True Womanhood – June Cleaver as Jesus

In Women by Caris Adel19 Comments

Photo Credit: Nesster

The fundamental premise of feminism is that women need and can trust no other authority than our own personal truth.”

Creating a culture of idolatry was probably not anyone’s goal, but I think in the desire to make their point, the True Woman movement has done so.  They tell us the idol of June Cleaver will protect us from the dangers of our world.

Feminism is an -ism.  Like atheism, humanism, Marxism, existentialism, post-modernism; and the -ism indicates that we are dealing with a theory, a philosophical theory, a doctrine, a system of principles and ideas.”

But why are the 1950’s so idealized?  Do they think God can’t be found in our culture?  Is he really absent from the various ‘-isms’ they both denigrate and link feminism to?  They set modernism up as bad and June Cleaverism as good.  But why?  Solely because of gender roles?  Can we really ignore the financial issues that make this lifestyle a fantasy for some people?  Can we ignore the racial disparity that existed in the 50’s?  Does every other problem get swept away in the name of gender roles?

There’s a tendency to think we need new or better laws…we need new structures, new systems, new social programs, overhaul the judicial system, the schools, the economy, the government…but Paul insists what the world really needs…is Christians who actually live out what they claim to believe.  Things that accord with sound doctrine.”

Is the church really going to say that the problem with our world is that we don’t look enough like Ward and June?

Over the past few decades, we women decided we needed to put together a new model; a new definition of womanhood.  Leave it to Beaver model was lacking, we didn’t like it.  And so we decided we wanted to be like men……We’ve made a mess of our homes and our families and our relationships.”

Nowadays the epitome of empowered womanhood is to live a self-serving, self-righteous, neurotic, narcissistic, superficial, and adulteress life.”

Can God not exist in modernity?  Is there anything good about modern life that they like?  Do they have any appreciation for the fact that if it were not for these evil feminists, they would not have the ability to hold conferences and put out studies like this?

One of the reasons that our nation is under the judgment of God and is in such critical condition is because of what we have done as women, because if you go back to the 1960’s, you see everything pivots from that time….and from the feminist movement.”

Everything pivots from that time.  Publishing The Feminine Mystique was the point of no return.  And I get it.  I get the ‘downward spiral’ of society.  The fact that we have so many single parents is an issue.  The fact that so many fathers are in jail is an issue.  The fact that there are serious social issues is a problem.  But there have always been serious social issues.

None of this is going to be solved by gender roles.

And I understand that if they truly think that feminism is only about finding our truth and rejecting God, that it can cause problems.

In typical late 1950’s fashion, June worked hard at home all day taking care of the house, serving the community, while her husband Ward worked outside of the house to financially support the family.”

But a rejection of gender roles is not a rejection of God.  A rejection of prescribed characteristics and functions in life, assigned solely on the chromosomal luck of the draw, does not equal a rejection of Jesus.

Sticking our heads in the sand and expecting that men acting like real men will solve all the world’s ills is naive and ineffective.  And blaming women for not living in such a way that enables men to ‘be men’ is just nonsense.  I’m sorry.  But the failures of half the species (to the extent that they have ‘failed’) is not dependant on the actions of the other half.

June Cleaver becomes an idol when they insist, in all of history, that only one decade was ideal.  Implying that life was perfect until 1960 does a gross disservice to the failures of history.  Not to mention, does a terrible reading of it.  Even a simple search (of all places!) shows feminism going back to 1792.  And we can’t leave out the Cult of Domesticity! 

Showing off our clean house and folded laundry as proof that we can go see a movie or grab a cup of coffee is just polish on the statue.

Her feet do not stay at home…..This wild woman was self-indulgent, rather than self-disciplined.  She didn’t put first things first.  Shopping, and going out with girlfriends, hearing the latest gossip, maybe self-actualizing herself in the workforce….the problem was not so much that she went out.  But that she went out at the expense of what she should have been doing.  Her house was probably messy.  Her laundry was probably undone….wildness warps a woman’s attitude towards home-based priorities.”

So because June Cleaver had home-based priorities, we all have to?  I don’t want that to be the standard for my girls.  I don’t want that to be the expectation for my sons.  Just because I stay at home does not mean that my house takes priority over other things, like writing.  I don’t want my role to define me.  Yes, I hope I’m remembered as a good mother, but I don’t think that staying home makes me one.

