, and strengthens both the father and the daughter” (16).

Apparently, if the girls just had a good relationship with their father, everything in their life would be fine.

Look, I’m all for having a great relationship with your dad (and your mom too!). It’s nice when a Gilmore Girls scenario happens with a parent and a daughter, but it can’t be forced, and it’s certainly not required for a parent and a child to both value each other and lead happy, successful lives.

Furthermore, the father-daughter relationship seems to be taking the place of other relationships in their lives—such as the relationship between the husband and his wife and the daughter and her friends. If the father and daughter are “best friends” and confidents, then what is the mother? Isn’t she supposed to be the best friend and confidant of her husband? Is she just second fiddle now—only there to fulfill the sexual needs of the father? And where are the daughter’s friends? Is she not allowed to have other confidents and best friends, because that’s what her father is?

A relationship can become unhealthy very quickly when a parent is using a child to fulfill their need for friendship by not allowing their child to pursue their own friendships and relationships. It stunts the child’s ability to be an individual, experience life, and learn how to have healthy boundaries.

Then we get to the crux of their belief,

“…the forgotten principles of fatherly protection and daughterly honor are the missing dynamic girls need in leading fruitful, stable, happy lives which will give honor to God” (16).

According to the Botkins, the benefits of this relationship are not only that you’ll have a happy, fulfilling life, but that:

“Being protected by our fathers teaches us how to be protected, loved, and cherished, and teaches the responsibilities that go with this blessing—how to be faithful, how to be trusting, and how to have a yielded heart” (17).

Aren’t there other ways to learn to be faithful and trusting?

So what is the purpose of life for women?

Women were created FOR men.

“We would not exist but for men; man was our source. …man was formed from dust, but woman had her origin and being from man and for man.” (18).

And then

Women have really only two ways of relating to men: helping them lead poorly, for Satan’s glory, or helping them lead well, for God’s glory” (18, emphasis added).

Either you’re a good helpmeet or you’re not. That is all you exist for. You can’t have dreams of your own, because you have to help fulfill the dreams of the men in your life.

And, if you thought that was bad:

“Women do need men, wives do need husbands, daughters do need fathers, in the same way that the Church needs Christ. To deny this is to blaspheme”(19).

Wow, now they’re calling people who disagree with them blasphemous. I think they just crossed a line, drew another line, and crossed it again.

It seems to me that the Botkin sisters believe that you are essentially incomplete as a person without a man in your life. You cannot have self-worth and purpose without a man in your life, because the only reason you exist is for a man.

What kind of messed up message is it to send to girls that tells them the whole purpose of their life is to find a man to help serve?

Like seriously, did they just go there?

I think most Christians would agree that there’s not really anything in the Bible that supports the things they are saying without doing some serious exegetical gymnastics. While the Botkin sisters may be justifying it “biblically” by citing a few selective Bible verses, I believe it’s decidedly unchristian.

A lot has been written already about these verses in Genesis, and if you haven’t already, I’d recommend reading this post by Rachel Held Evans on patriarchy, her post on the interpretation of the verses in Genesis, and her post on an overview of women and women leaders in the Bible. I’d also recommend this article by N.T. Wright on women and leadership to get perspective on “women’s roles” written by a theologian, not teenagers.

The Botkins talk a lot about girls who looked to other men to find value because they didn’t have a good relationship with their father. The truth is, having a better relationship with their father isn’t going to solve the problem. They will still be looking to other people—even if it’s their father—to validate themselves.

It’s good to have people in your life who help you see the value in yourself, but eventually the goal is to get to the point that you have enough of that belief inside of you that you stop looking for that validation from other people. (And wait, isn’t your worth, value, and purpose supposed to come from God, not man?)

Suffice to say, how damaging is it to a young girl to make her believe that her only value comes from having a man in her life who tells her she is valuable (even if it’s her father telling her this)? And that her lifeonly has meaning if she is serving helping a man. As if believing she is valuable without male affirmation isn’t an option—and the Botkins don’t believe it is!

In addition to the MAJOR problem in this chapter in relation to a girl’s self-worth, I found the lack of Biblical discussion in this chapter appalling. The Botkin sisters are making all kinds of serious claims about the “biblical” relationship between fathers and daughters and showing little to no “biblical” support for their ideas.

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.

  • Goatless

    One thing I’d like to ask the Botkin sisters is how somebody is supposed to have a relationship with or respect in the slightest a father who abandoned them apart from paying the support he was legally required to?

    How am I supposed to have this close relationship with a man who has never met me, has never given any indication that he cares that I exist, who (for all I know) does not know my name?

    Then again, I’m sure they wouldn’t want to talk to me since I kind of disprove part of their assertions – that girls have to have a good relationship with their father to do well in life.

    ‘Women do need men, wives do need husbands, daughters do need fathers, in the same way that the Church needs Christ. To deny this is to blaspheme.’
    Then call me a blasphemer.
    As a daughter I didn’t need a father, as a woman I don’t need a man and if I ever marry…well let’s just say my spouse may also have ladyparts so I won’t need a husband.

