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Multiply & Conquer

Multiply & Conquer
Article by Kate Dixon, Illustrated by Kris Chau, appeared in issue Singular + Plural; published in 2007; filed under Social commentary; tagged children, jesus, procreation, tv.
How to Have 17 Children and Still Believe in Jesus

When she was presented with the state of Arkansas's Young Mother of the Year award in April 2004, Michelle Duggar was 37 years old and seven months pregnant. A USA Today profile on the award ceremony noted her current reproductive status by describing with notable amusement how she "waddled" into the Capitol building to accept the honor.

Hold on—a USA Today profile? Of a stay-at-home mother receiving an award in Little Rock? No offense to the great state of Arkansas, but surely there must be more to the story. And there is: 14 other children, to be precise.

We don't know if the Young Mother of the Year award was bestowed on Duggar based on quantity alone. But she and her husband, Jim Bob, (This story writes its own Southern stereotype jokes, people!) are devout Christians who believe they should let God dictate how many children they have. As this article goes to print roughly three years after that laudatory day in Little Rock, Michelle Duggar is just about to drop baby number 17, and she shows no signs of stopping. The Duggars and their aggressively fertile lifestyle raise an uncomfortable question for many of us: Can a woman be too much of a mother?

You've probably heard of the Duggars by now, or even channel-surfed by 14 Children and Pregnant Again!, the Learning Channel special that put them on the pop-culture radar. While a few folks might have mistaken the tv listing for a sci-fi flick, 14 Children was a real-life profile of the Duggars in all their identically dressing, homeschooling, tv-shunning, hymn-singing glory. Every moment of the hour revealed a jaw-droppingly unbelievable fact of Duggar life: The kids' names all begin with J! They use six pounds of frozen Tater Tots to make one evening's casserole dinner! They only have two bathrooms! Oh, the horror!

But for all the snark fodder provided by the show, the Duggars had the last laugh: Enough people found the matching plaid outfits compelling that the Duggars quickly became something of a cult sensation. Three more tv specials on the Discovery network followed, along with the Duggar's own website, complete with recipes and parenting tips, and the family received widespread national attention when Michelle gave birth to her 16th child in 2005.

In the media coverage that greets the arrival of each shiny new Duggar, Jim Bob and Michelle coo and murmur platitudes such as, "We both just love children and consider each a blessing from the Lord," and "If the Lord wants to give us more, we will accept them." The couple's complete willingness to bear as many children as come naturally to them often gets lost in the din of the home-construction tv specials and laundry-time news segments, but it's the central principle of their lives: The Duggars are some of the most vocal representatives of the Quiverfull movement, a grassroots Christian endeavor that preaches that couples—those in possession of matching wedding bands, that is—must be prepared for God's blessing to come in the form of children. Lots of 'em.

The Quiverfull movement has no real founders and no established hierarchy, but it is gaining momentum just the same. It takes its name and its justification for existing from the Bible's Psalm 127: "As arrows in the hand of a mighty man, so are the children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath a quiver full. They shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate." (As with many passages of scripture, there are some eyebrow-raising variations on this Psalm; for example, the New International Bible used by many evangelicals translates it to read "sons" instead of "children," and proclaims that the quiver of tykes will actually "contend with their enemies at the gate," which sounds a tad more ominous than just talking.)

Among the movement's central texts are Rick and Jan Hess's 1989 baby-making edict A Full Quiver: Family Planning and the Lordship of Christ, as well as books titled Birthing God's Mighty Warriors and Be Fruitful and Multiply. The Quiverfull premise, simply stated, is that society has gotten way off track, and that we should look to Christ (and the patriarchal societal structure that so often seems to follow in his wake) to get back in balance. It's a theological foundation that, not surprisingly, holds women responsible for the unmaking of the righteous family. Quiverfull cheerleader Mary Pride puts it bluntly in the introduction to her book The Way Home: Beyond Feminism, Back to Reality: "Feminism is a totally self-consistent system aimed at rejecting God's role for women. Those who adopt any part of its lifestyle can't help picking up its philosophy. And those who pick up its philosophy are buying themselves a one-way ticket to social anarchy."

While the Quiverfull movement is a relatively small one—in a November 2006 article in the Nation, Kathryn Joyce estimated the number of adherents to be "likely in the thousands to low tens of thousands"—mainstream media is taking notice. Since the Duggars proved such a cash cow, the Quiverfull concept has generated a number of copycat TLC shows and specials, such as Kids by the Dozen and Jon & Kate Plus 8. In March of 2007, Quiverfull reached what is arguably the zenith of cultural recognition, a pseudonymous shout-out on an episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. (The "Replenish" movement doesn't have quite the same ring to it, but those NBC writers work a tight schedule.)

In addition to the Nation piece noted above, Quiverfull has also recently been profiled by Newsweek and ABC News' Nightline program. Jennifer L. Pozner, executive director of Women in Media & News, points out, "It's no surprise that Quiverfull families would be so appealing to corporate media—they provide a convenient way to combine messages about the rejection of birth control, male-as-almighty-head-of-household, and woman as obedient breeders into one handy story."

At this point, many a feminist pop vulture might shrug, "So what? A freaky-deaky group of Christian extremists are popping out a ton of kids. No skin off my nose." Except it is—at least, that's the Quiverfull hope. These families are not multiplying like bunnies because it's fun; they are in it to win it. For its adherents, opening their wombs to God isn't an overt political stance. But make no mistake, it's part of a battle for power. And though their odds of winning are slim, when someone wages war against you and your allegedly off-the-wall ideas that women are equal, contraception is a valid choice, and church and state are separate entities, you sit up and take notice.

The Quiverfull movement would like nothing more than for women to be afflicted with collective amnesia about the past four decades. The gains made in women's equality since the second wave of feminism are anathema to the Quiverfull way of life—heck, some of them might even take issue with Susan B. Anthony and her hysterical insistence on the vote. Women in "non-traditional" roles, even if they take on those roles in addition to the classic wife and mother schema, are highly suspect. The modern feminist conundrum of how to have it all is surely perplexing to the woman devoted to having babies for Jesus; she would laugh at the question of balancing career and family. Having babies is her work, and she takes it very seriously. As Joyce points out in her Nation piece, Quiverfull mothers took exception to David Brooks's December 2004 New York Times article "The New Red­-Diaper Babies," not because it seemed to nod approvingly at "natalism" (a neologism referring to the idea that reproduction is the most important facet of existence), but because it put forth the idea that these mothers were too busy to be waging a culture war. For the adherents of Quiverfull, the war is ongoing, and fresh ammunition is always needed.

Which is not to say that all babies make good, you know, arrows. Quiverfull adherents have some distinct ideas about what kind of women should be moms in the first place and, perhaps not shockingly, those ideas involve skin pigment. Blogger Cheryl Lindsey Seelhoff (who writes about her personal experience in the movement within the context of her feminist, women-only blog, Womensspace.org) asserts that you won't find any more racists among the Quiverfull movement than among any other cross-section of the country. But the chatter about declining Western birthrates and the concurrently rising fertility rates of Middle Eastern, African, and Latin American countries that permeates Quiverfull message boards tells a different story. The fear of white Christian culture being outpaced is right there in the scripture, in the specter of "enemies at the gate."

Coincidentally, the swaths of America most apoplectic about immigration and letting the terrorists win are the ones most likely to produce families with double-digit dependents. As Brooks pointed out in "The New Red-Diaper Babies," in the 2004 presidential election, "George Bush carried the 19 states with the highest white fertility rates, and 25 of the top 26. John Kerry won the 16 states with the lowest rates." In other words, white people with lots of white children responded to scare tactics and political rhetoric that threatened their sense of cultural supremacy.

And the rest of us? Well, there's been no discernible left-wing rejoinder to this population challenge, a fact mourned in an overcaffeinated, tongue-in-cheek October 2005 screed by San Francisco Chronicle columnist Mark Morford. Musing on the inherent ickiness of Quiverfull, Morford queried, "Where…is the funky tattooed intellectual poetess who, along with her genius anarchist husband, is popping out 16 funky progressive intellectually curious fashion-forward pagan offspring to answer the Duggar's squad of über-white future Wal-Mart shoppers? Where is the liberal, spiritualized, pro-sex flip side? Verily I say unto thee, it ain't lookin' good."

But even if those poetesses were unleashing babies Salad-Shooter style into our nation's Montessori schools, it wouldn't be nearly as good a story. The beauty of the Quiverfull narrative is that it combines three always-provocative cultural threads—the restriction of women's access to reproductive choice, the protection of patriarchal social structures, and the insistence that obedience and self-sacrifice must be reintroduced to a female populace that's gotten way out of line with this equality stuff. On the first score, there's no denying the recent progress of the contra-contraception movement in the U.S.—Russell Shorto's May 2006 piece in the New York Times Magazine about the conservative push to restrict not only abortion, but also various forms of birth control, finally acknowledged in mainstream print what so many feminist writers had been pounding the keyboard about for years. The stakes have been raised, and while not all conservatives looking to restrict access to birth control necessarilywant you to have 17 children, they're also more than happy to see smiling Quiverfull families portrayed on the nightly news.

As for the latter two, the push for full quivers is in direct contradiction to much of the legal and societal equality that has (at least purportedly) become the norm. It is a movement deeply antagonistic to women's very autonomy; it exacts a high price from them—no less than an entire life of submission and devotion to "Him," in both senses of the word—in exchange for God's good will and benevolence. But when is the cost too much? A woman's uterus is not designed to be a revolving door, and a 2006 study highlighted in the U.K.'s Telegraph points out that mothers who bear children at intervals of less than 18 months have a shorter lifespan and more health problems overall. And those are just the physical ramifications. This reproductive hamster wheel also gives such mothers little room to question the efficacy of what they're doing.

At the time of her arrest, few people knew that Andrea Yates was part of a Quiverfull family, and that her mounting certainty that she was an evil woman who was going to hell—a certainty that led her to drown her five children in the bathtub—coincided with an inundation of misogynistic pamphlets and literature provided to her by the family's Quiverfull-minded mentor, Michael Woroniecki. (For more on this troubling and oft-elided detail about the Yates case, see Seelhoff's "The Quiverfull Movement, Hate Speech, and Discrimination Against Women as Women" post at her aforementioned blog.) It goes without saying that not all Quiverfull women are driven to commit such atrocities. But when a way of life requires a radical erasure of women's individual wants, and of their individual worth, you can bet that their suffering is negated and discounted too.

