Feminism is viewed by members of a far-right fundamentalist group as an attack on the authority of men, an expert in medievalism said in a presentation Thursday.
There is a movement on the far-right fringes of society aiming for a return of traditional biblical family roles.
“Biblical patriarchy emerged in response to a perceived crisis,” Amy Kaufman, assistant professor of English at Middle Tennessee State University, said.
People within the movement believe that feminism is an attempt to redefine the roles of men and women and attack the authority of men. Women are expected to be submissive and obedient. Interestingly, there are a number of women who also adhere to these beliefs.
Family dynamics are such that, “sexually maturing boys and sexually mature women are invisible in society,” Kaufman said.
“Daddy’s Little Girl” takes center stage in a bizarre series of rituals and events.
Daughters are treated like princesses, doted upon by their fathers and given expensive gifts. Fathers are kings and knights in shining armor, pledging to protect their daughter’s purity and chastity until a suitable husband can be found.
To that end, across the country, elaborate and extravagant balls are held. Purity Balls are events in which girls, some of them barely able to read, pledge to give their virginity to their father for safe keeping until he can find a suitable husband.
In return for this surrender of power, fathers pledge to guard their daughters from “the enemy.” The enemy in this case is ambiguous, but perhaps refers to protecting the girls from themselves, Kaufman said.
During the ball, a daughter is symbolically married to her father, thus ensuring that she remains her father’s property until she is married. This “marriage” also promotes a father’s natural masculinity.
Arthurian legend says that King Arthur went on a quest to find the Holy Grail. For the men of the biblical patriarchy movement, that coveted vessel is contained in the form of their virginal daughters.
At the purity balls, fathers perform a group covenant that celebrates their own empowerment in exchange for their daughter’s surrender. The girls swear an oath of protection, which is a ritual act of submission to their father’s authority.
These balls, Kaufman said, are a way to turn women into commodities. Fathers use purity balls as a networking tool for finding the proper family for their daughters to marry into.
“Biblical patriarchy neglects the power of the female,” Kaufman said. “In fact, it takes it away.”
The movement believes feminism and the desire for equal rights has “bred false doctrine in the church and seduced many believers,” Kaufman said.
While it is still on the fringes, biblical patriarchy has taken hold across the country and its views on women are seen by some as a giant step backwards in the fight for equal rights for all people.