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Women's Birthing Rights, Women's Bodies, Women's Health

Why is Michelle Duggar Fair Game?

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(The above image of of the Duggar family was posted to a blog of a woman who seems to be, in general, a decent person.)

Found on various blogs via a quick Google search on “Duggar Family”:

The mother has a mullet. Please, someone from TLC, give the poor Duggar woman a makeover. That would be a huge money making show. I am sure millions would tune in. Get her looking less matronly. She looked normal and attractive when they started out, now it’s Little House on the Prairie with a hint of Nascar. Yet a makeover may cause more Diggley Duggars, Jim Bob might just go crazy with his willy. Bang, bang, bang. I digress.

She looks brainwashed. It takes about two years for your internal organs to get back into their cozy natural state after pregnancy. The article below sites that she has been pregnant ten years of her life. Right now her spleen is probably floating near her armpit and her liver on her knee

***

The Duggar family of Hicksville Arkansas welcomed their 17Th child! And this beastly woman will likely get knocked up again! It gets easier as it goes, as now the 3rd eldest child has a newborn to take care of, as he gets home schooled in the art of child rearing.

…Birth control – just do it, or don’t do IT, get it? I feel bad for the husband, but it can’t be that great after child 17 just popped out, no problems.

***

70023398.JPGWant 16 Kids | Arkansas mom gives birth to a whole freakin’ baseball team. How deeply should you cringe?

I think it might be a worthwhile exercise to do some thinking on why it is that Michelle  Duggar seems to be fair game for pretty much everyone, including for feminists.  It’s open season on the woman– mock her, make fun of her hair, her appearance, her clothes, her body, her reproductive organs, other of her internal organs, her vagina, attack  her, depict her as a pig, call her brainwashed.  (If you haven’t seen this, then look here for the latest, also here, here, here, and sadly, here and be sure to read the comments.)  

Consider these photos:

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This is a Hindu family which recently converted to Roman Catholicism.

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This is a Muslim family.

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This is a Rastafarian family.

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An Amish family

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A Conservative Mennonite family.  I corresponded with the mother in this picture when I published my magazine, and she occasionally wrote articles which I published.  She’s an amazing, wonderful woman, brilliant, warm, funny and a great writer.  I miss her.

Somebody — anybody — tell me with a straight face that feminists would do to any of the women in the above photos what they have done and continue to do to Michelle Duggar — even if instead of having six or eight or 12 children, as the women above do, they had 16 or 17 children, as Duggar does. 

This would not happen and it will not happen, but if it did, it would be sharply, quickly, immediately — and correctly in my opinion — called out, challenged, and denounced. 

Why is this not so for Michelle Duggar?  Is the reasoning  that Duggar’s religious beliefs or faith are not as central to her life, or as valid, or as worthy of respect as the religious beliefs of Muslim women, Hindu women, Amish women or other devout women?  (And men.)  How so?  Why are the beliefs which undergird the choices of other women of faith which result in their bearing many children understood to be valid or respect-worthy in ways Michelle Duggar’s are not?  But if none of the belief systems which support the bearing of many children is valid or respect-worthy, then why is it that Duggar is singled out in such a hateful manner whereas the other women above would not be and have not been?

And why does it seem to be the consensus amongst feminists that Duggar must be brainwashed, stupid, a mindless shill forced to breed, whereas the women in the other photos are likely to be viewed as devout, their beliefs and intelligence respected, their decisions understood to occur in the context of a particular culture or religion?  If the view is that it’s somehow acceptable to target Duggar because her husband is a conservative Republican and hence is anti-choice, lesbo- and homophobic, and so on, well, does it occur to anyone that the women in the other photos likely hold similar anti-choice, lesbophobic/homophobic views? 

Most importantly, does anybody stop to consider how the ongoing public trashing of a woman like Michelle Duggar by feminists might read to women in groups like those represented above?  Does anybody think trashing Duggar makes feminism appealing or an attractive option or a possible refuge to women like those in the above pictures, or their daughters,  who in fact someday might want out? 

Michelle Duggar, as is, in my experience, true of many, many women in conservative and fundamentalist groups, probably enjoys pregnancy and bearing and raising children.   Some women do, hard as that is for other women to understand.  I know that I did.  I had 11 children, one at a time, the first when I was 19, the last when I was 46.  I was in abusive marriages and abusive fundamentalist churches throughout most of my childbearing years.  That didn’t mean that I didn’t love having children, love being pregnant, love giving birth, love breastfeeding, love raising, homeschooling, and spending time with my children.  I loved it, even when I was scared, overwhelmed, exhausted, weary.  Even when I felt trapped.  Even when the burdens and work were so great I was not sure how I could continue.  That never kept me from loving or enjoying my children or being a mother.  I think one hallmark of intelligence and maturity is the recognition that truths which at first appear to be in conflict with one another can nevertheless exist alongside each other.  As parents most of us know this.  As human beings we know this.  We can love our children, love our partners, love our friends, and yet at times feel overwhelmed in various ways by our relationships with them.  Is it so hard to fathom that there are women in the world who love bearing and raising children despite the hardness of their lives in fundamentalist or other sexist communities?  Or that women inside of these communities enjoy their lives as mothers for other reasons, for example, because they find ways to make community with other women like them, and that these relationships make their lives rich and nourishing in ways it is hard to replicate apart from community in a world which is hostile to women?

I was not brainwashed, and neither is Michelle Duggar, and neither are the women in the photos above.  Speaking for myself only, in entering into fundamentalist religion I cut the best deal I believed I could cut at the time, given all of the circumstances of my life*.  I believe this holds true for many to most women in conservative and fundamentalist religion throughout the world, particularly mothers or women who want to be mothers.  They are cutting the best deal they can.  There is one place, and one place alone, where women who want to be mothers can go when they don’t have support, don’t have supportive community, and especially, when they don’t have money, and that is into fundamentalist religious cultures.  There they will be accepted, honored, protected, defended and supported in every conceivable way, and in ways they will never find support outside of fundamentalist community.   Do they exchange their freedom and their personal autonomy and their right to pursue both for what they will receive in fundamentalist community?  Yes, they do.  Does that make them dull, stupid, or brainwashed?  Hell no.  It makes them shrewd, resourceful realists who at the very most might be unable, for many reasons, to see beyond a certain set of life choices**.  Do they pay for what they choose?  Yes, they do.  Sometimes with their lives, always with their bodies, their hearts and their souls. Does every woman exchange something in this male supremacist world  in order to survive in it?  Yes, we all do.  Do we pay for what we choose?  Hell yes.  Sometimes also with our lives, bodies, hearts and souls.  Of all people, as feminists, we know this.

So why do some of us treat Michelle Duggar as though she isn’t a woman, just like us? 

Instead of scapegoating this one woman and targeting her as though she is the enemy, why not make it our business to critique the real enemy– systems and institutions of male heterosupremacy which make the choices Duggar and women like her have made the best deal they feel they can cut?

Heart

__________

Notes:

I have blogged about the quiverfull/patriarchy movements here, here and here

* For a detailed, eloquent, brilliant discussion of the choices of right-wing women, read Andrea Dworkin, Right-Wing Women

**Janja Lalich, an expert on women in fundamentalist religion, has done good work on what she calls the “bounded choices” of fundamentalist women.  She has published articles and books which you can find if you do a search on her name.

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Discussion

247 thoughts on “Why is Michelle Duggar Fair Game?

  1. Hear, hear.

    Posted by Anji Capes | September 10, 2007, 7:40 pm
  2. And this Heart, is why I love your blog.

    Thank you for bringing this subject up, it had completely escaped my awareness. It is this kind of woman against woman ridicule that sabotages the dignity of us all.

    I’d like to also mention Mothering is a wonderful blessing. Those of us who can do it, do it well and prolifically are heaven sent.
    Thanks for that too Heart.

    Hazel.

    Posted by Hazel | September 10, 2007, 7:45 pm
  3. You have made such a good point! It is important to remember why feminism began. It was to provide choices for women. In order for it to be meaningful, all choices have to be valid ~ even ones that may be distasteful to the majority.

    As it harm none, do as ye will.

    Peace,

    ~Chani

    http://thailandgal.blogspot.com

    Posted by thailandchani | September 10, 2007, 7:52 pm
  4. Thank you! By espousing hatred for some women’s choices we become the misogynists we are trying to overcome.

    I know I used to be one, and I still fight those tendencies. The Patriarchy runs deep.

    Love and peace,

    ~nakedthoughts

    Posted by nakedthoughts | September 10, 2007, 8:34 pm
  5. Fair game. . . hmmm, well, personally if you have a website detailing your family, a television show, you are in the public eye and put yourself out there to have opinions made of you. I am sure there are many large families out there that are functional and well adjusted, but don’t make a huge presentation over the fact that they have so many children.

    My comments which you quoted from my blog, without permission, I may add, (there is a disclaimer), are my opinion.

    Posted by Lisa B | September 10, 2007, 9:12 pm
  6. My issue with the Duggars is not so much about the choice to have numerous children (although we are significantly overpopulated all over the world … and the photos posted here are ample demonstration of that) … but with the fact that it’s quite obvious that the women in the family *are* being held back. Jim Bob Duggar has said in public fora that his sons will attend college and his daughters will not. Reviewing the Duggar website (which, as Lisa S. points out, is available to anyone) reveals that the women of the Duggar family bear the lion’s share of the housework and responsibilities.

    It is inconceivable to me (no pun intended) that a woman in this situation is free of abuse. :-(

    Posted by Sharon | September 10, 2007, 9:27 pm
  7. I agree w/Lisa B about the adult Duggars publicising themselves and their children. If you make yourself a public figure,you set yourself up for public criticism.

    The Learning Channel had a show about the Duggars last night-they were taking a trip to Disneyworld-traveling in a large camper. I watched for 20 minutes or so and literally could not watch any more. I was repulsed/offended/disgusted??? (I don’t know the exact word). If an animal-dog/cat/cow/horse,was made to breed so rapidly and continuously-it would be considered abuse.

    That’s how Mrs Duggar seemed to me-as if her only value was in her child-bearing ability. She seemed to me abased,
    her dignity violated. I’m not saying that this is the case-just how it seemed to me.

    She is an adult and can have as many children as she wants,but setting yourself up publically as an icon does leave you open to criticism.

    Posted by b harper | September 10, 2007, 9:28 pm
  8. Hi, Lisa B. I think the Duggars expect that people will have an opinion. It’s the unrestrained trashing of Michelle Duggar that bothers me. It’s as though she had 17 babies all by herself. I also don’t see anybody criticizing her husband’s hair, clothes, internal organs, or much else.

