There’s a particular verse in the Bible that I’ve always appreciated. It’s found in the Book of Proverbs 22:6 and says “Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.” Now of course, someone like me would have a very different view than a Christian in how a child should be raised up. I believe that children should be raised with love, compassion, learning, open-mindedness, and opportunity. A Christian believes that it’s a parent’s duty to raise their children as little soldiers for Christ (boys) or domestic baby-makers (girls). I’m not saying that Christians don’t love their children, just that our priorities are different. What I like about this verse, however, is that it places the responsibility for raising a child directly where it belongs; in the hands of the parents or guardians. Not the schools, the government, or the church, not teachers or psychologists or priests. It’s a parent’s responsibility to instill a sense of morality and learning in their child. And if they do their job properly, there’s less of a chance that their child will end up in prison – even though ultimate responsibility for a path chosen lies with the individual.
Raylan Alleman from the Catholic organisation Fix the Family doesn’t believe in the validity of this verse. Like all Christians, he ignores Biblical texts that contradict his worldview. Instead, Alleman knows that when a child, particularly a girl, strays from the path her father has laid out for her, the responsibility lies with the evil, liberal university system and all the horny men it contains. In an effort to save America’s daughters from the wickedness that comes from receiving higher education from intelligent and accomplished individuals, Alleman published an article entitled “Six Reasons (+2) to NOT Send Your Daughter to College”
The internet promptly exploded.
If you haven’t read the article yet, read it now. Here’s the link. I’ll wait patiently until you’re done so we can go on and discuss it.
I know you haven’t finished it yet. I had a hard time myself, but go back and get to the end before you come back.
Now that you’ve finished, we can talk about that burning sensation behind your temples. Yes, it’s anger and shock, and it’s a perfectly reasonable reaction. I had to constantly remind myself that I had sworn to treat my intellectual opponents with respect in my previous article entitled “Syria: An Atheist’s Prayer.” When that didn’t work, I resorted to reciting the Jedi Code over and over again.
It shouldn’t come as any surprise when I say that Alleman’s article, and by extension attitudes like his, are extremely dangerous. The fear that Alleman has for educated women is so palpable it radiates off the screen like a heat screen. Despite his protestations to the contrary, that he does believe that women are equal (equal here meaning ‘destined to be their husband’s subordinate) and that he isn’t against education for women (so long as she’s being educated in what the men deem appropriate for her), it’s obvious that Rayman Alleman has an extraordinary disrespect for the dignity, value, and ability of the entire female gender.
It’s not only sickening and repulsive, it’s a devastating commentary on what Christianity wants for society.
It shouldn’t be surprising, however. The worldwide university system is the greatest monument of education and enlightenment. It is humanity’s life blood, the sanctuary of culture and learning, of innovation, entrepreneurship, and invention. It is the very antithesis of the Dark Ages, of the period when the Catholic Church had iron control over Western Europe. So it shouldn’t come as a shock that Alleman, a devout Catholic, treats the greatest accomplishment of humankind with such disrespect and derision.
It does no good to ignore such work as the ramblings of a Christian extremist, however. The only way to fight extremism is to face it head on. Which is why, despite my increasing desire to take a long, hot shower and wash myself repeatedly, we’re going to dive into this together and address all eight points Alleman makes against letting women shape their own lives.
6 Reasons (+2) to NOT Send Your Daughter to College
You know what, we’re actually going to start with the title. The fact of the matter is, most women are legally adults when it’s time to head off to university or vocational school. So there shouldn’t even be a question of a parent deciding when to send their children off to college. It’s not their choice. Once she’s eighteen a woman has every right to make her own educational decisions. And with the enormous amount of financial aid and scholarships available, the vast majority of women still have opportunies at their fingertips even if they don’t have any financial support. There’s only one way that a parent could prevent an adult child from not attending university, and that is by shaming them by withholding love or approval. It’s bad enough when Christians shame their children for marrying outside their religion or race, or for their sexual orientation. But to shame your daughter for seeking learning and knowledge? That is just despicable.
She will attract the wrong types of men
And with this statement, Alleman claims that a woman who is organised, educated, and successful will be a magnet for lazy loafers who only want to use her as a sugar mama. Never mind the fact that when she attends university, a woman is surrounded by hundreds of men who are studying to be doctors, lawyers, businessmen, artists, servicemen, or skilled labourers. There is not a chance that she may find a wonderful, ambitious, successful, and loving man at university. No, if she makes the most of her talents and abilities, it is inevitable that she will end up with a lazy, good-for-nothing moocher. Never mind that women can be as different as night is from day and that millions of educated women are in wonderful households and marriages. It’s obvious that they can’t be trusted to make marriage choices for themselves. Alleman clearly believes that when it comes marriage, the Biblical standard is the best. Namely:
– The woman’s parents select the husband, based mainly on who can pay them the most.
– The man goes to a foreign country and steals a wife, preferably one whom he is closely related to (looking at you, Jacob).
– The man exterminates a woman’s family, including parents, brothers and non-virgin sisters, takes the woman back to his home, and rapes her (see the Israelite war against the Midianites in Numbers 31).
She will be in a near occasion of sin.
This woman is reading a book. That’s how you know she’s a slut.
Alleman next goes on to claim that universities – all universities, even Catholic ones – are hedonistic debauched orgies. I suppose if you’re referring to UW Madison, you’d have a point, but there are plenty of conservative Christian colleges with extremely repressive moral codes their students have to sign. Never mind that. Alleman says, “How can one expect that anyone would be able to avoid these temptations, even on a Catholic college campus much less a secular one?”
If I were one of Alleman’s daughters, I would be extremely offended at the complete lack of confidence their father seems to have in their self-control, their sense of morality, and their strength of will.
