The Truth About Women That Feminists Don’t Want You to Know

Posted By on April 9, 2010

The recent naming of Nancy Pelosi as the “most powerful woman in American history” has sparked national discussion on both the history of women in America and the nature of woman’s power. As Speaker of the House, Mrs. Pelosi holds the highest civic position any American woman has held to date, and her hand in putting through the recent Health Care Bill will have huge historic implications. Though we don’t see it as a great advance for women to finally be oppressed by one of our own, this is undeniably a kind of power.

But behind this recent tribute to Mrs. Pelosi is this presupposition: “Women find their power in holding the positions of men – the traditional women’s role has no power. The power traditional women exercised in the past doesn’t count.”

Americans are ready to believe this because they long ago adopted a feminist view of history. Before feminism led women from the kitchen to the boardroom, we are told, women’s minds withered in the confines of a “comfortable concentration camp,” their talents never developed or given room to benefit society. Before feminism bought women the positions of men, woman’s influence was hushed and smothered beneath the oppression of male dominance. Before feminism invented justice, equality, and rights for women, women were deprived of education, opportunities, property, and power.

All thanks to feminism, we are now surely the strongest, smartest, most capable, most valued, best educated generation of women the West has ever seen. So we are to believe.

But despite feminism’s revisions of history, the truth is impossible to fully conceal when the light of strong, brilliant women glimmers through from supposedly dark eras. The general response, when a particularly intelligent and spirited woman appears in a Christian, patriarchal society, is to quickly recruit her as a proto-feminist, an anomaly of her time. Consider this typical approach to Abigail Adams, from the feminist biography Dearest Friend: “Abigail Adams was, in many ways, a prisoner of the times in which she lived, and her views on women’s role in society and on politics reflect that fact.” [1]

Were the Abigail Adamses flukes of history, born out of a void? Or did they come out of societies that were all about producing women like Abigail Adams? In this article we would like to let the women and facts speak for themselves. We will see that the reason feminism must reinterpret the facts is because it cannot stand on the legs of real history.

Abigail Adams

Abigail Adams

Our Forgotten Mothers

America has a rich legacy of powerful womanhood, integral to its very foundation and strength. Consider the inscription on the Monument to the Pilgrim Mothers in Plymouth, Massachusetts: “They brought up their families in sturdy virtue and a living faith in God without which nations perish.” As America was fighting to establish herself as an independent nation, their foe British general Lord Cornwallis despaired, “We may destroy all the men in America, and we shall still have all we can do to defeat the women.” [2]

After 200 years of cultivated feminine strength in America, French journalist Alexis de Tocqueville concluded his great work Democracy in America: “[I]f I were asked, now that I am drawing to the close of this work, in which I have spoken of so many important things done by the Americans, to what the singular prosperity and growing strength of that people ought mainly to be attributed, I should reply: To the superiority of their women.”[3]

There is a great heritage of strength and even power that should be our birthright as American daughters. But how many of us are making good on that birthright? How many of us could claim to be as selflessly intrepid as the pilgrim women? How many of us are as brave as the wives of the signers? How many as enterprising and resourceful as those who helped build colonial culture and economy? How many as unflappable and capable as the women who civilized the Wild West? How many as poised and gracious as the White House hostesses and army wives whose savoir faire helped advance their husbands? How many as wise and educated as our founding mothers?

In many ways, our pajama-wearing, text-messaging, Me-generation is America’s weak generation of women. To paraphrase de Tocqueville’s quote, if you were to ask us now to what we would attribute the singular weakness and growing apostasy of America, we might say, to the selfishness and pettiness of their women. We’ve forgotten how to build strength into a nation; our idea of “power” is to leave the next generation for others to raise, ramrod through Health Care Bills most Americans don’t want, and put men out of a job.

But we will continue to feel good about where we are now as long as we continue to be ignorant about where we came from. It’s certainly easier to be excited about how “intelligent,” “educated,” and “valued” women are when we lose the historical point of comparison.

Monument to Pilgrim Mothers

Monument to Pilgrim Mothers

Examining Feminism’s Inheritance

“I disagree with the ideas behind radical feminism,” people sometimes write to us, “but you have to admit feminism has brought womanhood some good things.” [4] Some warn us against throwing the baby out with the bathwater, hating political feminism while refusing to be grateful for the strengths it has infused into us and our peers. If we examine four of the most popular claims people make, though, we may begin to be grateful for something completely different.

