book reviews, religion

A review of Kate Bowler’s The Preacher’s Wife: The Precarious Power of Evangelical Women Celebrities…

I don’t remember what prompted me to download Kate Bowler’s 2019 book, The Preacher’s Wife: The Precarious Power of Evangelical Women Celebrities. Maybe someone in the Duggar Family News recommended it. Or maybe I saw something about it on YouTube. I imagine Jen of Fundie Fridays could have suggested this well-written and researched book about the wives of high powered evangelical leaders like Joel Osteen and his ilk, and women who are high ranking evangelical leaders themselves, like Paula White-Cain and Juanita Bynum. In any case, Amazon tells me I bought this book in July 2022. I just finished reading it this morning, and that seems fortuitous, as it’s Sunday– the Lord’s day. 😉

I have never been a very religious person myself, although I grew up going to the local Presbyterian church. I do come from a very Christian family, with musical parents who were avid churchgoers, although church was never a family affair for me. My mom was always the organist at some church, so she never sat with the family. My dad was always in the choir. My sisters are much older than I was and out of the house for much of my childhood. Consequently, although I was compelled to go to church, and even had a job working at a church camp for two summers, I have never been particularly devout.

However, even though I’m not much of a Christian, I do find religion interesting. For over half of my childhood, I lived in Gloucester, Virginia, a once rural county about an hour’s drive from Pat Robertson’s Christian mecca, Virginia Beach, Virginia. I watched a lot of television in the 80s, and back then, we had independent Channel 27, WYAH, which was owned by Robertson, who also owned the Christian Broadcasting Network cable channel. Because Channel 27 was owned by a Christian evangelical leader, a lot of religious programming was aired. I would occasionally watch some of the shows, mainly getting a kick out of the over-the-top televangelists and local programs. For example, the late John Gimenez and his wife, Anne, of The Rock Church in Virginia Beach used to air their services every Saturday night on Channel 27. I would watch in amazement, as the church had a full band, complete with electric guitars and keyboards, and Gimenez would dance and sing. This was not something I had ever seen in my very conservative whitebread Presbyterian church, which was quite traditional, and at least for me, as a child, extremely boring.

As time went on, religion became more polarized… and polarizing. I noticed extremes on both ends. It seemed like a lot of people were abandoning traditional “boring” churches for megachurches or fringe religions. Or they were going atheist, or embracing non-Christian faiths. I started noticing a lot more mainstream programming on television, like Joel Osteen’s broadcasts from his Lakewood Church. When we were living in the States, it was a rare Sunday morning that we didn’t catch at least part of his show– lots of feel good prosperity platitudes from the Houston Astrodome, his gorgeous wife, Victoria, at his side.

In her book, The Preacher’s Wife, Kate Bowler explores the women who are married to famous celebrity evangelical church leading men. After all, even though they aren’t typically the ones leading the church– as many religions require that men do the leading– the women are often the ones prodding their husbands to go to church, rather than staying home and watching sports or doing chores. Bowler rightly points out that the wives of church leaders are role models to the women and girls of congregations. They are expected to lead by example, and sometimes they even get involved with actual leadership roles. For example, Bowler writes about how, as Joel Osteen delivers his folksy, feel good sermons, Victoria follows up by imploring people in the 40,000 strong congregation, as well as those watching at home, to support the ministry with “love gifts”.

I shouldn’t be surprised by the quality of Bowler’s work, by the way, or the comprehensive scope of her research. She has a PhD, teaches at Duke University, and has written several well-regarded and top selling books. The Preacher’s Wife is her third book exploring the “prosperity gospel”, and how it’s used to sell faith based lies to a public desperate to believe. She can also be found on YouTube. Below is Kate Bowler’s TED Talk, which was very well received, as it accompanied her first book by the same title, Everything Happens for a Reason– and Other Lies I’ve Loved.

Kate Bowler is well worth noticing.

I was impressed by the scope of women Bowler profiled in The Preacher’s Wife. Yes, she mentions people like Ruth Peale, wife of Norman Vincent Peale– and parents of the man who taught my philosophy class at Longwood College (now University) in the 1990s. Ruth Graham also gets some discussion, as does the daughter of Ruth and Billy Graham, Anne Graham Lotz, who was arguably the most talented preacher of the Graham parents’ brood, but did not inherit the ministry because she’s a woman. But Bowler also writes of Paula Stone Williams, a well-known pastoral counselor who started out life as Paul Williams, and later transitioned to a woman. I’m sorry to say that before I read Bowler’s book, I had never heard of Paula Stone Williams, but I’m now listening to her TED Talk. She’s a great speaker, and I have Bowler’s book to thank for letting me know she exists.

Paula Stone Williams speaks about her experiences as a transgender woman.

This book is not about religion, per se, but it is about the business of religion. And make no mistake about it, today’s religion is very much a business. Bowler writes about how some of today’s megachurches have fashion shows, where congregants can shop for the beautiful dresses or statement necklaces worn by the “preacher’s wife”, who is often perfectly coiffed, manicured, and dressed to the nines. She includes photos of flyers for makeovers sponsored by churches, where makeup and fashion experts mix the proper Christian beauty image with Bible verses. But she also includes discussion of Christian leaders like Liz Curtis Higgs, who promote forgiveness, grace, and acceptance, even if they wear a size 22 dress.

I would not recommend this book to anyone looking for devotions or encouragement. That’s not what this book is about– it’s not meant for preachers’ wives who need to be uplifted. Rather, The Preacher’s Wife is more of a secular expose of powerful, influential, and frequently wealthy women in evangelical circles. Bowler also doesn’t just stick strictly to the wives of the preachers. She also mentions female preachers, like Joyce Meyer, who admitted to having had a facelift to make herself more appealing to her followers, and the late Gwen Shamblin Lara, who famously died last year with her husband, as they flew in their private jet over Nashville. Gwen Shamblin Lara is famous for her Weigh Down Workshop and her church, the Remnant Fellowship.

