It's About the DAUGHTERS

[Note: This piece is being crossposted at No Longer Quivering as a way to introduce NLQ readers to guest writer, Libby Anne's new blog: Love, Joy, Feminism. Read Libby Anne's "The Beautiful Girlhood Doll" series here.]

by Libby Anne

When it comes to the multitude of problems with Christian Patriarchy, it is the position of the daughters that I am most passionate about. The patriarch has it pretty good – he’s the one who gets to call the shots. The sons usually don’t have it so bad either – they’re patriarchs in training. The mothers may spend their lives having baby after baby and they may believe that they’re to submit to the patriarch in everything, but they generally chose this life at some point, and knew what life was like before on the outside. Then there is the daughter. Unlike her mother, the daughter of Patriarchy has no choice.

She is told that all she is ever to be is a wife and mother. She may someday run a home business, selling herbs or dresses she’s made, but she may never work outside the home or – god forbid! – have a career.

She is told that an education is a dangerous thing. Education in the Bible and in homemaking skills are a good thing, but worldly knowledge is dangerous. The daughter of patriarchy learns early that she must guard her mind from evil thoughts and any question or doubt.

She learns early the importance of submission. She must submit to her parents, and, even when she is grown, to her father. She is taught that women must always be under male authority, and that an independent woman is a dangerous thing.

She spends her days helping her mother, cooking and cleaning and changing diapers. This is her destiny, and it is what she is put on earth for. She has little time with friends, as her mother is busy with baby after baby and she must be counted on to keep the house running.

She learns that the world outside of her patriarchal bubble is an evil and dangerous place. Feminists are selfish and ungodly, girls who wear tank tops and short skirts are sluts and whores, and the world is descending into chaos and damnation.

In sum, she is taught to believe what her father does, do as her father says, and stay in line. Any sign of independent thought is immediately squelched. She is taught a skewed view of the world, brainwashed into believing that those who might be her greatest allies are her enemies, and that to be different is to be evil. She knows nothing of the outside world save fear. Her education is often deficient, and even if she is educated well, she is taught to shoot low and her potential to dream big dreams is stifled, thus sabotaging her potential to even consider a worthwhile or fulfilling career. Thoughts normal girls have never enter her mind.

The daughter of Patriarchy has no choice. She also has no options. What if she wants a different life? What knowledge does she have of the outside world? None. What understanding does she have of how to find help? None. What skills does she have? None, unless you count changing diapers by the dozen and cooking for fourteen. She knows no one outside of her immediate circle of like-minded family and friends. She is stuck. And that is why it’s all about the daughters.

Discuss this post on the NLQ forum!  Comments are also open below.

Libby Anne lives with her husband and toddler somewhere in the U.S. She has left patriarchy for feminism and has found freedom. She is a graduate student with big plans for her life. You can read her blog at Love, Joy, Feminism.

Read all posts by Libby Anne!

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  • Emily

    You make a lot of generalizations here. Do you really believe it is this way for all, or even the majority of, quiverful daughters? I have no doubt it’s happened to some, and I support you in standing for those women and girls. But it is not this way for all, yes they learn to cook and they believe their place is at home, but most have plenty of friends, plenty of free time, and are taught how to have an opinion, because they need a strong opinion against the common opinions of the world. And I don’t know a single QF family that dosen’t value an education, many a quiverful mother has spent their time worrying about whether their children, sons AND daughters, are being educated to an appropriate level. I’ve never, in modern day life, heard it called dangerous for girls to be educated. Even in the arts of homemaking, an education is valuable and vital, and a woman can have dreams outside the home without usurping her husbands headship. I have big dreams, and they are both within my home, and outside of it. I don’t dream of becoming a company CEO sure, but I dream of influencing peoples lives. Which is grander?

    Girls who are in the situation you describe should, most certainly, be spoken for. But please don’t label every daughter of a patriarchal family as living this life. Maybe 20 years ago it was different, but, at least from my view today, very few families live the way you describe. What you describe is more true of Islam than christian patriarchy.

  • Liberty

    Emily – You may think these things are not true of all patriarchal families, but I disagree. You mention two points – that the patriarchal families you know DO educate their daughters and that they DO teach their daughters to think for themselves. I would have agreed with you several years ago, because when I was growing up in a patriarchal family I WAS well educated and I WAS taught to think for myself. But it is all an illusion. Hear me out.

    First, go to my blog and read my post Diminished Dreams. Even if a girl is educated she is taught to never have any ambitions beyond being a wife, mother, and homemaker. I have nothing against someone being these things, but in today’s girls have a choice. They can have a career and be a doctor, lawyer, or scientist. But daughters of patriarchy, even if they are well educated, are told they cannot, should not, must not be these things, and the wings of their dreams are thus clipped.

    Second, I was taught to think for myself, but the moment I actually did so, I was my parents reacted as if I had been ruined and commenced using religious and emotional manipulation on me in an attempt to bring me back to complete conformity. They told me I was to ask my dad’s views on the matter, and then believe them. Did they value my ability to think for myself, when it actually came down it? Not in the least. Even in those families that do teach daughters to think for themselves, they don’t really mean it. If you disagree, can you think of one patriarchal family where a daughter has grown up to disagree with her parents on an important issue and there have not been major problems?

    Finally, I would point out that patriarchal families, by definition, teach their daughters that they are never to be independent, and are always to be under male authority, whether it be father, husband, or, someday, son. This smacks of bondage and slavery, and there is no way to justify it. I am not generalizing here – these problems go with the very definition of Christian Patriarchy.

