Broken Daughters

Picking up the shattered glass of fundamentalism


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Of free-ing the free?

I’m all for women’s rights, freedom and equality. If you look at the issue from all angles, you’ll realize that equality is easier said than done, and that sexism is not necessarily the result of religion but rather a symptom of a general disease, whether a community is religious or not.

Especially or “western” mindset makes us believe that we are the good guys, our way of doing things is the right way, and everyone who doesn’t do it this way is either a madman or an oppressed, weak woman. In this sense, we’re really not that different from all the “madmen” we want to protect women from.

I think this becomes especially evident if you look at the ways many westerners view the Islam, and especially muslim women. A woman who covers her hair is necessarily oppressed and needs our help to be set free. We cannot imagine that any sane person would choose to wear a hair covering because she wants to, Instead, us western, “civilized” and “free” women think we have to stand up for our “sisters” and free them. And if they tell us that they aren’t actually oppressed – well, they’re brainwashed. We have to show them the light.

The result of this is more often than not some sort of movement that instead of uniting women for a common cause tends to dig even deeper canyons between us. Take, for example, the “Femen” movement. All things aside of good intentions, strong women and important political causes. These are women who demonstrate against the oppression and objectification of women by going naked. This is somewhat similar to trying to extinguish a fire by pouring gas into it, in my opinion. In a world where women are objectified in every way possible, is there really a way to get a point across if you make yourself another object? Sure it gets the attention. But what do you think is going to happen in the minds of men who see these women? Are they going to think “Oh, that woman demonstrates against the exploitation of women as sex objects”, or are they going to think “Oh my gosh, BOOBS!”?

While I didn’t mind femen too much when they first started, I started to disagree completely with their methods when they started demonstrating against Islam. I’m not a muslim and have no interest in this religion (or any other, for that matter), and to be honest, I don’t care much whether you are a muslim or not (do whatever rocks your boat), but I don’t think it’s ok that a group of western women comes along as the knights in, well, no armor, I guess, to “free” women they have never asked if they actually need their help. I know plenty of muslims (there are very many in Germany). Some of them cover their hair, others don’t. Some are religious, others not. Some drink and eat pork, others don’t eat pork because they don’t like the taste (not for religious reasons, I was told pork is a taste you have to acquire), some stick to religious laws concerning their diet. Either way, it’s ok to do whatever you feel is right. One of the girls I study with wears a hjiab. She also cares about women’s rights. What makes us think that women who cover their hair are too stupid to free themselves? What makes us think that they’ll end up being thankful for helping them by demonstrating naked?

Even personally, I feel insulted. I used to be oppressed and brainwashed, but I don’t want some woman who hasn’t experienced the same thing to strip down naked and yell “freedom” in my name. It’s not the right way to appeal to the people you want to convince. If you said you’re going naked because you’d rather be naked than wear fur, I can understand why you would protest naked. But that’s not what’s happening here. What is happening is the idea that nakedness is the ultimate way to get what you want, to convince people. Sounds familiar? To me, that sounds about as terrible as any other form of oppression. Do I really want a freedom that we had to undress for? Do I really want to convince people by turning into an object that only gets the attention because it is a highly sexualized form of protest, often causing people to forget why you are undressing?

I think this entire discussion is a very difficult one. Of course there are brainwashed, oppressed women who could use some help. I was one of them. These women aren’t a phenomenon of Islam but a phenomenon of general society, and victims to men all over the world. On the other hand, plenty of women are well able to make these decisions for themselves, and don’t need our help – don’t need help at all because there isn’t a problem to begin with.

I think what should be remembered is that we need to move away from our western ideal of “freedom”. Freedom comes in many colors. Freedom includes the choice of dress, the choice of religion, and yes, also the choice to live a life that might not conform with our image of how women should live. Finding the balance is probably the biggest problem in all this. How do I balance helping women who really need help and hurting perfectly fine women because I demonize their way of life as “oppression”? I don’t have an answer to that, but if I find one, I certainly won’t be writing it on my bare breasts (and I ask you not to do that in anyone’s name either, unless you have their permission to do so).


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“Purpose”

There is an almost unlimited amount of books on “purpose” for the christian life. Books about prayer, missions, singleness, courtship, engagement, marriage, children, gender roles, house keeping, the list goes on. And on… and on. And really, it’s all about purpose. – finding purpose in a life that is supposed to have a higher purpose.

