It’s Not That Complicated: Part 3 Chapter 9

It’s Not That Complicated: Part 3 Chapter 9 May 30, 2016

itsnotthatcomplicatedby Mel cross posted from her blog When Cows and Kids Collide

All quotes from the Botkin’s book will be in blue text.

Today’s post covers the Botkin Sisters’ views on women’s intelligence.  To no one’s surprise who has managed to read this far, the Botkin view of women’s intelligence is determined entirely how she makes a man feel.

I find this entire section gross, FYI.

Overarching Theme: Girls don’t have to pretend they aren’t smart.   Girls only need to seem less smart than the guy they are talking to.

“So, at this point the $64,000 question is this: Do men actually dislike smart women?  We’ve asked a number of real men this question, and they’ve all delivered the same answer with great force: Of course not!  They just dislike women who think they’re smarter than everyone else.

Women who want to force others to acknowledge their cerebral superiority, or to beat people over the heads with all that they know, give truly intelligent women a bad rap.  Good men appreciate intelligence, but they also often come to dread the type of woman who defines herself by her smarts (as though it were the only important quality) and the arrogance, hardness, pushiness, and self-focus that too often go with it.” (pg. 170)

  • There’s a difference between intelligence and social skills. Having a conversation with someone who is showing off is annoying as hell.  I know of no data, though, that shows that smart women are more likely to show off than smart men, dumb men or dumb women.
  • Yet again, the Botkin Sisters drive home that women are supposed to be humble, soft, yielding and willing to care for others by defining the negative categories for women of arrogance, hardness, pushy and self-focused.
  • I can’t help but believe the Botkin Children would be in a better place if they did apply some self-focus or even self-centeredness to their lives.  Anna Sofia and Elizabeth have been raised by Geoffrey & Victoria to be wives and mothers in their own homes; this come up in each of the Sisters’ books and in the family podcasts.  Neither of the girls are married or mothers at ages of 28 and 30.  Since both have been of marriageable age for over a decade each, they would be better off thinking about how much effort Geoffrey and Victoria are really putting into finding them husbands.

“For those of us who take pride in being hardboiled eggheads, this thought should scramble our brains: Truly smart people are humbled by the extent of what they don’t know, not anxious to show off the little that they do.” (pg. 171)

  • That’s a different take on the Dunning-Kruger effect.  This effect occurs when people self-assess their skill level compared to others.
    •  People who are unskilled or poorly skilled in an area tend to overestimate their competence compared to people at large.
    • People who are at average competency levels generally estimate their competence accurately.
    • People who are at advanced competency levels tend to underestimate their competence compared the group.
  • The problem is that the Botkin Sisters are applying the Dunning-Kruger effect WAY too broadly.  Intelligent people do genuinely know a lot of knowledge and often want to talk about these fascinating topics.  The part that I have enjoyed the most about graduate school is being around people who are very intelligent and passionate about a given topic.  Listening to a fellow students discussing their project was heart-warming.
  • Again, does this set of rules apply to men or just women in BotkinLand?  In the quotes from the boys, several of the commentators are quite willing to spout off about their ideas regardless of how little they know about the topics.
  • The fact that Anna Sofia and/or Elizabeth view themselves as “eggheads” makes me cringe.  I don’t doubt that the two of them have natural intelligence, but they have been so heavily sheltered that their education has massive gaps as has been evidenced throughout this book.

“One thing that men really do appreciate in a girl is a desire to learn things from them, a willingness to be taught, and an eagerness to hear their opinions.  To them this communicates intelligence and a real thirst for knowledge; a girl who has to know better and be right does not.  It also draws out their knowledge and wisdom better than shaming, criticizing, or competing with them. “ (pg. 172)

  • Eww.  According to the Botkin Sisters and allied “men”, intelligent women are distinguished by their blank slate qualities.   Women are ready to be molded and taught by the much more intelligent men of their ilk.
  • Notice the implication that real women don’t correct men who are wrong.  If a man is wrong, correcting him is a sign that a woman is pushy, competitive, and not intelligent.  Boy, you know a system is messed up when the “kinder” thing to do when a guy is spouting something that is clearly wrong is to smile and nod appreciatively.
  • This section (ok…the whole book) makes me question the intelligence of the men the Botkin Sisters know.  The vast majority of intelligent men I know have no problem with a woman correcting them when the guy is wrong.  A man (or woman) who can’t handle constructive criticism no adult is.
  • Again, even in a section on intelligence in women we can’t get away from having to coax out the knowledge and wisdom of men.  Are guys that incapable of speaking without a girl mirror who helps them talk?