And what I really don’t understand is why June Cleaver vs. the 1960’s is the basis for this movement, especially after learning about the Cult of Domesticity.

Oh.  Wait.  I just got it.

June Cleaver.  J.C.  Jesus Christ.  J.C.

That has to be it, right?  June is Jesus, y’all!

Brought back to life in our time, so now we don’t need to deal with the messiness of the New Testament or the unpredictability of the Holy Spirit.  We just need to look at June.

Focusing on an idol blinds us to any other way of living.  By upholding June as the ideal, they limit God.  They say he can only work through women in one way, (which contradicts the entire story of the Bible!).

Kassian says Jesus doesn’t care if we’re married.  The point is our hearts.  But, of course, in saying yes to Jesus, we’re also saying yes to God’s design.  (This whole part is too long to type, but start listening at 39:10. Or read her article {an extended take on this speech, with gems like “The essence of true womanhood is to understand and agree with the Creator’s design for womanhood as it is revealed in Scripture.” and “ultimately their longing will only be satisfied by embracing the gospel of Jesus Christ and a biblical understanding of manhood, womanhood, and gender relationships.”}, or this transcript.)

When you say that God’s design looks like a fictionalized, idealized person (with a stage crew!), and this is the ideal to pursue, you have set up an idol.

I don’t believe saying yes to Jesus means I’m also saying yes to Ward, and the proof of my relationship to Jesus is not in how closely my life looks like June Cleaver, no matter what her initials say.



This post is part of a series reviewing and discussing the True Woman 101 Divine Design study, by Mary Kassian and Nancy Leigh Demoss:

Part 1 – True Womanhood – Why Airplanes Aren’t in the Bible

Part 2 – True Womanhood – Death to Certainty

Part 3 – True Womanhood – Affirming Female Ordination?

Part 4 – True Womanhood – June Cleaver as Jesus

Part 5 – True Womanhood – An Offensive Gospel

Part 6 – True Womanhood – Compassionless Christianity

Part 7 – True Womanhood – Oppressing Women since Creation

Part 8 – True Womanhood – Get Abused, Win A Crown!

Part 9 – True Womanhood – Cookies and Chains

Part 10 – True Womanhood – Tension, Cracks, and a Concrete Faith

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  • Danielle | from two to one

    1. First off, it’s highly ironic that they are somewhat disparaging to “-isms” when they themselves are proponents of another “-ism” — complementarianism or even patriarchalism. Sigh.

    2. They created a complete false dichotomy between Christians living out their values in service and honor to Christ, and creating better laws for society. Organizations like International Justice Mission or the Tahirih Justice Center are prime examples of how Christians can live out their values….by practicing law and advocating for better justice systems. Sigh.

    3. When folks like the True Woman crowd assert that feminists just wanted to be men, they are missing the point. Feminists want all people to be equal, but in their rosy-colored, June Cleaver-mentality, to be a man is to be equal since the male is norm. Sigh.

    4. “Nowadays the epitome of empowered womanhood is to live a self-serving, self-righteous, neurotic, narcissistic, superficial, and adulteress life.” I can’t even with this. Sigh.

    • Caris Adel

      #4 – they actually have another similar quote to that in a different week of the study. So apparantly, they really believe it. ugh.

  • Matt Appling

    So many good things, Caris. :)

    • Caris Adel

      Thanks, Matt!

  • mamawest777

    My mother was and still is June Cleaver. But she never told me that was who God demanded me to be. It was her calling, not mine. To teach that all women are limited to an archaic ideal is not only unscriptural but quite frankly asinine. The logical conclusion, as you said, to this rationale is that God Himself must be limited if we are women made in His image. Again just asinine.

    • Caris Adel

      yes! I kind of hate that I fit her model, but then I look at my messy house when I’m writing and I don’t feel so bad about blowing the pearl necklace while vacuuming out of the water, haha!

  • Jamie

    Your intermittent quotes from the study are artfully done, like we’re listening to some tv personality droning, droning along in the background, clearly obsessed with the sound of their own voice.
    Will they listen, will anyone listen? I don’t know. We mostly just like what we want to hear and change only comes when we stop talking about Others in their corners until we are blue-faced.
    The TW study, as you have represented it through their quotes, seems designed to keep that voice going, steady and mesmerizing, with no room to question. No room to doubt if it can even make sense to blame one people group for all the social ills in existence.

    • Caris Adel

      Thanks :) Wasn’t quite sure how that format was going to work. I like the droning, lol.

