Weird women’s subculture

There’s a weird female blogosphere subculture that I discovered by accident. It may not be news to other people but it was certainly news to me. This will came across as utterly unsisterly but I find these women even scarier than their male counterparts.

There was well-comment-savaged post on fundies say the darnedest things, which reported a blog post including the following:

My kids had the following conversation at the store yesterday, very loudly, and within ear shot of several other customers:
John (4 years old): Barack Obama, and the devil, and the government are worser than anything else in the world.
Isaac (5 years old): Mom, John actually told me that he thinks Barack Obama is worse than the faggots.
Ah, precious moments!
Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. – Proverbs 22:6

In my determined naivety, I think these really stunning quotes are usually poes, because I don’t believe such people can really exist. This one seems so far off the human decency scale that it couldn’t possibly be real. Surely?

I followed the link labelled stevenandersonfamily. Argh. It’s genuine.

This isn’t in fact the blog of “Steven Anderson”. It’s the blog of his wife Zsuzsanna (Pause for ten minutes trying to find a way to pronounce that.)

After reading a few posts, your heart actually goes out to Steven Anderson himself. He must have committed some heinous sins for his god to have married him off to this woman. He “pastors what I consider to be the greatest church in the world, and also runs a fire alarm business to support our ever-growing family” He’s working 60 hours a week to support this “stay-at-home Mom” who also home schools their 5 children, the oldest of whom is 7 years old. You can hardly blame him for making sure he’s out of the house.

The blog is a dizzying mixture of straightforward momsy stuff about how to make a baby sling or taco soup with pronouncements that make me instantly think of a smaller-minded and less self-aware version of Mrs Lovejoy in the Simpsons.

For example, how about “Did I already mention that I hate IVF

….”Infections” is a nice way to say that these women have been rendered infertile by the STDs that run rampant in Africa, diseases that would almost certainly be passed on to the babies created through IVF. Sure, I feel bad that people live in a country where they were probably infected by their own parents, but do we need to continue that cycle of disease through sponsored IVF procedures? Besides, maybe instead of handing out condoms like candy, these people should be taught not to live like animals and sleep with everyone and everything that moves….

Repress that gag reflex. There’s plenty more.

The second reason given was “abortion”. Why any humanitarian organization would pay a woman to have IVF who has previously aborted a baby is beyond me. Obviously, she doesn’t love kids.
I won’t even get started on the “unsafe deliveries” part. It means that deliveries in their hospitals are unsafe because of ancient, dangerous, and dirty equipment. Of course women would fare much safer to just have the baby at home on their own, like millions of women have throughout history. Delivering a baby in Africa is no more dangerous in and of itself than delivering a baby in America. It’s the people who are attending the birth and interfering with it that are the danger.

I guess she’s unfamiliar with historical maternal mortality rates. 100 years ago, death in childbirth was a common hazard for women living in even the most advanced countries. I am also baffled that she has taken the idea that woman are paid to have IVF. The news article she refers to says that doctors are planning to offer “cheap” $200 IVF to women in Africa.

The bottom left of the blog has a list of things to do instead of watching the tv – almost all bible related, where they aren’t homemaking related. I can’t resist posting this list of the projects she’s working on, for its neat encapsulation of her world:

Projects I am currently working on

  • taking down Christmas decorations
  • writing on a dozen or more unfinished blog posts as I have time here and there
  • Knitting little squares of various patterns that I want to teach at our church’s next ladies’ activity
  • Sewing matching PJs for all the kids
  • Potty training Miriam

These are “projects”? Well, I reckon her projects of teaching her unfortunate kids to parrot her self-satisfied racism and homophobia don’t need any more working on, because she’s already managed to warp their minds to the point that she is actively boasting about it online.

I’ve characterised this as a subculture rather than the character-expression of one simple-minded female because she has loads of links to other similar SAH-moms (stay-at-home, that means) who devote their lives to breeding, homemaking, child-rearing and worshipping a man who is happy to support these hobbies. They also homeschool their kids. I promised myself that I wouldn’t rant too much about these people because their blogged lives speak for themselves. But, some of them really take my breath away:

thegoodoldway for example. Here are a few random quotes:

That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet,chaste, keepers at home, good obedient to their own husbands , that the word of God be not blasphemed. Titus 2: 4-5
I have had a few jobs outside the home over the years. But I am glad that God’s will commands me to be a stay-at-home wife and mom.

