Broken Daughters

Picking up the shattered glass of fundamentalism

Family design – Men in the movement

17 Comments

I often feel that while us girls and women who left the movement get a lot of sympathy and have a loud voice, the men are neglected. After all, they don’t suffer as much. Or do they?

A family. The man as the head, the provider. The housewife, raising God’s mighty soldiers, subject to her husband. The kids obey and honor their parents, preparing for their future roles in the kingdom. Or so I thought.

In the months before I left the movement, I struggled with the role the family had designed for me. Being a wife and mother with no other choice, no way out, not even being allowed to follow activities they considered too “boyish” was stifling for me. I could never make my own decisions, I wasn’t “made” for it simply because I was a woman. While I felt I was getting the unfair end of the deal I thought men weren’t nearly as bad as I was. They were free, could do anything they wanted, be anything and never had to listen to anybody else.

Only after I left I realized that this isn’t true. Men too are pressured to fit into a role which might not be what they want for their lives.

Men aren’t only not expected to help with housework, there is somewhat of an unwritten law that men who do too much housework are feminized. Like cooking. Now that I left I know some men who honestly enjoy cooking. One of them, he is not a chef, cooks so well – it’s just as good as any really expensive fancy restaurant. He comes up with his own combinations and menus, knows about herbs, how to make perfect meat and even makes noodles from scratch. And it doesn’T stop there. His cakes are divine to say the least. He does all of that after work, for fun. It’s his hobby, his favourite activity. He doesn’t want to be a chef because he wants to make what he feels like making.

Now, within the movement, a man who cooks and bakes this way for fun… he’d have a hard time. A really hard time. Can you imagine a patriarch in an apron, making the best cupcakes in town? No, men like the one I described are unmanly, feminized, castrated by the feminist world, confused which gender they belong to, what their role in life is.

One of my cousin’s friends is married. When they had a baby 2 years ago, she stayed at home for 6 months. After that, her husband decided to stay at home and raise the child for 2 more years until it was ready for kindergarten. I didn’t know about this when I met them. I met them only once and it was right after I moved here. Still very much in my typical role mentality, I watched this little family in awe. The man fed the baby. The man changed the diapers. The man carried the diaper bag and the baby. The woman had to ask the man if there was another pair of baby socks in the bag and he said yes, and found them immediately. It implied he had packed the bag. And when the baby cried, he was the first one comforting the baby. It was strange. A man acting like a mother? A woman acting like the man? What was that all about?

I didn’t want to be rude, so I refrained from openly addressing it. But I asked my cousin later in private what kind of family that was. She explained that they thought about this decision, that he would stay at home, for a long time. He felt that his wife already had such a strong, intimate bond with the baby, and he wanted something very special too. He had always dreamed of having babies and being REALLY there for them. So he felt like staying at home raising it would be the perfect way to find a special connection.

While this is certainly not the norm, I thought it was a beautiful idea.

A man in the movement doesn’t have the opportunity to do these things. Being too “motherly” is out of the question. Most women are so conditioned not to feminize their men that even if they want to change a diaper once in a while, the women don’t allow it. What would people say if they saw that? Of course, men are supposed to be gentle dads, but they are also the main disciplinarian, the fun part of the parental combination, the one who comes home at night, is comforted by wife and children, plays with them for half an hour till they go to bed. And on occasion, there might be a daddy day. But really getting deep into raising them is usually not an option.

Now while all of the cases I described may be on the extremer end, it still proves that men aren’t free either. They still have to stick to the roles designed by the legalists around them. Since I started blogging I read many thoughts by ex-fundamentalist men. That they feel pressured into a “boss” role within the family which they just don’t feel is right for their relationship and family.

The hurt caused in men is often neglected. Maybe that’s because they are raised to believe it’s a sign of weakness. Boys don’t cry. Boys are boys, strong and brave and the head of the woman. It must be very hard to admit to oneself that this just doesn’t feel right. That they want to be married to a woman who has an opinion and makes decisions. One who doesn’t blame them for wanting to cook on occasion, or take care of the baby on their own for a while, or simply want to pick their own clothes because they have a better sense of style than their wife.

17 thoughts on “Family design – Men in the movement

  1. Amen to this, sister! I’ve thought the same thing. My brothers may have it easier, but they sure don’t have it EASY.

  2. You forgot one thing.

    A man is supposed to be the spiritual leader which carries the mandatory need to be perfect. I am not perfect. To try to be tires me out. Screw that.

    I’d rather lean on my wife for strength. And so far, in our 10 years of marriage, it hasn’t hurt us one bit.

