This week, conservative author Michelle Easton wrote a guest post on Focus on the Family president Jim Daly‘s blog. And, true to form, she focused on families — if by “focus,” you mean “indoctrinate with bigotry,” and if by “family,” you mean ultra-conservative “people of faith” and no one else.
Easton’s post, “How to Raise an Anti-Woke Daughter,” is a concentrated version (and promotion) of her book How to Raise a Conservative Daughter, which was just released this week.
Seeing the word “woke” already raises red flags for me since it seems like no one who actually uses the word “woke” self-identifies that way. “Woke” has quickly become a derogatory term used by right-leaning bigots who find it an easier way to criticize their political enemies than to argue against the issues in question, like gender equality, racial justice, socioeconomic equity, and religious freedom.
How many of those noble causes can Easton possibly misrepresent in this short crash course on raising an “anti-woke” daughter? Let me count the ways…
1. “The best parenting mimics the way our heavenly Father loves his children…”
Is this why Focus on the Family promotes spanking? Are we supposed to imitate God’s repeated acts of genocide? I guess that’s also in line with the parenting style of the Hebrew God, though it would probably contradict the part of the Constitution’s Eighth Amendment condemning cruel and unusual punishment.
That’s part of what makes her next point especially ironic:
2. “… so our default parental setting should be to return to the immutable and transcendent Judeo-Christian truths that shaped America’s founding.”
To put it bluntly, “Judeo-Christian truths” would be an oxymoronic way to describe “America’s founding.” The United States was designed by the founders to be a truly secular nation. We were deliberately not designed to be Christian — and certainly not in the way that white evangelicals wants it to be today.
3. “The source of self-worth is God, not government… So much of what is conveyed to young women suggests that affirmative action, government-funded health care and housing, and taxpayer-funded “free stuff” are what give girls self-worth. Dependency on government programs fuels socialist and leftist beliefs, since government is their god.”
I truly didn’t know what Easton meant by claiming that non-conservatives treat government as a God. But my eyes were opened when she described basic human rights like healthcare and housing as nothing more than “free stuff.” Easton’s privilege is clearly showing here, because if she had ever been truly in need, she would know that for many people, government-funded healthcare and housing are necessary for staying alive. I suppose that in a roundabout way, these programs could give women a semblance of self-worth since it is hard to feel much of anything when you are barely surviving at all.
4. “Family is the best defense against poverty and best source of love and lifelong support.”
If Easton is arguing against government programs and welfare, then she should at least have some alternative way of fighting against poverty, right? Saying that family is that defense sounds nice in theory, but as I’ve said before, it can be nearly impossible to be a stay-at-home parent when you need to work to be able to pay for food and a roof over your children’s head. (This is where government assistance can come in, by the way!)
5. “Use your marriage to show her what a real loving relationship looks like, because that’s going to be her model.”
You know, if all a marriage needs to be is “real” and “loving,” that should apply to relationships that aren’t strictly heterosexual either… Oops! She was accidentally open-minded here!
6. “America is exceptional and worth defending… What makes America so exceptional is that our rights come from God, not government. Socialists love to tear America down and dwell on past and current challenges instead of our greatness.”
There is so much wrong in so few words. We’ve already gone over the fact that our rights do not come from God. (If they did, then why are Christian Nationalists so concerned with their twisted definition of “religious freedom”?) Plus, as any historian not named David Barton could tell you, one thing that makes America exceptional is not our alleged and self-proclaimed greatness but the fact that we can constantly improve. The Constitution was deliberately written to acknowledge its own possibly errancy. Unlike the Bible, then, it can be amended to change with the times or at least fix what was inadvertently broken. The reason that “socialists” (to use her word) “dwell on past and current challenges” is because that’s the only way to create a better future. If the disaster in Surfside, Florida has taught us anything, it should be that ignoring problems will only make them worse.
7. “Once they are old enough, daughters should have jobs and responsibilities that teach them the value of hard work. Leftists encourage ‘economic security for all who are unable or unwilling to work.’ Unwilling to work! It’s unthinkable to conservatives.”
That lines that’s quoted there comes from a now-withdrawn summary of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez‘s Green New Deal. It was no doubt sloppily worded, but that doesn’t mean we can’t discuss the idea here. There is no shame in choosing not to work, especially for older Americans who might otherwise want to retire but can’t because their financial situation doesn’t afford them that possibility. The idea of not working only sounds radical because people like Easton are so focused on “hard work” (however she defines that) as the ultimate ideal that being unwilling to work (for which there are numerous reasons) sounds preposterous. More importantly, it’s telling that Easton also doesn’t support those who can’t work; is she opposed to disability insurance?
It’s really just another way of indoctrinating women into a capitalist mindset, which is confusing as we also have fundamentalist Christian women like Lori Alexander yelling into our other ear telling us not to pursue careers at all. Is our only value in our careers or in our duties as housewives? How about neither? Isn’t there an inherent value in just being human without having to do anything more to earn respect?
8. “Have your daughter celebrate the natural variations between men and women. The breathtaking miracle of childbearing elevates females… Help your daughter understand: the Left’s propaganda that men and women are exactly the same is a lie. (At the same time, show her there aren’t any differences between men’s and women’s intelligence.)”
Easton is trying to debunk so many things that she’s contradicting herself. (Is the left saying that men and women are the “same” or that men are smarter than women? Neither?) Gender is an amazingly nuanced subject that isn’t as simplistic as conservatives want it to be; if your understanding of male and female boils down to XX or XY chromosomes, then you’re going to have a lot of trouble coming to terms with that nuance. Each man, woman, and nonbinary person is different and each has their own relationship with gender identity. Having and raising children is a choice — perhaps an admirable one if you feel that way — but those who choose not to have kids aren’t lesser humans. To paraphrase Easton’s own words, our differences are our strengths.
9. “Our daughters need to know that abortion is the taking of an innocent human life, plain and simple. Abortion destroys a baby and damages women and their families.”
Conservative indoctrination wouldn’t be complete without railing against women’s reproductive rights. For someone who seems to have so much passion for conservative women, it is a shame that Easton feels so comfortable lying to them. From her place of privilege, maybe Easton doesn’t realize that many abortions do, in fact, save women’s lives — and that there are many underprivileged women who want children but simply don’t have the resources to raise them. All of the values that she’s expressed here — including being anti-welfare and anti-healthcare — are obstacles that stand in the way of women actually having a say in how to raise their families and live their lives.
For someone who wants to empower young women, this is horrible advice all around.
(Image via Shutterstock)