College Was To Be My Dowry

My dad told me he was going to pay for my college education as a dowry for my future husband. He said it would be wrong to settle my future husband with debt wracked up for my education when I was going to be a stay at home mom and would never work outside of the home anyway. This is what came to mind when I read the recent viral post Six Reasons Not To Send Your Daughter To College.

If I was only ever supposed to be a stay at home mom, you may be wondering, why did my parents bother to send their daughters to college? Oh, they had their reasons. Part of it was that both of them were college educated and came from families where college educations were highly valued. But in a community where sending your daughters to college was sometimes suspect, they definitely had reasons they brought up to justify their decision. In other words, it wasn’t a given.

First, my parents pointed out that there was always the chance that my husband would die, or turn out abusive, or become disabled, or be out of work. If this happened and I absolutely had to take a job, they said, they didn’t want me working at Walmart. Besides, if I didn’t marry immediately I could work until I did and maybe earn some money for a downpayment on a house. I’m very thankful for my parents’ position here, and should Sally ever decide that what she wants to be is a stay at home mom, I would likewise encourage her to get a degree first, “just in case.”

Second, my parents also told me that it was important to be intellectually matched with your husband, and that since our husbands would be college educated we should be too. Otherwise, they said, we might not be able to connect on the same level. I do appreciate that they put this sort of emphasis on being on the same intellectual playing field, though I also question the classism inherent here and would point out that I was still suspected to submit to my future husband, intellectual equal or not.

Third, my parents said that a college education would help qualify me to homeschool my children. I was to be my children’s primary teacher, after all, and my parents were quite insistent that a college degree, regardless of the specific area of study, was indispensable for this task. Again, I’m really grateful that my parents took this position, especially given that there are Christian homeschool leaders who do not.

And then there was the dowry bit, this idea that my college education would be a gift from my parents to my husband. Because apparently paying for my college education as a gift for me was totally out of the question. Anyway, good on them for seeing college as something important and worth investing in, but, come on, really?

I suppose it may seem curious that I would head off to college without any plan to ever have a career, but I did. What did I study, you ask? Quite simply, I chose a degree that I felt could transition into a way of earning extra pocket change as a homeschool mom. My plan was to offer tutoring and camps to others in the homeschool community, and perhaps to write curriculum for homeschoolers, curriculum I would test on my own children. This sort of thing didn’t count as having a career outside of the home, and would, I felt, serve as a good intellectual outlet and bring in some extra cash. Interestingly, my close in age sister did the same thing, also choosing a degree that would allow her to transition into something to do on the side while keeping her house and raising her children. So while we weren’t majoring in homemaking, we majored in things we felt would help us in our careers as stay at home homeschool mothers.

It turned out that the concerns about sending daughters to college put forward by various Christian homeschool leaders were well merited. College corrupted me. Or, rather, it gave me a chance to form my own views and get outside of the box. And that’s the same thing to some people, I suppose. You may wonder whether my parents have since changed any of their positions mentioned above. The answer is yes, and no. For one thing, college choices have narrowed to Christian college or local state college while living at home (I’m not sure which option is better, to be honest). For another thing, my mother told me she is no longer pushing her daughters toward college, and that if one of my sisters decides she wants to be a stay at home daughter, she won’t try to dissuade her. But at least my parents aren’t flat-out barring my younger sisters from attending college, and for that I am grateful.

I remember a summer day years ago when a homeschool mom we didn’t see very often came over to talk to mom and found out that I was to be sent away to college in a few short months. This homeschool mom was horrified. She insisted to my mother that college would ruin me, and would make me unsuitable for being a wife and mother. She was extremely adamant. And indeed, there are girls I grew up with who, based on these ideas, were kept home from college. Some are my age and even older, still living at home, waiting, I suppose, for someone to come marry them. As for me, I will forever be grateful that my parents believed that there were actually good reasons for sending their daughter to college—even if one of them was that college was to be my “dowry.”

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://nwrickert.wordpress.com/ Neil Rickert

    Yes, that dowry part sounds weird from here.

    While paying my daughter’s college costs, it never would have occurred to me to make that a dowry. I took it as a parent’s responsibility.

    Yet, apart from that dowry explanation, your parents did seem to do the right thing in supporting your education. And it worked out well, even if your parents might not agree.

  • Noelle

    Perhaps these are all reasons your parents used to justify to themselves why it was good to go against the common wisdom of their Quiverful peers and encourage you to do something they still treasured so much from their own pre-kid days.

    Even in the less-fundamentalist and secular communities, there are arguments on whether it’s the right thing to pay for college for your children. Many don’t see the value in the higher education and degrees. Others live with an old-timey economics model that one can work summers and put oneself through college and it will build character and put hair on your chest or something. Some really can’t afford it and may still have their own unpaid college debt hanging around. If one is financially able to save for a child’s education, it’s a much better and more useful gift than a new car or a fancy wedding. But yes, that gift is for that individual young person, not any potential future spouse.

    • Rosa

      the main argument in secular circles, even though it’s mostly framed as “pay or not pay”, is how *much* to help – pay whatever it takes, or pay what you can? And is it worth it to take out huge loans or should you just do community/state college and have sort of manageable loans.

      The “never have debt!” and “just don’t go” stuff can sound really secular but at least on the personal finance blogs, when I follow commenters back they’re almost always self-identified Christians.

      • The_L1985

        My parents insisted on paying for my education (as long as I made A’s) because they didn’t want me to be in debt. It was almost as if they viewed indebtedness and dependency as sin.

      • Rosa

        My mom doesn’t view it as a sin, but definitely as something to avoid if you can. I actually feel the same way – not having college debt allowed me a lot of freedom that most people don’t have, when I got out. But arguing whether a certain kind of education is worth a certain amount of debt is way different than arguing that education is worthless.

        I went to a pretty poor/working class high school and there was no argument that people’s parents *should* pay for college, just because hardly anybody’s parents could. But the ones who wouldn’t help at all were really rare, and widely viewed as total assholes. Even if the help was just, like, letting you do laundry at home or helping with car insurance. Or, a lot of times, NOT asking the high school kid to contribute to household expenses, so they could save money from their jobs for college.

      • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

        I grew up in a pretty wealthy neighborhood- upper middle class. It was taken for granted that parents would help with college as much as they could, and students would take out loans for the rest (Ivy League schools can cost $50,000+ per year. Even people as well-off as my parents and neighbors couldn’t just pay that outright, but it was taken for granted that some kids would go to places like that). And yeah, there were one or two sets of parents who wouldn’t help, but they were considered total assholes too.

        Education is expensive, but it is valuable, and at least where I lived it was considered well worth the debt. I got taught that there are “good debts” and “bad debts”- good debts are things like student loans, car payments, fixed-interest house mortgages, etc. Bad debt was things like credit card debt or balloon mortgages. So long as you kept your debt payable, and tried to stay away from bad debt, you were doing okay. I don’t know if my parents were weird for the area or not, though- I never really talked money with my friends at the time.

      • Rosa

        Yeah, i think it’s the automatic classification of college debt as “good debt” that’s really up for debate right now, especially since costs and debt loads have grown so much faster than incomes.

      • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

        Yeah. I think that especially with the economy sucking so hard right now, it’s hard to say that college debt is automatically good debt, but it’s hard to say it’s not, too. I just wish we were actually a “civilized country” and paid for secondary education for all citizens and even all residents.

      • tulips

        Agreed. We have children assuming the launch position (so to speak) so the college debt debate is something we are keenly interested. Most people agree it’s not ideal…but the conservative position just seems entirely detached from reality. At the current pricing our oldest could work and pay for a few classes ~a year~ as an unskilled worker with a high school diploma if she pursued it with single minded determination. Looking at that trajectory particularly with respect to wage increases among skilled workers vs unskilled…I just see a plan that sets people up to fail.

      • tulips

        Then blames them for it. Maybe that was the point.

      • Anat

        Well, with the price of education these days owing student loans can set you back for a long time.

      • The_L1985

        I know. I’m often shocked at the prices I hear quoted for state college–UAB was considered damned expensive for a state college, and that still only ran us around $2k/semester. In 2007.

        In 2005, Birmingham-Southern, the most prestigious university in the area, was around $13k/semester.

      • Gillianren

        My boyfriend isn’t Christian; he’s just weird about debt. But the combination of personal savings, VA benefits, and grants is going to mean that he won’t have student loan debt. He doesn’t understand why so many of my friends do, because why would they do that to themselves? And even when the answer is, “Because it’s the only way he’ll get to be an engineer,” my boyfriend still kind of doesn’t get it.

      • Noelle

        Some people don’t want to do the military. You shouldn’t be required to be in the military in order to have an education. I know I preferred to owe money to the government rather than time.

