Doug Wilson’s Daughters Defend Him by Attacking Rachel Held Evans

Them’s Fightin’ Words and Daddy Issues are the responses of Bekah and Rachel (Lizzie), daughters of Doug Wilson, the Christian patriarchy leader whose words were quoted in Jared C. Wilson’s ill-fated blog post. Bekah followed up hers with Splashing into it again!

Let’s start with Bekah’s first post. Here are the excerpts I want to talk about:

A woman by the name of (1) Rachel Held Evans has been scampering about on the great wide interwebs, working herself up into a fever of feminist fury. “What has gotten this good woman so steamed up?” you may be asking yourselves. “Why is she breathing into a paper bag over on her blog and calling for her smelling salts?” Well, I won’t keep you in suspense any longer. I’ll just go ahead and say it. It’s my dad. …

I’m afraid that the (1) Furiously-Righteous-Evans has transitioned into her squeaky voice, and we all know what happens when a woman gets squeaky. … This subtle and yet unmistakable change in tenor almost unfailingly means that a woman is gearing up to hold a (3) grudge of mammoth proportions, and this is what leads me to believe that my father has been scratched off her Furiously-Righteous Christmas list. … She’s stamping her little foot over there on her blog, and she means business.

(4) As I understand it, Furiously-Righteous is a feminist. She doesn’t want anyone belittling the abilities or women, or telling them they aren’t as good as the men. If a condescending man was to pat her on the head and say, “Don’t you worry your pretty little head about things. You leave it to the men to do the intellectual stuff,” I imagine we would see quite a Furiously-Righteous fireworks display and a lot of smoke coming out her ears. So it would have perhaps been better for her cause if she hadn’t gone quite so public with a blog post that makes it clear to the meanest intelligence that she can’t follow an argument to save her life, and her ability to research appears to be completely nil. I mean, if you don’t want people to think you aren’t as gifted intellectually as the men, then for heaven’s sakes don’t give them blog posts in which you demonstrate your inability to think your way out of a paper bag.

I grew up with Doug Wilson as my father. He’s the one who gave me an education. He made sure that his daughters were taught formal logic, Latin, rhetoric, theology, philosophy. He’s the one who taught me not to ever take any crap off of any guy . . . or in your case, a woman. If you want to interact with his position like a big girl, fine. Read a book or two and then get back to us. But enough with the flopping for the refs and playing the victim card. It’s unbecoming, (5) unladylike, and just embarrassing.

Bekah does not seem to be aware that she is insulting Rachel in the most misogynistic of terms: (1) caricaturing her anger as something irrational and frivolous, (2) inferring that such irrational anger is characteristic of women as a group, (3) reducing Rachel’s even-toned, logical and compassionate response to a “grudge” (once again, the specter of bitterness is invoked to silence feminists who point out injustice), (4) ridiculing Rachel’s commitment to intellectual respect for and from both sexes, and (5) accusing her of being “unladylike” – a charge that mystifies me, as Rachel was not nearly as aggressive in her condemnation of Doug Wilson as other bloggers, including the notably angrier Joe of Incongruous Circumspection. Oh, and then there are all the condescending tidbits like “her little foot” and being a “big girl.” But wait! Bekah wants to explain:

Some people thought I was being incredibly demeaning to women in my post – objecting to all the stereotypical imagery I used. “Stamping her little foot,” “Smelling salts,” “Squeaky voice,” etc. But here’s the thing – I was actually making a point with that. If she doesn’t like the stereotypical “little woman” thing . . . then she should stop being the stereotypical little woman. She’s ready to cry and get her feelings hurt at the drop of a hat, and she does so because it’s very hard for a man to argue with a woman who’s pulling that trick. It’s effective. (But it’s also doing the very thing that she objects to men saying about women.) Then she’s ready to flip-flop into a “how dare you” mood as soon as that suits her purpose. Also hard for a man to argue with. 

Except that this explanation is still misogynist. It refers to genuine emotional upset as a “trick” that women play to beat men at arguments. That’s misogynist. Having an emotional response to injustice does not preclude one’s ability to evaluate the severity of that injustice. Do you also mock black men for reacting to the Jim Crow laws? Do you mock Native American men for pointing out the abuses of early European settlers in the Americas? You would find a much smaller platform for that kind of vitriol. Yet you take the words of a woman who is (rightly) disturbed by the pronouncement that women must be “conquered,” “colonized” and “planted” upon in the bedroom and spin them into a hysterical reaction to a slight provocation. Have you considered the effect your words might have on victims of rape, who are regularly ridiculed for their dress, their professions, their looks when they are seeking justice from their attackers? Have you considered that your words have a public audience?

