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"Return of the Daughters" review


Marian the Librarian

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In response to the many questions FJ-ers have asked recently about the Botkin-produced DVD Return of the Daughters, I've decided to check out a library copy, and take a big one for the team! I'm breaking this down into sections, for ease of posting and reading...and for reality breaks with weekend house guests.

The DVD was released in 2007 - I will say that it's really interesting to go back six years, in light of the current Doug Phillips scandal, and see how people have changed. DP himself expounds at great length about the importance of family in one of the disk's extras...more on that soon.

We open with Anna-Sofia and Elizabeth, very carefully made-up and coiffed, looking quite lovely, and staring into the camera with deer-caught-in-the-headlights gazes. The word "Stepford" has been used to describe them in the past, and it absolutely fits.

Opening quote: “Wise women can build up nations, but foolish women can tear nations down.†It all starts with what women do in the home. America’s legacy of militant feminism has made girls confused about how to be women. "Prolonged singleness is a byproduct of feminism" (insert large pile of irony here). What is a girl supposed to do with her single years? The answer is not public acclaim, college degrees, and big paychecks. Girls should stay at home, because the Bible is God’s blueprint for life. There are several scenes of unhappy-looking young women in presumed college campus settings. "Chestal regions" (all thanks to Dana Carvey as the Church Lady) have been pixilated, so that no curves can be detected under tank tops and T-shirts. No viewers will be defrauded as a result of watching this DVD!

The Botkins traveled across the US for 2 years to meet girls living in their fathers' homes until marriage.

Katie Valenti:

Katie Valenti is well-established in the business world, because she works for her father, Jay, in his home construction business. Katie is the eldest, and Jay credits her with some of his success. She knows her father's tastes well, and makes many design choices for him. She loves working for her dad, he is the greatest man in her life. This is a better use of her youth, as it is helping to prepare her to be a better helpmeet for her future husband, and learn how to submit to a man. Jay says a woman’s place is in the home (although of course his daughters can leave the house to run errands, etc.) His daughters will be helpers to their husbands; working for dad=being obedient to the lord. "Why sacrifice my daughter to the world when I can hang on to her?"

Godly daughters are corner pillars, supporting and beautifying. Mom Kay also wants her daughters to adhere to this model. Katie says that submission was not easy at first, but she is now under the protection of her father. Being away at school showed her how her family relationships were bad, how they were attached to things of this world - materialism, feminism, autonomy. Sister Molly says all the sisters are now best friends. She loves living at home, knowing she’s safe every night. Their home is always full of visitors, which is great, because dad wants to evangelize. Before the family's conversion, they had 9 televisions, and there was yelling and fighting. Now the TVs are off, and the daughters sing. Several slow-panning shots of lots of Italian food being cooked. Home is now peaceful and serene, because Jesus.

(Throughout the movie, lots and lots of footage is played in slow motion; the background music never ceases, and sounds like a cross between John Williams and a Hallmark special.)

Jasmine Baucham:

Jasmine Baucham, age 17, always wanted to use her gifts to change the world, and dreamed of being a screenwriter, going to NYU, getting a scholarship, being successful. She is the eldest of the Baucham children. Jasmine and dad Voddie have been studying the roles of dads and daughters, and have reevaluated those ambitions. Voddie says the Bible commands women to be submissive. Eve has the desire for her husband’s position; this points out her fallen nature, which is against what God ordained. To foster such ambition in a daughter is to flirt with what brought Eve down, and we must follow the Biblical pattern. Jasmine is now joining the family to fulfill their vision. She has more emotional security, because she is operating from a more Biblical world view. Her gifts and abilities are being developed while serving her father. (Insert more cooking scenes here.) Condoleezza Rice is a hero because she commits and submits herself to George Bush. This is admired, but for Jasmine to do so with her dad calls her into question in the world's eyes.

Anna-Sofia: the creation account in Genesis 2 says woman is created to be helpful to man. The family trains boys and girls to be ready for dominion-driven marriage.

