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Patriarchy Gone Wrong


kpmom

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This is a post from a Christian Homeschooling forum that I lurk on.

This poor woman (MicheleB) has been living in hell the last few years, and probably longer, with a husband who does not provide for his family.

Their house is unlivable, and they have had to live in their freezing barn (he is a farmer). He is nasty to her and mocks her in front of the kids. Apparently there is a way for him to clear up their financial situation (sell some cows or some land, I believe), but he will not.

His church's answer to her was (surprise, surprise) submit more. Apparently they are very familiar with their situation, but will not discipline him.

The situation is so bad even the very conservative Christian women on that board are advising her to get away from him, and even using the D(ivorce) word.

At the end of the post, MicheleB has written a very poignant post about how she realizes many Christian women are probably stuck in a situation like hers, with no place to go.

Very sad, and, unfortunately, probably not unusual.

chfweb.net/index.php?t=msg&th=75219&start=0&S=64a79dc368274417acaf6ec9cae9f847

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I can't believe someone suggested she and her children only "need" one meal a day. I don't say this often, but what a bitch.

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That Tonja - now she seems like a nice gal, what with her assuming the worst about the OP and then offering a boatload of guilt-tripping and condescending "advice" such as...

Can you change your perspective and think of it like an adventure or *pretend* you are roughing it like missionaries of old in a foreign country? :/

Are you praying for and blessing your dh? Are you encouraging and thankful for what he does do and provide?

This is a clear-cut case of where someone - in this case, Tonja - is dressing up bold, fact-free statements as questions.

She also suggests, incredibly, that...

Maybe we live in a house with holes in the floor and a toilet out side, and only get 1 square meal a day, but we still have food and shelter. Our needs are met. Not our dream situation, but livable nonetheless.

1) First of all, there is no "we." Tonja's attempt at forced teaming is not surprising, mind you, because Tonja comes across as the sort of person who wants to make absolutely everything about herself. This is part of the reason why she jumped so fast to offer all that "wisdom"; because she couldn't bear the thought of someone else beating her into the spotlight.

2) No, one meal a day is not enough. It's not enough in any country or for any human being in any situation ever. Eating like that will shorter a person's life: People who live on one meal a day, whether that meal be "square" or not, are undernourished and sickly, disease-prone, and so hard-up for food they're willing to eat dirt cookies.

Kids especially need a lot of nutrition - but hey, fuck 'em, right? I mean, if they wanted to eat more than "one square meal" a day, they'd do more to up-lift their lazy-assed father even despite his worse-than-an-infidel failure to provide for his family (1 Timothy 5:8 ).

EDIT: I've read further into the thread now, and found more of Tonja's wise musings. It seems she gets snippy and defensive when questioned:

My post, and the other ladies post, gave suggestions.

Did you not want us to offer suggestions, and "tell you what we would do", as you ask?

Meow!

She then says this...

And I know it is aggravating to feel like you have to explain/defend yourself, BUT if you ask your church or the government for financial help they will BOTH want to know all the details so that they can make an informed decision about how or if to extend aid to you.

Yeah, because the burden of proof is the same when seeking advice from internet strangers as it is when applying confidentially for government assistance. DERP.

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So....lemme see if I got this right. The church is supposed to care for widows and orphans, right? But if there's a husband in the picture and the children are going without food, clothing, and medical care, that's all fine and dandy and the church doesn't have to help with anything else, because he should be providing for his own family. But if it's clear that he's not providing, the pastor doesn't step in? He doesn't ask the wife if she's ok???

The children are going without food and medical care and glasses, and she's told that those things are wants??? Wha???? My mind is boggling.

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Patriarchy goes wrong by existing. How sad.

Also any church that deserves the name would be helping her and the kids out. Hell, I've gotten a bit of help on the church front before -- with no strings attached.

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So....lemme see if I got this right. The church is supposed to care for widows and orphans, right? But if there's a husband in the picture and the children are going without food, clothing, and medical care, that's all fine and dandy and the church doesn't have to help with anything else, because he should be providing for his own family. But if it's clear that he's not providing, the pastor doesn't step in? He doesn't ask the wife if she's ok???

The children are going without food and medical care and glasses, and she's told that those things are wants??? Wha???? My mind is boggling.

Peddlers of patriarchy often promise that even as women are accountable to their husbands, so too are men accountable to higher authorities such as church elders and the government.

