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Raising godly children

So many people were shocked by the video of that Texas judge hitting his child, but I wasn’t. I’ve been reading for a long time about the abusive child-rearing practices of extreme Christian fundamentalists, and I wouldn’t be surprised if that girl’s father thought he was merely doing his duty and “raising a godly child.”

The books of Michael and Debi Pearl are frequently implicated in that kind of abuse. Here’s a heart-wrenching post from a reader over at the No Longer Quivering blog, started by a woman who left the fundamentalist Quiverfull movement:

When the Pearls’ methods failed, I got stuck on method a. Blame yourself. I re-read To Train Up a Child. When I knew I had it right, I hit harder. Prayed harder. Did the whole disciplinary routine smiling from ear to ear and cooing like a dove. My babies acted freaked out by my grin (it was a lot like Debi Pearl’s vacuous, huge grin in the Tuchman interview) and were enraged by my efforts to “lovingly reconcile” with them after spankings. They kept up the fight. At this point, I think I would have admitted to myself that something was wrong with this whole child-training method and stopped torturing the toddlers all day to no avail. If you have to be cruel to get the Pearl method to work on some kids, it’s wrong. I had a husband, however, who was firmly convinced that Pearl was right. He went right for the b. and c. options: hit harder and blame the kid.

Options b. and c. are hard to do without getting angry. They are hard to do without leaving bruises, especially since Pearl discipline is cumulative: faced with entrenched rebellion, you are supposed to hit repeatedly and in the same areas. My ex-husband got angry with the kids for thwarting the Pearl method, but he remained coldly self-controlled. He also left bruises. A lot of bruises.

Why didn’t I stop him? I finally did, but early in my marriage I was paralyzed by fear and brainwashed by bad teaching. We both feared raising ungodly kids. We were looking for confirmation that some part of this system worked, and my ex-husband began to get results. The children flinched when he even moved. Cowered when he reached for a spanking implement. Had semi-seizures on the carpet following “biblical correction.” We got compliance with our wishes. Eventually, there wasimmediate and unquestioning compliance. My ex-husband had quelled the rebellion in three kids. He had created unfocused, freaked-out little robots who obeyed. The joy and the peace that was supposed to suffuse our home according to Pearl, we thought we could dispense with. Maybe it would come later; the Pearls are a little vague on where the peace and love should come into the process, just as they are a little vague on how you can keep “chastising” repeatedly with progressively increased force in the same places without leaving bruises.

To Train Up a Child is a manual of progressive violence against children. Not only are there no stopgaps to prevent child abuse, the book is a mandate to use implements to inflict increasingly intense pain in the face of continued disobedience. The part about not causing injury is vague and open to interpretation, but the part about never backing down or shirking your parental duty to spank harder and harder is crystal clear. The Pearls’ teachings will lead, inescapably, to extremely strong-willed kids being abused and sometimes murdered by fundamentalist parents who are determined to “break” those children. The Pearls’ defenders will say, “Oh, they took it to an extreme and should have known better.” If anyone knows better than to keep inflicting more severe discipline on an intractable child, they can only apply that knowledge by scuttling the Pearls’ sadistic teaching and being more reasonable.

Whenever I read stories like this, I think of a lovely young woman I once interviewed, someone who grew up on the streets with her schizophrenic mother. By the time she was 16, she was pregnant. Fortunately, by the time she was 18, she’d been taken into a new program for young mothers that essentially re-parented them: Taught them to budget, balance a checkbook, plan meals, discipline children. She told me she was deeply haunted by guilt over having hit her toddler: “It wasn’t that I didn’t care about her – I did. I hit her to make her behave. I thought that’s what good parents did, and I wanted to be a good parent.”

That’s the sad part of all this violence. For whatever twisted reason, religious or psychological, many parents still believe they’re only doing what good parents do.

Hack this

I don’t know about you, but I’m always looking for ways to make stuff work better. (Like, an easy way to close the gap between my car window and the molding so I don’t have to listen to that annoying air whistle.)

So I was happy to run across Sugru, this moldable silicone stuff that will be perfect for fixing my phone headset (and, I’m sure, a bunch of other things). Right now, I use Goop to fix most things. But it dries very hard and it has a really strong chemical odor. Look at the site gallery or on YouTube for the many ways people have figured out how to use this (like child-proofing a camera)!