Overall, media coverage of the Quiverfull movement mirrors the general rise of conservative Christian influence across the country. Stephanie Coontz, director of Research and Public Education at the Council on Contemporary Families, notes that movements like Quiverfull have influence "to the extent that people get in positions of authority and planning—for instance, in the Department of Health and Human Services where they have control over abstinence-only education funds. Then you have choices being made, behind closed doors, about the options that will be available for everyone." The Quiverfull movement might seem like merely a drop in the bucket of conservative Christian thought, but these days it's a pretty full bucket, and you never know when it's going to overflow.

In a section of the Duggar family's website called "A Message to Mothers," Michelle Duggar recalls a night she found herself sobbing while folding laundry at 1 a.m. She felt overwhelmed and inadequate. She prayed to the Lord for help, and then a thought came to mind. It was from scripture: "Offer up a sacrifice of praise." Offer up a sacrifice. This is what the God of conservative Christianity wants women to do. This is what the men of the movement (and of many other types and stripes) want women to do. This is what society, on a deep and abiding level, wants women to do. Even in circles where no one is trying to take away your NuvaRing, there has been a troubling resurgence of the cult of domesticity: In the six years since 9/11, how much anxious ink has been spilled identifying everything from bread baking to the rise of hipster crafts as a "return to domesticity"? When a phenomenon like Quiverfull moves in from the fringes, people are drawn to it—they can relate to it, in a collective-unconscious kind of way, regardless of their religious views, how many children they have, or their stance on birth control. Coontz reckons that "this movement gets attention today because we've altered gender roles more in the past 30 years than we did in the previous 3,000 years. As a result, Quiverfull adherents' absolute certainty about what they're doing strikes a chord, even among people who would never consider living that way."

Unfortunately, a by-product of all the fascination is that the attention allows the movement to gain traction—it adds a decibel to the drumbeat of war that Quiverfull advocates are trying to wage. This war sees no place for women except in the home, and ultimately seeks to foist that vision upon all of society—and thus the levers and mechanisms of power—through an eventual numerical stranglehold on the population. We—feminists, environmentalists, gay rights advocates, liberals, progressives—are the enemy at the gate. If the Quiverfull movement gets its wish and good Christian breeding continues apace, we will be easy enough to contend with in the future.

Kate Dixon is a grant writer for a women's rights organization in Washington, D.C. She haphazardly documents her adventures in patriarchy-blaming on her personal blog, http://acatandtwenty.blogspot.com.

Comments

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Not just a feminist issue

I hope that no feminist woman would say “So what? A freaky-deaky group of Christian extremists are popping out a ton of kids. No skin off my nose.” Not only is Quiverfullism dangerous for women, it is dangerous to society as a whole. It creates a society of people who do not have close personal relationships, and no time to think or question the status quo.

As the oldest child of 7, I have to wonder what kind of personal relationships the Duggar parents have with each of their children. I barely know my dad, and my mom misremembered my life long admiration of Jim Henson as an affinity for Dr. Suess well into my 20’s. How much worse is this divide in a family of 17 children? Assuming that she doesn’t take showers, go to the bathroom by herself, do her hair (and that retro 80’s hairstyle doesn’t occur naturally), or spend anytime alone with her husband, each child can only spend an hour a day one-on-one with their “stay-at-home mom.” I put that in quotation marks because with that many children, it is like they are attending, not just full time day care, but 100% of the time day care. And not a good day care at that. In California the mandatory maximum child to adult ratio for licensed childcare is 14:1 (and something like 8:1 if there are any toddlers in care), so if something comes up, and one of the parents can’t be home (I’ve only seen the show twice, but I assume Mr. Duggar works), and the oldest child is not home for some reason, they would be considered a deficient day care. With such little time spent one-on-one with a parent, it is doubtful that the Duggar parents really know the ambitions, interests, or even personalities of their children.

Not only would this lead to a deficient relationship between each child and parent, how could the parents have a good relationship? Although they obviously have an active physically intimate relationship, how do they have time for an emotionally intimate relationship? And maybe that is the draw. If you have so many family members demanding your time and attention, your relationships are spread too thin to have any true emotional intimacy.

It is interesting that Michelle Duggar portrays calling on God in her time of crisis as an act of strong moral character. Not that I have a problem with calling on God. I am a Christian myself; it’s just not such an impressive choice when it was practically her ONLY choice. Considering her conservative faith, and family situation, other reasonable options were not available to her. She couldn’t, say, write a list of things that were making her feel depressed and overwhelmed, discuss them with her husband, and come up with solutions together (such as a redistribution of household chores; they wouldn’t have time. She couldn’t go to a therapist, again no time, probably not enough money, and possibly discouraged by her religious community. So the only options left are to kill herself, leave her family (again unlikely to be supported by her religious community), or start killing kids (as already mentioned in this article, Andrea Yates chose to do.)

The Duggar children are being raised to have the same values and priorities. With no one supporting or encouraging them to be individuals, it is unlikely that they will ever question the role that they are being trained for. (And it is unlikely that the girls will ever have the time.)

So, in essence what the Quiverfull movement is doing is creating a generation of people who discount individuality, don’t have much real emotional support, find it difficult to form close personal relationships, and don’t have time to think for themselves. While Mary Pride asserts that, “Feminism is a totally self-consistent system aimed at rejecting God’s role for women”, Quiverfullism is an innocent seeming precursor to a population ready and willing to embrace totalitarianism.

Unfortunately there will be no “funky tattooed intellectual poetess who, along with her genius anarchist husband, is popping out 16 funky progressive intellectually curious fashion-forward pagan offspring.” No one has that kind of energy. I am a stay-at-home parent. I have a husband who works in I.T., who is determined to get a vasectomy, so that I won’t have to go through the stress and exhaustion of being pregnant again. (Just wanted to throw in there that he is one of the good guys.) And yet, I don’t always get a shower. The second time I was pregnant, I cut off all my hair, so that I could spend a little more time with my kids, or add a few precious minutes to my 7 hours of sleep at night. (Making me, also, believe that Duggar’s “Mother of the Year” award had more to do with quantity rather than quality.) I had to put my writing educatin on the back burner while recovering from a difficult C-section, and breast feeding. And I only have two kids.

i'm with heller.  wouldn't

i'm with heller.  wouldn't it make more sense to have fewer kids but to pay them more attention?  is it unfair to the older kids that they are forced to become mini-parents themselves?  i know many people from large families that choose not to have kids themselves because they also felt as though they had already raised kids and had their childhood taken away from them.  i think it's also a little scary that so many kids seem to render michelle unable to exist as a person herself - only as a mother.   there's another question of environmental strain.  i mean, geez, that's enough diapers for an entire landfill, right?

Anna Breshears

yes mam

it completely makes more sense to have fewer kids and show them more love and attention. older kids will gain better sense of responsibility by taking care of younger ones, this creates better family value and better ties between kids themselves.
sig: i love Adult Toys, does that make me a slut, heck no!!!

Postpartum Depression, Other Mood Disorders Overlooked

Andrea Yates did not "choose" to kill her children. She was suffering from a rare, but serious medical condition known as postpartum psychosis. Like many families in the U.S., conservative Christian or otherwise, she did not have the support she needed to recognize and get help for this postpartum mood disorder.

As a mother and feminist, I'm disappointed by the apparent assumption that a strong child/parent bond can only exist in smaller families. As some on this comment board have noted, it's difficult for parents to give good attention to even one child. In other words, a single child from a two parent family might be as likely to be neglected as child number 14 in a 19 child household. At no point in human history was it normal or typical for children to be cared for exclusively by their biological parents. It really does take a village to raise a child, and as feminists we should offer nothing less than support and advocacy for women and children in our community.

Postpartum Depression, Other Mood Disorders Overlooked

Andrea Yates did not "choose" to kill her children. She was suffering from a rare, but serious medical condition known as postpartum psychosis. Like many families in the U.S., conservative Christian or otherwise, she did not have the support she needed to recognize and get help for this postpartum mood disorder.

As a mother and feminist, I'm disappointed by the apparent assumption that a strong child/parent bond can only exist in smaller families. As some on this comment board have noted, it's difficult for parents to give good attention to even one child. In other words, a single child from a two parent family might be as likely to be neglected as child number 14 in a 19 child household. At no point in human history was it normal or typical for children to be cared for exclusively by their biological parents. It really does take a village to raise a child, and as feminists we should offer nothing less than support and advocacy for women and children in our community.

Not a fair article at all

Wow. If feminists are supposed to be open-minded, this article certainly couldn't be written by a feminist. The implication is that the Duggar family is a racist, sexist, classist, hillbilly construct aimed at bolstering a white power agenda by amassing its own Crusaders' regiment. Of course no clear evidence that this is, in fact, the mindset of the Duggars is presented and highly doubtful at that. I get it....the writer does not like Christians and the multiplication of the religiously devout scares her. As a feminist myself, the idea of having seventeen children is not appealing either; and I'm also not too into the man-is-the-family-leader mindset that the Duggars do seem to subscribe to. But seriously, labeling them anti-woman, anti-color, etc. are not labels that should be attributed lightly, especially when they are more a representation of the author's own biases against religious white folk, rather than the result of clear, evidence-based fact. This is really an ignorant piece that doesn't allow any other perception or point of view that may differ from the writer's own dislike towards particular groups. I know some women that truly love being pregnant, truly love having children; and since when did feminists decide to push their love of birth-control upon the entire population? Now women are deviants if they don't take it? Ridiculous. While I also wonder if two parents can really provide the attention, love and support needed by children in a brood of seventeen, there is a likelihood that the everpresent siblings may be helping fulfill those individual needs. Of course I don't know, because I've never met one of these imminently-threatening Quiverfull warriors, but neither does the writer, who never thoroughly researched the idea, or any idea that didn't exaggerate her own perception.

Was it supposed to be "open-minded"?

What Ms. Dixon seems to be addressing is a phenomenon that distresses her and, as evidenced from some of these comments, other feminists. She did her research on the Quiverfull movement. If you really examine the speech of these people they are blatantly anti-color and anti-pagan. The feminist can assume that the movement is anti-woman because the stress that pregnancy wreaks on the body can take a tremendous toll on a woman, especially if she is repeatedly pregnant in a short length of time. This is a biological fact.