There are more than a few cases - this is just one - where the church elders refuse to do jack-shit even about obvious moral and ethical failures in men, thereby abdicating responsibility and showing what terrible breaks there are in this supposed "chain of command" the patriocentrists keep whipping women with.

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As to the situation discussed in the OP, seems to me that those fellow forum members should tip off CPS to do a little investigating.

Holes in the floor, lack of electricity or plumbing, and one (or less) meals a day constitute child negligence, if not outright child abuse.

At the very least, perhaps a little WIC, ADC, etc, might help the kids. Kids can't help it if their parents are idiots.

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It's so sad that there are programs available to help this woman feed her kids and keep the heat and electric on, but she doesn't want to use them. Why? Does she think Jesus would want her children to suffer because her husband isn't capable or willing to meet his responsibilities? If the church that is supposed to help her isn't cutting it, it's time to seek out some people who actually will. And I would bet that the caseworker would be able to help her see she isn't doing her kids any favors by staying in a freezing barn with little food.

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This is level of life is way more typical than what we see on "19 Kids and Counting." While most are not THIS bad, they are often living on whatever they can find or grow to eat. Sad. Reminds me of the mess Nancy Campbell's daughter Serene lives in.....[see the Above Rubies web site for Nancy Campbell]

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Some of the advice is so horrible on that thread that my heart is breaking for that woman. This is an example of why the church can't help.

For a short time, my family went on food stamps. We only had to prove that financially we were qualified. There was no moral judging of us as human beings. OUr case worker didn't want to know if our kids were shoveling snow or pulling weeds to help the family.

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I can't imagine how explaining to my kids they only get one meal a day cause Mommy didn't submit enough to Daddy is somehow BETTER than divorcing the asshole, getting a job, and feeding, sheltering, and clothing those kids right myself...

I would be suicidal if I thought the former was a more "godly" option. Really.

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Austin - Tonja is very sweet but has wholesale drunk the koolaid. There's one or two (or three) more there that make me want to cry when I read their posts (Gah - kpmom, did you follow the Jamie's daughter breaking off contact saga? the whole time i wanted to say well... really, you didn't see this coming?)

Apple1 on CPS: they know the situation. She has already left once but returned because she had no where else to go, didn't have have the $ to make things better herself - and was deeply fearful of losing the children. Compounding this is that the two youngest have serious learning disabilities.

Re the divorcing/leaving:

She's getting ready to leave. She needs $. She's out, and things change (dramatically). But it's the $$ that's in the way. It's not that she doesn't want to get the kids out of there, it's that she can't. She contacted all the services for women in her area - they are for physically battered women. She's "just poor". Services to be prioritised etc..

The eldest daughter is (very) close to leaving age, she'll be out the door the minute she can be.

Finally, the church. Yeah, they dropped the ball on this one,don't you think? :angry-banghead: She's a member of a different church to her husband. Her church won't get involved; his church are all good ol boys together. Her family also seem like fine pieces of work.

It's an utterly tragic situation.

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The situation is so bad even the very conservative Christian women on that board are advising her to get away from him, and even using the D(ivorce) word.

And a very big three cheers for them in doing so. It's.About.Time.

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All of the things patriarchy espouses; wifely submission, suspicion of govm't programs, homeschooling, trusting church elders advice, wives having little education and no salable skills, all of these things together created this situation.

It sounded to me like MicheleB herself is starting to come to that conclusion. Although she is already talking about how she can't leave the state (although a forum member from another state kindly offered to help her) because of "custody issues". What custody issues? They are still married.

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Austin - Tonja is very sweet but has wholesale drunk the koolaid. There's one or two (or three) more there that make me want to cry when I read their posts (Gah - kpmom, did you follow the Jamie's daughter breaking off contact saga? the whole time i wanted to say well... really, you didn't see this coming?)

Apple1 on CPS: they know the situation. She has already left once but returned because she had no where else to go, didn't have have the $ to make things better herself - and was deeply fearful of losing the children. Compounding this is that the two youngest have serious learning disabilities.

Re the divorcing/leaving:

She's getting ready to leave. She needs $. She's out, and things change (dramatically). But it's the $$ that's in the way. It's not that she doesn't want to get the kids out of there, it's that she can't. She contacted all the services for women in her area - they are for physically battered women. She's "just poor". Services to be prioritised etc..

The eldest daughter is (very) close to leaving age, she'll be out the door the minute she can be.

