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Quiver with Sadness/Rage/Happiness

The No Longer Quivering blog is some amazing writing, from women who escaped the Quiver-Full movement.  Like other stories of escape from religious patriarchy, they resonate with the incredible strength and resilience of women who found the resources, sometimes with only themselves to rely on, to leave the abusive and cruel situations they were in, situations blessed by a patriarchal church (in this case, led and inspired by a man whose hatred of women shines with a leprous glow through all his "sermons").  I laughed, I cried, I burned with rage.  I felt for them, and felt such happiness that they escaped.

All things can be twisted by evil people to serve their own ends, but religion seems especially vulnerable to misappropriation by haters.  It's why I fear the Christian Right (even though they can no longer force me personally, to give birth, they still think women should not ever have body autonomy).  They scare me more than the most anarchic Libertarians.

Religion seems to be the go-to choice for men who wish to abuse women.  Both Christianity and Islam have been corrupted by men to become a sanctioned way to abuse and demean women, and force them to be both maidservant and sex slave.  It gives them permission to push coerced reproduction on their wives, and in extreme cases, rape little girls (though, according to Roman Polanski, "everyone else fancies little girls, too", so what's the big deal?) (I just threw up a little writing that).  It's not just cults that allow men take advantage of small children to satisfy their abnormal rape fantasies, either - look at the Catholic Church.  Or The Fundamentalist LDS.  Religion seems built to cater to rapists and abusers - as long as they're male.

It is men who overwhelmingly perpetrate these abuses, and yet religion sets up women as the scapegoat for all the world's evils.  Women with vaginas (remember, in the religious world view, no other kind exists, and the reality of gender fluidity is absent) are sinkholes of sin and degradation.  Hell, in the Quiver-Full movement, their leader thought that Catholics were evil incarnate for their "Mary-Worship".  She was, after all, simply a container for the blessed seed, and no less filthy than any other woman, so worshipping her as something special was "peverted".  That terrible, terrible, unclean vagina.  We are here on earth to tempt men, a mere byproduct, a trash-can of sexual filth.

It boggles me, the hate.  Is it because no matter what they do, no matter what they say, these men can't live without us?  How inconvenient that we are beings with thoughts and opinions of our own, how annoying that we aren't simply robots that clean and fuck.

Most men would prefer that we be actual human beings, you know - able to be partners in life, to take the lead when it's needed, to support and be supported in turn.  It's actually a horrible thing, to be always in charge.  There's never a moment when you can say "ah, you make the decisions; I'm not up to this".  Most men, being smart, thinking creatures themselves, realize they are not (and should not ever be) the center of the universe.  Those who do not realize this seem to be drawn to woman-hating religions.

I have to believe that most men do not despise women.  I have to believe this, or go crazy.  I know that culturally, we are not where we should be (that whole "rape is not taken as seriously as robbery" thing) in our treatment of women, but I want to believe that most people think Mel Gibson is a woman-abusing tool, and Roman Polanski is a child raping asshole, and that feminism is simply the radical notion that women are people.  It's traditional culture that believes men are animals unable to control themselves, so they have to project all their negative traits onto women.  It's traditional culture that thinks of women and children as objects, not people.  Feminists like me think that men are better than that, and are actually reasonable people who understand that 51% of the world's population might actually have something useful to say in making the world a better place.

But we people with our radical modern notions of personhood for all scare the fundamentalists.  And it comes out in their teachings.  And what what they say and what they mean are two very different things.  They may say "God says men and women have defined roles", but what they're saying is "I hate women and think they are inferior beings who should be punished for being desireable".

Too bad the really gynophobic fundamentalists can't go gay.  But silly rabbits, they've closed that avenue, too.  No wonder they're so angry.  The one thing they want is sex, and the one thing they fear is sex.  It doesn't seem to stop them getting caught in compromising situations, much to everyone else's amusement.

I have to laugh, because if I don't, I start to cry.  If only they could work out all their problems without hurting women. 

Most feminists don't want to turn the tables and do to men what they've done to us (yes, you can find exceptions, but they're not mainstream).  I know that's the perennial argument from the Men's Rights Advocates (MRAs), but that's because they are unable to think of anything other than what they'd do if they were in the position they have put women.  But us?  We're not so into the perpetuation of things as they are, even with a change of cast.  A lot of us want a world where people - all people - are treated with respect. 