    • John Kruger

      Yes, that really is a glaring omission. I doubt they would say that women raised in single parent families with no father are beyond all hope, but not saying that does not square with the nice little formula they have cooked up. “Too bad your father is gone little girl, now you are lost.” This is the kind of “oops we didn’t think of that” kind of loose end that occurs when people are just making stuff up.

    • BobaFuct

      I don’t think this is an omission, per se. My guess is that if you come from a “broken” home that doesn’t meet their standard, they don’t want you reading their book anyway, so they don’t need to address it.

      But if asked, I think their answer would basically be “you’re fucked”, and they’d just chalk it up to the decline of Christianity and rise of feminism, yada yada yada. Sure, you may be “successful” as the world defines it, but because of sin, your father was a failure and you, by extension, are a failure…collateral damage in the spiritual war. But god said it would happen, so it’s his will and it’s for the best, even if we can’t understand it.

    • Mel

      No, you just need to attach yourself to a godly father substitute to find you a husband. Then, you attach yourself, limpet-like, to your husband.

      It’s wonderful! It may feel horrible, confining and soul-crushing but that’s what joy really feels like.

      • alwr

        Yep. I believe that is the answer in the courtship world for women with no fathers or “ungodly” fathers. A friend of mine was asked by a 30+ woman in his church to be her father figure for courtship purposes. He told her she should date. So she found someone else.

      • Helix Luco

        hoo, what a lost opportunity! maybe he could have assumed the paternal role and she’d have to obey when he told her to go win a nobel prize in microbiology. unmarried women are supposed to obey their fathers even if their demands aren’t ‘godly’, right?

    • Feminerd

      Do you know if the Botkins are trying to write for all women, or only Christian women? Because if it’s supposed to be true for all women regardless of religion, accusing non-Christians of blasphemy just makes them look silly.

      • Gillianren

        I don’t think they consider non-Christians to be real.

      • Hilary

        What? We’re made of plastic? Or do they think we are just phantom characters that disappear from the screen as soon as we move out of their line of vision?

      • Nancy Shrew

        Until we accept Jesus we’re just not ready for their pearls of wisdom yet.

      • Gillianren

        We’re just denying Jesus, but our religious faith is just as Christocentric as if we worshiped him.

      • generation4Him

        These girls unfortunately don’t seem to be worshipping Jesus either – they’re too busy worshipping their dad, because that’s “what Jesus wants.”. (I’m sure they would accuse catholics of idolatry for praying to Mary, even though catholics think “that’s what Jesus wants.”)

      • Gillianren

        The veneration of the saints is quite possibly the thing about Catholicism that the most people get wrong, and that includes the current assumption that all priests are pedophiles. At least some priests are pedophiles.

    • MyOwnPerson

      They don’t have to think about that because in their world of “biblical” families you wouldn’t have had father problems. If only everyone followed their formula, *sigh*.

      • kittehonmylap

        So in the world of biblical families, women aren’t widowed while they still have non-adult children? Good to know my family was imaginary.

      • Ibis3

        Maybe they think your mother ought to have married her brother-in-law so he could substitute for his dead brother. That’s biblical and everything.

    • Rachel Heston-Davis

      Don’t the Botkin sisters say somewhere that women with absent fathers should find a stand-in father figure in their church community? They have back-up plans for all the arguments.

      Look, I think it’s great to be supportive of present, loving, invested fathers, but geez it gets dumb when they try to attach all this gender-hierarchy meta narrative to it. Can’t we just say that moms and dads are both great? Isn’t it kind of obvious that kids are going to dislike either their mother or their father being absent from their lives? Does that have to be proof of some kind of gender hierarchy??

      • Alice

        WTF, telling girls to form a creepy-as-hell relationship with their father isn’t horrible enough, they then have to tell fatherless girls to go out and FIND SOME RANDOM ADULT MAN EAGER TO DO THIS?! %$@^$%*#@$@$*$#@#%#@^& *continues to rant incoherently*

      • generation4Him

        Better yet, they’ll tell you that your PASTOR is your father-figure.

  • Kit

    “In fact, this year young women are facing a lot more problems than they did a century ago”

    I don’t suppose it would occur to the Botkins that young women a century ago faced the same number of problems (if they were different problems) than today, and that we simply didn’t hear about them because women weren’t in the public sphere? They’re making a very large, crazy claim, and given that history prior to, oh, the middle of the last century was primarily told by men, it goes to the conclusion that we’re lacking a woman’s perspective on her life back then, NOT that they didn’t have problems.

    The logical holes in this are so large you could stick them in a tank of water and get a dolphin to jump through them.

    • sylvia_rachel

      I would have to say that their definition of “problems” and mine very much do not line up…

    • alwr

      It is not that difficult, from a historical perspective, to uncover the “problems” of women 100 years ago, or even 150. Said the historian. They are just willfully ignoring reality.

      • stacey

        I don’t think it is willful. I doubt those 2 girls HAVE wills of their own.
        They were denied the opportunity to read anything but propaganda versions of history, and are even denied the words needed to define modern concepts (see yesterdays post).
        They may be old enough now, but their minds are firmly boxed in.

      • generation4Him

        This is true. I would be shocked if they were even allowed to read this blog about their own postings.