      • Alexis

        Also some people can’t do the military. My sister (who’s technically my best friend but that’s another story) was all set to join the Army, right up till she tore both rotator cuffs badly enough to need reparative surgery, and grew so fast her ACL’s didn’t attach properly to her knees. She’s still incredibly fit, but the Army won’t take her because of her injury.

      • Gillianren

        Right–the first piece of college material I got in high school was for West Point, and I laughed myself sick, then called a friend so she could have a good laugh, too. My arthritis hadn’t showed up yet, but I had been diagnosed with scoliosis and bipolar disorder already. I couldn’t have gotten in if I’d wanted to, and I did not want to.

        My boyfriend just doesn’t understand being able to go into debt. He doesn’t get credit cards, mortgages, or anything else along those lines. I think it’s leftover freaking out from childhood poverty, to be honest, but it’s going to be a real problem when we start house-hunting in a couple of years.

      • Christine

        Is he one of those people who has decided that credit cards are evil, because he grew up in such debt that to him credit card = credit card with a balance?

      • Gillianren

        No. He just has this thing about owing anyone anything, I think, because he grew up unable to rely on things’ being there when he needed them. Dunno exactly what causes the whole weirdness, but I mostly just put up with it. It’s his dislike of mortgages that I see being a problem.

      • tulips

        If he’s coming from the military he’s been exposed to more of this uber conservative conditioning than he might guess. My husband certainly had to endure a period of reorienting to reality after having served through his twenties. The GI bill is sold as a way to avoid debt…reality correction = diminish student debt. Coming from a very socialized carefully controlled environment that mouthpieces rugged individualism into an uncontrolled environment is a bit of culture shock.

      • Gillianren

        He was in the Reserves. Since he did a single tour, he gets 60% tuition coverage, which I find kind of outrageous, especially since I am given to understand that our son will get complete tuition coverage. But I was able to get him to register to vote by pointing out that, if he did so, he could vote against Bush (this was ’04), so while he may have been exposed to conservative thinking, there’s only so much it took.

        He once told me that he literally couldn’t think of a situation where having a credit card was a good idea. I listed several off the top of my head, and he kind of shrugged them off. I’ve never met his father (his mom moved to another state to get away from him something like twenty-five years ago), but his mom’s got some weird money issues of her own.

      • Alice

        So does he use a debit card or just cash/checks? I don’t believe in credit cards, but not having a debit card would be a real pain, especially not being able to pay bills / buy things online.

      • Gillianren

        He uses a debit card for most things. (Our landlord won’t accept them, so that’s the one check that gets written every month.) I believe in the concept of credit cards–though not for me, since I’m bipolar–but I couldn’t even get him to understand why someone who owns their own business which requires a lot of traveling would want one.

        My best friend has about a quarter-million dollars in student loan debt (grad school is expensive, especially when it takes longer than anticipated). The way it’s handled is atrocious, and I swear, Sallie Mae needs a reckoning for how they treat people. But his answer is to just keep working and saving until you can pay for college without loans, and he doesn’t get why that isn’t an answer for everyone, either. Because he made it work for him!

      • Anat

        I am also anxious about debt, but in some situations debt is worth it. But you have to look carefully at what the payments will look like (are they going to stay the same, increase over time, etc) and make sure you have the means to pay back. Going into a reasonable amount of debt for something that gets you ahead in life is a good thing. For example, without debt I would have still be paying rent and never owned a home. With mortgage the money is actually buying you the house, and eventually it is all yours.

        The problem with school loans is that often the payments are too high for someone who is just starting out.

      • The_L1985

        I can’t stand owing things either. I can sort of get by thinking of mortgage/car payments as just monthly bills, but when I remember that I essentially owe money to pay off my car, it just feels so wrong.

        I think it’s because being dependent on my parents sucked so much, that I don’t want to sacrifice my independence.

      • Anat

        One way to minimize car payments is to buy used. A car devaluates a lot in its first few years. I don’t think we ever bought a car that was less that 6 years old, so we never had to take loans for a car. Borrowing for a car really makes sense if the car is used for business – ie the car generates income, but not so much if it is for personal use.

      • The_L1985

        I know, but my dad (who would often trade in a just-paid-off car for a new one, partly to avoid property taxes, partly just because he COULD) was always adamant that if you’re going to get a car, you should go new if you can afford it. Because his first car was bought used, and didn’t take too long to break down. Plus, when you’re young and female and walk into a mechanic’s, I swear you can see the dollar signs in their eyes. I know just enough about cars to have a pretty good idea of when I’m getting ripped off–MOST of the time. For major repairs, I wouldn’t necessarily know if the prices they quote are reasonable.

        Unlike dad, however, I fully intend to run my car into the ground. :) Not only do I absolutely love it, but it’s a 2-door vehicle, so I won’t have to fool with child locks when I have kids.

      • Gillianren

        Well, he doesn’t like cars. I did convince him that we needed a car–a reliable car–if we were going to have a baby, so we bought a fairly cheap used one that still runs pretty well. But he will never, ever combine a car and debt, because that’s two things he doesn’t see a point to in his own life in one.

      • gimpi1

        I have rheumatoid arthritis. I also an legally blind, without my glasses. The military was never an option for me. I never would have qualified physically.

      • Noelle

        I know a conservative woman who is saving as much as she can for college for the kids, who are in elementary school now. She runs into family all the time who tell her that’s the kids’ job not hers. But she doesn’t want them to struggle like she did and make college last 2-3 times what it would if they didn’t have to worry about finances and be able to focus and get it all done at once. Apparently, that’s crazy thinking in her circles.

        Some of this may be the geographic setting too. In my town, all we have is a community college and little business schools, so a lot of young people never even consider going away and focussing on a 4+ year degree and career. I’ve noticed that when I lived in college towns, it was a whole different mindset. Without college students constantly being a thing you run into, or a person who volunteers to mentor you, or is part of the the chain of older aunts/uncles/brothers/sisters surrounding you, a child may not even think about college as a thing one does.

        I was lucky that in my family, we were all reminded on a near daily basis that college was the only alternate. The mandatory next step. And we were encouraged to do very well academically.

      • Gillianren

        My plan is to tell my son that he doesn’t have to go to college, but he has to plan as though he’s going to college. He has to take college-level classes if he can in high school. He has to think about the economics. If he wants to go to a community college first, great! I did, and so did his dad. We both went to the cheapest state college in Washington (well, I went, and he’s going)–which is one of the cheapest four-year colleges in the US full stop. (And still a pretty good school.) If he has other plans, that’s up to him, but better to be prepared than not. And AP exams are cheaper than classes.

      • The_L1985

        Watch out about the AP exams. I was encouraged by my high school to take as many as possible. I ended up with 24 hours’ worth of AP credit.

        None of the colleges in my state (and my parents were NOT about to pay out-of-state tuition!) would accept more than 18.

      • Gillianren

        I got a five on the English one and went to a community college where they’d never heard of AP exams, so we’ll be careful about that.

      • The_L1985

        I always make sure to warn people, because my school and parents both pushed for me to take lots of AP classes (“they’re like KLEP’ing out”), only for us all to be disappointed in the end. :) It’s a common trap to fall into, especially if you’re the first one in your family to take AP classes.

      • Monala

        I scored 5′s in AP English, American History, and European History, and a 4 in AP Calculus. I had the same outcome: my college wouldn’t accept any of them. But I actually agree with the outcome: I realized very quickly in college that my college classes were much harder than my AP classes ever were, so the AP credits were no substitute for them.

  • Friendly guys

    I had to check out the “Six reasons..” link, and was horrified. I mean, isn’t denying education to women something the Taliban has done?

    • Baby_Raptor

      Yes, but it’s totally different when these guys do it. Because Jesus.

    • Boo

      Yep. It is exactly like the Taliban. But when you bring it up to one of them they are horrified that someone would compare them to a society that hates women. Hey, they don’t make women wear burkas. Plus, they are Christians and therefore infallible. That is my understanding of the people who raised me with many of these values, and I acknowledge that some Christians are crazier than my community.

      • Patrick

        No, they are so considerate not to make them wear burkas. I mean they are just required to usually wear long skirts, all matter of baggy tops, typically long uncut hair, no makeup, no earrings, etc. or else you are a shameless whore. Nope, they are so far removed from the Taliban as to be above reproach.

      • Boo

        I would rather be a shameless whore. At least then I would belong to me.

    • Niemand

      isn’t denying education to women something the Taliban has done?

      Well, yes, but that’s totally different because they’re evil Muslims, not good Christians. Or something.

    • # zbowman

      And for largely the same reasons. Just a different name on the deity.

