The Good Wife: How the Cult of Domesticity Still Reigns in the 21st Century
The following mentions Christian gender complementarianism, which is a sexist position held by Christians – some well-meaning – who still harbor unbiblical ideas that make women second class citizens, though they love to argue up one side and down the other they only believe women are inferior in “role, not in worth.”
I have long observed that today’s brand of Christian sexism, called by its adherents “gender complementarianism,” pays no mind to certain classes and types of women, such as never-married, childless women. American Christian gender complementarians think in terms only of married mothers who are middle class or upper middle class. Bear that in mind when reading the content below.
(Link): The Good Wife: How the Cult of Domesticity Still Reigns in the 21st Century by Laura Turner
Here are just a few excerpts (please click the link above to visit the page to read the whole thing):
by L. Turner
On the cost—and subtle persistence—of the cult of domesticity.
[The author explains how the Industrial Revolution took men from the homes to go look for work and earn money, which meant that often, the wife stayed at home all day. Previously, men stayed at home and did farm work and so forth. This change – men leaving the house to go to the city to go to work – gave rise to the Cult of Domesticity.
There were four aspects to this cult, one of which women should not receive much of an education, but should stay at home and do laundry and look after children. The other qualities were submission, piety, and purity]
…Women’s magazines and religious literature were two of the primary ways the cult of domesticity was promulgated;…
…The development of the cult of domesticity also leaned heavily on religious principles. It drew especially from a chapter of the Bible…
…Of course, different groups of women had different experiences with the cult of domesticity. Women of color, immigrants, and poor women were largely ignored by the movement. …
…The pressures of the Industrial Revolution and 1950s America have been recycled for our modern area. The notion of the home as the domain of the feminine persists to this day.
…We can also see this battle being waged in contemporary religious circles. Complementarianism—the notion that men and women occupy different but complementary roles in marriage and society—was a direct antecedent of 19th-century thinking about women.
That doctrine still has a foothold among conservative Christians, in local churches and organizations like the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. It is rooted in verses like Ephesians 5:23 (“For the husband is the head of the wife just as Christ is the head of the church…”), and gained prominence with the rise of domesticity as a virtue.
Complementarianism often looks like a return to 1950s gender roles, and continues to insist in its most extreme forms that women remain at home to raise as many children as they can bear.
The cult of domesticity created a box that stifled women, and continues to do so.
(Link): The Irrelevancy To Single or Childless or Childfree Christian Women of Biblical Gender Complementarian Roles / Biblical Womanhood Teachings
(Link): Biblical Womanhood Does Not Hinge Upon Marital Status or Parenthood – also: Christians who portray all women as sexual temptresses – by S. Burden
2 thoughts on “The Good Wife: How the Cult of Domesticity Still Reigns in the 21st Century (Mentions Christian Gender Complementarianism)”
I just wanted to message you that you are my hero! Of the many articles, blogs, websites, No one is as dedicated to this controversy as you. It makes me very sad how deep rooted pronatalism, family and the patriarchal ideas are the default in what a person MUST aspire to. It’s insane really.
I agree with pretty much all of your posts. I have countless experiences of encountering this idea that if you are a “real” man or a “real” woman you MUST marry before 25 and have X amount of kids. They tell you HOW to have a marriage, They tell you HOW to love your husband/wife, they tell you what you must do in a marriage, how to feel , how to think, the “right and only way” to have sex. Etc. This is the most cult like mentally most churches have and one of the reasons why I stop going to church. Yes, Many churches if not 90% of churches and Christians I came across have this same legalistic mentality. I got so sick and tired of it that I reached to the point of borderline agnostics two years ago. Most Christians are so judgmental and condemn you for not conforming to their exact model of what they think “Christians” should be (clan like family model, with a bunch of kids).
