An old post, Window and Walls, that received some new traffic is the inspiration for this post. I used to have a blog that mostly talked about religion and gender where I talked about my experiences growing up in a conservative, religious household. My father’s family practiced what an Old World brand of Catholicism. Between my mother and father an assortment of rules governed a very narrow path I was allowed to walk. The rules weren’t always explicitly stated, you had to figure them out for yourself, and the rules could change at any time.
What I say here is more from an insider’s standpoint and a discussion of gender roles. If you didn’t grow up in a religious conservative household you may not have the context to appreciate the bizarreness of this world. It applies to men and women in these circles, not to men and women at large.
After high school, I did attend college. I quit and eventually moved back home. I found a job that paid well enough for me to live by myself. I’d always known, being a girl, different rules applied to me. I’m not sure that it was explicitly said many times, but in the back of my mind, I knew that even though I was an adult, I was not “allowed” to move out. Of course in forbidding me to leave, they had to marginalize me in every way. Marginalization is a common tactic to get the womenfolk to follow the rules. Sometimes, though, it is the mothers who are the most cruel of all.
It sounds truly bizarre, but when I did eventually leave, it was almost like running away from home, like I had planned a jailbreak.
My parents didn’t view me as a fully functioning adult. Besides dropping out of college, I didn’t quite get their reasoning. Looking back it seems even stranger. I hadn’t become pregnant before marriage, no criminal record, no drug use, no tattoos, weird piercing or hair colors. I’d experimented a bit with alcohol, but hey my dad was an alcoholic.
The view that women aren’t fully functional adults until they marry is a common one is some religious circles. Having attended Catholic schools for 12 years though, if I had classmates were brought up similarly, I didn’t know them.
One day years ago, I ran into groups online that seemed a lot like my parents. I found the viewpoints more typical of some Protestant groups, but there are some Catholics that have these strange viewpoints as well. They might fall under the label of complementarian, fundamentalism or red pill. Men are alphas or betas. The red pill women of course are all married to alphas, per their own definition of what an alpha is.
The religious conservatives are very concerned about gender roles. They have an assortment of influences that guide their lifestyle. John Piper is notorious for spewing nonsense about gender roles. Their leaders are always men, and just like the Matt Lauers and the Harvey Weinsteins, well boys will be boys.
They tend to be hyperfocused on gender roles, sex and marriage. Other parts of the bible such as Matthew 25:35-45 seem to mean little to them. On one blog I came across, a woman was essentially reproducing someone else’s copyrighted materials to sell and she seemed clueless that this was stealing.
These people make up their own rules about what is acceptable for each gender. Appearance is very important for women. You must wear dresses or skirts, not gain weight or let yourself go. Curiously though, the same rules don’t apply for the menfolk. They can roll out of bed, not bother shaving, not bother tucking in their shirt, wear jeans and attend church right along with the women folk who must wear be properly primped and dressed.
I find it funny appearance is so important for the women, but not for the men. My mom and dad weren’t fashionistas but there was a minimum code of formailty for a given occasion I think that has been lost today. Modesty is sometimes important, because dontcha know if a man behaves inappropriately towards you, it is probably your fault for dressing the wrong way. If you don’t think our culture dresses right, that is fine. I’ve been mixing it up with public school parents for years, some of the menfolk could improve their appearance.
A woman’s weight is tremendously important. She should have gained only a few pounds if any since high school. Conversely, men perhaps gaining 50 pounds since high school is A-okay. My high school age son is not quite 6 foot, it is hard to imagine putting 50 pounds on him and calling that normal. Of course when the men folk are concerned it is only about a woman’s health. Maybe they should visit a cardiac rehab unit and compare the number of men and women…what you wouldn’t want to be logical? When they are done comparing the amount of men and women, they can start comparing the ages of the participants.
Many that advocate these ultraconservative ways haven’t practiced what they preached, so why would you listen to them? They’ve been divorced a time or two, had children by different fathers/mothers etc. etc. One of the more curious examples is a woman who married a man who had a child out of wedlock and insists that he was some super in demand alpha. I’m not sure what universe she lives in, but of the people I grew up with, no one was looking to marry someone who’d had a child out of wedlock. I don’t mean this as cruel statement, just more of a statement of fact amongst the Catholics I grew up with.
Only a red pill man can install a ceiling fan, and only a red pill woman can bake a pie, according to the red pill adherents. The rest of us are simply too dumb to take our gender roles seriously. Never mind that my husband has done significant remodeling in the houses we’ve owned. I guess he doesn’t know the rules, as he would rather eat glass than ruminate and cogitate over such issues. He is more of a doer.