Jasmine: "I love being a research assistant for my daddy." Voddie says in passing that he's interested in learning more about socialism, so she reads the entire Communist Manifesto. Voddie says the work she’s doing is equivalent to a master’s degree program. Voddie is doing this so Jasmine is fully prepared to be a Proverbs 31 woman when he passes her over to a man. Jasmine discusses the issue of race: being a Black female living in the US has affected her view of her role in the household. There is the stigma of being a double minority (Black and female), and feeling "I have to prove myself" whenever walking into a room. She is called to serve her father, then her husband. Some family members say she's the smart one, she could have taken up the torch, but Jasmine says it's not her job to fight the race battles. She wants to be seen as a faithful daughter, rather than prove that a double minority can make it.

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I've always felt sorry for Jasmine Baucham. Anna Sophia and Elizabeth seem like they are only capable of parroting what other people say, but Jasmine seems like she can think and communicate on a much higher level. It seems like AS and E are comfortable with their lives as VF royalty, but Jasmine seems like she is being held back by family pressures. She has also probably been told over and over again how scary the world is for black women, with the implication that she could never make it on her own so she might as well hang around with Voddie forever.

Also I don't understand the statement being female and black as being a "double minority." Aren't females 50% of the human population, why would being female mean belonging to a minority group?

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Okay, I'm drawing a blank...who did Katie Valenti marry and how many blessings does she have now? I know it's buried in the Dougie thread somewhere, but I'm inclined to dig through that muck any more than I have to.

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Okay, I'm drawing a blank...who did Katie Valenti marry and how many blessings does she have now? I know it's buried in the Dougie thread somewhere, but I'm inclined to dig through that muck any more than I have to.

Phillip Bradrick

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I don't understand why Jasmine says Condoleeza Rice is a good role model. It seems like Rice would be a terrible role model for a SAHD because she's single, has a PHD from a real school, hangs out with men, talks about sports, and was involved in matters of politics and war, which are traditionally men's roles. Jasmine says Rice is "submissive" to GWB, but by this logic, wouldn't Colin Powell, Paul Wolfowitz, Donald Rumsfeld and all the other men in the former Bush cabinet be "submissive" too? Were the men of the Bush II cabinet spiritually gay married to their "headship" GWB? Help, this DVD is giving me mixed messages!

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Also I don't understand the statement being female and black as being a "double minority." Aren't females 50% of the human population, why would being female mean belonging to a minority group?

In a sociological sense, a minority is an oppressed group. Although women are the numerical majority planetwide, they have historically (as well as contemporarily) been oppressed by men\patriarchal society\norms. So, women are a minority group.

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Wasn't Hero and her father interviewed for this movie?

Yes. Hero appears in this trailer clip, speaking in the last 10 seconds or so:

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In a sociological sense, a minority is an oppressed group. Although women are the numerical majority planetwide, they have historically (as well as contemporarily) been oppressed by men\patriarchal society\norms. So, women are a minority group.

Thank you for the explanation. Where I am from, I often hear the phrase "women and minorities" so I've always thought that the two were separate.

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Thank you, Marian! Can't wait for the rest.

Didn't Jasmine eventually start working outside the home somewhere? Teaching, I think?

Yeah she teaches, I think at a private school.

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Back for Part 2 - sorry for the delay, real life intervened!

Melissa Keen:

Melissa Keen is described as “joyfully and deliberately at home.†Father Tom Keen is a long-distance truck driver, and while he doesn't have a workplace per se where his daughters can help out, Dad still wants to see them be entrepreneurial. We then see several scenes of dress forms, sewing, etc. But Melissa’s real claim to fame is organizing Vision Forum’s annual father-daughter retreats. She books the Callaway Gardens venue, plans the food and events, decorates. There are lots of slow-motion father-daughter retreat scenes. The father-daughter relationship is pivotal; Dad says she has basically taken on the role of secretary.

(This was a much shorter segment - they are not all the same length.)