Claim 1: “Before feminism, women were not as valued and did not have as many rights.”

Before feminism, the Bible declared men’s and women’s equal standing and value before God – and in fact teaches this more consistently than any other religious or secular doctrine. In Scripture, man’s work and woman’s work are equally valid – wifehood, motherhood, homemaking, and femininity are not belittled, and women are not guilt-manipulated into living and acting like men. On the contrary; woman’s distinctiveness from man is praised and honored, and her unique role is held vital. Women were to be protected and cherished, to “attain honor” (Prov. 11:16) and be “praised in the gates” (Prov. 31:31). It wasn’t until the advent of women’s “liberation” that women were told, “Your value as a woman is determined by how well you can perform as a man. Being a woman is no longer enough.” And it wasn’t until feminism had raised up “an epidemic of thugs, dolts, and cads”[5] that women as a mass began to be “valued” as objects to be used and discarded.

As for our new rights – where did these rights come from? All rights must be bestowed by some Higher Source, which Susan B. Anthony was not. God is the author of our rights, as our founders recognized – not feminism – and it was He who gave women property rights, marital rights, and divorce rights (for example). The Bible was there first.

Millennia before feminism, the Bible also gave the world strict laws to protect women from abuse, rape, incest, abandonment, injustice, and more. Moreover, it gave women something our legal system doesn’t: a whole system of provisions for women who end up in hard circumstances.[6]

And there were societies long before suffrage-era America, attempting to construct themselves along biblical lines, which put these rights, laws, and provisions into action. One of these societies was Reformation-era Geneva, which “came to be known as ‘the paradise of women.’ There were good reasons for this. John Calvin was strongly protective of “women’s rights.” Under his guidance, church consistories went after wife abusers. They prosecuted guardians who had misappropriated trust funds of widows and orphans. …Rules were published to protect both men and women in marriage… Deserted wives were protected, and so on.” [7]

Yes, we will always be able to find single examples of women being mistreated in any era. But speaking historically as well as theologically, Christianity is the only social, spiritual, and political force that gives women true value and rights. 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).

Claim 2: Women are better educated today, thanks to feminism.

Women have more educational opportunities today, thanks to the cheap and almost-instant accessibility of information. So do men. But women are not necessarily making better use of their opportunities than they ever did (and feminism did not help Al Gore invent the Internet.)

There have never been enough deeply wise and learned women, and, certainly, some societies produced fewer than others, but we believe, historically, the chief barrier between a woman and her education is her own apathy and mental laziness.

Hannah More, regarded by Britain’s intelligentsia as one of the most learned people of her time (1745 – 1833), chided: “She who regrets being doomed to a state of dark and gloomy ignorance, by the injustice, or tyranny of the men, complains of an evil which does not exist.”[8]

Hannah More

Hannah More

The Bible offers as much praise for women who are intelligent, wise, capable, prudent, gifted, well-spoken, prolific, and diplomatic, as it does men – and casts an intimidating vision for all that godly womanhood requires. Once again, the Bible was there long before feminism, telling girls not to be ignorant, foolish, lazy, myopic, or easily led (Prov. 9:13, Prov. 31:27, Lam. 1:9, 2 Tim. 3:6).

And history is replete with examples of Christian men who knew they needed to educate their daughters thoroughly. The Lady Jane Greys, Anne Bradstreets, Mercy Otis Warrens, Abigail Adamses, Hannah Mores, and others from the panoply of educated women in history did not come out of a vacuum. They were the products of Christian families that understood the importance of learned women to a Christian society.

In 1688, Francois Fenelon wrote an entire book to rebut those who “exclaim, ‘Why make them learned? Curiosity renders them vain and conceited: it is sufficient if they be one day able to govern their families, and implicitly obey their husbands!’”[9] (an excuse he attributed mainly to “maternal caprice.”) His central thesis: “Great reservoirs of intellect can and must be cultivated in daughters. This will sustain them as well as equip them for the challenges of productive womanhood.”

Granted, there have always been boorish men who preferred stupid women, and there have always been women eager to accommodate them. Our society is no enlightened exception. And people who want to complain about the devaluation of female intellect in the past should consider that feminism’s sons are hardly known for valuing women’s brains over women’s bodies.