Here is a little bit of what Rachel said:

Well, we can get angry. I think it’s totally justified in this case. The Church needs to see that women—and men—will not stand for this kind of language, as it is degrading, hurtful, and not even remotely biblical. But we must temper our anger with hope, keeping in mind that we serve a risen Savior who has promised that his vision of reconciliation and healing will one day be realized.  It will not always be this way, and that truth brings joyful tears to my eyes.

This is the most emotional excerpt I can find. And it’s a call to tempered, focused anger and a commitment with “joyful tears” to the promise of Jesus. The latter certainly isn’t something that deserves ridicule from another Christian woman, and the former shows incredible restraint.

Then there’s “Daddy Issues,” in which Lizzie takes it upon herself to psychoanalyze Rachel Held Evans, assuring her that “authority and submission” are never the source of harm:

While there are those who believe that authority is all about power and that submission is all about subservience, they are clearly not people who have experienced either. I always knew that my Dad answered to another authority. I always knew that submission was not inferiority. When my husband came along and we got married, my father gladly gave me away, and I gladly left.

I understand that this whole discussion is a bit like trying to have an oil pastel still-life workshop in a closet with a strobe light and a disco ball running. If you can start a fuss with key words like patriarchy, submission, authority, sex, and misogyny, you can be pretty certain that almost no one will be listening to anything other than their own baggage, their own worries about other people’s perceptions, their own anger, and their own refusal to deal with sin in their lives.

So pardon me if it offends any of you, but I am not worried about misogynists. But the only reason that they do not bother me is that I have never been without the protection of a sacrificial man. I am not worried about them because we are actively engaged in work that makes them ineffective. Back to my original story – we are working on raising daughters who are never pressured with premarital sex. We are working on raising young men who are looking to be protectors and not predators. We are working on repairing the fence that keeps the misogynists out.

A little later in my college life there was a big local dust up that involved many of the same trumped up charges and hot button issues. I was on my way to some event on the University of Idaho campus when I ran into a local lesbian activist wearing a large sandwich board. I don’t remember the full text of her sandwich, but I believe it opened with “Doug Wilson is a Racist!” I said something like, “What’s all this?” and she took off telling me all about him. I asked if she had met him. Nope – but she didn’t need to. She knew! I said I knew him quite well and he wasn’t. She didn’t care. She was yelling. She was getting hotter and hotter about it. “He totally is! He teaches it all day and all night! He is a huge threat to us all!”

And here is the thing. I grew up in his house. I grew up under his teaching. If he is such a tremendous threat with his teachings of male dominance and racism and such forth and so on, wouldn’t you think that the women closest to him would have heard it by now? Either he is an amazingly ineffective teacher, or it isn’t what he is teaching.

The sandwich board encounter didn’t really progress anywhere. It was not long into it that I could tell that this was one hurting woman. This was a woman who was unprotected, unloved, and insecure. She was, in short, suffering from some serious Daddy issues.

Lizzie argues that Christian patriarchy protects women from misogynists. I’m not sure where to start with that, but I’ll try:

The belief that women need protection from men is intrinsically misogynist because it presents adult women as weak, vulnerable and dependent, like children. Would you argue that paternalistic white men who called black men “boy,” argued that good masters protected their slaves from abuse, and saw them as children were not racist? Just because they supposedly meant well?

Second, good job not-so-subtly stuffing your post with keywords (and even pointing out that they’re keywords) to boost your SEO rating. I see what you did there. And yet here I am linking you… oops! My poor lady brain!

Third, no one disputes that you know your father well. No one disputes that you love him, or that he loves you, or that he raised you kindly. We do dispute the way he thinks about women. You have heard what he teaches; indeed, you repeat it. You claim that women need protection by “sacrificial” men. You say you were glad to be given away. You imply that as long as a man isn’t trying to pressure you for sex, he is respecting you (by being a “protector” rather than a predator).

These are not the ideas of a person who respects women.

