Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Hopewell’s Review of “Return of the Daughters”

It's taken me a few years to get up the courage to actually watch this video. I knew it would bring out the radical in me--but not the radical the dear Botkin sister would approve of!

First, to be fair, there were a few points I can agree with! In addition to the film being well-done, the Botkin girls could step right into the next "Twilight" movie in terms of their physical appeal. Their command of the camera could set them down comfortably on the set of "60 Minutes." As a Christian there were things I truly agree with in this film, but sadly there was much more that I did not agree with! Here's the "good:"

1. Serving God is our mission.

2. We should ALL develop the gifts God has given us.

3. The family IS very important.

4. College is not appropriate for everyone, but “everyone” and “appropriate” is not based on gender.

5. 17-18 years is NOT always enough to be mature enough to live alone—it’s a “goal” age not one set in stone.

6. Families SHOULD help each other in any way they can.

Now, for the rest of “Return of the Daughters,” which I have chosen to subtitle

"What Happened to the Wives?”

First, I’d like to know why Vision Forum thinks daughters AND mothers so ignorant that only Daddy can advise daughters on how life works? When did “imperfect” Dads become so gosh-darn intelligent that they can make it so “clear” and a Mom just can’t? Isn’t this making an IDOL out of Daddy? Isn’t that a lot to lump on him?

Second, Daddy’s “helpmeet” [sorry but I just about GAG on that word anymore] is his WIFE! What happened to HER? Is she so busy homeschooling that she can’t take on her “wifely” duties? Or is it that now that there is another “adult” female her duties have been cut back to ONLY homeschool and the bedroom? Sounds to me like she’s been dumped for a socially-acceptable younger woman. Home grown eye candy. [For more on this see "Overcoming Botkin Syndrome"]

Third, “dating Daddy” is sick. I’m not condemning all Father/Daughter things. But learning to please a husband by first serving Daddy is a little….”off”….even though I realize in 99% of families nothing “sick” goes on. As for the whole “unprotected women” thing—what century do these people live in?? We’re show girls toting guns, but told they can’t protect themselves??? Have they never learned the meaning of “steel magnolias.” [Have they never heard of Margaret Thatcher?!]

Fourth, if girls are to live with Daddy-dearest until marriage then how and where do they meet their “Prince Charming?” Only at Church? Slim pickin’s at most Churches! Oh, that’s right, I forgot! They PRAY and then Daddy vets him and decides if he’s “godly” enough! OR, a girl might be attracted to a Godly young man and pray he “likes her likes her.” So, isn’t “godly” just an acceptable substitute for “stud” or “hunk” or “super brain” or “beautiful eyes” or even “well hung?” If extremely Conservative Muslim men can be attracted by the only thing visible on a girl—her eyes—then can’t Vision Forum types get hung up on a guy’s Godly talk or Godly demeanor? And, if you’ve brought your daughter up “right” won’t she see the kind of guys she “should?” Of course Dad AND Mom should weigh in on her choice—for all the good if often does! [Look at my parents: fear of “I told you so” kept them married more than 40 years!] Should a girl ASK her parents opinion? Of course!! But it’s HER choice (and the groom’s!) not Daddy’s. It’s HER life!

What if the Prince never pulls up on his charger? What if Daddy rejects all the suitors as being “unworthy?” How many Dads have you heard say “no guy is good enough for my little girl?” The fathers the Botkins show us seem to BELIEVE it and ACT on their belief! How many young men are desperate enough for Church sanctioned sex that they write theological treatises to “earn” it?? Please! Recently, a young Vision Forum man married, having approached his Dad about Courtship at age 13. Not only did he ask about it, but he built his own house debt-free to get there! While that is admirable, what about the poor guy who is very “Godly” but broke? What if he has to (gasp!) R.E.N.T. Not good enough! What if the girl is ugly or priggish or laughs like a donkey and the guys “encouraged” to court her……WON’T?? Is she CONDEMNED to live all her life doing Daddy’s errands and whipping up casseroles for her folks? [If she chooses it and her parents don’t object, then fine—it’s the lack of choice I disagree with!] When her parents die will she, like “Gone With the Wind’s” bitter spinster, India Wilkes, be forced to move in with one of her brothers and be his family’s unpaid servant?

