Beware the Wayward Woman

Beware the Wayward Woman September 29, 2013

When I read Sarah Moon’s post on Potiphar’s wife, all I could think of was the wayward woman. This has been on my mind for a while, actually. My mother read several chapters of the Bible aloud to us children after breakfast every day, and for quite some time she read a chapter of Proverbs every day, because there are 31 chapters, which made it perfect to read over again every month.

Proverbs 2: 16-19—Wisdom will save you also from the adulterous woman, from the wayward woman with her seductive words . . . . Surely her house leads down to death and her paths to the spirits of the dead. None who go to her return or attain the paths of life.

And then my mother would look up from reading, and look at each of my brothers in turn. Beware the wayward woman, my mother would tell them.

Proverbs 5:1-10—My son, pay attention to my wisdom, turn your ear to my words of insight, that you may maintain discretion and your lips may preserve knowledge. For the lips of the adulterous woman drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil; but in the end she is bitter as gall, sharp as a double-edged sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps lead straight to the grave. She gives no thought to the way of life; her paths wander aimlessly, but she does not know it. Now then, my sons, listen to me; do not turn aside from what I say. Keep to a path far from her, do not go near the door of her house, lest you lose your honor to others and your dignity to one who is cruel, lest strangers feast on your wealth and your toil enrich the house of another.

And then my mother would look up from reading, and look at each of my brothers in turn. That part about your wealth going to enrich the house of another, she would say. That is referring to child support. It will sap you dry. Don’t go there. Beware the wayward woman.

Proverbs 7: 1, 5—My son, keep my words and store up my commands within you. . . They will keep you from the adulterous woman, from the wayward woman with her seductive words.

And again my mother would look up at my brothers, each in turn. Beware the wayward woman, she would say.

It may seem odd, but this is what I remember most about Proverbs. The wayward woman, my mother looking up, my mother making eye contact with each of my brothers. Beware the wayward woman. Beware, beware, beware the wayward woman. There was nothing about being wary of the wayward man. Nothing. David seduced (or, quite possibly, raped) Bathsheba, the wife of another man, and he was still described in the Bible as a man after God’s own heart. No, all of the warnings were about the wayward woman. 

In the evangelical world in which I grew up, men have a nasty habit of blaming women for their sexual indiscretions, and in many ways it goes back to this—the wayward woman. It’s not be true to yourself or think about the consequences of your actions. No. It’s that evil seductive woman is the path to death. Is it really so much easier to vilify women as sinful seductive whores than it is to talk about personal responsibility?

I don’t know how those teachings shaped my brothers’ views of women, but it really, really can’t have been good.

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  • Tess

    I still remember the time when I was ten, looking through the Christian bookstore catalogue and seeing “Faithful Men of the God” followed by “Bad Girls of the Bible.” (and then looking through the rest and finding no gender swapped versions) I remember thinking, “geez, we women are just evil, aren’t we?” Most of me was indignant at the unequal representations, but part of me was also secretly scared they were correct.

    • Stev84

      Of course they are evil. Right at the beginning of the book, a woman takes an apple from a talking snake and is responsible for literally all bad stuff in the world.

      It doesn’t help that the people who made up Christianity (most notably St. Paul and Augustine) had serious hangups about women and their own sexuality. Combined the Original Sin narrative, they projected their own messed up lives on everyone else.

      • Correction–the men who forged documents in Paul’s name had serious hangups about women. One of the things I took away from studying the history of the Bible was that literally every verse that had made me hate Paul and consider him a misogynist had been forged decades, if not centuries, after his death.

      • My husband hypothesized how crazy it would have been if Paul never really experienced the amazing conversion, and he just pretended to be born-again. Like if the whole conversion was made up, and Paul was out to destroy Christians…what would he have done and such. I imagine things like convincing half the population they are worthless outside of the bedroom/kitchen, and making sure everyone knew they weren’t good enough would be a great place to start.

      • Well, the passage about the snake and the fruit does say that the man was with the woman the whole time, said not a word in protest, took the fruit willingly, and then when God asked him about his culpability, threw the woman under the bus. “That woman you gave me….” Men have been doing the same thing ever since.

  • Angela

    The idea that child support is just some trap women use to ensnare unsuspecting men and sap them dry needs to just stop right now. Child support does not typically provide near enough to cover half the cost of raising a child and men who pay child support generally enjoy a lifestyle far above their children or the mothers, yet it’s the men who are the victims somehow.

