Saturday, November 18, 2006


As if recent assaults on reproductive rights haven't been bad enough - including the appointment of Dr. Eric "anti-birth control, anti-abortion, anti-sex education" Keroack as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Population Affairs (that means he's in charge of family planning on the national level) - now there's something new to keep us awake at night.

"Our bodies are meant to be a living sacrifice," write the Hesses. Or, as Mary Pride, in another of the movement's founding texts, The Way Home: Beyond Feminism, Back to Reality, puts it, "My body is not my own." This rebuttal of the feminist health text Our Bodies, Ourselves is deliberate. Quiverfull women are more than mothers. They're domestic warriors in the battle against what they see as forty years of destruction wrought by women's liberation: contraception, women's careers, abortion, divorce, homosexuality and child abuse, in that order.

I'm going to give all the obvious arguments a rest today and instead focus on a few of the many, many other issues I have with this whole idea.

First, how far gone must one be to think that women's liberation - still not achieved, by the way - causes child abuse? If this is in some way an attempt to argue that men sexually abuse children because their wives are divorcing them in order to have careers, I swear I'm going to have an aneurysm.

Second,I'd like to hear from all the women who are being abused and raped, who are living in poverty, who are following the Quiverfull path. Hello? Are you out there? Of course not. Because birthing all the babies you can only makes sense if you're in a decent relationship and have some money. Which leaves us the Quiverfull movement as just another example of the disenchanted white, middle-class trying to make their lives meaningful. It's not enough to just have a family - it must be the best family. It must be God's family. There must be a divine purpose to their lives, and everyone else must know what it is.

And let's just think for a moment about what repeated pregnancy and childbirth do to women's bodies. I'm not talking about stretch marks. I'm talking about physically breaking down and wearing out. I'm talking about a student of mine who almost died because having her six or seven babies was so hard on her body (she was in her forties and looked fifteen years older. When she gave birth the last time, her doctor ordered her not to have any more children because he was afraid she would die the next time).

And what about cases like this:
"An anonymous mother had written in to the Quiverfull Digest full of despair, saying she felt she was "going to die." Her husband was older and unhelpful around the house, and she feared he would die and leave her to raise their six children alone and destitute. She wanted someone on the forum to give her a reason--besides the Bible--why one should be Quiverfull."

Did they tell her, "it's ok - you don't have to be Quiverfull in your circumstance; God will understand?" No, they did not:
"The answers were quick and pointed: Apart from Scripture, there's no reason why one should be Quiverfull."

So, lady, either follow Scripture or don't. We can't help it if you can't hack it.

We can dismiss this group as a bunch of wackos, but note that the article also points out that their position on birth control isn't far off from the conservative Right Wing's position: birth control bad. Babies good. (Yes, I'm playing off the Leslee Unruh line.)

It's not far from Keroack's position, either.

What no one ever seems to talk about in these stories is what they think the world is going to do with all of these extra people. We refuse to feed and take care of the people who are alive now. The Nation piece points to one Quiverfull child, now grown, who is off to Iraq. Well, I guess that's one thing that will happen: more children means a larger fighting force, eventually. And that is in fact what they thing they are building: an army. An army of their children.

I'm quivering, all right.

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