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Sunday, January 2, 2011

Return of the Daughters

Anna Sofia and Elizabeth, in their first real "documentary," begin by discussing how "militant feminism" has destroyed America.  They state that if we follow Biblical principles, daughters will live at home until marriage under the protective hedge of their daughters.  At the end, the say that this is historically normative, which is a very difficult case to make, but as is usual with the Botkins, they state something authoritatively and don't back it up. Nor do they once provide any Scripture references to what Biblical principles and/or verses they are referring to in order to make their case. Instead, they turn to anecdotal, modern day evidence in the form of interviews with stay-at-home daughters.
 Katie Valenti
"At age 23, she is well established in business"--then they explain that she works as an interior designer for her father, a "well-re-known builder" in Louisiana.  Katie states that it is good training as she "learns to submit in this particular way to a man."  Her father says that the Bible clearly teaches that the main focus of women is to be their home and helpers to their fathers and husbands.  He insists that it is based in the Scriptures, but never once gives a Scripture reference to back up these claims.  He does quote the Deuteronomy passage where it says to teach your children truths, when they lie down and get up and walk along with them on the road.  However, since this verse is clearly using hyperbole, the claim he is trying to make(that you cannot constantly teach your children if they are not constantly with you) is invalid.  It just isn't there.  The intent of this verse is not that you have to constantly be with your children, but instead to be consistently and daily teaching them truths. 

Jasmine Bachman
Jasmine talks about her desire to be a screenwriter, to go to NYU, to be a successful, single, powerful woman.  Jasmine had dreams, but she and her father "reevaluated her ambitions according to their Scriptural discoveries."  Jasmine says she and Voddie have been studying together the "role of father to daughters," in the Bible, but once again, no Scripture references are used. Voddie says that the Bible nowhere commands women to become independent, but to be submissive.  He references back to the Genesis curse, saying that Eve's sin was actually independence, and the curse was that Eve would desire her husband's position.  This is up for much Scriptural debate, but Voddie takes it for granted that we would all just accept this point blank.  Voddie continues that as Jasmine "works with and serves her father," she is developing her own abilities and gifts.  He brings up a point that Katie Valenti made in the previous segment--why would you go out and support another man and contribute to his dreams and vision when you could be helping your father?  Jasmine says that it's been very hard for her, especially because she has family members who deride her choices and tell her that she's thrown the torch down, instead of pursuing the opportunities given to her by generations before, for both African-American and women.

Melissa Keen
Melissa's father works as an over-the-road truck driver, so unlike Katie and Jasmine, she doesn't have opportunities to work with her father.  Instead, she says her father wants her to be entrepreneriul and focus on businesses she can do from home.  Melissa apparently organizes the Vision Forum Father-Daughter retreat, which she talks about in detail(booking the venue, planning a traditional high tea, handle registrations, decorating, etc).  To me, it seems to be stretching to show that Melissa has gainful skills and useful projects.  However, I have a hard time seeing that organizing one event can fill a 25-year-old's time.  Plus, where in real life do you need to know how to plan a traditional high tea?
Lourdes Torres
This opens with Lourdes target shooting.  She's a little different from the others--she only has one sibling and lives in a mobile home.  Both of which are immediately mentioned.  Her father, Alfredo, is a janitor.  Lourdes says that even though her father doesn't have a business, she can still be serve his vision of her as a servant.  In order to accomplish this, Lourdes spends a lot of time helping others in her church and community.  I totally applaud community service, but again, I can't imagine that living in a trailer with one sibling, plus service to your community, takes a great deal of time. Lourdes does say that her priority is to invest in her family.  She does this by "serving God and (my) father." 
Kelly BradrickKelly talks about being a helpmeet, and praying for someone with a "mission and a vision."  Someone, she says, like her father, who was "going places."  Peter and Kelly's courtship story is once again rehashed, with Peter answering hard questions and writing theological papers and spending months having interviews with Kelly's father.  The questions that lingers in my mind is the one that is always asked when hearing one of these courtship stories--who was Peter wooing? Kelly, or her father?
Kelly and Peter are once again held up as courtship's poster children.  Scott Brown, Kelly's father, spent months vetting this young man and requiring ridiculous things, like Peter's theological position in twenty-page papers.  Kelly, at the age of 22, says that the transition from daughter in her father's home to wife in her husband's home was easy, since it was all she had been trained for.  Peter says that Kelly was receiving a Ph.D.-level education in homemaking, which, personally, I find offensive to those of us who can cook, clean, raise a child, balance a checkbook, grocery shop and menu plan, and went to graduate school.
Kelly brings up 1 Corinthians 7, which talks about singles not throwing away their time, but using their single years to better themselves and contribute to the Kingdom of God.  How, I ask, is spending your time in your father's house, "serving" your father, contributing to the Kingdom of God? Would it not be better, if this is your goal, to be serving God instead of Daddy? 
Ah, yes, and nothing would be complete without the pompous idiociy joy which is Jennie Chancey.  Jennie talks a hundred words a minute, waxing eloquent on her favorite subject--why women shouldn't go to college.  Why, she asks, does a woman have to develop her gifts in an institution? Why can't a woman develop her gifts where they are going to be used, at home?  Jennie says that she gets a lot of letters from highly educated women with college degrees and don't even know how to boil water.  Because it takes four years post-high school serving your father to learn how to boil water.
Cut to Voddie talking about an epidemic of unprotected women, blaming promiscuity, mistreatment and abuse of women, and failed marriages, on sending these "helpless creatures out their on their own."  Trying to make this connect logically makes my neurons explode, so I'm not even going to try.