    Here’s a novel concept! What if we advise kids of both genders to form relationships with care? What if we encourage them to carefully evaluate what they’re looking for in a partner and not to tolerate someone who uses or mistreats them? And then suppose we especially emphasize what a huge responsibility parenting is round it off with a healthy dose of sex ed?

    • Not to mention, a relative of mine discovered the hard way that if the divorced spouse leaves the state, s/he can actually get out of child support payments, because child-support laws can’t be enforced across state lines.

      • persephone

        You have to go to the district attorney in your state and have them contact the district attorney where the ex lives. It can be a long, grueling process, but it can be done, especially if the state where the ex lives has laws where they will seize licenses and garnish wages. And if you are collecting any kind of government support, the DA will push that much harder to get you the owed child support.

        Also, if your ex is in the military the service will garnish his wages and send the child support to you.

      • At this point, both kids are over 18 and have moved out, so prosecuting him won’t do any good.

      • Renee

        If you are owed the back money, you will get it even if the kids are grown. It is worth fighting for, if its enough $ to bother anyway. Otherwise, guys so inclined would piss off until they got their “free date” of the kids 18th birthday.

        A friend of mine just got a surprise of 4k in her account! She wasn’t sure why, and when she checked, it was back support. When her new DH adopted her kid, she agreed not to take any more support from the ex, but I guess he had owed prior to that date. The state took his tax refund, and gave it to her. LIke 8 years later (she hadn’t bothered to try and collect).

        This is totally fair, but I can see how if you had let your kid be adopted into a wealthy family, and agreed to not have any rights (pushed by Mom), it would be angering to lose a whole tax refund to her. Of course, he owed it! But that doesn’t mean he can’t be pissed. This is where you get mad MRAs.

      • Olive Markus

        I actually have very strong feelings about this. I do feel that if the man has no involvement with the child at all and gives up all rights, whether by his own choice or the choice of the mother, then he shouldn’t be obligated to support, either.

        But if he wants any say, any contact or relationship, he should be required to support.

      • Renee

        You do know thats a big MRA fighting point- the “paper abortion”. They promote this all the time. Thats not company I would like to keep.

        And I’m sorry, but that is insane. Once the kid exists, it is entitled to support from its genetic contributors. That a woman can abort does not confer similar rights to a man (or women) after the kid is born.

        A person CAN give up all his rights, and the other parent CAN agree not to take more support, but this is not, and should not, be a given. The key here is that its a mutual agreement, not just one party saying “nah, fuck that kid!”

        I cannot imagine how ugly it would be out there with reproductive coercion if men could just hand their rights in and have no responsibility at all. I am sure some women would do it, but I doubt it would be anything equivalent.

      • Olive Markus

        I guess my experiences have been that men don’t contribute anything more than enough to buy toilet paper as it is, so what’s the point in pretending that they are actually doing the right thing?

        I know this is a conservative talking point, but this is one area where I’ve not seen anything positive or even remotely helpful by pretending to fight for support from uninterested fathers.

        Perhaps my experience is not the norm and men are actually doing more good than harm in the realm of fought-for child support. I will admit that while I currently feel a certain way, my mind can definitely be changed with more information. I

      • persephone

        The support is to pay for the child’s upbringing. It is not an admission fee for visiting your child. In fact, a father who spends less time on his children is usually assessed a higher child support rate than one who visits and takes care of his children.

        The money is for the child. A child needs food, clothing, a home, and healthcare, and both parents must contribute.

      • Miss_Beara

        In fact, a father who spends less time on his children is usually
        assessed a higher child support rate than one who visits and takes care
        of his children.

        I wish someone told my dead beat father that 27 years ago. I saw him 0-2 times a year and then nothing for the past 13 years, since I was 16. He paid minimal child support. He did pay my school tuition but I would have rather had a father than school tuition.

        Instead he and my paternal grandmother blamed me, when I was 11, for not having a father-daughter relationship.

      • Rosa

        I’m sorry.

        I think the blaming and the lack of involvement go together. My dad blamed my mom for “poisoning us against him” when really she never said anything negative about him, we just were able to observe for ourselves.

      • persephone

        BTDT. Good for your mother.

      • persephone

        My situation was a combination of yours and Rosa’s. My father showed up once in a blue moon, maybe. He always blamed my mother, ran her down, the usual. My mother was a lot of bad things, but she never blamed me, and all she would say about her marriage was that she was too young, and then tell me to get a skill to support myself.

        I cannot tell you how good it felt to shove his ashes into the mausoleum and watch it be sealed. I was kind of tricked into going by one of his friends, but I ended up reconnecting with some of the decent people from his family, so it was worth it.

        I wish you the best. I’m lucky to be one of those people who can walk away from bad relationships. I know this is a gift most people don’t have naturally.