Next up: A post (or two posts) on what the boys think about obeying parents and how girls should talk to boys.


Mel is a science teacher who works with at-risk teens and lives on a dairy farm with her husband. She blogs at When Cows and Kids Collide She is also an very valuable source of scientific information for us here at NLQ. Mel is also blessed with the ability to look at the issues of Quiverfull with a rational mind and break them down to their most basic of elements.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • I once asked my husband if he could pin down a time when he actually fell in love with me. He smiled and said he knew exactly when it was. I was seventeen years old. We were discussing politics, and I stood up to him and said that I didn’t think that his statement was that sound. I then explained to him why I believed that. He said that he’d never met anyone before then who had the guts or the fortitude to challenge him like that — and he admitted that I was right. He says that’s when he really fell in love. I’d won his respect.

    I was passionate about what I believed, and I engaged another person — free of expectation — in a discussion about important ideas. It was something I’d studied well and knew well from my own vantage. I was open to other viewpoints as well — for I see all people as my equal and I’m respectful of them. I’m eager to hear the opinions of others, but not because they might be of some future use to me or because of their gender. It’s because all people are important and they ought to be heard and understood (just like I expect to be myself).

    That conversation took place 32 years ago, and I’ve been married to that man for 26 years.

    But what do I know?

  • Nea

    Do men actually dislike smart women? We’ve asked a number of real men this question
    Interesting version of begging the question. What if I don’t *care* if men like me?

    Truly smart people are humbled by the extent of what they don’t know, not anxious to show off the little that they do
    Overlooking the fact that this entire book is from a couple of inexperienced girls anxious to show off the little they’ve been taught, this is begging the question *again.* Experts in a field tend to be very aware of what they don’t know *in their field* and not give a rat’s ass, much less be humbled, at the basic fact that their field is one of thousands that they don’t know anything about or have any interest in. Girls, is your daddy humbled that he can’t tell you the minutia that goes into vintage stamp collecting? That he doesn’t know morse code? That he can’t field-strip a tractor? Fly a fighter jet? How about you kids? Humbled by your inability to do a job hunt? Negotiate a raise? Work out a college schedule?

    One thing that men really do appreciate in a girl is a desire to learn things from them, a willingness to be taught, and an eagerness to hear their opinions.
    Again, I have yet to hear a reason why this mythical man represents the entire male gender in the face of all of the actual men I actually know who really seriously aren’t looking for an adoring student to trail after them… much less why I should be seeking his appreciation instead of, say, the kind of person who is willing to give an appreciable paycheck to someone who has learned things, is willing to work, and eager to show her skills.

  • Mirella222

    First of all, if a guy is so fragile and insecure that he feels threatened by your intelligence, then that is not a person you want in your life. Secondly, there is really no point in having a romantic relationship where one person is supposed to know everything and that other person is just supposed to learn from them. Ideally, you would both know about and be good at different things – that way, you have a broader skill set overall and can learn new things from each other. This seems like it would be doubly important if you are intending to homeschool, because that way if you aren’t terribly good at certain subjects but your spouse is (and vice versa) then the kids will have a better education. And finally, you should not try to mold yourself into “what men like” because a) you can’t pretend to be someone you are not forever and eventually the real you will come back out, and b) men make up ~50% of the population and are complex human beings with differing feelings and opinions and values, so each guy will want something different anyway (so maybe just focus on being who you are and find someone who appreciates you for it).

  • Allison the Great

    This. I hate how in their subculture, everyone should want the same thing and everyone has the same personality and behaves the same way. According to them, we’re robots just following a script.

  • SAO

    I hate put downs like “What do I know.” We’re commenting a cultural movement to deny women authority, deny women respect for their knowledge and experience, and shut down their voices. You made a valid comment, then tacked on a de-validater at the end. Perhaps, in a different conversation, I’d have read it as snark, but in this context, it really grates.

  • Aloha

    “One thing that men really do appreciate in a girl is a desire to learn things from them, a willingness to be taught, and an eagerness to hear their opinions.”

    * So why are “men” dating “girls?”
    * If they smartest people are those aware of their ignorance (this was explained in a previous quote) then why are these men so eager to be seen as omniscient?
    * If no one likes to be around a know-it-all, then why are girls supposed to enjoy know-it-all boys?
    * Is this general advice, or just a instructions for fawning?