Fifth: No, Voddie, 17-18 years at home isn’t necessarily enough. Lots of young adults live at home for various reasons—most of them economic. And, I AGREE that “we are deceiving ourselves if we think that college is actually educating people.” AMEN to that, brother! But it’s just as flawed to say that ALL kids who go to college become Godless heathens who shack up with multiple sex partners and have navel rings and obscene tattoos! [I loved the blurring of a shot of two girls in “super sexy” (gasp!) TANK TOPS! Holy Nike Jim-Bob!]. Young people can of course take online classes from home or live at home and work and save to move out and start their own lives. They can certainly help in a family business—maybe even work towards inheriting that business. EVERYONE in the home should help clean it. If you’re a homeschooling family of more than one child then EVERYONE has to help or the boat sinks! But, those should be the young person’s CHOICE!

Sixth: Jeannie Chancey, I was there with you in college! No, it was not “P.C.” in the 80s to say you wanted to be a homemaker—at least not till January 1981 when Ronald Reagan was elected and ROTC became popular once more and Sorority Rush began to matter again! Yes you would be snickered at in a group. But we all said it at some point—although we did generally want to combine the role with a career. And, no! College doesn’t teach you to cook—unless you live on a limited budget in an apartment and not in a dorm or sorority house with full catering! And, no! College doesn’t teach you to raise children—unless you have one while you’re a student! LIFE teaches you these things! You can pick up a lot along the way, to be sure. But an extended apprenticeship as Daddy’s “Journeywoman” wife doesn’t help either unless you want to become an automaton before your time! It’s usually in our 40s that we can let the dog out, pour coffee, scramble eggs, put kids on the bus with signed permission slips all without opening our eyes, but if you want that in your 20s then ok!

Seven, on topic six, let’s add When did acquiring a sex life make it harder to learn to cook? Ok, a GOOD sex life may help PUT OFF the learning, but along the way most literate people who want to do so can learn to cook. Even if you’re a Vision Forum-type who watches only Botkin videos and no evil cable television like the Food Network! The reason there are so many jokes about new wives’ cooking is that new husbands have been surviving it for generations! And, (gasp!), some husbands even give up and learn to do the cooking themselves, just as some wives take on servicing the car or riding the lawn mower. There’s a reason so many folks get cookbooks as a wedding gift. Some couples now choose to take cooking classes together!

Eight—Geoff Botkin, I say “nuts” to the whole “government patriarchy” idea and “Double nuts” to the idea that “3 generations” of men have neglected their daughters. No, our definition of what it means to be a father has changed and changed again. My grandfather was an “excellent provider,” which in the 30s-early 50s meant “good Dad.” My own Dad was a “good husband” because he mowed the grass and played catch with us while Mom got dinner on the table. My brother was a “good Dad” because, in the 80s and 90s, he worked 2nd shift so his kids only went to a sitter for a few hours a day. After his [gasp] divorce, he did not miss a weekend of visitation even when it was almost an 8-hour round trip drive! Today his son and son-in-law are “good Dads” because they work so their wives can be home with their kids [although both work at paid employment from home]. It changes, you see! Back in Victorian times, families with an income like the Botkins had multiple house servants. Today they have multiple children who fulfill the same roles—often at the expense of their basic education. And, yes! I agree! “Schooling is not education!” But homemaking, even done to Martha Stewart standards is simply NOT rocket science. It’s organization, routine and literacy all used at once!

Yes, Botkin girls, all families are a little different. I don’t believe that we are “in transition to a Biblical Culture” anymore than I believe Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and Benjamin Franklin were fundamentalist Christians building a theocracy! I think it IS good that families ARE apparently working harder to be together more. And, horrible economic times produce fewer divorces since the process is too expensive—and that can give couples time to heal and rebuild their marriage. But, please don’t tell me we all have to live “your” way!!

For all that I WAS radicalized by my VERY liberal college education and DO see some of the damage it did to me—especially in terms of marriage—I would not tell my kids “No College” under any circumstances. Why? It’s Not My LIFE! Will I be occasionally heart-broken watching them? Of course! But that’s being a parent! At some point they have to make their own choices…and live with them. If I have “trained them up in the way they should go” they will get thru it. They will even be stronger for having done so! [Never mind the fact that my radicalized education eventually led me to Christ….]