Feminism hasn’t stemmed the tide of boors and bimbos in society, or stopped girls from being too undisciplined to educate themselves. What feminism has done, chiefly, is change the goal of a woman’s education – for which we will decline to thank it.

Education expert John Taylor Gatto writes about the actual decline of education over the last 200 years, for men and women, through government schooling: “Anyone who reads can compare what the American present does in isolating children from their natural sources of education, modeling them on a niggardly last, to what the American past proved about human capabilities. The magnitude of the forced schooling institution’s strange accomplishment has been monumental. No wonder history has been outlawed.”[10]

Claim 3: Thanks to feminism, women can now work and earn money.

Woman’s work has moved into a different sphere since feminism started creeping into American thinking, but so has industry in general. Part of the reason we are confused about woman’s relation to “work” today is because economy, industry, and work were redefined during the industrial revolution, when biblical domestic economy was moved into workstations and factories. Woman’s work at home, which had previously included broad opportunities for gainful employment in the family endeavors, dwindled to household chores and caring for children…until that last, too, was removed from the sphere of the home. The women’s movement was enlisted as an important player in this change, helping to bury the family economy by equating “real” work with jobs outside the home.

Anthropologist Allan Carlson notes: “Industrialization tore asunder this settled, family-oriented European world. In historian John Demos’ words: ‘Family life was wrenched apart from the world of work — a veritable sea-change in social history.’ …The reciprocal, complementary tasks of husbands and wives in household production were quickly leveled, and questions grew about gender roles in the new order. …In the industrial milieu, the inward-looking, autonomous, cooperative family changed into a collection of individuals in potential, and often real, competition with each other.”[11]

Prior to both of these social movements, women worked. Their work was carried on in the household workplace (which could include fields, vineyards, family storefronts or offices, workshops, etc.), but was not limited to household chores. Women were productive members of society, producing goods of tangible value, bringing in money, and expanding the family holdings. In Scripture (just look at Proverbs 31), and in Christian societies in history, woman’s work included business transactions, production of goods, making investments, developing skills in diverse fields, and earning money – from home.

One such example is Eliza Lucas Pinckney, who at age 16 (in 1739) not only accepted the work of maintaining her family’s three plantations in her father’s absence, but used the fields to experiment with crops to strengthen the fledgling nation’s economy, including oaks for lumber when American would need fleets. According to Cokie Roberts, “Among her many accomplishments was the successful cultivation of indigo in South Carolina, which provided a source of income to the Mother Country that one historian of the era judged more important than the silver mines of Peru or Mexico to Spain. When Eliza Pinckney died, George Washington insisted on acting as a pallbearer at her funeral.”[12] Though Cokie Roberts’ comments between the lines try to revise feminism into Eliza’s motives, Eliza’s own words breathe a focus on home and family; a desire to stay in her “proper province,” submitted to her father and then her husband. It would take a feminist to see a contradiction in her words and actions.[13]

It would also take a feminist to think that Eliza and her contemporaries needed liberation.

Claim 4: Feminism gives us power.

Woman’s power is innate. Women are hugely influential, and always have been – for better or for worse. We have always had the power to build up or to destroy (Prov. 14:1). Much of the power we’re seeing women wield today, from the house to the House, is more of the latter – of course, the power to destroy generally makes itself more obvious, giving women the impression of being stronger.

We really should consider, as well, how much women have influenced every society, and when looking at cultures which marginalized women, to consider how much their women played a part in that.

We don’t mean to downplay the fact that there is real oppression and exploitation in this world, and there are real victims. But often, women are the ones who perpetuate their own exploitation and oppression. This is one case where “it takes two to tango”; it takes both to perpetuate pornography, unhealthy fashion trends, a sexually exploitive culture, and endless other harms to women. Male-female inter-connectivity and inter-dependency make it impossible for men to get away with much that women don’t allow. Women have always known, as Abigail Adams wrote to her husband, “…notwithstanding all your wise Laws and Maxims we have it in our power not only to free ourselves but to subdue our Masters, and without violence throw both your natural and legal authority at our feet.”[14] And she wasn’t talking about feminist insurrections.

Up From Liberation

The good news is this: we have God-given strength that we can use to rebuild and restore what feminism has taken away from us.

