Daughter of the Patriarchy: Admissions

by Sierra

“When I was your age, my parents wouldn’t send me to college,” my mother was telling me. “I had to work my way through on my own. I don’t want you to have to stop. I will do everything I can to help you keep going to school. Your education is the most important thing to me.”

We stood in the kitchen, a printed letter lying on the counter between us. It was not good news.

I glanced up at my mother with a strained smile. I knew that if wishes could be cashed at the bank, I’d be writing my admissions essay to an ivy-coated castle. Instead, I was trying to find a way to pay the bill from my last semester of community college in time to register for fall classes. It was already August.

My work at Wal-Mart paid eight-fifty an hour: better than all the other work options for teenagers in the area. My schedule was already as close to full-time as it could be without requiring the company to offer me benefits. My hands were tied: I could take another part-time job, but when would I go to school? It was all I could do to keep our car paid for and insured while my mother handled the rent and utilities. College tuition had slipped between more pressing matters like food and transportation, and dragging it back to current status again would not be easy.

Still, I was grateful to have a mother who dared to disagree with the life track laid out before me. A Catholic turned evangelical, my mother was a radical believer in forging new paths. She had, after all, followed her heart out of her family’s religion when I was still a toddler. Going to college was my chance to discover what God had in store for me as an individual, she thought. I knew already that beliefs like these made my mother an outsider, a liberal and a radical in my church of stay-at-home daughters and unremitting parental supervision. What I did not yet know was how short and how tight the bonds were that held my friends.

“Why don’t you fill out your FAFSA?” my mother suggested. “Maybe you can get grants or student loans. They might offer you more if you apply to a four-year school. Let’s drive around and look for a college where you can transfer your credits.

I loved Rowling College on sight. The sprawling green lawn, ancient shady oaks and dark grey stone of its oldest building washed over me in a wave of color and charm. “It looks like a little Harvard,” I told my mother breathlessly. A more culturally adept young woman might have said it looked like Hogwarts.

The admissions counselor radiated warmth and hope. She beamed at my community college transcripts. No, it didn’t matter that I didn’t have SATs, she said. My grades proved that I could handle introductory classes. I felt a bubble of excitement rising in my throat, and firmly swallowed it. I would assume that this all was beyond my grasp, I decided. If it proved true, I would be pleasantly surprised. If it didn’t, I would not allow myself to feel the disappointment. I can go back to college later, I reasoned. There is a manager position opening at my store.

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The Destiny of a Virtuous Daughter ~ Part 3: Pop Guns & Purity Rings

by Starfury

Growing up, I read books like The King’s Daughter, Dear PrincessBeautiful Girlhood, Waiting for Her Isaac, and The Courtship of Sarah MacLean over and over. I would plan out having twenty six children, so I could use every letter of the alphabet when I named them. I would try to devise my own homeschool curriculum based on the ones I had used, and what I liked and didn’t like about them. On top of all that, I was writing my own Proverbs 31 devotional.

And yet, somewhere in all of this, I was still punching things into a ”computer” on a tree, and yelling for everyone to get out and climb the Jeffries Tubes because of a warp core breach. Rather than make a hoop skirt, I made a Confederate general’s uniform for the end of unit celebration. I was almost fifteen, the homeschool convention was happening over my birthday, and I wanted two things: a Vision Forum pop gun, and a purity ring from Generations of Virtue.

I got both.

They probably assumed the pop-gun would do little harm, after all, I had seven brothers and probably wanted to use it on them, until I tired of it and returned to my books and daydreams. The people at the Vision Forum booth looked a little more wary when they saw my dad hand the pop-gun over to me, but I didn’t care. After all, I’d grown up fashioning blasters out of Legos with my brothers, so we could play at Star Wars or Star Trek. Now I just had a gun that actually made noise when you shot it!

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Justice is No Lady: Chapter 9 – Terrorists, Far and Near

Warning: This story series contains descriptions of physical abuse.

by Tess Willoughby

September 11, 2001. This dark day united all Americans in horror, in terror, and in pain.

With at least one exception: Nate Willoughby.

I found out that our country had been attacked using our own commercial aircraft when my mother called me from town and said, “Turn on the news.” Her tone of voice suggested the worst of the worst of the worst: so awful that you didn’t ask “what channel?” because it didn’t matter what channel. The president had been assassinated. There was some horrific, unthinkable natural disaster, probably in Virginia. Something so bad she couldn’t say it.

I hung up, turned on the TV and watched the Twin Towers burn, holding the phone in my hand.

The phone rang. I hit the answer button. Nate lit into me about how I needed to come back to him and I was in rebellion against God and would probably go to hell.

I swallowed and sat on the floor and said, “Are you aware that terrorists have attacked New York City? The World Trade Center is burning!”