We file our taxes in January so we get our tax refund this month and I will be able to finally start wearing skirts and dresses all the time. I still wear sweatpants around the house because I only have a few skirts. I don’t have any dresses as we have been out of church for several years.

I am baffled by the skirts thing and I’m someone who doesn’t even own a pair of trousers or jeans. I have loads of dresses and I’ve definitely been out of church for many years. I hadn’t heard that churches even had a “no women in trousers” dress code… Ah she explains it. For some reason, the god of abraham has decided that women should wear only skirts. And men trousers, I assume, which means that he hated the ancient Romans and Scots and greek soldiers. Why didn’t he take the trouble to kit us out properly at birth then?:

I believe that men should be the head of the household and the provider also. Women should be keepers at home. She should be a good wife and good mother to children and devote her time to her family. That is her job. She should dress in skirts and dresses and dress modestly. She should teach her daughters to do the same.

I suddenly remember that these women have daughters. Sisterly solidarity raises its head again. Those poor girls! Oh, and sons. Human solidarity, then. Those poor boys!

Here’s Rose from Missouri. She has ten kids and three grandchildren. How interesting do you think her day is?

I had my usual day today, got up and made coffee, took Cassie(stepson’s girlfriend) to work over in Kansas(that is a half hour drive there and a half hour back). Started dishes as soon as I got back, fixed hubby something to eat, took hubby to work, went to the store to get some drain cleaner( the drain in the basement backed up). I started fixing dinner about 4:00p.m.( fixed beef stew). Picked Cassie up from work. Did the dinner dishes( yes, you read that right). Steven is watching the idiot box, so I may go someplace and try to read. I haven’t read my Bible yet today. I have been reading 3 or 4 chapters from Genesis a day and the Proverb for the day. I started this on January 1st. …. Later, I have to go pick hubby up from work(he gets off at 11:30), then I’m going to bed. See you tomorrow!

This is pretty representative of the entries. How many dishes washed per day, how much she likes flannel sheets and so on. My heart half goes out to this woman, living a life so dull that bible-reading is the closest she gets to thought. She doesn’t even have one of those stickers that say “since the start of the Iraq war, x babies have been killed(*).” So I don’t want to seem too harsh. But the hideous sticker that says “have you been fooled by feminism” hardens my heart.

And I link to the blog of yet another of this strange sisterhood, called the On a Quest for Plain Living It has a sort of women-insulting parody of proverbs 32 and ends with:

Let us all strive NOT to be like this. We can have so much influence in our husband’s lives if we just allow the Holy Spirit to do a work in our life.

She got this from Christian Homekeeping which has a post on how to be a good wife. It’s as repellent as you might expect.

The term “passive-aggressive” suddenly takes on a real meaning for me. These women get to play house and rule over a small kingdom of offspring by flattering and manipulating the “hubby” into making it all possible for them. There’s no common project shared by equals.

These are women in the 21st century USA – with all the material and social benefits this brings them – who’ve all been to school and who all have equal rights. And they are somehow desperate to roleplay some parodic mix of an old testament prophet’s wife and a 1950s advert housewife.

Do they imagine for one minute that anyone outside their family and friends cares how many points little Jacob got at football or at point they thought it easiest to tidy up on Christmas day?

It’s not that I think childcare and cooking and cleaning aren’t important or that I’d ever mock anyone for enjoying these things. It’s the bizarre view of men and women that they express through how they do those things that enrages me. And their interpretation of childcare can be actively anti-social. Teaching babies to mouth hate-speech doesn’t constitute “care” to me.

(* They mean US abortions rather than living Iraqi babies killed. The latter number doesn’t really seem to bother them.)

Square-eyes

Watching over two hours a day of television is damaging to kids, according to the BBC, unselfishly reporting a study that clearly contravenes its own interests. This takes up a theme from past articles about stopping kids watching TV, on the grounds of behavioural problems, obesity or whatever is the current concern about kids and television.

Off the top of my head, I have a few questions about the evidence for all this.

