by Mel cross posted from her blog When Cows and Kids Collide
Editor’s note: If you get a chance be sure to check out Mel’s blog and her birth story. It’s a perfect illustration why home birth with an unlicensed midwife isn’t for everyone. Had Mel been following conventional Quiverfull birth ideas likely she and her precious son Jack would not have survived. She’s posted up some extremely cute photos of her son too. Congratulations Mel and family!
Quoted text in blue.
Oh, Botkin Sisters. I haven’t missed you at all. But we do have to finish this book before I ceremonially burn my copy, so here we go.
Most CP/QF female bloggers stick to a healthy dose of slut-shaming to justify picking on the looks of other women. For Anna Sofia and Elizabeth, however, that’s too one-dimensional.
Join me as we venture into their shallow and petty logic.
“We were still in our hooded sweatshirt and baggy-jeans days when we first discovered this facet of biblical femininity, and it was (as you can imagine) revolutionary to us. We were clothing ourselves to communicate what we wanted to be (invisible, and totally above thinking about clothes). We didn’t realize that a woman’s appearance, countenance, speech, and attitude don’t just communicate who she is – it says something to the world about who her husband or father is. Whether intentionally or not, we don’t just communicate our identity – we communicate theirs too.” (pg. 220)
- The Botkin Sisters cannot possibly live in the same universe I do let alone the same society. I have never looked at another woman’s clothing and made assumptions about her husband or father.
- In all fairness, neither did they until sometime in their teenage years. One of two things happened. Either the sisters decided that they were sick of looking severely frumpy and created a “Biblical” reason that changed their father’s parents’ viewpoint or their father told them to start dressing up more for “Biblical” reasons like landing more media coverage. (After all, the income brought in by the Sisters’ initial book and ongoing lectures has to be a decent amount of the family income.)
- I find it depressing that both of the Sisters were dressing to disappear. That’s not a good sign about how they were treated by their parents.
“Judge a man not by his clothes,” wrote Thomas Dewar, “but by his wife’s clothes.” Men have always understood that a good wife is a glory to her husband in her whole image – her bearing, deportment, conduct, personality, and appearance. A well-put-together wife is not just something to make her husband think “Ooh, shiny!” every day; her excellence in presentation is an asset to him in his mission (pg. 221).
- I had no idea who Thomas Dewar was so I hit the interwebs. He’s the distiller who created Dewar’s whiskey. Did the Botkin Sis who wrote this section know that? Did their proof-reading parent(s)? Interestingly, he never married which makes the use of that quote even more bizarre.
- The section includes a list of five attributes: bearing, deportment, appearance, conduct and personality. First, this list sounds like it was taken from a Victorian manual for young women. Second, the Botkin Sisters are very slim on details of how “bearing” will be an asset to a man’s dominion-based mission let alone “deportment” or “appearance”.
- I feel like there was a joke in the sentence about “Ooh, shiny!” that missed landing….
“How could we write a book about relationships with boys without answering the big question: ” So, are looks important to guys?” If we said, “why, no, a good young man will not lower his mind to note such external things as a girl’s clothing, weight, hygiene, countenance, or general appearance” we would be lying. And if we wanted guys to be too “heavenly minded” to take factors like that into account, we will be making ourselves “holier than God.” God is not blind to the beauty He creates, and he didn’t create man, in His image, to be blind to it either.
That said, men judge beauty differently the women do. Good men are less in tune to the size of eyes or shape of nose, and more in tune to what our appearance tells them about our hearts. They are taking cues on our inner condition from outward personal care. If it makes us feel any better, it generally is who we are on the inside that they are evaluating. They will see past a girl’s slovenliness, to see poorly developed taste or lack of respect for others. They will look past a girl’s gross obesity, to see an inner laziness and lack of discipline. And they often will see past the girl’s a modest clothing and ostentatious makeup, to see in her vanity, sensuality, and shallowness. (The kind of guys who wouldn’t see sensuality and vanity as problems are the kind we shouldn’t want to marry anyway.)” (pgs 221-222)
- I find it fascinating to see how the Botkin Sisters construct lists.
