The Heritage of a Patriarchal Childhood

Egalitarianism is an investment in future generations of women:

Growing up in a patriarchal church handicaps a woman for decades. You may remember wearing white anklets, black patent shoes, and a little purse with a dime in it for the Sunday school collection. You also heard, “don’t be pushy, don’t show off, wait your turn, sit still like a lady.” Add to that, “stand back, get out of the way.” There were many messages that small girls were mostly to blend into the background. The day I put my hands on my hips and stomped my foot with as much fury as I could muster, the only result was laughs. No one listened.

Following is a compilation of the many ways a woman suffers from a childhood of patriarchal teaching experience. This is not a legacy you want to leave to your daughters . . . or sons either.

She regrets many missed opportunities to…

  • apply for jobs, grants, and scholarships for which she did not feel qualified.
  • ask for appropriate wages.
  • apply for jobs requiring leadership skills.
  • speak up, contribute ideas, add to a conversation.
  • approach possible mentors, take advantage of mentors.

She is genuinely…

  • content to volunteer her skills because she doubts her skills are worth wages.
  • amazed if an employer would ever pay her to increase her skills.
  • certain she must work twice harder than other employees.
  • amazed if a male elder or pastor sits down with her and asks, “what’s on your mind?”

She is convinced…

  • if she gets a job, it is because no one else is available.
  • if someone more qualified comes along, she will be replaced.
  • another person, especially a man, can do it better.
  • her best is never good enough. She must be perfect.
  • she is too ugly, old, short, young, weak, or not cool enough to succeed.
  • if a man has half the credentials, he will get the job.
  • in an emergency, it is best to consult a man.

She lacks self-respect so she…

  • does not demand respect from others.
  • never goes to the front of the line.
  • sits in the back row. First -class is too good for her.
  • defers to even much younger men, including brothers.
  • occupies the minimum amount of space.

In relationships, she feels she…

  • must always defer to others or she will lose friends.
  • does not deserve good opportunities that come her way.
  • must expect that good opportunities will disappear as fast as they appear.
  • must share or deflect praise; escapes being in the center of attention.
  • must do the larger share of maintaining a relationship.
  • is naïve, if she is taken advantage of it is her fault.
  • expects people to talk to her only if no one more interesting is available.
  • is used to people looking through her or over her shoulder.
  • if a friend or spouse leaves, it is her fault.
  • will only attract a “flawed” spouse, she must “settle” because no one better will like her.

Personally she…

  • has been taught to distrust her intuition, emotions, feelings.
  • feels that men’s rational, logical thinking is superior to her haphazard thinking.
  • tends to talk too loud because that is the only way she gets attention.
  • talks too fast because she only gets limited time with important people.
  • knows that when men in dark suits approach her, she will be reprimanded.
  • is afraid to challenge men, backs down easily when challenged.
  • quickly gives others the benefit-of-the-doubt.
  • pretends to understand more than she does to save face.
  • feels dreams are delusions; hope will disappoint.

When she reads the Bible she …

  • understands it was written by men for men.
  • must always filter between verses for men only and verses that include her.
  • knows if empowered women appear in the Bible, they are explained away.
  • does not trust her own understanding.

She considers that God…

  • puts her prayers “on hold” until everything else is done.
  • has more important people in line for his attention.
  • does not speak directly to her, men are more important.
  • has no call for her; only men are “called.”
  • She notes that…
  • young men get opportunities. Older women never got offers when they were young. Now they are old, they are not considered worth investing in.
  • when she offers her ideas, no one pays attention. When a man suggests the same thing, it is applauded.
  • a residue of sin remains in women that the cross did not erase. Brought to light by all the various restrictions.

Growing up in a patriarchal church places your daughters into chains.

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