  • AAAtheist

    “… It turned out that the concerns about sending daughters to college put forward by various Christian homeschool leaders were well merited. College corrupted me. [my emphasis] Or, rather, it gave me a chance to form my own views and get outside of the box. And that’s the same thing to some people, I suppose. …”

    Looks like college solidified you and that’s not what conservative Christian ideology wants from women. It wants women to be pliable, malleable, formless like Play-Doh, to be molded and handled.

    Let’s take a look Raylan Alleman’s reasons not to send daughters to college and discount them one by one, shall we?

    • “She will attract the wrong types of men.” Raylan describes the wrong type of man as one that, basically, assumes the feminine role in a traditional marriage while the women becomes the “breadwinner.” This type of man is described as “lazy” and it’s assumed he will live off of her. Does in not occur to Raylan that both the man and woman are in college and don’t intend to enter into a relationship where one earns an income the other lives off of? Fail for dismissing homemaking as real work, forwarding sexist gender roles, and a lack of imagination. Double fail for assuming the women in question can’t determine what men, or women, they choose to be in relationships with.

    • “She will be near an occasion of sin.” Yeah, Raylan basically says women will be tempted and sullied in a college environment during “the most sexually charged state of life they will experience.” Try telling that to 40-somethings that catch their second wind. Fail for seeing sex for women as something that degrades them unless it has a certificate attached to it.

    • “She will not learn to be a wife and mother.” Well, okay, half a point for Raylan on this. Yes, but she could learn how motherhood has been defined across different eras and in different societies and make up her own mind on whether or not marriage and motherhood are for her. Half a fail.

    • “The cost of a degree is becoming more difficult to recoup.” I’m giving Raylan a quarter point on this. The problem is that this is true for men, too, so why not dissuade sons from pursuing college degrees? Oh, right. Sexism. Three-quarters fail.

    • “You don’t have to prove anything to the world.” True, Raylan, but what if the woman is in college to prove something to herself? Full fail.

    • “It could be a near occasion of sin for the parents.” This one kind of confused me, but basically Raylan is arguing that sending daughters off to college is expensive, therefore their parents may use contraception to avoid having extra children so they can afford their daughters’ college educations. Full fail for gobsmacking what-the-fuckery.

    • “She will regret it.” Raylan seriously suggests that college educations for daughters means they’ll miss out on “the more meaningful things in life” which I’m guessing, for Raylan, are babies and submission to a man. Uh, Raylan, maybe women are in college because they want the difficulties associated with their chosen careers. And those difficulties don’t preclude motherhood, they just help redefine what that motherhood will look like, if chosen. Fail for an astonishing dearth of logic.

    Well, that was fun (and slightly depressing).

    • attackfish

      Raylan describes the wrong type of man as one that, basically, assumes
      the feminine role in a traditional marriage while the women becomes the
      “breadwinner.”

      If Raylan is talking about the kind of man I think they are, they’re the ones who want to party all day, have a cushy, easy, job, and come home to a wife who brings home good money and does all the housework and child-rearing, exept for some fun kid activities Dad gets to do to be the fun dad. I did meet a lot of those guys in college. But guess what, they were not getting girlfriends like Raylan seems to think.

      • The_L1985

        Plus, my fiance works from home. I make (slightly) more than he does, but we both plan to continue working full-time as much as possible while raising a family. (Obviously maternity leave will be necessary.)

    • Gillianren

      The majority of students at my alma mater (which is a state school, but even if Libby’s parents lived in the same town, I can guarantee they wouldn’t let her siblings go there, given its liberal reputation) are what’s called “returning students.” Yeah, a lot of them just took a year off somewhere along the line, but I had a roommate in the dorms one summer who was a grandmother.

    • Lunch Meat

      This one kind of confused me, but basically Raylan is arguing that
      sending daughters off to college is expensive, therefore their parents may use contraception to avoid having extra children so they can afford their daughters’ college educations.

      So basically having as many kids as possible is more important than giving them opportunities and a fulfilling life. So I’m not going to feed my kids any more than they need to survive, give them one set of clothing apiece and no toys, and have outdoor plumbing and no electric lights, because all of that money could be spent on having more kids. In fact, why should I teach any of my kids anything at all? You don’t need to know how to read to work on a farm, and that time wasted teaching them and the money wasted on books could be used to feed more kids.

      • AAAtheist

        Yeah, the “occasion of sin” (modern contraception for hardcore Catholics) is considered the real problem, not the quality of children’s lives.

        Up is down, … you know the rest.

  • Mel

    I paid for my own college education and I joke that the dowry I brought my husband was the health care insurance I get through my job. His dower is the farm. It works well.

  • attackfish

    I have so many feelings about this, so many things that make me angry about this that it’s hard for me to articulate them all instead o just frothing at the mouth with rage.

    I love the little notes of pseudo-and-misrepresented-science they throw in there to imply a “guard your heart” mentality, and the way they blame the cultural trend towards immature men looking for a sexy mother figure on women.

    I’m so glad for you that your parents put you through college, even if they framed it in such a condescending way. I’m so glad that you were able to challenge and question what you were taught, and it terrifies me the way the fundamentalists are dealing with the way their beliefs don’t hold up to scrutiny, and that the way thy teach them in isolation to other thought leaves them to crumple when challenged is to ensure that their children, especially daughters, never leave the bubble.

    I love how they blame feminism for denigrating stay-at-home-motherhood, when feminism generally as a movement has worked to stop the devaluing of not only the female but the feminine, including “women’s work” like nursing, teaching, and yes, motherhood. I’ve written other comments about the way patriarchal writings serve to make stay-at-home-motherhood seem less valuable than the man of the family’s job, that the mother’s concerns about her day are petty, that his day is so much harder than hers, etc., and in light of that, this blaming feminism for the problem is even more disingenuous.

    In the article, it says that a degree won’t teach a woman how to be a wife and mother. I saw red. Let’s take it as a given for a moment that a woman shouldn’t
    t work outside the home and that all men in all economic classes can support a family alone. Let’s take those blatantly false assumptions as true for this exercise. Even with those caveats, my mother’s education has saved my life. She is a nurse. With my immune illness, the knowledge she has helped us diagnose me, and find me medical care, and over the years, I have needed intensive nursing care at several points. Because of my mom’s career choice, she was able to provide it to me herself.

    As for a woman needing to be careful about whom she marries and dependence making her more careful, a ridiculous assertion that is designed to blame women in bad situations instead of offering them help (insurance is not the panacea they portray it as, and abusers, for example hide what they are until after their victim is caught), my family has a perfect example of how things can still go wrong if a woman marries a “good provider”. My father’s job provides excellent medical insurance, but for a several year period, they refused to cover my care, something that frequently happens to people with rare illnesses, because insurance companies know it won’t cause much of a scandal if it gets out. My mother bought insurance through her work that did cover me. I have no idea how we would have paid for my care without it.

    For one thing, college choices have narrowed to Christian college or
    local state college while living at home (I’m not sure which option is
    better, to be honest).

    Speaking as someone who did go to the local state university while living at home due to disability, I got a lot of practice thinking about things away from my parents’ influence. On the other hand, my parents never expected me to share their opinions. University for me was a liberalizing experience for my whole family. I studied Political Science and Sociology/Criminology, and spent all day discussing both with very intelligent people, as well as getting a good hard look at a lot of raw data. I brought that data home. Several times during round tables about missile defense, I got my dad to sit in, since he works in the field and was interested in the political underpinnings of his work. Local state colleges will give your sisters a great place to explore new ideas and people even if they have to go home to your family at night.

    • Kit

      “[Let's assume that]…all men in all economic classes can support a family alone.”

      Isn’t this more difficult today, even without a quiverfull of children? Honestly, I don’t live grand and yes, I’m still paying down my student loans, but for some perspective: I’m a lawyer. I make the kind of money starting out that is, well, higher than the average personal income in my country. I don’t own a house because I can’t afford one. My boyfriend, who earns around what I do as a software developer, barely owns a condo. I freaked on the weekend because it’s the last week of the month and I’m $50 over my food budget. I can’t imagine having even one child without two incomes, let alone having multiple children on one income. I DON’T UNDERSTAND. I just DON’T UNDERSTAND AT ALL how anyone can be expected to raise a family today on one income without being very, very lucky.

      Anyway – articles like that one don’t consider women who have been widowed, or women whose husbands become ill and can’t work, or women who need to work because the family can’t make ends meet. It overlooks the fact that women have ALWAYS worked, both inside and outside the home, and that today, some sort of post-secondary degree is necessary for any job that pays more than minimum wage.

      • attackfish

        It is growing increasingly difficult as wages vs. inflation (real wages) become lower every day in America. Thinking that every man can support a good, Catholic, birth control eschewing family on one salary is pure fantasy.