In muffling the truth and cutting us off from our heritage of strong, intelligent womanhood, they have defrauded even those of us who wanted no part of feminism. In exchange, they gave us “Women’s Studies” – a faulty concept, because it divorces “woman” from her context and tries to study her as an individual entity, as if “woman” can be understood apart from “human” and extracted from her environment. Avoiding what the best women in history have done, focusing on victims overcoming victimhood, “women’s studies” largely consists of erecting imaginary glass ceilings, planting territorial flags on discoveries feminism did not make, and recruiting spokeswomen from among its antithesis.

Thankfully, the Bible is our source of vision and inspiration. Even when we seem to have no good examples before us, Scripture is always there. Even when society is in shambles, the blueprint for rebuilding it is in front of us.

We have been given the opportunity to rebuild a culture of femininity from scratch. Let us be thankful that we have examples from previous generations of women to learn from, but let’s not restrict ourselves to copying the past. A biblical culture of femininity must be built on the right foundations – not Regency or Victorian England, not enlightenment romanticism, not fantasy lore, not 1st, 2nd, or 3rd wave feminism, and not Nancy Pelosi.

Feminists, hands off our heroines and our history. Because we have more coming.

———

Footnotes:

1. Lynne Withey, Dearest Friend, Simon and Schuster, 2001) p. xiii)

2. Cited in Founding Mothers, by Cokie Roberts, (William Morrow, 2004) p. xix

3. Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America (New York: Penguin Books USA Inc., 1956), p. 246, emphasis added

4. We occasionally get comments like this even from conservative Christians, including one from a young lady thankful to feminism for the right to drive; supposedly she was concerned that, had she lived a few hundred years ago, she might not have been allowed to drive a car. We would point out to this young lady that she might also have been denied access to a cell phone or the internet — but not by an oppressive patriarchy. She can thank progress in general–increased mobility and communication technology do bring new opportunities for everyone, but that has nothing to do with feminism.

5. “The Myth About Boys,” by David Burnett, TIME Magazine, 2007

6. This system of provisions includes the gleaning system, the kinsman redeemer system, the family provision system, the poor-tithe system, the handmaid system, and more. Biblical Law presupposed that there will be sin and irresponsibility in every society, and that the true victims must be protected.

7. R.J. Rushdoony, Roots of Reconstruction (Ross House Books, 1991), p. 407, emphasis added

8. Hannah More, Essays on Various Subjects Principally Designed for Young Ladies, emphasis added

9. Franois de Salignac de La Mothe Fenelon, De l’ Education des Filles (The Education of Daughters), written 1688, published in English by Backus and Whiting, 1806

10. John Taylor Gatto, The Underground History of American Education (Oxford Village Press, 2001) p. 33. He notes: “Ninty-six and a half percent of the American population is mediocre to illiterate where deciphering print is concerned. This is no commentary on their intelligence, but without ability to take in primary information from print and to interpret it they are at the mercy of commentators who tell them what things mean. A working definition of immaturity might include those who excessively require others to tell them what things mean.” Ibid, p. 62

11. Allan B. Carlson, From Cottage to Workstation, from the Introduction

12. Cokie Roberts, Founding Mothers (William Morrow, 2004) p. xvii

13. In Dearest Friend, Lynne Withey takes a similar approach with Abigail Adams: “She was contradictory in other ways too. She argued for improved legal rights and education for women long before they became popular issues; but she always believed that a woman’s place was in the home…Although she never actually stepped outside her role as wife and mother, she carried it to its limits. She managed all the family property and investments – including buying land, planning additions, to houses and farm buildings, hiring and firing laborers, contracting with tenants, and supervising far work. … She also served as John’s unofficial, unpaid, but most influential political advisor.” p. ix (History and Scripture teach us that none of this is “contradictory” – only feminists paint it as such. Buying land, hiring and firing, supervising work, and advising husbands with wise counsel is all there in Proverbs 31.)

14. The Quotable Abigail Adams, edited by John P. Kaminskiz (The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2009) p. 358

Recommended Resources
The Feminine Mystique (50th Anniversary Edition)
Letterbook of Eliza Lucas Pinckney, 1739-1762: Intriguing Letters by One of Colonial America’s Most Accomplished Women (Women’s Diaries & Letters of the Nineteenth-Century South)

