Stay at home daughters: new age feminists or intellectually lazy?

By: Nadia S. Mohammad and Anisah Hashmi, contributors to Altmuslimah.com “Stay At Home Daughters” sounds like a slogan for Wahhabi … Continued

By: Nadia S. Mohammad and Anisah Hashmi, contributors to Altmuslimah.com

“Stay At Home Daughters” sounds like a slogan for Wahhabi Islam, but is actually an extension of the American Christian Patriarchy Movement. Stay-At-Home-Daughters (SAHD) encourages young women to relinquish higher education and employment outside of the home and devote themselves to their fathers until they become wives and mothers. Claims by writers such as Kathryn Joyce, author of Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement, that thousands of young women reject feminism in favor of patriarchal complementarianism is intriguing, to say the least.

Somehow by reinstating traditional gender roles, these women feel they are rebelling against societal norms. Has feminism really failed these women or have they just given up? 

SAHDs fall under the patriarchal Christian movement, which views the world as imperiled by all non-Christians and dismisses mainstream Christianity as corrupted by feminists. While claiming to recognize the rights of women, complementarians limit these rights with the belief that women are inherently inferior to men. 

At the forefront of this movement is Doug Phillips, minister and founder of the Vision Forum, a leading Christian Patriarchal group. Phillips, who purportedly refuses to hire women in his organization, teaches that women are the “helpmate” of their husbands, and that prior to marriage, daughters may function only under the surveillance of their fathers. 

Phillips’ leading disciples, sisters Anna Sofia and Elizabeth Botkin, authors of the Visionary Daughters blog, reject feminism and claim that God gives women rights, and in a hand-that-rocks-the-cradle kind of way, ultimately, empowers them. They state on their site:

“It is the anti-Christian religions (including Marxism, Islam, and feminism) that demean, undervalue, and exploit women; throughout history, it was the Christian societies that truly valued women, protected women and honored women (insofar as those societies were faithful to the Bible’s actual teachings).”

The Botkin sisters fail to recognize that historically and theologically Christianity and Islam are very much intertwined. Islam sees itself as a continuation of Christianity. The Qur’an tells us that as women, we have God-given rights over men and they have rights over us. Islam is said to have emancipated women from the cultural patriarchy that existed when society drifted from God’s word by re-establishing fundamental women’s rights. Sounds akin to what the Botkin girls preach. 

As American Muslim women, we often find ourselves in discussions involving faith and feminism. There are many Muslims, like Phillips, who believe the two concepts are mutually exclusive, as if being a feminist is the antithesis of being a faithful believer. Our families tell us it is our religious duty to educate ourselves so we can become pillars of society as wives and mothers. The media tells us we are being oppressed, forsaken of our rights to have boyfriends and wear mini-skirts. 

Growing up, we are taught to live by the example of Khadijah, the wife of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him (PBUH)). Several years older than Muhammad (PBUH), she was not only a wealthy business owner but his boss; and she proposed to him. We are also told of Aisha, Muhammad’s wife after Khadijah’s death, who led troops in battle and who is revered as a highly authoritative Islamic scholar. And growing up watching The Cosby Show we believe that we can achieve domestic and social success by being Clair Huxtable, the quintessential do-it-all woman – a beautiful fashionista, a successful career woman, and a caring wife and mother. That is a lot to live up to! 

The struggle to be everything to everyone and do it all in six-inch stilettos makes it easy to see how feminism can be viewed as having failed the modern religious woman. Feminism is not seen as a liberating force; instead it is viewed as the rejection of our God-given femininity and the resultant moral decay of society. This is where SAHDs blame feminism for the exploitation of women. Calling on women to reevaluate their priorities appears harmless. Many women, of all faiths, are opting not to do it all anymore, or at least, not do it all at once. Women are planning their lives so they can be there for their families. These decisions are not considered radical. In fact, it can be argued that a woman making an informed decision about how to live her life is in essence a feministic ideal regardless of her choice. However, actively purporting a return to patriarchal isolation as means to build self-worth, as the Botkin sisters encourage, is a dangerous excuse for intellectual laziness.