  • Alyssa Bacon-Liu

    “One of the reasons that our nation is under the judgment of God and is in such critical condition is because of what we have done as women, because if you go back to the 1960′s, you see everything pivots from that time….and from the feminist movement.” < —– probably the most cringe-inducing thing ever. EVER. Ugh. I can't even go into all the many, MANY ways this statement is bullshit but I'm glad you are tackling this cult of June Cleaver head on.

    • Caris Adel

      I think one was one of the most disappointing things – not b/c I haven’t heard it before, but b/c it came from Kay Arthur. I thought she was this normal person b/c everyone raves about her inductive studies (never done one, now never will) and her whole thing was awful. OMG. I don’t know if I’ll have a place for this quote or not, but she also said how we are a generation of harlots, raising a generation of harlots. OMG.

      • Alyssa Bacon-Liu



  • Megan Westra

    i just can’t even…

    how does one even attempt to cram God into that box?
    how is one so ignorant of the centuries of Christian heritage and women who proclaimed the Gospel with authority and in mighty ways?
    how the HECK is one so prideful as to think that ONE decade of culture and societal thought FROM THEIR OWN COUNTRY (because Cleaver-ism was not a phenomena worldwide…) best demonstrates God’s ideal for humanity.

    i just…i cannot even begin to understand.

  • Rachel

    This is wack-tastic junk. Thanks for doing the dirty work of rebuttal! I’m only reading snippets and I need a glass of wine and a jar of Nutella. Maybe a punching bag. Or just some self-actualization at my workplace.

  • Daisy

    Regarding this quote: “Nowadays the epitome of empowered womanhood is to live a self-serving, self-righteous, neurotic, narcissistic, superficial, and adulteress life.” I finally came to the realization a couple years ago I have something called “codependency.”

    Codependency has many characteristics, some of which include the codependent always putting other people’s needs and feelings first; never placing one’s needs/feelings first; feeling guilty or afraid to tell people “No.” The codependent feels compelled to help and serve other people. Codependents do not realize they have a choice: they do not always have to help other people.

    Codependency is not biblical, but a lot of Christians think it is because they only pay attention to Bible verses that talk about being sacrificial, loving, meek, forgiving, and helping others. They ignore the verses that indicate self defense is acceptable, getting one’s needs met is assumed, and examples where Christ and Paul spoke forcefully against others, or where Christ chose to get his needs met instead of helping someone else.

    While it is true that men on occasion are codependents, women usually are; they are socialized by secular culture, parents, and by churches to be that way. Gender complementarianism is pretty much codependency hidden under a religious veneer.

    The Bible teaches that we are each responsible for our own lives and choices (both males and females), but one thing (of several) where gender comps mirror codependency in their gender role teachings is where some of them insist a husband (or father or male preacher) answers to God for a woman, that a woman is not completely responsible for her life or decisions, and/or that God does not hold a woman fully responsible for her life/choices, he supposedly holds her husband accountable.

    Never mind of course that the Bible does not teach a male priesthood of believers; the Bible says all believers are priest before God (not just men), and that there is only one high priest between humanity and God, and that is Jesus Christ – not a husband or father or preacher.

    There are several other similarities between gender complementarianism and codependency. Codependency also leaves women vulnerable to being abused – the very traits Christian women are taught are “biblical” and feminine (such as being a passive, sweet, quiet, gentle, submissive doormat to everyone including men), makes them appealing targets for abusive, mean, cruel, controlling selfish, or narcissistic men.

    • Caris Adel

      I love this whole comment. Such a good point. So, so good.

  • Helen

    I know I’m late commenting but as a history buff I want to leave my 2 cents.

    Societies, eras, cultures and time periods all have ideals of what they would like. But then there is what was or is ideal and what is or was real. June Cleaver was the ideal 1950s wife, but real 1950s wives were women like my mom’s mom who did the housewife gig but also d to work dead-end jobs to feed the family when my grandpa was sick or my dad’s mom who worked her butt off in the post office and was rewarded with a pat on the butt by her boss.

    Cleaver was an idealized fantasy of a woman who did not exist. Sure, this was the realityfor a small percentage of Americans back then but not for most women or men for that matter.

    Whenever I read these teachings, I consider them in violation of the Bible itself which states in Ecclesiastes that we are not to ask why the old days were better than this. We are to preach Christ in the present, not use the Bible to promote a fantasy about a past that never was about a way of life that never should have been.

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