        It does consider women who have been widowed or with ill husbands. It tells them they should have had better life and disability insurance, which is why I mentioned it not being the cure-all they think. It gets very victim blamey with the “You could have planned ahead for his sickness/death, you stupid woman, don’t come crying to me now,” without mentioning that you really can’t live on most life insurance policies forever and ever, and that if he loses his job due to illness, he will probably lose his medical insurance, and forget disability insurance paying enough to live on and pay the bills. So yes, it does consider such women, only long enough to tell them not to worry their pretty heads.

        overlooks the fact that women have ALWAYS worked, both inside and outside the home

        Oh yes! It has only ever been the moneyed who could afford to keep a wife in idleness. The historical eras these people look back to with such nostalgia were eras of working women. In the 50s, most women worked to feed their families, and were treated shabbily. In the Victorian era, women had to work in inhumane conditions, not to mention slave women. Before the Industrial Revolution, women were as much a part of making a farm profitable as a man, and many trades, like beer-making were heavily female dominated in Europe and the colonies. Women have always worked, and these people are tremendously ignorant to think otherwise.

      • Kit

        Ah, ok. I fully admit that most articles like this, I can’t see straight enough to read because I have 2 degrees and IT WAS 100% WORTH IT and it makes me too angry that other people wouldn’t let their daughters have that opportunity.

        It was my understanding that life and disability insurance don’t go that far. I understand that they usually just give one big payout, such as $1M. Unfortunately, $1M doesn’t go as far as people would think – it might be enough for the woman to go TRAIN to be something and feed the family while she’s at college, but the family is not going to live indefinitely off of it.

        If not, I have GOT to get some leads on this magical better life/disability insurance that gives me enough money to feed myself and a family indefinitely.

      • attackfish

        That logic made me angrier even than the rest of it. It was just so dismissive, and wrong and cruel to tell to young women, setting themselves up for heartache and failure in the event of something happening.

        I need this amazing life insurance too. Why has this been hidden from me?

      • Gillianren

        Oh, yeah, my mom must be so angry that Dad didn’t have the magic kind. She couldn’t even finish paying off the house on what Dad left us, much less keep us without having to go back to work. We got by, thanks to VA and Social Security benefits (because my mother’s a dirty, dirty commie, I guess), but only just barely for a few years there.

      • Helix Luco

        even if there is magical life insurance for the majority income earner, how much are those premiums going to cut into the budget? i don’t know exactly how life insurance payments usually work, but it doesn’t strike me as something every household can afford.

      • attackfish

        Magical life insurance has fifty cent premiums, silly person.

  • ako

    College corrupted me. Or, rather, it gave me a chance to form my own
    views and get outside of the box. And that’s the same thing to some
    people, I suppose.

    That’s the tricky thing with this stuff – girls who go to college are more likely to be exposed to a wide range of different views, and that increases the chance they’ll find areas of disagreement and step outside the fundamentalist bubble. They’re less likely to see themselves as needing to fulfill the narrow role set out for them, and more likely to do things such as change their beliefs about religion, accept aspects of their sexuality which aren’t fundamentalist-approved, and live in a way that doesn’t conform to other people’s expectations. And if you see that kind of life as sinful, college will seem like corruption.

  • Baby_Raptor

    So, this post brought to mind a small horror story from my recent past. I figure I’ll share, if only to shake off the hurt and anger being reminded of it brought up.

    I don’t know how many of the regular readers here know my story, but I’m completely cut off from my family (except my half-sister.). Was raised by my grandparents, and they disowned me at 19.

    When I was 15, I was raped. The guy never did time for my rape, because my grandparents wouldn’t let me press charges. He did end up in jail a few years later after another victim who wasn’t so barred went to the police.

    When he got out, he found god. He located and called up my grandparents, telling them that “god was pressing on his heart that he needed to make amends” for what he did to me, and his idea of that was to marry me.

    So I go from not having heard from any of my family in years to getting this call from my grandmother telling me Jack was looking for me to marry me *and they’d already paid him my ‘dowry’* so I needed to pack and come back to Texas to begin my new life.

    Keep in mind, I was 26 at the time. They knew I hadn’t been a Christian since I was 18, and they hadn’t spoken to me since I was 21.

    And yet they were *surprised* when I didn’t immediately hop to and fly back to Texas to marry the guy that raped me.

    There were many fights over it.

    • attackfish

      Oh my everloving… Gah!

    • AAAtheist

      Wow. I don’t know, I just don’t even know what to say.

      This guy seriously thinks making amends to you is marrying you instead of never having anything to do with you ever again?

      And your “family” dissuaded you from pressing charges and expected you to marry your rapist because … Jesus???

      Unbelievable. I hope you’re as okay as you can be, at least.

      • Baby_Raptor

        He couldn’t take the hint, either. I finally had to get the police involved to get him to stop harassing me when the crap initially went down. This was about a year and a half ago.

        In May, he had to have surgery for…Something, I didn’t really pay attention to what. He started calling me again, talking about how if he died while under the drugs, It would be my fault god wouldn’t let him into heaven because I’m not submitting to him like god expects me to.

      • AAAtheist

        Horrifying. Simply horrifying.

        Be well.

      • attackfish

        Did you tell him way to give you another incentive to stay away, and you hope he burns for all eternity?

      • Baby_Raptor

        I told him to talk to his pastor and see if there was any loophole where he could blame it all on me and my “defiance,” and if he found one he had my permission to make me out to be however horrible was necessary. I just wanted him to leave me alone.

      • Boo

        Wow! I think you are way too nice. I would have contacted a lawyer and sued his butt to kingdom come. I’m sorry your grandparents are ignorant ass-hats.

      • Tel

        Was his raping you just God’s will for you to submit, or something like that? Ugh. You are so good for keeping strong and getting the police involved.

      • Baby_Raptor

        Jack himself never called his actions god’s will. My grandparents said I was “just fulfilling my job as a woman” and so no, I couldn’t press charges.

      • attackfish

        It’s really disgusting how hard it is to press charges for harassment and stalking in this country. Stalking is often not even a crime.

      • herewegokids

        What the??? that is INFURIATING,

      • Baby_Raptor

        Oh yeah. I mean, I grew up in the fundie lifestyle, so I’d really always had it in the back of my mind that women=sex and babies, but hearing it so bluntly did quite a number on 15 year old me. It was a huge boost to my faith eventually falling apart…I knew even then I was worth more.

      • Kathleen Margaret Schwab

        This guy is mentally dsturbed on top of being theologically wacky. If he wants to make amends, he should go to the police, confess the rape, and do the jail time.

      • The Other Weirdo

        No, no. You misunderstand. You find God to avoid having to actually make amends.

      • https://www.facebook.com/jean.hoehn/info?collection_token=1524166867%3A2327158227%3A35 Phatchick

        {jawdrop} He actually said that?!?! I hope they “accidentally” castrated him while he was under.

      • herewegokids

        HAHAHAHAHAHA!!

      • TLC

        Where do all these Bible thumpers get the idea that it’s someone else’s responsibility to get them to heaven? First it’s the Mormons thinking marriage and kids will get them there. Now it’s this man who must be delusional, thinking it’s YOUR submission that gets him there.

        Your story is horrifying. I am so glad you had the strength to leave and move on. Thank you for sharing it with us.

      • Baby_Raptor

        He kept quoting that verse about how it’s a man’s job to purify his wife (which I obviously already was, because he’d raped me and my grandparents had paid him.) He also kept mentioning that god really wanted him to do this to “make amends” for what he did. Between those two, he was pretty convinced.

        I think his pastor had a hand in it all too, but I can’t prove that. I only know that he spoke really glowingly of the man very, very often.

      • Jackie

        It’s at least some justice if he spends his life thinking he’s facing hell at the end of it. But are you safe? He sounds pretty off to me.

      • Baby_Raptor

        I haven’t heard from him since the surgery, so I assume he either 1) did find some way to make me out to be the bad guy, 2) is too afraid of me getting the cops involved again to harass me anymore or 3) found himself some other woman god “told him” to marry.

        And I haven’t heard from my grandparents at all since the initial event, when I made it clear that I wasn’t playing along.

        So I think I’m okay. They’re all in various suburbs of Houston, whereas I’m in Arkansas. So there’s significant distance. And they all know that the cops have the initial event on record, so if anything starts again, there’s going to be trouble.

      • Miss_Beara

        All I am hearing is he he he. What he, and your “family”, is going to get out of things. He thinks deserves to go to heaven, he thinks you owe it to him to marry him. Your grandparents think you owe it to him, your freakin rapist, to marry. Everything is about how to help him and nothing is about how to help you.

        :: hugs ::

    • Mira

      Upvoted for empathy, not because I approve of his actions. I’m so sorry, dear. If my rapist called me I’d go apeshit.