  • SAO

    So, a “truly intelligent woman” is has a “real thirst for knowledge” which she demonstrates by “an eagerness to hear (men’s) opinions”. The implication is obvious — men always know more than women. The woman is a perpetual student and the guy a professor. The problem is, over time, students acquire mastery and rival their professor in knowledge. So, even a student-professor relationship changes over time, a situation the Botkins ignore, as they do the fact that most male-female relationships are never professor.

  • Abigail Smith

    Well, then why aren’t they married yet, since they know all the “tricks” to getting the right guy? That’s my only question. It’s like someone who’s never had kids giving parenting advice.

  • Mirlo

    “They just dislike women who think they’re smarter than everyone else.”
    News flash, for those of you who have never stepped outside the bubble: NO ONE likes ANYONE who thinks (and shows that they think) they are smarter then everyone else.
    But then again, if the book is written for eight year olds, it may need to be spelled out.

  • Mirlo

    I guess I read the What do I know as snark because of the whole topic.

  • Mirlo

    A Wrinkle in Time
    It’s so much more peaceful and easy if everyone wants the same things!

  • Mirlo

    Don’t you get it yet? Your entire life is intended to be spent fawning over men! Just look in the Bible for examples of this: Hannah who told her husband exactly what she was and was not going to do, Ruth who left her father’s house, traveled to another country without a make protector, and got a job with strangers, Abigail who went behind her husband’s back to steal food and appease an angry outlaw, Deborah who flatly told what’s-his-face that she’d go to battle him but he wouldn’t be the hero, Jael who was the hero by lying to her husband’s friend and killing him in his sleep.
    Oh wait. I think I have the wrong list! Let’s look at women who really did fawn over men: Potiphar’s wife, Jezebel, the loud women in Proverbs…

  • Nea

    I suddenly had a flashback to an obscure LM Montgomery novel, A Tangled Web. A much older man is in love with a naive young woman… but she’s been badly hurt, so he’s going very slow and very gently with her, while she decides *of her own volition* to learn more about the world because he’s “so smart.”

    Technically, it was a man dating a girl. In reality, it was a girl becoming a woman.

  • Aimee Shulman

    The Botkins probably would have the vapors if they ever read ATW though—the female characters in it actually had agency and even dared to disagree with men sometimes. One of them even—gasp—TALKED BACK to her father.

  • Aimee Shulman

    Their answer would probably be that God hasn’t sent the right one yet. The correct answer is that their father won’t let any men get near them because he likes having them around to fawn on him too much.

  • willow

    You know, I think the thing that has surprised me most about this book is that there is very little in it about actual relationships. I know it’s supposed to be more about casual/platonic relationships, but still it reads more like a manual on How To Be The Most Eligible Girl In Your Youth Group. The way they keep announcing that they’ve talked to real men (!!!) like most of us haven’t had that opportunity or experience is kinda weird.

  • B.E. Miller

    And I also wonder about the profits from their books and their seminars. Do they keep it, or do they give it to their dad?

    I guess what I’m trying to say is that if they give it to their dad, then there’s a very good reason why they might not be married yet….

  • persephone

    I’m sure Daddy manages ALL of the household income.

  • persephone

    One of my coworkers, who’s only ever had cats, was given someone parenting advice over the phone. *facepalm*

  • B.E. Miller

    That’s kinda’ what I was thinking. And if he is getting their money, then marrying them and their money off to someone else is not something he’s really wanting to do.

  • Astrin Ymris

    Well, that’s what happens when two women who’ve never actually dated try to give dating advice. Well, technically they’re advising women in how to entice men into asking their fathers for the right to court them, but you know what I mean. ;-D

  • OH, it was blatant, blatant sarcasm because this whole load of garbage about feigning and role playing is miserable manipulation. It’s also kind of tongue in cheek. Gag

  • AuntKaylea

    I’m not a parent, but I have friends who have asked me for counsel with situations with their child/children. I tend to think it’s more because I try not to offer any unsolicited advice in any realm, and try to really listen to people..

    I think that at the end of the day it is about being invited into relationship. Everyone has relationships – just because we do not fill a particular role does not mean that we are ignorant of relationship dynamics. The big problem with the Botkins is they are consumed with roles and not relationship dynamics at all.

  • persephone

    That’s fine to be a sounding wall, but the advice the coworker was giving was heinous, especially since she had been abused physically and emotionally as a child.