Daughter of the Patriarchy: The Atheist

by SierraWilla was an atheist. A self-styled “unschooler,” she attended homeschool conventions and activities with her two children, Alexis (9) and Steven (5), and it was there that she met my mother. Willa’s husband worked in a field that I knew only abstractly as something involving computers and sales. He was a passive, taciturn man with whom I never exchanged a single word. Their children were boisterous, especially Alexis. Willa attached herself to my mother very quickly. Since Alexis was my age, we were an automatic source of play dates, which often really amounted to tea parties for our mothers. Common interests seemed to abound at first: homeschooling, books, and bargains. Both ador … [Read more...]

Daughter of the Barren

Sing, O barren, thou that didst not bear; break forth into singing, and cry aloud, thou that didst not travail with child: for more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married wife, saith the LORD.-Isaiah 54:1by SierraThe first time I saw my mother cry, she was hunched over the dresser in her bedroom, silent, her shoulders shaking. I had almost walked into the room, but when I noticed her posture I paused and silently backed away, then ran, on tiptoe, to escape the jarring sight. I had not yet turned ten, but I knew what her tears meant.She was crying for my brother, the one lost in miscarriage just before she’d begun taking me to our new church. Every C … [Read more...]

Daughter of the Patriarchy: Signs

The end of the world I never had the chance to knowby SierraWhen I reached the age of nine, I began seriously worrying about the age of accountability and the Rapture. There was no magical number attached to the former; indeed, the fact that I was old enough to worry about it seemed evidence enough that I should worry. I was obviously old enough to understand sin, and consequently was old enough to miss the Rapture. And the Rapture was coming. Of that we all were certain.William Branham taught that only the elect, or Bride of Christ, would make it to Paradise in a dramatic snatching-away in the last moments of time. In a 1958 sermon entitled “The Sudden, Secret Going Away of the C … [Read more...]

Our lonely little legalistic world …

by ErikaDuring that first year of homeschooling, my sister took Driver's Ed at the public school. I would go with her in the hopes of being able to spend some time outside the school hanging out with some of my friends. Because my sister had taken to wearing really frumpy jumpers that looked like something out of Little House on the Prairie, some of the guys had started calling her the "Virgin Mary."A conversation started outside after Driver's Ed about Jesus and Mary. Someone asked how it could be possible that Jesus was born to a virgin. I made the mistake of saying, right in front of my sister, "Perhaps Mary was artificially inseminated." As soon as it came out of my mouth, I knew I'd … [Read more...]

Daughter of the Patriarchy: Casualties

by SierraSoft breaths of cinnamon and vanilla wafted down into the basement from Anna’s kitchen. Laughter chorused over our heads as Sven and I busily fortified our Lego castle with rubber animals: his were the dogs, mine the cats. We worked together to fend off a motley invasion of snakes, hyenas and whatever other ugly miscreants we could dig from the toy bin. Pirates were only ever united by a common love of money. Bare light bulbs hung glaring over our heads, but we ignored them. Tiring of the siege, we took refuge under the stairs and ripped open a bag of butter cookies. Chessmen. We spared no cavalry or foot soldier in the cookie massacre. We were eight years old.Sneaking upstairs t … [Read more...]

Daughter of the Patriarchy: Hairspray

by SierraI awoke with my lungs filled with something pungent and sticky. I sat up groggily in the upper bunk, fumbling around for a watch or cell phone to tell me why it was still dark when so many beds were vacated. A light shone dimly across the long dorm room through a hazy moisture hanging in the air. My hand closed around someone’s small alarm clock, and I squinted at it. 5:30am.It was hairspray, I discovered as I staggered toward the bathroom. Lithe, elegantly dressed young women gathered cheerfully around the bathroom mirrors as they unrolled golden-flecked curls that fell gently to their thighs. Each strip of hair, carefully unbound from a foam roller, was sprayed within an inch o … [Read more...]

The Destiny of a Virtuous Daughter ~ Part I: Beginnings of the Mask

by Starfury  Who is that girl I see staring straight back at me? -MulanFor as long as I can remember, I was somebody else. My driving factors were love, approval, and being wanted, for who I was. That never came, in part due to the fact that in my work to achieve my goals I molded who I was to others' specifications. As a result, I am trying to figure out who I am, even though I'm now an adult. Even now, it is easy to slip into the role that I deem others expect of me. It is hard to summon up the strength to remove the mask I've become so good at wearing, out of fear of reproach and backlash.Ultimately, I was to be the perfect daughter. My family had to appear as the model family, … [Read more...]

I Am So Much More Than a Maiden of Virtue! Part 1 ~ I learned to keep my fear of hell to myself

by WanderingOneI grew up hearing about my grandparents' and great-grandparents' deep faith.  Religiosity was, for my family, an important family heritage that was carefully handed down to us children.  Christianity was the most important thing my parents and grandparents thought that they could pass down to us. On my dad's side, my great grandfather was a minister.  On my mom's side, my grandparents served on the mission field in Latin America for a few years after they got married.  There was no escaping religion—it was instilled in us from before we could grasp it.I can't really say much about how things got to be as “bad” as they did.  I know my family has always been conservative, B … [Read more...]

Looking Back: My Family 10 Years on From Fundamentalism

by AriettyThe past is a foreign country: they do things differently there. ~ L.P. Hartley, The Go-BetweenWhen looking back at my family during our days of patriarchal fundamentalism this opening line in the novel The Go-Between often comes to mind. In the last decade we have journeyed so far from where we once were we may have well have moved countries entirely. In the beginning of our journey we were like refugees, clinging to our past forms and beliefs while trying to figure out what part of this new culture wouldn't damage us. For we had read and been preached to and fervently believed that our now adopted culture--The World--was one of poison and sure death to family bonds and … [Read more...]

Daughter of the Patriarchy: Two Snakes and a Virgin – The Serpent’s Seed

 by SierraI was about nine years old when I started paying attention to some of the doctrines that were slowly infiltrating my life over the past two years. I’d stopped wearing pants or cutting my hair by the end of the first year, following my mother’s lead. The last pair of pants she wore were a lovely pair of wide-leg trousers with a sheer lace overlay; they could pass for a skirt until she took a step. She wore them to church, then threw them away – she felt “convicted” for wearing a man’s garment. She threw away her makeup, too, keeping only a sheer moisturizing lip gloss as a token of her past.I liked my new dresses, and I liked the long hair slowly descended across my shoulders. I’ … [Read more...]


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