      • Niemand

        He didn’t even call her. He called her grandfather. Her owner. It’s like he was trying to keep damaging her as much as possible. Which he probably was.

      • Mira

        Rapists, above all, seek power. It’s not a sexual thing. Obviously he was being as manipulative as possible: trying to get a “dominant male” in her life to FORCE her into reacting a certain way.
        It’s so disgusting. I feel awful just thinking about it, and it borderline triggers another panic attack just considering it.

      • smrnda

        It’s also *all about him* – he isn’t trying to make amends since the person you wrong sets the terms for making amends, not the person at fault.

      • Baby_Raptor

        I’m sorry, Mira. I didn’t mean to share my bad reaction…ugh. *hugs*

      • Mira

        It’s ok, boo! *hugs back* Sometimes it feels better just to get it out there and vent about the craziness.

      • Niemand

        I’m sorry. I should have put a trigger warning on my post.

        And on what follows.

        It is disgusting. Even more disgusting that the people who raised baby_raptor would even consider his offer even for a moment. How they can live with themselves I can’t imagine.

    • attackfish

      Another thing that bothers me about this (and it’s stupid and small) but according to the bible, a rapist who has to marry his victim does not get a dowry. HE HAS TO PAY HER FAMILY. SHE GETS A BRIDE PRICE! And then, as rabbinic law for thousands of years has established, he’s supposed to put her up in her own house, support her and any issue from the rape, he gets no sexual rights to her, he cannot divorce her, but she can divorce him, and he cannot marry again without her permission, which she is encouraged not to give. In other words, it’s not a marriage as we think of it, and certainly not as the fundamentalist Christians do. She does not submit to him. He does not own her. He has to take care of her, because in the society that made these rules, he has ruined her for other marriage.

      • David S.

        I think pretty much every branch of Christianity has rejected or ignored rabbinic law.

      • attackfish

        Well, yeah. My point is that the fundamentalist Christians (and for that matter, Orthodox Jews, who really should know better, given that they claim to follow Rabbinic law) love to strip away all the context from the Bible when it suits them, to make an already misogynistic set of laws and rules that much more so. But the bride price bit isn’t even rabbinic law. That’s Levitic law. Bible text.

      • jhlee

        I did not know about that bit of nuance. It sounds more like a compensatory arrangement that only takes the form of marriage because the society where it arose had no other language to describe it. And having the choice to cut him off from the possibility of marriage? Sweet.

        Most people still wouldn’t want to be tied to their rapists like that, but it makes a modicum of sense in a social context that prizes virginity/penalizes rape victims and where marriage was a necessary economic support for women.

      • attackfish

        That’s right. It’s not something in our modern society with our modern opportunities that most rape victims would tolerate, but within the extremely patriarchal system in which it was created, it was actually supremely compassionate. And also, a serious punishment. That was a lot of money over a very long time a rapist would have to shell out. And if that wasn’t enough of a deterrent, if he raped a married woman, he would be stoned to death.

        Later, after Judea and Israel had been conquered a few times, and it wasn’t Jewish men, who could be compelled to engage in this type of marriage to their victim, unmarried rape victims of foreign soldiers, especially pregnant ones became a fairly large percentage of the population. It was declared a mitzvot, a blessed deed to marry a woman in such a situation and take the child as your own. At the same time, the rabbis decided that Jewish decent ran from the mother, so such a child would be considered fully Jewish, giving them a place in society.

        This only makes sense in a system where women had to be married to survive, and where premarital sex and pregnancy was considered shameful and life ruining, but within that system, it not only makes sense, it’s kind. The way Baby_Raptor’s rapist tried to use it is cruel and despicable in any cultural context.

      • Naomi

        I had that exact same thought — “wait, they’re doing it wrong.” I mean, they’re doing it wrong on a far more fundamental level but they’re even doing it wrong by THEIR theoretical standards.

      • attackfish

        I mean, they’re doing it wrong because Fuck No, but they’re also doing it procedurally wrong. Not that we want them to do it procedurally right, because still, Fuck No.

    • Kathleen Margaret Schwab

      I’m so sorry. I suppose this was his twisted way of fulfilling the Levitical law. I wish I could say i don’t know people who think like this, but i do.

    • Caddy Compson

      Holy shit. And I thought I’d heard everything.

    • Niemand

      Just wanted to say I’m sorry all this happened to you and wish I had something more useful/comforting to say.

    • http://yeshua-hineni.blogspot.de/ Jennifer Stahl

      Hoooooooly F* Batman!!!

      They did whaaaaaaaaaat?! :-O

      No. In the realm of all the things not right in the world, that is right tippy top. O_O

      I am so so sorry Baby Raptor. </3

    • smrnda

      Wow, that’s just so horrible.

      This is also something that I feel religion, and Christianity in particular, does badly concerning victims of rape and sexual abuse. The whole emphasis on forgiveness (which seems uniquely Christian to me) ends up leading to victims getting pissed and shat on, and it gives people who are repeat offenders a way to make themselves out to be some kind of heroes – just spout the right crap about Jesus and forgiveness and instead of a predatory creep, they become great ‘testimonies.’ Everybody who doesn’t welcome them with open arms is now a bad person for not being forgiving enough.

      • Amtep

        “One should forgive one’s enemies, but not before they are hanged.” — Heinrich Heine

      • The Other Weirdo

        Christian forgiveness is all about the self.

    • Lunch Meat

      I know you know this already, but what your grandparents did was awful and cruel and horrible and you did not deserve it.

    • Rosa

      BabyRaptor, I can’t even make nonswear words about this story. I just wanted you to know how amazing you are for getting out, and being able to tell it.

      • Baby_Raptor

        Thanks, Rosa! ^_^

    • The Other Weirdo

      How very Old Testament. Don’t Christians normally reject such laws except, you know, the beatz the gayz ones.

    • Trollface McGee

      This is horrific on so many levels. I’m so sorry this happened to you. I can’t even imagine.

    • NeaDods

      I have no words beyond “that’s HORRIBLE, I’m sorry, and I hope you have support to free yourself from such a toxic family and him.”

    • $66283444

      Wow. Just wow. Please know that God and Jesus are a whole lot more compassionate than what you’ve experienced. No one should have to go through that. Any of it…

      • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

        I don’t know Baby_Raptor’s religious beliefs offhand, but bringing up God and Jesus really isn’t helpful. Just say what ze went through sucked and that it was horrible. No need to shove religion into it.

      • $66283444

        Sorry if my comment offended; that wasn’t my intent. I just wanted to share that there are Christians out here who don’t share the fundie beliefs and think what they do can be horrible to others. I meant no offense.

      • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

        We all know that most Christians aren’t fundamentalists :). It was just a mildly inappropriate use of religion IMO- I’m not Baby_Raptor, and I was slightly miffed on hir behalf, but I don’t know how ze felt about it.

      • $66283444

        I hear you, but since we haven’t heard from Baby_Raptor, we can’t be sure what she thinks or feels.

      • Conuly

        Except that its not about you.

      • The_L1985

        To be fair, I’ve been in the mindset where one feels compelled to defend Christianity in this way. Not for the sake of their own pride, but because they feel that Jesus himself has been insulted, and they want to help reconcile the person with Jesus

        The fact that many of us honestly don’t want a relationship with Jesus often doesn’t even occur to them.

      • $66283444

        “To be fair, I’ve been in the mindset where one feels compelled to defend
        Christianity in this way. Not for the sake of their own pride, but
        because they feel that Jesus himself has been insulted…” Spot on, this part anyway, The_L1985.

        My post wasn’t meant to be a witness (I never liked the concept anyway). I also believe that each person’s faith (or lackthereof) is a personal decision and no business of mine.

      • The_L1985

        We know that Christianity isn’t all bad. :) But some of us definitely have serious emotional baggage that, like it or not, is strongly tied in to Christianity.

        It’s like the poisonous people were strangling vines, wrapping around any desire we had to be Christian and draining it to a withered husk.

        I can’t be 100% certain on this, of course, but many of Baby_Raptor’s comments lead me to believe she’s probably got the same sort of thing going on.

    • Mogg

      Good grief. I’m so sorry. Families suck, sometimes. I hope your life is filled with better people now.

    • Miss_Beara

      I can’t even imagine what that conversation was like. :( How can there be many fights over something so vile? How can they disown their granddaughter? I don’t know why you are completely cut off from your family, but that makes me sad. It could be one of those “it is for the best” situations though…

      I am so sorry for what you have been going through.

    • SirWill

      This is what gets to me again and again and again about these kinds of people. There’s no consideration about young girls, or boys, or even other adults as people. They’re just tools. Or their book says ‘This is how they’ll act, thus it’s the right thing to do.’