The “elephant in the room” in this film is obvious: The Single Parent Family! You know—like MINE. Should I have NOT LISTENED TO GOD’S LEADING and left my kids to be condemned to a life of drugs and street life in Ukraine simply because I couldn’t offer them any father but the Father to the Fatherless? What about those dear Christian women who happily marry with Daddy’s blessing and then hubby…..LEAVES? Or, like my cousin’s 43 year old husband, drops dead of a heart attack? Yes, her girls ARE blessed to have two Grandfathers in town to pick up the slack. Not all of us are that fortunate. What about a single Mom who becomes a Christian after her baby is born? What about grandmas, Great-Aunts and Second Cousins raising kids they didn’t seek because of the epidemic of drug abuse and other social ills??

The “smaller elephant” is economic class. While we are pointedly told that one Dad profiled is a truck driver and another family lives in an actual mobile home, most of the girls who can live this lifestyle are daughters of privilege. They’ve grown up in McMansion developments and would have gone to top public schools. In another family they’d be fishing for top internships about now. The Daddy in most of these families is financially successful and has mastered investing. In this, nothing changes—it has always been like this. In Victorian times, the days beloved in Vision Forum mythology, “well born” young women stayed home tatting lace and drinking tea, ready to offer “hospitality” and “encouragement” to whoever stopped by. Not to burst their bubble, but even a Lady Baltimore Cake can be made by a novice who carefully reads the directions! And, hospitality is a state of MIND. Did you not read the part of “Gone With the Wind” where Melanie Wilkes made their tiny post-war home the center of the Atlanta Cutlural Scene even though they had a flat roof and a murderer living in the basement?? You don’t have to be able to afford 5 bedrooms on a cul du sac with gilt framed Thomas Kincaid everywhere to be hospitable and encouraging! [For more on this read “Life in Perfect.”]

Finally, on the touching courtship of Kelly and Peter…. Please, dear Kelly, call it what it is: An Arranged Marriage. That you are happy in it is fine! Lots of people in the world do this! [You might enjoy the book “A Good Indian Wife” which is exactly on topic.] But seriously, if you had others to choose from he may or may not really have been “the one.” And, why on earth would you name your poor kid “Triumph?” Doesn’t the LEFT have the market cornered on odd kid names?

You can watch a trailer for this movie here.


Susan said...

Very, very interesting, with your usual insightful comments. Loved this a lot. I think the film would annoy me though, as it did you. The whole "prince charming" myth is one of my biggest creepy-inducing parts of the whole Duggar/fundamentalist lifestyle. IMO, there just aren't a lot of those princes out there, and to expect all the girls to find them and then submit to them for the rest of their lives sounds like a setup for depression or worse.

Peter Brown, Instructor said...

Funny about India Wilkes! How did Rhett Butler die? it's never been written until now! www.deathofrhett.blogspot.com

Quivering Daughters said...

I've not seen this video but wanted to. Both the girls are absolutely stunning and I've heard / read so many mixed reviews. Thanks for adding your voice!

Cindy said...


I am glad that you're taking on life and taking on this subject! You made more work for me now -- I'm going to have to go back and put a link to this in about 20 blog posts!

Cindy K (of Overcoming Botkin Syndrome -- the blog that talks about how the Botkins have essentially institutionalized dysfunctional family dynamics.)

Hopewell said...

Thanks for stopping by, Cindy--love your blog!

Anonymous said...

I don't agree with just about everything you said. But I would have about 3 years ago! If you are going to watch the movie with a prejudge not open mind you will always end up with these thoughts. I am a young woman who wanted college and everything else as bad as anyone and would never submit to anyone's plan for my life. It was my life and my choice! But now though my own change of heart, because I wanted to I have come to agree with the film. Are you going to continue to say stuff like this just because "you" can't be opened minded enough to let someone else's view into the picture. You accuse us of playing the whole "my way or no way" game... but who is really playing the game now?...YOU!

Calulu said...

Hopewell, I have to comment on the belief by Evangelical Christians that Benjamin Franklin et all were so purely building a Godly Christian nation. Have they not heard that Franklin was a member of the Hellfire Society in England and participated in their orgies as well as having a rather large porn collection? What about Thomas Jefferson fathering Sally Hemmings children?

It amuses me how they sanitize and rewrite history to suit their own agenda every single time.