I will admit that it took some time for me to get through this book. For me, it wasn’t necessarily a page turner. However, when I did sit down for reading sessions, I was impressed by the quality of the writing and research, as well as the broad spectrum of evangelical women who were profiled in this book. There were so many that I’d not heard of before, as well as some who were very familiar to me. And the fact that I am interested enough to look up Liz Curtis Higgs and listen to Paula Stone Williams speaking on YouTube, shows that for me, The Preacher’s Wife was well worth reading. I think it would make an excellent resource for anyone doing academic research on this subject, as well as good reading for smart people who are just interested in what drives the world of evangelical Christianity– particularly those who are rich, powerful, and beamed to us on television and the Internet. This book was an eye opener for me, and I thank Kate Bowler for writing it.

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music, videos, YouTube

Fundie Fridays’ annual Halloween special about the Rodrigues family is hysterical!

And a very good Saturday morning to you, readers, as I recover from watching Fundie Fridays’ latest episode about Jill Rodrigues and her clan of kids. Jill Rodrigues, if you don’t know, is a woman who has big blonde hair and wears tons of makeup. She has a huge passel of children, and makes them sing homophobic songs. She has a sister who is quadriplegic, due to a car accident. Her husband has a brother who is paraplegic, due to a car accident. Her daughter, Nurie, and Nurie’s husband, Nathan Keller (Anna Keller Duggar’s brother), were in a car accident last year with their infant son. None were wearing seatbelts or in the appropriate car seat. So far, they aren’t paralyzed, but Nurie is expecting again.

I could go on and on about the many strange features of Jill Rodrigues and her constant chase of relevance and fame. Luckily, I don’t have to do that, because Jen and James of Fundie Fridays on YouTube have made a hilarious video. I just watched it and, I must say, Jen and James are really upping their games. I am in awe of their talent and courage. It’s not easy for most people to risk being funny, because humor doesn’t always go the way you hope it will. But, at least in my opinion, they really hit the mark with their latest video, which I am linking below.

I am impressed by Fundie Fridays. They keep getting better and better!

I especially howled when she showed the Rodrigues kids swimming in a sewer drain. I mean… yeah, maybe it was fun, but it was still kind of shitty… Today’s featured photo, by the way, is Tim, another Rodrigues kid, doing a fully clothed flip into a canal. Tim is famous for stating that if he weren’t related to his sisters, he’d be dating them, because they are so “Godly”. He’s about 25 years old, and laments that he isn’t married yet. I can’t imagine why… /sarcasm.

Hmmm… he’d date his sisters, and his mother is a fundie shill for Plexus. Attractive qualities in a mate… Seriously, though, I know he means that he thinks his sisters are lovely and “Godly”, and he’d like to find a woman like them. His wording is just a little weird, is all.

I don’t really follow the Rodrigues family at all. What I know about them, I know because I follow the Duggar Family News page and because of Fundie Fridays. I might be inclined to learn about them on my own, especially if I was younger, but since Jen does such a good job on that task herself, I don’t see why I need to add myself to the official snarkers. I’m sure if I did follow, it would only offend and upset me, and I’ve got enough of that going on when I read the news sites. So I will leave it all up to Jen and James, who are brilliant, funny, creative, and informative. And I will occasionally post blogs about them, so you can discover their genius, too. They really do have a lot of fun on their channel, and it’s fun to watch them.

Moving on to another YouTuber I watch sometimes…

This week, I learned that Barney the Dinosaur, that damnable purple demon from Hell out of the early 1990s, has a dark side. Or, rather, the woman who created him, and her son, have dark sides. A week ago today, Dr. Todd Grande’s video, “Did Barney Terrorize Viewers for Years?”, appeared on YouTube. I watched it, and learned new things.

Now, in 1992, when Barney was conquering the world with his moronic song, “I Love You, You Love Me”, I was 20 years old. I was too old for Barney. Even if I had been a child in those days, I would have hated Barney. He was highly annoying. But I didn’t know the history of this… icon… until I watched Dr. Grande’s excellent and informative video a few days ago. It’s all about Barney and Friends, a PBS marvel that captivated so many small children, as well as a few adults.

Now the story CAN be told!

I see from Dr. Grande’s YouTube comments that a lot of people did love Barney when they were very little. He was innocent, uncomplicated, and non threatening. I think my disdain for Barney is due to his annoying voice and weird dance moves. But I guess I can see why small children liked him. I just wasn’t one myself when he was a thing. Maybe it’s the same thing as me loving to watch The Brady Bunch well into middle age. It’s escapism to a simpler time, when problems on TV could be solved in 26 minutes. I’m sure people who loved Barney feel somewhat similarly.

In any case, before I saw this video, I did not know that Barney’s story had a dark side. Now, thanks to Dr. Grande’s reporting and analysis, I know more about how this purple dinosaur came to be, and the people who were behind his creation. It is a very interesting tale, especially given that boy who inspired his mother to dream up Barney, went on to a life of crime. You should watch the video for the lowdown on that story.

I’m grateful to Todd Grande and Fundie Fridays, for giving me something to watch besides anti-Trump political rants, analyses of Meghan Markle’s obvious narcissism, and bodycam videos by cops. It’s obvious to me that Dr. Grande and Fundie Fridays are throwing some shade, which is to be expected when one becomes “popular” in any form of media.