      Heck, I’m a guy, but the very -idea- of a dowry is insulting to me. It sounds to me like “Hey, we’re paying you to take our girl off our hands.” Now granted I know that’s not how it started, but that’s how the damn thing sounds to me. Plus the fact that your grandparents paid it out to a bloody rapist without even asking you is….grrr. This is the kind of thing that reminds me of the time I was holding onto all my anger and rage as a kid.

      It took -years- for me to learn how to drop it and be a happier person. When I hear things like this, especially about shithead rapists trying to control their victims and entirely thoughtless family members, it throws me right back into that ugly place.

      Baby Raptor, I’m so sorry you had to go through that. I’m glad you got away from that environment, and that you’re willing to speak up about this kind of thing. It’s the only way social mores change, sadly.

  • M.S.

    Libby, have you already said (sorry if you have), do you plan to homeschool your own children? Just curious. Maybe someone else knows?

    • Rosie

      LA has said in previous posts (I don’t remember the titles now) that she intends to send her children to public school.

      • M.S.

        thanks Rosie, I missed that. I was just curious.

  • http://fancystephanie.wordpress.com/ fancystephanie

    “For one thing, college choices have narrowed to Christian college or local state college while living at home (I’m not sure which option is better, to be honest).”

    For what it’s worth, I went to a conservative Southern Baptist college, and it turned me into a liberal agnostic.

    • Rosie

      Ditto for me.

    • Niemand

      My father went to a Catholic college and came out a liberal agnostic. He described the experience as “like suddenly hearing the other side of an argument that you’ve heard one side of all your life.” Colleges tend to produce doubters, even officially religious colleges, unless they’re entirely doctrine run.

      • Christine

        Most of the point of an education is teaching you how to think. I can’t see a lot of the sheltering-type of homeschoolers approving of this.

      • Rosie

        Well, there was an awful lot of doctrine and conformity at the college I went to. What got me doubting was, in fact, seeing the things I’d been taught taken to their logical conclusions.

    • TheCarolineEntity

      Me too. My parents never explicitly said this, but I didn’t even consider regular colleges as an option! Ironically I wonder if I would be less liberal now if I went to a regular college, because it might’ve been easier to ignore all the craziness.

      Edit: I wanted to add that they didn’t pay for my education, either, so in retrospect, the restriction seems completely self-inflicted. It just never occurred to me!

  • Christine

    Post-secondary education is not limited to job training. Full stop. It is an education (it can be job stuff too, but university-level classes should always be more than that.) So I guess if I was horribly sexist, I’d agree with Libby’s parents original POV.

    Heck, even if you believe that only men will benefit from an education, then you should still be encouraging your sons to marry educated women, and educating your daughters – those statistics about how educated mothers are more likely to have educated children, both for boys and girls? They apply in the developed world as well.

    • Baby_Raptor

      They don’t want educated kids, Christine. Educated people tend to be liberal. And we know what they think of liberals!

      • Christine

        It’s not that I disagree with you. It’s that they don’t seem to realise this. I saw a comment somewhere about the viral post against sending daughters for an education, that these were all good arguments against educating anyone. Which is the only way those arguments work at all. You can’t be in favour of educating boys and not girls, because it just doesn’t work that way.

      • ZeldasCrown

        Exactly. If we accept these arguments, they would apply to both men and women. It would be more consistent to say it’s not appropriate to send anyone to college. Sure, there are issues with the system of higher education in this country, but the solution isn’t to only send men to college.

      • The Other Weirdo

        I don’t really see what the problem there is. Of course you can be in favour of educating boys but not girls. If the girls are there to fulfill a particular role(wife/mother/dish-washer/cook), there are any number of justifications for not educating them. Boys have to earn a living in lieu of their wives. There. Problem solved.

    • smrnda

      A real education has help make a person more informed about the world, which goes beyond vocational training or specializing in one area. We live in a democracy where good public policy depends on informed citizens making informed choices – it might not matter *on the job* if a Wal-Mart worker knows labor history, but maybe if more Wal-Mart workers knew labor history, they’d have been organizing earlier and in far greater numbers, with greater support from the public.

      • Christine

        My husband is of the firm belief that the reason for the state of the American education system is that the American politicians have no real interest in a populace who can make wise decisions regarding for whom they should vote. (He was in an American school for two grades, but the only real problems that he talks about come from cross-cultural issues, and severe poverty among the students.)

    • Guest

      I wonder if on some level they suspect that their sons can be exposed to the outside world without being changed by it, because the sons see what a sweet deal they’re getting within their subculture. Why would they leave?

      • Christine

        Here I thought it was because men are magically better, so they won’t be corrupted like a weak woman would.

  • AnotherOne

    Read the article linked and was suitably horrified. One question: what the eff is the “near occasion of sin” they keep blathering on about? For all my experience with fundies and people who don’t believe in sending girls (and sometimes boys) to college, that’s not a phrase I’ve heard.

    • AAAtheist

      It’s a Catholic thing.

      I guess it means avoiding being close to something/someone that causes you to be in moral peril, but, since I’m not Catholic and am a humanist / atheist, don’t take my word on this as definitive.

      • Christine

        I think that’s about right. It’s where the idea of “custody of the eyes” comes from (if what someone is wearing might incite you to lust, you shouldn’t look. Looking isn’t a problem, but it might lead to problems, so don’t do it.) It’s less like how alcoholics need to avoid all drinks, and more if an alcoholic would decide to never to go pubs, because being around people who drink is a temptation for them.

      • Baby_Raptor

        That reminds me of that “making eye babies” policy some Christian schools have.

        So creepy.

      • Christine

        Do I want to know what that is? It sounds plenty disturbing as it is.

      • Baby_Raptor

        It’s a rule about staring into the opposite sex’s eyes too long. Because doing so is a sign of lust…Or something.

        Anyway, it’s referred to as “ocular sex” or “making eye babies.”

      • attackfish

        In fandom, we call it eye fucking. But we think it’s a good thing.

      • Gillianren

        It’s funny, though–I’m a former Catholic, and I’d never heard the phrase before. I assumed it was another one of those “fundegelical” terms that crops up here all the time.

      • Pitabred

        I think it’s a fundie twist on the Catholic “if you think it it’s as good as having done it” thoughtcrime sin.

      • eamonknight

        I thought it just meant that colleges tend to be full of sex and drugs and rock ‘n roll (especially if you live in rez). And booze. And swearing. And did I mention the bit about sex? So, away from the watchful eye of Mom and Dad, you might be tempted to do what all your new friends are doing. Bad company corrupts good morals and all that.

      • AAAtheist

        Yes, good point. But most students, as a normal part of becoming an adult, learn how to navigate their newfound freedoms with relatively little damage.

        Fundamentalist students, however, have very little experience (if any) with self-regulation and actually may have more difficulty not going overboard (oh, the irony).

      • Alice

        Very true. After I read the looooong list of control-freak rules that the Patrick Henry prison has, I can’t imagine how those students cope with the real world when they finally get out. I have felt a little overwhelmed sometimes, and the culture I grew up in was nowhere near that bad.

      • Alice

        And thinking, all that horrid critical thinking. If you think too much, you might end up an atheist, or worse, a liberal. :)

  • Angela

    Honestly as twisted as it is it does make sense that if a woman is expected to stay home and homeschool multiple children then a college education would be a “dowry” of sorts. To me the offensive part of it is that the young woman could not have an education for her own sake or the freedom to choose her path, but I do get that if you’re serious about wanting to homeschool a college education would be a great asset.

    This is why it baffles me when I hear of families who deliberately limit their daughters’ educations and citing that she only needs to learn what is necessary to run a household. It seems to me that even if these girls conform to the life their parents are pushing then they will one day be responsible for homeschooling their own children, including sons who will be expected to earn livings large enough to support large families. I often wonder how anyone expects girls to adequately homeschool if they have never been taught math or science and only the basics of reading/writing.

    • Gillianren

      Yeah, that one really bothers me. I mean, I have a BA, and I don’t consider myself academically capable of homeschooling properly. I don’t remember enough math and don’t like it anyway. I can’t imagine trying to homeschool if all I’d been taught was how to run a household. That doesn’t make any sense to me.

    • ZeldasCrown

      Exactly. How is a woman supposed to educate her son(s) in topics that she was never taught? How exactly do the leaders of this movement picture this working out? If homeschooling is the mother’s responsibility, and they’re all about rigid gender roles, then it would be inappropriate for the father to take over.

      • Pitabred

        You think they’ve taken things to logical conclusions? Self reflection, honestly and logic are not generally strong points of a patriarchal, “men good, women bad” culture.

      • Alice

        I have heard a number of homeschool families have the dad teach math in the evenings. My family did that because my mom never learned pre-algebra (despite being college-educated). There are several Bible verses commanding fathers to teach their children so I don’t think it is generally seen as “women’s work.” I could be wrong though.