    • NeaDods

      Well it’s not like they’ve been allowed to study actual history…. Reality has a bad habit of smashing rosy-tinted views of the past.

  • MargueriteF

    “young women are facing a lot more problems than they did a century ago”

    Back then we had many more deadly, incurable illnesses, women were second-class citizens, black women were even more so, women could rarely get a decent education, and most housework had to be done by slow and laborious methods, requiring hours upon hours of labor to accomplish what is now done by machines. But somehow women faced fewer problems! This single phrase pretty much makes me roll my eyes and tune out the rest of what they’re saying.

    “What kind of messed up message is it to send to girls that tells them the whole purpose of their life is to find a man to help serve?”

    Unfortunately this seems to be a pretty standard message given to girls in the evangelical community. It’s distressing that some girls are being taught ideas that we as a society began to outgrow most of a century ago.

    • onamission5

      But none of that was a problem because it kept women at home and busy, with very short life spans, so they didn’t have time to think about existential things. Women today have so many problems because we’re in the position to be using our lady brains. Don’t you know that lady brains cannot make good decisions about life stuff? That is why we need husbands.

    • smrnda

      I actually disagree that women have more problems today than a century
      ago. A century ago women were chained to machines in factories in
      dangerous conditions, had to work in mines while pregnant,
      and in some places could be legally beaten by their husbands. Marital rape didn’t exist .Women were denied educations and had limited opportunities to work. The idea that, in spite of this, there was this nice, fluffy ‘domestic sphere’ while men went out and hunted for lions is absolute BS, except for women in the upper classes. I’d say starvation, disease, and death are pretty big problems, and they were bigger ones for men and woman 100 years ago.

      Now, I do tend to find that authoritarians recognize only one type of problem – improper authority roles, so they could probably admit all the negatives were there and would still argue it was better since at least there weren’t single women living independently, which is the *real problem* to them.

    • alwr

      I think this is willful ignorance mixed with teenage dramatic thinking. It reminds me of the 15 year old girl who would walk into my first period class every third day moaning “Oh my god, this is the WORST DAY OF MY LIFE!” Just teenage drama and youthful lack of perspective, it was never like anything truly bad had happened to her. Sometimes it was something like having lost her pen.

      • MargueriteF

        From reading fundamentalist screeds on the matter, I get the impression that a lot of evangelicals really do think things were better back in the 19th century. Girls were supposedly “pure” and their lives were oriented around serving their families, people went to church more regularly, and the society presumably hadn’t been “corrupted” by secular ideas and modern media. Some fundamentalist homeschoolers carry this idea to the extreme of allowing their kids to read nothing but old books (there are even some Christian presses bringing back books that have been out of print forever). So it’s possible these young women have a distorted view of the past due to education and upbringing.

      • teglet

        They’re clearly reading the wrong 19th century books. Give them some Dickens and Dostoyevsky, that’ll change their tune.

      • Melody Jones

        Dostoyevsky was bruuuuutal. I second this immensely.

      • Rose

        Dostoyevsky renewed my faith in literature. I second your second (I third this?)

      • ako

        Can I recommend Louisa May Alcott’s Work: A Story of Experience? It’s all about women back in the Good Old Days, with such ‘nonexistent’ problems as extreme poverty (to the point of near-homelessness for our main character), abusive work conditions, women being pressured into sex (and subsequently shamed, stigmatized, rejected by society, and driven to prostitution), mental illness (with no effective treatment), and, no surprise, women struggling with complications, conundrums, confusion, and even cynicism. Not to mention stuff like “Who can I trust to help my elderly mother escape slavery?” and “You might want to think twice about rejecting my romantic interest, because I could totally cost you your job by revealing your scandalous history of…acting!”

      • MargueriteF

        I get the impression Ms. Alcott is NOT on fundamentalist reading lists. Even in her best-known works, a good deal of feminism (for the time) and even suffragette ideas creep through. I love Louisa May!

      • Brightie

        I don’t know about how hardcore “fundamentalism” you are talking, but at least among conservative evangelicals some of her work is enjoyed.

      • MargueriteF

        Oh, and how about Mark Twain? Ever read “Captain Stormfield’s Visit to Heaven”?

        What I recall from my homeschooling days (long ago) were a lot of boy’s books being reissued, all about history (probably very idealized history) and “strong morals.” They also liked “Little House on the Prairie” and Elsie Dinsmore. I didn’t get the impression fundamentalists were encouraging their kids to read serious adult literature of the time, for the most part.

      • sylvia_rachel

        It’s hard to know howsomeone can read Laura Ingalls Wilder and come out of it with the idea that the 19th century was all happy and easy and nice. One entire book is pretty much just about the family trying to survive the winter without starving and/or freezing to death; in another, they go into debt to build a house and then have to abandon it because the wheat crop they were going to sell to pay back the loan gets eaten by a plague of grasshoppers … twice. She skips over the death of her two younger brothers from measles (which kids don’t much get these days thanks to vaccinations), but does tell us that her elder sister lost her sight to the same disease. I’m not saying the books are unremittingly depressing — they’re not, at all! — but it doesn’t take a genius to realize that life in that time and place was HARD.

