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Get with the program, little lady - a rant


Burris

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I tend to find them sad – those ubiquitous 'How to Be a Better Wife' posts that appear almost every day on fundie mommy blogs.

A few such posts are up-beat and helpful, offering advice on how to spice up the comfortable, reflexive daily routines most of us take for granted.

But most Goode Wyfe posts do not assume the best. Authors expect their readers to be drawn and harried – and rather than offering hopeful advice to such women, the original posters often compound the problem with dismissive, bitter, and condescending advice.

For your consideration, I present Blessed Homemaking (blessedhomemaking.com/2011/10/sulky-wife.html), a blog/commercial venture maintained by the mysterious Mrs. Q.

Her most recent post, uploaded on October 31, deals with the 'Sulky Wife.'

When husband comes home from a hard day at work, what does he see on your face? Scowling frown, furrowed brow? Did you know this is not a pleasant thing for your husband to come home to?

Aaaaaand...BANG!

The first thing I noticed about this post is the condescending, chiding tone of it – as if Mrs. Q believes this is an appropriate way to speak to other people. There is another uncharitable assumption here as well – to wit, that whatever has upset the “sulky wife†must necessarily be trivial.

Could you try instead to speak to him joyfully, to greet him with a smile, to tell him you're happy that he's home instead of bombarding him with your own problems and how he's failed to meet your expectations?

Mrs. Q assumes, first, that most readers of this post are unhappy, specifically with their husbands, and that they have potentially unrealistic expectations of the men in their lives. (I'm not sure how Q sells ad space or books or poster prints with that attitude, but apparently fundie consumers are also masochists.)

These assumptions make me wonder about the kind of company Mrs. Q keeps – either a gaggle of gloomy gusses, which is unlikely; or a collective of 'Godly women' who believe those outside their circle are stereotypically shrill and demanding.

There is power in joyfulness.

Deep. And yet Mrs. Q decides to front-load her article not with joyful tidings, but rather with presumptuous words of bitter condescension.

She then goes on to suggest ill-treatment by wives is why men escape into video games or leave home altogether (with the unspoken implication being these men will find other women who aren't “sulky.â€)

Rather than allowing for that to happen, the good wife will...

Just love him (and respect him!) the way he is, and wait for God to do the changes.

If Mrs. Q were more honest about her beliefs, she would have written this: “Fake some love and respect, that you might complete your Biblical duty as a helpmate, and pray that God will change your husband" (or, if she were a Zsuzsanna fan, she could tell abused women to pray God will strike their husbands dead.)

Mrs. Q closes her post with this nugget of profound wisdom:

Today, can you give the gift of a joyful, thankful heart to your husband?

Turn that frown upside down! Smile! Because the sorts of problems that would cause both spouses to constantly scowl at each other can be solved simply by pretense and prayer and fresh-baked pie.

It's easy to snark on Mrs. Q, but her words are all the more troubling when one considers just how often and how many of these fundie blogs are sending the same messages:

They say all this homekeeper stuff is supposed to be a natural outgrowth of the so-called Created Order, where a subservient place is designated to women; and the acceptance of such, an indispensable prerequisite for female happiness. And yet here is the vanguard of the patrio movement, all-together, constantly haranguing female readers for being sad or sulky or discontented or pouty, or [insert insulting, dismissive term here].

The leaders of this anti-feminist movement seem to produce more books in a year than any pulp press, slapping them together with alarming speed, turning them into PDFs or even into paper-and-ink offerings, and selling, selling, selling – advertising them early, often, and everywhere; giving them away on popular blogs. They also produce and sell audio media. They plan and promote and sell tickets to conferences.

All this media aimed at girls and women – books, CDs, blogs, conferences, and gimcrack – is meant to convince them they'll be happier and freer taking up their “natural place†in the Created Order - and yet the peddlers of this nonsense scarcely believe it themselves, which is why so many people - e.g., Mrs. Q - are content to bully and frighten readers into getting with the fucking program already!

Things that come naturally, people will do as a matter of course. No one needs to be convinced through a slick media campaign that sex is good. Savvy marketers use sex to sell other stuff, but the sex itself is such that no media encouragement is needed to get people in bed together.

And yet fundies hate unauthorized sex, whether it be premarital or homosexual or even masturbatory. They sell reams of material telling people that what is natural is also of the flesh – and, in a spasm of gnostic dualism, they argue that things of the flesh are evil and that one must “die to self†to live in Christ.

Where the subjugation of women is concerned, however, “natural†is suddenly a good thing again.

In other words, the term “natural†has been cynically appropriated by patrios – people who usually oppose anything “natural†as "being of the flesh" - to shame and dehumanize women, and to justify disenfranchising them.

Those women who don't participate in the totes-natural Created Order are tarred with the same insult as directed at homosexuals, even though same-sex pairing his been observed in nature: They're all accused of being “unnatural" – perversions of an existing natural order. (To put it bluntly, and to borrow a term from Margaret Atwood, women who don't fall in line are worse than merely unnatural: They're unwomen.)

Mrs. Q's latest post is merely one attempt among many to “edify†women by belittling them. It also recognizes that women in this situation are often unhappy, despite the marketers' promises to the contrary.

But preserving the alleged Created Order - something that, if real, would not require nearly as much intervention to bring people in line - is simply more important than individual lives.

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I love you, Burris.

I think that when you accept the fact that life is life, and sometimes it can really suck, it gives you the capacity and the energy to really enjoy the very good aspects of life. Instead, people will accept nothing less than the fantasy, whether it's realistic or real or appropriate or not, and then they spin their wheels, blame someone else for the fantasy being unachievable, and/or they blame and chastise themselves. And I speak from experience, looking back on a time when I experienced a constant degree of anxiety and stress because life wasn't what I thought it should be or was supposed to be. It is what it is.

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The women who read and internalize this crap must be masochists. Where is their innate sense of self (that's a rhetorical question :) )? If somebody started talking to me in that condescending way, even back in my fundie-lite days, something would have risen up inside of me and pushed back. All this fakey-fakey happy-happy shit. What real man wants anything to do with that?

As you say, she assumes that her audience are sulky children, but the teachings she subscribes to claim that women are happiest when in the role "God ordained for them". So if the wimmens are so damn happy all the time in these patriarchal-designed roles, why all these posts, from so many of these full of crap Titus 2 bloggers "encouraging" women to put on a happy face?

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Burris wrote:

But persevering the alleged Created Order - something that, if real, would not require nearly as much intervention to bring people in line - is simply more important than individual lives.

That brings up another issue, too. If it is the Christian's mission to, among other things, help re-establish the created order, doesn't it do them well to start with reality and work toward the desired goal? Start with the problem and understand it first, being wise about what the playing field looks like and how the players behave, noting their strengths and weaknesses.

Instead, they start with an idea that doesn't relate to reality at all. How much sense does that make?

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Add me to the roster of Burris-lovers!

Here's an idea: PM your post to recently-silent Mr. Knight, as just a little food for thought.

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