And finally…

A couple of days ago, while Bill was still gone, my Aunt Gayle sent me the lyrics to the beautiful song, “Bill”, from the musical, Show Boat. I don’t think she realized that I knew and loved the song, but she obviously could see how the lyrics would fit my own perspective. “Bill” is a song about a plain, everyday guy, who doesn’t seem impressive on the outside, but is actually quite wonderful. I don’t totally agree with the song’s lyrics. For instance, I am often impressed by my Bill’s brain. And I would never sit on Bill’s knees, because I would hurt him if I did that. But yes– the song rings true to me. So I decided to do it. Here’s MY YouTube video… in which I don’t opine or speak or show my face, other than in pictures. It may still provoke controversy, but at least it’s a nice tribute to my husband, who is “just my Bill”.

This is a cool photo, because you can’t tell that I’m missing a tooth. This was taken after I had a baby tooth pulled, and not long before I had my implant put in. I still have a baby tooth that will probably need to be replaced with an implant at some point.

Our 20th wedding anniversary is next month, so I’ll probably make another video for that. But this was a nice song to try. We’ll see how long it lasts, and how many hits it gets. But I don’t make videos for hits. I just like to sing, and that’s my outlet. If other people enjoy my efforts, that’s a nice bonus.

Condolences, by the way, to Carly Simon, who lost both of her sisters this week within a day of each other. Oldest sister, Joanna, was 85 years old and had been fighting thyroid cancer. Next oldest sister, Lucy, had been battling breast cancer for a long time before succumbing at age 82. Carly, herself, has had breast cancer. And the youngest sibling, Peter, died in 2018 at age 71 of a cardiac arrest, but he, too, had cancer. That damnable illness is EVERYWHERE.

Well, I think that about does it for today’s post. Hope you all have a fabulous day. The sun is out here, so maybe if Arran isn’t feeling too icky, we’ll go out for a while and look for some nice fall foliage.

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Ex, music, narcissists, Neighbors, politicians, politics, reviews, YouTube

Lauren Boebert’s family are allegedly not good neighbors… and more!

Happy Sunday, y’all. Once again– lots I could be writing about today, and this post will probably diverge a bit, because I’m not sure I can fill a proper post with stuff about the ever disappointing Lauren Boebert and her raucous clan in Colorado. However, I feel impressed to share the below video by MeidasTouch, which I discovered on YouTube this morning and… sorry, it’s really not funny for the hapless 911 caller, but I did laugh a lot. He made it sound like a scene from any reality TV show. Pure madness!

OMG… Lauren’s husband and sons sound like a bunch of total howler monkeys. I particularly cracked up when the first caller called Jayson Boebert a jackass and told him to get the fuck out of there.

Neighbors from hell are one of life’s biggest nightmares, even if you live in a detached house and don’t have to share walls. The folks in this recording sound like they are at the ends of their proverbial ropes. It makes me appreciate cold passive aggression I have experienced from certain neighbors… and landladies. I’ve said it before– it’s NOT a punishment to be shunned by an asshole. Too bad the Boeberts aren’t the type to deliver the silent treatment. What makes it worse is that they’re heavily armed with weapons, and apparently Jayson Boebert is threatening everyone. We know Lauren is a fan of guns, so anything can happen.

Here’s hoping the Boeberts get what is coming to them, as their orange turd hero, Trump, goes down in flames. Or… so I pray for, as the world finds out that Trump stole highly classified documents and apparently thinks the law doesn’t apply to him. It sounds to me like the Boeberts are cut from the same ignorant, entitled, TACKY cloth.

Moving on…

Yesterday, I watched Fundie Fridays’ most recent video, which was a repost after she was forced to take down an older version. Lawson Bates– a country singer and one of Gil Bates’ many children– hit Jen’s channel with copyright strikes, which she says threatened its very existence. But common sense prevailed, and Jen didn’t lose her channel. Better yet, she was able to repost the below video, which I have to say, made me die laughing… especially at the end when she spoofs a country song, complete with pink cowboy hat, toy horse, and fake guitar playing.

You have to watch the end of this. HILARIOUS. I love Jen’s uninhibited sense of fun and sharp witted humor.

In the above video, Jen talks a lot about the Bates family. Before Josh Duggar’s mighty fall from grace, the Bates were riding on the Duggar family’s coattails. They seemed poised to take over the realm, as Gil Bates comes across as somewhat more pleasant and friendly than Jim Bob does. But– I think Josh’s disgusting perversions and their long affiliations with the Duggars have made the Bates family somewhat more tarnished, so they have also lost their reality TV show(s). The Bates were actually on two networks– TLC and UpTV– and they had two shows, neither of which I ever watched. But I do remember them from the Duggars’ show, which I did watch for awhile, then got bored with, then watched again as the girls started “courting”.

Anyway, the Bates are only an aside to what I want to comment on next. In her video, Jen does a short snippet about purity culture and purity rings. Apparently, Gil presented one of his daughters with a purity ring and told her he wanted to wear it until she found herself a good Christ lovin’, Bible thumpin’, father obeying man to marry. As she was playing that clip, Jen played this schmaltzy sounding music, to which she sang along. She declared the song, which I later determined to be the 2015 song “Always Love You” by a singer-songwriter named Tyrone Wells, “disgusting”. I have to admit, the part she played was pretty cringeworthy. Below is the video, followed by the lyrics.

He has sort of a acoustic pop sound, with obviously Christian friendly lyrics.

In my eyes you’ll always be
Princess and the world to me
Wonderful than any twinkling star
I will guard your innocence
All I ask in recompense is that
You know the truth inside your father’s heart
I hope you remember
Don’t you dare forget
I will always love you
I will always love you

It’s just a simple truth
And what else could I do?
I will always love you

You will grow up way too fast
And leave me wishing for the past
Back when you were still a daddy’s girl
So I’ll hold onto the memories of
The little girl upon my knee that
Little girl that forever changed the world
I hope you remember
Don’t you dare forget
I will always love you
I will always love you

It’s just a simple truth
And what else could I do?
I will always love you

And when your heart breaks
My heart will break
When your dreams come true
My dreams do
It doesn’t matter what you’re going through
I will always love you
I will always love you
It’s just a simple truth
What else could I do?