Finally, the church. Yeah, they dropped the ball on this one,don't you think? :angry-banghead: She's a member of a different church to her husband. Her church won't get involved; his church are all good ol boys together. Her family also seem like fine pieces of work.

It's an utterly tragic situation.

OK- I don't even know the forum that is being discussed, so I'm sure I am missing a lot of the story, but this is just so sad tragic (yes, I know, "sad" is another hugely misused word- maybe I will post "sad" on that other thread). I truly hope she can get into contact with some resources. Sounds like, once the immediate situation is improved a little, some education might be the next major need for this woman, so that she can obtain skills to support herself.

Sounds like that maybe living in a rural (??) area is not helping in the area of resources.

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Leigh commented that the Op should try and let the system work for her. I agree. Divorcing her husband would mean-I assume- that he would have to sell the farm and give her half the proceeds. She could spend the money on going to a trade school and learning how to support herself.

Other people are telling her that she could be homeless in a year if she divorces him. :o

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Was the Op physically abused? She wrote this:

As a Christian woman, you do not want to be seen as complaining or discontent or *not* loving your husband, so you are very loathe to say anything to anybody. Plus, your husband is telling you that, essentially, it's only a problem because YOU are making it a problem.

In these extreme cases, it is HUMILIATING to tell someone else how you are living- whether it be an affair, physical abuse, verbal abuse or extreme neglect. I mean really- how do you tell someone that your septic is frozen all winter without wondering what kinds of embarrassing questions they might ask. Or how they might judge YOU for 'allowing' that.

So you might start with something "small" to begin with, to try to reach out and find some help, support and encouragement, only to be told by well-meaning people that you are complaining, or discontent, or not loving your husband. Or that if you would just pray more, read the Bible more, trust more, change your attitude more- you could not only survive, you could be HAPPY too. (And some not-so-well-meaning people chime in as well.)

When you finally decide to do something- such as I did in February by leaving- the hurdles you face are unimagineable. Unless you have a lot of cash on hand to get into good housing immediately, you may find yourself at the mercy of whoever is willing to house you for a time. And they might not be willing to house ALL of you, so you and your dc may be split up. And they might not be the nicest people to be staying with. And you worry about custody, and how far can you take the children without getting into trouble, and how can you keep the children from NOT having to go back to the situation you left when CPS doesn't seem to really give a rip.

And you still face the humiliation of having to say "Yes, I lived like this for 'x' amount of years" and have people wonder why on earth you didn't just leave before! Or you have to tell your story over and over and each time, something just seems to kind of die inside of you because you always feel like your story is being judged and weighed and you may be deemed "NOT WORTHY" of help so you'll have to go back to the situation you left.

It truly is very difficult for women to leave these types of situations. I feel strong enough to do so, but logistically speaking, I worry. I pray and pray about it, but it has to be concrete before I leave again because it's just too hard to shuffle from place to place, feeling like a burden and having your own family telling you that they won't house you because they want you to go back.

And emotionally, it's very sad to realize that the man you pledged your life to just doesn't seem to really care. And so you deal with all those feelings as well. And you deal with your children's worries and cares and burdens of living like this and you feel like a failure as a mother because you didn't stop it sooner. But then these same children will lash out at you a few weeks after the "new reality" begins, for ruining their lives and ripping the family apart.

Not a pity party here. Just, I never realized *before* how difficult it is for women to leave situations they really need to leave. And NONE of this is said in judgment against anyone- I just wanted to express how it is for me and also, maybe help explain why it is so difficult to leave very unhealthy relationships. Especially as a Christian woman, when you worry about the "D" word and "Am I sinning" and on and on and on...

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This is heartbreaking. How can a church let this go on (much less, the WIFE)?? I've been in the church most of my life and I KNOW that this would never have gotten to this point in either church, unless help was refused by the family, which has happened before :( The wife here doesn't seem like one to refuse help, though the lazy bum husband might.

This really does break my heart. No one should life like that!

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Leigh commented that the Op should try and let the system work for her. I agree. Divorcing her husband would mean-I assume- that he would have to sell the farm and give her half the proceeds. She could spend the money on going to a trade school and learning how to support herself.

Other people are telling her that she could be homeless in a year if she divorces him. :o

The farm is carrying a large amount of debt. I think that's the big problem (as in, day to day, servicing the debt). Selling i would mean much of the proceeds would go to the bank. I think that's where much of the "homeless" thinking is coming from.

She lives in PA.

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