I’ve been wondering lately why it is that the christian culture is so obviously concerned with finding a purpose for its members. Shouldn’t purpose come somewhat naturally when you claim that your faith is the ultimate source of purpose? Why is it that I apparently need a bazillion books to find something that was promised to me when I started believing?

The situation is especially apparent in single women. Pretty much everybody else has a naturally derived, gender-based purpose. Married women care for men and raise godly arrows. Men, married and unmarried, fight for religion, faith, justice and all that and, last but not least, provide for either future or current family. But unmarried women? They’re kind of out of a purpose. “Waiting” is not exactly a purpose that I consider a valuable waste of lifetime.

I remember how I wondered what my purpose would be, some day. It’s fascinating how obsessed and yet how afraid I was that I wouldn’t find something valuable to do. I sometimes felt my salvation was at stake.

This is particularly funny, because if you actually believe in sola scriptura, as most fundamentalists claim to do, shouldn’t purpose be self-evident in some way? I mean, if scripture, and only scripture, is fully and entirely sufficient to answer all questions you could possibly have about life, death and everything in between, you shouldn’t need that many books outside of scripture to actually have an idea what you should do with your life.

All of these books, whether it is “So much more”, “sacred singleness” and all the other books on the issue of single women, claim that all they do is point out things that are already pointed out in scripture. Often times you will read something like “hands-on advice” or “practical ideas” for single girls. Well. Isn’t that what scripture should do?

I don’t merely mean to point out that all of these books are either a simple repetition of bible verses or a weird twisting thereof, I mean to point out that what’s going on there is false theology on so many levels. If scripture is enough, and that’s what you as an author of these books believe, your book is useless and invalid (and, mean as I am, I will call you greedy for selling the book despite your better knowledge). If you claim that your book is neither invalid nor useless, you don’t believe that the bible is the sole source of “godly” advice (which, by the way, makes the bible fallible). I think the hypocrisy in these circles is rampant. To be honest, I don’t care much about defending “biblical” teachings or the universal truth of the bible. I am simply shocked that I didn’t realize this when I believed in all these ideas myself.

I swallowed up all the “purpose” materials. It had to be somewhere in there, right? In the end, I have to realize, for myself at least, that the movement of fundamentalist christianity is nothing but a huge machine which aims to exclude groups of people from society, which feeds these groups ideas about what they should and shouldn’t do, claiming at the same time that their advice is biblical – but nevertheless I need materials outside of the bible to actually understand the bible.

Christianity is not “outside of culture”, it is a culture of itself. A culture which cannot exist with the bible as the sole source of law and morals, because these laws and morals – and, not to forget, assignment of purpose to specific groups – need to be controlled in a much broader fashion to survive. Selling young girls books to help them find their purpose is nothing but a means of keeping them in line when the obvious fallacies of the bible and problems with the bible aren’t enough to satisfy a natural thirst for finding something more in the existence we have been assigned.


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In which we get a mention

We got a mention in one of the fanciest magazines in the world of purity cults: Leslie Ludy’s Set Apart Girl (July/August issue, Article on page 27ff). Well, it’s not actually Leslie writing about this. It’s an “Anonymous Warrior Poet”, which is a Ludy term for a man who resembles King David, I believe.

The fact that this is written by an “anonymous” person is problematic to me. Now, I do not want to point fingers here, but… I read the set apart girl magazine every time a new issue comes out. I read all of Leslie’s articles. I read all of the “Warrior Poet” articles. The styles resemble each other strongly. I do not believe that this series of articles is written by a different person each time. I also think that Leslie’s writing and the Warrior Poet’s articles resemble each other in respect to style. Just throwing that out there.

Anyway. This months’ warrior poet (following “WP”) is concerned, very concerned. Why? Blogs. Let me quote him:

“And now – I have observed – many of my peers, who were once zealous advocates for purity, restraint, holiness, and waiting on God for their future spouse are now throwing in the towel on the whole idea. Numerous blogs have been written by young men and women who “believed the lie” of the whole “purity thing.” They rant to high heaven that all the purity rings and courtship lectures ruined their ability to interact with the opposite sex. They cross their arms in a teenage huff when they hear certain relationship books or authors mentioned. They write blogs expounding their angst and how they “removed their ring” because it was just a fuddy-duddy way of dealing with sexuality, and, with rolling eyes say, “it doesn’t work anyhow.”