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About The Author

Anna Sofia and Elizabeth Botkin are the only daughters of Geoffrey and Victoria Botkin. They and their five brothers share their family’s vision for cultural reformation, and enjoy working with their father on projects affecting family, church, and state. They delight in discovering new things every day about the beauty and power of the biblical home and family unit, and in investigating the glorious and diverse opportunities open to young women at home. At 24 and 22 years of age, respectively, their interests include film making, orchestral harp, history, music theory and composition, theology, the reconstruction of the West, hospitality, classical piano, the persecuted church, and home-making. They’d be delighted to hear your questions or comments regarding So Much More or Visionary Daughters. Email them at damsels (AT) visionarydaughters (DOT) com

Comments

19 Responses to “The Truth About Women That Feminists Don’t Want You to Know”

  1. This is an extremely inspiring post! It is so easy to get discouraged when faced with questions like these when you don’t have the words to answer them. Thank you both for outlining some of those answers, as well as for reminding us women that we can and should aspire to be the productive and intelligent women that we see in our “Founding Mothers.”

  2. Wow! Excellent, Excellent, Excellent! :-)

  3. jenkindle says:

    I like this!!!

  4. Mrs. Eva H. says:

    I liked the article, especially the paragraph about women and work. People seem often to forget that women have worked throughout the ages, but that this kind of work centered around the home or the family owned business, which allowed them to be under the protection and care of their husbands and have their children around them. There is such a limited view of history and historic context on the role of woman in history, and if it is explored it often is from a feministic viewpoint. I am glad to see this appreciative historic perspective.

  5. I loved this post. It has been on my heart for a long time to bring attention to the truth of women’s history and Christianity in conversation and written word.

    In public school, every section of the history books would have a paragraph that told you that women did not go to work and were not allowed to go to school. This constant drumbeat was designed to make us girls feel so privileged to be in school, I suppose. The fact that “school” and “education” were viewed differently than they are today did not enter into the discussion, of course.

  6. Tiana Krenz says:

    Well done, and AMEN!

  7. sarah says:

    Emmy Noether was one of the greatest mathematicians of the 20th century – indeed of any century. Born in 1882 in Erlangen, Germany, where her father was a professor of mathematics at the university, she is known for her work in ring theory and non-commutative algebras. Her work in the theory of invariants proved essential to Einstein in formulating his general theory of relativity. In the late 19th and early 20th century, women were not permitted to officially matriculate at German universities, though they could petition individual professors to attend their classes. Noether attended courses at Erlangen, then at Gottingen, receiving her Ph.D. from Gottingen in 1907. She returned to Erlangen to assist her father, but continued her own mathematical work (much of which was published in the papers of others). In 1915, Hilbert (yes, real analysis and quantum afficiandos, that Hilbert – of Hilbert space) persuaded her to return to Gottingen. Though Gottingen refused to appoint her officially to the faculty there until 1919, Noether taught courses by having them advertised under Hilbert’s name. Hilbert argued strongly for Noether’s addition to the faculty, famously proclaiming, “I do not see that the sex of the candidate is against her admission as a Privatdozent. After all, the university senate is not a bathhouse.”

    Not that I expect this to get past your moderator…

  8. Juliaann108 says:

    Thank you for such a thoughtful article. In my heart I know the kind of woman/wife/mother I want to be and, while I shouldn’t have to defend my position, it’s nice to be able to reference a piece of work like this when people look at me sideways for NOT wanting to be a CEO.

  9. Thanks for your comment, Sarah. We assume your point is to show us that women’s opportunities were, in fact, limited before feminism won women the “right” to take positions of authority over men. I’m not sure we really disagree here. Our point was not that men and women were treated exactly the same before feminism — they weren’t. There was a universal understanding still lingering in society that men and women were created by God to be equal in value but different in function, and that men and women were not to assume each others’ roles. The idea that some positions are truly off-limits for women comes straight from Scripture (see, for example, 1 Tim. 2:12), and feminism’s overturning of that should not be seen as a victory by those who claim to believe the Bible. Should women have the “right” to exercise authority over men in a university setting divorced from their home context? There are many reasons why we believe the answer is no. Should women have the right to cultivate and use their intellectual gifts to make contributions to society? Absolutely! And though Noether was initially barred from an official teaching position in that pre-feminist society, she was clearly not prevented from becoming a brilliant and educated scholar, and her intellectual contributions were not prevented from spreading and benefiting society. Though Noether herself may have been a feminist, we would point out that she was not the product of a feminist society, but of a traditional, patriarchal one, and specifically an involved, self-taught father. One of the chief points of our article was that women in Christian, pre-feminist, societies were valued, educated, and given opportunities to benefit and strengthen society. We appreciate your bringing up Noether’s example as case-in-point.