Patriarchy, by definition, represses the God-given rights of women because it places women at the whim of men and removes the element of personal choice. Women are conditioned to deny their own desires, to be submissive to men, and to believe that their only function is to please men. Encouraging the idea that women are only fit for motherhood and marriage denies women the potential to grow as human beings. Promoting virginity to be a pledge given to fathers and taken by husbands turns women’s bodies and sexuality into the property of men. This is precisely how oppression works. The oppressor creates a reality to justify the subordination of the oppressed, and in this case, the Botkin sisters have merely become tools of a man’s subjugation of women.

Our collective history as Christians and Muslims has demonstrated that, when women live in isolation from the world, intellectually confined to what is deemed appropriate by men, society cannot flourish. It is impossible for women to find protection and respect if their standard of worth is left for men to determine, no matter how “God-fearing” the men claim to be. Rejecting feminism to return to patriarchy cannot be a revival of faith because it replaces the power of God with the desires of men. 

About

Elizabeth Tenety Elizabeth Tenety is the former editor of On Faith, where she produced "Divine Impulses," On Faith’s video interview series. She studied Theology and Government at Georgetown University and received her master’s degree from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. A New York native, Elizabeth grew up in the home of Catholic news junkies where, somewhere in between watching the nightly news and participating in parish life, she learned to ponder both the superficial and the sacred.
  • WmarkW

    I suspect this is one of those issues that has an intelligent middle ground that ideological thinking will never get us to.A recent survey found that 60% of mothers would prefer to work part-time, but only 24% do:It seems entirely plausible that the average American family needs 1.5 incomes and 0.5 homemakers. But we won’t get there as long as the tone of the discussion is about patriarchy, church traditions and liberation.

  • Secular

    This whole thing smacks of complete and total lack of civic duty and irresponsibility. These woman are not only lazy but will be parasites on the society. What will happen when they are without any skills to meet the demands of modern world. What happens when they get widowed or the husband turns out to be a scad and dumps her. What will she do then, along with her children. Then these women will do what they can, without marketable skills, they will become wards of the state. These people had been brainwashed by their scripture, which are full of contradictions, and do not really provide any guidance whatsoever in the modern world.

  • Carstonio

    I still remember the horror and anger I felt when I read the passage in James Dobson’s The issue with the roles of wife and mother has never been about their merits or faults, but about the hateful idea those should be the only acceptable ones for women. It’s wrong for societies and ideologies (both religious and secular) to hold a double standard for roles for the sexes, particularly when these define the roles for one as subservient to the other. There’s nothing wrong with a woman wanting to be a wife or mother, but the operative word is “want.” I frequently hear women express support for feminism’s core principle of equal rights and opportunities for women while denying being feminists. Asked about the dichotomy, they usually turn out to be harboring straw-woman images of feminists as mannish male-hating harridans. Often they buy into the sexist idea that assertiveness in women is unfeminine.

  • abrahamhab1

    The authors are using a miniscule group as a straw man to project the teachings of Islam sbout women onto Christianity. This sermon should be directed at those who treat women as possessions and lend the authority of the Creator and their prophet to institutionalize the inhuman practices towards them in their failed societies.

  • Hameesha

    The authors are using a miniscule group as a straw man to project the teachings of Islam sbout women onto Christianity. This sermon should be directed at those who treat women as possessions and lend the authority of the Creator and their prophet to institutionalize the inhuman practices towards them in their failed societies.^ This guy is quite the Orientalist. So somehow all Muslim women (regardless of their origin) are supposed to account for the backwards practices in countries that have nothing to do with them? And they have to speak to people who have been distorting religion in order to promote a particular political agenda in all of these countries? Way to lump people into categories. These girls clearly grew up in the United States, why should they have to address people on the other side of the world?

  • Carstonio

    The radical Susan Brownmiller is no more a “standard-bearer” for feminism than Pat Robertson is a standard-bearer for Christianity.

  • abrahamhab1

    Bloggersville says:Dr. Wafa Sultan relays that she was a practicing physician and could not leave her father’s house in Damascus without taking permission from her high school dropout much younger brother. Women in Saudi Arabia are not allowed to step outside the house without being accompanied by a close male relative. About traveling abroad? Forget it! Yet some accompany their husbands to Beirut and London and stay cloistered in their hotel rooms while their male consorts cruise the towns’ night clubs.Hameesha says:Maybe they live in the USA but they subscribe to an ideology that does not recognize any loyalty except to the Ummah: the Muslim Nation. They may live in Russia, Britain or America but they are never Russians, British or Americans but first and foremost Muslims. The common denominator among the many societies aeound the world that dehumanize women is Islam.