    Stupid formulas. But it doesn’t stop with patriarchy. You have people like John Piper (Pied Piper) and Mark Driscoll (Strawberry Boy) saying the same baloney sausage. It really gets under my skin.

    I LOVE TO CLEAN!!!!!!

    • “A man is supposed to be the spiritual leader which carries the mandatory need to be perfect.”
      Oh yes, I really forgot that. It’s absolutely true, after all, you as the man have the constant hotline to God and Jesus and must be perfect. And if you’re not, your faith is seriously messed up.

      I don’t know much about worldly people promoting the same rubbish… I can’t stand reading any sort of propaganda in this way, makes me sick. Just because they think they know it all….

  3. This is an interesting thing in the movement. I’m not at all sure where they get this either because if you actually look at Mosaic Law and Hebrew tradition, it’s not there. Women were not the sole caregivers of the children much beyond infancy and definitely not the only or even the primary cook in the home. How do I come by that? Well, anything a woman touched while she was on her period or the week following was unclean, so….that would include any pot or pan, plate, utensil (there were no forks as we know them) or drinking cup. She couldn’t cook for her family during that time or they would all be unclean. She couldn’t clean her home during that time for the very same reason. She was pretty much confined to her bed and possibly, a chair.

    Now, I realize that not everyone in the movement follows strict Mosaic Law but some do and most of the ones whom I have encountered want to cite “Bible times” as the reason for this. In doing so, they miss a lot of the way households were run back then. For if you actually look at Proverbs 31, it was the wife who did all the work and handled the money. After all, she considered a field and purchased it, she bought her food from afar, she sold her wares at the market, etc. Her husband merely sat at the gates of the city and was well thought of. It was the father who was given the task of teaching the children in the home as well and not the mother so all those families who believe that the mother is to do the homeschooling don’t have it entirely right.

    And what about the instances where the mother died? Death in childbirth and due to other causes were common up until the 1960’s. I personally know someone whose mother died giving birth to her in the ’60’s. I know of two other women who nearly died in childbirth. One survived solely because of an emergency hysterectomy and a complete blood transfusion because she was hemorrhaging so badly. I suppose some of the more radical anti-medical intervention people would say she (or someone) had unconfessed sin but it would nevertheless left the father with an infant and a young son (in two of the cases) and a need to have food cooked and diapers changed.

    Sorry this is so long but those mandatory male/female roles just irk me to no end because they are far from scriptural or traditional in any sense.

    • I have been wondering the same thing for a long time but I never dared to question what I was taught. Some groups do follow some of the OT laws, but it’s more of a “pick what you like” situation. I think that’s where they get it from. If there’s some rule they don’t like, they are quick to find an excuse why it doesn’t apply to them. Usually Jesus is the poor guy who is being role modeled into why this particular law doesn’t apply.
      I for my part have never understood why it’s ok to eat pork. I’ve been explained so many times and I know all the passages applied, but to me, they don’t apply to each other. They don’t refer to the same thing. That’s pretty much where I realized that you can make them apply if you just turn it around long enough.
      And the PW31 woman is another thing. She’s always pictured as this perfect housewife who’s submissive to her husband. The fact that she makes her OWN money and buys how OWN field with it is usually talked down to “she still doesn’t work outside of the house, her husband did”. Well, in biblical times, I doubt there was an office where she could work at. 99% of the people worked at home, men and women alike! And where does it say that her husband worked outside of the house anyway?! Because he’s at the gates? As I said, twist it up till it suits the legalist laws they love so much.

  4. “Can you imagine a patriarch in an apron, making the best cupcakes in town?” You are too funny!!!

    My hubby and I do adhere to the biblical teachings for men and women, husbands and wives. But nowhere within that model can we justify the kind of extremes you mention. My husband is the head of our house, who also happened to make dinner, read to the kids, change diapers and tuck everyone into bed last night while I was outside painting our house (a job we both know I am better and faster at and is also therapeutic after chasing kids all day :-)). Not only that, but I am married to a man who unflinchingly changes CLOTH diapers and shakes the poop out into the toilet… now THAT is about as manly as it comes LOL!

    As a mom of only boys, I am curious about something. How do QF families with only boys or no older girls handle delegating the housework and childcare if that is not considered “manly” enough for boys to learn? What a shame if boys are denied learning and enjoying these important life skills. As for my big boys, I have one who is a great cook (who happened to make us a lovely… and creative… breakfast this morning) and another who loves everything that grows, especially flowers. He always has his hands in the dirt or arranging vases of fresh flowers or his nose in his gardening books, and he has a beautiful perennial flower garden all his own. They also love to help with the little ones, and they are both very tender and nurturing, just like their dad. These are not “effeminate” boys, they are just enjoying and expanding the natural talents and interests that God has given them. How sad to deny a child this, just because he is a boy.

