I recently wrote an article about how anti-feminism has failed young Christian conservative women. At the time I had wanted to discuss Jinger Duggar and her recent memoir Becoming Free Indeed where she condemned the specific IBLP conservative Christian ways that had hurt so many women.
Now I want to discuss a far less well-known pair of Christian celebrities: Elizabeth and Anna Sofia Botkin. Elizabeth Botkin and Anna Sofia Botkin are sisters in the fundamentalist Christian Botkin family. The Botkin family are affiliated with Vision Forum, a prominent Christian organization founded by Doug Phillips.
Phillips, through Vision Forum, preached a controversial pro-patriarchy philosophy of life that was founded on the principle that women weren’t really capable of making decisions for themselves.
Vision Forum fell apart in 2014 after a woman who worked as a nanny for Doug Phillips’ family alleged that Phillips sexually abused her.
The Botkin sisters, Anna and Elizabeth, have spent their lives discussing how evil feminism is. The Botkin sisters have made videos aimed at young girls talking about how a woman’s only duty in life was to be a housewife and mother.
The Botkin sisters also wrote So Much More: The Remarkable Influence of Visionary Daughters on the Kingdom of God. In their book the Botkin sisters wrote “Why do I have an innate need for male affection, love, and protection? Because that’s how God created women to be. We will not be able to understand our own needs and desires and strengths and how we ought to relate to our fathers until we understand the original relationship God created between men and women.”
“We would not exist but for men. Man was our source. Man was formed from dust, but woman had her origin and being from man and for man, and it is because we were created from the rib of a man that we have an innate inbuilt desire to be restored to that side of man…. God created men to be more than just optional lifestyle accessories. He created women to be dependent on them in a good way.”
“Complete independence from a man would go against the very order of God’s creation.”
“Every woman’s life is built around men and men’s role and leadership in some way.”
“This is true for the parasitical women who live like leeches off men and whose lives revolve around attracting men and for the die-hard feminists who dedicate their lives to proving that they don’t need men and for the Godly virtuous women who understand that submitting to God means joyfully submitting to the authority He has placed over them.”
And double yikes. This conflation of men, husbands and fathers with God is just so dangerous. Can you imagine being a woman with this type of upbringing trying to leave an abusive marriage? “How dare you leave your husband! That would be like leaving God!”
Can you imagine being a woman with this type of upbringing being single and in her thirties? She would probably interpret her unmarried status as being rejected by God. Because, you know, “woman had her origin and being from man.” And Man = God.
Fundie Fridays described the Botkin sisters best in her excellent video : “Bethy and Kristen (two similar Christian celebrity sisters also known as “Girl Defined” who preach anti-Feminism) eventually got the Prince Charmings that were promised to them by purity culture thought leaders. In contrast Anna and Elizabeth are in their mid-thirties, still single, and living at home with their family”
And yeah, that happens sometimes. And it’s nobody’s fault.
Well, it’s nobody’s fault except anti-feminist preachers like Bill Gothard and Doug Phillips who preached to young Christian women that if they followed all the rules they would get the happy endings. As Jinger Duggar said, “All I had to do was deposit the exact lifestyle Gothard advocated, and I would withdraw health, money, a wonderful husband, and a bushel of kids.”
That is the false promise of anti-feminism.
Feminism tells women that the “wonderful husband and a bushel of kids” is fine but sometimes life doesn’t turn out that way. Getting married and having kids is not like getting a job or an apartment. It’s not dependent on hard work. Marriage is a lucky roll of the dice, not a reward based on merit.
Marriage is a lottery.
And when you lose the lottery, you are at a higher risk of being financially unstable. This is why feminists advocate for low-cost childcare so single moms can work. This is why feminists ask for reduced stigma on unmarried women or women who marry and have children later in life.
Anti-feminists say “Pshaw! Don’t worry girls! Just trust in the plan and do exactly as the patriarch asks! Don’t listen to those feminists! Trust in the plan.”
Anti-feminism is like QAnon for young girls.
Fifteen years after writing So Much More, Anna and Elizabeth Botkin started a podcast. You can hear the sadness in their voices as they talk about how “a lot of us have grown up hearing phrases like ‘marriage and motherhood are a woman’s highest calling.’ We’ve read books or seen books on Biblical womanhood that were, you know, presenting motherhood and wifehood as what Biblical womanhood means and what it’s all about.”
“It can be very difficult when you hit 35 and you realize that you don’t fit into your own worldview.”
Ouch. Yes. I can only imagine. Thank God I was brought up a feminist so I didn’t have to hate myself when life happened.
Watching Anna Sofia and Elizabeth Botkin wrestle with their “failure” because they are in their thirties, single, no kids, beautiful, financially stable and quite influential in the fundamentalist Christian community is a bit of a trip.
Anna Sofia says that they both have “grown” since they first counseled Christian girls that all girls are nothing but dirt unless married and with child. Thank goodness for that though I can’t see how either sister could NOT have “grown” considering their own personal circumstances.
These women may not be feminists yet, but simply being allowed to no longer blame themselves for the uncontrollable aspects of life like being unmarried has got to be a relief.
There is so much more to life than hating yourself for losing the lottery.