No bearing on the validity of Biblical Patriarchy

Libby Anne wonders if Vision Forum is collapsing altogether.

There has been no public announcement, but the Vision Forum Ministries site now includes only the resignation statements and the Vision Forum Inc. site is no longer selling anything, or even listing any products. This suggests to me that Vision Forum has collapsed entirely, and that the corporate wing is disappearing in addition to the ministry wing.

If this complete collapse is the case, as it appears, this is an extremely positive change.  [Read more...]

Meeting Vyckie

I just spent a couple of hours talking to Vyckie Garrison of No Longer Quivering, who is in town on a visit. It was a great conversation.

We talked about her transition from the Quiverfull life to freedom, and the worries about putting her children in school for the first time. Were they too sheltered, were they too angry? But they flourished. Her third-grader Andy had an especially good teacher, Mrs Bloom, who showed Vyckie a paper he’d written; the assignment was to write about “changes.” One classmate wrote about how life changed when the family got a kitten. Andy had rather more profound changes to write about.

Everything she said amounted to an endorsement of secular life as opposed to theocratic (meaning, here, pervading every aspect of existence) life. Before she left her children were neither happy nor compliant – it’s not as if they exchanged freedom and joy for harmony and order. Before she left she didn’t know her children as people, or individuals; now she knows how very different and interesting they all are.

She’s a lifeline for women who want to escape. She is one impressive woman.

Defiantly wholesome

Want to splash around in morbidity for a moment?

There’s always the new season of 19 and Counting.

And Counting – geddit? It’s not really “and Counting” now because Michelle Duggar miscarried #20. The new season is kind of morbid that way.

And not just that way. I find it kind of morbid overall. “Morbid” isn’t really the right word, I suppose – the Atlantic’s “creepy” is better – but it is, in a way – what’s dead is the mind. The whole atmosphere is Stepfordish. Yes they’re all very cheery and smiley and friendly and warm – but so would programmed pod people be. [Read more...]

18, 19, 20!

Oh hey, what exciting news, the Duggars are going to have child # 20 – that is, Michelle Duggar is pregnant with child # 20. Quiverfull strikes another blow for theocracy.

The Quiverfull movement places emphasis on the importance of women submitting to their husbands and fathers, and is often recognized as a backlash to the gains made in women’s rights by the feminist movement. It is an anti-feminist backlash that holds that gender equality is contrary to God’s law and that women’s highest calling is as wives and “prolific” mothers. In line with other fundamentalist Christians, they believe a woman’s place is in the home, breeding children and serving her husband.

The movement embraces misogyny as God’s law. Women are reduced to breeders. Children reduced to metaphorical cannon fodder in to be brainwashed and sent out as cultural warriors, fighting for Christian dominion over America.

Yes yes yes, but let’s don’t be a party-pooper – they’re going to have another baaaaaaaybeeeeeeeeeee for Americans to watch on tv. Isn’t that cute?

She rebelled herself to death

There’s a terrifying piece at No Longer Quivering, by a former believer in the child-rearing methods of Michael Pearl. She followed the plan; it didn’t work; she did what Pearl said to do, and followed it harder. Hit harder, was what you were supposed to do when it didn’t work. Hit harder, and blame the child. She had a hard time with that, but her ex-husband didn’t.

My ex-husband got angry with the kids for thwarting the Pearl method, but he remained coldly self-controlled. He also left bruises. A lot of bruises.

Why didn’t I stop him? I finally did, but early in my marriage I was paralyzed by fear and brainwashed by bad teaching. We both feared raising ungodly kids. We were looking for confirmation that some part of this system worked, and my ex-husband began to get results. The children flinched when he even moved. Cowered when he reached for a spanking implement. Had semi-seizures on the carpet following “biblical correction.” We got compliance with our wishes. Eventually, there was immediate and unquestioning compliance. My ex-husband had quelled the rebellion in three kids. He had created unfocused, freaked-out little robots who obeyed. [Read more...]

Iphigenia in America

Vyckie Garrison reviews a Quiverfull classic, Me? Obey him?

I am no less rational than my (ex)husband.  He also is gifted with a strong intuition and emotional intelligence.  Convinced as we were that I was more susceptible to Satanic deception, our family was deprived of my reasonable input in decision making.  My intelligence was squelched, my intuition was distrusted and my feelings were denied.  My husband developed an artificially inflated sense of his own powers of logic.  I can’t count how many times he said to me, “What you are saying sounds reasonable, but how do I know that Satan is not using you to deceive me?”  I had no good defense.  According to the Scriptures, we had every reason to believe that I was indeed being used to lead my husband astray.

What a horrible, sad, tragic way to live. How heart-breaking that Vyckie was convinced that she was susceptible to Satanic deception.

But it gets even more so.

When a concerned friend reported our family to Child Protective Services, my ex-husband lost custody of the children due to his abuse.  The social worker told me that I was guilty of “failure to protect.”  The only thing that prevented me from having my parental rights terminated and my children placed in foster care was my willingness to submit to a full psychological evaluation, undergo individual and family counseling, and cooperate with random unannounced home visits by Social Services.

