The Daughters of Men.

The Daughters of Men. August 14, 2013

(TW: Misogynistic asshole fundie fathers brainwashing their daughters ahead. Survivors, proceed with your spoons out.)

Recently this video popped up on The Friendly Atheist’s blog about a pastor who has explicitly said he will be teaching his sons to be independent, but his daughters not to be independent.

No, rather than commit such a horrible sin, he will instead be the stereotype of the Angry Super-Protective Southern Daddy guarding his daughters’ virtue till the day he hands them over to their new owners husbands. He will “punch” any suitors they introduce him to that he does not like because he’s a big tough guy and violence is always an answer for him. He will joyously and grimly ensure his daughters have no job skills because he does not approve of women working outside the home at all. They will be dependent on him, utterly and completely, for everything they get until the day they are married, at which point they will be equally dependent on their owners husbands, like pets are on their owners, for the rest of their lives.

Gregg shorthand
Gregg shorthand (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hearing about this awful father, I could not help but think about my own mother, who was taught the same sorts of things by her ultra-Catholic parents, but who had the negligible advantage of having parents who had lived through the Great Depression and so knew how ridiculously stupid it is to sabotage any child to the point where he or she simply can’t earn a living if needed. They knew that it’s nice to have the Mayberry ideal of a stay-at-home wife and mother and a working father, but the reality is so very different for most people. My mother learned to type, write Gregg shorthand, file, and all those other office skills. And she insisted that I learn the same sorts of skills (minus the Gregg, though I did learn a little of it just because I thought it was really neat-looking as a kid).

I meant it when I said she insisted, by the way. It horrified her that a woman might not have the means to support herself in case of emergency. She all but demanded I know how to earn my own living just in case it ever came up.

She knew how badly the script can go wrong. Lacking any sex education and with it the means to control her fertility, she’d gotten knocked up by the first man she slept with (who’d told her that virgins can’t get pregnant their first time having sex–he was just as ignorant as she was), and her parents forced her to get married to the babydaddy as soon as they found out she was pregnant. The marriage lasted about five miserable, excruciating years–five years of him cheating on her constantly and passing STDs to her, ignoring his kids (I’ve got an impressive scar on my chin still from all the times I hit it doing stupid kid stuff while he was supposed to be watching me), and being a general dickwidget until she kicked him out on his ear. Then she was a young mother by herself with two small children, and she was very grateful indeed that her own mother had forced her to learn to make her own living.

But this pastor’s daughters won’t have that ability, will they? How will they leave an abusive husband? What will they do if their husband loses his job or can’t make a living to support all of the kids these women will be popping out because they don’t have control over their own fertility and reproduction?

He has an answer to that question, of course (bolding mine):

And I hope that he doesn’t fail in his responsibility to provide and send them off to work or something, but you know what, at that point, it’s none of my business. At that point, it’s not my responsibility. But you know what? When I pass off my daughters unto their husband, I’m gonna be able to guarantee that they’re a virgin because I’m gonna make it to where it’s not even humanly possible.

So his answer to these pressing concerns I’ve voiced is this: He doesn’t care.

His sole parental responsibility to his daughters’ future is making sure they are “pure” on their wedding nights by controlling and dominating them so completely and utterly that he thinks there’ll be no way they could possibly find lovers to “ruin” themselves with. Because, yanno, girls in repressive, misogynistic, ultra-religious families and societies never, ever find lovers or discover opportunities to sneak off to see them. Because all through history, women have always been successfully controlled by their male owners. Because rapists, molesters, and abusers have never fooled churches into thinking they’re good Christians or found ways to prey upon such sheltered girls and women.

The purity myth is right here in all its disgusting glory to behold, folks. This is what happens when ideology matters more than one’s own children’s happiness and well-being. This man’s daughters’ value lies between their legs, in their crotches, and no further. They are breeders, nothing more, and they can be devalued instantly and forever by one simple act, even if it is non-consensual. So his entire focus is stopping them from that one act. Their bodies are shameful things that must be covered; their sexuality is something that can devalue their very beings if expressed in unapproved ways; their independence is a threat to the very cohesion of their future families–and indeed to the very foundation of their father’s religion. His solution is to brutally suppress, control, and blindfold them.

My mother is the living embodiment of all that can go wrong with the Mayberry ideal, as am I, and she wasn’t even taught such toxic nonsense as this pastor says he’s going to teach his poor daughters. She did not refuse to prepare me adequately for the real world as this pastor is doing to his daughters. That man’s daughters are going to be taught a myth, and that myth is going to hurt them, and it’ll be completely and totally his fault that they will be hurt. Their future failure and pain is his fault and his responsibility. And it is not loving or Christian of him to set them up for failure this way, then to declare that he literally doesn’t care in the least if what he teaches them sets them up for failure. He declares that it will be all their fault somehow for not following the script he’s set up for them, and he abdicates all responsibility for their well-being once he’s ensured that his brood mares are unsullied for their next owner.

Truly, I tell you this: I’ve read ponygirl smutfic that is more respectful of women than what this man says in this video about his own flesh and blood.