I will always love you
Oh, I will always love you
Sometimes you will fly
Sometimes you will fall
And till the day I die
Daughter, through it all
I will always love you

I will always love you
I will always love you

Source: Musixmatch

Songwriters: Tyrone Wells

The part Jen plays and sings to is this:

I will guard your innocence
All I ask in recompense is that
You know the truth inside your father’s heart

I agree, on the surface, it does sound gross– like the weird fundie father “purity ring” bullshit that gets pushed. But I listened to the whole song, and on the whole, I disagree that it’s “disgusting”. It has a nice melody, and Wells has a pleasant voice, even if it does sound like most of the other male pop singers out there today. Just as a quick aside– I really miss the days when we had more distinctive singers who didn’t sound so “perfect”. I don’t like autotune, and I hate that so many popular singers are indistinguishable from other singers, with so many electronic sleights of hand and wizardry to completely alter organic sound. But again, I don’t think “Always Love You” is a particularly gross or disgusting song. Just those three specific lines, when paired with video of a weepy Gil Bates giving his daughter a purity ring, are kind of yucky. I mean, I’m married to a man who has a huge, loving heart. No, he can’t sing, but I can see him expressing this kind of love to his daughters. Or, at least the one who speaks to him.

And finally, speaking of Ex…

Apparently, Ex is now an expert on what makes marriages work. I guess, when you’ve had three husbands, and your adoptive mother has been divorced seven times, you do get an education of sorts. I didn’t think this quip was enough to base a whole blog post on, but I did have a good chuckle at this comment she tweeted about married characters on her favorite TV show. Someone had asked if she thought a time traveling couple would have lasted in marriage. I don’t watch the show myself, so I have no idea… but Ex’s comment did make me pause for a guffaw.

I don’t, actually. Frank and Claire had different things driving them. Even if they had a good sex life, it would not have held their marriage together. It takes a deeper, truer love to make marriage work in the long term.

I dunno… from what I’ve heard, she and #3 don’t have a marriage like that. They HAVE been together for 20 years, but it’s probably because #3 knows Ex alienates her children from their fathers; he can’t afford to pay her child support; and she may have actually convinced him that he can’t do better. She almost convinced Bill of that, even though it’s preposterous! As for sex… it’s true that she is adventurous, but it comes at a huge price that can potentially leave literal scars. My guess is that nowadays, she’s too busy watching TV and fantasizing about celebrities to do much rational thinking. As we know, narcissists aren’t really capable of true love, so I think she may be speaking out of her ass again. I remain grateful to her, though, because by divorcing Bill, she gave me the chance to find a deep, true love. <3 And we’ve managed to have that, even without a “great sex life”.

Even if what she says is technically true, in her case, it’s pure book smarts. Because I am convinced that she’s never experienced deep, true love. She has experienced infatuation, lust, and maybe attachment related to narcissism, which switches on and off at the drop of a hat. But she doesn’t know love… and she doesn’t give love. She’s about possession and loyalty binds, and if a person dares think for themselves, they will be cast aside, ostracized, and smeared. Not very loving, is it.

So ends today’s post. Bill is bottling beer today. I feel better than I did yesterday, so maybe we’ll do something. Or maybe not. We’ll see.

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disasters, Duggars, modern problems, politics, YouTube

Careful, guy… your “Q” is showing.

It’s quite understandable that a lot of people are still expressing outrage and grief over the most recent school shootings in Uvalde, Texas. I have a lot of friends who are teachers, and every day, they face the reality of school shootings in the United States. I also come from Gloucester, Virginia, a rural, southern, down home kind of town, which means that I’m affiliated with a lot of southern, conservative, White people. Some of them are still my friends, even though I departed the Republican mindset a long time ago. Some are my relatives. And some are friends of friends.

A couple of years ago, a woman with whom I went to high school died. Her death was during the thick of the pandemic, although she did not die because of COVID. The way I understand it, a few years ago, she had been in a car accident that caused significant injuries. Infection somehow set in as she was healing, and it never completely went away. The infection eventually got out of control, and she went septic, which caused her death.

I remember this woman in high school, as we ran in peripheral circles. The last thing I remember of her when I knew her, was when she sang a song called “Love Will Be Our Home” at a talent show. At the time, I wasn’t a singer myself. I remember her telling everyone that she was nervous, just before she sang her song in what I thought was a pretty soprano voice. Years later, I was surprised when I heard of her death. Then I noticed where she was living. Her husband, who also went to our high school, evidently was originally from Lexington, Virginia, which is about ten miles from where my parents grew up. It’s also the town where Bill and I got married in 2002.

My high school classmate and her husband, also apparently a classmate, though I don’t remember him, were making their home in tiny Natural Bridge, Virginia, which was where my dad grew up, and where I still have lots of relatives. I never knew we had this connection. I remember that when my classmate died, there wasn’t enough money for her funeral. I donated a couple hundred bucks to her family’s GoFundMe to help bury her, even though we weren’t really friends. No one ever said “Thanks” or anything, which is no big deal, I guess. I’m sure they were overwhelmed by the sudden and tragic loss, and the fact that they weren’t able to be with her when she died, thanks to COVID precautions.

And what has this got to do with my opening paragraph? Bear with me.

One of my friends from my hometown, now a schoolteacher in North Carolina, is absolutely devastated by the school shootings in Uvalde. Even as someone who isn’t a teacher, and doesn’t have children, I am sickened and horrified by the details coming out about this terrifying event. What makes an 18 year old teenager so consumed with rage, hatred, and contempt for others that he storms into a school and kills innocent children and teachers? The colossal mistakes, made by law enforcement who failed to act decisively, are especially egregious. The more I hear about what went wrong, the angrier I feel for the victims, and the sadder I feel for the people who were left behind. This shit has been going on for over 20 years! When is it going to stop? When are we going to learn from these dreadful events and do something that STOPS angry boys from getting access to weapons and killing innocent people?