      • j.lup

        It’s the picturesque, pretty pinafored 1970s TV version of Little House on the Prairie that so many imagine the 19th century to have been. So what they’re nostalgic for is an idealized history that never was, with an extra-thick whitewash of religiosity.

      • Feminerd

        Ahaha … I remember reading an angry rant (translated) from a rabbi in 17th century Italy, bemoaning how the couples were all fornicating before marriage and so many women had big bellies under the wedding canopy. He, too, was nostalgic for the “good old days” when the women were pure and virginal.

      • gimpi1

        Secular ideas like abolishing slavery? Ending child labor? Universal education? Democracy? Oh, yeah, things were much better in the good old days. (End sarcasm.)

    • Petticoat Philosopher

      See, to them, a lot of those “problems” are features, not bugs.

  • grindstone

    My dad raised me to be independent. Full stop. Even then it took me years to realize I only thrived on external validation and that I needed to be a whole person in my own right before I could be a healthy part of a healthy couple. There were some false starts and failures along the way, but I’m BETTER for it. I’m a better employee, sister, mother and wife because of my failures and my successes. The thought of living this attached life to my dad, and then to a husband, is anathema to me, a totally wasteful use of a full human being.

  • luckyducky

    *Squick*… did their editor forget that knowing someone “biblically” has long been a euphemism for “having sex with”… like KJV long or longer? Sure, that’s not what they meant by a “biblical relationship” between fathers and daughters, which I’ve only read/heard in reference to marriage so the euphemism isn’t problematic. However, with all the other veiled-/quasi-incestuous vibes here, it was the first place my mind went.

    Speaking of editors: “complications, conundrums, cynicism, and confusion”… intentional/forced alliteration should be reserved for comedic effect and/or mnemonic devices and I don’t think that’s what’s going on here.

    • Alice

      Trying to take silly alliteration or acrostics away from a fundie is like trying to take a blankie away from a toddler, I reeeally don’t recommend it.

  • Mel

    From “Maidens of Virtue” website:

    Difficult Questions:

    Q: “Do you have a boyfriend?”
    A: “Yes! I love my father very much.”

    WTF!?!?!?!?!? If a teen said that to me, I’d be reporting them to CPS under suspected sexual abuse.

    Also, the rest of the site seems to address childishly easy sewing projects (Sew two pieces of fabric together. You’ve got a sachet! Seriously!?!? I could do that at age 5) and housecleaning for the chemically dense. (Grease cleans more easily when you heat it! Vinegar removes mineral build-up!)

    If you’re going to doom these girls to no other choices but being trapped at home for the rest of their lives, at least teach them important things. Bargaining, livestock management, real gardening including crop rotation and weed management, canning, root cellaring, small business management. But those skills could also lead to thinking….freedom….employability

    Stupid, stupid, stupid. I HATE that there are girls out there who are being slowly smothered…

    • Brightie

      I think I just found something more annoying than the Jesus is My Boyfriend meme.

      • Hat Stealer

        But aren’t daddy and Jesus one and the same?

        “My only friend is imaginary; I just don’t realize it yet. I’m 15.”

        I wish there was a way that I could make this sound even worse, but I’m afraid we’ve hit rock bottom. The terrible thing about these people is that they say the most awful things, things that could not get more awful, yet they don’t see it as such.

        “I eat the flesh of my god every week. He takes the form of a cracker.”

        “Torture forever is good.”

        I wish there was a way I could make these sentences worse, maybe shock the people uttering them with their cruelty and absurdity. I wish, I wish….

        “Do you have a boyfriend?”
        “My daddy.”

        I wish…

    • Saraquill


    • ako

      I looked over that website, with the crafts and recipes and everything, and…it’s like they’re playing. Sewing sachets, holding tea parties, baking muffins, all the sort of things I’d recommend for a ten-year-old girl who liked to play at being in the nineteenth century. Nothing that requires any sophisticated level of skill. It’s one thing for someone who dabbles in sewing and baking as a hobby to have skills that top out at making banana bread, but if it’s supposed to be her life’s work, there should be some depth of skill.

      But, of course, they’re linking to a bunch of Vision Forum craft kits, because it’s not about a girl growing into a woman with useful skills who can do something productive, but about selling objects associated with pseudo-nostalgia for the nineteenth century.

      • Levedi

        SO TRUE. Sorry to yell, but the Botkins aren’t actually trained to be helpmeet women even by their own standards. They don’t have any of the basic managerial skills, let alone the crisis management training that real women of earlier eras learned. My Christian students who spout this nonsense about earlier eras are stunned when I point them to the Paston Letters from the Middle Ages. Marjorie Paston addresses her husband as “my lord and master” (standard for the era) but she also managed an entire estate and castle, including bartering for land with neighbors and holding off an armed invasion while her husband was away in London at court. My favorite letter is the one in which she cheerfully teases him for making her fat (she’s pregnant) and demands that he send her new cloth and weaponry. She doesn’t need him to come save her – she just wants a resupply of arrows and swords. The Botkins would have aneurysms at the thought.