Nate said, “Who cares. We’re talking about my life.”

I hung up on him and sobbed and choked in front of the TV until I didn’t have any more strength to cry. How mean and insane was my husband? How would I ever get away from this vindictive bastard without being destroyed? Was Nate even human? Was my country’s government about to fall? How many more planes had been hijacked, and what would blow up next? It felt as though my own personal hell had unleashed national horrors and worldwide chaos. The lid had blown off life itself and nothing venerable, nothing precious, nothing good could stand. My own personal, religious zealot terrorist had gone global somehow and the world was burning and crumbling to the ground; nothing and nobody was safe from crazy men with extreme religious agendas.

Post-traumatic stress does funky things with your brain. That September, I believed that I had landed in a world without personal boundaries, without national security: a world of merciless anarchy where freedom was not only impossible but a joke and and an illusion. A world where terrorists could strike anywhere and nightmarish, ruinously expensive court hearings never ended, but God was silent. I believed that I could lose absolutely everything, even my nation. If not for my parents, I would have lost my sanity.

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Throwing Out the Moral GPS

by Sierra

Growing up in fundamentalism was like living with a moral GPS navigator installed in my head. Every decision was mapped out already; all I needed to do was listen to the voice telling me where to go. Sometimes I could stop and look at the map. Most of the time I was looking ahead, trying to live, listening and following directions as best I could.

The GPS gave me directions for living: Read the Bible and pray every day. Obey your parents. Be respectful of elders.

Those directions made sense. They were there to help me get where I wanted to go: straight ahead. There were no twists and turns yet.

Then the directions got a little stranger: Listen to one of Branham’s sermons every day. Wear long skirts. Be modest. Grow out your hair. Throw away worldly music. Throw away makeup. Look down on public-schooled kids. Don’t watch TV.

The GPS gave me directions for my relationship with my parents: Ignore your father’s rage and violence. Win him to Christ by silence. Submit to him as your earthly head until you are married. Follow the chain of command.

It gave me directions for relationships with boys: Don’t touch. Don’t laugh too much. Don’t be alone with them. Don’t give away pieces of your heart. Wait for God to bring you your husband.

It gave me directions for lifetime ambition: Your greatest calling is to be a wife and mother. Choose a vocation you can pursue at home, while raising children. Learn to cook and sew. Don’t venture out into the world.

The cacophony of advice was deafening. More troubling still, I felt a tug, a conflict in my soul. There was something wrong with the directions.

“Turn right.” They said. “Turn right. Turn right. Turn right.”

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Smoke & Mirrors

by Vyckie

Libby Anne makes an astute point in her recent post at Love, Joy, Feminism:

Vision Forum focuses on problems in society, inflates them, and then blames feminism and modernity. Then Vision Forum seeks to fix the problems by turning back the clock to a time that never existed. The version of the past that Vision Forum sells is a myth. The problems we face in society today are not new. Substance abuse, the challenges of balancing motherhood and work, and the devaluation of women have always been with us. Looking back to some idealized imaginary past where families had no problems, mothers happily stayed home and devoted their time to raising their children, and women were valued and esteemed in return for surrendering their freedom and rights does not actually fix any problems!

For example:

A Devaluation of Women
Vision Forum speaks with disgust of the ways young women are treated today as the young men around them treat them as accessories and pressure them for sex. Vision Forum is looks in horror at the ways women are portrayed in advertising, and at the pressure to conform to some sort of perfect body image that women are faced with every day. Vision Forum is completely aware that women are devalued in our society.
Yes, be very, very horrified by that image and the accompanying text. I only show it to point out that there are real problems here. Women in today’s society are often treated as sexual objects and devalued as “blond bimbos” or “simply emotional.” But somehow, Vision Forum does not realize that the root of this problem is sexism, and instead blames feminism. Seriously,what? Feminists are not complicit in this misogyny; rather, they are working to end it. But for Vision Forum, the solution is once again not to fix the problems we face in the here and now, but to turn back the clock.

Vision Forum points back to a time when young women were valued and protected (by their fathers). Once again, this picture was never reality for more than a sliver of society. Most women were working class and fended for themselves. They lived with the reality of sexual violence and exploitation.

But there’s more to it than that. Vision Forum tells women that they can be valued and have their position in society elevated - if they surrender their rights and accept male authority. They do not see misogyny as the problem, but rather blame the way families today push their young women out of the home at age 18 and launch them unprotected into the dangers of society. Young women will be protected from the debauchery of college men, Vision Forum promises – if they stay home and obey their fathers. Middle aged women will be free from the pressure to conform to an idealized image of sexy, Vision Forum asserts – if they stay home and obey their husbands. What is this? You will be valued and protected if you surrender all your rights and obey your male authority? THIS is the solution Vision Forum offers!

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