And if colleges are bastions of unbridled sexual sin, why isn’t Alleman preaching against sending men to university? Are sexual temptations less for them? Or is it just less of a sin when a man engages in premarital sex? The slut-shaming that Alleman is advocating is just unreal. Basically he is saying that women can’t be trusted to make sexual and moral decisions for themselves, but boys will be boys. Or perhaps he is saying that boys can’t be trusted not to seduce women, and therefore women need to forego all chance at a successful and happy life so that the boys can concentrate on their studies.
If anyone still doubts that Christianity blatantly supports the outright subjugation of women, go knock your head against the wall and read Alleman’s article again.
She will not learn to be a wife and mother.
Well…no, she won’t. That’s not the point of higher education. Despite Alleman’s completely uneducated and degrading claim that the purpose of college is to find a job, university teaches skills that are essential no matter where you end up in life. Skills like critical thinking, the scientific method, and logic. Skills like organisation, how to meet a deadline, how to motivate yourself when you’re surrounded by distractions. How to work closely with people you disagree with, teamwork, how to make educated opinions and learn to defend them. Many women learn skills that they find essential when they become wives and mothers, such as how to balance a budget. Child psychology. Many women who want to homeschool become certified teachers to give their children the best education they can, and certification requires a university degree. Music. Language skills. The list is endless.
But Alleman dismisses all of these because they don’t fall under the category of ‘homemaking:’ i.e. giving birth, cleaning, laundry services, cooking, and doing whatever your husband requires of you. Never mind that university provides women with invaluable tools when it comes to raising children and keeping a household. The danger that she might meet people of other worldviews and lose her virginity is just too much to risk.
But he’s right, a woman won’t learn the essential tools of motherhood and wifehood in a university. Unconditional love and good parenting can’t be learned from a book or a class. Those skills should have been taught to her starting from a young age. By her mother. Or her grandmother. Or her guardian, or another role model that her parents exposed her too. Speaking directly to Mrs. Alleman here, it is your responsibility to teach your daughters motherhood skills. If they’re reached adulthood and they don’t have them, that’s not the universities’ fault. It’s your failure as a mother, and for that I pity your daughters.
The cost of a degree is becoming more difficult to recoup.
That’s why only one spouse should have a college degree. And of course it should be the man. Because a woman’s talents don’t matter.
And of course, there are no such things as scholarships or financial aid, and even if there were, it’s apparent that you have no confidence that your daughters have the potential to earn them.
And gods forbid that a woman earn a degree, become successful, pay off her loans, and then marry. If she’s not married during her prime childbearing years, she’s failed in her God-given duties and is going to hell.
You don’t have to prove anything to the world
But you owe it to yourself to find happiness in whatever way you believe is right. It’s not your parents or your husband’s decision what you do with your own mind and education. This is your journey, your life. Whether you choose to go to college, or join the military, or become a mother, or run off to a far off culture to learn about this wonderful, terrible, exquisite experience we call the human life cycle, no one has the right to shame you for your successes and accomplishments. Especially not a religious extremist like Mr. Alleman.
It could be a near occasion of sin for the parents.
In the most bizarre argument of the article, Alleman argues that the cost of sending kids to college might prompt parents to use birth control. Which would mean that the very act of having a daughter and sending her to university is a sin, because they might use a condom at a later date.
I don’t even have the words for this one. I don’t. The Catholic restrictions against birth control are ridiculous and dangerous in the best of times (not the least because it’s responsible for much of the spread of HIV in Africa) but this is just obscene. My whole job on this blog is to craft words and arguments, but I seriously can’t get past my open-mouthed, slack-jawed shock that this man actually is preventing his daughters from learning because he’s afraid other people use condoms.
I’ll leave this one to you, reader. In the comments below, complete this sentence.
The existence of birth control is not a legitimate reason to prevent women from going to college because .
She will regret it.
Because no one finds happiness from their achievements.
Because Mr. Alleman has the necessary wisdom to label every educated woman as unhappy.
Because Mrs. Alleman’s life choices are right for three billion human individuals.
Because there is no joy in learning. Because there is no happiness in exploration and discovery. Because there is no excitement and wonder from exposure to other people and cultures. Because the world has nothing but darkness, and the Alleman Catholic bubble is the only safe place for a woman.
It could interfere with a religious vocation.
The world needs more doctors and teachers and less nuns.
And so we finish. Now that we’ve been blindsided by the extents that religious bigotry and extremism can take us, we can take heart in the knowledge that we’ve progressed so far beyond Mr. Alleman’s barbaric sense of morality. Against his extremism, we can set people like Marie Curie and Sally Ride, Condoleeza Rice and J.K. Rowling. Extraordinary educated women who have given so much to our world. Even Malala Yousifzai, the Pakistani girl who was shot in the head for seeking an education, is a beacon against the darkness that is mean like Mr. Alleman.
The only worthwhile aspect of the article was the more than 2,000 comments below it. Comments from Christians and Muslims, agnostics and atheists. Men and women, mothers and fathers. Teachers and students. Conservatives and liberals. All united for one moment, one beautiful moment, in mutual contempt and disgust over this Christian man’s war against education for women.
In response to his critics, Mr. Alleman wrote, “The rejection we receive is always emotionally charged and ends up insulting, since once explained logically, the opposition runs out of substance and is only left to hurl insults and presume and misconstrue this practical wisdom into some chauvinistic evil.”
Mr. Alleman is apparently blind to the resigned humour in this statement. If you have to proclaim that what you say is wisdom, it isn’t.
Women, be submissive to your husbands. And don’t go to college, because you might end up knowing better.