What WP is doing here is far from an objective description of the ex-purity cult blogging scene. He uses several ways to label these bloggers as teenagers at mind. Now I don’t know about you, but that’s not a very “loving” thing to do for a christian. Labeling us teenagers is the equivalent of calling us unreasonable and immature – he blames the way we feel on the fact that our hormones are raging and we don’t know what’s good for us anyway. Teenagers! *eyeroll*

I don’t know how well-read you are when it comes to ex-purity cult blogs. Most bloggers are well past their 20s. Many are married and have children. Calling grown adults teenagers degrades us into a position in which we are considered to be unreliable, blabbling out of pure spite. Actually, the quote above denies us that our negative emotions towards the purity cult are reasonable.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t like being called unreasonable in such a flowery way when I complain about serious and real hurt. I don’t think my feelings about this issue come from one single experience.

By the way: Certain books and authors? Who could that be? But let’s move on:

“They make viral youtube videos that accentuate all the ridicoulousness our parents told us about these matters.”

He did it! He’s talking about the parents! What he’s basically doing here is telling all those good, pure girls “Look! These guys are making fun of YOUR parents and the values THEY believe in! You have to honor your parents! If you believe anything they say, you are one of these people who makes fun of YOUR parents!”.

“They say that it ruined their ability to have healthy guy/girl interaction.”

Here, he actually mentions an important aspect: Many feel that the purity teachings ruined their ability to interact with men/women. So far so good. But where is his argument against this? I read the article four times now, and I cannot find a single sentence in which he explains why this isn’t true. Please, go read it yourself and comment if you find it. It kind of feels like WP wants to make sure that his readers know this isn’t so, but he can’t go into detail. Why? Maybe because he himself has very little experience with women. Maybe because he doesn’t know how to relate to them. Maybe because the definition of “healthy” is very subjective – what is normal to me may be weird to you.

“I have a hunch that what is behind all this angst, and all this disgruntled blogging, and all this huffiness is an attitude of self-justification.”

The worst sin of all: Selfishness! Of course that’s what it is. We are selfish. We failed, and because we are selfish, we need a good reason for our selfishness. Everything we say is to justify our failures. Especially in Ludy-ism, selfishness is high up on the sin scale. Basically every sin is in some way based on a person’s selfishness (including, for example, homosexuality, masturbation, physical contact before marriage – I read the books and listened to the sermons).

“My concern, as a Warrior Poet in the making, is that a whole generation of young women will be led into a compromised and self-justifying lifestyle that is based wholly upon the sarcastic cynicism and bad experience of those around them.”

WP is in fact concerned that this pattern of relationships, which can be so convenient for men, will collapse due to women starting to think for themselves. The counter-culture the christian fundamentalists develop stands and falls with the participation of women. Ultimately, it is women who have to give up their entire identity in this pattern. If a woman refuses to become a mere extension of the man’s existence, none of the beliefs and patterns would fall into place anymore. The obsession to fix the problems people have, always have had, by following a certain pattern is very clear in this article.

In the end, I think the fact that our blogs got a mention in such a popular magazine among young conservatives is telling. There obviously has been some effect, some change, just something going on. Are they scared of us? No, probably not, but they feel they need to address the issue in some way, so I guess there is some progress.

Whatever it is, it seems as if the blogging scene is opening up to them as a new battleground for their “war of cultures”. Maybe we will see and hear some interesting articles and speeches about the blogging scene in the future. Let’s wait and see.


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What about marital sex?

There is so much written about fundamentalists and premarital sex, purity and so on. There is also much about purity within marriage in the sense of “don’t read romance novels”, “be available” and so on. And recently I started to wonder… what about actual sex in marriage? What about that??

Now, I’ll admit that I have not been married to know about sex in fundamentalist marriages first hand. I was also not sat down by my parents to have “that talk” about what’s ok in bed once you’re married. I figured I would put together a little series of posts in which I want to look at some debated things in the conservative Christian marriage beds. Not to lecture you, but to ask you to think with me about some things. I hope, if you are not shy about it, you can share some ideas/input/experiences with effects of fundamentalist teachings on married sex/whatever comes to your mind!