I think that's the thing they're scared of most of all.  Because if everyone is worthy of respect, how do they know who's special?  And who wants to go to heaven if everyone is going to be there?  After all, if heaven is for everyone, what's the point of denying yourself all worldly pleasures (or at least, trying to keep your indulgence secret)?  What's the point?

What's the point, indeed.


( 36 brains — Leave a chunk of brain! )
Jul. 20th, 2010 08:14 pm (UTC)
Thank you THANK YOU for not making this another "Religion is horrible" essay. I totally agree with what you say regarding fundamentalists, and I too find it horrible how they skew religion.

Unfortunately, like feminists are all seen as women who want to "Crush men into oblivion", due to these fundamentalists, all Christians/Islamics are seen as people who want to enslave women, and women too weak to get out.

As a Christian, I am in an equal relationship with my husband and he respects and honours me just as much as I do him. True Christianity is about love and support, not submission and torture.

Again I thank you for keeping this balanced. Too often others thrown all of us into one big stereotype.
Jul. 20th, 2010 08:30 pm (UTC)
I completely agree with your comment, and the whole post. I also consider myself a Christian (though by-and-large a couch practitioner). And these groups pain me because it turns my belief system into a dirty word, a word that I don't want to admit to sometimes for fear of being mistakenly associated with them. They scare the crap out of me.

A.T. - As always I love your ability to look at these things from a clear, well thought out perspective. You are much more eloquent then I, and I love how you got to the gut of the issue.

Also, I just went and read some of the stories on that site, and it was even worse then I thought.
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KNEEL BEFORE ZoG! - tacnukesoul - Jul. 21st, 2010 04:55 am (UTC) - Expand
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Re: KNEEL BEFORE ZoG! - tacnukesoul - Jul. 21st, 2010 08:43 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - attack_laurel - Jul. 22nd, 2010 02:25 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jul. 20th, 2010 10:01 pm (UTC)
I grew up in some of these churches - amazing how, while claiming "Sola Scriptura", the powers-that-be pick and choose amongst those scriptures and pervert them to serve their own purposes...
Like most things, religion is a wonderful thing until you turn human nature loose on it.
MOre to say, but I'm a little sick after reading the "byproduct" bit... urrgh
Jul. 20th, 2010 10:22 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - bwliadain - Jul. 20th, 2010 10:47 pm (UTC) - Expand
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(no subject) - swwoodsy - Jul. 26th, 2010 05:43 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jul. 20th, 2010 10:22 pm (UTC)
I'm a Christian that has issues with the "Quiverful" movement.
Not to get too much into theology and church history, but one of the wisest quotes I've ever heard is that for a true Christian, the first four books of the New Testament should be the foundation of all that we do as believers... The rest should be considered commentary, and looked at from a perspective of knowing the background of the author, like any other commentary. To me, that is the essence of true "fundamentalism".
Funnily enough, I don't remember one instance where Christ belittled a woman or relegated her to a supportive role. On the contrary, he uplifted them and treated them with dignity, respect and love... Even the "fallen woman" at the well.
It basically all boils down to this:
If a person, be it male or female, straight or not, religious or not, is an abuser, then that abuser will use whatever tool works against their partner or associates in order to manipulate, subjugate and control.
It hurts me that something I believe in so deeply, that has brought me so much joy personally in my life, is used as a bludgeon to oppress and destroy the lives of others. I know the God I worship weeps over this, as well.
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(no subject) - evil_fionn - Jul. 21st, 2010 04:22 pm (UTC) - Expand
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Jul. 20th, 2010 10:30 pm (UTC)
I once heard about a conservative minister in Lexington during the '60's who got up at the beginning of his sermon and told all the women in the congregation to cross their legs. Presumably, the sound of nylons rustling as they complied filled the church.

"Now that the gates to hell are closed, we can proceed," he is reported to have said.

Gee, I wonder what his dirty mind was contemplating before that?
Jul. 21st, 2010 02:27 am (UTC)

Jul. 20th, 2010 10:32 pm (UTC)
Have you read Quiverful: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement? I never had any idea it was as bad as that before I read that book. Now that we're homeschooling, I'm having to deal with some of these families more regularly (though we personally are secular homeschoolers) and the thing that horrifies and disgusts me the most isn't how the men treat the women, but how the mothers treat the daughters. They are training their daughters to be slaves, to think they are filthy, to be abused.
Jul. 21st, 2010 09:53 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I keep running into it here in our Vermont homeschool communities too, but there are enough of us secular homeschoolers to allow for basically parallel, non-mixing, groups.
(no subject) - raving_liberal - Jul. 21st, 2010 09:59 pm (UTC) - Expand
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Jul. 21st, 2010 01:40 am (UTC)
I can understand how for some women the romantic notion perpetrated by many fundamentalists can be attractive. The we-have-all-the-answers mentality is reassuring but it completely ignores the glorious diversity of human beings.