        Edit: I think it is also considered okay since there is the stereotype of math and science being “masculine” subjects.

      • ZeldasCrown

        I think some of the problem is that there’s a lot of conflicting information. Such as teaching is for women (particularly at the lower levels of education-consider the percentage of elementary school teachers that are female), but match/science is for men only. But, after work, men are supposed to be able to come home and relax while their wife takes care of everything, not be stressed about their “second job” educating their children in subjects their wife is not qualified for (unless, of course, the husband wants to, in which case his wants trump all else). Just think of the wide range in education received by the graduate of this life philosophy. Some weren’t educated at all, while others received a more comprehensive education (and everything in between). Some say college for no one, others say men only for college, and some are even ok with sending women to college (getting their “MRS” degree, or “just in case”). I suppose some of this variety is to be expected when emphasis is placed on parents having the ultimate right to do whatever they wish with their children.

  • http://yeshua-hineni.blogspot.de/ Jennifer Stahl

    On an intellectual level, I was all “YAY! free education!!” and on the other hand- I was all “No!! I want off this ride!!” Oh. my. gosh. *shaking my head here*

  • tulips

    Somehow the horrific awfulness of this is overshadowed still by relief that they started at pragmatic and rationalized backward rather than the lately more common application of magical thinking from the front end.

  • redlemon

    My husband’s grandmother was a nurse. She once told us the story of how she became a nurse. Originally, she was a stay-at-home mom, raising 3 kids and she was perfectly happy with that. Her husband is well educated and they had a nice, stable life. Then, one day, she saw him almost fall off a ladder while cleaning the gutters. Everything turned out okay and he was fine, but she said that is what changed her mind. Had he fallen down and gotten himself killed, they would have had nothing but a life insurance policy. A few months later, she enrolled in nursing school and worked as a nurse part-time until she retired.

    I like that story a lot more then my dad telling me at my wedding rehearsal about how disappointed he was that I wasn’t marrying a richer guy and that meant that I probably would have to get an education and support him. Like somehow an education for me was punishment for not marrying someone else. (And then my dad pitched a fit because my husband went to nursing school. A MAN nurse! The horror!)

    • Rilian Sharp

      Why is it that a man is just supposed to support his wife, but people think it’s horrible for a woman to support her husband? It’s so common, not just among these CP people. Is it connected to the assumption that men need sex and women don’t?

      • AAAtheist

        I think it’s just normative masculinity, whether or not it’s in a conservative Christian environment. There’s plenty of casual, secular sexism around the idea that men are supposed to be able to support themselves all by themselves without any help or support, especially from a woman which is considered emasculating. It might be considered old fashioned for a woman to be supported by a man, but it’s still grudgingly accepted. The reverse causes eyebrows to raise even now. We still have a long way to go. {Sorry, I didn’t read your comment through all the way before I posted.} I don’t think the “men need sex and women don’t” trope enters into it, but could you explain why you think it would?

      • Rilian Sharp

        Maybe because what a woman is supposed to get out of a relationship is financial support and what a man is supposed to get out of it is sex. So it’s supposed to be like a trade and if the woman is supporting the man then she’s not getting anything out of the relationship.AAnd something similar for the genders switched.

      • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

        And people wonder why Andrea Dworkin compared “traditional” marriage to prostitution.

      • NeaDods

        Well, in the fundamentalist wordview, she get financial security, he gets sex. And if she loses him, her only option is to strike the same bargain with another man.

        That isn’t comparable to prostitution, it IS prostitution!

      • AAAtheist

        Yes, I see now. Using that kind of dichotomous thinking, that would make some sort of twisted sense. However, these are widely held, if unexamined, beliefs. I can imagine many men and women who would be uncomfortable with the aforementioned suggestion / arrangement.

        One solution, however, might be to separate our cultural expectations around gender from our personal attractions. I can definitely see the attraction to a woman who’s comfortable enough to face public censure yet admit she loves me enough to want to support me financially. If not for sexually active women having the vast majority of negative connotations, if not for the presumption that the level of financial means or gendered job status directly equates to a man’s worth, how many women might readily admit a major reason for wanting husbands or boyfriends is the prospect of regular, satisfying sex and emotional support regardless of his social standing / financial situation?

        Just a thought.

      • Rilian Sharp

        I was also thinking, there’s this idea that emotional support and spending time together is a burden for the man and is also just in exchange for sex. Basically the man wants sex and everything else is for the woman, who hates sex and therefore requires the other things as payment. And men really want sex, so they tend to put up with it, but they still regard it as unfair, so they hate their girlfriends and wives and are always on guard against being “taken advantage of”. Anyway Idk, anyone else get that impression? That that’s the thinking that underlies all the stereotypes.

      • Rosa

        that’s certainly a very popular cultural view of how heterosexual couples work.

        Which is funny, because real life research shows that marriage is much better for men than for women, in terms of lengthening life and having better health and reported happiness.

      • Conuly

        Yeah, well if I’m trading financial support for sex, I’m sure as heck going to do it in a way that precludes housework and cuddling.

      • Rosa

        the underlying logic seems to go like this: men are only attracted to “womanly” women and women are only attracted to and can only respect “manly” men, so violating gender norms that much makes the couple unattractive to each other and makes the woman disdain her husband.

        There’s all sorts of social science done to support/disprove this reasoning, you see it in headlines like “studies show stay at home dads more depressed” or “husbands less happy when out-earned by wife”. So it’s a pretty widespread set of assumptions.

      • Jayn

        What gets me is that they’ll argue with why women want equality, because hey you can let a man take care of you (I’ll leave aside all the problems with that assumption alone) but they’ll portray a man who keeps house and raises the children while his wife supports them financially as being totally miserable. If it was really so appealing, you’d think men would be jumping at the chance to not be the bread-winner, but instead they’re trying to sell women something that they would be aghast at men having.

      • Rilian Sharp

        Ex monster said he would take that deal, but I don’t really believe him.

  • $66283444

    I skimmed through the “six reasons not to send your daughter to college” and realized something: Most of the interpersonal skills (leadership, handling difficult people, multi-tasking, grace under pressure, etc.) that make me a good mother are skills I learned either in college or while working in male-dominated career fields. Talk about irony…

  • Kellen Connor

    … and should Sally ever decide that what she wants to be is a stay at home mom, I would likewise encourage her to get a degree first, “just in case.”

    I’m taking it as a given that Bobby will receive the same advice. I’ve read enough LJF to know you’re the last person alive who would try to dissuade your son from the life of a stay-at-home dad.

    • attackfish

      I was just thinking this.

  • http://www.wideopenground.com/ Lana

    When I saw the title of your post, I immediately thought of where I lived in Asia, and how those with a college education or who are virgins are worth a more expensive bride price than someone with just a high school degree. In other words, the husband is paying back for the college degree….as if it was FOR HIM. oh gosh.

    I’m the only one thus far in my family who went to college. I had one lady who called me over and told me not to go to college because I was wasting childbearing years…she thought she had to tell me this herself since my mom had such a small quiver. Then another mom or two was absolutely horrified that I was moving on a campus and that my parents weren’t making me commute. Thanks be to God that my mom was out of town when I moved to college so I didn’t have her dump her fears on me. My parents did not help me move, but they did not stop me either.

  • Rilian Sharp

    Though clearly some people do it that way, homeschooling doesn’t have to be about transmitting information from your brain into your child’s brain. My brother started homeschooling when he was 10 and my mom just provided books for him, and we had the internet. We never did chemistry or anything fancy, but I know that some people do do that kind of thing at home, and that’s supposed to be exploration, so the parent doesn’t need to know much. The kids and parents could learn together if they wanted. Having some kind of co-op seems like a good idea too, to get help from other people who know different things. But this assumes that everyone know SOMETHING, they just aren’t expected to know everything.

    • The_L1985

      True, but a lot of homeschooling parents don’t know where to get ahold of such resources, or which ones are reliable. (Or worse–some of them just don’t care!)

    • Alice

      My parents did that. It was nice in some ways. I can learn something a lot faster by reading and doing assignments than by listening to lectures for weeks on end. There were a number of times when a college class felt like a waste of time, especially when the professor only regurgitated the textbook (which I read until I learned I didn’t have to read for those classes). It is cheaper than some methods, if the parents can get used books or library books, but not necessarily since workbooks and some books can cost a lot.

      The main downside is that books don’t always explain things very well to non-experts, especially math and science books. In a college math class, I needed a tutor to work with me until I understood it. Secondly, many people are not fast readers, don’t retain much information from reading, or would get bored doing only reading or written assignments all the time. Thirdly, kids have to be extremely self-disciplined if there is little or no parental supervision, as in my case.