My first interest in this issue was raised by “Meet Mr. Smith”. This is a Ludy book that I actually bought after I moved here. Don’t ask me why, I don’t know why it stuck out to me.

Now there is this one little note that got my attention. There’s a question and answer section, and one question was whether oral sex before marriage was ok. Of course it is not, but let me quote what they say about oral sex in general:

You will not find oral sex among the beautiful expressions of physical intimacy in God’s perfect pattern, as outlined in the Song of Solomon. So if you are wondering if oral sex even after marriage is appropriate, let that be your guide! We can never improve upon the way God designed a man and woman to express their love – our own methods will only warp and degrade it. (p. 184)

What the Ludys do here is basically formulating an overly lengthy euphemism for “no”. So, let’s get past that awkward moment of pity for both of the Ludys (cough) and into some serious questioning that passage.

First off, I call wrong theology on this one. Actually, I call a lack of proper reading skills. Song of Solomon 2:3: I delight to sit in his shade, and his fruit is sweet to my taste. I know there are more hints in it, but I do think this very clear example settles my case. Let’s be honest here: What else could the fruit possibly be? His tongue? Maybe. But considering the overall metaphorical language of the book, I highly doubt a relatively harmless formulation would find its way in.

Now besides oral sex being mentioned in the SoS, there’s another problem: They refer to it as “our own methods” which “warp and degrade” sex. And that is exactly where my train of thoughts comes in.

I figure that kissing is beautiful and God-intended (otherwise, what’s the fuzz about that first kiss?). You kiss people you love. Have you ever had a child? If yes, have you kissed the tiny little feet? The precious little fingers? Their noses when they sleep? Yes? Do you have a wife or a husband? Have you ever kissed him or her on the forehead? On the neck? Kissed his or her fingers, or even her breasts? Yes? I suppose none of that is sinful. So… where in the bible do I find that ominous passage which areas of a loved person’s body I may kiss, and which one are off-limits? Is there such a thing as a nono-area?

You might argue that kisses from love are different from kisses which cause lust (which is essentially what oral sex does). But then would French kisses in marriage which cause lust not be sinful? Kisses on the neck as foreplay? And again, you could possibly argue that oral sex is not just “kissing” but involves more “action”, well, do French kisses still not count?

Either way, the point I’m getting at is that I have a feeling which tells me that there is an imaginary red area on our bodies, and that is our genitals. Everything within that area counts as sinful if it is kissed. And here’s where the “warped” part comes in: Are you seriously, seriously and with a straight face, going to tell me that this pattern of a “red area” is not a warped view of sexuality? Do you want to make me believe that God designed us with non-kissable areas on our bodies?

On a side note: Oral sex is probably cleaner than touching an elevator button. Especially if you just showered. So don’t even try.

Just for the giggles: When I spell checked my post, I realized I had called the book “Meet Mr Sith”. Freudian slip? Maybe. But definitely worthy of a cookie for all the Star Wars fans among you!


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If you can’t be good enough, make others look bad.

D’you remember those times when you were a kid, playing with your friends and siblings, and you were really good at one thing but the other kid wasn’t, and then they did something to stop you from being so good at it? Like that one time where your sister got angry that you could ride your bike much faster, and pushed you off? Or when your sister said that the cake didn’t taste good when it was the best you ever made? Or even just when your little brother came and destroyed that lego building you made?

Well I remember those times (and the badly scraped knees!) and today, I can laugh about it. We were kids. That’s how we were. I did it too. One time, in my teens, my sister and I cooked marmalade and we put some ‘creative’ herbs into it. And it ended up tasting so good that Dad told us it was the best ever. And when my sister said that it was her idea (which it was), I jumped in and told her off for lying – it was supposedly our idea. She didn’t say a word, and I got some praise from Dad.

Yes, I lied. I made my sister’s efforts smaller than they really were in order to make myself look better.

That’s what kids do. And some adults. But when adults do it, we usually think it’s bad character.

Unless…

Well, unless they are the husbands of patriarchy. Then, of course, making others look smaller in order to appear stronger is normal behavior.

I recently posted about feminism and that it makes me an individual. Those ladies who are against feminism argue that this is exactly the point why feminism is to blame for everything that’s going wrong between men and women. Women trying to be good at something they’re not supposed to be good at.