A picture worth a thousand words

Via Andrew Sullivan:

A tale of two Occupations

Success

I finally opened an account at my local credit union a few weeks ago, and the manager told me their membership was up by “at least” 25 percent this quarter. Which is good! They treated me like a human being, they had a nice waiting area and enough tellers that there weren’t huge lines. It seemed, well, almost un-American! In a press release from American Banker, here’s news that the “move your money” movement has been a real success:

WASHINGTON — An estimated 650,000 consumers have closed their bank accounts and opted for credit union membership over the past four weeks, according to CUNA, bringing the approach to Saturday’s Bank Transfer Day to a crescendo.

In a survey of 5,000 of its credit union members CUNA estimates that at least 650,000 consumers across the nation have joined credit unions since Sept. 29, the day Bank of America unveiled its now-rescinded $5 monthly debit card fee. Also during that time, CUNA estimates that credit unions have added $4.5 billion in new savings accounts, likely from the new members and existing members shifting their funds.

“These results indicate that consumers are clearly making a smarter choice by moving to credit unions where, on average, they will save about $70 a year in fewer or no fees, lower rates on loans and higher return on savings.” said CUNA President Bill Cheney.

Cheney said the growth is particularly noticeable at larger credit unions (those with $100 million or more in assets, which account for about 20% of all credit unions – but count about 80% of all credit union members).

The CUNA survey shows that more than 70% of these credit unions reported they have seen growth in memberships and deposits since Sept. 29.

Female trouble

Digby points to this, which points to this.

All I can say is, the most vicious online attacks are always the ones aimed at women. Although I haven’t had the actual physical threats or much creepy stalking (maybe because people sense that I’m the kind who will hunt you down first*), I’ve had an occasional taste of the “fat dyke” or “no one would fuck you without a bag over your head” variety, always from the wingnuts.

But that stuff? Relatively easy to brush off. (After all: Wingnuts! Usually very religious wingnuts!) Believe it or not, I’m a lot more bothered by the condescending “I’m a progressive man and that means I know more than you” variety. I mean, it’s fine when a man doesn’t agree with me, but when he lists a bunch of reasons that have no basis in reality as justification, and then attacks me after I point that out, it seems to come down to the Power of the Penis. Namely, “I have one, you don’t, shut up and sit down – or else.” I don’t play well with that kind of thing.

I’m always little surprised that so many people like that still exist on our side, but they do. It was especially obvious during the Great Primary Wars of 2007. Why the personal attacks on female bloggers simply for backing one moderate candidate over another? There was something very weird going on there, and I still don’t trust most of the bloggers who took part in it.

But you know: Chicks! Always bitching about something! That time of the month, menopause, don’t worry your little heads, etc. Go buy a hat, sweetheart, you’ll feel better. I’ve heard statements meant to diminish women all my life. I expect I’ll hear them to the day I die.

*Back in the days before caller ID and I used to get the occasional obscene call from some maladjusted type, I’d listen patiently and then I’d say, “Listen, does your mom know you’re using the phone?” Or: “Why don’t you stick to something you know? Hang up and play with yourself!” I always got them to hang up on me.

I remember once walking down the local avenue with my mother and some smarmy guy said, “Hey honey, how much do you charge?” I looked at him and said, “Well, I usually charge by the inch, so I’m guessing you’re a freebie.” (My mom, of course, was more upset with me than she was with the asshole.)

By the way: Great blog, written by a woman who was formerly an extreme fundamentalist, which spells out the kind of harm religious patriarchy taken to its logical extreme.

Save the internet from the Teabag caucus

Here’s the important part: If this resolution passes, it would not only void the current rule but also prohibit the FCC from engaging in any effort to protect Internet freedom going forward. This is a really serious threat, go call your senator:

A handful of corporate hardliners in the Senate is introducing a “resolution of disapproval” that would give phone and cable companies unrestricted power over the Internet. We need your help to ensure your senators don’t support this free speech-killing resolution.

The resolution would destroy existing Net Neutrality protections and strip the FCC of its authority to protect Internet users from carriers that seek to block our right to speak freely, connect with one another and share information on the Internet.

It’s time for us to mobilize to protect the open Internet. Enter your zip code, pick up the phone and urge your senators to stand up for Net Neutrality and reject this resolution of disapproval.

Richer

The net worth of Congress went up by 25% during the recession. Way to go, oligarchs!

Just like this train

Joni Mitchell:

Beautiful

Carole King:

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