    Now, we’re not trying to argue that every society before feminism was perfect, and we’re certainly not making any claim that the Victorian, post-enlightenment society that birthed the feminist movement was perfect. Though they still clung to the vestiges of Christian tradition, they had largely lost their biblical footing, and the woman’s role had become a pale shadow of its former biblical glory. We don’t wonder that many women started looking for something more, but the solution should have been to go back to biblical manhood and womanhood — not feminism.

  10. vedette says:

    I have been reading this blog and some of its affiliates (Generation Cedar, Joyfully at Home, etc.) for about six months now. I must say that I come from an entirely different perspective than the authors of these blogs, but nonetheless have enjoyed reading and learning new insights of biblical womanhood.

    After some careful reflection of these posts and my own life, I have a question for you (the collective you that is). From what I understand many of you have been called by God back home to live with your families and serve. To be a little frank, you seem to claim that this is the only place women should be in order to live as God intended. Do you believe it is possible for women to be called outside the home?

    I ask this because I am a Christian woman working to obtain my Ph.D. with the intentions of doing medical research and have felt every bit as called to this life as it seems that you have been to yours. I don’t look down on women who stay at home. I think it is wonderful that so many women are making the commitment to focus on raising their families and creating strong Christian households. It’s just that I feel called to something different. And honestly, after reading this blog and others, I feel as though I am the one being judged for not staying with my family and serving my home. I feel that women like myself are made out to be the enemy on these pages.

    I am asking this not to start trouble, or make any kind of statement. I just honestly would like to know your thoughts on this.

    In Christ,
    Carina

  11. Hello, Carina!

    We are glad to have you here and look forward to getting into exactly the issues you describe here. For now, let me just give you a couple of things to chew on to help you understand where we’re coming from:

    1. When we talk about “home,” we are not talking about the four walls of a building. One myth that some of our detractors love to cast about LAF is that we’re saying women basically have to stay chained up within the walls of their home to serve God and their families. This is a serious oversimplification of what we talk about here. “Home” doesn’t necessarily mean “house,” and you can see this so clearly in Proverbs 31. The godly woman is a “keeper at home” and is managing her household, but that doesn’t mean she never goes anywhere else. The Proverbs 31 woman travels “afar” to import good foods for her family. She goes out looking for real estate that will augment her own family’s holdings and make them more productive (by planting a vineyard, etc.). She runs her own business and takes her goods to the merchants to be sold. In short, she’s a thrifty, industrious, creative producer and manager — not just a quiet homebody. All of the skills and talents God pours into women can and should be used to build the family. This was nearly destroyed by the Industrial Revolution, which effectively moved industry out of the family and into the factory. Thankfully, it’s making a huge comeback today as women are able to run their own industries from home and with the help of their children.

    2. If a woman is called to be a wife and mother, then, yes, we do believe she is not called to go off and work for someone else, handing her children over to others to raise and leaving her husband to fend for himself. The biblical model of marriage is that of a powerful partnership of complementary roles that work together to take dominion for the glory of God. When God looked at Adam alone in the Garden, for the first time He said, “It is not good…”. After all the times He declared, “It is good,” this should immediately make us stop and think. What was “not good” about Adam? It was not good for Adam to be alone. He could not accomplish his task alone. He was not designed to, in fact, and this is what God showed him by bringing him all the animals to name. Adam saw a parade of pairs–each animal with its counterpart. When God brought Eve to Adam, He then declared, “This is very good.” That tells us so much about the image of God and the importance of complementary roles for men and women. We are meant to work together–not to strive against one another.

    My primary calling is to help my husband. I do this in manifold ways — not just by washing dishes, doing laundry, and bearing and training children. I am also my husband’s editor, counselor, business consultant, and accountant. I manage his household with his perfect trust. I go to him with ideas for how we can expand my home business or bring in the children when they are old enough to take on money-earning responsibilities. I am on the lookout for ways to strengthen our household and am not out helping a stranger build his company or shore up his investments. My talents and abilities are poured into my family, and then together we pour ourselves into our church, neighborhood, community, etc. It’s a team effort and one that takes us out of the home and brings the community into our home through hospitality and helps.