You are not supposed to be good at anything men are supposed to do well. Because that, my friends, makes men act like silly crybabies. It makes them start lying, cheating and drinking, makes them treat you bad and leave you for that hot secretary (who, by the way, has a mischievous smile reserved just for him, Hi Debbi!).

Like Libby recently pointed out, feminism isn’t about being more powerful than men, it is, in its core, the claim that women are good at things they supposedly could naturally not be good at. It is the permission to develop the talents you have, no matter which area they’re in. It’s not about being better, it’s about being good at something, whatever it is.

As has been pointed out repeatedly, how can I consider a man a strong man when he feels threatened by the fact that I’m better at, say, fixing a car? For me, a strong man is not anymore a man who is only strong when I serve as his weak counterpart, a contrast figure, so to speak, which has no other purpose than proving that the man next to me is strong? No, I am not a contrast figure. I am not the natural anti-hero in the sense that I’m worse at everything my man wants to be good at.

Here’s the deal: I really am worse at things my boyfriend is good at. But that’s not because I act like it, that’s because it’s true. And the things he’s good at aren’t all ‘manly’ things. He has a much better sense for style and clothing. He is great at cleaning. He is better at fixing the car and he is better when it comes to socializing. I, on the other hand, am better at memorizing things. I am a better driver (he agrees with me on this one!). I am better at spending money and I am better at cooking. And I’m sure if you heard those things in a gender-neutral way, you couldn’t 100% decide who is the man.

A man isn’t a hero when I make him a hero. He doesn’t need me to glare with wet, empty-of-will eyes at him 24/7, he doesn’t need me to smile at him like a dork and praise him every time he manages to get dressed properly and completely on his own. A man is a hero because he can accept that I am one too (at least in his eyes). And he doesn’t automatically feel castrated when I’m good at things. Actually, I was recently called a heroine. For being good at something patriarchy tells me I shouldn’t be good at. A man who is a hero doesn’t hesitate to call others the same thing.


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What is feminism to me?

I recently read a rage-filled fundamentalist post on women’s right to vote (and that women should not have that right) and I secretly thanked feminism for allowing me to be an individual in this society – or any society really.

So what does feminism mean to me? Does it mean “Yay I get to wear pants”? Sure, but that’s really just a side-joke.

It means my husband cannot quit MY job when he thinks I don’t do enough housework. He does not have the ability to cage me at the home and to rob me of my means to make money both for me and for my children (and potentially for him). It means that I will not suffer from the fact that I have no job experience, resulting in the fact that I have only two life choices: Divorce and poverty, or an unhappy marriage. It gives me the security that I have abilities which people are willing to pay money for.

It also means that I can get higher education. I can study at university in order to improve my market value and in order to improve my knowledge. It gives me a chance to decide what and who I want to be. It gives me the security that when everything is lost, my education will still be there.

It means that I can vote. I can vote for the candidate with the best program, the greatest vision, who shares my opinion or, yes, the candidate I find physically attractive. That’s how it is. It means that my opinion will count even if my justification for these opinions is based on superficial issues like looks. I’m not saying this is a good call, but that’s how it is: You cannot chose whether you like an opinion or not, you’ll have to live with others having them.

It means also that I can own things, buy things, make contracts and be a liable person by law. I do not disappear in the existence of my husband once I say “I do”. I am still allowed to exist as a person of my own. This is why I despise people who say things like “Mr and Mrs John Smith”. There is no Mrs John Smith. There might be Mrs Jane Smith.

Feminism means that my body is mine and nobody else’s. Not my husband’s. Not my child’s. MINE. I can do with it as I please. I can pierce it, draw on it, take it where ever I want. I can sleep with whom I want, at any time, or not. It protects me from being raped by my husband without appropriate punishment. It protects me from being forced to do things I do not want to do.

Feminism in its core gives me individuality at the core. It makes me a person with dreams, rights and a future. Feminism makes me human. It makes me – me, just as I want myself to be.

When the patriarchs express that feminism is evil, it is not the feminism they hate. It’s not the pants and the rights they hate. It is precisely the individuality.

Fundamentalist christianity cannot survive in an environment where there is individuality. Everybody must conform to rules and values for it to work. Everybody must submit, men and women alike. Those who do not submit are those who risk the system. Kids who talk back. Women who work. Men who have feelings. Individuals outside that perfect, Pearl-esque set of rules. Conform or be damned. Conform or suffer. Conform or die. Individuality? Uncheck that box as soon as possible. Die to yourself and move the remaining empty shell by the rules of the great puppet-master. Get on the stage and play your role, and by all means, hope it’s over soon.