She did the research and documented her sources. Are you then claiming she didn't thoroughly research the idea because she made judgments about the situation (arguably based on her research)? It is good to remain open-minded about Evangelicals because a lot of them don't use hate speech and only make people's lives better with their work, but the Quiverfull movement has demonstrated hate speech, patriarchal and fiercely anti-feminist values, and at least slightly questionable child care practices. There is an article on a Quiverfull support website that gives ten reasons to have another child only one of which is demonstrated to actually benefit the child. (The idea of siblings helping in child development is arguable, but we'll accept it in this case.) The site advocates a book that says that families can run like factories, as well as several materials that propagate the breast cancer and contraception myth, not to mention a book called "Beyond Femnism, Back to Reality," which the movement is founded on. If you've never met these people (I dated a boy in high school who was the product of a Quiverfull family.) meet them through their rhetoric: http://www.quiverfull.com/index.php

why?...

Why would a feminist "assume that the movement is anti-woman because the stress that pregnancy wreaks on the body can take a tremendous toll on a woman, especially if she is repeatedly pregnant in a short length of time. This is a biological fact."

why is being pregnant "anti-woman"?

It's all about the context of choice

Being pregnant in and of itself is not anti-woman, and few feminists argue such a point.

But in cases now and throughout history, forced pregnancy has been used by the patriarchy to control, repress, and abuse women. How do we tell when the choice to become pregnant was NOT made with the self-determination and self-respect that women who are treated as being fully human would have?

For one, I see many misogynist things in the Quiverfull society that that I believe hindered her freedom of choice:

1. The power disparity between her and her husband/community is so great that it is impossible for her to make independent choices. (The god-husband analogy, the demand for female submission, denying women control of their body, the sanctioning of spousal rape in the Quiverfull community, etc.)

2. She has made a choice regarding pregnancy that will negatively affect her health (including prolapse, etc.). Which should have us worried considering the power dynamics between husband and wife in the _extremely_ patriarchal Quiverfull movement.

3. The covert repercussions that she could face if she went against the wishes of her husband/society are huge. (ostracizing by the community, physical abuse, etc.)

4. Her opinions mimic those of her husband/society. There is little hint of an independent opinion or even variation of her views from that of her husband. She may have been coerced into parroting their views, or she may have been strongly deterred from ever examining her alternatives. But having an EXACT mirror of all significant ideas and opinions across the board between two equal and autonomous adults seems very unlikely.

Considering what we've seen of the Quiverfull movement, along with the first-hand accounts in the comments section. I doubt that she any choice of what to do with her body.

~Jonathan

"If people cannot imagine alternatives, they won't seek them, and that's more conducive to the authoritarian agenda than walls and barbed wire."

It's "anti-woman" because

It's "anti-woman" because the fundamentalists believe that a woman should have no occupation in life other than that of stay-at-home mother. That means that no matter how much a woman wants to be a doctor, teacher (except of her own home-schooled children), scientist, explorer, mechanic, or even secretary, that is "bad" and "against God's plan" and all that. As is the desire not to have children--and I'm not sure that they even make exceptions for health reasons. And all while "submitting" to their husband (or father, if they are not yet married). Men, meanwhile, do not have any of these prohibitions. How, exactly, do you think that that level of having no choice--not in autonomy over one's own body, nor in one's own career, activities, identity, individuality, personality, preferences, or life decisions, based solely on the fact that one was born with a vagina, is NOT anti-woman???

This statement is

This statement is untrue.....If a women wants to do something else w/her life besides marry and raise babies the Bible doesnt ''forbid'' it.( It just states that those women should remain single ) and those stipulations only apply to to followers of the Bible......which also states that ''working from home is a noble thing for a women''(meaning having their own business! The views in this article are grossly negligant of the ''truth'' behind the ''quiverfull movement''. Besides just because God blesses 1 woman w/20 children doesnt mean that every women that chooses not to use birth control will have that many. On the flip side, what about all the women that really wish to have more children but are enslaved to using birthcontrol by the fear of upsetting or loosing their patner/spouse if a pregnancy occurs?

NO, it is a true statement.

NO, it is a true statement. Don't get defensive just because you're a part of this backward and crazy movement. I'm so very sorry that you've turned over your autonomy, but do not attack people for speaking the truth. And it's not just the number of children the women has. It's the whole mentality behind the movement. The easiest way to control women is to keep them pregnant, taking care of children, and dependent on men. Which I guess you didn't pick up on, because your belief system actively discourages critical thinking.

And the "Well, what about all of the other women who suffer from being unable to have kids" argument? Are you trying to say that because that extreme exists, your extreme is okay? Or are you just one of those people who, when you're caught doing something wrong, complains that other people got away? In either case, I pity you. Your god sounds just awful.

Your life is a total lie, you know that? You were surrounded with all of this propaganda that wanted to steer you towards being a submissive wife, and you desperately want to believe that you've achieved your true purpose. But you haven't. You've just wasted your mind. Those people HOBBLED you, so you'd never be able to escape, even if you had the chance.

Why don't you let the others like you know that women (real women) are not going back to the way things were? No matter how many soldier babies you crank out.

Also a Race issue

It's troubling when people assume all women have some sort of liberated, unbridled "choice" in their reproductive activities. This is not an issue of women who "love being pregnant," it's an issue of women who are EXPECTED to be pregnant, lots of times, to the detriment of their health, their personal agency, and often their sanity. It's difficult (if not impossible) to say whether or not Quiverfull mothers would "choose" to have 17 children if patriarchal influences were not in place, so I'm not going to try. But if we as feminists can agree that patriarchal rule is oppressive, and that these Quiverfull mothers are most certainly living under a patriarchal roof, then it follows that willingly giving birth to so many children might in fact be directly influenced by an oppressive patriarchal rule, something feminists need to consistently be critical of. Not critical of the women, like "oh this woman is so crazy," but "oh my gosh, this way of life is really problematic to feminism," which I think the author here is doing, especially since so many Quiverfull mothers have taken an outwardly anti-feminist stance.

It's interesting you point out the authors apparent "dislike" of white women. I think this article is poignant because it does touch briefly on issues of race and class when it comes to how we as a society view mothers and reproduction on the whole. i.e., who can afford to have 17 children? Who has the American government attempted to coerce or force into sterilization (see: Dorothy Roberts, "The Dark Side of Birth Control")? And what do we say about *women of color* who have lots of children, whether for religious reasons or not? Do they get Discovery TV specials? Invited onto Talk Shows? Or does society assume it's just another irresponsible Welfare Mom having another kid so she gets more money?

Angela Davis once pointed out that birth control is a "right of the privileged and a necessary duty of the poor." Who has "choices"? When you're "pro-choice", you want *choices*, not "choices", for ALL women, free from oppressive expectation, such that women can exercise their reproductive decisions in a truly liberatory sense. The reproductive justice movement comes to mind here.

Also gotta say, it's problematic when Discovery Health does specials on the Duggars and doesn't mention at all the HEALTH issues that giving birth to over 8 children has been shown (by legitimate research) to cause: increased risk of uterine cancer, high blood pressure, cervical cancer... even if you're going to let the Quiverfull families do their thing, you have to be critical of the media forces that ignore these issues.

thank you

thank you

Environment and the Duggers

Not only is the dugger's (and other's like them) continually expanding family a problem for feminism, but it is a problem for the environment. There is an over population of human beings on this planet as it is, and this is a gross environmental irresponsibility by these people. First of all, I think the figure is around 1 out of 3 women would die as a result of childbirth (and did die) in the wild. This is because human beings as a consequence of developing bipedalism have a narrower pelvis than other primates and thus human children have to be born pre-mature (than their simian cousins), and very helpless as a result of it. The narrowing of the pelvis makes human birth an extremely difficult process, that not that many women without the help of modern medicine would survive. The point is that Michelle Dugger would probably not even be around to give birth to 14 (let alone 17 children), because the odds of giving birth to that many children are against her and any other member of the humans species. If these people are going to argue that it is there God-given right, and it is natural to give birth to this amount of children (regardless of the impact it has on the planet); then, I believe they should not be allowed to use modern medicine in order to aid them in the process. Because, if in fact God does favor this amount of children being born, then they should have no problem, right?

I have many thoughts on the

I have many thoughts on the article above, and the comments made, but I'll restrict myself to this one observation. Saying that the Duggar family should "not be allowed to use modern medicine" is as ridiculous as saying that Native Americans who practice traditional whaling should only be allowed to use the technology that was available before contact with Europeans. Whatever your opinion on the proper size of a family, or whaling, or whatever, it's a very egocentrical attitude to say that advances in modern technology should only benefit traditions or practices that are also modern.

Tara Seguin

You missed the point...

The observation I was making was simply that the Dugger's ever expanding family and the Quiverfull movement do not exist in a vacuum. They are following a fundamentalist interpretation of the bible that was formerly transcribed by the Romans less than 2,000 years ago. In ancient societies having children was a big deal, because your family was essentially your workforce, and it was beneficial to the entire society for people to have families comprised of 14 kids, or whatever the number. All I mean when I say that the Duggers and the movement shouldn't be allowed to use modern medicine (in just birth, obviously), is that if they refuse to recognize the context of what they are following, and disregard all of the harmfall consequences of having these massive families, then why would it be such a problem to not condone this kind of thing? The rest of world are the ones that are going to have to deal with the ever dwindling resources, and the pollution that results from an increasing population.

"modern medicine"?

I am confused on what you mean by modern medicine in regards to their births? Because there are a lot of studies (recent) both data and antidote-driven (for whatever suites you) on the homebirth movement in the us and abroad. And yes, licensed and certified midwives can and do carry drugs and oxygen, etc, but also can do amazing things with natural herbs, changing position, being trained in how to facilitate a natural breech delivery and a good understanding of the physiology of birth. the us has a dangerous 35% cesarean rate, while there are midwives that have been practicing for 30 + years with over 2000 births and have a 3% c-section rate. Yes modern medicine can save lives in birth, but it does more if you are talking sustaining larger families, then yes, it has done wonders to take out disease and increase sanitation. There is also evidence through grassroots research into the us's atrocious maternal mortality rate (41st worst) that there is a correlation to the overuse of drugs, and surgery, but its also hard to say because the us doesn't track it like other countries, such as the uk. The centers for disease control even admitted that its likely that 2/3 of maternal deaths are not reported. I'm not trying to come off as integrative, just wanted to bring in another prospective about the ability of women's bodies and the believes around our over-dependence on the patriarchal and hierarchal medical institutions. Yes, having 17 babies can't be good for the body, but I personally read your comment to be a little too based in the unhealthy love of modern medicine, which I believe should also be in moderation (at least in reference to birth).