  • lepidopteryx

    I can’t imagine telling my daughter that she was under her father’s control until he transferred that authority to a husband. My mom stayed at home until my sister and I started school. It was what she wanted to do, and my dad worked two jobs to make it possible. Once we started school, my dad quit one of his jobs, and my mom got a job. We were always taught that we should do what WE felt was best for us. If we wanted a career, then that’s what we should pursue. If we wanted to marry, fine. If we wanted to remain single, fine. We were also told that even if we wanted to be stay-at-home moms, we should still get a degree before having children, because divorce or death of a spouse are always possibilities, and our parents wanted us to have marketable skills should we have need for them.

  • Secular

    That’s not to say that women don’t have rights. Islam was the first religion to recognize the right of women to own their own property, unlike Christianity, Hinduism and other previous religions which regarded women themselves AS property to be owned.
    This is utter nonsense. In pre-islamic Arabia women were already property owners. Perhaps the islamic tradition is mere continuation of the same. The fact that Khadija was the employer of thta illiterate bedouin is proof enough of it. The exegesis about Islam is not whether it predates other religions in recognizing the women’s right to property. It is the fact that it has stayed static since then thanks to the rigidity of Islamic scripture. It has not kept with the progress of human spirit. It cannot be helped that history is fraught with iniquities. But it is wicked to freeze the iniquities in the name of religion and scripture is the bane of Islam. The selective culling of female babies in India is one of the banes of that society. Will have severe sociological implication there, within a generation, when there will be far fewer females to go around. Hopefully that society will learn the repercussions sooner than later. But this is not buttressed by any scriptural admonishments. There are superstitions and many wicked things in Hindu scripture that I can recount. But the culling is not anywhere sanctioned in their scripture. So Islamists you only betray your bigotry when you cite that as some kind of buttressal to the despicable islamic practices.

  • wiki-truth

    Believe ‘IT’ or not; WE[i] Always Love Ye/Yo’s [onfaith] BLOGGER-FREUNDS (By Any Monikers). Soo,Huggs-n-a-kiss’s to ALL YE/YO Brothers & da Sisters. AND

  • n01cat1

    Sorry, but I disagree with the comment using the word “parasite”. These women are following their religious beliefs. That said, I disagree with the edict completely and totally. The edict assumed that when the parents die, the woman will have sufficient means to survive or that other male relatives will step in and support her. If this is not the case, she is left stranded in a society she does not understand and has no means of self-support. That is not being a ‘parasite” or “lazy”. That is allowing a religious edict to place her survival in jeopardy.

  • readerny

    I hope the believers in this movement agree to refuse services or goods from any women who do not believe in their system. So, the next time you visit an emergency room, Starbucks, or choose to take a flight or simply go to Walmart, I hope you refuse to be waited on or helped, or administered to by women. After all, they’re not following your doctrine. That means you can’t visit your creationist museums either.

  • Secular

    Sorry, but I disagree with the comment using the word “parasite”. These women are following their religious beliefs. That said, I disagree with the edict completely and totally. The edict assumed that when the parents die, the woman will have sufficient means to survive or that other male relatives will step in and support her. If this is not the case, she is left stranded in a society she does not understand and has no means of self-support. That is not being a ‘parasite” or “lazy”. That is allowing a religious edict to place her survival in jeopardy.

    Of course the people following the dogma and the dogma itself are deserving of derision and negative judgment. This is the really the stupidest thing about religion. It demands undeserved respect from everyone. When such respect is not given, then accused of bigotry. The followers of religion feel they are absolved of any responsibility because they are following some stupid, even perhaps bigoted dogma and they should not be judged. It is in that context that I characterized them as parasites, which they will turnout to be, more than likely.RELIGIOUS DOGMA ARE NOT ANY DIFFERENT THAN ANY POLITICAL OR PHILOSOPHICAL DOGMAS. JUST THE OTHER DOGMAS ARE JUDGED, SO WILL THE RELIGIOUS DOGMAS BE JUDGED. IT IS SHEER STUPIDITY TO BELIEVE THAT THERE IS SOME SKY-DADDY OR SKY-MOMMY THAT HAD PASSED THE DOGMA. GET OVER IT.