      • Angela

        Also visitation cannot be revoked because a parent is not paying support. They are completely separate responsibilities.

      • Olive Markus

        I totally agree with you. I guess my real-world experience is that they don’t provide anything useful for the children if they aren’t interested in their well-being anyway, but they will decide at random moments tht they want to be part of their life and cause massive turmoil.

        But I’m sure there’s more to it all than what I’ve seen.

        I totally feel that the children must be provided for. I just haven’t seen it actually work out that way with men who aren’t very interested in their children to begin with.

      • Angela

        This depends a lot on the circumstances. If the man is unemployed or working under the table then collecting is difficult. If he’s fathered several children by multiple women then the money may not go far (though hopefully will deter him from continuing to procreate). On the other hand if he is employed then his wages will be automatically garnished if he doesn’t pay. Also, while support typically doesn’t cover a full half the cost of child rearing it certainly does help. Even a couple hundred a month can make a big difference to many families.

      • Olive Markus

        I think I’ve seen way too much of the circumstances you’ve described, so it has completely colored my judgment on how this all works.
        I’ve also seen the men disappear, pay nothing, but then show up when they feel like it and cause emotional distress. It bothers me a lot, so the vindictive part of me feels that if they can’t be bothered to help the children, why should they be allowed to have a say in their lives? Perhaps this is incredibly un-PC of me, but I can’t help being angry by it.

      • Angela

        I believe that if BOTH biological parents agree then one parent can opt to sign away all rights and responsibilities. However, if the mother’s not willing to single-handedly support the child she shouldn’t have to. Also, if a father has his parental rights revoked because he’s deemed unfit this does NOT absolve him from responsibility.

        If a woman gets pregnant she cannot walk away consequence free. Abortion or adoption are hardly an easy way out. It’s only fair that men should share in the accountability of their actions.

        I WOULD support preconceptual agreements though to protect men from reproductive coercion where both parties sign a notarized contract declaring his intent not to father any children resulting from the relationship. Both parties would commit to using consistent birth control and agree that in the event of birth control failure he’s absolved of any rights/responsibilities to resulting children (though I feel that he should have to pay half the cost of an abortion should the woman choose that). This would NOT be an abortion contract. The woman would still retain full autonomy to her body but just with the understanding that she’s on her own. Currently these types of contracts are not enforceable but I feel this would be an appropriate compromise if they were.

      • Olive Markus

        I guess this is an area where I definitely need to do more research and more thinking.

        Most of you know about this much more than I do, so if this many disagree with my thinking it may be time to reassess.

      • Rosa

        we could take all the pressure off noncustodial parents if we were willing to shoulder it publicly, with state aid. But we historically haven’t been and since the Clinton-era welfare reforms, it’s been way worse even than before that.

      • Sam

        Actually, with regard to your first paragraph,I think it varies state by state, but in my State, the rights/responsibilities of one parent cannot be terminated unless another party (ie. a spouse of the custodial parent) is willing to adopt the children. The alleged reason for this is that it makes the child less likely to become a ward of the state….I have a lot of conflicted feelings about this law

      • kisarita

        intent not to father- once the kid is born, too late. you’ve already fathered him whether intentional or not. Unless the kid as a super excellent relationship with a step parent, you are basically sacrificing the kid to and adults self centeredness. and sometimes even the most wonderful step parent is not enough to erase that rejection.

      • Trollface McGee

        The way child support is designed is to put the onus of support on the biological parents so the child doesn’t become a ward of the state or the family doesn’t become dependent on state aid. This leads to the unfortunate result of the custodial parent having to go after the non-custodial parent for things the child has a right to have and needs to have so they can have a decent chance at life.

        In those hellish divorces where either one or both of the parties treat the divorce as a war to be won rather than something that needs resolution, it’s messy and cruel to the children and too often it ends with the custodial parent getting insufficient support or not getting support when the child most needs it.

        I think a system where the state was the one paying the custodial parent or have some sort of real social safety net for families would work better. Then the non-custodial parent would have to pay into the system or face penalties which would be state enforced – which would mean that a child has the support no matter goes on between the parents.

      • kisarita

        i completely disagree. judges today also look at the tying of child support to the relationship with a very negative eye. we should not be offering financial incentives for men to abandon their children! or allowing one parent to cut the other out of a child’s life, whether mother or father.

      • TLC

        Yes, this is true! When my friend’s dad retired and filed for Social Security, her mom got a letter asking if she wanted them to garnish it to repay child support he owed. She responded with a YES! and started getting payments. My friend was 38 when this started.