- Notice that “clothing” leads the list of “external thingies that guys care a lot about in women”. That’s mind-boggling since many guys are vaguely clueless about women’s clothing. Now women, on the other hand, are socialized to notice absurd amounts of detail about other women’s clothing.
- This book’s lack of parallel construction kills me. The list has four attributes of general appearance followed by “general appearance”. Who edited this?
- I need a citation of some kind for the new idea that men are better at sussing out personality characteristics from looks than women are. People are pretty good at working out traits about socio-economic status and clique membership from external appearances, but attaching personality traits is fraught with potential miscues.
- “Slovenly” means messy or untidy. I guess I can see how it could be used to show a lack of respect for others, but I can’t make the connection between poor taste and being slovenly.
- See, you can totally fat-shame as long as you are certain that obesity is caused by laziness and a lack of discipline.
- There is a deep irony here.
- This whole section is allegedly about what a man wants in his wife – but it is written in a way that shows a level of catty pettiness that is extremely unattractive.
- I’m pretty certain Elizabeth and Anna Sophia would view me as being slovenly, obese and immodest. I’m also caring, generous, educated, skilled, hard-working, funny and loving.
- Net outcome: This slovenly, fat, man-tempter is married and a new mother while two slender, stylish, modest women are waiting for husbands to appear. Perhaps the Sisters are too focused on the wrong wifely characteristics….
“While a good man should never choose a wife based solely on her posture, makeup, shoes, hair, expressions, tone of voice, weight, and people skills, he absolutely will choose a wife based on her overall outlook, spirit, personal taste, attitude towards others, view of herself, and character. A good man will see past a girl’s dignified bearing, joyful and loving countenance, tasteful attire, thoughtful eyes, peaceful composure, or gentle and quiet manner – to see strength and dignity, love and joy, aesthetic discernment (good taste), thoughtfulness, peace, and a gentle and quiet spirit. And these are all things are good man would want on his crown, at his side, and in his home” (pgs 222-223).
- For anyone who is reading this, please do not choose a spouse based AT ALL on their posture, makeup, shoes, hair, expression, tone of voice, OR weight. I promise you – all of those things can and will change over the course of a marriage.
- Of the ~40 characteristics men (allegedly) want in wives:
- 38% are shallow external characteristics like “posture”, “shoes”, “personal taste” or my favorite “thoughtful eyes”.
- 30% are personality characteristics like “spirit”, “attitude towards others” and “strength”.
- 5% are skills – “people skills” and “aesthetic discernment”. (The fact that the words “good taste” are included in case people can’t figure out what aesthetic discernment means makes me laugh every time….)
- Oddly enough, “attraction” and “friendship” are missing from the list along with “the ability to write coherently” and “employable”.
- I find reading this paragraph pathetic.
- Anna Sofia and Elizabeth wrote this section as a hymn of praise to their stellar attributes as future wives. They were in their early and mid-twenties and had been raised on the sole expectation that they would marry young and have large families. Clearly, both young women believed that they were most eligible unmarried women ever known to man and expected to be married after impeccable courtships soon.
- Instead, the Botkin Sisters have remained unmarried over the last 5 years. Anna Sofia is 31; Elizabeth is 28 or 29 years old. Have their views on what makes an exceptional wife changed? Not particularly. In the last* topical blog post from 2015, Elizabeth explains in detail why Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge (whom she references as “Kate Middleton….sigh) has to focus deeply on her looks and applies that weakly to why Christian girls must do the same.
- Hint from an older married woman to the Botkin Sisters: Wearing a stylish, appropriate suit to an interview makes a good first impression, but you won’t get the job if your strongest qualification is your suit. Dating is the same – a shiny exterior makes a good first impression but won’t lead to a long-term relationship if your personality is repellent.
I have a few more thoughts to finish this series, but I think I’ll save those for another post.
*Oh, Lord. They are printing a “new edition” of “It’s Not That Complicated” with 20 new pages. But don’t worry, they are releasing most of the 20 pages on their blog. I’m willing to bet that the 20 pages are mostly cribbed notes from their released podcasts. I base that on the fact that their released podcasts are mostly entire chunks of the book read in a slightly different order.
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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