Book Review: “No Will of My Own: How Patriarchy Smothers Female Dignity and Personhood” By Jon Zens (Ekklesia Press, 2011) -- By: Olga Soler

Journal: Priscilla Papers
Volume: PP 26:4 (Autumn 2012)
Article: Book Review: “No Will of My Own: How Patriarchy Smothers Female Dignity and Personhood” By Jon Zens (Ekklesia Press, 2011)
Author: Olga Soler


Book Review: “No Will of My Own:
How Patriarchy Smothers Female Dignity and Personhood”
By Jon Zens (Ekklesia Press, 2011)

Olga Soler

Olga Soler is a director, writer, and performer for Estuary Ministries, which promotes Christian healing and recovery from abuse and addiction through the performing arts. She authored a chapter in Just Don’t Marry One: Interracial Dating, Marriage and Parenting by George A. Yancy and Sherelyn Whittum Yancey (Judson, 2003). She is the proud mother of three children and lives with her husband, Christopher, and her dog, Kiji, in Bolton, Massachusetts.

This small book (75 pages) elucidates a great present-day adversary to biblical justice and equality: patriarchy. The book is written for the Body of Christ. It is the wish of the author to bring consciousness of the subject to church membership and leadership alike. The view here presented is that patriarchy is not merely uncomfortable for some women, but toxic and dangerous to all men and women in the faith. The thesis is punctuated with real-life experiences and with excerpts from several pertinent sources, but mostly from the work of Annie Fransen Imbens, author of Christianity and Incest.1 Imbens details accounts of ten victims of sexual and emotional abuse perpetrated by patriarchs in their families and churches.

Zens’s book highlights biblical sources that have been misinterpreted to underpin male dominance. It also quotes from the Mishnah and from books oppositional to Zens’s view, currently advocating patriarchy in the American evangelical homeschooling movement, the Roman Catholic Church, and the Dutch Reformed Church. He illustrates and exposes the thinking by which they set up and legitimize the promotion of male superiority and the victimization of girls. The author makes it clear he is not vilifying any denomination or homeschooling per se, since his own children have had seasons of homeschooling. He only wishes to bring to light the abuses facilitated, in these institutions and others, by many whose disgraceful practices were protected by false teaching on this subject. More importantly, he wishes to defend the plight of those who suffered in the unholy wake of such thinking.

No Will of My Own does a brief but masterful work of exposing the dysfunctional indoctrination received by boys in severe religious homes, giving them airs of superiority and control. In like manner, it points out the physical and psychological programming of females, promoting strict silence, subservience, and ignorance. Women are depicted as the source of evil because of Eve and blamed for the lust of their male family members. Girls are taught that education is undesirable and that they are to be “help-meets” not only to husban...

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