Lourdes Torres:

In the first scene, Lourdes is loading a gun and shooting it during target practice. She lives in a mobile home in Hondo, TX with her parents and brother. Her father Alfredo is originally from Puerto Rico, and works a day job as a janitor. We see Lourdes helping her dad build something with a table saw. Again, there is no workplace where she can help her dad, but his vision for her is to be a servant. There are several scenes filmed outside the Boerne Christian Assembly church, either pre- or post-service; Lourdes is greeting people, chatting, and holding babies. The Torres family has the availability and flexibility to help others. Mexico is just a few hours away; she describes it as a hurting nation, and a spiritual desert. Per her brother Andrew, the Torres family goes there to help build homes in the colonias. There are many shots depicting the poverty - dirty kids, poor homes - and, again, two women walking on the street whose upper halves have been pixilated, presumably for modesty. Lourdes feels it is important for the Mexican girls to see her working with her family. It is very obvious, in every scene with children, that she loves kids. She describes the Mexican children as joyful. Stay-at-home daughters are described as the secret weapon of the church. Lourdes cares for the sick, visits the needy, and wants to encourage the young ladies in the church and exhort them to serve their families. She states that, while she is not married, she doesn’t call herself "single," because she is part of a family unit. Her life is full of purpose; she is unmarried, but serving God and her father.

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Jasmine: "I love being a research assistant for my daddy." Voddie says in passing that he's interested in learning more about socialism, so she reads the entire Communist Manifesto. Voddie says the work she’s doing is equivalent to a master’s degree program.

Fundies inflate shit.

Just like housework isn't a PhD program, reading books isn't a Master's degree program. (Especially not the C-M, which I read when I was 15 and managed to comprehend - it's fairly simple and fairly short). I do research at work, it's finding stuff out, usually with the help of Google and a few things I have on my computer. That is not Master's level research - it's googling stuff on the Net. I feel a strong doubt that Jasmine Baucham is doing much more than that.

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Marian, a million thanks for enduring this for us!

Can you tell us whether there's any mention of these girls' mothers at all? One of the things that squicks me out the most about Christian™ acknowledge that all-important "helpmeet" God supposedly created Just For Them. No, a woman who is getting on in years (and is no longer the pretty young thing they married) is unfit to be Dominionist arm candy. Adultery is frowned upon, so (attractive) young adult daughters are pressed into service.

As a woman in my 60s, I know how it feels to be considered invisible. It's an insidious form of discrimination--destructive because it's so damn subtle.

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As a woman in my 60s, I know how it feels to be considered invisible. It's an insidious form of discrimination--destructive because it's so damn subtle.

I'm 60. I am a healthcare professional with a position of responsibility over other healthcare professionals.

About a month ago, I was massively shocked when my closest coworker (same level position) told me, during a discussion in which she and I had differing opinions, that my opinion did not count and should not be considered because I "have only 5 more years to work" and she has many more than that left to work, therefore her opinion is the one that counts, and mine does not.

Fortunately, our boss has a different opinion, and the boss's opinion "wins". Nevertheless, I cannot even say how shocked - and disheartened - I was to hear that statement. It's like, is this what my coworker really thinks of me?

I can assure everyone that age discrimination is real and does happen - frequently.

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Marian, a million thanks for enduring this for us!

Can you tell us whether there's any mention of these girls' mothers at all? One of the things that squicks me out the most about Christian™ acknowledge that all-important "helpmeet" God supposedly created Just For Them. No, a woman who is getting on in years (and is no longer the pretty young thing they married) is unfit to be Dominionist arm candy. Adultery is frowned upon, so (attractive) young adult daughters are pressed into service.

As a woman in my 60s, I know how it feels to be considered invisible. It's an insidious form of discrimination--destructive because it's so damn subtle.

Mothers make only the briefest of appearances. Kay Valenti makes a statement in support of the stay-at-home-daughter movement; Deborah Brown is shown for a hot second talking about Peter and Kelly's wedding day (coming up in the next segment). Other than that, it's all about the fathers, and the daughters serving their fathers' vision.

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Back for Part 3. This is the segment about Kelly Brown, and her engagement and marriage to Peter Bradrick - it's much longer than the others, and several people are interviewed in a choppy, back-and-forth style, so for clarity I'm identifying each speaker as we go.

Botkinettes: Peter and Kelly Bradrick’s courtship was not typical; the photo of their wedding-day first kiss was circulated worldwide (we hear applause in the background).