    • I know families with no girls and in those, the wife is the only one responsible for housework. The boys are discouraged from any sort of home-activity. Obviously, boys too are taught to remove the major messes they made, pick up their toys and such and throw the laundry in the basket and not on the floor. Some families don’t teach them ANY housekeeping skills whatsoever, other teach them the very basics, so that they wouldn’t drown in a total mess and be able to cook some noodles if need be. I think it’s sad that boys are disabled to live on their own. What if the parents died before he got married? Or his wife died? They wouldn’t be able to get the washing machine to work.

      I personally think it’s very unmanly if a guy had to eat out every day because he can’t cook the basics, and run around with a smelly baby cause there’s no woman to change a diaper! And I think gardening flowers is a very hard task and takes loads of natural talent. No matter how hard I try, mine start dieing once they see me. I couldn’t grow anything to save my life. Can I come over and help paint your house inside and out? I LOVE painting!

      • if you were not on another continent, I would LOVE to have you help me paint my house!!! (Is that a task allowed to women in the partriarchal movement, or is that man work?) And when we were done, we could drink iced tea while my hubby BBQ’ed steaks for us hard-working women LOL!

        • Errr… no. We’d be making some salads and clean up after the men, wash their brushes and all that. BBQ is men’s work hands down! Though I don’t like thinking in patterns and stereotypes anymore, I can’t imagine something manlier than fire and meat! Hah!

  5. It’s not just in the movement either. 1988 with a degree in Engineering and a fiance who adored me, our pre-marital counselling at a mainstream evangelical church consisted of the pastor warning us that our marriage was doomed to fail because I was “too strong a leader”. Our marriage nearly failed that first year, because I tried so hard to be a person I wasn’t — a person my husband did NOT WANT me to be. I finally got some sense and realized he adored the manager-engineer he had proposed to — and couldn’t care less what his (ex) pastor thought about that. 23 years later, we still adore each other.

    • Oh my, how lucky you were to realize that before it was too late! It’s so sad that even the “normal” churches don’t believe that a man could find a smart, successful woman appealing. I’m really glad to hear you found your way back to yourself before it was too late. We too often miss out on good things in life just because others tell us what to do.

  6. If a woman expects her husband to be a patriarchal leader “man for all seasons” she is doomed to disappointment. And the poor husband will be crushed under the load of expectations. Neither one is going to be pleased.

    • Oh yes, she will be disappointed, which either leads to her A) secretly criticizing her husband and feeling great guilt for being such a “bad wife” or B) openly tell him what’s wrong, which will lead to her being called a bossy husband-basher. It’s a rather unhealthy situation for the wife too, I totally agree.

  7. I’m one of those guys who loves babies.🙂 Our marriage looks nothing like the patriarchical stereotype, and I’m so grateful for it!

    Even though guys are told to grow up to be patriarchs, a lot patriarchical families believe that the father still has authority over his sons even after they are married. It is supposed to be a multi-generational authority pattern. Sons are not really any more free to follow God for themselves than daughters are.

    The whole heirarchical control structure is just really, really ugly.

    Blessings,
    Ben

  8. It’s like I’ve always said – feminism is for men, too!

    Being able to be yourself is one thing, but men are also denied the companionship of an equal. In the movement, a wife is more a servant than a spouse, and you just don’t confide in the servants. How could they possibly understand? The gulf between you is just too great. Besides, you can’t show weakness in front of the servants, now can you?

    I think that’s why the divorce rate among feminist couples is so much lower. Life is just that much easier to tackle when you have someone beside you to confide in, to reassure you, to support you, to take some of burden from you, and to be your team-mate.

    And then there’s children. Men are denied the opportunity to really bond with their children.

    It’s a cold, lonely existence. It’s one where no one criticizes you or helps you grow and become a better person. Instead, everyone just humours you, obeys you, and remains distant. The Patriarchy isn’t pro-man, it’s anti-person.

    • Absolutely 100% my opinion and views! Thanks for the great comment!
      I too find the idea sad that a man can’t be who he is or wants to be in a marriage, but must be the “leader”, the “boss”, the only one who carries responsibility and when faced with problems knows he’s the only one responsible for it.

  9. Would it drive them all nuts then that my husband primarilly makes dinner (he’s a good cook😉 and he was out planting a vegetable garden while our 2 girls played with worms out in the back yard… all while I sat inside reading your blog (I found it today and I can’t stop reading😉

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