  • Does “watching tv” mean sitting in rapt attention or having it on in the background, as so many of us do?
  • What are the mechanisms supposed to be that connect the square box and all these aspects of young humanity? Radiation? Mental torpidity? Engagement in popular culture? Exposure to advertising?
  • What type of tv? Are toddlers equally affected by watching CBBC or Men and Motors?
    Does the content make a difference? I’m prepared to argue that hours of watching reality tv and soaps would blunt the brain capacity of Einstein, but that’s just my bigotry. What about watching non-stop thought-provoking and educational programmes?
  • What about class effects? Middle-class kids are generally less likely to watch lots of tv. They are also less likely to be judged as having behavioural problems or be obese. Why single out tv as the crucial lifestyle difference, rather than, for example, having a decent family income, better access to other activities, less depression in the parents or any one of a huge range of distinctions?
  • Why two hours? Think of a number…..

My main quibble with the evidence is that it comes from people’s reports. When it comes to characterizing one’s parenting, no one wants to see themselves as being a “bad parent.” So, if they have soaked up any of the current standards in parenting, (i.e if they have any contact with other humans), they will claim to be keeping to them.

Parents who see themselves as bringing up their kids responsibly (who are probably those parents whose kids are least likely to fall on the wrong side of all the behavioural bars) are likely to say their kids watch a moderate apparently-ordered amount of tv. When these people are responding to survey questions, 2 hours sounds about right. They aren’t not exposing their kids willy-nilly to trash culture nor eccentrically cutting them off from the mainstream. This doesn’t mean it’s true.

This becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. The hours of tv that children of self-identified responsible parents see (according to surveys…) can tell you what are the current social values for responsible tv watching. This is not the same as meaning x hours are healthy and >x hours are bad.

Do you know how much tv you watch? I have no idea. I can’t even define “watching” let alone count the hours.

What price wisdom?

Thinking it might be a good idea to find out who Dorothy Rowe is (see last post) in case I was giving props to some spurious writer, I did the standard Google and found her website.

She is apparently a clinical psychologist who has published loads on depression. Her words seem to get mentioned as holy writ in lots of blogs, as far as I can see from Technorati

Dorothy Rowe Named As One of the Six Wisest People in the UK

This was apparently in a poll for Saga magazine for which she writes. Or wrote, because according to a page on her website, she’s just got the push by the very people who ran the poll which put her in the wisdom top 6.

I must say I had never heard of her (maybe I’ve just never been miserable enough) but she seems like everyone’s ideal mother or grandmother or great grandmother.

Respect. You’re better off writing for New Scientist anyway.

Little terrors

A 16 June New Scientist piece about children and ADHD talks perfect sense, well, that’s in my opinion – but bear in mind I am never wrong.

The opinion piece is by Dorothy Rowe, entitled Children are not mad or bad, they are just scared .

She makes the point that scared children can easily be diagnosed as having mental illnesseses, because adults don’t see that the kids are just exhibiting fear.

ADHD is not a diagnosis most mature adults face. Children, on the other hand, are being diagnosed with it in their millions. In the US nearly 4 million people, mostly children and young adults, are being prescribed amphetaminelike drugs for ADHD (New Scientist, 1 April 2006, p 8). The number of children diagnosed with bipolar disorder has also risen astronomically, according to child psychiatrist Gabrielle Carlson and colleague Joseph Blader at Stony Brook University, New York. They say that while in 1996 just 13 out of every 100,000 children in the US were diagnosed with bipolar disorder, by 2004 the figure had leapt more than fivefold to 73 in 100,000. They also showed that of children diagnosed with a psychiatric condition in 1996, 1 in 10 were bipolar, compared with 4 out of 10 in 2004 (New Scientist, 19 May, p 6).

These are pretty monstrous figures. Children bi-polar, for Freya’s sake? Doesn’t that mean excited at times and miserable at times. As kids are?

I really like this article because the author actually has the face to say a truth that is becoming increasingly rare to hear.

In saying this I have broken a powerful rule: namely, that parents and those in loco parentis must not be criticised. If a child behaves badly, the child is at fault. If she or he can’t be regarded as naughty and be punished, she or he must be mad, and the madness treated with drugs, the effects of which on thedeveloping brain are still largely unknown. ….
Diagnosing children with ADHD or bipolar disorder requires collusion. Parents and doctors must agree the fault is in the child. So parents fail to mention their own economic, social or personal problems, or underplay them, while doctors don’t ask because they lack the skills and resources to help the parents. Thus parents can go on believing they are good parents faced with an inherently flawed child, and doctors that they are good doctors. The child continues to be afraid.