Kelly: says she never dated, and was content to wait for her leader - someone to whom she could be a helpmeet, and who could be used in her life as a sanctification tool. She was raised by a dad (Scott Brown) who wasn’t perfect, but going places, and she prayed for a husband who would be like that.

Botkinettes: Peter first privately expressed his interest in Kelly to her father. There followed a months-long evaluation process, of which Kelly had no knowledge. Scott conducted a series of interviews with Peter, and asked him to write many “theological papers.†Finally, Scott OK’d the courtship, which he defined as a season of getting to know one another - 5 months of "guarded interaction."

Kelly: She is often asked “Did your daddy pick your husband?†She says the choice was made together, but ultimately God did the choosing. The big indicator that Peter was the one was the blessing they received from her parents. Peter was the fulfillment of all her prayers.

Scott: giving Kelly away to Peter was a great joy, and he felt no trepidation.

Deborah Brown: This (the wedding) was the happy day for which we had prepared Kelly.

We then see slow-motion scenes of Kelly outside the Boerne Christian Assembly church, 9 months pregnant.

Kelly: Transitioning from life at home to married life was easy.

Peter: Finds it offensive if anyone questions the concept of Biblical womanhood, and says that Kelly prepared for marriage by studying under her parents. The Brown house is like a revolving door (i.e. much hospitality), and Kelly got a PhD education in all the specific skills she would some day be employing, rather than getting something like a nursing degree she might later have to shelve.

Kelly: She carried her parents’ checkbook, used their credit card, paid the bills, planned menus, did book work for her father, and learned how to run a household.

Peter: He saw a young lady serious about preparing for her future, not spending her days waiting for Prince Charming.

Scott: He didn’t want Kelly to think that life would be perfect, or that perfect manhood exists. He wanted her to know she was marrying a sinner, an imperfect man, who could do amazing things despite his weaknesses. Daughters follow their fathers first, then their husbands.

Kelly: Finding a husband was a joint effort with her dad.

Peter: Says that young men are looking for godly young women, and talks about daughters spending their days in their father’s household as virgins, focusing on God. There is an army of girls staying at home, not following the world’s cheap vision of femininity. These are new recruits, a new generation of powerful and influential godly women, and the future is bright with hope. “The hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world.â€

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I've always felt sorry for Jasmine Baucham. Anna Sophia and Elizabeth seem like they are only capable of parroting what other people say, but Jasmine seems like she can think and communicate on a much higher level. It seems like AS and E are comfortable with their lives as VF royalty, but Jasmine seems like she is being held back by family pressures. She has also probably been told over and over again how scary the world is for black women, with the implication that she could never make it on her own so she might as well hang around with Voddie forever.

Also I don't understand the statement being female and black as being a "double minority." Aren't females 50% of the human population, why would being female mean belonging to a minority group?

Depending on what you're measuring, "minority" can mean different things. If you're talking about a numbers, yes, women make up approximately 50% of the population. However, they are a political, economical and often social minority in that they wield less power.

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Fantastic work, Marian! Thank you! :clap: :clap: :clap:

I got a copy of Return off Ebay a year or two ago & watched it at that time. Will have to fire up that DVD again - I'd forgotten the odious combination of wacked fundiedom + full-of-themselves while on camera, especially during the Peter 'n Kelly story.

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Kelly: says she never dated, and was content to wait for her leader - someone to whom she could be a helpmeet, and who could be used in her life as a sanctification tool. She was raised by a dad (Scott Brown) who wasn’t perfect, but going places, and she prayed for a husband who would be like that.

Are the words she used, because if so, that's awesome.

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Part 4:

The film then segues to more commentary from Scott Brown and Voddie Baucham, Jennie Chancey, and finally Geoff Botkin (whose hand is, obviously, all over the entire enterprise):

Botkinettes: These families have discovered the liberty within Biblical principles, but families don’t all need to be alike.

Scott Brown: A girl staying at home is a disaster if her father doesn’t have a vision, but it’s great if he does. Home can be the most exciting place in world (extra-sprightly music here).