  • mildlymagnificent

    Quite apart from the question of parents who separate or divorce, what message can these girls send to the daughters of widows. (And I might point out that a hundred years ago and more, _that_ was a real problem that many more daughters, and whole families, faced than they do now.) And what about the daughters of sailors and other workers who go away for months at a time – a hundred years ago those workers were away from home for much longer periods as well (think sealers and whalers as well as trading ships). So much for fewer and less serious problems faced by girls a hundred years ago.

    As far as I can tell, the only message they convey is that don’t know how well off they are in the first place. And they could do with a crash course in the history of domestic work. (I very much doubt they’ve ever stood over a fire using a potstick to manipulate heavy loads of boiling hot washing, let alone faced the dangers of making your own soap.)

    • luckyducky

      I had to watch “Divorce Italian Style” a number of times for a film course. The husband fantasizes about murdering and disposing of the wife’s body by forcing her into the vat of soap she is making. Though comedic in its execution, the actual premise was pretty chilling – the lye quickly dissolves all the evidence, I mean body.

      (For those who may not know, “Divorce Italian Style” is a classic film by Germi and was a criticism of the law that prohibited divorce but excused “crimes of passion” wherein the husband murders his wife when she is “caught” cheating on him… divorce Italian style was when the evidence of cheating was staged, flimsy, or nonexistent. Divorce was not legal in Italy until the 1980s)

    • Gillianren

      As the daughter of a widow, this has bothered me pretty much every time. I think I was supposed to treat my grandfather the way they recommend treating your father, but the grandfather who lived in the area wouldn’t have known what to do about it if we’d tried being close to him.

      And to me, Divorce Italian Style makes it very clear that allowing divorce is pretty important; some people want to be single, and they will find a way if legal divorce isn’t an option.

      • Christine

        I suspect that it would have been ok to have a brother be in charge of you, maybe he could have fulfilled this role too?


      • Gillianren

        No brothers, either.

    • Nebuladance

      Oh but, 100 years ago everyone’s Daddy was a banker, doctor, university professor or a newspaper editor!

    • gimpi1

      Good thought, mildly. It’s important to remember how our live-spans have changed. My own grandmother buried 3 husbands, and that wasn’t that uncommon. Strong men and women outlived spouses and remarried. In fact, I remember reading that the actual length of a marriage hasn’t changed, we just divorce instead of being widowed.

      As to boiling laundry (including diapers), handling lye, open-fire cooking, those were the good-old days, don’t-ya-know? Too busy to worry our weak lady-brains about things we can’t understand, anyway. Ick.

  • Tracey

    The icky stuff is biblical alright. There’s a story right at the end of Genesis 19 about daughters being, ahem, *close* to their father. Seems it’s just the two daughters and their dad in a cave away from everyone and they decide there’s no other way to preserve their lineage…I always thought it was a weird little story. Maybe this is the story the Botkins have been reading?

    • Mel

      This creepy incest story explains the creation of the Moabites and the Ammonites. The peoples who the Hebrews reclaiming the Promised Land smite in large numbers. It’s the classic “Our enemies are sub-human”.

      God help us all if the Botkins are using this story as a basis for family life.

    • Sarah-Sophia

      I read that the Old Testament laws (I believe in Leviticus), father-daughter incest is not mentioned because it was assumed that the father would want his daughter to be a virgin so the family would not be dishonored. Also the fact that the descendants of Lot’s daughters was cursed makes it clear that physical incest was not condoned in the Bible. (However you were allowed to trick your father-in-law into sleeping with you to continue the patrilineal line [Tamar and Judah]) But the Lot story is different from the non-sexual (but still disturbing) infantilized relationship the Botkin sisters are referring to.

      • Melody Jones

        Leviticus 20 had the run down of not-okay-to-sex-with, and I am unexpectedly furious and ill. Mother/son is to result in death, because it uncovers the father’s nakedness. Brother/sister is to result in…. shunning? But not death. Because reasons. Marrying a mother and a daughter means they get burned alive because “abomination”. Father/daughter-in-law was actually not allowed, technically, on account of it being “a perversion”

        . . . how in jupiters moons did I not realize that father/daughter incest wasn’t mentioned on that list? :|

  • Rachel Heston-Davis

    The Botkins sisters are experts at making extremely vague statements that actually say nothing. I tried and tried to parse the “confident relationship vs. buddy-dad relationship” dichotomy they set up, and I can’t for the life of me understand what dichotomy they are trying to describe, or how your dad being your confidante is different from him being your buddy. Furthermore, I find it creepy how they emphasize the father-daughter relationship to the exclusion of all other relationships. They don’t talk about spousal relationships, they don’t talk about a son’s relationship with his parents. I mean, I get that they are women, and that their target audience is daughters, but I don’t know…does it seem obsessive to anyone else that they NEVER spend time on other types of family relationships?