Douglas Wilson may love women, treat them well, and educate them (as Bekah points out – although I don’t see “a skill to earn a living” among the things he taught). That does not mean he respects them. That does not mean he sees them as his intellectual and spiritual equals.

Going back to Bekah’s post for one more moment. Believe me, I’m very familiar with the rhetoric about how submission does not mean inferiority. It may not mean that in theory, but it does in practice. When one person is systematically denied the ability to teach others, to make decisions for her family, to deny sex or pregnancy, to disobey her partner or to live and work independently, she is made the inferior of her partner. This does not mean she is inferior intrinsically. It means she behaves as though she is. It means she is treated as though she is. It means she thinks it’s right for one person to be freer than another on the basis of birth. That is wrong.

And that’s what all the gawsh-dorn hysterics are about.

Daughter of the Patriarchy, epilogue: What does leaving fundamentalism look like?
Activism fatigue and the work of changing minds
Secular fasting: finding spirituality in the process, not the goal
Daughter of the Patriarchy, epilogue: What does leaving fundamentalism look like?
  • wanderer

    This Bekah woman seems to be well indoctrinated. She jumped to slam & belittle her own gender in every way she could think of, and then say she has not been raised to be misogynistic. I’m shocked at how little self-awareness she displays.

  • http://incongruouscircumspection.blogspot.com Incongruous Circumspection

    Yeah. I was angry.

  • http://thaliasmusingsnovels.wordpress.com Amethyst

    “Do you also mock black men for reacting to the Jim Crow laws? Do you mock Native American men for pointing out the abuses of early European settlers in the Americas?”

    They probably do.

    “Would you argue that paternalistic white men who called black men “boy,” argued that good masters protected their slaves from abuse, and saw them as children were not racist? Just because they supposedly meant well?”

    They probably would.

    Seriously, I’ve heard people with belief systems like the Wilsons’ do all of the above, and cry liberal bleeding-heart PC persecution and oversensitivity if anyone tries to call them out on it. I’ve heard Christian patriarchists argue that it isn’t racist to refuse to consider hiring someone with a Spanish last name. I wish I were making that up.

    • Noadi

      I’m almost 100% certain they would because Doug Wilson HAS said exactly that before:

      “Slavery as it existed in the South was not an adversarial relationship with pervasive racial animosity. Because of its dominantly patriarchal character, it was a relationship based on mutual affection and confidence. There has never been a multi-racial society which has existed with such mutual intimacy and harmony in the history of the world. … Slave life was to [the slaves] a life of plenty, of simple pleasures, of food, clothes, and good medical care.” (Southern Slavery As It Was, pages 23 to 25)” (credit to Love, Joy, Feminism for that bit of info)

  • Petticoat Philosopher

    I predict that Doug Wilson will soon join the ranks of transphobic bigots who have to come to terms with having a transgendered child because, judging from her language, I’m pretty sure Bekah is a frat boy in a woman’s body.

    As for Lizzie: Ah, the old “He can’t be racist because I know him and he’s totes nice!” argument. What she doesn’t even understand is, when it comes to racism and misogyny, the people closest to a person might be the LEAST qualified to judge the extent to which they exhibit these things. I’m sure many Southern slave owners treated their wives and daughters like perfect little ladies who were “protected.” Then they went out and raped their slaves.

    All this is not to say that plenty of misogynists and racists don’t wear their misogyny and racism right on their sleeves and make their own families the victims of it but people can also compartmentalize when it comes to their own families.

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  • http://dream-wind.livejournal.com Christine

    Doug Wilson’s daughters are classic examples of the “it’s never happened to me, so it’s not a problem” mentality. Because their daddy manages to coat his patriarchy/tyranny in a pleasant sugary crust (and because patriarchy has made him and his family rich), NOBODY suffers under patriarchy. Because they don’t know anyone who’s admitted to rape, rape isn’t a problem. And that really, really disgusts me.

  • http://dream-wind.livejournal.com Christine

    And by the by – if you get curious about the book that ultimately started this thing – 50 Shades of Grey – and decide to read it…. have a cup of tea, a good lie down, and read something else instead. Apart from being rape-apologist in tone, it’s really badly written and the characters are really unlikable. I torrented a copy and got about 10 pages in before I couldn’t take it any more, hit the old Delete key and cleared the PDF out of my recycle bin. Seriously, Twilight was high literature compared to that crap.