One topic you brought up is the fact that both males and females cannot be just friends. Anytime when I talk to or make a female friend, EVERYONE assumes that I am dating, courting, or having sex with this person ( and her circle of known people judge her the same if not worse). As if they can’t comprehend the idea that males and females can just be friends without any intentions. For example. There was an older lady I was talking to. I was just trying to start a conversation considering that she wasn’t originally from America. She began to say stuff like “ oh your to young for me” “ you young and should not be thinking any thoughts”. I said “what are you talking about”? She says “you need to find someone your age if your looking for a wife”. So just by me saying hi and starting a conversation about what her life was like in her home country she assumes that I am desperate and trying to court her.
Another example was a friend I was talking to who was from Russia. She was very friendly and we got along very well. We were friends for about six months. Of the six months we knew each other, the words “sex”, “Boyfriend”, “girlfriend” etc has never been uttered in our vocabulary. Neither of us had any intentions of even dating or would ever want to. Neither of us had any thoughts on doing so or would even bother to eve try. Instead we talked mostly about Russia and she was teaching me how to read ad write in Russian. One day She just disappeared. And I wondered what happened to her. I texted her one day and I got a reply from her parents telling me to leave their daughter alone and saying how much i’m a sick pervert I am. Now here is the catch 22. If you are Not talking to someone of the opposite sex then you are gay, delaying biblical responsibilities or have gender issues. But then if you DO try to talk to the opposite sex, you are a perverted and can’t keep it in your pants. So in this sense you are damned if you do damned if you don’t!
In Chinese culture, according to what many Chinese tell me, it is perfectly fine and normal that opposite genders have strong bonds together and friendships and there is NO judgment on the status of friendships between the sexes. This brings me to the next topic of Christians should not yolk with non-Christians. If i ever marry, which is highly unlikely, you best bet i will most likely marry a Buddhist woman or maybe an atheist. The reason is because in my experience many of them are less judgmental and actually listen and attend to your needs if they can. They respect that you are different from the crowd and can actually relate to many life problems that many of these “Christians” would never understand. (For example. Many christians love the idea of family but many of us such as my self don’t have a family. So where does this place me in churches? ) They also sit and listen before writing you off of the choices you make that is not of the norm (staying single, staying childless etc) I’m not saying all of them because there are many ignorant non-christian with the same mentality as the Christians.
Speaking of marriage, I don’t mind getting married to the right person but it’s really really unlikely.There are two reasons why I do not ever want to marry (a christian). One of the main reasons is because i don’t want children. I do not care to be a father and do not care for kids. I do not need kids to feel like a “man”. I do not care about passing on my “genes” I do not care about my saving “last name” (If I ever did marry i would probably change my last name to hers or we both change it to a new one.) I do not care about the human population. I do NOT need kids to find happiness! They would serve me no happiness despite what rabid pro-natalist and Christians would tell you. There is NO such thing as a “biological clock”. This “biological clock” is just a myth and a socialization propaganda. I do not understand why there needs to be an over hype about how great children are and children (and marriage) is the key to success in finding happiness and to be a great christian. Sense most people, both male and female, want children and have the believe that it is an obligational need by the bible and the family, in order to be more selfless, loving, and more Christ like, That conflict alone, would cause the relationship to go immediately south.
The second and MAIN reason why I do not want to marry (christian or non-christian) is because by nature i am an egalitarian. I believe in and promote egalitarianism especially in relationships/ and marriages. If i marry, I have no problem cooking and cleaning and doing domestic chores at home. I do not mind if my wife work or has a career.
I HATE traditional marriages i.e the complimentary Gender roles or the “patriarchal model”. ( i’m talking about the wife MUST stays at home, cooks, cleans, she is quiet must submit and have X children and the husband is the bread winner etc etc) and I personally would hate to be in one. Now, if anyone else chooses to be in a traditional marriage and both husband and wife are both happy that way, then more power to them, i have no problem with them. But i do not believe that by default that EVERY MALE ON EARTH regardless of upbringing, personality, and differences, that I must smack and abuse my wife around and order and demand her like a slave owner.
