"Captivating" review: 188-203, "Warrior Princesses"


With a chapter titled “Warrior Princesses,” I only had one option for the picture today. I don’t think it’s what Stasi had in mind when she wrote it, but I have to make up for this trainwreck of a chapter somehow.

First off, there are some good things about this chapter, my favorite being this:

Antidepressants are stigmatized in the church. Some call them “happy pills.” Others say that if you are filled with the Holy Spirit and walking with God in faith, you will not need them. They shame those who are responsibly taking them. But we don’t shame diabetics who take insulin. Why do we shame people with a chemical imbalance who need to take something to help them?

Honestly, I was sad I was a little surprised that Stasi wrote this. I wouldn’t have expected it from her, but I’m glad that she went out of her way to make this clear in her section on “emotional attacks.” This is one of those times when I understand why so many women have read this book and found it encouraging.

I do have a couple problems with this chapter. The first one appears in this passage:

Women are called to join in the Greatest Battle of all time– the battle being waged for the hearts of those around us … The war is a deadly one; the results devastating or glorious, but always eternal. We are needed … But we will only be victorious when we enter in with our feminine hearts– when we battle as women.

She explains what she means by this here:

Women warriors are strong, yes, and they are also tender. There is mercy in them. There is vulnerability … Offering our hearts wisely, living in the freedom of God’s love, inviting others to rest, alluring those in our lives to the heart of God, and responding to the heart of God in worship are some of the most powerful ways that a woman wars for her world.

Let’s take a second to evaluate what Stasi is claiming:

  • Women are needed to fight.
  • If we lose the “battle,” the consequences are devastating and fatal.
  • We can only win the battle when we fight “as women.”
  • Fighting as a woman means being tender, vulnerable, passive, and alluring.

This is a much nicer version of all the threats Helen Andelin made in Fascinating Womanhood. It doesn’t come across as a threat, but it’s what it is. Be the sort of woman Stasi thinks is godly– feminine, vulnerable, tender, passive– or you’ll be the reason why “The Enemy” destroys your life, your marriage, your children’s lives, your church . . . This is why people like the Eldredges push gender essentialism as hard as they do: they literally believe that if women aren’t their version of feminine and men aren’t their version of masculine that Satan will actually destroy the world.

I also dislike how Stasi paints Christianity as inherently violent. She says that “Christianity is not a passive religion. It is an invasion of a Kingdom. We who are on the Lord’s side must wield his victory. We must learn to enforce it.”

I understand that we’re in the middle of a chapter Stasi’s decided to call “Warrior Princesses” so all the war and battle metaphors are an outgrowth of that, but it’s pretty apparent that Stasi has never taken the time to read about things like imperialism or colonialism, and especially how American Christianity has been deeply affected by those ideologies. Talking about Christianity as an “invasion” and thinking of our purpose as believers in terms of “conquerors” and “rulers” is dangerous and damaging.

But, my biggest issue with this chapter is something that Stasi went very far out of her way to cloak. She spends a great deal of time emphasizing how women are part of the “Greatest Battle of all time,” and she is doing this on purpose because she desperately needs to convince all of her female readers to be the kind of woman she thinks is godly– beautiful, passive, and existing primarily to inspire men/others. She knows that a lot of us will read this and think “wow, that sounds really pointless and a total waste of my abilities,” so this chapter is about giving us an alternative. No really, she’s shouting, being feminine means that you’ll be super duper important I swear.

Except … it’s all fake.

She goes to extreme lengths trying to persuade us of how important we’ll be, and she includes a lot of stories about “spiritual warfare,” some of which are disturbing and involve a woman almost dying. No, seriously– a woman is asphyxiating to death, turning blue, and the reaction of the women around her isn’t “wow, maybe we should call 911” but let us pray over her and command the evil spirit assaulting her in the name of Jesus! Thankfully, the woman doesn’t die, but this is why I find the kind of Christianity advocated by people like the Eldredges so disturbing.

The problem is that because we’re women we’re not supposed to do things that are actually meaningful. Running companies, being take-charge women, being independent and dedicating ourselves to the areas that we are gifted in– none of that is possible for Stasi’s woman. She must be passive and beautiful, and dedicate her life to “arousing Adam” so that men can go on to do all of the physically, real-lived-life meaningful things. Instead, we get to be . . . spiritual warriors. We’re allowed to shout things into the air in empty rooms. And spend a lot of time praying.

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