My friend, the teacher, posted the photo below.

No kidding!

A couple of her like minded friends added their agreement to the above sentiment. I’ve been saying this myself. How can our government presume to force people to have babies when they don’t want to be pregnant? But then, we do NOTHING to make sure those babies grow up into functioning adults? It makes no sense. And then I saw this beaut of a comment, made by the husband of our classmate, who died a couple of years ago… this guy, living in my father’s hometown, who needed GoFundMe to pay for his wife’s burial. This is the exchange they had:

Careful, guy… your Q is showing.

Wow… First off, what he wrote is kind of hard to decipher. I think what he’s saying is that he thinks having access to weapons keeps people “free”. But how free are you, if you constantly have to worry about your child being blown up by a crazed, angry, 18 year old kid with a semiautomatic rifle? How free are you, if you only feel safe when you’re packing heat, even if you’re at church or shopping for groceries?

He also seems to think that we should just accept that people are going to be violently killed, because “people have been killing people forever”. So, he thinks that we should all be able to arm ourselves, so that when some nut with a gun comes at us, which is, according to him, “the way of the world”, we might have a prayer of killing them before they kill us. Next, he seems to think that the fact that more people are realizing that violent discipline methods, such as “whopping ass” (as he puts it), aren’t very effective and cause children to suffer psychological damage, is actually making people more violent. Because what we really need, when we’re much younger and smaller than the adults in our lives, is someone to knock the hell out of us. That, according to this mental giant, is the way to “instill respect”. Jesus Christ.

I really felt like responding to him. I wanted to say, “Careful, guy… your ‘Q’ is showing…” But I didn’t want to get into an argument on my friend’s page. I also didn’t think it would accomplish anything, other than make a few people laugh. As we have all found out with heartbreaking clarity this week, life is SHORT. It’s a lot shorter for some people, than it is for others of us. And I don’t have time to argue with idiots who can’t or won’t be convinced that their logic is seriously flawed.

I already annoy enough people on Facebook, particularly when I disagree with them or point out logic failures. One lady named Miriam got annoyed with me last night, because I disagreed with her comparison of ultra pious people, like the Duggars, to kids in high school who take harder classes. She wrote that she gets a kick out of seeing religious people get knocked off their high horses. I can see that. It is kind of satisfying when people like Josh Duggar, who presume to try to tell other people how to live, and preach to them about family values and so-called “high Christian lifestyle standards”, turn out to be lying hypocrites.

But I disagreed with the analogy she made– and she specifically stated that this was her analogy. She likened upstanding Christian types, like Josh Duggar, holding themselves out to be above reproach as needing to adhere to higher standards. Like high school students taking AP courses. The work is harder, so smarmy religious people who think their shit doesn’t stink need to “step up”. When they fail, it’s kind of satisfying to see. But do we like to see brave high school students fail when they try something harder? I hope not.

That comparison struck me as nonsensical. Hardworking high school students should be encouraged to take harder classes. They should be commended for challenging themselves, and trying to get a better education, especially if they are blessed with a fine intellect. Yes, the work is more difficult, and the expectations are higher, but there are rewards for that kind of hard work.

Besides, most people I know with keen intellects are not ultra religious or pious; that is the opposite of being logical, right? On the other hand, it doesn’t take a great brain to accept some of the batshit religious dogma peddled by fundie Christians and their ilk. A lot of weak people, looking for a blueprint to Heaven, will swallow all kinds of ridiculous bullshit to achieve what they think will be that end. So to me, comparing ultra pious people to high school students taking harder classes is a poor analogy, and I dared to say so.

Her snippy reply to me was, “It was an analogy, Jenny.”

To which I responded, “Okay, Miriam.” Because I didn’t feel the need to argue with her. I thought her analogy made little sense. Maybe I could have couched my comment in some nice, flabby language to comfort her ego more, but as I just wrote a few paragraphs ago, LIFE IS SHORT. It’s much too short for that mess.

In light of that exchange with Miriam, and knowing how I tend to get carried away with overthinking when I engage in those kinds of discussions, I decided to exercise some self-discipline. I didn’t engage the Q guy from my hometown, who now lives in my dad’s hometown, and is pretty much EXACTLY like the people I know from both places… including people in my own family. I know, by this point, that trying to discuss these things with them is pointless, and will only lead to pain and frustration.

I can understand why a lot of conservative people don’t like liberals. Liberals can be condescending and rude, and some of them lack any understanding for what the “salt of the earth” types live with on a daily basis. Unfortunately, a lot of conservative people, who are also sometimes lacking tact, have poor or absent critical thinking skills. They mostly just think about what affects them. They don’t often consider how thinking about all people can make things better, and safer, for everyone.

Like, for instance, the “Q” guy quoted above, who needed a GoFundMe campaign to pay for his wife’s burial, and didn’t even think to say “Thank you” to those who donated. That guy is probably against welfare. He probably doesn’t like the idea of universal healthcare. He’s probably pro-life, and he’s definitely pro-gun. He sees these ideas as just and moral… we should all be responsible for ourselves. The government needs to stay out of it. Except public safety is certainly within the domain of the government. Especially if the government expects to force women to stay pregnant and birth babies. I wonder if the government is going to force women to take care of themselves while they’re pregnant… or even capable of being pregnant. It makes little sense to me that some people will do ANYTHING to stop women from accessing abortion services, but once that baby is born, they don’t want to do ANYTHING to make sure the baby turns into a beloved child, a happy teenager, and a healthy adult, who is ready to have a career and a family.