    As to quoting without permission, since when do we not quote one another’s blogs without permission? I think we do that day in, day out. I think as a courtesy we ought to link to what we’ve quoted (I did link to you), of course.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | September 10, 2007, 9:34 pm
  9. Because she’s seen as trash. They’re not (now, I don’t know about before) poor, but they are treated as though they are poor and uneducated people from the American South who want (as Lisa mentioned) to be in the public eye. So Michelle Duggar is neither a person nor an insight into a subculture, but a 2-d potential Springer guest and a conservative, meaning it’s okay for the liberals to mock her as a stupid cow, and crass to boot.

    Liberals who wouldn’t make fun of those other families you mentioned believe that some poverty is exotic and some “reduced means” are simple living or (bizarrely) an ethnic right. These are white Americans who are choosing to behave in an embarrassing manner, however, and their class will not be forgiven them.

    That’s why. Oh, and because she’s a woman, but you said that part. :p

    Posted by funnie | September 10, 2007, 9:34 pm
  10. It’s really a shame and wrong that a woman has to go into fundiedom in order to have enough support for her motherhood. Feminists should definitely support women in that choice also. But once she gets into fundiedom she loses a lot of control over her life. Women are believed to exist for the sole purpose of bringing others into the world and serving children and men, they are supposed to “submit” any time their husbands want sex, birth control and abortion are sins, never mind lesbianism. So even if a woman wants to STOP after a certain number of children, she probably can’t and ends up having many more children than she would have had had all of the choices been hers. If a woman is a realist, she needs to look at the *entire* reality of fundiedom. I thought of becoming a mother once but mad horses couldn’t have driven me into fundiedom, so the choice remains a mystery to me.

    Posted by Branjor | September 10, 2007, 9:48 pm
  11. In general, I avoid stories about this family, though, because that picture turns my stomach…not at Ms. Dugger, but because I looked exactly like one of Michelle Duggar’s daughters. Haircut, dress, you name it, that was my (enforced) style and I thought it was humiliating.

    You know, I might have said “Little House on the Prairie meets NASCAR” about my own look, but it really hurts my feelings to read Lisa’s comments about this family. I don’t think it’s funny and I don’t think it’s called for, and I sure as hell don’t think this mullets-and-makeover shit in the face of a real gender apartheid issues is feminist.

    Posted by funnie | September 10, 2007, 9:49 pm
  12. I’ve written a lot in the links I’ve posted about the abuses in quiverfull families and in that whole world, just in general. No question, there are plenty of abuses. Then again, as women, no matter what deal we cut, there’s a good chance we’ll be abused, whether it’s on the job, as unpartnered women, as lesbians, or just in the course of living our lives. I think it’s hard for most of us to relate to the deals other women cut if we couldn’t imagine making those choices ourselves. I briefly entertained the notion, as a very young woman, of prostituting myself (when I was very, very poor and a single mom), but I could not have actually brought myself to do it. Just couldn’t. So it’s hard for me to relate to women who actually *do* cut this particular deal. Women who have grown up around fundamentalists/Christians — perversely, or maybe not — especially if their families weren’t Christian, i.e., they are “first generation Christians,” are often drawn to full immersion in fundiedom. From their relative outsider position as young girls and young women looking in, they saw the best face of fundamentalism often times. People were nice to them and smiling and they were all about the love and the healing and so forth. If their whole families didn’t go to church, their parents didn’t go (as was true with me), they might have thought if their parents or families had gone to church, they’d have been spared some kinds of things as children or teenagers. Iow, they have a romanticized idea of what fundamentalism is because they haven’t been immersed in it deeply enough to see its dark side. Sometimes young girls have a mentor or an older friend or just a friend who is a fundamentalist and they admire her and eventually follow her into the church. Some girls are deeply spiritual and long for a connection with God and go searching for it in what appears to be these very committed, total-immersion expressions of spirituality.

    If a woman is a realist, she needs to look at the *entire* reality of fundiedom

    Well, but this isn’t possible. You don’t see the entire reality until it’s too late. With these groups, it’s always carrot-on-a-stick, put-the-best-face forward, bait-and-switch.

    When I say women are being “realists” when they make this choice, I mean they are weighing things as realistically as they can, based on the information they have. When it comes to religion, you never know the truth of things until you’re already deeply immersed in the community. You might suspect, but it’s hard to imagine how hard it can be, what can really happen to women, and if you’re in a fix and struggling, desperate, vulnerable, especially, you try to look on the bright side (if you’re strung together that way in the first place, which many women who enter fundie religion are.)

    Not all fundamentalist men are harsh and unyielding tyrants who rape their wives and insist on no birth control (although plenty are). It’s like any other group, there are decent people, there are well meaning people, there are really awful people. What’s bad about quiverfull types is, abusers are drawn to this movement, and once their families are in, the men can get worse and worse, because of the value this movement places on men ruling, controlling their families. Men who might not have abused had they been in other settings can end up abusing when the respect of their brethren rests on how well they are “ruling” their households.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | September 10, 2007, 10:11 pm
  13. Lisa B, Sharon, B. Harper, in particular: would you have said the same things you’ve said about Michelle Duggar/the Duggars in general about the other women and families in the photos I’ve published up there? If not, why not?

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | September 10, 2007, 10:13 pm
  14. Because she is a woman.

    Posted by E. K. "Kitty" Glendower | September 10, 2007, 10:14 pm
  15. funnie: Liberals who wouldn’t make fun of those other families you mentioned believe that some poverty is exotic and some “reduced means” are simple living or (bizarrely) an ethnic right. These are white Americans who are choosing to behave in an embarrassing manner, however, and their class will not be forgiven them.

    This is great.

    Posted by womensspace | September 10, 2007, 10:17 pm
  16. I don’t believe in the trashing of Michelle Duggar and I have protested it on at least two sites. The vagina-as-clown-car statement is the ultimate in woman-hating.

    That said, I believe that a lot of the anger with her is due to her fundamentalist beliefs. The number of kids she and her husband has would be less of an issue if they didn’t espouse beliefs that would keep other people from adopting or fostering or having rights to children of their own.

    Also, if the Duggars were a Black or Hispanic family, I doubt there would be any television shows about them or that they would receive support from mainstream society. The attitude embodies White privilege. Since the Duggars are White, all those children are encouraged, and she is encouraged to stay at home.

    Posted by Miranda | September 10, 2007, 10:26 pm
  17. No, because I wasn’t privy to watching their personal lives laid out on television.

    Personally, I don’t really care one has a large family, but why televise it like it is a sideshow?

    There are so many needy children in the world, why not adopt if you desire a large family?

    Posted by Lisa B | September 10, 2007, 10:28 pm
  18. I agree that the fundamentalist beliefs cause a lot of anger, but why don’t the fundamentalist beliefs of the Amish or Conservative Mennonites, or conservative Muslims cause similar anger? The differences between the beliefs of these groups so far as reproductive rights, lesbian and gay rights, etc., are slim to none.

    It’s interesting– on the one hand I think you’re right that white privilege figures in with certain groups: the fundies who sing the Duggars’ praises; people who romanticize the large (white) families of the past and the past just in general, and people like Stormfront (neonazis), who LOVE the Duggars. At the same time, I think funnie’s right that there’s a certain white trashness which this family embodies which makes them eligible for trashing and attacks by a certain kind of Leftist. This latter group would not tolerate this kind of attack on any of the women in the photos I’ve posted.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | September 10, 2007, 10:33 pm
  19. Would I have said the same thing about any of those other families?

    Are those families essentially pimping themselves out for attention about their choice to have so many children? If not, then they are highly unlikely to come to my attention in the manner that the Duggars have done.

    However, I *absolutely* think it is absurd to have more than two children, and I have never waivered from this opinion. Our planet cannot take the stress on its resources.

    Heart, I know you come from a Quiverfull background and I try to be sensitive to that in your space. However, I think the entire movement is abusive. I think *any* religion that says the woman’s whole purpose is to be a life support system for a womb is abusive.

    I do believe that if more women were *educated* about their choices that they would be far less likely to fall into this trap. Primarily, I have immense *pity* for women in Quiverfull and similar situations because they do not appear to understand that they have greater value than just having a ridiculously large family. Unfortunately, the girls growing up in such religious environments do not *get* the education, because they *are* brainwashed … by their parents … to believe that they have no other worth.

    Posted by Sharon | September 10, 2007, 10:34 pm
  20. Miranda wrote:
    The number of kids she and her husband has would be less of an issue if they didn’t espouse beliefs that would keep other people from adopting or fostering or having rights to children of their own.

    Also, if the Duggars were a Black or Hispanic family, I doubt there would be any television shows about them or that they would receive support from mainstream society. The attitude embodies White privilege. Since the Duggars are White, all those children are encouraged, and she is encouraged to stay at home.
    —-
    You know, I hadn’t even thought behind my personal Malthusian beliefs until you wrote this … but I think you are dead-on here.

    Posted by Sharon | September 10, 2007, 10:36 pm
  21. Yeah, but neither you, Sharon, nor you, Lisa B, has really answered my question.

    Please, let’s leave aside all of this, the quiverfull movement abuses women. Hello. My name is Heart, Cheryl Lindsey Seelhoff. Why do you think I sued the asses off of prominent members of that movement? Preaching to the choir — especially in such (ironically!) holier than thou, condescending terms — is annoying. And unneccessary. And everybody here who reads or checks the links I posted there knows what I think about this movement.

    What I want to know is (1) why the unrestrained attacks on Michelle Duggar? Why so little about her husband since we all know it is women who are subordinated in this group? (2) If the women above WERE to publicly advocate for their views (and some of them do; you just have to be in the right circles to know that), would your criticisms be the same?

    Neither of you addressed, either, the hatefulness in the attacks on Michelle Duggar. Criticism is one thing. That imagery posted up there, those blog posts? No. That isn’t criticism. That is misogyny– woman hating.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | September 10, 2007, 10:40 pm
  22. I don’t think it’s necessarily that the “fair game” principal applies. (If there ever is such a thing?) The criticism that offends me is the cruel attack on Michelle’s integrity, female body parts and even her hair style. Why should it be “fair game” for a woman to be ridiculed for having 17 babies? Where is her husband in all of this? Where is the criticism of his *untrendy* hairstyle and maybe the picture should have been named “Penis“? Fucks sake, I cannot believe that women have wrote this shit about another woman!

    Posted by sparklematrix | September 10, 2007, 10:41 pm
  23. I wonder if one sense or the impulse is, since the Duggar’s in a certain way embody white privilege, it would be wrong to attack families in other ethnicities who espouse the same views because they are just engaging in something which white people engage in with impunity (and get rewarded for it).