    Also, any Christian ought to be appalled at them telling girls that girls need men the way the church needs Christ. The most cursory reading of the NT gives the impression that people are not supposed to look to other people the way they look to God. I guess maybe they’re getting that from Ephesians 5, where an analogy is made between marriage and the Christ/church relationship, but that analogy is not supporting a relationship where the woman sees the man as THE STAND-IN for Christ in her life (and trust me…as a Christian egalitarian, I’ve read those verses a dang awful lot of times). It’s also not saying that a woman needs her husband the way the church needs Christ, it’s just using a Christ-centered analogy to describe a relationship in which both partners should be seeking the good of the other (including mutual submission, thank you verse 21, which I guess the Botkin sisters have never read, but anyway…)

    And finally, this: ““Women have really only two ways of relating to men: helping them lead poorly, for Satan’s glory, or helping them lead well, for God’s glory” I said “That is so stupid” out loud in my office when I read that. Men do a lot more than lead, so obviously there are other ways of relating to them.

    • Mel

      In some fairness to the Botkin girls, they were girls when they wrote this book. Literally. Like one was an early teen and the other was a mid-teen. My high school students can also have very muddied understandings of relationships….because they’re teenagers and very, very young.

      Ofc, my kiddos don’t write overwrought, spiritually-vapid, theologically immature self-help books or if they do they don’t get published.

      • Rachel Heston-Davis

        Good point Mel…it’s probably unfair of me to hold the teen Botkin sisters to the same standard as an adult, especially since they had been raised in this mindset anyway up to that point. (I’m glad none of MY teenage writings shall ever be discovered).

        At the same time, while their names may be on the book, you know it didn’t get created without the oversight and complete approval of their parents and other people within the faith community who are old enough to know better.

      • wanderer

        Yeah but we can hold their parents responsible for the fact that they believe this stuff….. and so wrote & published a book about it.

    • Alice

      Yeah, even the Bible isn’t as misogynistic as the Botkins because it says that while woman came from man, ever since then man has come from woman (male babies growing in the womb and being born). Also, the Bible is clear that it was acceptable for widows not to remarry (though it preferred young widows to remarry, and most women in that time period could not live on their own financially) so CLEARLY not even the Bible agrees that every grown woman needs a husband or a father.

  • Composer 99

    It seems to me that the Botkins basically take the germ of a good idea and pervert it horribly.

    • gimpi1

      I, personally, wouldn’t even give them that. The whole idea that half of the human race is some kind of afterthought that must be subordinate to real people (i.e. men) is, to me, pretty far from good.

      • Composer 99

        Well, the germ of a good idea was the notion that parents/caregivers and children should work to maintain healthy, affectionate relationships with one another.
        I certainly won’t dispute that their notion of female submission as a natural/divine requirement is immoral.

      • gimpi1

        I understand what you’re saying, but I think most of these groups get too caught up in command-structure for those parent-child relationships to truly be healthy. Remember in many of these belief-systems it’s not just female subordination, men are subject to their fathers forever. Everyone is subject to their pastor, in everything.

        Personally, I don’t think you can have a relationship that demands eternal submission – between parent and child, husband and wife, or pastor and parishioner – and have that relationship be healthy or affectionate. But that might just be my natural aversion-to-domination speaking.

      • Composer 99

        Yes, I concur: the highly-authoritarian, hierarchical structure of the fundagelical/Quiverfull/&c family & pastoral system must surely produce healthy family relationships only as a matter of fluke. Or so it seems to me.

  • Sarah-Sophia

    It goes both ways, men are expected to have a women in their lives.

    • Mira

      But the woman can’t stand up for herself, work, be independent, or want more in her life than to pop out babies.
      And then there’s homosexual relationships…OH NO REALITY NOOOO ARGH I’M MELTING>…>.>…

    • LadyCricket

      Why don’t we get more fundamentalist literature about that, then? Why the laser-like focus on what teenage girls and women, in particular, need to do with their relationships, their bodies, even their personalities?

  • tsara

    OT, but it’s really weird to be reading this from where I am right now, gender-wise.

  • stacey

    They write like brainwashed children of an abusive father.
    Oh wait, I think thats because that is what they are.

  • Mira

    Ok here’s a weird thing.
    My dad has always been my best friend. As I’ve grown older, though, I certainly can’t tell him EVERYTHING–my atheism and his deep religious convictions have imposed a rather massive barrier. However, we’re still on good terms and he’s definitely the one I call when I need to talk. My mom and I have never been close–she’s incredibly difficult to talk to about emotional things because of her own personal hangups.
    But I’ve never “replaced” my mom in their relationship–mostly because I think my dad never REQUIRED us to do so. We have a weird, military, backwards family–but we’re backwards in a way that these girls would be screaming “BLASPHEMER!” My dad was stay-at-home, my mom was active duty military up until these past few months.
    Dad NEVER told me to “submit”. He wouldn’t dare. He raised us to be independent, analytical, critical thinkers. Unfortunately (to him) that led 3/4 girls to be agnostic/atheist. My mom wasn’t really part of that equation–she was just there when she wasn’t deployed.
    I am really disgusted by the mentality of “be daddy’s best friend–so much so he doesn’t need mommy, and submit and you’ll be totally okay.” Actually, I’ve gone further in life standing up for myself and questioning everything. I’ve had to be super aggressive to get what I need/want in life, and I will always do so. My relationship with my partner improved immeasurably when I started standing up for myself and stopped letting him walk over me, because he didn’t LIKE it when I didn’t tell him what I was really thinking.
    Sure, what every individual values is different, but I think it’s safe to say that YOU will feel better about yourself if you don’t let people stomp on your face. They might not like that you’re not a pushover, but in the end, it’s YOUR life. Your decisions, your choices, your sorrows, your happiness that matters.
    Not that these girls think that in their myopic world view.