Nope… I think a lot of these Q types are interested mostly in controlling women, and making more babies for fundies to indoctrinate into religion and conservatism. It’s disgusting, and it’s quite frankly, deadly. I will end today’s post by encouraging everybody to have a look at the video below, posted by Fundie Fridays.

She pretty much says what I think… and also offers some interesting backstory on Roe v. Wade.

I wanted to also include an excellent video made by Dr. Les Carter of Surviving Narcissism. I watched it yesterday, and I thought it was very insightful. He talked about his frustration as a mental health professional, watching how our system emboldens people like Salvador Ramos. Unfortunately, Dr. Carter made the video private. I guess he got some heated comments, or maybe YouTube flagged it. It’s a shame. I really appreciated his thoughts on this crisis we’re all experiencing. Maybe he’ll repost it at some point. Or maybe not. I’m glad I watched it, though. Since that video isn’t available anymore, here’s one Mr. Atheist did. I think he did a good job with his video about the school shootings.

I wish I knew.

Other than that, I wish you a pleasant and safe Saturday… may God protect you and yours from the likes of gun toting whack jobs and perverts.

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complaints, condescending twatbags, rants, sex, sexism, slut shamers

Pro-life men and fat shaming men have things in common…

This morning, I got a private message from someone who read my recent rant about pro-life men who make me want to hurl. I was surprised to get that message. As of this morning, that particular rant only has four views. However, it does have two likes, which is somewhat unusual for my blog. My posts, by and large, don’t get “likes” very often. 😉

The person who wrote to me indicated that she felt my post was “poignant”. I thought that was an interesting observation. Maybe it does seem poignant, though, that a middle-aged woman who has always had the right to choose would be so disgusted by men with “pro-life” attitudes. Very soon, the risk of pregnancy for me, personally, will no longer exist at all. So, if Roe v. Wade does get overturned, it won’t matter too much for me, at least not in terms of whether or not I would be forced to bear children. If the United States turned into an actual Gilead, as depicted in Margaret Atwood’s book, The Handmaid’s Tale, I would either be a wife or a “Martha”. Or maybe I’d just be a “working stiff” who wears grey. The bottom line is, my actual purpose– according to some men– will soon cease to exist. But, you know, even when I was still young, a lot of men didn’t think I was fulfilling my “purpose”. They probably felt like a vagina was wasted on me.

As I was reposting the two book reviews I added this morning, I watched the latest episode of Fundie Fridays on YouTube. The host, Jen, had a guest named Mickey Atkins on the show. Mickey is a social worker, like I would have been if I hadn’t become an “overeducated housewife”. The two of them were discussing Lori Alexander, aka “The Transformed Wife”. Lori Alexander, for those who don’t know, is a very controversial figure on social media. She believes that women’s sole purposes for being is to make babies and be housewives. I don’t generally pay a lot of attention to Lori’s posts, because I disagree with almost everything she says or writes, and I generally don’t think it’s productive to pay attention to her dumb comments. However, sometimes, when she says or writes something that is especially offensive, I will take note of it. I do casually follow Fundie Fridays, as well. I don’t watch it every week, but I do watch often enough. So, even though I think The Transformed Wife shouldn’t have a platform, I decided to listen to Jen and Mickey talk about her this morning as I multi-tasked.

This is yet another great video by Jen and James, and guest star, Mickey Atkins.

Listening to this video led me to look up things I have written about Lori Alexander. In the process of doing that, I ran across some old posts on my original blog about related subjects. It occurred to me, as I was reading, that men who “concern troll, and “fat shame” women, are a whole lot like the pro-life men who make me want to hurl. They REALLY have a lot in common. And, I also realized, that whether or not they know it, a lot of pro-life men and fat shaming men are probably motivated by the same thing… the desire to have sex with, and ultimately control, women. I think a lot of men are, deep down, offended by women who don’t do what society expects of them.

A lot of men think it’s a woman’s duty to be pretty, friendly, agreeable, and sweet. They think it’s her role to be willing to have sex with them– and only them. She is to turn them on and, when she gets pregnant, be willing to have their babies. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the man will feel like he needs to stick around and help raise the babies. It’s only that to be “good”, a woman is to be attractive and appealing. A smart woman with an opinion– especially if he doesn’t think she’s attractive– is offensive to a lot of men. And women who get pregnant, and then decide to reject the pregnancy, are repulsive to certain men.

Notice that I specified “certain men”. Not all men are like this. My husband, Bill, is not like this at all. He’s a kind, supportive, loving man who doesn’t mind that I’m overweight, opinionated, and often unlikable to other people. Bill loves me for who I am, not what I look like, and not just for my sex parts. I realize that I am extremely lucky, too. I don’t know how I got so lucky, but I did. My husband is an absolute gem.

But I know from my past life, and even incidences from my current life, that not all women are nearly as lucky as I have been. Every once in awhile, I run into a guy who seems determined to remind me of what they think should be my place. I see them do it to other women, too. They firmly believe that women are here to entertain them, satisfy them, attract them, and serve them. They aren’t here to be someone in and of themselves.

So how did I come to this conclusion? It started with a post I wrote on my original blog about a group called “Overweight Haters, Ltd.” Back in 2015, a woman named Kara Florish was riding on The Tube in London when a middle-aged male stranger placed a business card on her lap.

The man quickly got off at the next stop and disappeared in the crowd, leaving Kara sitting there, stunned. Kara posted on Twitter, commenting:

“I am not upset myself. I am smaller than the national average and not exactly obese, but this is hateful and cowardly and could potentially upset people struggling with confidence and eating disorders. Please tweet and share this if you are also outraged. Plus – to the person who wrote this card, go back to school, you can’t spell ‘beautiful’.”