    That doesn’t explain the immunity Amish or Conservative Mennonite people enjoy though. They are almost always white and European.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | September 10, 2007, 10:46 pm
  24. Right on, Heart. That clown car poster screamed misogyny at me the first time I saw it.

    People who are attacking Michelle Duggan are tapping into a deep disgust they feel about women and women’s bodies.

    Posted by delphyne | September 10, 2007, 10:49 pm
  25. Yeah, sparklematrix. And not a few people express (sarcastic) concern for the husband’s sexual pleasure, based on their disgusting assessments of his wife’s body.

    Yeah, re that poster. How about the subtitle: “PENIS: Tie a knot in it!”

    I won’t hold my breath.

    And you’re right, there’s no “fair game” about it, sparkle. But to read what’s written, you’d think there was, which is my whole point.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | September 10, 2007, 10:50 pm
  26. You know what, you are absolutely correct. Although my intent was sarcasm, I realize in retrospect, that it does come off as anti-female (although, I was not writing as a feminist, because that was not my intent). But you are quite right.

    Why so little about Jim Bob, the emphasis on what I watched was on, in my view, Michelle and her laundry, and day to day chores etc.

    So, my apologies to all that I have offended. I will take down those posts, because, they were hurtful, and it was one of my many knee jerk reactions against something that rubs me the wrong way.

    I have my views that are seeded in the experience of the death of someone close to me, who was in one of those fundamentalist religions. At her funeral, all she was dubbed was “a good wife”, nothing personal, just “a good wife”. Because she under duress converted to her husband’s new found religion, he felt guilty about a life choice. He told her it was either convert, or leave. She chose, unfortunately to stay.

    I still don’t agree with it, as I have said there is adoption.

    Posted by Lisa B | September 10, 2007, 10:56 pm
  27. Heart asked:
    What I want to know is (1) why the unrestrained attacks on Michelle Duggar? Why so little about her husband since we all know it is women who are subordinated in this group? (2) If the women above WERE to publicly advocate for their views (and some of them do; you just have to be in the right circles to know that), would your criticisms be the same?

    Well, this brings me right back to what I already said: I think it is absurd to have more than two children, period … and that lack of education is at the bottom of it. I do not care what the religious persuasion is.

    I have never attacked Michelle Duggar … I hold both of the Duggars responsible for the decision to have this many children. It is a decision that I personally find irresponsible. The fact that the two of them want to tell other people that *their* choices are invalid is just icing on the cake.

    I feel tremendous *pity* for Michelle Duggar and her ilk … and I don’t quite see how that makes me misogynistic.

    Posted by Sharon | September 10, 2007, 10:57 pm
  28. That’s something I loved about my grandmother, Elizabeth. She was one member of my family who was never a fundie, she was a life long Democrat, all about the unions and union organizing, she’d been a hairdresser and came of age in the 20s and sang in bars, chain smoked, drank too much, always the bad girl (and forever beloved by me). Whenever I’d have another baby when I was in that world, my grandma Liz would coo over the new baby, hug and kiss the baby and “Look at all that hair,” or that dimple, or those big eyes, or whatever. And then she’d pull my ex aside and say, sort of with a twinkle, but she was dead serious the way she could be — you’d have to have known her — and she’d say to him, “Now you leave her alone,” gesturing towards me. “Come on,” she’d say, “That’s enough.”

    The reaction of the blogosphere is something like that Michelle Duggar had those babies by act of will or something, parthenogenesis, who knows.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | September 10, 2007, 10:59 pm
  29. Would I have said the same things about the other families?

    Probably not. The Hindu,Muslim,Rastsfarian families are simply large families. The Amish and Mennonite families look like extended families-2/3 generations.

    The Duggars bring alot of attention to themselves and by this,invite comments/opinions regarding their lifestyle. They seem eeriely pleasant & bland. They seem unreal/plastic.

    I guess I see continuous childbearing as a debasement of a woman. When it’s coupled w/fundamentalist Christianity,it seems like outright oppression. My grandmother had 15 children,of whom only 5 reached adulthood (this was lack of contraception,not a religious statement). My brother & his wife got pregnant on the honeymoon & had a second child less than a year later.
    My father remarked “like a damn barnyard”. He thought that my brother was showing a lack of respect & consideration for his wife. My own upbringing is influencing my opinions on this matter.

    I don’t see the value of having children just because you can. The religious justification for this seems to me-to be just another way of keeping a woman “in her place”.

    My remarks are not completely logical,but my reaction to the Duggars was visceral.

    Posted by b harper | September 10, 2007, 11:07 pm
  30. Lisa: I have my views that are seeded in the experience of the death of someone close to me, who was in one of those fundamentalist religions. At her funeral, all she was dubbed was “a good wife”, nothing personal, just “a good wife”. Because she under duress converted to her husband’s new found religion, he felt guilty about a life choice. He told her it was either convert, or leave. She chose, unfortunately to stay.

    Yeah. :( I’ve also seen lots of women eulogized when they died for basically being servants to males, and sometimes they had no other choice, and it also made me ill because they had their lives stolen from them by control freaks and haters. :(

    This is kind of what I was wanting to get to, though, the intensity of the reactions to Michelle Duggar. These reactions indicate that there is so much more going on than what is readily apparent.

    Sharon, re this “pity.” Sometimes when you unpack feelings of “pity” towards other women, you find some other things there that are worth taking a look at — like internalized misogyny, like misogyny, period. Duggar reminds us, above all, of what we are expected under patriarchy to be, as females. She represents what so many men hold up as virtuous and wonderful. And she’s going with it. She’s going there. So I think sometimes there are feelings of betrayal, of anger, that we attempt to deal with by thinking of them in terms of “pity”, saying we feel sorry for the women. This allows us to distance ourselves from them enough to blame them for the standards to which, as women, we are all held.

    I do not feel pity for Michelle Duggar. I have an idea she might be happy with her life as it is, as women are when they have cut a deal which garners them a certain amount of respect or other benefits, money, whatever. In the same way, I don’t feel pity for prostituted women, call girls, strippers, who claim to have chosen what they do and who get enough support for it that they can feel satisfied with their lives. What I feel is something like sadness that this is what it comes to, for women, and anger at all of the men, and all of their institutions, who are the real beneficiaries when women make these choices.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | September 10, 2007, 11:10 pm
  31. “why don’t the fundamentalist beliefs of the Amish or Conservative Mennonites, or conservative Muslims cause similar anger?”

    I think it’s because those groups aren’t aggressively trying to take over and run things, politically and socially, the way fundamentalists are in the U.S.

    Posted by goldfish | September 10, 2007, 11:14 pm
  32. Greetings from the Aloha State!

    Cheryl, my best to you, you have been on my mind and heart now for a long time, since I began reading Gentle Spirit in 1993 when I had given birth to my third child when I was in North Carolina. Have been divorced now 13 years and moved back to Hawaii, where I grew up. Missed you and am happy that you have found peace amidst all you have gone through.

    Regarding all this hype about Michelle Duggar. It is true that men can be abusive, cruel, evil. But women are the ones with the PhD’s in cattiness, pettiness, snootiness. When I was having my third child, people thought I was crazy. If we claim to support women and women’s causes, it begins with the simple act of being kind. I would love to have another child, but realize that being a single mom, would not be in the best interest of the child or myself. At 44, my eggs are probably Grade D for duds anyway.

    When I lived in N.C., the pastor and his wife of the church I was attending had six children. She was honestly one of the dearest and happiest women I have ever met.
    It’s when we are unhappy with ourselves and our own situations that we resort to the judging and the meowing at each other. Enough.

    Posted by Melissa K. | September 10, 2007, 11:15 pm
  33. Heart wrote:
    What I feel is something like sadness that this is what it comes to, for women, and anger at all of the men, and all of their institutions, who are the real beneficiaries when women make these choices.

    Okay, as I examined what you wrote, I think what you describe here is much closer to what I am calling “pity” than how you described it.

    Again, I think it is dreadful that some women don’t seem to grok that they *have* other choices. Sure, Michelle Duggar may be happy with her lot. Jim Bob sure as heck is happy with his, from everything I’ve seen.

    What about the kids, though? The two pre-teen girls who are doing all of the cooking and cleaning for this family?

    I don’t know. Is it okay to feel pity (or sadness) for *them*? They didn’t get to make the choice.

    Posted by Sharon | September 10, 2007, 11:18 pm
  34. It’s interesting, I was reading the other day the blog posts of a prostituted woman whose specialty is “gonzo” and some really down and dirty kinds of sex which involve brutalities of various kinds, SM. She was defending what she did, trying to explain why she enjoyed it, and what it boiled down to was, she might be as down and dirty as the men were, she might even get physically hurt (as she often did), but damnit, she’d walk away with the money, and she gave as good as she got. Something like, you’re not the boss of me. Something like that. Reading what she said, I felt such hatred towards the men who prostitute her.

    Why so little about Jim Bob, the emphasis on what I watched was on, in my view, Michelle and her laundry, and day to day chores etc.

    Yeah– here again, Michelle is held up as the apex of womanly achievement, 17 kids and she gets the chores and the laundry done, too! She reminds us of what is forced on us as women, and we are tempted to hate her because she doesn’t resist, she complies.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | September 10, 2007, 11:19 pm
  35. I said: and what it boiled down to was, she might be as down and dirty as the men were, she might even get physically hurt (as she often did), but damnit, she’d walk away with the money, and she gave as good as she got. Something like, you’re not the boss of me. Something like that. Reading what she said, I felt such hatred towards the men who prostitute her.

    I think this happens in fundamentalist homes, too. Women seem to go along with the program, but in certain ways, they do resist, even if their resistance is inside of their apparent compliance. Something like, “I’m not doing this because you are forcing me, I’m doing this because I WANT to, so don’t get the idea you’re in charge here.” Even though in fact, he is in charge in every way that matters.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | September 10, 2007, 11:24 pm
  36. Hey, Melissa. :)

    I have my own ideas about women’s “cattiness” and snootiness and so on, but I agree completely with this:

    If we claim to support women and women’s causes, it begins with the simple act of being kind.

    I hope you are well–

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | September 10, 2007, 11:26 pm
  37. I showed the “vagina, it’s not a clown car” picture to my mom and she said in disgust, “Why don’t they make one called ‘penis, it’s not a clown shooter?'”
    I agree with Miranda, that it is the ultimate misogyny to make fun of other women’s bodies. I feel the same way about the “iron hymen” page – it’s possible to poke fun at the abstinence-only crowd (which is run by misogynist men) without making fun of female body parts.