  • BobaFuct

    Wait, so if fathers are supposed to be BFFs with their daughters, whose going to teach the sons how to be all manly and dominant and all that?

  • Ahab

    I wonder what the Botkins would say about family situations that don’t fit this mold. What about fathers who are abusive, substance-addicted, irresponsible, emotionally distant, or absent? What happens when fathers don’t fit their knight-in-shining-armor image?

    • Alice

      In the chapter 1 comment thread, someone said there is a chapter later on about how it’s the daughter’s job to talk her father into being a knight in shining armor. GRRR

      • LadyCricket

        So in short, it becomes the child’s duty to change the parent’s behavior. Created to Be His Helpmeet for daughters.

    • gimpi1

      My dad was disabled, due to a brain injury. I guess he doesn’t count as a father, right?

  • Lucreza Borgia

    As usual, the proper words fail me and I might bumble this a bit, but here goes!

    When I am reading stuff like this I always get the sense that they are attempting to claim an aspect of mainstream culture for themselves. There was a push a while back to have fathers more involved with their daughters. The point was to empower daughters and teach them that they could do anything, not just girly things. It was also supposed to give girls a self-esteem boost that would somehow keep them from becoming pregnant before marriage.

    With the purity balls, it’s an appropriation of mainstream culture again except instead of a general coming of age ball that was supposed to signal a woman’s sexual maturity, it’s purpose is to totally erase her power over her sexuality.

    Over and over, we see these various appropriations here and there but why? These same groups often talk about how important it is to be apart from the world. Why steal bits and pieces that make more mainstream Christians think that you are talking sense than madness? They certainly don’t have any basis in the bible, conservative culture notwithstanding.

  • Saraquill

    By their reasoning, we should totally encourage gay male couples to have more children.

  • Hilary

    SO. Much. Wrong.

    And not just for those girls. I love my father, I have a lot of happy memories with him growing up, and from him I learned that masculinity can include kind, silly, gentle, and whimsical. We’re sympatico in a way I am not with my mother* – and there is no way he could live up to this. As good a man as he is, he is also mildly bipolar, has ADHD, and near pathological clutter issues. I learned with concrete experience that as fun as dad was, mom was the parent who got me out of an abusive school, and an abusive friendship. Plus, my dad couldn’t be somewhere on time for love or money.

    So what happens then to a man who feels he has to live up to this perfection, even though he is a normal human being with both strengths and weaknesses? When a person feels that they have to keep a perfect façade no matter what, it’s practically a law of gravity that it will collapse badly. (cue to “I fought the law and the law won). And given how much unchecked power a man has in these types of families . . .

    Patriarchy: enslaving to women, dehumanizing to men. Bingo, there’s the bumper sticker for the entire movement.

    (*I love my mom too, just slightly different brain wavelengths. Among other things, she’s an extrovert)

    • gimpi1

      LOVE your bumper-sticker.

      • Hilary

        Thanks. My other religion in a bumper sticker can sum up the Abrahamic three in 13 words:

        Muslims submit to God
        Christians are saved by God
        Jews argue with God

        I think that describes us all pretty well in a nutshell.

      • steeled

        Hilary, I love this! Do you think it sums up the main relationship with God prioritised by each faith ie servant/master, debter/redeemer, pupil/teacher?

      • Hilary

        Um, maybe. Actually, I just made a quick thumbnail sketch of what each religion says about itself. Christians talk about being saved, Israel can be translated as ‘argues/wrestles with God, and IIRC the Arabic root in the word Islam means wholeness via submission to God.

  • Hilary

    Oh, and another thing. What happens when the father gets a severe autoimmune disorder when the daughter is 14? Followed by bone cancer? If a girl is supposed to revere her father as a knight in shining armor, what is she supposed to do if chemotherapy results in neuropathy in his feet so bad he can’t feel the gas pedal and brakes while driving? By what authority does she have the right to tell mom that dad nearly killed both of them driving, and he needs to give up the car keys?

    I suppose the answer is, that doesn’t happen to Real Christian (TM) families – if he got that sick, obviously there is a reason God doesn’t favor him, or if he is Christian, it’s because he doesn’t trust Jesus to heal him? // full frontal sarcasm //

    This is a real life example, my father in law. Penny’s father, who got lupus on a scale of 1-10 at an 11, and multiple myeloma as well. He was a Presbyterian minister, and one of the best Christian men I ever knew, may his memory be for a blessing. But he also couldn’t live up to this.

    • gimpi1

      I can relate to this so much, Hilary. As I posted, my father was in an industrial accident, and suffered traumatic brain-injury. He recovered, sort of, but needed a responsible adult to watch over him for my whole life. After my mother passed away, I took care of him. Apparently my family, with my mom (also disabled by polio and rheumatoid arthritis) running the show until her death – when I took over, simply doesn’t count, since they can’t fit it in their worldview.