      • Renee

        BUT- IF you get any government support, like TANF or Medicaid, they WILL TAKE EVERY $ OF YOUR CHILD SUPPORT to pay it back. Which is really pretty shitty if you ask me. IF you are poor enough to qualify for the few $ in TANF, I am sure you need every dollar of that support too.

      • Olive Markus

        I’ve seen this happen more than once. The process of going after them is so difficult and long, and it’s not usually worth it.

        Finding a way to lie about income is the other biggie.

      • lucifermourning

        while you can argue about whether it’s worth chasing the most determined deadbeats (the answer probably varies by individual), a situation that permits dads to abandon their children would surely encourage people who otherwise might not have done so to sign off on parental rights? there must be plenty of people who aren’t great parents but who do have established careers or are somewhat ambivalent or whatever who do just pay because otherwise they’d have to change their lifestyles and generally put a lot of effort into avoiding it.

        and that even before you get into the issue of basic parental responsibility as a moral and social good.

      • TLC

        This is no longer true. The Uniform Interstate Family Support Act was passed in 1996 to bring child support enforcement and collection under fedral supervision to decrease problems like these. Each state was required to set up a child support enforcement and payment collection center. These centers are required by law to cooperate and uphold orders, so they can’t refuse to enforce an order from another state.

        Having said that, there are those parents who move constantly, work for cash payments, use aliases and do everything they can to avoid paying. It’s toughto keep track of them, but at least the systems are in place for different states to work together on this.

        The UIFSA also helps monitor federal monies, making it easier to garnish incme tax returns, military and federal worker pay and retirement, etc.

        This system really helped me in January when I found out my ex semi-retired in December, even though he owed me more than $14,000 in back child support and more than $27,000 to the two credit card companies that were suing him. I checked with my attorney, who advised me to call Child Support Enforcement and let them know. When they called up my case they said, “Oh yes! He filed on Dec. 21, and we were notified Jan. 4. We have already filed the order for garnishment.” I now get half his Social Security to cover current and back payments.

        Staying on top of child support enforcement is difficult work. I detest this fundagelical attitude that child support is “sapping” someone “dry” of their hard-earned income. In my state, child support is calculated based on the parental income and lifestyle the child had when the parents were married. The intent is to keep the child in that same lifestyle. If both parents work and their income is similar, not much child support is going to be paid.

        But let’s take a typical fundagelical family when the wife stays home with the kids. She probably doesn’t have a degree and/or much work experience. Therefore, if she and her husband divorce, she’s going to get a bigger percentage of his income in child support simply because she doesn’t have his earning capacity.

        This system also keeps high earners from taking a job flipping burgers just to avoid paying child support. Loss of income is not always a reason for decreasing child support, just as an increase in income from a raise or promotion isn’t always a reason for increasing child support.

        It’s not a perfect system. But it can work with some patience and persistence.

    • Trollface McGee

      Yeah – like women are going to go through the trouble of “trapping” a man, getting pregnant, going through labour, going through divorce – to get a few hundred dollars which the typical MRA father is going to whine constantly about, will harass the mother, forcing her to account for every penny of “his” money, and in some cases won’t be able to collect because he will purposely take under-the-table jobs to avoid paying for his own damn kids. Sounds like a great deal! (and sadly people do think this.)

      • Angela

        Isn’t it funny how so many of the men who demand an accounting of their child support payments often have no interest in caring for the kids themselves? I mean if you really feel your children are being neglected wouldn’t the best way to protect their interests be to increase your involvement and try to obtain custody yourself?

      • Ruana

        Oh, but I doubt it’s about the children’s welfare. It’s about controlling the ex and making sure that not a penny of ‘his’ money is going to improve her life in any way.

      • Trollface McGee

        It’s all about control. I remember one guy whining because the kids’ mother took them to McDonalds – because he would never take his kids to eat that crap – but the idea that he would take his kids and cook them dinner never crossed his mind.
        I see guys all the time who purposely work crappy under the table jobs so they don’t have to pay child support even if they could be making loads more with a normal job. I see guys who drive with a suspended license, risking jail, because god forbid they have to pay.
        They also like to whine about women taking responsibility – a lot.

      • Olive Markus

        Yup. I’ve seen this way too often myself.

        Of course I’ve seen women who are far from saints themselves when it comes to their children. But I’ve only seen a man take custody of his children ONCE. The rest of the time they couldn’t care less and are very spiteful that they even have children at all.

      • Rosa

        I’ve known several dads to have physical custody or most of the time with the kids.

        They’re NOT the ones whining about child support though. Except how hard it is to collect.