Birth

Hi! I have a friend who has 12 children & they haved all been born at home, except 1 & he was born at hospital. He was breech with arm bent at elbow & wieghed 10 1/2 pounds. They went home soon as he was born. They have only 2 of them ever even been sick or to a dr., so I wouldn't say they wouldn't be here without modern medicine, that's just false.lisa

Except..

Are the children vaccinated? Do they take antibiotics when they are ill? If they break an arm would the mother take them to hospital or just pray to a deity to make it better?

Pregnancy and child birth are periods during which women are at their most vulnerable and historically a lot of women died during this period. Children often died during the first few years of life, in many countries where health care is not readily available and hygiene is poor many mothers and children still die.
It's obvious that we have modern medicine and understanding of hygiene to thank for the fact that it's the exception rather than the rule when women and young children die in Western society.

People from the Quiverfull movement believe that they will have as many children as God wants them to have. But if a powerful and all-knowing diety wanted the Duggar woman to have 18 children, why does she need to go to hospital to have her cervix sewn up every time she gets pregnant just so she can carry her child to term?
Why is pregnancy so detrimental to a woman's health when God supposedly made humans in his own image? Maybe he built in the flaw because he doesn't want us breeding like minks in heat?

Or maybe he doesn't exist and people should live their lives, quiverfull of children or no, for ourselves and not look to a traditionally man-dominated religion to give our lives meaning.

Right on!

Right on!

from one big family to another

Being the youngest of five and a auntie by the time i was twelve i know what it is like, as i'm sure many of your readers do, to have too little attention payed your way... i bet if any of the reporters bothered to interview some of the children, those poor kids would have some real issues to talk about. Sure a lot of people can pop out kids but to raise them WELL.. that's another thing all together and those kids, regardless of home school, church ect... are not being raised well. Most people have enough sense to work on what they already have, help them to develop into a amazing person, and want for them to have every opportunity out there to become whoever they want to be, before they pop out another one. Having children is the easy part, raising them is what makes or brakes a good parent and no matter what those parents say, those kids in the 17 children family are probably being raised by siblings more then parents which is not fair or right to the older or younger children.
Tori Portland, OR

Tori Portland, OR

The Duggars are bad for the environment

Just a caveat here; Johan Sebastian Bach had 22 children by his two wives. Many of them turned out to be composers. anna magdalena, johann christan, johann philip emmanuel bach, among others . so don't knock big families . all are not weird.

Jim of Olym

But that was 250 years ago

You can't take the standards of 250 years ago and apply them to today. Back then, families had lots of children because the expectation was that a good portion of them would die. In fact, that is exactly what happened with the Bachs; most of their kids died in childhood. Also, this was the age before birth control and family planning, so having that many kids was probably not entirely their choice.

You can't say that because a family of 22 children in the early 1700s was successful, that the same would be true of a family of that many children today - where, thanks to modern medicine, all of them would most likely survive to adulthood and, consequently, would receive considerably less individual attention than Bach's children did.

Discussing the Quiverfull movement is important...

But I’d rather stick to the political agenda behind this movement than trash a few individual cases. I am particularly disturbed about using the Andrea Bates example. Desperate women who kill their young are not exclusive to this population and this argument is akin to anti-abortionists going on about the woman who has abortions all the time. The danger about the Quiverfull agenda that is more important to understand is how it is masquerading as some sort of grassroots movement and gaining legitimacy under this guise.
The other point I feel compelled to address and, do so reluctantly because I hate to come to the defense of the lifestyle chosen by Quiverfull proponents, is the perceived negative impacts on childrearing and environmental consumption. The assumption being made that people raised in large families will turn into disgruntled and dysfunctional individuals is rather suspect. There is of course an amount of infringement of individual rights in any form of community living. Kids in daycare need to give up many of their individual needs for the benefit of the groups; I can't see how this would be any different in a large family. Children in institutional settings receive a modest amount of care-giver intervention and are expected to solve problems amongst themselves. Usually we value this fostering of independence.
As for the environmental costs... the above reactions to the article really puzzle me. The environmental impact of our average 2.2 North American families is incredibly troubling. Larger families in my experience ( Quiverfull or not) seem to consume less per kid than their 2.2 counterparts. I am going to guess that there are not 17 computers in the Duggar house and if they drive a gas guzzling vehicle it's is full of people, unlike most vans and SUVs on our highways. Mainstream families with two incomes and two kids can easily fall into consumerist traps, if Suzy gets a new toy Sally should get one too. In large families especially those with one income, it is impractical for each child to have the same thing.
Rather than worry about women who have too many children for our liking, we need to consider the impact of Quiverfull ideology as it permeates into our policy making, Dixon ‘s article is a great wake- up call which reminds us that the Christian Right is not asleep at the wheel .

"masquerading as some sort

"masquerading as some sort of grassroots movement"

This statement is very interesting, the right-wing religious movement is a mass popular movement which is continueing to become more organised and gaining more political influence. The members of this movement are taking their childrens education into their own hands because the mainstream educational options open to them do not fully represent their interest - this is very similar to some of the ideas of independant education within left wing theorist circles. Just because the ideas being presented by this movement are different than most popular movements that we think of dosent mean it is any less 'democratic'.
There arnt many options out there to combat this movement( maybe infiltration and 'education' from other 'grassroots' organisations ? )as i doubt the water guns and police batons will supress this one.

sujegation of women

The statement that this right-wing movement is "popular" is interesting to say the least.

The Quiverfull parents are not educating their girls...there is evidence of their leader bragging about a 9 year raised in his Botkin's method of home schooling who can't read, however, he "bragged upon her" because she could raise the other youngsters and change diapers on her own. This in and of itself smacks of the Colorado City women who took their children out of schools (orders of Warren Jeffs) and signed and "X" on the line to remove them from the system (both issues are well-documented).

This is a cult groups...let's start calling these people what they really are! Cultist who indoctrinated via coercive-persuasive techniques, coded words, dress codes beyond societies norms, isolation of members and the constant demand for loyalty to the leadership, who happens to be men only.

What about the issue of birth certificates? Do you realize they do not get birth certificates for girls...think about this for a moment. Right there is a way to "stop" these fundamentalist cultist from practicing subjugation. These girls have no recourse (as they have no identity) but a life of barefoot and pregnant as a form of loyalty to daddy-daddy-daddy...I suppose we just shrug it off knowing their teen girls are sold off into marriage or put in the wood chipper the minute they defy authority....popular right wing movement indeed!

Nitpicking

I really enjoyed this article and find that the points others have made to be very interesting. I just wanted to point out that Jon and Kate plus eight (I don't know about Kids by the dozen) is centered on a family where the mother was only pregnant twice-she just happened to have twins and sextuplets. I think it's unfair to label Jon and Kate as having of stemmed from the "Quiverfull concept." And as artist23 was saying, it's more important how well the children are raised. While I do find the Quiverfull movement troubling, I don't see how shows such as Jon and Kate reinforce those values. Having eight children isn't necessarily a form of fanatical religion and I feel like seeing big families that work well may not be such a terrible thing for some parents in this country to see.

While I wouldn't say "Jon

While I wouldn't say "Jon and Kate Plus Eight" is related to Quiverfull, their having eight children wasn't something that "just happened" as much as it was carelessness. Kate took fertility drugs (which boost the chances of having multiple kids at once), had twins (so she already knew what effects the drugs were having on her), then took them again, and acted all confused when she ended up with 6 more kids instead of just 1.

I don't know that they'd be an example of a family that works well either. Yeah, they manage to keep everything organized, and each kid gets time with each parent. Kudos to them for that. But they seem pretty bitter during some of the interview segments. Kate's always talking down to her husband, and IIRC she once said that if she could go back before the 2nd pregnancy, she would. She thinks the sextuplets have had a negative impact on the twins' lives, because she can't spend as much time with them anymore.

I feel really, really bad for these kids when they get older and find copies of this stuff.

Re Jon & Kate & fertility drugs

I think it's important to remember, in respect to the assertion that Kate 'acted all confused' when she got 6 babies instead of one, that while it is well known that the use of fertility drugs makes twins or even triplets a lot more likely, the birth of sextuplets is extremely rare.

Thousands of couples use fertility drugs to aid conception and I doubt any of them would be expecting a family as large as the Gosselins ended up with. Of course fertility drug use is a different debate altogether.....

Nitpicking

I really enjoyed this article and find that the points others have made to be very interesting. I just wanted to point out that Jon and Kate plus eight (I don't know about Kids by the dozen) is centered on a family where the mother was only pregnant twice-she just happened to have twins and sextuplets. I think it's unfair to label Jon and Kate as having of stemmed from the "Quiverfull concept." And as artist23 was saying, it's more important how well the children are raised. While I do find the Quiverfull movement troubling, I don't see how shows such as Jon and Kate reinforce those values. Having eight children isn't necessarily a form of fanatical religion and I feel like seeing big families that work well may not be such a terrible thing for some parents in this country to see.

Just because you can doesn't mean you should...

Having babies for Jesus? What? Does Jesus actually need more babies?

Why don't we humans actually consider taking care of all the babies already born into this world? When I read of a family - any family - having child after child to forward their own political/social/religious agenda(s) I am frustrated by how very self-centered and selfish these people actually are (they are using their children without thought or care as to how their lifestyle will affect their parenting or offspring) and I can only hope that their own children will be so put-off by their upbringing that they will not choose this lifestyle for themselves.