I didn’t actually write about this incident until several years later. Florish wasn’t the only one who got a card from this vile group. In another article from The Guardian from 2015, it was reported that another commuter, a man named Sean Thomas Knox, witnessed a woman getting one of the cards. According to the article:

“Young man just got on train at Oxford Circus, gave printed card saying YOU’RE FAT to overweight girl. He jumped off. She read it, [and] cried.

“Am 99.9% sure this wasn’t staged. She didn’t even realise I was watching at first. Her stunned, desolate reaction was very real. Then tears.”

Knox described the man who handed over the card as a “hipster.. smartly, trendily dressed” with a beard. “Perhaps it was a piece of conceptual art,” he tweeted 

“It lasted a few seconds, but the card in that photo [Florish’s] is the same card I saw, in the girl’s hand. And her shock was real.”

I’ve seen a lot of comments fat shaming men leave for women online, too. They often couch their opinions as “concern” for women’s health. But, when it really comes down to it, I think men are less concerned about health as they are their own sex drives. A lot of them seem to think it’s a woman’s duty to be pretty for them, so they will want to have sex with them. And then, once they have sex, if the woman gets pregnant, she should want to have the baby. To not have the baby is to reject the man. A lot of pro-life men simply can’t deal with that kind of rejection. It’s a terrible assault on their egos. Notice, too, that a lot of pro-life men– especially those who are religious– also pressure women to be pleasing to them and pretty, but not sexy or, heaven forbid, slutty. Slutty women end up as handmaids, you know… or they work at Jezebel’s. 😉

Think I’m way off base on this? Consider something that happened to me back in February 2018. I read an article about a woman who had given birth to a baby girl she named Parker. The woman then left the newborn infant outside in the cold. Parker later died. Her mother was arrested and charged with murder, which was eventually reduced to a conviction of manslaughter.  She was sentenced to nine years in prison.

For some reason, a man decided that the comment section was a good place to rail against abortion, even though this story had NOTHING to do with abortion. He pointed out that had the mom aborted Parker, people would be applauding her choice. A lot of women responded to him, including yours truly. I dared to tell him that I didn’t think men really needed to chime in on this issue, since it’s never their lives or health on the line when someone gets pregnant. A few days later, I got a private message from someone who was looking for advice on apartments in Alsace. After I responded to the PM, I noticed I had another one from a “stranger” named Jason. Jason wrote this to me:

For some reason, a lot of men think the worst thing a woman can be is “fat”. So they add that to the word, “cunt”, to be as insulting as they can possibly be…

Interesting that Jason, who is presumably “pro-life”, doesn’t realize that I used to be someone’s developing fetus. And yet, he felt the need to invite me to commit suicide. Sadly, when I complained about this to Facebook, they said there was “nothing they could do about it.” However, I’ve been “on restriction” all month for writing a comment that referred to “dumb Americans”. Go figure.

Now, I’m not going to tell you that I enjoy being referred to as a “cunt”. It’s not a nice word. And no, I don’t like it when people call me “fat”, because I know that’s basically akin to “ugly” in some people’s opinions. Nobody likes to be insulted. On the other hand, I am already married to a wonderful guy who doesn’t think I’m a “fat cunt”, and would be devastated if I died. But this comment did make me realize that Jason must be very, very frustrated by women who aren’t afraid to speak their minds, and would happily deny men, both access to their cunts, and respect for their views. You see, my guess is that Jason isn’t gay. He probably really enjoys having sex with women. And a lot of women have probably denied him sex. At the same time, he’s presumably here because some woman had sex and got pregnant. He probably passed through his mother’s “cunt” when he was born. So he actually owes everything to a cunt, doesn’t he? But he thinks that as a man, he should have power over women. A woman who tells him and his make brethren to STFU is very threatening and offensive. So he calls me a vile word and advises me to kill myself. Makes a lot of sense, right?

As a woman, I have been sexually harassed by men, even though I don’t think I’m conventionally “beautiful”. It started on the playground when I was a little girl, when little boys would try to make me give them some “sugar” (I grew up in the South in the early 80s, and that was a euphemism for kissing). It continued as I got older, when bigger boys would grab me and try to touch me or kiss me, and when the neighborhood pervert, who referred to himself as “The Home of the Whopper”, showed me pornography. Then, it continued when boys would make comments about my body– negative or positive– or try to humiliate me with cruel jokes and pranks. In college, I remember meeting a guy at a party, and within a couple of hours, he was trying to stick his tongue down my throat. I was shocked and horrified, and I asked him to stop. He then proceeded to treat me like I had given him blue balls or something.

I got harassed when I lived in Armenia by men who exposed themselves to me. It happened three times that I can remember. I was lucky. I knew a woman who was harassed and violently assaulted. She had to go into the hospital. On a trip to Turkey, a man felt my legs as I tried on shoes that I desperately needed. Another man grabbed my breast when I was trying to find a bathroom. Not two hours later, when I was changing clothes, a different man came into the dressing room, called me “sexy”, and asked me to come with him. The female friend who was traveling with me was also harassed, although she wore men’s shoes and had shaved her head. The trip, which was mostly amazing, culminated when we got stuck on the border with Georgia and the customs manager propositioned me. And no, I wasn’t looking sexy. I had on shorts, a t-shirt, and wore no makeup. He still wanted to have sex with me… and, of course, that was ALL he wanted. He thought I would give it to him, because I’m an American woman, and women from the USA are supposedly “loose”. I was a virgin at the time.

A couple of years later, when I was back in the States, I worked at a country club. One of the members, a guy named J.J., was notorious for hitting on all of the women who worked at the club. It didn’t matter if the female he was targeting was a minor who was still in high school, or if it was the matronly dining room manager who was in her 60s. None of us were spared his attentions. One day, he followed me into the linen closet, which unfortunately was in the men’s locker room. Thinking the locker room was empty, I had gone in there to get tablecloths and napkins. He cornered me, and tried to paw at my breasts and kiss me. It was absolutely appalling, and yes, I said “No”.