      • kisarita

        the only 2 custodial dads i know, hire full time nannies

      • Renee

        When those types say women need to “take responsibility”, what they MEAN is that women need to pay for, and do everything, related to caring for the kids, and then happily hand the “dad” the kids anytime “dad” wants them, at the drop of a hat, on any holiday, all without a single complaint. Even if he hasn’t seen them or talked to them in months or years. Even if he has never paid one slim dime to them. Mom needs to “woman up and do it ALL, and make his life easy and happy too. And of course, never say one bad word against his saintliness.

        Its this very attitude of “woman needs to please ME” that probably ensured the divorce or split up in the first place….

      • Trollface McGee

        Yep, and if the kids reject him because he isn’t around and doesn’t care about them on those odd occasions where he is then either she’s turned them against their father or they’re rebellious and she’s raising them wrong.

      • Renee

        Oh, they whine how very impossible it is to get custody! Totally ignoring that in some states, like CA, its 50/50 to start with. They don’t WANT custody, except to torment their ex, in so many cases.

      • persephone

        A study found that men are much more likely to get a woman pregnant against her wishes to trap her, rather than the other way around. It’s a common technique of abusive, controlling men to trap a woman into a relationship.

        My ex did it. Now I’m stuck dealing with him forever because of the kids.

      • Angela

        This surprises me simply because of the logistics of it. I mean I know men can, and apparently do, punch holes in condoms but it seems like it’s just so much easier for women to quietly go off birth control without her partner noticing. Either way it’s vile.

      • Trollface McGee

        For a woman “trapping a man” means he can still leave without much impact, she’ll have to fight to get the child support.
        For a guy – she can’t avoid the consequences of pregnancy so easily – at the very least, she’ll have to go through the hassle of an abortion, at the worst she’ll be trapped, with a child, making leaving an abusive partner all that much harder.
        And yes, it is sadly quite common – and legislatures are too busy attacking women’s reproductive rights than passing laws that would crack down on this.

      • Renee

        Its true the logistics seem to favor the mom, but keep in mind, the risk and pay off is not weighted the same. If a women gets pregnant, its an entire life change for her. Pregnancy and delivery are often lots of pain, can be a risk to life and health, and she can lose her job, etc. The man has to do nothing. Its a lot lower risk for a man to be a reproductive coercer than the woman.

      • Because fetuses have more value than women or born children. Because that makes sense…

      • Renee

        Of course they do here in ‘Murica!

      • Miss_Beara

        Right here in ‘Murica, they call those “consequences”!

        Gawd bless ‘Murica

      • persephone

        You’re assuming that the women have access to easily available birth control or that they’re able to refuse sex. In these situations, the men control their partners, whether physically or emotionally. The recent Texas anti-abortion law will result in the closure of 37 of 42 women’s health clinics, making access to birth control extremely difficult for women in these areas.

      • Angela

        Good points.

      • They also sometimes flush birth control pills down the toilet, then demand sex knowing their partner is unprotected. Or things of that nature.

      • smrnda

        Sometimes guys flush birth control pills down toilets.

      • purr
      • Basketcase

        My brothers ex got pregnant on purpose when my brother started indicating that perhaps their relationship was dying a natural death (they were long-distance). She skipped pills without telling him (yes, she openly admitted this to our family).
        Then, seemingly for fun, she basically abandoned her daughter. My brother was a full-time solo dad from when my niece was one.
        And she pays no child support. Because her mum is a lawyer, my brother is too scared to go to court for a formal settlement in case he loses entirely and ends up with visitation rights and a child support bill.
        Its awful whichever way it goes. I really feel for you because of what I’m seeing my brother go through.

      • smrnda

        Yeah, rates of contraception sabotage are pretty high in abusive relationships. It’s something more people should be aware of, especially before complaining that women aren’t be *responsible* in making sure they don’t get pregnant. That’s hard to do when someone is flushing your birth control down the toilet.

      • Susie M

        Agreed. I’ve always thought that was more common. I *think* women tend to threaten or claim it, but following through is a whole ‘nother issue. Men tend just…go all the way (reference intended).

    • Kit

      Ugh. Not to mention the studies indicating that after a divorce, the parent who does not have custody enjoys a higher standard of living post-divorce, whereas the parent with custody enjoys a lower standard of living post-divorce. In monetary sums, I think the percentage figures are around 10% in each direction. Some studies suggest higher.