  • itsthedax

    If some women want to define themselves as being inferior to every man in the world, that is their right, I suppose. People exercise the right to make harmful decisions about their own lives all the time, and a lot of these decisions seem to involve religions. Personally, I think their parents are victimizing these kids, but at least they’ll have the time to reconsider later.

  • gershwin2009

    “…is a dangerous excuse for intellectual laziness”Religion IS a dangerous excuse for intellectual laziness. Sorry to break this news to you but your Muhammad (greatest historical con artist, GHCA) will not guarantee your rights. The religious have no chance to ensuring women’s rights. Only us, the secular society, can possibly guarantee those rights. Something that people like Muhammad (GHCA) and any of the imams never did and never will.

  • sarahabc

    Sure. Why set women back to the ’50′s when you can set them back to the 1890′s? Hopefully this is extremely isolated (as in isolated to the Westboro Baptist Church). I can’t imagine anyone else letting *any* doctrine tell them to stop educating their girl or allowing her out in the world. Not to mention how it downplays the mother’s influence and responsibility in parenting.

  • schmidt1

    The authors would probably stone them if they didnt

  • Carstonio

    Women in Saudi Arabia are not allowed to step outside the house without being accompanied by a close male relative.(bangs head on computer monitor) There’s no way in the name of all that’s good and decent that the policy can be justified. That’s almost worthy of an Underground Railroad to enable the nation’s females to escape that tyranny.

  • vmax02rider

    How will they find husbands if they never leave their fathers’s house?

  • JohnDinHouston

    I’m sorry, what? This really isn’t true, is it?

  • ftb3

    There does not appear to be much difference between this form of so-called “Christianity” and the Taliban. The education of girls and women promotes an active and stable economic system, which is sorely needed in the world.I feel very sorry for these young girls. I do wish my own late mother had had the opportunity (as she really wanted) to work outside the home and had been compensated for the mighty work she did inside the home. And as for the poster above who decried feminism as the worst of all evils, and responsible for all evils in the world on a macro scale and all evils to the “family” on a micro scale — that post reveals one mighty insecurity. I am a very proud and active feminist (female) with tons of very fine and feminist men (straight and gay, btw) in my life, whom I love with all my heart (and which is returned) — worldwide, I might add). Feminism saved my life, indeed.

  • csintala79

    If this movement is tolerated in the U.S. as being an expression of individual freedom of choice, why are we criticizing the Afghans for their patriarchal, male dominated society? While perhaps using a velvet glove, we are coercing that nation to adopt the Western value of gender equality. If we can’t or won’t put pressure on the Christian patriarchy Movement to observe the West’s value regarding the status of women, why do we have the audacity to preach to the Afghans? Is it because we feel as conquerors we have a free hand to socially engineer a conquered country? As with bringing the troops home to protect our own border, why don’t we launch a campaign to disband our home grown Taliban? At the very least its members should be on the no-fly list. We need to extend our profiling to White Anglo Saxon Protestants, many of whom are as fanatical as any jihadi, and, by the way, are waiting and praying for the final jihad, i.e., Armageddon. As fanatical believers in the end of days and subjugation of women, they present a clear and present danger.

  • mipost1

    How quaint: ‘Keep ‘em ignorant, barefoot and pregnant’ is coming back. How unAmerican to deprive anyone of the right and ability to be independent members of our society. What’s next: Stepford wives? Or maybe The Handmaid’s Tale?

  • pepperjade

    EEWWWW

  • hebe1

    Ugh. Children should not be treated as possessions. Women are not objects. Everyone in this country has rights. Maybe the fathers and mothers of these girls should think about why they came to this country and the advantages that are here for their children. In other words, don’t think about what is good for you, but rather what is good for your children.

  • Erasma

    What “movement?” The only evidence of a “movement” I find is one author’s book and reaction to it.The difference between this and The Taliban, btw, unless I’ve missed something else, is that neither these girls nor anyone else are killing their neighbors or burning them out of their homes for failing to comply with their vision.