And… I have also been fat shamed by men. It started with comments from my father, who would tell me that no man would find me attractive (he also didn’t like my outspoken personality and vulgar language). He would touch me and tell me I had “fat” I needed to lose. Sometimes, he called me names, like “hog”, or referred to me as “retarded”. As I got older, some men would body shame me. It happened a lot in Armenia. I would get stopped by strangers on the street trying to sell me Herbalife, or they would flat out tell me I was “fat”. But it also happened in the United States, or on vacations. Regular readers of my blog might remember when I wrote about the man on SeaDream I who was surprised by my pretty singing voice and said to Bill, “Now I can see why you’d love her.” He made similarly disgusting comments about women, revealing the attitude that he felt like it was a woman’s duty to be beautiful and available to him. And if she wasn’t those things, he could call her a “fat cow” (he literally referred to his late wife in this way– she had just died of breast cancer).

Some men, especially in the military community, are very offended by smart, opinionated women, especially if they’re considered “fat” or not pretty enough. I’ve gotten tons of shit over the name of this blog by men in the military community, as well as some rather clueless women. One time, a military man commented on a blog post I wrote that was shared on Facebook. He wrote, “Ugh. I hope she at least has children.” WTF, guy? I responded that I didn’t have children, and I would be very happy to tell him why I didn’t, if he really wanted to know the gory details.

Frankly, I think it’s probably a burden to be really attractive to men. I remember another incident, back when I was in my late 20s and thinner and prettier than I am now. I was at a bar, and one of my co-workers, who was slim and pretty, was dancing to music. We were friends, but hadn’t come to the bar together. A guy tapped me on the shoulder. I turned to look at him, and he asked me if my co-worker was with anyone. Obviously, he’d spotted her and wanted to meet her, presumably because she was very attractive. But instead of asking her, he approached me, the less threatening “fat friend”. I think I told him that we hadn’t come together and if he wanted to talk to her, he should man up and talk to her. I’m not her “fat friend”, there to help some guy score.

Lori Alexander, who thinks that women need to stay home and pump out babies for their husbands, also fat shames women. She says that it’s a woman’s duty to be pleasing to her man. And if her man thinks she’s too fat, she needs to do something about it. And she needs to let him have sex with her, no matter what… even if it happens while she’s trying to sleep or isn’t feeling well. In that sense, I guess she’s in agreement with famously pro-life mom, Michelle Duggar, who told her daughter, Jill, to be “joyfully available” to her new husband, Derick. The year after the public heard about this advice, the news came out that Jill was one of four of the Duggar daughters who were molested by their eldest brother, Josh. We all know where Josh is right now. Mr. “Pro-Life” father of seven is currently sitting in a jail cell, awaiting sentencing for receiving and possessing images of child sexual abuse… and some of the female children being abused were in diapers!

Josh wanted to save developing fetuses, but he didn’t mind looking at those same, precious babies being abused for his own sexual gratification.

So yeah… I think guys who would like to deny women the right to bodily autonomy are, by and large, not interested in protecting babies. A lot of those guys wouldn’t bother to stick around if a woman got pregnant out of wedlock, and they certainly don’t want more of their paychecks going to providing social welfare safety nets. These guys– Josh Duggar especially– use women for their own gratification and then condemn them as “sluts”. They are repulsed by women they see as sloppy and out of control, whether the lack of control is regarding food or sex. And so, if you pay close attention, you see that a lot of fat shamers and pro-life males respond to women in very similar ways. They have a LOT in common!

I think, deep down, most of these pro-life, hyper-religious, fat shaming guys are obsessed with sex, and controlling women. They hate that a woman has the power to do something they can’t do, and a lot of them are offended when a woman has the nerve to have a vagina, but doesn’t do enough to be attractive. Or, worse, she’s attractive, but denies him access to her vagina. Or she gives him access, but then doesn’t want to accept the grand gift of his sperm, which created a developing fetus. Remember… the vast majority of us owe our lives to a woman and her vagina.

I’ll leave you with one last anecdote. A couple of days ago, I read a Facebook post about the 1987 film, Dirty Dancing, which was released when I was 15 years old. A lot of people forget that the reason why “Baby” has to learn to “dirty dance” is because Johnny Castle’s partner got “knocked up” by Robby, the asshole waiter. She had an illegal abortion, which made her very sick. The poster pointed out that the film was a reminder of what could be at stake if women in the United States lose access to abortion. One male commenter wrote this:

What is the script was flipped? What if Robby was a loving caring father that wanted the baby, but Penny knew that if she had the baby, her life would change, and she didn’t want that? Robby would have no legal say in it, and would be forced to see his child killed. Not all guys are douchebags. And not all women are angels. If a person, male or female, doesn’t think they can handle being a parent, then don’t take the risk of it happening.

Naturally, I had to respond. I didn’t even address the fact that this dude used the term “douchebag”, which is, in and of itself, a very offensive and sexist pejorative. Who uses douchebags? It’s not men who use them; it’s women. And, in fact, we aren’t repelled by “douchebags” so much as what comes from using them– the residual nasty smelling stuff from a woman’s private area. It’s the “waste” that is repellant. Personally, I consider the term “douchebag” to be akin to calling a woman a “cunt”, but since that was the term the guy used, I went with it in my response to this hypothetical “loving, caring father” who would be “crushed” that his child would be killed by heartless Penny.

If you don’t understand that it wouldn’t be Robby’s health or life on the line, and you think another person should be compelled to stay pregnant for someone else’s sake, then yes, you ARE a “douchebag” (not that I would use that term). Guys who want to be fathers should find women who want to have babies with them.

It’s as simple as that, folks.

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