Great post btw
Jul. 22nd, 2010 02:19 pm (UTC)
Thanks. :)

It is attractive on the surface, especially if real life scares you. I got married at 19 because I was totally unprepared (and knew it) to support myself as an adult, and wanted to escape from that responsibility. It worked out as well as you can imagine.
Jul. 21st, 2010 03:58 am (UTC)
Sick, absolutely sick. I feel so bad for all the people caught up in these sort of things. It is amazing how one twisted charismatic person can cause so much damage to so many.
Jul. 22nd, 2010 02:20 pm (UTC)
I googled the guy who does all the homeschooling materials, who these people follow, and yes, it's scary. He's a nasty, nasty man, twisting the message of the bible to his own ends.
Jul. 21st, 2010 04:06 am (UTC)
I know more about these people than I want to because I've run into a few of them who purport to be "reclaiming" homemaking based on scriptural (distortion). Now I feel like I have to look over my shoulder when I say I like making my own aprons, and value a clean, well-run house yet I *don't* stay home and have a passel of kids. (It's the passel of kids thing that I find definitely not for me.) I'm kind of tired that a certain percentage of women look down on me for 'regressing' (and thereby betraying feminism because I have and use an Ironrite, keep house and haven't done the Earth Mother thing), and another that thinks I'm lost to Satan (because I have and use an Ironrite, own my own house, and I've never married).

Definitely, read Kathryn Joyce's Quiverfull, and Rapture Ready, by Daniel Radosh. The second book isn't quite as frightening, but (it's a lighter and wider treatment) but sobering enough.

edited to fix typo

Edited at 2010-07-21 04:07 am (UTC)
Jul. 21st, 2010 01:33 pm (UTC)
it took me a while to come to terms when my knees stopped cooperating that I wouldn't be able to "earn my keep" with a paycheque from long days of labour. I take care of the homestead which is a full enough job in addition to sewing for commissions. Very "old school" but my husband doesn't see me as any less and what we own is "ours" not his with me along for the ride.
For a long time I thought I have to work and am not worth anything unless I do that.
(no subject) - attack_laurel - Jul. 22nd, 2010 02:23 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - stephanie_d_g - Jul. 22nd, 2010 06:24 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jul. 21st, 2010 05:12 am (UTC)
Another good post!

Most religions tended to support the dominant paradigm - backing patriarchy was no exception.

I keep going back to a UU World article about conservative and liberal worldviews (http://www.uuworld.org/ideas/articles/1716.shtml). The conservative impulse is to treat their worldview as a crystal - a rigid structure that will resist change. The problem is this will only work for so long and time is leaving these people behind.

Fundamentalists try to take this one step further: not only resisting change, but forcing everyone else to go along with them, like the Taliban in Afghanistan. Beating down your wives and daughters in order to preserve your privilege is the sign of a bankrupt worldview that has run out of options. Unfortunately, we have no good way to talk them back off the ledge. Choosing which change to accept and what change to resist is a scary prospect - guiding my daughters to the point that they can make informed, grounded life choices feels like a Calvin sled ride over a cliff.

Treating anyone as less than human is just bad. The troubles we face should be met with all the skills we can bring to bear, not just the 'chosen people' - whatever method of choosing.
Jul. 22nd, 2010 02:24 pm (UTC)
Thanks. :)

it's not religion's fault - at the basics, both Christianity and Islam have some wonderful tenets. Trouble is, they are also verrrrry easy to "misinterpret" for personal gain.
Jul. 21st, 2010 08:07 am (UTC)
What a great post!

It's so important to talk about these kind of things, and making it a question of people, not religion as a concept. There are fundamentalists and bad people in every religion, something most people seem to forget when discussing religious issues. The problem with the larger religions is that, due to their structure, the leaders can claim that they are the only ones who are able (or allowed) to interpret the words of God/Allah/Jahve and they don't leave any room for questioning. In a religion with that kind of structure it's easier to abuse people, I think.

It's all about the people, not the religion itself.

(This might sound a bit confused, but that's because English is my second language.)
( 36 brains — Leave a chunk of brain! )

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