Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement

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Today’s Nonfiction post is on Quiverfull- Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement by Kathryn Joyce. It is 258 pages long including an index. The cover has a hand holding arrows on a sky background. The content of this book is told in mostly third person with interviews, articles, and sometimes how the author got in contact with these individuals. There is no language, no sex, and no violence in this book but it is deeply disturbing because of the content so 16 and up. There Be Spoilers Ahead.

From the dust jacket- In the corners of fundamentalist Christendom across the country, an old ideal of Christian womanhood is being revived. It looks like this: The “biblical” woman wears modest, feminine dress and avoids not only sex but also dating before marriage. She doesn’t speak in church, or try to have authority over men. She doesn’t work outside the home, but within it she is its tireless center. She is a submissive wife who bolsters her husband in his role as spiritual and earthly leader of the family. She understands that it’s her job to keep him sexually satisfied at all times, and that it’s her calling as a woman to let those relations result in as many children as God wants to bless her with. She’s not the throwback to the fifties summoned in media-stoked “mommy wars” but is a return to something far older.
The Christian patriarchy movement finds its fullest expression in families following what they call the Quiverfull philosophy. Here, in direct and conscious opposition to feminist calls for gender equality and marriage equity, women live within stringently enforced doctrines of wifely submission and male headship. They eschew all contraception in favor of the philosophy of letting God give them as many children as possible- families of twelve or more children that will, they hope, enable them to win the religion and culture wars through demographic means: by reproducing more than other social groups.
Journalist Kathryn Joyce plunged into the world to give readers an intimate view of the patriarchy movement. We meet Nancy Campbell, grandmother to thirty-two and counting, and editor of an internationally distributed magazine that provides guidance for women seeking to be “virtuous” mothers and wives. We are invited into the home of Donna Mauney, an “ex-feminist” homeschooling mom from North Carolina, who children are more dedicated to the movement than she is. We are also introduced to the aspiration of Doug Phillips founder of Vision Forum and one of the most influential proponents of the patriarchy movement- aspirations that include a return to the values of sixteenth-century Calvinism, the repeal of women’s suffrage, and the cultivation of “Virtuous daughterhood”: unconditional devotion of a daughter to her father, who serves, quite literally, as her “Lord” until he helps her choose a husband who will then fulfill that role.
Quiverfull takes us into the heart of a movement we ignore at our peril, and offers a fascinating examination of the twenty-first-century women and men who proclaim self-sacrifice and submission as model virtues of womanhood- and as warfare on behalf of Christ.

Review- I read this book because I knew very little about the patriarchy movement but I had some suspicions. Now I have done more research both from this book and other sources and I have to say that this is horrifying. Joyce tells a story about real people living in this lifestyle every day for all their lives. Joyce tells the story but she has so much compassion for the people, both female and male, who are living in this world that it helps while reading it. The notes, interviews, and the articles that Joyce gives the reader about this movement is both enlightening and terrifying. The patriarchy movement is about a ‘return’ to better women and girls but really it is about controlling them in all ways. It is movements like these that make me ashamed of being a Christian. They twist and destroy the word of God and make themselves look like holy men of God. I had to read a funny novel in between chapters of the book so that I could make it all the way through this book. This book is broken into three parts from wives to mothers to daughters and the last chapter as daughters is truly sickening. I will recommend this book to my sister, nieces, sister-in-law, and others just to get the word out about this movement.

I give this book a Five stars out of Five. I get nothing for my review and I borrowed this book from my local library.