      And students definitely need to have access to a variety of sources and learn how to determine which sources are reliable. One course I loved as a home-schooler was “180 Days Around the World” because all it had was questions, and you had to find the answers by doing research. There were also wonderful novels to read and a few other activities like drawing geography maps.

    • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

      Uh, chemistry is about exploration after certain simple safety tips have been learned, and preferably under a ventilation hood. It’s way too easy to accidentally blow something up or make something like chlorine gas.

      Unless, of course, keeping one’s children alive and unharmed isn’t actually a goal …

      • Rilian Sharp

        Presumably, chemistry kits include information about safety. Anyway I’m advocating parents being involved and aware of what their kids are doing, but you don’t have to know everything for your kid to learn it. eg my brother did trigonometry even though neither of our parents knew anything about it. having someone to help you is nice, and he called me for help sometimes since I did trig before him.

      • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

        And I learned geometry myself out of a book (effectively homeschooled for that year, since I was taking classes in a foreign language I didn’t really understand and most of my education came from university-associated correspondence courses). Guess what my weakest math subject is? If you guessed geometry, you’d be right. It’s the one where I couldn’t ask for help from a trained teacher in the subject. That weakness in geometry came back multiple times to bite me in the ass in both trig and calculus, and I’m good at math. I can’t imagine someone who had a weak mathematical foundation learning much from higher level math books. What does a child do when ze can’t ask anyone for help? Give up?

        As for chemistry, the booklets are … subpar. I promise. And they don’t teach you about polyatomic ions and how acids and bases actually work and why you want to pour acid into water (never water into acid) and what a titration is and how it works and how distillation works and what the characteristics of elemental groups are and why chlorine and the other fluorides will kill you. It doesn’t tell you what chemistry is, and that everything is chemicals, and what that means for pseudo-scientific bullshit coming from, say, homeopathic practitioners.

        Why don’t you want your children to learn from the experts?

      • Rilian Sharp

        I said before having access to someone who you can ask questions to isgood. But doing what you can or want to on your own is better than a class where what you study is totally controlled by someone else.

      • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

        I never found it so. Class piqued my interest and I was totally free to study it more in my free time. I wouldn’t have been exposed to a lot of really cool concepts and facts without my study being “totally controlled by someone else” (which it never was). I never would’ve studied physics on my own, and what a world I would have missed out on then! Nor biology- while taxonomy still bores me to tears, biochemistry is absolutely fascinating. I wouldn’t have read a lot of the books I did, and I would have been the poorer for it. I wouldn’t have tackled calculus on my own, and would have missed out on learning the mathematical connections between, say, speed/velocity and acceleration. Doing what one can or wants on one’s own is no way to pick up a properly rounded education.

      • Rilian Sharp

        Do your own education how you want. I don’t care. I intend to provide my children with options and resources, not requirements, and as few limits as possible. When I say np requirements, I mean for example I wouldn’t say they have to study X rather than Y. The schooling structure requires certain things at certain times. I think it would be possible to have classes/school that introduce people to new ideas and provide them resources to learn from, but are still unschooly in their execution. I’m not opposed to people sharing information etc. I like to read and then ask questions, try to figure out fir myself first, so that should be an *option* , nit a requirement. I wouldn’t tell my kid they had to figure something out alone if they didn’t want to. I’m thinking if I can afford it and the kid likes it, I will hire tutors to assist with whatever they’re interested in, or find a group that works on it. Etc, whatever, as long as my kid is happy etc with it.

      • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

        Well, you can do that of course. I am sad to think that your kids won’t be exposed to so many things just because you didn’t think to include them, but that’s me. And if you intend to “force” them to get to new ideas and new subjects in your time, not theirs, what’s the difference between that and a more structured public school? If one of your kids refuses to learn math past basic addition, do you intend to just let hir do that? I have never been in a school that said I had to study X rather than Y- that’s what electives are for and choices in science and so on. And if they taught X, I was always free (and encouraged) to look up Y on my own.

        I always read things on my own and could try to figure it out for myself first. They give you the textbooks to take home, and there is the Internet now … I really don’t see what your objection is to public schooling.

      • Rilian Sharp

        I’m not planning on forcing anything. it would not be on any schedule. In traditional schools, it IS x rather than y, at a given moment, and also in general because you have to devote time to the school assignments so as to get good grades, and that is to the detriment of what you would rather be doing. Also IME, traditional school is only about memorization,nnot about understandin. People are more prone to understandingif they learn in their own time. There’s also the rules about going to the bathroom, moving, talking, eating; the fact that some teachers are bullies; some kids are bullies; most especially that you’re not there by choice (unless you are :P).

      • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

        Yes, some people are bullies, and that is unacceptable. Some parents are abusive, too. What’s your point?

        So are you, or are you not, planning to let your children plan their own education? Do you have general timelines for when they should know things (like, my child should be able to do basic algebra by the age of 10, or read by ~7 years old), or are you just going to let them do whatever? Yes, some school assignments are tedious and take time, and it’d be better if less of them were like that. I don’t see that as a reason to set oneself up to under-educate one’s children, though. I’m not saying you will, of course; I don’t know you, and things might turn out fantastically well. But you are setting yourself up in a position where it is entirely possible and indeed statistically probable for you to fail both yourself and them, and I just don’t understand that decision at all.

      • Rilian Sharp

        Traditional schooling makes the learning of any subject it touches torture and diminishes intrinsic motivation regarding those subjects. All I have to do is NOT THAT and I’m already doing my kids a favor by keeping them out of that kind of school. I don’t have specific plans. I want it to be tailored to the individual.

      • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

        I completely and emphatically disagree with you. I came up through a public school system, and I found learning neither torture nor did school diminish my intrinsic motivation to learn about things. If you’re asking if schools can do that, yes they can, but so can bad teaching of any kind. However, such a blanket statement about public schooling is offensive and absurd. Stop that.

        And if you have no specific plans, how will you know if, say, one of your children has a learning disability, or isn’t learning the basics of every other branch of learning ever? You can’t do physics without math, so a 16 year old who can’t multiply is going to be at a severe disadvantage trying to learn how electricity works and how the universe as a whole works. Hell, ze’ll be at a disadvantage in just trying to balance a checkbook or eat out at a restaurant. Will you just accept it if a child of yours can’t multiply at 16?

      • Rilian Sharp

        I’m glad your experience wasn’t bad. But I’m not going to force my kids to go to a traditional school (I didn’t say public.) because it was awful fir me. All those hours were stolen from me. And it was for nothing. The minute bit I learned from K-12 school could have been better accomplished as a correspondenceschool. If my kids want to go to school, I will help them do that

      • Rilian Sharp

        Sorry for all the typoes in my comments. This comment system doesn’t work very well on my phone. When I try to edit I can’t control where the cursor lands.

      • lara

        I am curious what your response would be if at some point your children asked to go to traditional school. It is unfortunate that you had a poor experience but it is no more fair to generalize traditional schools than it is homeschools.

      • lara

        My child was homeschooled through fourth grade. He does not at all consider traditional schooling torture. In fact, he loves it. He quickly moved into gifted classes and now is attending an IB high school. Already, he is planning where to attend college to study applied mathematics. Rather than being forced to study things he might not otherwise, he is being given the opportunity to do so. I have to wonder how a child who is not given the opportunity to learn higher level math and science will do in college where professors are bit more emphatic about what needs to be learned.

      • Chalkdust

        If you don’t mind my asking, were you homeschooled or traditionally schooled or both?

  • Kate Monster

    I’m curious, Libby: you mention that a near-age sister has a college experience similar to yours. Where is she now? Did she, like you, reconsider the Quiverfull experience, or is she still in the culture?

  • Naomi

    There are a variety of sorts of dowries you run into, roughly speaking, when you look at dowry customs around the world. There are cultures where the dowry is a gift to the man, sort of a bribe to get him to take the wife. (A husband-price, in a sense.) There are other cultures where the dowry is a gift to the woman, wealth that remains hers regardless of what happens, which remains her property and that goes with her in the case of divorce.

    Looking at a college education as the first type of dowry is sort of gross. As the second type, it’s an archaic but much less offensive framing — especially as part of the purpose of that second type of dowry, historically, is that it gives the woman a way to support herself if her husband dies or leaves her.

    (There’s also the “dowry” that’s basically “the stuff you put in a hope chest” and has been largely replaced by the concept of a “wedding registry.” And there are people who use the term “dowry” when really they’re talking about a bride price.)

    • attackfish

      There are also things that we call bride prices that are paid to the bride, not her family, used the way the second style of dowry you mentioned is. They are an endowment to the woman in the event of death of her husband, or in the case of some Muslim cultures, divorce. In Iran, in fact, it’s something of a scandal that men have been forcing women to sign contracts returning that endowment to them upon divorce.


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