      Well, alrighty then. I guess, to me, the Bodkin’s father-dominated creepy emotional-incest family doesn’t have to count, either. That works.

      • Hilary

        I suppose the fact that Penny fell in love with a woman and converted to Judaism wouldn’t count as a success story for them either. That’s fine, I wouldn’t take their success if you paid me a million dollars.

  • Hilary

    A knight in shining armor – before I go off to do the dishes, I’m sharing this with everybody, just for a laugh to keep our blood pressure healthy.

    Knight’s In White Satin

    by Jeff and Maya Bohnhoff
    Lyric posted with permission of the authors

    The knight’s in white satin
    lace teddy and pearls
    He was guarding the princess–
    became one of the girls.

    Silk things she’s always hid
    from his eyes before
    They now know the truth is
    they both wear size four

    If the King knew!

    Gazing through peepholes
    at gowns of all brands
    Just what he’s going through
    they won’t understand

    The maidens are wearing
    outfits they cannot defend
    Ensembles he’d like to wear
    may be his own end

    If the King knew!

    The knight’s in white satin
    lace teddy and pearls
    When the King comes to bid goodnight to
    his baby girl.

    The poor knight’s imagining
    his neck in a noose
    But the King’s wearing nylons
    and black spike-heeled shoes

    If the Queen knew!

  • Limeade

    There were plenty of Biblical heroines whose worth didn’t depend on how well they served daddy. Do these people just ignore them?

    • Mishellie

      Yep. Or brush them off as exceptions.

  • Mewslie

    I might be a bit thick but I don’t understand how the answer they come up with is a solution.

    The apparent issue is, life complications and life direction, struggling with femininity and masculinity, authority and submission, protection and security.

    Their answer is to be protected by your father. But it doesn’t actually solve the initial problem? It just passes it to someone else. Or, in my mind, passing control of your emotional state to someone else. The problems still remain; just that it’s up to someone else to solve it.

    Do they have a manual for how fathers are ultimately going to solve the problems then???

  • Miss_Beara

    Apparently, if the girls just had a good relationship with their father, everything in their life would be fine.

    Not just a good relationship. A very very close and intimate relationship. The Stepford Daughters are looking for a father replacement so they can dutifully follow another man. However, nobody can compare to their Daddy Dearest.

  • Kristycat

    Y’know, I love my dad, and we have a great relationship. But I’m pretty sure if we had a relationship like THIS, we would both feel pretty uncomfortable and think it was damn creepy.

    My dad is actually incredibly proud of me when I disagree with him and stand up to him – and even more proud of me when I win arguments with him (which is rare.) It means he raised me to know my own mind, to have the courage to say what I believe is true, and the skill to argue well, passionately, and intelligently – and to always, ALWAYS cite my sources! That means SO much more to him than a daughter who simply blindly agrees with everything he says.

  • lollardheretic

    The irritating thing here is that they take something very true and very important–the power of a father daughter relationship–and twist the hell out of it. I was and still am remarkably close to my dad. I’m an only child, my mother was quite ill for a long while (mental illness) and then died of a sudden stroke my senior year in college. When I wanted to talk about birth control, I went to my dad, not my mom. Our relationship helped make me a strong, independent woman. He helped me believe in myself, etc. He also fostered some sexism, too. He was big into “you’re not like most women… most women [insert misogyny here].” But he did his best, and we’re still quite close (I’m in my late 30s) and when I get married in a couple months, he’ll walk me down the aisle (but not give me away, ’cause i don’t belong to nobody but me.) But anyway, this women really screw up the whole idea of father and daughter, and it’s sad because lots of studies have shown that the f/d relationship can be key to helping girls grow up into strong, confident women.

  • sylvia_rachel

    Have been thinking more about this idea that girls/women have so many more problems now than they did a century ago. Because I’m re-reading Rilla of Ingleside, and you know what was happening (about) a century ago? The Great War, that’s what — it started 99 years ago this month.

    I’ll happily take “struggl[ing] with a proper idea of femininity and masculinity” over sending my husband and brother off to die horribly in the trenches, thanks very much. :P

  • mid-life mama

    wow,these posts are eye opening. i came close to buying into all of this at one time -my husband,did not ! it is so easy to idealize a place (the past) we’ve never lived ! i sensed something was “off” somehow when i once received a VF catalog ,then we had family members following Bill Gothard – those 2 things helped steer me away from those extremes! these people are mislead,and are misleading others. it’s so sad. i still tell my young adult children that all extremes are dangerous.

  • linzloo08

    Wow this is beyond creepy.. I mean, I love my dad and all, but he’s only, umm well, HUMAN!. My dad and I were never really as close as we should’ve been when I was growing up (he had anger management issues and came close to being verbally abusive at times- he and my mom ended up divorcing when I was in high school because she couldn’t take it any more and also didn’t want my younger sister and I to think that’s what a “normal” relationship should look like)- FTR, while I wasn’t raised in the “purity movement” or Quiverfull, I was raised evangelical Presbyterian and a lot of the theology (especially in regards to gender relations) was similar.