    Posted by L.M. | September 10, 2007, 11:40 pm
  38. (I think wordpress deleted my first comment, but you can delete this one if the original shows up)
    I showed the “vagina, it’s not a clown car” picture to my mom and she said in disgust, “Why don’t they make one called ‘penis, it’s not a clown shooter?'”
    I agree with Miranda, that it is the ultimate misogyny to make fun of other women’s bodies. I feel the same way about the “iron hymen” page – it’s possible to poke fun at the abstinence-only crowd (which is run by misogynist men) without making fun of female body parts.

    Posted by L.M. | September 10, 2007, 11:41 pm
  39. wanting to get to, though, the intensity of the reactions to Michelle Duggar. These reactions indicate that there is so much more going on than what is readily apparent.

    Duggar does not embody the ideal liberal woman, who fucks and is sexy for the pleasure of males. Her appearance and the appearance of her daughters is not geared toward pleasing the general male populace. She’s opted out of what a woman ‘should’ be on multiple levels.

    Women in burquas can be pitied, with the thought that they need ‘rescuing’ from their plight. A knightly white male can ride in and carry them away to the joys of mini-skirts and freed hair! Duggar doesn’t appear to have any need of a hot guy to save her.

    Which brings me to the point that while I hate the general trashing of her body, Duggar is no ally of mine. She is complicit in her oppression, even reveling in it, and that’s fine. I don’t get any benefit from her being miserable. She’s probably quite happy with her choices, and individually that’s fine, but she actively works to support a system that oppresses many women.

    Posted by Miranda | September 10, 2007, 11:45 pm
  40. “why don’t the fundamentalist beliefs of the Amish or Conservative Mennonites, or conservative Muslims cause similar anger?”

    I think it’s because those groups aren’t aggressively trying to take over and run things, politically and socially, the way fundamentalists are in the U.S.”

    I think “goldfish” nailed it, I agree. It’s the hype and mania also associated with the fundamentalist religions that partially inspired my blog posts.

    Anyway, I appreciate the “wake up call” that you gave me Melissa & other posters, and even though I still don’t stomach the Duggars well, I have a new views to pontificate.

    Thanks
    Lisa

    Posted by Lisa B | September 10, 2007, 11:48 pm
  41. Yeah, I think goldfish is right that it is the way fundamentalists are trying to take over that at least in part inspires the reaction to the Duggars. Having said that, not all Mennonites/Amish people are the same; the Conservative Mennonite family (the one where the wife was my friend) is evangelical and does actively promote a quiverfull lifestyle (although Amish/Conservative Mennonite people do not vote or participate in secular politics).

    Although at the moment Michelle Duggar is complicit, and is in fact benefitting from her complicity, ultimately, men benefit in ways that neither she nor any woman does. It’s the same with prostitution and all the deals women cut. Prostituted women make money and get some other perks, but they pay for what they get, they pay dearly, as do women like Michelle Duggar, while men — all men — benefit, even if not directly.

    If Michelle Duggar should ever leave this world, though, I hope feminists won’t be at the ready to remind her of her complicity, and of how she benefitted, and of how she “enjoyed” her privilege. Because all women benefit from the deals we all cut, and all women suffer from them, too, and Michelle Duggar is no different. I hope eventually she envisions more for herself and for her daughters, and that more than that, more is possible, for all of them, and that if she or some of her daughters should decide to live differently, their past will not be held against them, as though it was something they could freely “choose,” anymore than any of us, as women, chooses much of anything freely.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | September 11, 2007, 12:01 am
  42. Lisa B, Sharon, B. Harper, in particular: would you have said the same things you’ve said about Michelle Duggar/the Duggars in general about the other women and families in the photos I’ve published up there? If not, why not?

    I feel like a lot of the hatred towards Michelle Duggar is gender-based, obviously. People don’t talk about her husband because it’s easier for them to direct their hatred at her as a woman.

    I don’t feel that a base comparison of Michelle Duggar to another woman with a large family is appropriate, though. The Duggars are actively promoting their lifestyle via their television show and website. This is not something she should be vilified for, but it does demonstrate that she’s different: she’s not just living her life. Her behavior is politically motivated and, as a political figure, she is examined in a way that other women with similar lifestyles are not. That doesn’t make the despicable things people say about her or her family acceptable, but it does make her distinctively different from the other women you’ve depicted.

    This quote from their website demonstrates that:
    “At that point they talked with a Christian medical doctor and read the fine print in the contraceptives package. They found that while taking the pill you can get pregnant and then miscarry. They were grieved! They were Christians! They were pro-life! They realized that their selfish actions had taken the life of their child. They prayed and asked God to forgive them, and to teach them to love children like He loves children.”

    Posted by gingermiss | September 11, 2007, 12:05 am
  43. I think one reason people focus more on a quiverfull family like the Duggars as opposed to families from other groups is that the quiverfull families are close to home. They’re not off in another country, they’re right here and they’re part of the major religion. And unlike, say, the Amish, they’re recruiting. The number of children does have something to do with it, because the higher the number, the less likely it seems that the woman really wanted to have that many children. For me, being forced to produce one child from my body is a nightmare scenario that I do worry about (especially with all the restrictions being put on abortion) – being forced to have 16+ would be worse than hell. I really hope that she does enjoy having/raising children, because the alternative is horrifying.

    As for why people insult Michelle and not her husband, and focus on her hair and clothes, compare her to a pig, etc, well, that’s just plain misogyny. I don’t like it. If those people are so concerned that the situation is abusive, then why are they picking on one of the victims?

    Posted by keen | September 11, 2007, 12:06 am
  44. Well said.

    Posted by Lisa B | September 11, 2007, 12:19 am
  45. Personally, if I was stuck with Jim Bob (really? that’s his name?) I’d have as many kids as possible so he’d leave me alone the majority of my life when I’m pregnant cause men like that never want sex with euuuu babies in there! and then I’d just have to hum Rule Britannica for a few bars 17 times. I mean, if my choices were what she’s doing or servicing 7,392 Jim Bobs and calling it choice.

    Posted by Sis | September 11, 2007, 1:00 am
  46. Well I disagree in this – I do believe she is brainwashed, and that the majority of all women in religions which enforce or encourage motherhood and ridicule birth control are brainwashed, or else helpless (or perceive themselves as being helpless, which amounts to the same thing) to change their lot.
    I do not believe that makes them stupid or nasty.

    Posted by Amananta | September 11, 2007, 4:01 am
  47. Well, first, a hearty and resounding Nail, Hammer, Bang to Sis! (And yes, his name really is Jim Bob). A fair number of women in this world *do* like being pregnant for the reason you state– fewer sexual demands, and after the birth, a nice long hiatus, or a ready justification for one. A fair number of women in this world also dissociate when they have sex with their husbands, which is what you’re describing in words women understand and relate to.

    I’m not sure which commenter mentioned fearing pregnancy, or that women in this world must be forced to have this many babies, but honestly, that really, really isn’t how it is for a large number of these women. Even if their husbands are jerks, even if they dissociate during sex, even if they are abused or battered in various ways, as most are, most of these women look forward to the next baby and the next and the next. Sometimes they become really anxious if their fertility is delayed for a long, long time (as it is when they breastfeed responsively, something Michelle Duggar does not do, which is part of the reason she has had children so close together). Sometimes if their fertility returns and they don’t conceive right away, they also become anxious. Usually this is their own anxiety, it isn’t something that comes because their husband is expecting them to conceive. Again, there are some women who really, really love to be pregnant and to have children. I was such a woman and I can attest to the fact that it is true. It isn’t that there is no fear or difficulty with the pregnancy, there is, and there is always fear as the woman’s time nears, but that doesn’t change the fact of her enjoying her pregnancy. I know there are women who can’t begin to imagine how this can be so, but it is. Women are so, so diverse, so different.

    Where a man is, in fact, cracking the whip over a woman’s head and wanting to compete with his brethren for numbers of children and pregnancies, a lot of the time — in my experience — his wife will become sick and unavailable to him. Women in abusive situations find ways to survive, you know?

    I wish everyone would go back up to the top of this post and read what has actually been written about Michelle Duggar. My sense is that now what is actually being done to her, said of her, is being glossed over in a way that seems to triviliazie and minimize how hateful and misogynist it actually is. I don’t care WHAT a woman does, says or believes, no woman EVER deserves to have that kind of thing said of her. EVER. I know all here have agreed that this treatment is misogynist, but I still get this kind of, “Well, I don’t agree with THAT, BUT…” Heavy on the BUT. And I wrote this post, not because I don’t think people should criticize the Duggars, but because of the misogyny and hatred directed towards Michelle Duggar.

    So far as Michelle Duggar “putting herself out there…” Let’s look at that. Could she put herself out there, get herself on television, get all of this publicity, all by herself, because she decided to? Who, in fact, is putting her out there? Who is paying for all of the advertising to see to it that she’s out there? Above all, who benefits from proselytizing for this particular politics and lifestyle? Who’s watching? I think it makes a lot more sense to look at WHY she’s out there, who stands to gain, than to say she put herself out there so she should expect criticism.

    I’ve said it before but will again, I’m sure she does expect criticism and I think that criticism of her politics and values is correct, important and necessary– I do it all the time! I think the hatred directed towards her, though, is misogynist and indefensible, I don’t care what she believes or does, and I wrote this post to focus on that.

    My intention wasn’t to compare Michelle Duggar and her family to the other families, but to ask whether anybody thinks that if those other families were in Michelle Duggar’s situation, anybody thinks the other women up there would get the treatment she is getting.

    I do not think they would. Amish women sometimes write regular newspaper columns about their lives with their 11, 12, 14 kids– Amish families are huge — and this calls forth only appreciative and admiring responses from one and all. I cannot envision anyone responding to an Amish mother of 12, writing a newspaper column about her life, as people have responded to Michelle Duggar.

    And the same with any of the other women in those pictures. If the Rasta woman or the Hindu woman or the Muslim woman should write about her life, I believe racists would be racists and would attack in racist ways, but I do not believe the women in those families would be targeted in the way Duggar has been, for reasons we’ve touched on and for more reasons we may touch on. I don’t think anyone would put a photo of the Muslim or Hindu woman in a poster and write, “VAGINA,” and all the rest. I don’t think these women would be compared with a sow.

    Although these other women are not front and center the way Duggar is, their views are every bit as political as hers are, and their lifestyles are as well. I don’t think I agree that these women are distinctively different. They bear many children for, in general, the same reasons the Duggars do. They espouse traditional mariage, monogamy, heteronormativity, traditionally gendered behaviors as ordained by the Divine and as a mandate, they oppose divorce, abortion and many kinds of reproductive choice, homosexuality, and so on. Their lifestyles, beliefs, practices are entirely political. And yet there is not this intense hatred towards them for the way they dress, the way they wear their hair, their numbers of children, the way the children dress. Mostly, there is admiration, sometimes romanticism, respect. Why would television producers put Michelle Duggar in the spotlight instead of one of these women? I wonder what the reaction of the public would be if television producers had.