Parents are so scared of being seen as “bad parents” that they become incapable of admitting any failures at all. It takes courage to examine one’s own actions and identify where we might be making mistakes. It is much easier to assume the child is somehow “wrong”. And being “sick” seems so much more modern and tolerant than seeing an angry kid as intrinsically wicked (the Victorian view) – although it has the same effect of invalidating the kid’s experience.

In the mid-twentieth century, it became customary to blame parents for every psychological ill experieneced by their offspring. The (bi-polar style :-D ) pendulum has now swung the other way and we seem intent, as a society, on denying all the needs of children and forcing them to fit uncomplaining into the adult-dominated world, as soon as they take their first breath.

It is good to hear someone actually saying that adults are indeed scary to kids. The adult world is scary. The way we ALL behave to our kids is going to frighten them sometimes.

However, some people are truly terrifying. If their kids are confused as a result of realising that, maybe we could start paying a bit of attention.

Dawkins links to anti-faith schools e-petition

Well this is two of our favourite blog topics in one, so I couldn’t let it pass.

On Richard Dawkins’ own website, there is a link to an e-petition against faith schools of any kind in the UK.

I know it will get a patronising refusal to pay any attention but I still think it’s worth adding your name to it, if you are a UK resident and you have a problem with paying tax to segregate kids by religion….

Although, it’ s probably fair to warn you. Google your name when the petition’s closed and you’ll probably find it with the topic of the petition and a few names of people who signed before or after you.

If you live in a notably faith-obsessed or evn fundamentalist community, you might find that your local priest or imam starts to take an unhealthy interest in your opinions. OK. It’s not exactly going to be on a par with the sort of comebacks that Kareem experienced in Egypt. But education can become a real battle-ground. “Give me a child before the age of seven”, and so on.

(Dawkins’ own blog seems self-evidently worth looking at, and I’ll probably come back to discussing it soon.)

Britain eats its own young

In a timely tribute to the Wire Series 4, which is supposed to be shown on an obscure satellite channel from tonight – although I can’t find it – Britain has decided to model itself on Baltimore’s East side. Teenagers shooting or stabbing each other has become a staple item of every day’s news. Today, the police announced a new task force after three teenagers in South London have been shot within a few weeks.

There have been too many reports about the the horror of British childhood recently to ignore them all.

Britain was bottom of a UNICEF league table of European children’s well being. The Netherlands came top. Anyone who has been in the Netherlands and the UK will probably agree to the truth of this. Walk round most English housing estates and you’ll see enough semi-feral children to make you fear for the future.

There could be an infinite number of blogposts about the reasons for the difference, although my favoured one is that adults in the top-ranked countries often actually treat their kids with respect and talk to them and spend time with them…

The BBC quotes Paul Vangeert, a Dutch psychology professor:

Much of this, he says, comes from the relationship that Dutch parents have with their children. And, from the fact that less pressure is put on them at school.,,,,One of the strong points of the Dutch family, he says, is that it is very open and communicative. Relations are generally good between parents and children and they can talk about almost anything.

This analysis seems like pure common sense to me but it fits very badly with the current child-rearing fashions. There are any number of TV programmes (SuperNanny, etc) to tell us that acting towards our offspring as if we are paid dogtrainers will work wonders.

Just in case you doubt the truth of the survey result, there is a story so repellent and sadly all too imaginable that it makes you start thinking there must be a missing link species living in the UK. In case you ever wondered about the home lives of the type of people who go to watch cage-fighting shows or illegal dog-fighting, here they are. And these are females. This is a story to make you reach for the culling apparatus.

Four Devon women goaded a boy and girl toddler to fight and filmed the result. (That’s only a link to the BBC story, not the film.) Some quotes:

The boy, aged two, is seen crying after being punched in the face by the three-year-old girl and is told by one of the four women in the room “not to be a wimp or a faggot” and to hit her back.

The court heard that when interviewed by police, one of the women said: “I didn’t see any harm in toughening them up. I done the same with my own children.”

(The kids are now in care. Which doesn’t really inspire much confidence that they’ll end up any better off, the care system being well known for turning out stable and balanced human beings… )

The whole thing makes you wonder about how many more of these gangrenous morons there are. Well, listen to this, from the police Detective Sergeant :

“Locally this is something that is new to us, but we are aware that similar incidents have occurred elsewhere in the country and it is something people need to be aware of.”

PS. If you don’t know the UK, Devon is almost as far from inner-city squalor as you can get. It’s mainly rural and one of the most popular holiday destinations for the few English people who still take holidays in England.