      Also, I don’t know how it works in other jurisdictions, but in my jurisdiction it’s just a set table amount. We had a lot of trouble enforcing child support, so the government developed a table that just tells people what child support they will owe based on their yearly income and number of children – for example, a non-custodial parent earning $50 000 with 2 children would pay $703 a month in child support. We had better enforcement of child support after that because it seems to take out the conflict between the parties. However, if the custodial parent needs additional money for medical care or something, it still has to be litigated (or agreed upon by the parties).

      Also, I should point out that something like 95% of separations and divorces in my jurisdiction are surprisingly not messy. Wrenching, yes and difficult, yes, but only something like 5% of these cases actually wind up in court because they DO manage to sort it out. It gives me some semblance of hope for the future.

      • persephone

        In my state they’ve been using a computer program for decades, Dissomaster, that runs the numbers. I’ve seen judges with their laptops in court run the program. The amount can be adjusted in cases of domestic violence or other factors, but it does make things straightforward and less open to argument. They’ve even put it online so you can check it yourself.

    • Stev84

      Men could also receive child support themselves if they demand custody of the children.

      • Renee

        I have friend that gets child support from his female ex. Even though he makes 6 figures and she is destitute. Even though he and his new wife fought to keep her way from the kid totally. It totally happens.

      • tyler

        actually it happens fairly often. i don’t have the stats offhand, but i’m given to understand that though the typical mra stance is that women always win child custody and support, this is only the case overall. in fact men typically do win custody–when they fight for it. the majority of custody cases just go to the mother because she’s usually the one demanding custody. whether that be because men are expected in our society to not want the kid or because many men in this sort of situation just don’t want kids, i can’t say, but that’s what i’ve heard.

      • Renee

        This is true. I figure anything an MRA says is total nonsense, and go from there.

      • Basketcase

        Ouch. Thats nasty.

        My brother has custody of his daughter and gets nothing, even though his ex earns more than he does. She doesn’t even want to help pay for their daughters school uniform for starting school next month.
        She simply refuses to pay.

      • smrnda

        I’m not sure how that works. A former coworkers of mine got divorced, and her ex-husband got custody (requested by the children.) The state took the money out of her check, and when she got an extra job, they took the money out of that.

        Something though is that child support is sometimes awarded based on income *at the time* of the divorce, meaning that payments can be raised or lowered depending on current income.

      • Basketcase

        Separated, not divorced, so no requirement to do anything legal, they dont even have a formal custody arrangement. We keep telling him he needs to sort it out, because he is working his ass off just to stay afloat, but he is scared of her mother (who is a lawyer)

      • Conuly

        This guy is your friend? Are there some extremely extenuating circumstances you didn’t mention?

    • persephone

      I’m a legal secretary/paralegal and for a few years I worked in family law. Divorce is miserable, but usually necessary. The way the laws are set up in most states, wives can no longer expect to receive child support and spousal support without end. Wives are expected to go to work as soon as possible–no SAHMs allowed.

    • TLC

      Oh, yes and amen! I am sooooooo sick of this attitude.

      My ex took me to court 18 months ago to get a “refund” of half the child support he’d paid over the past 13 years, claiming he’d had a “materiel change in circumstances.” That change was his decision 8 years ago to leave a stable, well-paying job and try to make it as an artist.

      I didn’t force him to do this. Or run up his credit cards and not pay them or his other bills. I didn’t ask the state to send an enforcement letter; they did that without my knowledge. In the meantime, I did have privilege of supporting him and his girlfriend while they partied for four years, to the tune of $10,000+. The privilege was further extended when I had to pay $6,700 in attorney costs to defend the lawsuit and he was ordered to repay only $4,000 of that when he lost his lawsuit. He hasn’t paid a penny of that yet.

      I’m the one who kept this family whole, in spite of being laid off twice in 2008. I’m the one who started her own business and made it a success. I’m the one who’s supported our son and gotten him to college. I’m the one who helped move him into his dorm room. I’m the one who made the sacrifices while dad and his girlfriend went out every weekend and took vacations together.

      Who’s sapping whom here?

      • Angela

        A REFUND??? How did that even make it to court? There are no refunds for supporting your kids! I’m surprised the judge didn’t just throw it out and save you the hassle of a lawsuit.

        Props to you for raising your son on your own. It sounds like he’s a fortunate young man.

  • ako

    There was nothing about being wary of the wayward man. Nothing. David
    seduced (or, quite possibly, raped) Bathsheba, the wife of another man,
    and he was still described in the Bible as a man after God’s own heart. No, all of the warnings were about the wayward woman.