My older children rightfully blame me for not protecting them against their father’s abuse.  Even though they know that I was influenced by books such as “Me? Obey Him?” to believe that it was God’s will to submit to the abuse, my children cannot be fooled into thinking that I was not really responsible for their suffering.  I have apologized for my neglect.  Most of my children have forgiven me — still, the damage is done and some things can’t (and shouldn’t) be forgotten.

Tantum religio potuit suadere malorum. (That was about a parent abusing a child too. Iphigenia.)

When it’s a problem

Libby Anne gets responses from people saying “yes but we home-school and we follow Jesus but we don’t fit your description.” She gently points out that if they don’t fit the description then she’s not writing about them…and goes on to provide a list of the genuine problems with “the various teachings of Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull” [italics hers], not having a large family or homeschooling. Among them -

  • When parents teach their daughters to dream of nothing but homemaking and seek to kill any other desire or dream, that is a problem.
  • When parents teach their daughters that boys are to go out into the world and take dominion while girls are to take dominion by doing laundry, that is a problem.
  • When parents teach their daughters that women are created to serve men, that is a problem.
  • When adult daughters are expected to obey their fathers and remain under their fathers’ authority, that is a problem.
  • When parents insist that they control their adult daughters’ romantic relationships and can’t trust them to be adults and make their own decisions, that is a problem.

She knows this from the inside.

If they will ever, like me, break free

Libby Anne is, naturally, worried about her siblings.

…it is hard for me to watch my siblings being raised with beliefs and methods I have come to so oppose. I have to watch my sisters being taught that their only role is in the home, and to see my siblings expected to obey and conform. The hardest part is watching my sisters. I hear them talk about the blessing of fatherly protection against the evils of the world and their future plans to eschew all kinds of birth control and have as many children as possible. I watch them and wonder if they will ever, like me, break free.

That would be very difficult.

He taught me critical thinking

Another escapee is Libby Anne. She gives a ten-part account of being a good child of Patriarchy and then of being turned around.

The childhood is by no means all horrible, even seen from the outside. Much of it is quite appealing.

I also enjoyed gardening. We always had large gardens, and we children did a great deal of the tending and weeding, sometimes waking at dawn in the summer months to weed before the summer heat. In addition to learning to garden, I found books at a homeschool convention about edible plants and medicinal herbs and set out to teach myself these important skills. I learned that dandelions could be eaten in salads, that plantain was good for mosquito bites, and that raspberry leaves made an excellent tea for pregnant women (such as my mother). I even tried to make flour out of clover. I loved walking through marshy areas or abandoned lots looking for plants that matched the pictures in my books, becoming excited at each new find. I knew that a proper wife should be able to forage for food and prepare herbal remedies, especially if the government collapsed and the country descended into anarchy as we always feared it would.

The proper wife bit and the descent into anarchy bit are a downer, but then that’s apparently what it was like: a mix of patriarchal doctrine and pleasantly industrious rural life.

But the patriarchal doctrine had some thorns even then.

My mother was constantly reading books like Me? Obey Him? as she strove to be a better, more submissive wife. This was difficult for my mother, for she was a very strong woman. I watched her war with herself as she tried to reconcile her strong spirit with the submission she believed in so steadfastly. I watched her cry over it, watched it eat away at her. My father, usually a reasonable man, became quite upset with my mother if he felt she was infringing on his authority. His most common response was to give her the silent treatment, and that was enough. In response, my mother generally first felt indignation and then blamed herself for not submitting enough and resolved again and again to do better. While my parents loved each other dearly, this tension added strain to their relationship, and I could see it.

The sad thing is that it’s an artificial strain, a worked up strain. A reasonable man has no need to think he has an authority that his wife shouldn’t infringe on. If both had thought of each other as partners and equals, they would still have disagreed about things, but without doctrinal anger or resentment or guilt. Nonsense about authority and submission is an extra element. It’s truly sad that people mess themselves up this way. It’s a disaster that they teach their children to do the same.

In addition to teaching me about theology, politics, and current events, my father taught me to think. He taught me critical thinking, and told me never to believe something just because someone says it, but to always question everything and follow truth wherever it leads. He taught me to never trust authority for authority’s sake and to never be afraid of truth. He taught me logic and how to recognize logical fallacies. Of course, the context of all this was learning to rebut worldly ideas and bogus concepts like global warming and evolution.

Not patriarchy or submission or god.

But then Libby Anne went to college…and as so often happens, the doors opened.

I began to have theological and political conversations with a number of non-Christians. I worked hard to show them the perfection of the Bible, the evidence of young earth creationism, the evils of abortion, and the love of God.

Strangely, I found a surprising number of my arguments rebutted by arguments I had never heard before. I was told that there were serious problems with creationism, ethical issues with the Bible, and more affective ways to decrease abortion than banning it. I turned to my resources, my books and websites on creationism, theology, and conservative politics, and I tried again. And again. And again. But some things just didn’t add up. I paused my arguments to do some serious research, and I was astounded by what I found.

An open door.