    L.M. so true that it’s possible to poke fun at oppressive beliefs and belief systems without degrading women in them! And so true what someone else said– if this is an abusive movement and women are victimized in it (as they are), why heap more abuse on the women?

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | September 11, 2007, 4:04 am
  48. Amananta, I don’t think the women in these groups are helpless or perceive themselves that way. My experience is, women in these groups are some of the hands down strongest women I’ve ever known. And they know themselves to be strong. But they are not strong enough to stand down male supremacy as it is embodied in these groups.

    If Michelle Duggar was to decide she couldn’t do this anymore — as I did, 13 years ago — she would likely (1) be excommunicated; (2) shunned by all of her friends; (3) most of her children, possibly all of them, would turn their backs on her; (4) she would have lived her whole life without having worked outside the home, no marketable job skills to support herself; (5) she would have no job references because every adult she has known and loved will have rejected her; (6) she will be lied about; (7) her reputation will be destroyed.

    In the face of this kind of control of women, it doesn’t matter how strong a woman is, she might be unable to leave. That doesn’t make her helpless, a victim of learned helplessness, and it doesn’t mean she perceives that she’s helpless. She’s one woman. She can easily be destroyed, and she knows it. I almost was. I was excommunicated, my business was destroyed, my car burned to the ground, all of my peers and colleagues shunned me, and I was left to run a destroyed business alone with nine kids. I survived it… barely. I had Rick, who stood by me and whom I married when my divorce was final, I had a couple of woman friends online who didn’t turn their backs on me, and a feminist woman befriended me and helped me in every conceivable way for three years.

    Most women don’t nearly have what I have. I have walked alongside women leaving this world, or kicked out of it, who have 11, 12, 6, 7 children. It is hell. To know yourself to be unable to get out is not to be brainwashed or helpless, is not learned or perceived helplessness. It is a realistic assessment of the power and forces arrayed against you.

    I believe most of these women suffer from Stockholm syndrome to varying degrees, and understandably so. But I don’t think that means they are “brainwashed.”

    One reason I view it as wrongheaded to think of these women as brainwashed or as victims of “learned helplessness” is that that’s how we other them, and it is the othering that makes the hatred towards them possible.

    In other words, if I say that those women over there are brainwashed, they are helpless, or they think they are, that makes them *not like me*. Not like most women. I am the not-brainwashed one, the strong one, I’m not helpless like they are. The consequences of that kind of thinking might be that we disrespect these women who are not like us, we attempt to rescue them in ways which violate them or are disrespectful. It’s a short step from there, for some, to hate these women who are “other”, to mock them, trivialize their realities, dismiss them in various ways, as has happened with Michelle Duggar.

    One more thing I wanted to say. In some ways, these women are and have been very much allies to feminists. They have championed, for decades, the birthing rights of women, the right to birth with midwives, the right to birth at home, breastfeeding rights, the right to breastfeed in public, the importance of making space for breastfeeding women and their children, the importance of fertility awareness. Many of these women garden organically, recycle, compost, and take their responsibilities to the land they care for very seriously. To the degree that Michelle Duggar takes these stands and defends them, to that degree I do view her as my ally. She is certainly as much my ally as a whole lot of self-identified feminists are, because we all know what’s out there so far as feminist views are concerned.


    I don’t think anyone would put a photo of the Muslim or Hindu woman in a poster and write, “VAGINA,” and all the rest. I don’t think these women would be compared with a sow.

    Hold up– haters during wartime would.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | September 11, 2007, 4:14 am
  49. Why would television producers put Michelle Duggar in the spotlight instead of one of these women? I wonder what the reaction of the public would be if television producers had.

    I’m curious and confused as to why you don’t think these other women, if placed in Michelle Duggar’s situation, would be ridiculed in the same way. We’re saying if these families were in the same social/political situation – meaning they also have seventeen children and their own television show about their lives – that this kind of gender-based hatred would not be directed at the women in question?

    One reason I view it as wrongheaded to think of these women as brainwashed or as victims of “learned helplessness” is that that’s how we other them, and it is the othering that makes the hatred towards them possible.

    I agree that this is part of what’s happening in this case. It’s a fear based reaction. I think many women are horrified by the idea that they could fall prey to this kind of mentality.

    Posted by gingermiss | September 11, 2007, 7:37 am
  50. What I don’t understand in situations like this is that when there are already so many valid things that we could be criticizing about a family like this, namely their political/gender views, why is it even necessary to focus on Duggar’s looks and body? You could spend volumes dissecting all the things that are messed up about their religion, yet all people can criticize is, let’s face it, the fact that Duggar has a vagina?!? Seriously, it makes those bloggers look like they simply can’t come up with any real reasons why the Duggars’ religion is bad news, so instead they focus on her looks and bodily functions. Kind of like the trolls who come to feminist blogs and can’t refute our arguments so they just go, “You’re all feminists because you’re UGLY!” It does nothing to advance any sort of point or get us any closer to figuring out why women join these religions and how we can offer them better choices, choices where they can have as many or few children as they damn well please without having to answer to some sanctimonious bloggers who will never know what it’s like to be in their situation. (And how is it any different to criticize a woman for her choice to have children than it is to criticize a woman for her choice not to have children, anyhow?!?)

    On second thought, I guess I shouldn’t say I don’t understand why people choose to criticize the Duggars this way. Of course I understand. Because it’s easier to say, “Eeewww, she has a VAGINA, and all sorts of other nasty female parts!” Because the women who write these sorts of things secretly think their own bodies are disgusting and deflect it onto a woman who’s an easy target. Because too many women, including feminists, have internalized patriarchy’s view of our bodies and look for acceptable targets onto whom they can unleash their self-loathing.

    Posted by mekhit | September 11, 2007, 7:40 am
  51. I went back to the original post after reading these last responses, and I wanted to highlight this comment because it really confuses, appalls, and stuns me:

    Birth control – just do it, or don’t do IT, get it? I feel bad for the husband, but it can’t be that great after child 17 just popped out, no problems.

    Posted by gingermiss | September 11, 2007, 7:49 am
  52. Gingermiss, I don’t think the other women would receive that kind of reaction in part because that’s not been my experience? I have actually been responded to (sorry for rotten construction!) along the lines of what has happened to Duggar, for example, without a television show and so on. I did publish a magazine, I did speak at conferences, I did occasionally go on television, and there was one time when a reporter stayed at our home for several days, filmed us, etc., for a program in the Southwest. But I was in no way in the limelight the way Michelle Duggar is. Still I have tasted the kinds of reaction Duggar gets myself, though not the extremes of hatred and certainly not to this degree. I have not seen this type of reaction directed towards other women with large families who were devoutly religious and so on. (Like the Amish women, for example, who write for the newspaper.) It’s also just my hunch, based on watching Americans’ reactions over many years to women with large families, wondering why Amish women (who at one time were my role models) were respected and sometimes admired, while women similarly situated with me were so despised by those outside their own circles (and sometimes in their own circles).
    I don’t think the notoriety accounts for this treatment because I’ve seen this kind of thing on a small scale for years.

    Mekhit, great point about trashing Duggar’s body and hair as though *books* couldn’t be written about how destructive what she believes is to women (to everybody, but especially to women)!

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | September 11, 2007, 12:23 pm
  53. Heart said:
    ***Speaking for myself only, in entering into fundamentalist religion I cut the best deal I believed I could cut at the time, given all of the circumstances of my life*. I believe this holds true for many to most women in conservative and fundamentalist religion throughout the world, particularly mothers or women who want to be mothers.***

    I don’t know about that holding true for most women in conservative and fundamentalist religion throughout the world. In many regions of the world the ONLY acceptable lifestyle for women is marriage and children. In the Islamic Republic of Iran a woman would be arrested and beaten for appearing in public without a full length chador or even if so much as a hair showed. In some parts of Africa, a woman will not be supported by her tribe if she does not have a male child and so her survival is at stake. Often education is not available for girls, much less jobs or any means of survival for women outside of marriage. This may work to a slight degree for women who want to be mothers, but many women do *not* want to be mothers and their culture makes not the slightest allowance for that. In these cultures, many women who would otherwise have *no* interest in men, marriage and children are married to men their whole lives and have children.

    Posted by Branjor | September 11, 2007, 1:22 pm
  54. No, it’s really not about agenda. It’s about what’s cool.

    Amish and Mennonites are seen as exotic. Fundamentalists are seen as dumb hicks. Mormons (BTW) are somewhere in between “dumb-hick,” “dominator” and “intriguingly weird.”

    It’s all wrong, but telling CLASS-BASED JOKES is not the fault of fundamentalism’s march toward world DOMINANCE. That makes no sense at all. “Oh, they’re running everything, that’s why I’ll get at them by saying they look like impoverished yokel morons.”

    You kind of have to pick a direction to go.

    Posted by funnie | September 11, 2007, 1:23 pm
  55. You make such important points Heart, especially on the pervading notion that all women in trouble, are in some way weak. Little realistic assessment is made of the forces arrayed against them, or what brave women they often are. Its an, its not going to happen to me delusion.
    Alley was a great fighter, but if you put enough poor fighters in against him, eventually he would come down.
    Sometimes I think that’s what the Patriarchy is, a giant alliance of failures and its the alliance part that makes them strong.

    Posted by helzeph | September 11, 2007, 1:54 pm
  56. Sorry, Ali.

    Posted by helzeph | September 11, 2007, 2:06 pm
  57. Just saw this, and haven’t had the time to read through all the comments so forgive me if this sentiment has already been expressed, but:

    I am regularly and discouragingly amazed at how feminists, FEMINISTS of all people, will uphold their “right” to hate women, to make fun of women, to abuse women. I find it in all corners of feminism, though much less so amongst radical feminists. It goes way beyond the indoctrinated misogyny that we all grow up with and have to consciously fight against – it’s almost like many feminists see hating women (though they qualify by just hating “some” women) as a path towards – what? their individual “equality”? a leg up? I don’t know, but cripes.

    I remember when Twisty of all people posted that Vagina/Clown Car image a while back. I was so disappointed, because there’s a radfem who seems to get it on so many levels, yet she just puts that stupid image up without any comment and sure enough, the majority of IBTP commenters took off making fun of Michelle Duggar. What does hating on women get us in the end? Meanness and pettyness have no place in any feminism I want to be a part of.