"Return of the Daughters" is another in a long line of Vision Forum's beautifully produced and articulate products. By highlighting three obviously very well to do, upper class daughters(Kelly, Jasmine and Katie) who have multiple things to do at home in their father's business, including learning marketable skills, and skimming over Melissa and Lourdes, Vision Forum once again shows that it is interested only in the upper class of society.  Though I believe this is probably inadvertant, by not offering suggestions to those who families (a) can't afford to support their grown daughters indefinately and (b) have a father who does not have a business he can offer his daughters work in, VF quickly alienates much of their audience.  Instead of offering practical advice to the daughters whose families don't fit into VF's neat little model, Anna Sofia and Elizabeth neatly ignore the issue.   They are quick to say that you're sinning if you are not a stay-at-home daughter, but those who can't are summarily ignored.

It fails in attempting to defend its position, that daughters should stay at home until marriage, in any form, but especially Biblically.  The very few Scripture references cited, when taken in context both linguistically and historically, have nothing to do with what Anna Sofia and Elizabeth are trying to prove.   There is absolutely no Biblical precedence for women staying at home, serving their fathers.  In fact, with all the emphasis on serving fathers and not God, it appears that the fathers are confusing themselves with God.  The Biblical precedence for that is called idolatry, and it is a violation of the very first of the Commandments.  This is also all in direct contrast to Jesus' teachings, who repeatedly taught that our purpose is to love and serve others, particularly the "least of these." With the possible exception of Lourdes Torres and her community ministries, none of the women featured in this movie are living out Jesus' very clear commands to serve the poor, the needy, and the lost.  Instead, they are living at home, sheltered in their (often well-to-do) father's home, serving man instead of God.

5 comments:

  1. Thank you....THANK YOU!!! For a single woman in a well-respected profession who at times feels like she must still defend her life choices to those who object to the lack of the cookie-cutter wife-homemaker-mother of three kids/cat/dog, it is refreshing to find respect for hard work and initiative. The (completely serious) suggestion from a close family member that my hard-earned college degree was to pass the time until I met my "real" calling was like a slap in the face. Here's to any woman who reaches for goals and dreams despite the negativity!

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  2. Even for a stay-at-home homeschooling mom who didn't go to college, this way of thinking is toxic. My husband, kids, and home aren't my all in all. I tried that, and found it woefully insufficient. Nor does it work to "let God be sufficient for me" because I can't live in Him if I don't know who I am apart from marriage and motherhood.

    I feel sorry for those women who think they're earning blessings by focusing so much on their fathers and husbands. Or who don't like it, but can't find any way out. I predict that Jasmine, with her well-articulated goals and gifts, will break out eventually. The others, maybe not.

    -- SaraJ

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  3. So Lourdes Torres is the same girl trained up to be a sex slave in your cult...No?

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  4. Well, we feminists can't save 'em all, but we'd better! Testosterone kills. give estrogen a chance, ferchrissakes. I know that this is a confusing time, sistehs. Just remember, find the goddess within and love her fiercely. Huzzah!

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