I very much enjoyed Mark Morford's article on this subject, which I read when I was a host organism a couple years ago. I am a funky, tattooed, intellectual poetess who is breeding (albeit at a much, much slower rate) with an anarchist partner and we will raise our daughter to be a free thinker. She can choose her own path to follow. And because I meet more parents like me than not at her creche (daycare), I have hope!

scary as hell

This topic, the forced fertilization of women, has deeply upset and enraged me since I can remember. I am the "mother" of two wonderful kids, my brother and my sister, as I had to raise them on my own. I take my job as mom as seriously as any other, maybe even more so because they've been mine since I was nine years old. But it DOES take away one's childhood and almost your life expectancy away to have to become a surrogate parent at such a young age. I mean it seems to shorten one's life in experience if not of course in years. I'm told that I'm still in many ways a big kid for all the growing up I had to do. Besides my own personal experience, my terror from my feminist perspective couldn't be more appaled. Proverbialy it's strapping us down and well, "knocking" us up. Baby factories! I myself have to take birth control for my health and not for contracetive purposes, it's my medical prescription against further trips to the E.R. I wonder if those bible flagelating freaks would differentiate? Doubtful, and specificaly that thought scares the HELL out of me. Thank you for the article.

I'm glad that the Feminist

I'm glad that the Feminist movement seems to finally be recognizing the Full Quiver (FQ) movement and the impact it's having on women's lives, but I think this article (and all of those on the movement I've read), ignores some major issues that I witnessed and experienced growing up in a Full Quiver church (that had about 100 practicing families) and family.

First, there's a very distinct (and difficult to negotitate) line between reproductive control and body control. Many churches that preach Full Quiver also preach that a woman has no sexual control over her body. The result is that a woman must submit her body reproductively to God and her body sexually to her husband. This church-sanctioned spousal rape is very common in FQ churches. An FQ woman in my church had 9 children - three of which she claimed were the product of spousal rape. When she was later diagnosed with breast cancer, she refused to seek treatment because she though God was rewarding her for her service and freeing her from her miserable life. There were regular "women's meetings," where women were taken aside and told that if they doubted that having so many children was good or wanted to start using birth control, they were evil and Satan was sending them these messages (a literal, speaking-into-your-ear Satan). Also, a disproportionate number of teenage girls in my FQ church dealt with serious eating disorders that I generally attribute to a psychological desire not to menstruate and eventually get pregnant. All of these went untreated, those girls whose weights got dangerously low, had exorcisms performed on them.

Second, because of the intense financial responsibilites of supporting such a huge family, most FQ families live in poverty and without medical care. One family at our church had ten children, lived in a two bedroom mobile home and when their eldest daughter broke her foot, she did not recieve any medical care and walked around using a foldable lawn chair as a crutch.

Third, many of these girls are being denied education. While most FQ families homeschool, there is never a mention of the intense gender differences in many of these Christian Right homeschool families. (Many homeshcool curriculems are strictly gender segregated, denoting appropriate knowledge for girls and boys). In my own and many others that I knew, girls spend the day doing housework while boys study. The FQ movement generally supports young marriage and courtship (which is really a euphemism for arranged marriage) and most of these girls are recieving very sub-standard educations and then married off to a young man of their father's choosing at 18. For many girls, at our church, reading skills were marginal and math skills non-existent, but they could cook anything, sew or midwife.

This is a feminist issue, because it involves a series of wide-range abuses that are being levelled against women and young girls. However, Bitch should try to be more conscious or aware of the intense horrors occurring in many of these homes and avoid such a voyeuristic (Oh, those kooky Christians!) tone in the future.

The Religious Right wants EVERY women to be a Quiverfull

Having made good strides against abortion, and getting comfortable in the sociopathic ignorance of the mainstream media in the grip of this massive domesticity backlash, the fundamentalists feel safe enough to launch themselves at the Pill. They now move from Roe v. Wade to Griswold v. Connecticut. They are overtly moving against all women for daring not to be a Quiverfull at all:

http://feministing.com/archives/009140.html

To counter the few Quiverfulls who have protested your article's critical analysis, I'd off "The Pill Kills" as evidence that your article was prescient of their next attack against women. If an event ever needed a counter-protest, this "The Pill Kills" campaign is it! Or next year they'll be complaining how a woman's insistence to not hand-scrub 50 pounds of toddler underwear kills babies.

~Jonathan

"If people cannot imagine alternatives, they won't seek them, and that's more conducive to the authoritarian agenda than walls and barbed wire."

The Duggars were on the Today Show ...

...and guess what? She's expecting #18.

It was also mentioned here http://current.com/items/88942843_woman_pregnant_with_18th_child

Not only that, someone there provided a link to this article. Thanks "Wisegrrl!" (At Current.com)

pro-choice?

looking at this from a strictly reproductive perspective, shouldn't we all just shut the hell up about this? I mean, how they run their family and how many kids the women want to have is really up to them. It's just weirdly ironic that people identify themselves as "feminists" would chastise these women for their reproductive choice. Yes, they utilize reproduction for reasons you don't agree with, but they probably feel the same way about those of us on birth control. Pro-choice is pro-choice, whether you choose to restrict your reproduction or are "unleashing babies Salad-Shooter style", a phrase that's condescending and disrespectful.

My maternal grandmother had 11 kids, my mom was number 10. My mom was not the product of "salad-shooter style" reproduction. As one who's writing for a feminist magazine, the author needs to have more respect for women's reproductive choices.

You're absolutely right.

You're absolutely right. From a strictly reproductive and rights-based perspective, it is none of our business. It is no one's business but the woman's, and even the government shouldn't get involved unless the kids are abused or starving to death.

But the real story isn't the Duggars. Frankly, their individual choices matter very little. The real story if that of the Quiverfull _movement_, the focus of which is to take control over the reproduction of all women in the United States. And I would be very concerned that the Quiverfull women do not have full reproductive rights! I fear that they are married off young, after receiving a lifelong brainwashing that their uterus is the property of their God/husband, as the article states. Why would women risk their lives in dozens of births, not to mention a shorter lifespan, just to have more kids than they can possibly afford? Perhaps fear of abuse, extreme social isolation, and misogyny is what's driving them...

Quiverfull women aren't awash in reproductive freedom. Rather, they don't have any reproductive freedom. They can't say "no more"!

~Jonathan

"If people cannot imagine alternatives, they won't seek them, and that's more conducive to the authoritarian agenda than walls and barbed wire."

Clarification

Also, I want to draw a clear distinction between your grandmother and the Duggars. I doubt that your grandmother was not being actively denied birth control by her husband (if any was available), nor was her humanity and self-worth squashed by her husband and her religion. There's more than one way to have a lot of kids. What the Duggars are doing amounts to emotional abuse of the mother, not reproductive freedom.

Quiverfull aside for a moment, how many kids did your mother have? After being a 10th child, what reproductive choices did she make? This is not to make an argument or anything, I'm just curious what the kids from such large families end up doing when they themselves have kids.

"If people cannot imagine alternatives, they won't seek them, and that's more conducive to the authoritarian agenda than walls and barbed wire."

i think we agree...

My major criticism was with the tone of the article. I should've stated that I didn't even read it in its entirety, mostly because I was too disgusted with its tone. My grandmother started using birth control soon after she had my mom, so she had access to it and I'm sure she wasn't forced to have kids by my grandpa. In fact, some of the kids weren't even his, but he took care of them like they were his own. I understand that there's more than one way to have a lot of kids, but the author described the act of having a lot of kids as negative in itself. That is disrespectful and is what my problem was with.

My mom had me, then she had my (half) brother 15 years later. He's 5 and I am 20, so she really had two 'only-children'. I don't know if this was because of the frustration she faced within a large, and very poor, family, but I haven't really talked to her about it.

ok, now...

I have read the entire article...
and my criticisms stand.

I'm NOT in support of the Quiverfull Movement, I just get offended by the immense criticism of big families by 'progressive' or 'feminist' people. It was mainly that the author described the "uncomfortable question for many of us: Can a woman be too much of a mother?"

This line implies that the author disdains big families and fertile women in general, because it makes no mention of the Quiverfull Movement or of any reasons for being "too much of a mother".

I wouldn't want a big family, I've discarded religion from my life, I use birth control and have had an abortion, AND I think that having big families is bad for the environment. However, people can have big families if they want to.

And to all the commenters who have criticized how little time parents of big families must spend with their children: you must be fucking kidding me. Thanks for reiterating all the criticism our patriarchical society bestows on working, single mothers. No family is perfect; no parents are perfect. Challenge the Quiverfull ideology about a 'woman's place' and access to birth control, but to criticize big families in general is rather offensive.

I bet Jesus would have breastfed...

Both as a savvy, modern woman and an attachment parent concerned about children everywhere and the negative impact of detached parent-child relationships on society as a whole, it disturbs me that so many see the Duggers' lifestyle and reproductive choices as primarily a feminist issue rather than one of irresponsible parenting. Ms. Dugger is a grown-up and therefore responsible for her choices. The kids are innocent and the ones that need protection. Like several others have pointed out, those children most certainly have their emotional and developmental needs neglected, in addition to being overburdened with adult responsibilities. Also, did Ms. Dugger breastfeed her kids? Extremely unlikely. If she had, she would not have so many, as extended breastfeeding (breastfeeding until the age of 2 and beyond) promotes the natural and optimal child spacing of at least three years between each child, which also happens to be the recommendation of the World Health Organization. Extended breastfeeding promotes, not only optimal physical health for the child, but also optimal bonding and attachment between mother and child, which has profound and far-reaching beneficial effects for a child's emotional and social development. Now that would be loving and responsible parenting and would have a positive impact on society. Now, I'm not saying that one has to breastfeed for more than two years in order to be a great Mom, but if I were in charge of doling out a Mother-of-the-Year award, extended breastfeeding would be at the top of the list of criteria.

Breastfeeding Duggars

Actually, Michelle Duggar is one of those women for whom breastfeeding didn't work as a form of birth control. She claims that she nursed the babies until being pregnant with the next baby caused the flavor of the milk to change. The previous baby would refuse to take the milk.

Iceland

When Morford queried "Where…is the funky tattooed intellectual poetess who, along with her genius anarchist husband, is popping out 16 funky progressive intellectually curious fashion-forward pagan offspring to answer the Duggar’s squad of über-white future Wal-Mart shoppers? Where is the liberal, spiritualized, pro-sex flip side? Verily I say unto thee, it ain’t lookin’ good."

I'd say, the best place to start looking for her is in Iceland...
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/may/18/iceland

Ouch.