    I’ve decided recently to stop reading things (blogs, magazines, message boards, etc.) that make fun of marginalized people. My faith in humanity depends on it. It’s amazing what all that leaves out though.

    Posted by Amber | September 11, 2007, 3:30 pm
  58. Yes Heart, the context you’ve given my comment.

    And why do so-called feminists do this? Because they haven’t a clue what it means to be a feminist. It’s just the latest in trendy girl labels. They’re so empowered–power that has to be earned, a propos her post and ‘given’, but will be taken away whenever. Posts like the one we’re responding to? This feminist is ‘uncle tomming’. All the ridicule for Michelle, all the pity for poor Jim Bob having to have his kinda sex with a vagina that’s brought 17 children into the world. Which by the way, would only be a problem if her children were delivered with any or all of the tortuous women hating baby delivering methods propagated by a patriarchy medical system rather than birthed.

    Posted by Sis | September 11, 2007, 3:55 pm
  59. Branjor, I think what you say is true, but I also think that women, even in the rigidly regulated, fundamentalist cultures you are describing, make a choice when they marry, have children and so on. If you ask them, they will say that they have made a choice. Their choice is, I believe, what Lalich calls a “bounded” choice — in their case, severely bounded — but it is still a choice. As opposed to something they do because they are brainwashed or dragged screaming and kicking into it at the point of a gun. Within even the cultures you are describing, there are usually some options for women which do not involve marriage and childbearing but where the women are still accepted in their communities. I think it’s important to make this point in order to honor what women say about their own lives and choices, first of all, and also to acknowledge that most women do their best to make the best choice they can for their lives. If we don’t acknowledge this, I think it’s too easy to see too many women as, as helzeph says, weak, and ourselves as superior in various ways, and this is particularly true as concerns women our culture fetishizes/romanticizes/objectifies as “exotic”, the ethnic “other.”

    It’s all wrong, but telling CLASS-BASED JOKES is not the fault of fundamentalism’s march toward world DOMINANCE. That makes no sense at all. “Oh, they’re running everything, that’s why I’ll get at them by saying they look like impoverished yokel morons.”

    funnie, exactly.

    helzeph, yes. As women we sometimes have a lot of stake in this idea that we would NEVER [fill in the blank with the deal the other woman has cut]. That woman over THERE– she’s shameful. Just look at her.

    If you (rhetorical “you”) tell yourself (delusionally, as you say) that you would NEVER do enough kinds of things that other women do to survive, you will end up othering and despising the majority of the world’s women and — often enough — identifying with men and aligning yourself with men in their hatred of women. Your friends will be men, you’ll choose men’s company over women’s company, you’ll be the best critic, so far as women go, there ever was. You’ll be one of those feminists who says, “I don’t know, I just don’t really get along with women and never did.” “I always had male friends.” “I just prefer the company of men.”

    Of course, the men you’re identifying with whose company you prefer sure aren’t your friends, any more than they’re friends to the women you are joining them in criticizing, mocking and hating, or standing silently by while the men do it. Ultimately, that will become evident.

    Amber, you’re so right about the misogyny so many feminists display. :( For the record — and I need to say this — I didn’t realize Twisty had that poster up at the top up at IBTP. I never saw it there, or don’t remember if I did. I found it at one of the other sites I linked to up there. I have always felt so disappointed and discouraged, though, by the willingness of feminists to pile on in mocking and making fun of women. As though the same thing couldn’t be done to them, and might not be done to them. It reveals, again, an incomplete identification with women, a feminism that doesn’t really include all women.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | September 11, 2007, 3:58 pm
  60. All the ridicule for Michelle, all the pity for poor Jim Bob having to have his kinda sex with a vagina that’s brought 17 children into the world. Which by the way, would only be a problem if her children were delivered with any or all of the tortuous women hating baby delivering methods propagated by a patriarchy medical system rather than birthed.

    Which the same feminists often support!

    Arggghghghghghghghghhhhhhhhhhhh!

    Of *course* if you are pumped full of oxytocin and getting it by drip in your induced labor, if you are strapped down to a bed, lying on your back, and dead below the waist with your uterus violently expelling its contents because of said drip and you unable to even FEEL the contractions, much less work with your attendants to go along with what your body is doing, you are going to be INJURED.

    Which is what a lot of these fundie women know. They’d better know, if they are going to be having all of these babies and don’t want to end up with 17 episiotomies criss-crossing their nether regions, prolapsed uteruses, ruptured uteruses, cystoceles, rectoceles and you name it. Argh. Which is why they were kickass pioneers of the natural birth/home birthing movement. Which is why for the most part, their bodies withstand the stresses of pregnancy, labor and birth quite well.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | September 11, 2007, 4:03 pm
  61. Heart’s just described FGM western style. Women who birth babies rather than deliver will likely never have to undergo the varying pelvic organ repair surgeries for these conditions either, and/or be told a hysterectomy is the solution to (all the list above) and while we’re in there, we’ll take out your ovaries. AKA ….castration. But no worry; not like we’re talking about castrating Jim Bob.

    Slightly tanget but not really.

    Posted by Sis | September 11, 2007, 5:08 pm
  62. Thanks, Sis!

    Brilliant.
    :-)

    Mary

    Posted by Mary Sunshine | September 11, 2007, 5:25 pm
  63. I laughed at the “clown car” poster when I first saw it at another blog. I realize now that I was wrong for doing so, that it’s not okay to make fun of another woman’s body parts even if her way of life seems strange or even insane to me. I won’t be laughing about Mrs Duggar again.

    Thanks for writing about this, Heart. I appreciate that you pointed out that anti-woman behavior of mine to me. That’s how we grow as feminists and as human beings.
    :)

    Posted by CoolAunt | September 11, 2007, 6:03 pm
  64. Thank you, Heart, for the powerful truths about mothering, and the need to put responsibility for the mullet (Michelle’s hair-do), the misogyny, the misplaced anger back on the male supremacy where it belongs.

    The Brittany Spears media brouhaha (she’s “out of shape” on MTV) is another example of misplaced anger. Just when Brittany seems to be starting her melt-down out of patriarchy (eating normal meals, and acting “crazy” as she’s beginning to realize, perhaps, the tokenized trap she occupies, and the risks all women face from woman-hating), other women go on the ready to criticize Brittany. Female voices join the men who no longer find Brittany so “fuckable” after she’s got a little bit of a mother’s tummy.

    In forging sisterhood, in leaving the door open to male-identified women who might one day shift, in caring about the survival of conscious intelligence on mother earth, these words of Heart guide us in extending woman-to-woman compassion:

    “Does every woman exchange something in this male supremacist world in order to survive it? Yes, we all do.” Mullet to Malibu.

    Posted by JB Sproull | September 11, 2007, 6:51 pm
  65. Not much I can really add here that hasn’t been said, but I do think it’s important to raise one point that’s been overlooked.

    The “clowncar” image comes from somewhere. No, I don’t know exactly where it comes from, but I know what genre it comes from and who is at the helm of that genre.

    I suppose the pedigree of the clowncar image is something akin to:

    -those corporate aphorisms posters that line office walls
    -mocking renditions of said posters
    -even more mocking and patently obscene renditions
    -the clowncar image

    The clowncar image only “works” because we know what the frame signifies since we’ve seen it so often before. If we hadn’t, we still might be able to “get it,” but we’d be confused as to what it was — it’s inconceivably far from its source inspiration.

    Yet, instead of mocking the corporate image (as the first in the genre did), it borrows power and authority from it. It makes the misogyny stronger: the officious symbolism of the frame makes its criticism, although “funny,” serious in nature. In other words, we’re strictly better than the subject delineated in the box, and the glossy black frame underscores our right to criticise.

    These genres are not owned and operated by feminists to say the least. Indeed, 4chan takes credit (probably unwarranted but it’s there for them to take) for inventing “lolcats.” For every cute montage that makes it into general circulation (and into the domain of women), there’s something hideous, sexist, racist, homophobic, and able-ist in their arsenal of images that they have all the time in the world to hone.

    As such, I’d urge people to be wary of ever reposting a “found” image without careful consideration of who it really belongs to — and by “who,” I don’t mean the individual author or copyright holder, but the social class that it serves.

    It’s not hard to tell for the clowncar image, I’d say.

    Posted by Rich | September 11, 2007, 7:08 pm
  66. To me, men and the patriarchy represent the devil, and the women who sell out to the men/patriarchy in order to achieve some carnal/material desires represent the people who sell their souls to the devil.

    I guess we all sell out a little bit in order to survive, but when the selling out goes beyond a certain point (in our own view), it is felt viscerally as disgusting, and that is where these comments are coming from.

    I agree that the disgust and hatred should be directed at the men and their institutions which enforce this selling out, not their victims who are only trying to survive as best they can.

    BTW, I am Indian, and my (negative) reaction to that hindu family is the same as to the Duggars. I want to slap that stupid beatific smile right off that hindu man’s face. This may be because we tend to care more about what is happening around us than in some (conceptually or geographically) far away land.

    Posted by Kali | September 11, 2007, 7:15 pm
  67. Yeah, probably it’s about localism, Kali. And as someone who was a part of (and negatively affected by) the Duggars’ girls-don’t-go-to-college world, I have no kind thoughts for that man, either – I thought the question someone posted earlier about control/abuse is a great one.

    I also do think part of the difference between the way you and the hypothetical generic white western (as I was picturing them, though I never specified) liberals I mentioned who have no problem with the other photos is racism. Some people just deserve to be poor, some people just “overbreed,” some people just don’t know any better, bless them, etc.

    So though I think the attacks on Michelle Duggar are both classist and sexist, I think there is also racism involved – not “against” white people – against minorities! – but exhibited in that “you’re white and we Don’t Behave That Way, like Those People” sense.

    More and more, I think “white trash” is a racist term as well as classist. Not racist against white people (which, again, is impossible) but racist because people who do THAT can’t REALLY be white, so we need to use some sort of race-based epithet on them, like we do with the _____ and the _______ and the _______, which this “white trash” is behaving like.

    Posted by funnie | September 11, 2007, 8:21 pm
  68. Yes funnie. Something few feminists get.

    Posted by Sis | September 11, 2007, 10:40 pm
  69. CoolAunt said: “it’s not okay to make fun of another woman’s body parts even if her way of life seems strange or even insane to me.”

    That made me ask myself, if a vagina’s not supposed to be a “clown car” (i.e. used to have 17 children), then what’s it supposed to be?
    Also, the idea of defining what a vagina is/is not based on what it does ignores the possibility of women’s wants and free will.

    Posted by L.M. | September 11, 2007, 11:09 pm
  70. Almost everything that I could say about the Duggars has been said, but I would like to discuss the College aspect a bit.

