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Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy…

Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement

by Kathryn Joyce

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Kathryn Joyce takes us on an alarming, enlightening, startling journey through an American subculture most of us are unaware of. Most of us are aware of the influence of the "Christian right" in Republican politics. What's less obvious is that a significant part of that "Christian right" are not our run of the mill evangelical Christians, people who may be more supportive of morality- based laws, and less supportive of sex education, contraception, and teaching the facts of evolution, but who aren't all that different from the mainstream, especially the mainline Protestant mainstream. That's not the "Christian right" that Ms. Joyce is writing about.

This is a different phenomenon, of which the visible tip of the iceberg is Christian home-schooling and the Duggar family, of the reality show "19 Kids and Counting."

The Duggars are part of the Quiverfull movement, a movement which advocates letting God determine the number of children a couple will have, strictly traditional gender roles in which even the most traditional work outside the home for women is society-destroying "feminism," modest dress, home-schooling, and chaperoned courtship rather than dating for finding spouses.

Ms. Joyce travels through this subculture, revealing both the sincere belief behind it, and the corruptions and hypocrisies that afflict them. This is a world in which girls are taught to be subservient even to their younger brothers--the servants of the representatives of God on Earth. Women should help support the family, but they should not work outside the home, so they should develop home businesses--and run them while waiting hand and foot on husbands, fathers, brothers.

We follow the stories of several families in different parts of this subculture, families that are still a part of it, and families who have, in various ways and to various degrees, broken with it. Ms. Joyce also traces the surprising international reach of the movement, with alliances not just with conservative Christians in other countries but even, unexpectedly, alliances with some of the "fundamentalist" sects of not only Judaism, but Islam.

This is a fascinating and in some ways scary book, and both well written and well-organized. It's an excellent introduction to a little-recognized but influential American subculture.


I bought this book. ( )
  LisCarey | Sep 19, 2018 |
Authoritarianism is evil. ( )
  picklefactory | Jan 16, 2018 |
Quiverfull is a comprehensive look at the Quiverfull movement -- and other aspects that often co-occur with it, such as homeschooling, the whole purity movement, and anti-feminism. As someone who grew up in religious homeschooling circles, none of this was a surprise to me... but all of it was terrifying. Definitely would recommend this book to anyone looking for a good overview of the Christian patriarchy movement and how toxic it can be.

(Side note: I thought I'd read this book in part to pass the time until the next Handmaid's Tale episode. BOY was that a scary idea.) ( )
  bucketofrhymes | Dec 13, 2017 |
I got my first introduction to the Quiverfull movement the same way I'm sure most Americans did--watching the Duggars on TLC and their ever-expanding family. Understanding the movement that spawned the Duggars became a slight obsession for me. I've lurked on blogs, poked around message boards, and read a few of their books. The idea of the Proverbs 31 wife has always been a bit disturbing, but Joyce lays out all the trappings of these patriarchy groups. It goes beyond that and down the road to full subserviance. She tells the story behind the movement and its precipitous rise over the last 50 years, including many of its goals. Most notably, she points out the hardships that come from raising a large brood with one income (when you aren't subsidized by a TV show) and how badly women are ignored and left behind in the name of godliness. Her writing is a bit disjointed, but other than this, this was an informative and distubing read. ( )
  kaelirenee | Dec 4, 2011 |
The title, Quiverfull, refers to Psalms 127 which directs us to give birth to a quiverfull of God's arrows. Followers of Quiverfull philosophy are setting out to create a pure church, which strictly follows the Bible literally. They believe in a strict patriarchal structure with all females in total submission to the males in their lives. They leave God to open and close the womb, meaning no birth control, including the rhythm method. This ensures a full quiver of between five and twenty children for each family.

These children are home schooled and kept under tight control to prevent any outside influences. In this way, the movement's leaders hope to flood the US with a powerful group of pure Christians who will save the country while preparing for Christ's return.

Although there are only about 10,000 followers in the US (with a smattering in other English speaking countries)--a true fringe group--there are many more people who subscribe to these beliefs without self-identifying as a Quiverfull family. Many protestants who have left the mainstream churches because they aren't Biblical enough stumble into this lifestyle without realizing it has a name. Also, this isn't a strictly cohesive group--they range from the typical Christians who only care about God, Church and the Family all the way to extremist Taliban-like dangerous nutjobs (e.g.: Andrea Yates, who murdered her five children, was a Quiverfull mother who was mixed in with a extremely dangerous pastor)

Unfortunately, in reality, most Quiverfull families are not living the good life as exemplified by the most famous bunch--reality TV's Duggar Family of 19 Kids and Counting fame. Instead, most of these families struggle on one small income and daily life is quite harsh for them. Women live a cycle of housework, birth, breastfeeding and home schooling--oh, and church, of course. Schooling for girls is sometimes neglected and there is certainly no need for post-secondary education for those without a penis. Instead the ideal daughter should focus on serving the men in her life, by doing things such as "fetchng a father's slippers for him in order to free the father up for weightier dominion tasks in reclaiming the world for Christ."

Kathyrn Joyce is a feminist and not a Christian, so obviously her book is not written in support of this lifestyle. However, she stays away from pointed observation and lets the adherents speak for themselves through their own words.

I think the biggest fault of this book is that for all the research she obviously did, the author neglected to cite her sources directly. Otherwise, this was a thought-provoking and eye opening read.

Why I Read This Now: I hadn't planned to, but I was a little bored with the novel I'm reading, and then I read an interesting article at the AlterNet site ( http://www.alternet.org/reproductivejustice/149022/creepy_christian_patriarchy_m....), and I just couldn't NOT read it. I mean, it has it all--cultural studies! wacky fundamentalists! Atrocities against women that get my feminist hackles up! How could I let it just sit on my shelf?

Recommended for: Readers interested in -cultural studies! wacky fundamentalists! Atrocities against women that get your feminist hackles up! ( )
11 vote Nickelini | Dec 7, 2010 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0807010707, Hardcover)

Kathryn Joyce's fascinating introduction to the world of the patriarchy movement and Quiverfull families examines the twenty-first-century women and men who proclaim self-sacrifice and submission as model virtues of womanhood—and as modes of warfare on behalf of Christ. Here, women live within stringently enforced doctrines of wifely submission and male headship, and live by the Quiverfull philosophy of letting God give them as many children as possible so as to win the religion and culture wars through demographic means.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:24:02 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Provides an intimate view of the patriarchy movement. They believe 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 is a submissive wife who bolsters her husband in his role as spiritual and earthly leader of the family.… (more)

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Beacon Press

2 editions of this book were published by Beacon Press.

Editions: 0807010707, 0807010731

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