    So to touch on your own situation, I’d encourage you to think creatively about how you can take your talent and use it for God’s glory without compromising His design for the family (which is the bedrock of society and culture). There are examples of women throughout history who have been brilliant scientists and have used those talents in partnership with their families–fathers, brothers, husbands, etc. I think of Ada Lovelace, Elizabeth Britton, Alicia Stott, and Caroline Herschel. It is unfortunate that the feminists have produced biographies of many brilliant women that make them look like pathetic victims rather than the savvy, smart, and capable ladies they were. It seems when a woman chooses to round out her talents and use them while still being a vital part of a family at home she is to be viewed as something of a “lesser” being. In a modern world that links only celebrity or notoriety to success, this is not really surprising. But we should seek out the examples of women who didn’t need acclaim to verify the value of their work, then model their industry and hard work in our own lives.

    This will end up turning into a full article if I go on–LOL! I do intend to write more about this in the near future, so stay tuned! This topic is so important and needs to be talked about, especially as our post-Industrial, global economy makes it once again possible for women to work with their families at home without compromising the role God has given them as helpers (completers!) of their husbands.

    Warmly,
    Jennie

  12. Rachel says:

    Thank you SO much for all your articles and posts.
    This is such a blessing and encouragement!

  13. DHscott says:

    How does a woman’s role at home not become narrowed to just housework and supervision of children (distinct from productive training). I think this a question that comes up when we look at changes in home life after industrialization.

    There are very strong currents that cause the focus of household efforts to narrow, the examples here broaden the view. I am not a backward thinker, but stale tradition drives me far too often when I am in the midst of launching my day after making sure everyone has socks!

    Looking at the mechanics of the homes of some of the women mentioned gives insight into how they were able to launch such efforts from a home base. One point of interest: It is fully Scriptural to hire household help so long as household industry will keep the home running in the black. “Better is a man who is despised and has a servant than he who lifts himself up and lacks bread”. Paul thought it normative for governesses and tutors to be part of a household, or else he would not have used it as an example in Galatians. These roles do not involve handing over the keys of your child’s upbringing.

    Ann Bradstreet, American first poet; Sarah Edward, and Abigail Adams always had adult help in the home. Sarah and Johnathon’s daughter Edith who was an example of a women whose social grace was a grand asset to her University- president husband hired a housekeeper immediately and then planted a garden, hosted guest and kept right on running. Ruth Graham, a modern women who oversaw the building of at least one of the homes she lived while her husband was travel ling the globe also had no qualms with household help.

  14. I have at least two articles in the works about this very topic! The household economy is the model we seek to emulate–where there is real productivity in the home with children becoming invested in real work and learning important skills that will help them establish their own household economies. When children are very young, we invest our energies in training them in the basics: self-control, cleaning up after themselves, being responsible for certain tasks, etc. As they grow, we are able to give them greater responsibilities and help them understand the essentials of good business. Thankfully, this model is making a comeback thanks to the Internet. Now “mom and pop” can reach a global audience with their product or skill–no need to have a literal storefront unless you have a family business that requires one (like a restaurant or hotel). These are exciting times!

  15. Georgia says:

    There are examples of women throughout history who have been brilliant scientists and have used those talents in partnership with their families–fathers, brothers, husbands, etc. I think of Ada Lovelace, Elizabeth Britton, Alicia Stott, and Caroline Herschel.

    Please clarify what you are saying. What if this brilliant woman does not have a father, brother or husband who values her talent? What if they are laymen and have no undertanding? How can she contribute her knowledge or invention to make society a better place?

    What if a man spent years to build up a very successful company. He wants his children to carry on with the business. Lets say his daughter is the one who is the visionary. She has the ability to run the company and build up the company. On the other hand the son or son in law is not interested in business and wants to be an artist. How would you advise this family?

  16. Georgia, it looks like you’re new to LAF and haven’t read our Theme Articles or checked through our archives and FAQs, as we’ve addressed these things many times over in the past. I’d highly recommend that you poke around and read some more. :) In short, the Bible is filled with brilliant and savvy women who did marvelous things whether married or single. You do not have to be married in order to own and run a business, for instance. The Proverbs 31 woman is an entrepreneur and runs her own business and makes investments for the family. Lydia in the New Testament was a wealthy “seller of purple” who was able to offer the church her home as a meeting place. There were women of means who contributed to Christ’s ministry. There were women who created garments for the poor. And then, yes, there were women like Priscilla, who ran a tent-making business alongside her husband.

