Christian Patriarchy: Fear, fear, FEAR

Christian Patriarchy: Fear, fear, FEAR May 24, 2012

I keep meaning to write a post or two about why I would have been willing, as a teen, to have my father choose a husband for me. My father was uncomfortable with the idea of an arranged marriage and said he wouldn’t do that, and that left me a bit disappointed. From my perspective today my teenage perspective on this issue appears horrifying, but I had my reasons.

Christian Patriarchy is built on making women afraid of men. Women are told that they need protectors. That they are weak and can’t survive on their own. Only if women stay under the protection of their male relatives will they be safe and protected. I’ve written about this phenomenon before, but it was only today that I really thought about how very, very fear-based this all is. This was prompted by a recent post by Sarah Over the Moon called “Fear or Love?

According to this philosophy, women need men, not because of love.

Not because we love our friends and fathers and brothers and possible romantic partners.

But because women should be afraid of men and their uncontrollable sex drives.

Because women need men to protect them from fearsome men.

She’s so right. Christian Patriarchy teaches that women need men to protect them from men because, well, men are scary. Sarah goes on to offer some summaries of what she heard growing up in a fundamentalist Baptist high school:

Oh, and don’t forget. Feminists are also responsible for the wide availability of The Pill! Because of The Pill, men now see women as sex objects! Because men don’t have to worry about having babies, men think they can rape women left and right without suffering the consequences.

So, because of feminists, men are raping women. Also because of feminists, these women have no men to protect them from men who want to rape them! See all these problems feminists have caused?!?

Be afraid! Be very afraid! Fear, fear, fear. The Botkins sisters talk about the dangers that await young women who are “thrust out of the protection of their families” and into the “pagan environment” of the modern college. Michael Pearl tells stories of young women who rebelled and left their families and, naturally enough, wound up as prostitutes, or the abused girlfriends of drug dealers. I’ve written before about how the purity culture made me afraid of men. I wasn’t making that up!

I trusted my father enough to be willing to have him make an arranged marriage for me because I saw my father as the man who would protect me from men. If my father picked my husband, I would be safe, protected. If I tried to pick my husband, there were no such guarantees. Men were scary. Men were dangerous. Except, of course, for my father.

Interestingly, Sarah goes on to connect these patriarchal ideas to fundamentalist religious ideas.

I should not be surprised that some Christians believe that women need men to protect them from men, because these same Christians also believe that people need God to protect them from God.

She continues, paralleling what she said about women needing men:

And people need God.

Not because we love God and because God loves us.

But because we should be afraid of God and God’s uncontrollable wrath.

Because people need God to protect them from the fearsome God.

I find this interesting because I wonder if there is a connection here that makes fundamentalist and conservative evangelicals more susceptible to the patriarchal ideas discussed above. Perhaps, as Sarah says, because they believe they need God to protect them from God, the idea that women might need men to protect them from men makes intuitive sense. Even though, of course, it really doesn’t.

(Similarly, I would imagine that seeing God as a God who chastises and punishes his children probably makes fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals more susceptible to the parenting methods that involve corporal punishment.)

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