Come to think of it, I don't think that "popping out" and "progressive" can even coexist together in the same sentence.

Real progressives care too much about the life and health of their spouse to risk hemorrhaging, prolapse, and other health consequences of 16 pregnancies that Mr. Duggar blithely throws his wife into (I still don't believe that she has the option to say "enough" when it comes to children in that relationship).

Real progressives would also care about the life of the kids who, even if both parents didn't work, would never have more than a half hour a day of exclusive time with either of their parents. To say nothing of the millions of dollars it would take to give these kids decent schooling and nutrition until age 21, without even considering college. The Duggars, retrogressive as they are, will also save a ton of childrearing costs by not educating their daughters and using them as free menial labor and substitute mommies around the house. Real progressives would consider the consequences to both daughters and sons before trying to get into Guinness.

Finally, I think real progressives would care about their carbon footprint on the planet, and even if they could raise 16 kids well, they would opt for adoption instead of pushing the human birth rate even higher. They'd rescue 16 girls and boys from child exploitation and prostitution in misogynist authoritarian dictatorships, give them full educational opportunities at our country's top universities, and launch them back at the problematic cultures that almost took their lives.

And I have a feeling that these progressive "quivers" (awful term) would use their cultivated talents to bring people and resources together in a way that is far more efficient that ignorance, poverty, and raw human numbers never could. And that is why the progress of humanity, when it happens, is never brought about by birth rates, except when they are reduced and controlled enough to allow people to grow and not just multiply.

~Jonathan

"If people cannot imagine alternatives, they won't seek them, and that's more conducive to the authoritarian agenda than walls and barbed wire."

"If people cannot imagine alternatives, they won't seek them, and that's more conducive to the authoritarian agenda than walls and barbed wire."

Imagined alternatives led to reality

... so I'm guessing that the way Icelandic society and government works is getting your imagination to consider even more alternatives? The article sure got my imagination going...

Contrast

Very much so. It's also a stark contrast which shows just how tragic and cruel the American system can be to mothers.

"If people cannot imagine alternatives, they won't seek them, and that's more conducive to the authoritarian agenda than walls and barbed wire."

Not all of us are like this

I am a Christian and I don't agree with their lifestyle. I hope to one day stay home and raise my children but I only want two children. I personally know people who think and live like this and they are very judgemental to those who don't want to live exactly like they do. They all home school their children. I personally want to send my children to public school. I think it is important for children at an early age to interact with those who think differently than themselves. That is how my parents raised me. That is why I read this website even though I may disagree with some of it's contents. Yes I am a conservative who believes in tradition gender roles and family values. I have strong convictions about what I believe but I also think it is important to be open minded enough to listen to views different than my own. I enjoy intelligent conversations with those who think differently than myself. I respect their point of view even if I disagree with it. So not all Christians are narrow minded ultra conservatives who only listen to those exactly like themselves.

Jon and Kate

Jon and Kate of Jon and Kate Plus 8 weren't looking to have eight children. They have interviewed and answered that question multiple times. Hell, it even says it in the opening credits of their show that they "tried for one more [after having their twin girls] and instead we got six." Isn't it a bit unfair to associate them with this term/movement simply because they have eight children. The situations between the Gosselin and the Duggar families are completely different in the issues of how many children they were ACTUALLY trying for.

Speaking as an only child . . .

The Duggars and their ilk are a scary lot. There have been a lot of insightful comments here, but I'm not sure if anyone has pointed out the uniformity as specifically disturbing. Matching clothes, matching names -- it's as though individuality disappears with a single step through the Duggar's doorway. What happens to the first little Duggar to fall out of line?

I'd agree that Michelle and Jim Bob should invest in some adult toys if I thought liking sex had anything at all to do with their child-bearing addiction, but I sincerely doubt it does. They strike me as the type to do-the-deed in a very goal-oriented fashion.

The funny thing about Christianity...

I was raised Catholic, but was fortunate enough to have quite liberal parents (my mother is a stern feminist actually; she explains that she simply 'ignores' the things she doesn't like about her religion.... something she could resolve within herself that I never could). It's strange, but it wasn't until highschool that I encountered what would be considered "fundamental" Christians. Apart from being utterly horrified at how ridiculous they are about, well, everything, I was earnestly perplexed about how they justified things.

It's strange, but whenever fundies try to justify something controversial, they usually use old testament verses. For those of you who aren't familiar with the construction of the bible, the old testament includes things that happened prior to Jesus' existence. Now, good Christians are always taught to put the most emphasis on the New Testament because since they are CHRISTians, the part about Jesus would be central to their belief. It's funny, but I don't think Jesus EVER mentions anything about women being baby machines, or that their role is strictly in the kitchen, or that homosexuality is a one way ticket to hell or any of that nonsense. That is simply shit pulled out of the OT (which Jesus actually trumps by the way, with his whole forget-everything-else-you've-heard-and-love-everyone-as-I-have-love-you-yo) to keep things neat and tidy politically.

I am not religious, nor do I consider Jesus a feminist, but he was a pretty chill individual with a live-and-let-live attitude, at least according to the books. That is why I find Christians so strange; they are inherently unChrist-like.

FINALLY

I'm glad SOMEONE points out the obvious about Christians. Personally I am so sick of hearing about the Duggars. Being from a large family myself I have no problems with people wanting large families. Personally my ideal family would have 4 or 5 kids, just like my mother. Even though there was a lot of us, limited resources kind of "forced" us to appreciate what we really had, which was each other. I think I'm most happy when my brothers and thier families and myself, along with mom and dad, all come together and there is mass chaos but the sense of love is palpable. We all have close relationships with each other and our parents so the matter of successfully raising a large family is not exactly impossible. With all that being said, the "quiverfull" movement is hogwash. After a certain point having a large family stops being about enjoying lots of children and raising them (much like my family) and suddenly it becomes a mission to see how many a woman can pop out before she hits menopause because "God told us to". Look, the Bible is a great percentage of folklore (and this is coming from a Catholic). When reading the Bible you need to know the content behind the text (history, etc.), of the text (to whom is this passage speaking?) and in front of the text (how the hell does this apply to us, if at all?). Fundamentalists take the Bible at face value and its beginning to get old. As far as I'm concerned these people need a hobby.

Biker mom's support the Duggar's

I don't understand why so many people are "anti- Duggar instead of being happy for the blessings they have received. I think they have a beautiful family. I am proud of them for doing such a fine job raising that many kids, especially in this day and age.

Mrs. Duggar is living the life that she CHOSE to live. While most stay at home mom's don't have that many children, there are lots of us out here. Contrary to popular belief, We actually ENJOY being homemakers and taking care of our families. I have the RIGHT to stay at home if I choose to do so. I'm the envy of several women in my neighborhood who "have to work". A woman being away from her family for 50+ hours per week to make money may be "more liberated" than I am but it doesn't mean she'll be any happier than I am.

p.s. I don't fit the stereo-typical mold you probably envision stay at home mom's to be ~ I'm not religious, I'm tattooed, and I ride a harley-davidson.

-

I find it odd that you put

I find it odd that you put quotes around "have to work" for the parents that envy you. Financially, yes, some parents have to work. It is not a choice for them, and judging that isn't helpful. I agree that people should be able to make choices, but they really have to be choices, and many people have what looks like choices but aren't at all (resulting from cult like raising or just economics and generational poverty).

Not working makes you a

Not working makes you a dependent of someone else. Why some women consider this desirable is beyond me.

I had women belittle me because I had to work, but when I found my husband no longer acceptable I was able to leave with little difficulty. I doubt you'd find yourself in the same position.

If Ms. Dugger decided she didn't like her life as it is, what would she do? She's allowed the ability to have a choice about it to be taken from her.

I'd rather be an independent, career minded, college educated woman any day. Sure beats just hoping to heaven your husband can take good care of you and always treats you properly.

^ Wow that was a great

^ Wow that was a great comment! Couldn't have said it better myself. For me, being independent is most important.

I find it interesting to

I find it interesting to read how many women are threatened by 1.) Stay at home moms, and 2.) Christians. There is a "whatever goes" attitude out there for most lifestyles until you mention those two categories. Suddenly, many feminists (not all) are foaming at the mouth and eyes popping out of their sockets flying into a rage. Hmmm. What's it to you what we decide to do with our lives and our children's lives? I have two children and can honestly say I have no regrets in any of the major decisions I have made concerning my chosen vocation and their lives. They know they are loved and I've had the time with them that was so important to me. They are tweens now, my time with them growing shorter. There will be plenty of time left to pursue other goals. But what about the dreaded "hole in the resume"? Will employers take me seriously? My friends who have transitioned back into the work world have done so successfully. As far as raising children in a Christian home, I can only guess that some are fearful of the outdated stereotypes they've seen portrayed throughout the years. (Thanks, Hollywood.) The Duggar family is happy, healthy, and loving. Any other interpretation of the choices that they've made says a lot more about you than them.

not threatened

I'm an anti-religious feminist and I'm not threatened at all by 1. stay at home moms and 2. christians. To each their own in my opinion. I do have problems with them when they start trying to dictate how I live my life. Why shouldn't I get the same respect that they expect from me? What gives them the right to try and make abortion illegal? What gives them the right to try and make the birth control pill illegal? My decision to use the pill or have an abortion is my right, just as it's their right to have a bus load of kids.

I also have issues with the QF movement when it infringes on the rights of individuals. If a woman does not want to get married or have kids, then she should have the right to make that decision. She shouldn't be forced into something against her will. As Andrea Yates demonstrates, when that happens the consequences are horrendous. I don't think anyone wants to see that.

I'm a feminist in that I believe that a woman should be able to do what she wants with her life. She can be a stay at home mom, a doctor, or an astronaut. She can be a christian, a muslim, or an atheist. In the end, it's her decision and not anyone else's. You complain about feminists trying to tell women how to live their lives, but I find that fundamentalists are worse offenders when it comes to this trait.

babies

When any of you decide to try being a Christian and God lets you down then bash Christians, Jesus, God all you want. Until then, don't knock peoples way of life. God is real. Abortion kills people and so does birth control (some types) and the God who created all of you (not some explosion) tells us to stand up for life and not murder. And trusting God to plan your family size is not crazy. I am not part of the QF movement but I trust that the God who created me knows what's best for me. submission is a choice not a forced thing. When I did what I wanted to do all the time I was miserable. Now that I can put my assurance in someone elses hands I can rest more easily.

