Monday, June 29, 2015

Gender roles (for children)

This is the second post on my experience related to the Biblical Patriarchy movement. As stated in the introduction, my own experience is different from the "typical" Fundamental or Evangelical homeschooling crowd that may also be Quiverfull. My family of origin was devoutly Catholic, with Charismatic influences.

Since I was not raised within that "more common" set of groups, I'll start with a link to Love, Joy, Feminism's definitions and breakdown of the definitions: "Evangelicalism, Fundamentalism, Christian Patriarchy/Quiverfull, and the Homeschool Movement". With one caveat. In this link, Libby Anne links Christian Patriarchy/Quiverfull as synonymous. I distinguish Quiverfull as a subset of Biblical Patriarchy.

Also, I say "Biblical Patriarchy" rather than "Christian Patriarchy," because I am peripherally aware of Jewish Patriarchal groups as well. However, I'm currently writing about what I know, at the intersection between Catholicism and the above movements (within Christianity). I may choose, in future posts, to do the research that would link in Jewish Patriarchal blogs or articles, if my time permits.

Gender roles for children within Biblical Patriarchy

There are a wide range of expectations for children within the Biblical Patriarchy movement. In some of the more extreme cases, girls are undereducated. Expectations for future careers often begins in childhood, with the chores assigned.

In my family of origin, they tried to not split the chores along gender lines. My brothers were also expected to cook, clean, and wash dishes. My sister and I were taught to mow the lawn, change the oil in our cars, and later to change a tire. The older four of us all "helped" in various building projects at some time or other.

My family encouraged education, and encouraged us to choose our own careers, whatever we wanted. But while my family talked the talk, they didn't seem to understand how to back it up with empowering actions (walk the walk).

Conscious or not, there was a distinction in the kinds of toys we were given. My sister and I received dolls (which we wanted) and other toys, but never the Legos, model aircraft/spacecraft, or even science kits that I requested. My brothers had stuffed animals aplenty, but usually not dolls. They got Legos, a model space shuttle, a solar electricity kit.

Fortunately, I was usually able to play with their Legos. But the hands-on learning is different when it's someone else's toys. MIT Press' "Unlocking the Clubhouse" discusses gender differences in computing, how often the family computer ended up in the boy's bedroom, or how the brother was allowed to take it apart, while the sister was asked not to break things.

While on the subject of empowerment, I'll link to Sisters Raising Sisters article on Empowered Traditionalism. "Penny Lane" was a co-op on the same team with me for a time. I may come back to their blog for the parenting posts. Long-time fans of my views should be aware that their perspectives are considerably different from, and sometimes opposite, my own. I share the link for you to read, think, and consider - not to harass.

In Biblical Patriarchy families, girls often serve as surrogate mothers for their younger siblings. This was definitely true for my family of origin.

When I was about 12 and dear brother #2 was in school, our mother entered the workforce. With that, I was expected to care for my siblings while they were at work. Where before we might all run around outside most of the summer, I began staying in the house, reading books most of the day, in case the phone might ring.

Around lunchtime, my dad would call to discuss what I would cook: usually a protein or main dish, something starchy as filler, and one or two fruits & vegetables. I'd fix lunch, call in my siblings, and then they'd run back outside while I cleaned up.

Given the birth order (girls first), it's difficult to be certain how much of this was about daughters vs. sons. Yet what I saw after we had gone to University suggests that brothers 1 and 2 were not expected to be caretakers as much as my sister and I were.

One thing my parents tried to do, I think comes from the military. They might assign a task to one of my younger siblings... but then I would be assigned to "make sure it gets done." My siblings quickly realized that I would be the one in trouble if it wasn't done - and ran outside to play.

I have later posts planned to discuss modesty and purity culture.