    That’s the thing. If you take a literal interpretation of a very old book as absolute wisdom, you’re going to end up enshrining some of the ugly attitudes of the past. This includes the idea that, while men are people, women are mysterious sex creatures. Therefore, when a man behaves in a sexually wayward fashion, it’s treated as one of his deeds, and not the most important one. When a woman behaves in a sexually wayward fashion, it tells you what type of creature she is.

  • attackfish

    Of course these are the same people who harangue the supposedly sinful people in poverty about personal responsibility when it comes to the “bad choices that made you so poor”, especially for women and children so as to keep their charity and their tax dollars from going to the people who need them. Of course, they’re mostly “wayward women” and their children anyway.

  • We used the King James version, which calls her “the strange woman”. We read Proverbs every month for many years and grew familiar with every phrase. I remember the child support interpretation.

    My brothers associated “strange women” and harlots with make-up at a very tender age. “Her feet abide not in her house”–she must work outside the home…

    I was always tantalized by the description of her bed. After I married, I had to try perfuming the sheets with cinnamon!

    • Kate Monster

      How did it go? Did you just put cinnamon powder in the bed or what?

      • Cinnamon oil maybe?

      • TLC

        Oooh, be careful with that! Several years ago, a large bookstore chain offered a special package for Christmas: the Kama Sutra with cinnamon body oil. Except someone put too much cinnamon in the oil and it caused first- and second-degree burns in some delicate areas. Use sparingly if you put it on the sheets! ;-D

      • Trollface McGee

        I mix essential oils with baking soda, leave it on the mattress and then vacuum the whole thing up – it leaves a nice scent and disinfects the mattress. Haven’t tried cinnamon but lavender and mint are lovely and help kill the nasty creepy crawlies.

      • Mogg

        Ooh! Today is bedclothes-changing day, and I may just have to try this!

      • LizBert

        That is such a lovely idea! Thanks!

      • Oh yes, I accidentally rubbed my eyes once after getting some on my hands. Was not a fun experience.

      • sunnysidemeg

        You could probably make a cinnamon water with a method similar to rosewater.

        Or buy a linen spray. I had a bergamot and coriander one and it was so nice.

        I think I’d like a cinnamon mix – some vanilla, nutmeg/clove, even apple or orange fragrance to make the cinnamon less sharp.

      • I did. It was a little gritty, but it smelled divine and I finally got to live out that “Wisdom Search” (family Bible study) fantasy. 🙂

  • jemand2

    I thought that passage was related to murder or assault at the hands of a jealous husband of the wandering woman. Not sure exactly why, but that’s what I felt it was talking about, reading it more or less on my own as a kid. Or also I guess the legal system then which was pretty unforgiving of adultery.

    • Alice

      I thought the same thing, probably because there are other verses in Proverbs to warn men that nothing can quench the anger of a wronged husband except retaliation.

  • “… Is it really so much easier to vilify women as sinful seductive whores than it is to talk about personal responsibility? …”

    In an environment that enshrines male irresponsibility, I would suggest, yes, it is.

    Any time women in this environment advocate for themselves, their true sexuality, their honest thoughts, their own power and influence, that will seem like death to those who’ve mostly defined themselves through their ability to subjugate and coerce women. It must be truly terrifying to them to encounter women whose freedom is of paramount concern.

    “Children, pay attention to wisdom, turn your ears to words of insight, that you may gain strength and your lips speak the truth. For the lips of the hypocrites drip honey, and their speech is smoother than oil; but in the end they are bitter as gall, sharp as a double-edged sword. Their feet will lead you to your death; their steps lead straight to your grave. They give no thought to your chosen way of life; their paths wander purposefully and seductively and they know it. Keep your own path far from them while only seeming to follow, go near the doors of their houses only to rescue others. Gain your own honor and dignity. Let these strangers as intimate as family feast on their own fear. Toil to enrich your own house.”

    • TLC

      I am going to take your second paragraph and print it out and hang it up where I can see it often. I think this applies to women in ANY environment.

      • Feel free, TLC! Share it with your friends! : – )

        As you can probably tell by now, I absolutely love giving voice to those marginalized and obscured by intentionally dismissive texts. For me, turning “-isms” on their heads suggests some hidden hopes for those abandoned and oppressed by tradition. I think of it as a defiant act of historical “script-flipping” that can propose a way out of bigotry towards a brighter future. As an intersectional feminist ally, I find it to be a comforting and optimistic activity that suggests a positive way forward.

  • Miss_Beara

    In the evangelical world in which I grew up, men have a nasty habit of
    blaming women for their sexual indiscretions, and in many ways it goes
    back to this—the wayward woman.

    I think it is the world in general.

    What was she wearing?
    Was she drinking?
    Why was she out late?
    Why did she talk to him?
    Why didn’t she fight back?

