Broken Daughters

Picking up the shattered glass of fundamentalism

The female J.O.Y and the male J.O.Y


I’ve received some comments about my last post on JOY in which people described a very similar “illness” of being very afraid of making decisions and the (imagined) reactions you might end up getting. And Holly, another commenter, pointed out the following:

“There is something I have never understood about “JOY”. If person A puts person B ahead of themselves, then person B is putting themself ahead of person A. Therefor, “JOY” hinges on at least one person being selfish. For example, Jack needs a ride to the airport but Jill needs to study. If both follow JOY, Jack would never dream of asking Jill for a ride but on the other hand, Jill would feel compelled to drive Jack. Ergo, one or the other would have to routinely impose on the other. Is that how it works in actual practice?”

This pretty much hits the nail on the head. Of course it doesn’t work like that in real life! But why?

I came up with the fact that there isn’t actually just one JOY practice – there’s two. The one females practice, and the one males practice. Let me go into detail.

We know that women are raised to believe that they are subject to the men in their lives. Now a good subject obviously does what you demand of it. And this is where JOY comes in: As a girl, you are to serve your parents. They come first. You are serving them like Gods. Whatever they demand of you, you do it. There is no talking back because that’s selfish (and harshly punished). Your parents, or better, your father, may put you into somewhat of a position of power over your siblings, arguing that this would in fact teach responsibility and the ability to make decisions. That’s plain wrong, You still carry out the orders your father gave you and you do not get to make any decisions at all.

Later on, once married, your husband is your head, which, again, gives you a “God” to serve. And again, since you are always serving others, there is no decision-making for you to do. The only the decisions you really might get to make are decisions that affect ‘only you’. Mind you, what ‘only you’ means depends on your husbands opinion. While in some marriages the color of your eyeshadow might be your business, in others it is not. I have seen marriages in which the woman didn’t get a say in what she would wear, cook or clean. There are husbands who actually make plans for it, husbands who will have you return clothes he doesn’t absolutely love and so on.

The entire problem with JOY is that it doesn’t work once two people (of equal level) want different things. And that’s exactly where biblical proof for structures of authority comes in. And it’s also were things get really screwed up!

And the matter is worsened by a ‘relatively’ new but very very big controversy in the movement. “Let men be men”. I’m saying relatively new because this problem with manliness wasn’t so prominent, say, 10 years ago. If you haven’t heard it yet, imagine this as the counter-theory to “metrosexuality”. A man who puts on face cream isn’t manly. Men become more feminine, at least that’s what the fundamentalists say. And why is that? Exactly, because women don’t let men be ‘real’ men. This automatically put EVERY man, yes, every man, in a position of power.

The let men be men hype is very popular especially among very young fundamentalist girls, see the Duggars who don’t claim to practice it but if you watch the show, you see clear signs of it, see the Ludys who openly proclaim it, see various blogs and authors of fundamentalist QF literature.

You end up with a very dangerous mixture of both philosophies, putting women in a place of mere voicelessness, a place were saying, doing, even thinking anything that might make a man look less is immediately followed by the JOY mantra, put the others first, let the man be the man!

A man is to lead his family well. Now what leading means might be a stretch again. In general it means decision-making. Men make decisions because it’s their responsibility. They are raised to make them. They don’t end up in this JOY trap where they end up crying because they asked to order Pizza instead of Chinese. They are not afraid of wearing green instead of blue. For men, JOY means to tell others what to do and ultimately to express their needs and wants in order to be a good leader, to enable their servants to be able to serve them best. Don’t want to be a stumbling block, after all, and let the man be the man!

And yes, it means that some men actually thing they are sacrificing themselves for their wives because they take the time off their free time to make the cleaning and cooking plans, to look through their clothes and tell them what they like and what they don’t.

In a world where the man is the leader and the woman is a mere servant, JOY really only affects one gender and that is female. Men don’t need to worry about JOY because as long as their “leading” by telling others what to do and how to please them, they’re already practicing it. For a woman however, JOY is a daily struggle of crying because it seems you’re just not able to shut up those tiny voices inside telling you what YOU want, asking you why, yet again, you have to give up even the desert in order to be someone else’s doormat.

Sounds too crazy? Best indicator that you’re reading something about P/QF.

Last question: What does happen if two people of the same level of authority get into this conflict? Typically age would be the factor to decide what to do, hence the older person would be served first. However, if we take the given scenario Holly came up with: If Jack and Jill were married, Jill would delay her studies. If Jack was her brother the same would be true. If they were not married, Jill would keep studying because she’s actually ‘serving’ her future husband by studying – plus, Jack and Jill wouldn’t be allowed to be alone in the car anyway.