I as a male actually like to cook and clean and do domestic chores as well. What if I want to cook meals once in a while? What if I actually like to clean around the house? What if I like to sew? What? I’m not a man because i can and like to do these things once in a while? She’s not a woman because she works? I’m atrrcted to women who are tomboyish because we would have alot more in common than a triditional minded woman. I feel we both would be intrested in things and it would make us bond more becasue we can at least understand each other to a degree. Oh…but wait i cant be with her because she wouldn’t fit the gender role and do “woman things”.
Now many people are probably saying,” Then why don’t you just marry someone and establish an egalitarian marriage and shut up”. Because many christian (and some non christian ) are very judgmental and would shame and guilt ANY marriage by telling us we are not happy and are not establishing our god giving roles, and that we need to live in a cold, emotionally distant, sex-only-for procreation, workoholic/housewifeholic puritan like marriage to fulfill our purpose and happiness . In order for our marriage to be “strong” I as a man can’t do “female roles”. in order for her to be happy , she as a woman must stay at home and not do “ male roles” she must have XX children as this is her purpose in life and will be the only thing that will make her happy! If we had ever went to any of the churches I had went to, I know for a fact that we would be “in sin” and would had to change our marriage functions to fit what They think our marriage should be, and twist up the scriptures to make it sound justifiable. The guilt, pressure and shame of how our marriage should be in along with the guilt, pressure , and shame of not having children would cause me to use severe violence and might actually turn me into a raging atheist that would make me foam at the mouth lol.
One time I was talking to an elder woman at a church. She was telling me the typical story of “ get married, have kids, get a house, car etc etc). She is also the type that she believes she has no purpose in life unless she had kids (she has one son around my age). I told her and said I don’t’ want to get married or want kids. She said “why”? I told her to mind her business. But she sounded like a parrot “why,why, why”? And was stuck on asking why until i answered. She used the typical quotes “ children are a blessing etc etc” but i refuted those claims as Paul never married and stated it’s better to not marry.. THEN, she tries to shame me saying that i should love someone and marry them and have children to be selfiless and to be like jesus etc etc. I then became sarcastic and said
“yes you are right , I am christian, I follow the law, I show an example to others, give to those in need, sacrifice my time for others etc etc but simply because i do not want children or to get married i’m damned to hell, meanwhile all the people who rape, murder, drink and commit adulturey are perfectly fine as soon as they marry and have one child.I guess that means I can fornicate as much as i want and not have all the care in the world and make as much babies as possible and not take care of any of them because it says be fruitful and multiply. I guess i should also marry 10 women because it was ok with god back in ancient times. So I can sin as much as I want to but as long as i marry and have a child i’ll be “saved””.
her mouth dropped as if she couldn’t believe what I said. Another incident is when i told an African missionary that i didn’t want any kids. he said you should be like your father because you wouldn’t be here if he had the same thought.then he tells me that you might as well be gay if I don’t marry and have children. I then turned into a sarcastic troll and said” yeah you are right. sense my father wasn’t around then i should make babies and leave them. My father is also a murderous psychopath. And has killed many people in the most inhumane way by cutting their limbs and throwing them out in the garbage. So shall i hang your neck from a tree and chop off your limbs and throw them in the garbage? Thats what he does! I should follow your advice and come for you!” now he avoids me every time he sees me lol.
But in all seriousness i just want to thank you for your blog. I chck your blog almost everyday and I even save some of the articles as a pdf file. Please don’t ever stop your blog. I am a regular reader since I first found your web site. I will also go back a read all of your archives as these are GREAT articles you posted these past years. I hope to help and support you too by finding any articles, blogs and sources that can refute any myths, lies, propaganda about marriage, procreation and family. Thanks again!!
Hey! Thanks for leaving a comment.
I did read the entire thing – the other day. I’m just now getting around to replying to it.
I sure do relate to several of the things you’ve mentioned. I’ve either experienced the same (or similar) things, or have known or talked to singles who have been through the same things.
I’m glad you enjoy the blog. I really blog for myself, but if it’s helping other people at all, that makes me glad.
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