I am here, reading, writing, thinking. Not because of anything the patriarchs did but because of something the feminists did. They made me what I am today. Thank you for that.


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The army of stay-at-home-authors

I’m fascinated by a realisation I’ve made recently.

In order to ‘keep up’ with what’s going on and what’s new in the P/QF circles, I frequent a number of blogs to stay up to date. After all, I can’t sit here blogging about old news all day. I want to know what’s going on, and I want to be able to write about it.

I’m rather well-informed about the number of films, documentaries and books coming out, as well as blogs about new ideas in the VF/LAF/AR community, and on top of that, I like to know what’s going on in the SAHD circles. And I realized something –

The incredible obsession stay at home daughters have with writing books. I do not want to openly bash young women here, or put them down in any way, hence I’m not linking any of the young authors, but a little look around VF and similar insider pages will give you a good overview of what the young generation is doing – though I don’t think I can avoid naming the very popular names.

I find that there are two types of stay at home daughters. On one hand, there’s the daughters of large families, often lower class, whose parents have no significant higher education and who will never get higher education themselves. The working class QF. As a daughter of this social group, I grew up admiring those young ladies writing books. How did they do it? I had no time. I wouldn’t know what to write about in the first place. And even if I did,  had no skill, no idea, no anything. I simply couldn’t express what I wanted to express. I know many daughters like me, who felt writing was a dream so far out of reach that it seemed like a completely different world. But we were still involved in the young stay at home writers fad – we swallowed up those books, discussing them. They were written by young women like us, or so we thought, who went through the same problems.

This, however, was a major illusion, I can see that now. There are no books, literally, not a single one, written by a daughter who, cheerfully, goes through the same as young QF girls from very large families. They simply don’t have the time do write, or the skill. Those masses of books are written by a completely different society.

And that’s the second group of stay at home daughters – the ones from middle and upper class families, often with a significantly smaller number of children. These girls, and I’m not saying this in a negative way but rather in an observant way, have less to worry about. Their parents don’t have to struggle with finances, they don’t have to watch their 10 siblings all day, they are usually better educated or even take some college classes. Of course, some still come from very large families, but they are rare (take the Duggars). Their lives at home provide many options to learn, to observe, for example the Bauchams, who travel quite a bit, or the Botkins. Their parents are educated, providing a better home education. And at the same time, because there aren’t that many children the women have to take care of, they have much more time on their hands. Time they can use to think, to express, to write.

I’m getting the feeling that many of these stay at home daughters are actually bored with their lives. I feel like they’d love to change some things, they just can’t, being caught in an environment that tells them to spend their lonely days at home. They write not necessarily because they have something to say but because it is the only form of expression available, because they are unsatisfied with their calm lives which do not allow to go to a real college, so instead they talk about their lives and their struggles. Many of these books are about single years and how to cope with being single.

I don’t want to sound high and mighty, but the lower class daughters seem to struggle much less in this aspect. I’m not saying the desire isn’t there, but when your days are filled to the max, you simply do not have time to contemplate marriage and love all day. Some lower class daughters even fear getting married because they feel like they’d be abandoning their siblings, their parents, that they are so needed at home that everything will fall apart once they marry. In a situation like that you simply don’t spend your days dreaming of prince charming. You may spend a day dreaming of not scraping old food from the floor, though.

The fad, the dream of being an author, seems to provide something these rather educated young women desperately need: Recognition of their abilities, which they certainly have, a voice in a world that tells them they must be quiet, and outlet to make a difference when the only difference you’ll ever make is the number of children you’re able to bear. It’s a form of secret intellectuality, one that they’re not supposed to have, so they mask it with books about how to fill your empty days helping a parents who don’t really need your help.

And finally, I often feel like there is a lot of anger in those books. Sometimes, I feel like “I am miserable in my cage, so I’m explaining you how to make a cage like this yourself, so we can be miserable together” is written between the lines. The books are often full of radical, extremist views, doing nothing but putting down women who have chosen a different life, telling them how much God hates women who try to make things work by themselves.

Do we really need more books on singleness? More books on what to do with all that spare time? And, even more interesting, what does that say about a generation of young women?