  • http://ripeningreason.blogspot.com/ Bix

    To paraphrase King Theodin: ‘What can we do against such reckless hate?’. Their responses to Rachel Held Evans were extraordinarily disdainful, and their general tone remarkably arrogant. Seriously, deciding that a woman calling their father out on his racism (I mean, what else do you call a slavery apologist?) was ‘unprotected, unloved, and insecure’? That’s concern trolling, if nothing else.

    Wilson’s wife just posted ’10 Reasons to be Glad When Your Husband is Slandered’, including ‘It’s a danger sign, according to Scripture, when someone only has nice things to say about you’. Criticism only reinforces their belief in their own righteousness. Maybe they should take a long, hard look in the mirror before they accuse someone else of being righteous! It’s really a fantastic little system they have going on.

    Also, you don’t need to know someone personally to criticize his/her writing. If you feel that your audience misinterpreted your writing, you need to express yourself better, not accuse others of poor reading comprehension. Otherwise, Wilson family, you’re just having a temper tantrum about people criticizing you. You know, stamping your pretty little feet.

    I wonder why, given the number of bloggers who responded to the original post, they decided to focus on Evans. Were they reluctant to go after one of the many male bloggers who criticized their father’s beliefs? That’s a genuine question. I know she’s prominent, but they really homed in on her.

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  • smrnda

    I read Rachel Evans post and I found it intelligent, insightful, and in no way the ‘hissy fit’ described by the daughters of Wilson, who have obviously been socialized to back up the Resident Patriarch no matter what he says.If anyone is the stereotypical ‘little woman’ it’s this daughter of Wilson who can’t address anything Rachel Evans wrote – she can just attack her by reducing her to a trite stereotype. She’s the one reliant on emotional appeals instead of reason, not Rachel Evans.

    When they go on about the sacrificial male authority in their lives, they forget that the belief that men are the authorities who protect and women submit to get protection creates a class of women that are basically judged to be unworthy of male protection – the women who do not submit to men. Maybe she thinks that the wonderful big patriarchs in her life will protect her from misogyny, but they won’t do anything to actually reduce misogyny.

    One reason I am not a Christian is lines like ‘this is all just a diversion from looking at the sin in your own life” BS that she delivered – ti’s this platitude that just means “shut up” or, more “shut, up, and stop pointing out that I’m wrong 100%. You might have bumped into someone and not apologized today.” It’s a mindset meant to invalidate anyone’s painful experience by arguing that the real problem isn’t that someone hurt you but that you aren’t repentant enough of your own sin. Great way to show that Christians don’t care about anybody’s pain, they care about their own egos.

    • WhiteBirch

      THANK you! I know I’m late to this party, but I couldn’t BELIEVE how Bekah bragged about her education in formal logic but her entire post was one continual ad hominem attack. Um, if she really was trained in formal logic, might she not at least try to avoid the major fallacies and, you know, actually address the contents of Evans’ post?

  • http://www.martinfamilyadventure.com Erika Martin

    It sounds like the apples don’t fall far from the tree. Wilson’s daughters are just as arrogant and condescending as their dad is.

    • Petticoat Philosopher

      No kidding! I’ve known plenty of people who hold views that I consider repugnant, but are basically good-hearted. Wilson’s daughters do not seem like examples of such people–they come off like nasty pieces of work to me!

  • http://exconvert.blogspot.com Kacy

    There is actually something….um…creepy about this girls defending their father’s sexual “conquests” of their mother. icky!

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  • Casey G

    I find it ironic that you are using Doug Wilson’s daughters’ blog posts as proof that he is a man with little to no respect for women. If Doug Wilson was a misogynist then his daughters would look like the kind of girls raised by one. But the thing is…they don’t. If Doug Wilson has such a low view of women then why would he bother educating them through college? Which he did. Having read through the blog posts and such, it’s clear they are not afraid to speak their mind. It’s clear they are not afraid to speak out and defend their father even though they knew they would get it from the great intellectuals of the blogosphere. These are not the actions of brow beaten women. These are not the actions of women who have been treated as inferior their entire life. These are women who are confident and bold because there father treated them with love and respect. You can say all you want about how they defended him. You can get offended by their choice of words. But it seems to me they aren’t helping you prove your point at all about the man himself. Perhaps misinterpreting his words, and taking them out of the context within which they were written would work better. You will have more success with that than trying to use his daughters as an argument against him.

