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Despite their claim that sexual relations were clearly governed by biblical commands regarding the domination of men and subjection of women, Baptist females' interaction with males was predictably more complex than those directives. Beginning with courtship, women were alternately described as both victimized and controlling. The emphasis of advice to girls during the premarital period was on their feminine purity, which had to be closely guarded by its possessor and her hovering parents from male beasts of prey who waited to snatch it away. Her carefully protected modesty, delicacy, and refinement were said to be the very qualities that would make her desirable and lovable, justifying biblical restrictions of her rights.

BS , February 18, 1897, p. 3.

A proscriptive guide to courtship behavior published in the Baptist Standard in 1894 was succinctly entitled, "Don't Girls." The "don'ts" ranged from flirting and answering anonymous letters to strolling the
highways and byways
and taking buggy-rides at night.
Suffering familiarities
like holding hands and being fondled led to
the pitfalls of moral death,
and sipping wine rendered one helpless and devoid of
womanly sensibilities.
Young women were urged not to
lay that innocent head on any bosom save that of the home.

Cloistered and protected there, she was to remain completely passive:

You should not so much as seek for an introduction to the stranger. . . .If you are deserving, you will be found, sought after and duly wedded. Don't be forward, presuming, bold, brazen. For your life, don't.

BS , December 27, 1894, p. 1.

Somehow behind the parlor curtains and under her doting parents' gaze, this shielded young woman was also recognized to be largely in control of her destiny. One of J. B. Gambrell's most famous essays described the feminine personality in its almost-grown state, "The Tee-Hee Girl

--"a living kaleidoscope, different at every turn, but always picturesque.
In terms of social skills and perception, she was steps ahead of any suitor who came to call; therefore, she could guide the direction of their relationship. With tricks as effective as a magician's she maneuvered the situation to bring about her desires:

If from refined sensibility or for other reasons she does not wish to hear a declaration of love, which her fine intuition tells her is waiting a chance, she will see that the chance does not come. . . .If she is ready she can beat Gen. Lord Roberts clearing the coast.

BS , May 3, 1900, p. 1.

In another address Gambrell described a determined woman as having a

predestination look on her face
and suggested to young men that whenever they encountered that look, they agree with whatever the lady suggested because it was
the short cut out of a great many controversies, in which you will always be worsted.

BS , April 8, 1897, p. 6.

A young woman exercised considerable control of her choice of a mate, and many older Baptists proferred advice on her making that judgment. She was not to be swept off her feet by superficialities like

toothpick shoes and fantastic monocles,

BS , February 25, 1897, p. 4.

but to look for a man of
good humor, intelligence, thrift, courage, industry and Christian character.

BS , March 2, 1893, p. 3.

Submission would pose no problem if she chose someone to whom she was willing to be subject, they explained;

BS , May 10, 1900, p. 7.

however, she should not expect any man to be perfect.
You are not perfect yourself. What would you do with a perfect man?
asked Galveston pastor A. W. Lamar in a 1893 sermon; then he concluded with an arresting figure of speech:
This world never saw but one perfect pair, and they slipped down the banks of Paradise together.

BS , March 2, 1893, p. 3.

Questions & Answers

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Source:  OpenStax, Patricia martin thesis. OpenStax CNX. Sep 23, 2013 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11572/1.2
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