7 thoughts on “The female J.O.Y and the male J.O.Y

  1. Interesting to get your perspective on this. I wasn’t raised like you and became a Christian as an adult. I totally see JOY in a different way. Not about subservance or anything like that. Just a heartfelt love for my Lord and neighbor, without sacrificing my needs. I am so sorry that you have been taught that Joy means anything but. I pray for you to gain peace and grace as you grow to be your Own person!! with your own needs met and a partner who side by side with you, shows you real love and joy.

    • Being raised as a Christian my perspective as well was “Just a heartfelt love for my Lord and neighbor, without sacrificing my needs”. It seems that once legalism and patriarchy define something the meaning changes from love for God and others to who is in charge and who serves with little or no mention of God.

  2. This sort of thinking is precisely why I left the fundamentalist movement in the early stages (1987). The whole doormat thing just doesn’t work for me and isn’t even Biblical–though the P/QF movement people would have you think so. There are some in the movement who would have you believe that this is the way America was when it was founded in the 1700’s and the way life was perfect back in the 1910’s. Not so. Putting others before yourself is not about a woman crying every day and doing what she is told like a beaten slave. It’s about considering the needs (not wants) of others and what you can do for them. A mother will put her child before herself (usually) because the child can’t do for themselves. But the whole idea of a husband being allowed to spend the family into debt because he has no innate self-restraint or money-sense while the wife sits back and watches is just utter stupidity.

    A wife is not to be a doormat. That’s not what the word ‘helpmeet’ means. She is to help and complete him. If that means she does the money managing because he doesn’t have the skills–then she has been given to him as a gift and he should treasure her as that gift.

    Too many fundamentalists see the verse where a wife should submit to her own husband and stop rather than going on to see where the husband should love his wife and care for her as his own body and not incite his children to wrath. If a husband truly cares for his wife, he will cater to her needs and wishes as much as possible. He’s not going to demand that she get up wash dishes on feet swollen twice their size from pregnancy. He’s going to order pizzas in halves so she can have what she wants on it. He’s going to treat her as though she matters and is not an object for his use like a refrigerator or a microwave oven.

  3. Hmm, I think the men of the movement should really evaluate whether joy comes from having a friend or from having a servant/employee. I had to have that talk with my husband the first year of our marriage when it seemed that whatever he did was much more important than whatever I was doing, and he expected me to drop whatever and run to his aid post haste whenever he beckoned. Keep in mind we were very young and still figuring things out. His justification was that, when he works for someone, he hurries, doesn’t waste time, and gives his boss his all. So I told him that if he wanted me as an employee or servant, I could be that to him, and I could treat him as he treats a boss. But if he wanted me to be his best friend and have a relationship with me, he would have to treat me as a friend. It could not possibly be both ways. His choice. That was a turning point in our early marriage for both of us, and it has only become better since. Neither of us feel that I dishonored him in saying that but that I honored our marriage and God by being honest.

    My husband says that I may be his wife, but I am also God’s daughter, and he treats me as if I truly am a daughter of God and of great value to him.

    “If both follow JOY, Jack would never dream of asking Jill for a ride but on the other hand, Jill would feel compelled to drive Jack.”

    That is kind of where we are in our marriage. It pleases me to look for ways to please my husband and honor him, simply because I love him. And he looks for ways to please and honor me, not so I will do something for him in return, but because he genuinely loves me. I’m sure we are so very sickening, sticky sweet, but I love it! I wouldn’t have it any other way. If it was only one-sided, we could still function as husband and wife and maintain some kind of marriage, but the wonderful JOY would be missing. And I would only be his employee. How sad that would be for BOTH of us.

    • I’m glad you figured it all out (and brava for standing up for yourself!)…but if anyone in the future finds themselves in this situation, I would humbly suggest “So I told him that if he wanted me as an employee or servant, I could be that to him, and I would charge $30 per hour, supplies extra, sleeping in the same bed counts as “on the clock,” and expect two weeks’ paid vacation…”

  4. Having been brought up in a fairly straightforward “it is better to give than receive” framework (but none of this bullying and abusive nonsense of your patriarchal upbringing), I clearly remember a rabbi on the radio explaining a different perspective on giving and receiving. He said that it is a two-way process, and it is as important to receive graciously as to give graciously.

    Hence, in a fair and loving relationship (or even a simple ordinary friendship), one should enjoy both the pleasure of giving and the joy of letting others gain pleasure from giving.

    Religion is all about power structures; we have Christianity because the Roman Empire adopted it and bent it to its aims. The

    Forget about what God wants. He doesn’t seem to have made himself clear in his big black book and he doesn’t seem to bother giving clear answers when people ask for guidance; he’s either not there or not on the job. His representatives tend to indicate that what God wants is what serves them best, don’t they? If God exists and is so great, he can look after himself, so don’t worry about that, use your own judgement and love people.

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