  • LeeH1

    “We are also told of Aisha, Muhammad’s wife after Khadijah’s death, who led troops in battle and who is revered as a highly authoritative Islamic scholar.”Puhleese! Aisha was given to Mohammed as a child bride when she was only five years old. The daughter of Abu Bakr, she was given to Mohammed to seal the family ties, and to insure that the control of the religion would be given to Abu Bakr, instead of to Mohammed’s son-in-law, Ali. This is the break between Sunni and Shi’ite Moslems to this day.Mohammed, then over 50 years old, reportedly had sex with Aisha when she was nine or ten years old. This example is why child brides in Yemen, such as Nojoud Mohammed Ali, and in many other Moslem countries continue to be placed in the homes of older men. If child brides were OK with Mohammed, then it is OK for other old men.Later, Aisha was accused of adultery.That Aisha led troops into battle was after the death of Mohammed, and during the battle of Bassorah, when Moslems fought Moslems for the first time. Some say 10,000 Moslems died in the campaign.In short, she became the type of woman that Mohammed warned against- a child sex gift, seductive, willful, and good at causing conflict among Moslems.

  • icyone

    This is probably irrelevant, but I can’t resist…Yeah, I know we shouldn’t have — but it was sweet…

  • andrew23boyle

    Ignorance is NEVER a good thing and no one should be actively dissuaded from pursuing an education. People can of course make their own choices and not everyone can or wants to go to college but a movement dedicated to discouraging it? It’s just wrong.

  • maryannevans2

    I doubt there really re very many many of these people, but you really have to be worried about the size of your male equipment to treat women this way, and I would be surprised if physical and sexual abuse isn’t part of the program. As for the women, I think they need to remember that men die and desert their wives, and every woman needs to be prepared to earn a living. Indeed, some women never find husbands at all, or find husbands who lose their jobs and can’t support a family. I as a taxpayer and working mother am certainly not at all interested in subsidizing these families when they get into trouble.

  • SilverSpringer1

    Women without education and workplace experience have no choices, because they cannot support themselves. That leaves them at the mercy of their husbands or fathers. They cannot leave unhealthy situations because they cannot afford to. Every woman (and man) should be able to be financially independent. Then they can live the lives they want — including living in a very traditional household, if that is what they choose.

  • googlesmoogle

    How can anybody afford to stay home when most everybody is paid less and less, while banks take a larger portion of earnings in interest payments on everyday transactions than ever before in our history. (And usury is still unconstitutional, I don’t recall anyone properly amending this prohibition.)As for Marxism, being a religion…that statement just shows how little these two know about what they are writing about…or maybe they got too much opium of the masses to understand.

  • schafer-family

    Genesis 1:27 (New King James Version)So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.Where in the Bible do you see that women are inferior?

  • maddymappo

    I think American women do not understand how rare, privileged and fragile our freedoms in this country are. Even so, women still do not always earn equal pay for equal jobs, and are overlooked for management and administrative positions. It is important to understand that religion has always and will always play a major role in casting women as subservient to the male in accordance wtih the patriarchal view of god. Sadly, many women who yearn for spiritual comfort and the security of conformity, continue to embrace such religions and work against their own liberation.

  • eezmamata

    “Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, If a woman have conceived seed, and born a man child: then she shall be unclean seven days; according to the days of the separation for her infirmity shall she be unclean.” (Leviticus 12:2)”But if she bear a maid child, then she shall be unclean two weeks, as in her separation: and she shall continue in the blood of her purifying threescore and six days.” (Leviticus 12:5)

  • EdgewoodVA

    As PepperJade said: EWWWW. How would people react if a son did this for his mother? How desirable would he be as a future spouse or employee? There comes a point when a young adult (in most Western societies, anyway) should leave his/her parents’ home and learn to take care of him- or herself. It’s a natural chapter in anyone’s life. To tell your daughter that she can’t/shouldn’t take that step is to disable her and deny her of the opportunity–and responsibility–to grow up. Might as well keep her in diapers.

  • BurfordHolly

    Thank you for making the obvious comparison to radical Islam.Let’s see if we ever get honor killings. To be sure, they are in Deuteronomy

  • Nymous

    They’d get along well with the Taliban, because they are no different.

  • qqbDEyZW

    how many girls will be raped before this group is locked up. This isn’t an Esther story and we’ve seen how these pervert groups work as they use the shield of God and the Bible to commit sin. With the help of perverts like Justice Scalia it’s sad that it’s making other men continue the evil acts.

  • NoDonkey

    There’s no job on earth nearly as important as raising your own children. Trusting infants to strangers is lunacy. Anything happens to them, you’ll never forgive yourself. Once children get older, that’s another matter. They enjoy playing with other children. But prior to age 2? If you don’t want to care for your own children, don’t have them.

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