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What Would Have Happened Had Doug Phillips Been a Woman?

What would have happened had Doug Phillips been a woman instead of a man?

In all likelihood, he’d have been confronted privately for his infidelity by those in authority in his local church and required to confess, repent and perform “proofs meet for repentance,” i.e., to agree to a series of tasks which would evidence sincere repentance in the judgment of those charged with his local church discipline.  He’d have been required to cancel his speaking engagements, cease all writing and step down as head of not only his nonprofit ministry but his for-profit ministry, as well.  Why?  Because, the reasoning would go, what is sold in that for-profit organization is inextricably tied with homeschooling, church and family living, these being an outgrowth and outworking, in the case of a woman, of her faith and her submission to her husband and to God.  There might be a whole laundry list of other requirements as well– that Phillips’ bank accounts be turned over to Phillips’ pastors or elders, that Phillips not be allowed to go anywhere alone, not be allowed internet or phone access, not be allowed access to mail or email and be required to fly across the country for a couple of weeks of re-education counseling at the hands of, say, someone like Jim Logan, who specializes in exorcising demons of various kinds.

If Phillips were a woman and he refused to step down from his for-profit ministry, he might find himself on blast, publicly excommunicated on a national scale by leaders in the patriarchy/Quiverfull/homeschooling movement, with letters of discipline published in magazines, newspapers, on the radio, on the internet, including by business competitors with a vested interest in his organization ending.  These leaders and competitors might urge — and enforce in various ways — a boycott of his products or goods together with excommunication and shunning on a national scale.  This would mean, of course, that Phillips would be left without an income with which to support his family, with obligations to meet and bills to pay, both business and personal, and that he and his family would be shunned by one and all, left without friends and without support, without any positive job or work references, in a world which has little or no understanding of the community which ousted him.  To the outside world, this kind of thing is just incomprehensible.  He’d learn what it means to be alone and on his own in the world, to have to fend for himself and his family and survive, somehow.

So far in all of the vastness of the discussion of Phillips’ fall into sin across the internet, I have not seen anyone, anywhere — not even among his worst enemies — suggest, let alone insist, that Phillips ought to step down from his for-profit ministry, even though what he sells is similarly inextricable from what he has said he believes.  Even his most dedicated foes seem to figure a man ought to be able to make a living and support his wife and all those kids.  Had he been a woman, this would not have been so.  I know this, because I lived it.  A woman out of submission to her husband is, in this particular community, unqualified for any sort of work in the public sphere. What she writes, teaches, creates is tainted — even if it’s just recipes, or gardening advice or homemaking tips or writings about farming or birthing or making crafts.  But a man out of submission to God?  Somehow that is different.

I can’t help but wonder whether, if Phillips’ for-profit empire were wrested from him against his will, he’d bring suit against those who forced him out.  I kind of think he would.

Asides and Random Thoughts

  • I wonder how many of the search engine terms I'm receiving wondering about my divorce, or whether I've divorced, are coming from the conservative folks in my old world, and how many are coming from the feminist and progressive folks I've encountered in recent years. Ah well.  In response, I am divorced.  Rick and I separated in October of 2008 and our divorce was final in 2010.  I  intend to remain single.   Rick and I remain devoted to our children, whom we co-parent.  So there's your answer.

"It does not take a long time," said madame, "for an earthquake to swallow a town.
"Eh well! Tell me how long it takes to prepare the earthquake?"
"A long time, I suppose," said Defarge.
"But when it is ready, it takes place, and grinds to pieces everything before it. In the meantime, it is always preparing, though it is not seen or heard. That is your consolation. Keep it."
-- Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities in Letters from a War Zone, Writings 1976-1989 by Andrea Dworkin

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