Ummm...

Have as many kids as you want, but just so you know, hormonal contraceptives don't kill anything...they prevent ovulation by indicating to the pituitary gland that an egg has already been released from the ovaries. No egg = no baby.

On another note, I'm not going to be so rude as to tell you that god doesn't exist, so I'd appreciate it if you'd cease lecturing me about the adult version of Santa Claus. If god makes you happy, that's just fine-I'm glad you can "rest easy." Go to church, live your life, but leave me out of it, thanks. I'd rather be responsible for my own fate-that's where I've found happiness, and it's made me appreciate my life and the lives of others more than god ever could. And by the way, I tried being a christian. It is inaccurate to assume that everyone who takes issue with religion hasn't tried it.

I wish I could have found the effort to say that more sensitively, but oh well.

I had reason to feel threatened

As a liberal Christian (now an agnostic), I was previously married to an evangelical Christian. When we started out, we seemed to have basically the same beliefs, particularly regarding children and family planning. I made it clear when we were engaged that I was not interested in having an unlimited number of children and did not want to try to have children until several years later.

But almost immediately after we were married, he got involved in the quiverfull movement and started pressuring me to have children. He threatened to make it impossible for me to get birth control, wanted me only to associate with other women who already had small children, and began trying to take control over my reproductive decisions, stating that it was his prerogative as the head of the household.

The reason that these stories alarm me and I'm not going to just say- oh I'm sure the women had a choice and being a SAHM is what makes them happy- is that I almost gave in to "save my marriage". There but for the grace of my own common sense go I. So when I see a woman who has "decided" to completely give up all control over her body and her life decisions to her husband, I see the potential for the same abuse that I went through. And what if I'd given in and been "happy" as a parent? Would it in the least justify that I was coerced rather than given a real choice?

This wasn't a stereotype, this was my life.

Wow ...

To "almost did that," out of all the comments in response to this article about the Quiverfull movement (which I just learned about today, to my disbelief and horror), yours really hit me. I'm not surprised to learn that your husband, after subscribing to the Quiverfull belief system shortly after your marriage, started not just pressuring you, but using abusive tactics to try to force you to start having babies against your will. What utter crap. I used to be a conservative Christian but no longer consider myself a Christian, although I strongly believe in God. (I can't believe in a God who only allows folks who are "born again" or believe in Jesus to "get to heaven.") I am a feminist and have no children, by choice -- I don't enjoy kids (gasp; how can I be female and say that?) and shudder to think of having been forced by my religious community or husband to have baby after baby. I probably would have ended up like Andrea Yates. What the members of the Quiverfull movement don't realize (beyond the fact that the earth cannot support an unlimited human population and that our natural resources are eventually going to run out if we don't get our numbers under control) is that not every woman is meant to be a mother. Some women, like me, would probably be terrible mothers. Every woman *has* to be able to make this decision on her own, and this movement does not allow that. And what's really scary is the undercurrent in the movement that their real purpose is to enlarge their own group's population to the point that they're able to get into positions of political power and force the rest of us to live by their bizarre belief systems, including prohibition of birth control. Reminds me of Margaret Atwood's chilling book, The Handmaid's Tale.

More on this subject ...

NPR's Morning Edition yesterday had a feature on This very topic that generated more than twice as many heated comments as this blog.

Suffice to say, given NPR's increase of listenters in recent months, more impressionable couples may find themselves encouraged, than discouraged by it.

LOL

This article is perhaps the funniest thing I've read all month. Kate Dixon clearly has no idea what Christians believe or think. Nearly every word she typed is in error. But it was good for a laugh... if you agree with her, you should not go to mythsandtruths.blogspot.com.

Just wanted to say thanks...

Dear Kate,
(If I may call you that)
I just wanted to say thanks. I've been sending this article to just about everyone I know since it was printed more than a year ago. That includes immediate family and complete strangers, and all have raised a quizzical eyebrow when the topic has arisen naturally in conversation. (At minimum, followed by, "That's just crazy, you're making that up!")

In fact, I'm referencing and linking to it now, when I realized that of the 60-plus comments, not one was a thank you from me. You're at the top of my personal Quiverfull primer, and while I'm sure you'd rather something less creepy and more prestigious, I just wanted you to know you've been a tremendous voice of reason in these (increasingly heated) debates.

Sincerely,
KMH

Quiverfull is a threat to America

A lot of the Breeders in the Quiverfull movement have no idea that the movement is connected to The Fellowship or 'The Family' in Washington DC. The Quiverfull movement has an agenda to conquer the United States democratically through sheer numbers, to out breed more moderate Christians and non-Christians and send their children into the world to do the same as little missionaries for "God's Army". Some of them readily confess this agenda while others are either oblivious to it or downplay it, either way the movement is a threat to America and will in a few generations this movement will eventually force us to consider involuntary population control again. Hopefully the movement will lose enough of it's children and grandchildren before it reaches that point, otherwise America is either going the way of China or worse.

Please excuse the typo

Please excuse the redundant 'will' in the above paragraph.

Conservative/Republican does not equal Quiverfall

It is really lame that you are trying to tie the fact that Bush won the election in 2004 to the fact that there were a bunch of these Quiverfull nuts in the states that voted for him. You said yourself that there were only a few thousand of those people in the entire country - that wouldn't have been enough to sway the election. Bush won the election because most people in the country at that time wanted him to be president, just like Obama is now president because most people wanted him to be president. Got it?

You guys have this crazy story and somehow have to turn it around to be political, like we conservatives are out there to get you with our quirky families with 19 kids. I have news for you, not all conservatives think that having a bazillion kids is a good idea. I personally think it is downright insane. It is ironic that you seem to be upset that liberal mommas aren't popping out more babies to compete - you want them to use the same thing you are condemning the Quiverfull families for to keep up with us!!!

Next time, just talk about the nutso parents with 20 kids, don't bring politics into it. You'll lose a lot of readers that way... I'm never touching this liberal website again.

The Duggars are bad for the environment

I grew up in a Catholic household. We went to Church every Sunday, because if I didn't 'God would send me to Hell'. I was christened and all that shiz, because if I wasn't 'God wouldn't recognize me and therefore wouldn't let me into Heaven when I died'. I was forced to pray before I ate anything, because 'God would be pissed' if I didn't. And I can honestly tell you, it sucked. Everything about it seemed wrong. I was being subjected to something that was based on the values that my parents had, and not my own. I thought it was pretty crap that God would be pissed at ME, a then-7-year-old, for not thanking him for this macaroni and cheese. After a while, my entire family realized what a farce the whole thing was, and we left our Catholic lifestyle behind us. Eventually, they all turned Wiccan. Like, a total 180 from what they were before. You know what? They are HAPPIER now. Waaaaaay happier than they were when they were Catholic. They have developed their own relationship with Nature, and with The Creator. They are good people. They live honestly and by the sweat of their own brows. They don't buy into any kind of dated beliefs written thousands if years ago. Their religion changes with them, and evolves with them. They strive to constantly keep balance in their lives; balance with the World as she Herself changes.

I don't adhere to any one set of rules, because I think it keeps the mind, body and spirit stagnant. To me, belief in a religion is like drinking from a thousand-year-old puddle of water...that water's been sitting there for AGES. No nutrients or minerals to be found. No beneficial ANYTHING. Just murky, brackish water full of dead bugs, germs, rotting animal carcasses...nothing in there but the kind of stuff that can KILL YOU. I would rather drink out of a fast-moving stream; bubbling, cold, fresh and quenching. Why drink from a cesspool when you can drink from a fresh mountain stream?

This brings me to the Duggars. They live on this Earth, in this day and age. They don't live in a time where the Earth was sparsely populated by humans. They don't live in a time where a village could benefit from the birth of lots of new babies; where the boys could grow to help their fathers tend flocks and harvest crops and protect the village from predators or the girls could learn to cook and make clothing and help in childbirth themselves and give the men something to live for...the world is a much different place now. The Earth can barely sustain the humans that live here NOW. In this day and age, when some people blindly follow a religion, they forget that sometimes their faith does more hurt than good.

Perhaps back in the day, the Quiverfull faith was needed and embraced, but to practice it now? It's nothing except pure unadulterated selfishness. The same with all religions that look down on birth control in THIS day and age. Think about how much garbage is created by the Duggars? Think about how much electricity and water they use? If they were out growing their own food, raising their own livestock, living off the grid to support their grossly large family, then I wouldn't feel as compelled to be this disgusted with them. 6 pounds of TATER TOTS? Who the hell actually FEEDS their kids those things AT HOME? Aren't they school cafeteria food? Processed food? They have the gumption to ooze out how much they love their kids, yet they feed them PROCESSED FOOD? How many cars does it take to shuttle theirs kids around? Plus, like many others here have said, how the hell can two parents split themselves between 19 kids? That is just CRUELTY. My mother had only my sister and me, and she was still up to her eyeballs in work and sometimes were barely saw her, she was so exhausted. My point is, that is obvious that there are way too many people on the planet. While I know it's obvious that it's not 100% the fault of the Duggars for the planet being in the shape that it's in now, they sure do not help contribute to the sustenance of the planet that's going to be the home to their 19 kids, and perhaps their 361 grandchildren (that is if these psychos have taught any of their Vagina=Clown Car religion to their kids). If they put as much effort into the Earth as they did into following some insanely outdated religion, then maybe they could actually HELP instead of HURT.

To say that having as much children that the human vagina can pop out in a lifetime is 'What God wants" is about as believable for me as Canada clubbing hundreds of thousand of baby seals each year for profit and Japan still slaughtering thousands of dolphins each year for profit but each saying that "its just a part of their culture". Some human beings on this planet have zero original thought, backbone, or conscious...so they must hide behind some outdated practice such as religion or culture.

Its high time that the human race take a good hard look at our planet. She is DYING. We are raping her day in and day out. We slaughter innocent creatures, burn trees, fill in lakes and rivers, and bulldoze everything in sight for make room for ourselves and our GARBAGE. And it's people like the Duggars who are pushing the bulldozers farther, burning more of the trees, filling up more of the landfills and destroying more of the planet then they are aware of. What's the point of having children if by the time they are old enough to have kids of their own, the planet is a barren wasteland?