    The closest we’ve gotten in modern history to the biblical ideal of the household economy was during colonial times in America, when entire families (husband, wife, children) owned and ran their businesses (soap makers, tailors, shoemakers, silversmiths, dairy farmers, etc.). The household economy equipped children to take over and learn the family trade or apprentice with another master to learn something different. Girls weren’t taught only to sew pretty samplers or make clothes, either. They were taught household management — how to keep books, handle the finances, run the family store/bakery/tavern/etc., interact with customers, and more. This was all but completely lost in the Industrial Revolution.

    Much of early feminism rose up to address the loss of real work for women (and its replacement by the amorphous “angel in the home” ideal of the Victorian Era). Unfortunately, rather than correcting this ill by calling for a return to the biblical household economy (in which husband and wife are complementary halves of a whole, working together), feminists subverted the family (many calling for the end of marriage entirely and advocating “free love”). But instead of creating more respect and honor for women, the reverse has happened. Sure, women can supposedly work any job like a man now, but no one can claim that women are less exploited today than they were 200 years ago. Quite the reverse. While there has always been sexual exploitation, for example, it was kept in check in Christian cultures. Pornography (what little there was of it) existed deep underground and in the fringes of society. Today it’s on every junior high kid’s cell phone. And there are feminists who tell us to stop complaining and embrace pornography as “empowering.” This does nothing to help women. What we need is a full-orbed understanding of human rights (male and female) rather than this endless battle over who is supreme.

    What your questions in your first paragraph illustrate is really a demand for there to be a perfect world in which everyone will have an equal chance to shine and have his or her talent valued and appreciated. We do not live in a perfect world. There are going to be many brilliant and excellent women (and men!) who do not go down in history but slip quietly into obscurity, even if they accomplished wonderful things in their lifetime. Our quest as human beings should not be to have others notice what we do but to simply do those things and do them well no matter who sees. This is the point made by the Botkins above. The great women we admire from history didn’t seek applause or complain if no one noticed their talents. Were it not for the discovery of obscure diaries or letters, we would not even know anything about many of these wonderful women. They weren’t out yelling for attention. They just used every bit of brain and talent they had for good without waiting for someone to “validate” them or pat them on the back. Those are the kind of women we want to be.

    Anna Sophia and Elizabeth have another excellent article on their blog I’d like to direct you to as well. It’s titled “But My Father Isn’t Like Your Father!” and is at THIS LINK. Please do read around to see where we’re coming from. Biblical womanhood isn’t about shutting women up in cages where they can be neither seen nor heard. Quite the reverse! It frees us to develop as women and use our talents in concert with men instead of against them. This is how we make humanity beautiful and rich–by affirming the feminine instead of declaring that only the masculine is needed.

  17. DHscott says:

    Elizabeth Cady Stanton appeared before the New York legislature in 1861 testifying in favor of a bill to declare desertion a grounds for divorce.

    It was 1646 when the Westminster Catechism containing these lines ” . . . such willful desertion as can no way be remedied by the Church, or civil magistrate, is cause sufficient of dissolving the band of marriage.” was presented to British Parliament.

    So much for the historical interpretation of feminism having gained women’s rights.

  18. runawaybananatree says:

    Since when did Al Gore invent the internet? The internet has been around since the 1960s.

    Additionally, I’d rethink your stance on the subject. Not everyone is a Christian, especially not me. I am currently studying women as a section in a course I’m taking, and it was HARD for them to accomplish what they did for us. You ought to be thankful, not critical.

    Out of curiosity, have you every actually read any feminist literature? Mary Wollenstonecraft, for example?

  19. Runaway, the Al Gore comment was totally tongue-in-cheek. ;-) His remark that he invented the Internet is a rather famous (infamous?) example of a major historical (not to mention personal) gaffe. We know that not everyone is Christian, but this site is distinctively Christian and approaches all topics from a Christian worldview–the worldview that created Western culture and elevated women from the low status assigned them by ancient pagan cultures to the high position ascribed to them by their Creator. And, yes, we do read feminist literature (I have several Google newsfeeds that keep it coming, in fact). I came out of feminism 15 years ago and was thoroughly immersed in its teachings. I came to question the assumptions and conclusions of feminism after being challenged to study history more closely without the lens of feminist “entitlement” and perpetual victimhood. It was incredibly enlightening and freeing. I recommend reading the footnoted sources here and checking into more writing outside the circle of feminist academia.

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