    • http://nonprophetmessage.wordpress.com Sierra

      His daughters look exactly like the daughters of a misogynist, because (1) they attack other women using the misogynist terms that he taught them, (2) they single out the highest-profile woman in the debate caricature her while totally ignoring several prominent male voices who have said the same thing, indicating that they don’t feel as free to criticize men OR that they have been conditioned to see other women as threats, and (3) have not been taught any logical argumentation skills and instead resort to childish name-calling and stereotyping.

      Perhaps you should try actually scrutinizing that “context” you keep talking about. We are each and every one of us aware of the “context” of Douglas Wilson’s misogynistic tirades. The quotes are indeed representative of the context. If he didn’t believe in female subordination (note: nobody here is talking about “inferiority”) and objectification, it would behoove him to learn how to write so he stops “accidentally” expressing the words of a misogynist.

    • Petticoat Philosopher

      You’ve got a lot to learn about how women respond to misogyny. Lesson 1: There’s no one way. There’s no such thing as woman who “looks like the kind of girl” who was raised by a misogynist, any more than there is such a thing is a woman who “looks like the kind of girl” who was abused or raped. People respond to these things in all sorts of ways. Some women reject it and speak out against it, some women become silent and “browbeaten” as you say. And some women embrace it whole-heartedly and use the rhetoric they absorb to bully other women, particularly when they are privileged with a public platform from which to do so, which Bekah and Rachel, as daughters of an influential Christian leader, are. History is full of examples of people taking an amazing amount of guff from the people at the top, as long as they get to pass it on down to people that are even lower on the totem pole than they are–in this case, ordinary, less privileged girls who DON’T get to be public superstars of Christian Womanhood, and dissenters like Rachel Held Evans. It’s cowardly, but it’s the way a lot of people are.

      As for Doug Wilson not being a misogynist because he sent his daughters to college–really? Women were going to college in fairly large numbers several generations before they could even vote. Was society not misogynist then? I’m glad Wilson saw fit to bestow college education upon his daughters, but he’s not getting a cookie from me just because he didn’t keep them locked in a tower. Sheesh.

  • Charles

    Any man who marries off an innocent 22 year old to a convicted pedophile is a misogynist. How much more proof do you need than that?
    http://thewartburgwatch.com/2012/07/18/the-real-doug-wilson-encouraged-presided-over-the-marriage-of-serial-pedophile/

    • olivebranch?

      Oh If only people could get their facts straight before blogging for the world to see.
      http://www.dougwils.com/Moscow-Diversity-Cleansing/Joan-Opyr-Cub-Reporter.html

      • http://nonprophetmessage.wordpress.com Sierra

        If your “name” is supposed to call into question my commitment to compassion and peace, I will answer it. Doug Wilson is one of the oppressors. He is abusing his position of power. The olive branch is only meant for him if he stops what he’s doing and starts to make it right. I’d gladly talk to him and even feature him here if he were repentant of his misogyny. The olive branch is for survivors, not perpetrators, of abuse.
        I have deleted your other insubstantial, mocking comments and will continue to do so at my own discretion.

  • Casey G

    Oh the mysoginy! Read your comments and listen to your language. Who are the mysoginists now? All you all have done is attack women; the same thing you accuse these women of doing. Don’t you want women to speak out? Dont you want women to be empowered? Practice what you preach. These women, according to you, grew up with a mysoginist for a dad! Honestly, is this how you treat abused women?

    • http://nonprophetmessage.wordpress.com Sierra

      You’re just embarrassing yourself now. Criticizing a woman’s poor argumentation and vicious attitude does not equal misogyny. Misogyny is when you systematically use sexist language and stereotypes to ridicule other women and stop them from sharing their own experiences and ideas.

      I am practicing exactly what I preach. I believe in the equality of the sexes. Therefore, if you’re a woman who defends inequality, you get critiqued just as much as a man who defends inequality. If your words contribute nothing constructive to a conversation, you get called on it.

      If Doug Wilson’s daughters were willing to step outside their box and look at their father’s teachings, to recognize the misogyny in their own belief systems, I would speak positively of their contributions to the discussion. Even if they offered a reasonable argument in favor of patriarchy, I would engage with them firmly but respectfully. However, their mocking rants have no place in a civil discussion. If they expect people to be civil to them, they must pay it forward.

      The whole family owes Rachel Held Evans an apology.


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