And I'm sorry, but how the HELL do they get off saying that they shun television, YET THEY HAVE THEIR OWN TELEVISION SHOW?????????

The Duggars are bad for the environment

If you want to see the biblical role of women, read the last chapter of Proverbs.

Not a stay at home gal was she, the role model of the virtuous woman.

Non QF Feminist Mama of Many

The proverbs 31 woman so lauded by this movement is really a business woman with her own money who makes her own deicisons about where to invest it. She is actively engaged in the improvement of her community. She is independant and responsible for not just her children but also her "household" or staff, managing their compensation and the politics inherent in any work envirnoment. She is definately independant and able to make her own choices, as her husband seems to spend his days 'sitting in the gates.' My own religious background has taught me that women are creative and powerful. That God doesn't believe in compulsion, and that any person who compells another has lost God's blessing in their endevours. I'm facinated by this movement because I was recently asked if I was QF and asked with incredible judgement and scorn. Just had baby 5, entirely by choice. I had to do a little research and discovered that from the outside I might resemble this group. Big family (though I may have now reached what I call the end as I bow to my own wisdom), homebirth with a midwife and homeschool. BUT the underlying reasons are so profoundly different. Homeschooler for the freedom it gives all my kids to excell at their own pace and in all subjects. Homebirther for safety and the incredible empowerment and validation it gave me as woman compared to my experiences with institutionalized medicine. Stay at home Mom to pursue my passions. Businesswoman as I've managed to creatively use my passions to make money. Living small in a big family as we leave a smaller 'footprint' than most single person households in our aqaintance. While I am profoundly disturbed by the patriarchy movement I am also disturbed by the willingness of feminists (myself sometimes included) to harshly condemn those who look, sound and behave differently. Maybe it is 'foreign-ness' that is so off putting. I'd encourage us feminists to sit down and talk to 'those' women we see. You might discover me, who is passionate about improving the lives of women, children and men. I might discover that I can related to the QF wife as we compare stories of washing cloth diapers.

However (comma pause)

I think it's wonderful when a woman has the health, means, and desire to raise a large family. What happy children that family will have! And as-of-yet-childless me would probably enjoy that cloth diaper discussion--who better to learn from than people who have been there? ^_^

But I get unreasonably irate--and then, unfortunately, my word choice tends to get a little nasty--when faced with the notion that the aforementioned woman's daughters will be expected to make the same choice, simply because their mother made it. (Or, you know, face family censure, which is a considerable force.) That's bullshit.

Most Quiverfull women are probably wonderful people and have lots to offer the world--every person does, after all! But when someone espouses a belief that wants to put me and any future little girl like me in a box, it's hard to resist the urge to do something (ANYTHING) to spare that child (and her brothers) years of self-hatred if their core personality conflicts with what their parents say is right and good.

I am all for giving of yourself for the greater good, but I also think sacrificing your very being to be something else is an insult to who you are and the way you were made.

Funny you should say "future

Funny you should say "future little girl". I thought a lot about my "future little girl" as a feminist. I now have five boys and no girls...and I wouldn't have it any other way! I no longer consider myself a feminist because I'm too busy tearing the jugular out of any woman who dares to male-bash within my hearing. Nothing like becoming the mother of boys to help you see the other side of things.

Delicious irony

in rad feminists all panicking because they have undermined themselves with their own "aggressively infertile lifestyle." Seems to be a major flaw in the concept ....

. The Duggars and their aggressively fertile lifestyle raise an uncomfortable question for many of us ...

Who's "us"? Is this the majestic plural? Who is this committee or collective who have made themselves judges of how complete strangers in places far away from Manhattan and San Francisco live their lives? Why does this committee believe it is any of their business how many children people have? Are these people so concerned about the private lives of others not doing what they always accuse conservative Christians of doing? (And by the way, what is their problem with being white? Mind you, I am not -- but if I were, I would not feel ashamed of it.)

“Where…is the funky tattooed intellectual poetess who, along with her genius anarchist husband, is popping out 16 funky progressive intellectually curious fashion-forward pagan offspring to answer the Duggar’s squad of über-white future Wal-Mart shoppers? Where is the liberal, spiritualized, pro-sex flip side? Verily I say unto thee, it ain’t lookin’ good.”

Verily, while I would not follow all of the strictures of the Quiverfull handbook, I have spent a lot of time in both crowds: the funky tattooed crowd and the conservative Christian homeschooling crowd. And, I am not the only person I know who crosses over between both groups quite fluidly. In the latter case they are not strictly Quiverfullers, but they generally believe in rural living, patriarchal leadership, and enjoying the blessing that children are. (One of my friends is one of 14 children; the homeschooled kids I've known were "geniuses" compared to most government-schooled products I've known I totally envy them.) There is as much, if not more, counterculturalism going on in those crowds as among those in the coffee shops with their nonconformist uniforms and piercings and tattoos. And anybody who's truly committed to learning useful arts such as sewing and knitting is not just another Wal-Mart shopper. These people are trying to be more or less self-sufficient. (That, for you "funky" city types who, in yet another irony, have borrowed these same old-fashioned tools of patriarchal oppression and revamped them as a hipster pasttime! Whatever...)

And -- again, not limiting this to Quiverfull specifically, but speaking generally of the Christian homeschooling resistance: you can't get much more anarchist than raising children outside of state control.

I think you people would benefit a little from less stereotyping and more actually trying to get to know your supposed opposition. Most of the cultural warfare is artificially created by one group attempting to sieze the power of the state (especially the state schoolroom) to force its views upon the other group. Building the power of the state for just such a purpose, ironically, has been the ongoing project of the left for the last hundred years. Probably if leftists and (some) rightists stopped trying to do this, we could all live our lives the way we want and culture would be a matter of personal choice, not an all-important national battleground.

This article is crap. I am

This article is crap. I am about 50/50 on the whole idea, but this article was poorly written from a bitter standpoint. Feminist like this make all feminist look bad.

I'm late to this article but

I'm late to this article but I agree that this is poorly written.

I'm trying to figure out what gives the author the right to criticize another culture or one family in particular. Seems she was bored and felt like picking on someone.

This is how one woman chooses to use her sex. Why is that so offensive?

I'm child-free by the way.

I suppose you mean child-free

I suppose you mean child-free by choice. Did you know the Duggars support candidates who want to take away your right to be child-free? Thought it isn't expressly said, the Duggars and their ilk want to force their lifestyles on everyone. And here is an another problem. The Duggar daughter will never have choices unless they escape. THis is coming from a childless by chance woman who want to keep women's rights and life choices alive.
Now, we have seen not only Michelle almost lose her life but that of the 19th baby and she had a still birth at 5 month gestation. Her daughters are expected to do the same. So much is not shown on TV.

Feminists like the article's

Feminists like the article's author make all feminists look good. Criticism is healthy.

Duggars

I've started a "Take the Duggars off the air" petition to Discovery Communications at Change.org. Those who are so inclined may visit and sign!

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Big Families

I am the mother to six children. I just had my sixth child and feel so blessed to be part of a big family. My children stand out wherever we go. People notice that they are courteous and kind, and treat each other so well. Being a part of a big family teaches you the value of other people and also how to be able to care about other people.
Just because I have a big family does not mean I expect other women to do the same, but I should be free to live my life with the same liberties as other women choose to live theirs, or none of us would have any liberty. We should be free to live our lives as we choose as long as we do not harm one another.
Women who want to exercise and practice liberty should be happy that we all, whether we choose parenthood, or to not be parents (I was a supply chain forecaster/purchaser for a national company before getting married) that we ALL get to exercise our liberties given, without judgment.

I'm a Christian and I think the Quiverfull movement is hogwash

It seems more like a cult to me than anything else. Anytime you have a movement that asks you to turn off your brain, not think for yourself, etc., a movement that is so authoritarian - it seems like a cult to me. Actually, some of the hard-core feminists also seem like a cult to me, of a different sort.

I'm a Christian and I believe in Christ, and a loving God. The Bible describes a God that loves both men and women - before whom there is no male nor female, slave nor free, Jew nor Greek. In other words, gender, status and race are irrelevant to God. Both men and women are called upon to sacrifice and give - to be unselfish and generous. It's hard to love others as you love yourself, and that is what Christians are called to do. However, part of that commandment includes "loving yourself". If you don't love yourself, how do you love others?

To me the tragedy of the Andrea Yates situation - what the heck was her husband thinking, continuing to impregnate a mentally ill woman who was so depressed she tried to kill herself twice? And asking her to homeschool their kids in a renovated Greyhound bus? Ms. Yates was obviously mentally ill, but it seems to me her husband might have been a few Fruit loops short of full box himself. Or perhaps simply brainwashed by the Quiverfull cult which denies the reality that not all women are called to be abundantly fertile, and that God gives gifts to women that are not connected to their wombs.

The danger of the Duggars - how does a man making a reasonable salary support 15 kids? How does a woman dealing with normal human limits manage the logistics of doing laundry, cooking meals, etc., for that many kids? How do parents manage to get to know each of those kids as people and spend one-on-one time with them? If they use the older kids to "help out" - does that sacrifice some of their child-hood? When you look at large Biblical families, what modern people don't realize - they were extended families and there were all sorts of family members as well as servants available to help. Plus things were simpler back then. Husbands were not going off to an office. A lot of the work was communal. I'm not saying that familes can't do it today but not everyone is called to do this and women have abundant gifts and ways to serve God besides being prolific mothers.

In the book of Acts, women were prophets, deacons, leaders - the supposedly misogynistic St. Paul praised these women. Christ said that Mary, who chose the untraditional role of student (a role in ancient Jewish society reserved for men) had chosen the better role than Martha, who fullfilled the traditional woman's role of house-frau.

My belief - God has created an abundant variety of people. For those women who genuinely find fulfillment and joy in bearing and home-schooling a dozen precious children - more power to them. I praise them and laud them - it's hard work and that should be acknowledged and valued. However, for those women who God has called to have only one or two or three children, or those women who God has called to be single, or married without children - those are also valid choices. In the body of the Church, the eye is not more valuable than the ear or the foot. We all have a purpose, and we should not judge each other - lest we be judged.

That's what I think anyway.