  • Emily

    You asked me whether I knew any patriarchial families where the daughter grew up to disagree. Yes, I do. My husbands family had 8 children, the boys were raised to be the heads of their home, homeschooled etc, the girls were all taught cooking while the boys learnt labor-based skills, my MIL defers to my FIL completely, and by all definitions they are quiverful. Their eldest daughter chose to continue working after marriage and has chosen to use birth control, whether or not she will have children in the future is unanswered. She still has a great relationship with the family and there has been no issue to my knowlege, if there was an issue it was not big enough to alter the family dynamic in any way, she is often over at her parents home. The reason is, they have taught her what they believe, and now she is a fully grown adult and it’s time for her to make her own choices. They may not be the choices her parents would have made, but they believe it is not worth breaking up a family over. It’s not a ‘salvation issue’ as they say, and they’d rather have their daughter in their life than argue out something that, ultimately, won’t change whether or not she’s going to heaven, just her path to getting there, and the blessings she may or may not recieve while on this earth. On the other hand, my athiest mother has huge issues with the idea of me having a large family, enough so that she has nothing to do with me now, primarily because I don’t agree with her.

    There are also different levels at which people take patriarchy. Most of the families I know would never agree that a mother should submit to a grown son (though, in fairness, I know two families that do, in fact, believe this). Some families believe a fathers authority ends if a daughter (or son, as they are still under parental headship) moves out of home, and not all patriarchial families oppose this move (I know of one family that has two sisters and a brother living together outside the family home, and to my knowlege those sisters are not under the headship of their brother in any way, and the headship of their father is limited. I believe both are also working until they become married, though, granted, they are not persuing full careers.)

    There are certainly families with problems, and families I have issues with. I’m thinking of one in particular who we have very little to do with anymore because of it. But I simply don’t believe this situation is true of the majority of patriarchial families, and many of the generalisations can be applied to other groups, not just christian patriarchy.

  • denelian

    if they don’t think their daughter using BC is a “salvation issue” then they ARE NOT QF.
    because QF believe that ONLY GOD should have “control of the womb” and they believe that using BC is a sin akin to murder.

    i think you might be confusing people who are very religious with people who are QF. i mean, i know ATHEISTS who have children in large numbers, and they homeschool, and in one particular case it’s the mother who stayed home to do so [because the father had the better job] and they aren’t QF, but the QF people around thought that they were.

    having a large family and avoiding BC doesn’t make one QF. it’s a bit bigger and deeper than that.

    that aside – i’m sorry about your mother. that sucks. it’s horrible, and she shouldn’t have done that.
    but i have YET to meet a woman who grew up QF and then didn’t follow the QF ideals whose parents haven’t acted like yours.

  • Emily

    They believe only God should have control, and they believe using BC is akin to murder. However they also believe that we get into heaven purely by believing in the Lord, and no amount of good works or, or forgiven sin, will change that. Their daughter has a different intepretation of the bible, but she believes Jesus died for her, God created her, and the Holy Spirit is within her, she has asked forgivness for her sins, and biblically that is ALL we need do to be saved. Anything more is simply to fulfill what God wants in our lives and give us greater blessing. A working woman can be a christian, as can a childless woman. They may not be doing all that God wants them to do, but we are all sinners, that’s why forgiveness is so important. If they believe truly in the Lord Jesus, they are saved.

    Any QF family that does NOT believe this is not christian by many peoples standards. Whether or not you use birth control will not stop you getting into heaven, it will only change the blessings you recieve here on earth, and bring glory to God.

  • Susan

    I agree with Emily that there are varying degrees of patriarchy, and there are also varying degrees of separation from the world, among both fundamentalist and QF families. In many of these famiies, the girls wear jeans and shorts and many of the latest styles.

    And many of the girls go to college, work outside the home, and so on.

    However, I also agree with Liberty about the dreams being clipped. And I’d say that even the ability to let loose and enjoy the sitcoms and music that the rest of the world enjoys is often clipped.

    One of the funnest things for me is getting to enjoy watching some of the popular shows with my kids and laughing together…whereas in some of the more fundamentalist famlies, there seems to be kind of a sense of pride about the kids not knowing about all the popular stuff.

    Of course, among some liberal families, there can also be a sense of pride about boys liking pink and “girly” stuff and girls not liking pink and playing with trucks, whereas I think whatever each child prefers is totally cool and it’s kinda silly to be feeling pride over someone else’s preferences.

    I think ANY kind of fanaticism can end up being harmful to children, ANY brand of grooming our children to represent our causes, rather than allowing them the freedom to interact with the world in their own ways and develop their own passions, is not in a child’s best interests so it’s a good idea for parents of all flavors to be aware of this and try to avoid it.

  • Andrea

    Thank you for sharing this. This was my childhood…

  • No Boy Children for Me, Thanks!

    Honey, you are a delusional patriarch attempting to condescend to a FEMALE from below. You ARE the redundant sex. Female is the default human. Look up ova fusion and female sperm and try not to have a stroke. You will look like a laughable fool until and unless you repent your misogyny, sorry not sorry.

  • No Boy Children for Me, Thanks!

    Oh, it’s “Emily”? My bad. You’re not a patriarch. You’re just shilling for them. Slavery is slavery even if it’s cushy. And most quiverfull homes are not that cushy. It’s called “Golden Handcuffs”. Look it up. It’s depressing but you need to wake up.

  • No Boy Children for Me, Thanks!

    Disagree. You are just trying to make your perverted little club more exclusive. Quiverfull women who don’t take the pill still use the rhythm method whether they admit it or not. The ones that don’t are just being raped. Most intercourse in a quiverfull marriage is rape. it’s not about brute force during sex. it’s women giving up their won will bc of a power differential. RAPE.

    Fact is, the pill should not be taken bc it is poison, not bc some d-bag has control over his broodmare’s uterus.