    • Or scream louder. I’ve actually heard that. “It wasn’t rape because she didn’t scream.”

      • Anat

        That’s biblical. Deuteronomy 22:13-29, but specifically 23-27. A woman who is raped in the city is killed for adultery/whoredom, a woman who is raped in the fields is not, because she may have screamed and nobody heard.

        The implicit assumption is that if a woman who is raped screams and is heard, obviously people will save the woman.

      • Exactly. That’s why in first aid classes, women are taught to yell “fire” rather than “help me”. Apparently people would rather be the hero putting out the fire than saving a woman being raped.

      • Miss_Beara

        That is awful. Also, “what about his future? that slut ruined his/their future!” when the rapist(s) gets caught.

  • Kathleen Margaret Schwab

    The book of Proverbs sets up two women, the figure of Wisdom, Wisdom personified as a woman, and the wayward woman. The fact that people latch onto the idea that this is all about individual women out there, out to get pregnant by you so they can bleed you for child support, ignores the fact that this is all allegorical illustration. Another reason that reading an ancient text really requires some higher education.

  • So, the passage was talking about child support, a feature of modern legal systems that wouldn’t be implemented for another couple thousand years? And people seriously believe this? I understand believing that every word of the Bible is straight up truth, even though I disagree – but the people who think this is about child support never pause to think, “Hey, this being about child support wouldn’t have made sense to anybody until the 20th century…”. Which would have left a whole lot of slightly confused Jews and Christians, given that the proverb isn’t written “…lest, starting thousands of years from now, strangers feast on your wealth and your toil enrich the house of another.”

    If I had to take a stab at it, I would guess it was about a man spending money on his mistress instead of keeping his wealth in his own household. Perhaps she might also use those gifts or money to entertain her other lovers. That’s just a guess, but I think it’s a better guess than divinely-inspired advice that told people to beware of something completely irrelevant to their lives.

    • That’s what I’ve always thought, too. Kind of like a “Good Earth” situation. The wife kills herself making the family run smoothly, and the husband spends time and money with a mistress.

    • attackfish

      The word in Hebrew is closer to strange, or foreign, and I was always taught it was about people of the time being worried that their sons would marry outside the faith and breed little pagan babies. The house in this case was the tribe and faith.

  • (((J_Enigma32)))

    The very first place my mind went with this was the “Whore of Babylon” and the continual warning of false idols, wherein women are being used as a metaphor for faith, and how you should attach yourself to the right faith – one that’ll fulfill you rather than use you and cast you aside, or lead you to damnation and the grave. I back this interpretation up with the statement of “her feet go to death, her steps to the grave”, which is basically the same threat that false faith and idols will take you.

    I’m not Christian, though. I’m not even faithful; hell, I didn’t even sleep at a Holiday Inn Express last night. But I have a degree in English and I’ve taken classes on literature and interpreting literature.

    None of that excuses the blatant patriarchal language, but to make the claim it’s about child support and modern day legal systems is just down right bizarre. It’s like claiming Moby Dick is about social networking.

    • Kate Monster

      CLEARLY the Great White Whale is reddit.

    • smrnda

      Part of this might be that fundamentalists and evangelicals often believe that the Bible has *all the answers* so that somehow, it has to be relevant to *your life right now* which requires a huge stretch.

  • Alice

    Proverbs also has all those verses about how horrible nagging wives are, and then the idealized woman in Proverbs 31.

  • smrnda

    All said, the notion of strange, seductive women leading men astray just seems so weird, probably because I was raised outside of this culture and without much religious influence on me. I always had more the ‘watch out for creepy guys who whine about what Nice Guys (TM) they are’ going on, though I definitely wasn’t taught that and I’m not sure where I picked it up.

    • Interestingly, the Nice Guy™ fallacy dovetails with the idea of the innocent “family man” because both rely on the idea that simply being male and playing variations on the traditional masculine script entitle access to women and/or children. The seductive woman trope is just an opt-out for “family men”/Nice Guys™ who won’t take responsibility for their own desires.

      Both are equally, if differently, toxic.

      • smrnda

        That makes a lot of sense, which is probably why so many men feel such entitlement to having a woman want to be in a relationship with them. Worst, you get men who twist social justice language (the idea that people are reasonably entitled to have their needs met, like food, housing and health care) to mean that women *owe them sex and relationships and marriage* or why some guys frame their desire to pester women reading, working etc. in public as a ‘free speech’ issue.

        Another ‘seductive woman’ issue is the perception, by some men, that everything women do is to get their attention.