The myth he is teaching his daughters is the Rape Myth itself: that if they “behave,” if they act the way he tells them to act, that their lives will turn out well. If they dress modestly, they will be preserved from sexual attacks. If they live in demure submission, they will get godly husbands who will lead them in proper Christian living and earn a good living for them all. If they stay at home, they will raise good children who will in turn go off to have their own Christian families. It’s a lovely myth if you like that kind of thing and don’t think too hard about what he’s teaching them about their bodies and their value as people. Too bad that myth is totally untrue.

Women get raped and abused regardless of what they’re wearing or how they’re acting. Husbands might not show up at all for some women, and if they do, Jesus is definitely not going to stop them from being abusive or cruel to their families (look up domestic violence stats in Christian-heavy states, if you don’t believe me). Christians divorce just like anybody else in any other religion, maybe even more often depending on what study you’re looking at. And Christian men lose their jobs or die early just like anybody else might. Oh, and about 20% of women in the US at least never have children and gay men and women get born to straight couples all the time, so those grandkids may never appear, and of the ones who do materialize, a clear majority of Christian kids now “disengage” from religion by the time they’re adults, so that happy Christian facade in this pastor’s head may not actually happen in reality anyway for his daughters no matter how “good” they try to be. Their futures rest in the truth of the Christian purity myth, and that is why they are almost certain to find nothing but heartache there. And once they do, they will be blamed for their own failure because if something goes wrong, then the problem is either the message or them, and clearly the message can’t be the problem, right? So obviously they messed up the message somehow. See how easy that bit of victim-blaming is?

The one saving grace about knowing this man is deliberately going to mislead his children and abuse them in the name of his god is knowing that when someone tries to control another person that thoroughly, the risk of rebellion becomes all the more pressing. I know that the main reason this pastor’s misogyny is becoming so unbearably obvious is because, simply put, women are gaining ground in the fight for equality, so he is clamping down all the harder on his daughters–just like you see in any domestic violence situation, he is clinging harder for control and dominance as his victims start to gather themselves for their escape. In that, he mirrors the clutching grasp of his entire religion on an increasingly secular society.

The tragedy for him is that his clawing for dominance will not, in all likelihood, work. These young women are very likely going to see the freedom their peers enjoy and wonder why their religion preaches such a huge and obvious double standard–and why a god who loves them and cares about justice and mercy would ever demand that half the human race live such a repressed and shame-filled life. Maybe they’ll wonder why it is that their father can be so blithe about their fate when he’s in no danger whatsoever of facing a life like theirs. Maybe they’ll even notice how markedly different the Mayberry fantasy he pushed on them is from the reality they will live, and maybe they’ll wonder why he didn’t prepare them for reality.

I just hope they figure out how poorly he raised them before they decide to go for the “that’ll show Daddy” world record (as someone on that Friendly Atheist comment page put it so well!), like so many young women raised in such repressive environments do when they finally get a tiny bit of freedom. Though I have to say that even if they do decide to go that route, at least it’ll be their own decision. I can’t fault them for acting out or judge them for going a little nuts once they’ve bolted over the traces. I did much the same things when I escaped Biff and the Pentecostal church.

Sometimes going a little crazy and doing outrageous things is the price that must be paid for freedom.

I say the price is always worth it. But no young woman should ever be put in a situation where she must buy her freedom so dearly, and no young woman should ever face a situation where she must rebel so much against someone who should have had her back all those years but who was instead part of the vast engine that attempted to control her, disenfranchise her, and nullify her human dignity. That is yet another cruel dilemma that toxic Christianity sets up. My guess is that the expectation will be that the dilemma is so scary to contemplate that Christians will shy away from it well before it becomes an issue, but that’s not what’s happening in society–surprise! Young people are confronting those cruel dilemmas and facing them head-on–and they are discovering that if Christianity wants to set the equation up that way to play it hard, then sure, they can play it hard too.

I know that toxic Christianity is in its death throes and could not be happier to see anything die, but the sheer human price of the suffering its leaders and adherents are inflicting on innocent hearts and minds as their way of life becomes increasingly irrelevant makes me grieve. Still, we wounded women who are the casualties and pawns of the Christianist Culture Wars will get up like we always do, and we will keep marching forward with our male allies–because we will be having our own daughters in time, and we must make sure they are adequately prepared for the real world in all its flawed glory.

It would be a supreme cruelty to make our children think the world looks like this Christian pastor thinks it does, or to teach our daughters to hate their bodies, or to devalue themselves as people in any way, or to demand they kowtow to an ideal that didn’t actually even exist in the past except in fuzzy-wuzzy Christian fantasies–and moreover only for a very select and narrow subset of the population (white, upper-middle-class, straight, cis, able-bodied, neurotypical, and, obviously, Christian).

I could never be that cruel, especially not to my own family, especially not to a child. That kind of cruelty takes zealotry, and zealotry doesn’t care about kindness, love, or the truth. Zealotry happily crushes even sweet, innocent little children underfoot in its rampaging quest for dominance and control. What a sad world, when a man who leads a church dedicated to the Lord of Love and Prince of Peace loses sight of something as integral to his own religion as being kind and loving to children.

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