This post began life as a pensive reflection on my life as a homeschool apostate. I’ll be blunt: I’m too angry to write that post. I spend so much time trying to separate myself from extremism and militancy that it’s personally frustrating to be so stymied by anger now. But that is where I find myself.
I am furious with homeschool parents who, for days, have been telling me that I’m just bitter: a barely competent child whose rage can be invalidated and debased as ‘lashing out.’
I am weary of Christian patriarchs like Chris Jeub who feel obligated to repeatedly insert themselves into the discussions emerging from our stories of homeschool abuse. This week, Jeub hastened to assure his fellow homeschoolers that we “apostates” haven’t really abandoned the faith; that we’re just asking questions. In doing so, he reduced our entire movement to a monolith more palatable to his fundamentalist audience. It didn’t matter that many of us, like myself, have abandoned the faith and are happy for it. But we’re here, patriarchs, and we’re not going anywhere, so you might as well admit we exist.
Jeub’s post is so distressing to me because I see it as a ploy to retain some control of the narrative we’ve tried to produce. Let me be very clear: this story is not about Chris Jeub. It’s not about any patriarch, for that matter. It is about us. Don’t you dare re-center this around yourselves.
It is time for you to sit down and pass the mike. The guinea pigs are talking.
You had your chance to run your social experiment. Now the results are in and patriarchs, it doesn’t look good for you. You deliberately created a cultural hierarchy that enshrined your privilege as divine right. The people you’ve oppressed for decades are trying to speak now, and every time we make a sound you drown us out.
I am not looking for a conversation. I think the time for conversation has passed, if it ever existed at all. If you’re not willing to discard Christian patriarchy completely, to acknowledge the horrifying damage it wreaks on those rendered powerless by it, then you are not my conversation partner: you are the enemy in my fight for liberation. If you are not willing to stop viewing your children as property to be controlled, there is no discussion to be had.
Moreover: I think it actually endangers the fight against Christian patriarchy to view its proponents as conversation partners. They actively perpetuate oppression, and I don’t see it as my responsibility to train them in the ways of allyship. Their voices have been so dominant for so long that I believe it will be impossible to make ourselves heard as long as they’re still speaking. There have been calls for conversation. But conversation is only really possible if both partners are operating as equal, and those of us who left Christian patriarchy aren’t yet equal to those who perpetuate it.
Some day, yes, that might change. But in order for that change to occur, Christian patriarchs are going to have to recognize that it’s not their turn to speak. They’re going to have to cede power first.