Jennie Chancey: (She is introduced as "a young mother of seven.") Daughters should make more of their gifts; they should be able to start a home business from scratch. She is following with interest the ways in which single women are returning to their families. Regarding giftedness in daughters - parents say that to keep their gifted daughters at home would be criminal. Jennie responds that putting one's daughter in "an institution" isn’t the only way to develop their gifts.

Voddie Baucham: After Jasmine's homeschooling was completed, he was asked "Where is she going to college?" The culture believes in the model of children living 17-18 years at home, then letting them go, as they have to become autonomous. This results in a dangerous and detrimental epidemic of unprotected women in our culture, and leads to promiscuity, failed marriages, mistreatment and abuse of women. Voddie is all about protection; he won’t send his daughter out among the wolves. Fathers are stewards of their daughters’ lives and minds. Daughters have gifts; God has given those gifts to families and communities. Everything in our culture is about individualism (bad); individualism run amok has caused a shift in our culture, when it should be all about the family (good).

Jennie Chancey: She gets letters from women who say "I can’t boil water, my mom was a feminist, I don’t know how to raise kids or cook, college didn’t teach me this, what am I supposed to do?" (More shots of unhappy, sour-faced women in college settings.)

Voddie Baucham: The home can provide access to a college-level education. We are addicted to schooling, but ignorant of education. Jasmine is better educated now at age 16 than Voddie was after he got out of college, never mind that he has "more degrees than a thermometer."

Jennie Chancey: Homeschooled girls are more productive. During Jennie's first week in college, in a freshman orientation class, the female students were asked what they wanted to do after graduation. Responses included doctor, lawyer; when Jennie said mother and homemaker, the other women scoffed and made her feel different and ostracized. Four years on a college campus almost destroyed her vision of a productive home life.

Voddie Baucham: His responsibility toward his daughter leads up to entrusting her to a man.

Botkinettes: this way of life seems radical, but it’s not new; it represents family life over 6 millennia. It is our modern culture that is the aberration. Their father, Geoff Botkin, believes fathers must be involved in the reformation process.

And, cue Geoff:

Geoff Botkin: For three generations, American fathers have been unusually negligent due to their denial of the faith, which is destructive of individual families and civilization. It weakens the doctrine of the family: the multi-generational, increasingly mature family unit led by dads who lead. Dads must put good doctrine into practice, and show their families what and how to believe. If fathers fail, it’s a double tragedy. Every culture in the world needs to ask what theological doctrines fathers are teaching their families. In America, by default and by cowardice (Geoff's emphasis. He is big on this word, see his NCFIC holy hip-hop commentary), fathers have been teaching the doctrines of government patriarchy: the government should be the leading patriarch of society, while dads should become more compliant, less masculine, more blindly submissive to the state, and keep the church culturally impotent and their families culturally powerless. This is the theology passive dads are inadvertently teaching their kids every day in America. The traditionally Christian family and culture are foreign concepts and uncomfortable ideas. Viewers of this documentary may not know what to think about the families they've just seen, and may be offended by functional Biblical homes.

Anna-Sofia: When daughters are trained and given something to do in functional Biblical homes, they become a more dynamic part of the family.

Geoff Botkin: Daughters respond to a big vision of family and cultural reformation; they see a purpose in life, and the family makes sense. The function of the family is to make disciples of all nations. Fathers should love and train their daughters. Daughters should ask their dads to tell them more about what is important; what else can they do to extend the faith to many future generations; help them get ready for the calling of real womanhood; identify a real man and leader, a husband just like you (dad) who understands leadership, who knows what it means to lay down his life for me, and lead sacrificially and patriarchally. There are fathers and daughters who have this kind of relationship, and young men out there who are very intrigued by this, for the right reasons.

Botkinettes conclude: We know some daughters viewing this film feel despair, because their families are firmly conformed to this world. The world is transitioning from a fiercely anti-Biblical society to a more Biblical society. We are trying to rebuild on the ruins. Not every girl gets to enjoy the kind of family life they’re showing in this film. Women returning to God’s law are going to change history for the better.

(We end with a picture of a newborn: "Just days after our interview, Kelly Bradrick gave birth to a son. They named him Triumph." Musical crescendo.)

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