    The only way wymyn well ever free themselves of Patriarchy is to educate themselves. Ideally, wymyn would not go to college, but instead find a feminist “guide” or “guru” (similar to a Witch and her Apprentice long ago) but I understand that (sadly) this is not always possible. The next best solution is to find a college with a high number of Feminist professors and only take classes from them. Again, this is not always possible, because the Patriarchal education system is designed to keep wymyn out. For my part, my daughters know that they can count on me to help them any way I can to get then through school. My sons know that they have all the advantages that being white and male and don’t need my help.

    Posted by Hecate | September 11, 2007, 11:16 pm
  71. I’m greatly appreciating you women’s overall brilliance, great thoughts all over the place. LM, that’s a good point, i.e., what is a vagina? We all decide what we will do with our own. A diversion, but related, children aren’t clowns, and especially, those particular, individual children, some of whom are girls and young women and therefore people with whom feminism is primarily concerned (though it’s concerned with the boys and young men, too) are not clowns. Beyond that, when you allude to a mother’s children — not imaginary children, not invisible children, but the children actually standing at her bedside as “clowns,” it’s hurtful, to her and to her children, and to all mothers and their children. The whole thing is offensive on so many different levels, this imagery of clowns emerging from a vagina. It’s like the flip side of the way conservative misogynists reduced women to vaginas, incubators for children, except that at least conservatives pretend to value the children, whereas in this case, both mother and children are devalued.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | September 11, 2007, 11:26 pm
  72. Hecate, no. College is not going to educate women out of the patriarchy. I think it does just the opposite with all but the most astute women, who really didn’t need college in the first place. What we need to do is start honouring and respecting women’s talents and what women do. Although I’m not going along with the 17 babies; let’s pause for a minute and think about what this woman has achieved teaching and raising these children. She’s never going to get a PhD for it, or even in most colleges life-credits except to the lowest paid degree programs for ex the ones women are expected to do all their lives for nothing. Some of the most staunch partriarchy card-carrying women I know, and the locked into Stockholm syndrome are lawyers, doctors and professors. Totin’ it.

    Posted by Sis | September 12, 2007, 12:12 am
  73. I know I haven’t posted in quite some time but I’ve found this thread to be really interesting and truly appreciate many of the points brought up. I would like to express my thoughts on this as one who is working her way out of fundamentalism.

    I’ve watched the Duggar family specials and find them extremely disturbing. I always become angry at Jim Bob and his lack of concern for his wife and her well being. I am aware that this reaction on my part comes from living a similar marriage (only without the many children due to being unable to carry more than two because of being sexually assaulted repeatedly as a young child by a male family member.)

    I sometimes feel I don’t quite understand feminism as it seems counterproductive, not even to say beside the point, to mock Michelle Duggar’s body and looks. How exactly does this help feminism? And what about the fact that, for many people in the US, Jim Bob Duggar is someone to admire? How does mocking another woman obviously somehow caught up in patriarchy and ignoring the behavior and expectations of her husband help other women? What does it matter whether she is brainwashed, a true believer, or forced into this life style? Is it not more important that this kind of lifestyle is considered to be no more than an extension of the so called American dream? How does mocking another woman help change all of that?

    I honestly consider myself as one who is moving more and more into the feminist camp, but can not and will not, mock another woman who has made whatever choices she felt was necessary or right for her. I might disagree with her and state that disagreement in a rational discourse, but mocking her body and hairstyle seems hurtful to all women everywhere. It may be that I have missed a critical connection as it just does not seem logical.

    Posted by Macs Grandy | September 12, 2007, 1:36 am
  74. Hey, Mac’s Grandy, great to read you– I completely agree with you. I don’t think there is anything feminist about mocking or making fun of another woman’s appearance, including, as JD Sprouell said (might have spelled your name wrong, sorry!), women like Britney Spears. I also really like the point you have made that why does it really *matter* what Michelle Duggar’s reasons are for the decisions she’s made, why isn’t what is most important the fact that this lifestyle is touted as some sort of American Dream?

    I have never watched this television show and probably never will– I just don’t watch television, except for news and the occasional documentary. But I know just what you’re talking about when you describe the husband’s insensitivity to his wife. This is so common in that world.

    We’ve touched on many of the reasons feminists mock other women’s appearance and make fun of them. In the case of Michelle Duggar, I just think she represents something many feminists find so abhorrent they can barely control their feelings and often can’t separate how horrified they are over this lifestyle from the awareness that Michelle Duggar is a woman, a human being with feelings, just like the rest of us, and despite her 17 children, not so very different from them in many ways. There is a certain kind of feminism that prides itself on being, oh, what. Oh so hip, cool, cerebral, non-nurturing, nonmaternal (unless we’re talking about cats and its Friday :p or other creatures), nonreligious, skeptical of spirituality, and especially, especially, especially non-FEMININE, meaning having or displaying qualities or characteristics or proclivities which are associated with the feminine– especially motherhood. Something like, snort, what’s all of this smarmy, emotional, sentimentality, I’m not like THAT. But nurturing, sentimentality, kindness, compassion, empathy, being affectionate, yes, being maternal, there is nothing wrong with these qualities, just because patriarchy has adjudged them to be feminine, associated with the female! These are beautiful qualities, whether women or men display them, and for women to sort of forge a feminist identity centered around how NOT LIKE THAT they are is to diss women just as patriarchal men do, is to agree with patriarchy that what is assigned to the female and called “feminine” is not as valuable or worthy of respect as what is assigned to the male and called “masculine.”

    Anyhow, I like what you had to say. :)

    Hecate, I love your idea of girls being educated by female mentors, mothers, their womenfolk. That is to me the BEST thing about homeschooling one’s daughters.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | September 12, 2007, 3:36 am
  75. “How exactly does this help feminism? And what about the fact that, for many people in the US, Jim Bob Duggar is someone to admire? How does mocking another woman obviously somehow caught up in patriarchy and ignoring the behavior and expectations of her husband help other women? What does it matter whether she is brainwashed, a true believer, or forced into this life style? Is it not more important that this kind of lifestyle is considered to be no more than an extension of the so called American dream? How does mocking another woman help change all of that?”

    It doesn’t.

    I’m not defending having thought that the clown car joke was funny when I tell you that it was more the image of the clowns popping out of the tiny car, one after the next, until someone has to ask, “How many more clowns are there?” that tickled me. I honestly didn’t think of the woman, Mrs Duggar, a person, nor did I think of her kids, more persons. Instead, my thoughts were more about the idea or the symbol of “How many more kids are there?” Again, I’m not defending myself because it was still wrong. Mrs Duggar is not an idea or a symbol; she is a person and her kids are also people, each an individual human being. This is just another example of how it can be so easy to objectify people, even to those of us who are so against it.

    “…nurturing, sentimentality, kindness, compassion, empathy, being affectionate, yes, being maternal, there is nothing wrong with these qualities…These are beautiful qualities, whether women or men display them…”

    I think this would be a better world if all people, especially more men, possessed and displayed those qualities.

    Posted by CoolAunt | September 12, 2007, 4:24 am
  76. *toot toot*
    Bravo. Love the love for our womyns.

    That poster is just further fodder for womyn as: vessel, lodge, receptacle, etc. As if the vagina is the MasterMind behind creation!
    People (feminists alike) need to just get over the vagina already. All this forced pendulum swinging: “protect it!” or “flash it!” All this vagina-positioning, esp. in the feminist movement–sooo futile.
    I can’t help but thank a country of abstinence-only education for the ignorant vagina-blaming going on in that fine poster. Whatever happened to all those evil ovaries? the uterus? fallopian tube? or, goodness, knows the testicular sperm centers?

    Perhaps the Michelle-Dugger-Haters have a serious case of womb-envy(?)

    Posted by pisaquari | September 12, 2007, 4:48 am
  77. That made me ask myself, if a vagina’s not supposed to be a “clown car” (i.e. used to have 17 children), then what’s it supposed to be?

    Oh, come on, LM, it’s for the pleasure of men, duh! And if you “pop out” 17 babies, your vagina might not be as nice and tight for the menfolk, which means it’s no longer fulfilling its Most Very Important Purpose! /sarcasm

    I mean, I realize that those who make fun of Duggar have a (valid) problem with the conservative idea that women only exist to have babies, but how is it helpful to replace that idea with the idea that women only exist for men’s pleasure (“it can’t be that great after child 17 just popped out”)? Why can’t we get beyond this idea that women exist solely for this purpose or that, that our possibilities in the world have to be so limited?

    It’s actually interesting because the bashing of Michelle Duggar is so motivated by opposition to women’s roles in patriarchy that the bashers come around full circle to being somewhat controlled by the patriarchy themselves, if that makes any sense. It’s like when Maya Angelou writes about staying with an African-American-family in New York whose entire family life is built around making fun of white people, which she finds funny at first, but then realizes that it’s really annoying and not at all revolutionary because you only have so many choices when you think all your actions have to be in direct opposition to what you’re fighting. I don’t know, I’m not articulating what I want to say very well because it’s late, but think you all will get what I’m saying. Basically it’s a constraining view of the world and women’s choices — “I don’t want to be a so-called baby machine, so I’ll be a sex machine for men instead with my tight vagina.” Well, great, now you’ve just let the patriarchy define the entire framework for the debate. Well done.

    Posted by mekhit | September 12, 2007, 8:05 am
  78. Thank you for writing this, Heart. My exposure to this family is minimal, but I was horrified by the sentiments I was seeing popping up attached to this picture/slur, especially from women and feminists.

    I may not think this family is doing the best thing for those children, but that does not make misogynist attacks on the woman acceptable.

    Speaking for myself only, in entering into fundamentalist religion I cut the best deal I believed I could cut at the time, given all of the circumstances of my life*. I believe this holds true for many to most women in conservative and fundamentalist religion throughout the world, particularly mothers or women who want to be mothers.

    I believe this applies to a lot of choices made by a lot of women, although I’ve never applied it to fundamentalist religion. Well said.

    Posted by hexy | September 12, 2007, 10:35 am
  79. I laughed out loud when I saw that “poster,” but that’s because I’m a bad person.

    Although then again, some things are hilarious in one context, and disturbing in another.

    I don’t hate the Duggars, I’m not particularly keen on them either. Their lifestyle freaks me out, to say the least. However, some of the comments concerning Michelle, her body, and her mind (or lack thereof, as some people will inevitably point out) – have been pretty damn wrong, from where I stand.

    It’s good to talk about these things, to bring them out, and examine them.

    Posted by Natalia Antonova | September 12, 2007, 10:55 am
  80. College is extremely important to women’s liberation. So are careers, financial self-sufficiency, political representation, etc.

