Its been around 10 years since my parents first left ATI and the Gothard lifestyle. During those previous years, I had been homeschooled, and we used their homeschool “curriculum” called the wisdom booklets that teaches the world from ATI’s perspective and reads the commands from Matthew 5-7 into every sect of education. As a kid, we hanged out with mostly homeschool people, so my world growing up was very small.
Growing up, I thought I was sheltered for a couple “big” reason. 1) A secular and humanistic worldview taught in Public School 2) bullying and teenage peers. There is others, but the idea is big influences from the world.
But reading that article on Ladies Against Feminism reminded that ultimately, a patriarchal and quiverful families must shelter their kids from everything, because the patriarchalist worldview contradicts everything, namely the feminist world in which we live.
You see, thankfully America is progressive enough that it teaches that 18 year old girls should be able to leave home. It teaches that is healthy to stand up to your dysfunctional mother.
Extreme groups on the forefront of patriarchalism, such as Vision Forum and ATI, teach that it is not okay. And because of this, everything in this world is a complete danger to patriarchalism’s ability to sustain itself to multiple generations.
Rapanzel thinks she is being sheltered from monsters and evil people, but instead, her mother has to shelter her from everything, including the grass and trees, so Rapunzel won’t taste freedom and want more.
Now I get it — why we were really so sheltered. I used to think the reason Bill Gothard and ATI does not allow TV is because TV is toxic. That is, after all, what I learned. “TV makes you stupid.” The reality is, the reason they didn’t want us to go to the movie theater (I went to the movie theater the first time in over 10 years when I was 16) or watch TV is that the TV teaches a worldview completely different than the patriarchal Christianity.
I used to think ATI leaders wanted us to wear modest clothing, so we won’t be a stumbling block to men. I think that’s a cover up. I think they wanted us to look odd, so men wouldn’t find us. So we wouldn’t be asked on date, so we would marry a like-minded person, and so we would never discover the real world. (Yes, seriously because modesty doesn’t work.)
I used to think ATI and Vision Forum didn’t want us to go to college because the university is secular. I don’t believe that now. I think they are afraid of what happens (and what has happened to nearly EVERYONE I KNOW) when these quivering daughters meet people who are different and yet live freely and go to work and go about their lives happily. (I remember being puzzled in college when my college professor, who practiced an egalitarian marriage, was so happy and would bring his family up to the cafeteria, and loved his family; he did everything I thought wasn’t possible in a world without male headship.) They are afraid of what happens when a girl actually realizes that the world is *not*dangerous. (well not in any of the ways the patriarchal camp led us to believe) They are afraid of what happens when a girl actually stands in front of beautiful castles and sees lanterns and cannot go back to the tower.
In a patriarchal worldview, the toys, the movies, the decorations in the store (some of my friends growing up weren’t allowed to go shopping during Christmas or Halloween because of the decorations), even the Christian radio station, everything is a danger to a worldview that cannot sustain itself in the real world.
I think that’s why most of my friends have long left the movement. Because when they saw the lights, they could not turn back.