I wouldn’t even think this was worth mentioning on Freethunk if it were not for an appalling interview I heard between Dr. James Dobson and Lisa Whelchel on the radio. Lisa Whelchel, if you do not already know, played rich girl Blair Warner on the eighties comedy Facts of Life. After her sitcom wound down and ended she married a pastor and became an outspoken Christian mom and an advocate of home schooling. Now she is going to be the next contestant on Survivor when the show goes to the Philippines.
Apparently, she’s been a fan of the show since season 1. “I love the game and was born to play it.” I haven’t watched Survivor since season two, but as I recall part of the game is about building alliances and deceit–oh, and eating god’s creation (bugs). I guess Christians can play too.
Once I saw the article on Yahoo.com I knew we would be hearing about her dedicated Christian mothering in the news items and press releases. I don’t object to her being herself and talking about her religion or being a mom, I’m noting it because it because she is embraced by guys like James Dobson. I do object to him. In the radio interview I heard, Dobson went over her life after Facts of Life and kept steering the conversation with Lisa back to women staying in the home and being bible-bound mothers–even when it didn’t seem relevant to what Lisa was talking about and in the end Lisa paid lip service to Dobson’s antiquated ideas about women. James Dobson is an old-fashioned chauvinist who masks his biblically based ideas as psychology and family counseling. In his view women are equal to men, but men are in charge (or rather, “more equal” than women).
Now as a man myself, that idea sounds kind of fun–ordering my equal-woman partner to stay home, have kids, cook dinner and tidy up the kitchen. But in this economy, in the way we’ve been savaged by home budgets, mortgages and debt, both man and woman (or man and man for you gay couples) are required to work. It’s not a choice. Old-fashioned ideas are out the door. And what woman, with a taste of freedom, is going to want to be known as a homemaker? Even homemakers would prefer to be known for something other than homemaking like blogging about homemaking or crafts or running a side business. In other words, raising kids is important but it’s not a complete identity. It’s also a pain in the ass. However, Dobson’s ideas are that a woman is joyfully submissive both to her husband–as head of the household–and to her kids. With that kind of sacrifice, you might as well nail a woman to a cross.
It’s doubtful you will hear criticism of Lisa’s ideas on submissive homemaking on and embrace of the religious right. You’ll be hearing how pretty she is after all this time. Just check out the comments on Yahoo’s article.
SIDENOTE: James Dobson is also a big homophobe, if you didn’t guess that already. Surprisingly though, he believes in evolution, much to the chagrin of creationists.
SIDENOTE 2: Since Lisa’s kids are all grown up and living their own lives I suspect we will see Lisa acting again and this time in the new wave of Christian movies.