    Not every woman must use these specific tools, and not every woman must wield them in the same ways. Yes, the systems are patriarchal and the power they grant derives mostly from that source. But they’re also important for women to participate in on *some* level, or we will all suffer. Surely the research being done about issues affecting women is better than it was when women were excluded from the academy? Surely the conversations being had in higher ed are of *some* value, especially now that women participate in them?

    Sure higher ed’s flawed, but it’s not unnecessary, it should be equally available to women, and it would help the Duggar daughters more than any other *existing* opportunity that could be made available to them.

    In fact, I think people who are so fascinated with this family should start a college fund (including housing/living expenses, obviously) for just the girls, available from the time they turn 18 for the rest of their lives – and to their own daughters if the funds aren’t made use of by the first generation of women.

    IMO these women need the ability to imagine a way out of their lives. They may not choose it, but they need to be able to envision it (and women like them need to *hear* about it). Being in a patriarchal family with those values, a woman will never, ever be outside the control of a man. Higher education made accessible without the support of a husband or father is a really seductive idea – one I think would resurface every time those girls’ ideas and thoughts are squelched, reminding them that they can choose differently, that they can escape if they want to.

    Posted by funnie | September 12, 2007, 1:05 pm
  81. “people who are so fascinated with this family” =/= the commentary here. I mean the ones treating the Duggars as spectacle, particularly those who make money or increase their online reputations by using Michelle and her daughters as gawk-fodder.

    Posted by funnie | September 12, 2007, 1:11 pm
  82. How come Jim Bob doesn’t come in for his share of the blame?

    To be fair I think Michelle Duggar opens herself up for it by advocating taking away other womens’ choices, by in effect denying her daughters’ their rights, and by making them second class citizens. Michelle Duggar has made herself a public figure. However, so has Jim Bob. Why isn’t he also being criticized?

    Posted by ginmar | September 12, 2007, 1:32 pm
  83. “But nurturing, sentimentality, kindness, compassion, empathy, being affectionate, yes, being maternal, there is nothing wrong with these qualities, just because patriarchy has adjudged them to be feminine, associated with the female! ”

    Yes, these are wonderful qualities. But, historically, and even today, men have taken advantage of these qualities to subjugate and dominate women. For example women have been motivated by these qualities to care for and nurture their families and homes, giving men the free time and energy to pursue power and resources in the outside world. Men have used the power they have thus gathered to control women, to write laws and policies that give men control over women’s bodies, to argue that women are not capable of achieving anything outside their homes, to come up with elaborate theories about why women are intellectually inferior and irrational, incapable to leading societies, inventing things, understanding and explaining the world. So, women need to be careful about how, when and with whom they use these wonderful qualities.

    Posted by Kali | September 12, 2007, 3:10 pm
  84. pisaquari – “People (feminists alike) need to just get over the vagina already. All this forced pendulum swinging: “protect it!” or “flash it!” All this vagina-positioning, esp. in the feminist movement–sooo futile.”
    Years ago at a now-defunct feminist board, someone raised that issue, whether it’s progress to reduce ourselves to our vaginas (like “vote your vagina!”). One of the women said, “I don’t care if men want to think about my vagina as long as they’re not thinking hostile thoughts.” I wrote back and said, “Well, I *do*, because a vagina doesn’t have any meaning about our identities as women and human beings other than that we are female.”
    Also, there are some women who *don’t* have vaginas, in cases of AIS or vaginal agenesis.

    Mekhit – “Oh, come on, LM, it’s for the pleasure of men, duh! And if you “pop out” 17 babies, your vagina might not be as nice and tight for the menfolk, which means it’s no longer fulfilling its Most Very Important Purpose! /sarcasm”
    Heh, I guessed as much – tight and accessorized with the latest cosmetic surgery and a Brazilian bikini wax.

    Posted by L.M. | September 12, 2007, 3:23 pm
  85. Yeah, I agree with everybody about everything. :-P

    I do think there is value in just the presence in the world of women who are NOT (apparently) nurturing, caring, loving, empathetic, and so on, definitely. Nothing ever changes if all of the women behave in all of the ways women are supposed to behave because that’s how women are “naturally” (supposedly). But I think we can flout those feminine imperatives, I think we can be rude, crude, and totally unacceptable :-p, can be hardass and mean and whatever we want to be and whoever we, in fact, are. I just think we can do it without simultaneously being aghast and horrified and punitive towards women who display traditionally feminine behaviors or characteristics. At some point the hostility women direct towards women because they are behaving in ways they have been groomed, from birth, to behave, and haven’t examined that yet, or gotten free yet, or because they can’t figure out any other way to be, needs to get toned down a notch, seems to me.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | September 12, 2007, 3:47 pm
  86. Kali,

    Yes.

    Hence, lesbian separatism.
    :-)

    Mary

    Posted by Mary Sunshine | September 12, 2007, 3:48 pm
  87. Of course education is important. I just don’t think the structure that bastions it is useful. I didn’t have a piece of paper until I was 46, but everything I knew to get that piece of paper I learned before I went to university. A young woman who is my neighbour finished high school and applied to the transit system where she underwent training and is not making over $60,000 a year, with benefits and paid holidays, as a bus driver. Her training with the transit system is considered gold with long haul trucking companies, where she could move anytime, and will as soon as she’s saved the money for a down payment on a rig. She’ll be her own boss then.

    The more I see of women who have PhDs in women’s studies, now almost non-existent and replaced by something called gender studies and headed by either men, MRAs or transwomen, the more I am embittered by higher education ie) college.

    So yes, educate. But why college?

    Posted by Sis | September 12, 2007, 4:06 pm
  88. Sorry had to turn the bread around, so unfinished post…

    I think these young women will make different choices from their mother. Young women always do. :) But it may be harder for them than most.

    Posted by Sis | September 12, 2007, 4:19 pm
  89. At some point the hostility women direct towards women because they are behaving in ways they have been groomed, from birth, to behave, and haven’t examined that yet, or gotten free yet, or because they can’t figure out any other way to be, needs to get toned down a notch, seems to me.

    I can see how this might be the case if the constrained choices they’ve made hurt no one but themselves. However, if women have, like men, been “groomed, from birth, to behave” like misogynists, racists, classists, and elitists towards OTHER people, I’m not sure how much time, if any, we should give those women to “examine,” “get free of,” or “figure out” their bigotry.

    Fine if they’re able to free themselves, but it shouldn’t have to come at the expense of non-bigoted people’s time, energy, and patience. Time, energy, and patience freely given IS beautiful; when they’re demanded, though, it merely serves to reinforce tired old notions of grateful subordinates.

    There’s tact, empathy, and understanding. And then there’s enabling.

    And I’m not saying it’s enabling to give Michelle Duggar a break from ad hominem attacks, but there are certainly instances in which it is helpful, as L.M. notes, “to be careful about how, when and with whom [women] use these wonderful qualities,” even amongst ourselves.

    Posted by justicewalks | September 12, 2007, 4:19 pm
  90. Yeah, justicewalks, I don’t disagree with you. I don’t think we have to give women any time to … do anything! Without addressing what they are doing that is harmful to women.

    What I am saying is *address* what they are doing that is harmful to women. Critique it up one side and down the other, as I have done with my blog posts and ongoing critique of the patriarchy/quiverfull movement. Blast the beliefs that they are spewing into the earth. Just don’t represent women (if you’re a feminist and are critiquing their views) as hogs and pigs, make posters like the one at the top, humiliate them because of their hairstyles, talk about their vaginas in disparaging terms, reduce them to their vaginas, call their children — including their girl children — “clowns,” and particularly if you’re going to let their husbands walk.

    I’m not saying it’s a bad thing to be rude, outspoken, any of that. In my comment Kali was responding to, I was talking about the way a certain kind of feminist will distance herself from traditionally feminine women, not so much because of what those women actually believe, not via critiques of the damage they are doing via their beliefs and behaviors, but in this, “Eww, she has cooties sort of way.”

    I have stated and restated, but can say it again: CRITIQUE WHAT THE DUGGARS BELIEVE AND DO AND ADVOCATE FOR. Not to yell. :) Absolutely.

    This post has been about the sexist, misogynist hatred doled out to Michelle Duggar, including by some feminists.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | September 12, 2007, 4:33 pm
  91. And to be doubly sure I’m being very clear, I don’t think we should pull a single punch in critiqueing the Duggars’ BELIEFS, actions, lifestyle, what she is advocating for, including Michelle Duggar’s. I think we should rant, rave, debate, document, cite, rage, confront, challenge, every inch of the fundamentalist beliefs and practices they are espousing.

    I think we can do ALL of that, and *should*, and I have, and do, do it all the time, without targeting Michelle Duggar in ways that are sexist, misogynist — and as some have said and I think her arguments are persuasive, talking about funnie now — classist and racist.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | September 12, 2007, 4:37 pm
  92. I know what you were saying, Heart, no confusion. I just didn’t want what you were saying about ad hominem attacks against Michelle Duggar to be extrapolated to justified attacks against active misogynists, racists, classists, and elitists. Including active racists, etc. who consider themselves feminists.

    I think what you’re saying about Michelle Duggar and fundamentalist women in general could be broadened to a generic prohibition on ad hominem attacks, period, and, yes, more eagerness to direct even justified attacks at men, rather than women.

    Posted by justicewalks | September 12, 2007, 4:46 pm
  93. If I hadn’t went to college, I would be dead by now from suicide.

    Posted by E. K. "Kitty" Glendower | September 12, 2007, 4:51 pm
  94. >10 years in the higher ed community, and I’ve never personally known someone w/ a PhD in either women’s or gender studies well enough to become embittered by or entranced with him/her, so I can’t really speak to that. Maybe they all live where you do!

    I absolutely agree that one may become educated without college, or any formal schooling. The paper is important for many people, though; I assume there’s a reason you completed a degree that taught you nothing. So although in an ideal world education would be very different, in this one college is critical to many opportunities.

    Posted by funnie | September 12, 2007, 4:54 pm
  95. ***I think we can do ALL of that, and *should*, and I have, and do, do it all the time, without targeting Michelle Duggar in ways that are sexist, misogynist — and as some have said and I think her arguments are persuasive, talking about funnie now — classist and racist.***

    I agree wholeheartedly with this. Personally, it even bothers me when people attack Ann Coulter in sexist, misogynist ways.

    Posted by Branjor | September 12, 2007, 5:01 pm
  96. Oh, good, justicewalks. :)

    One reason college becomes important for girls in the Duggar girls’ situation is, everybody they know, all the adults in their lives, are people in their fundamentalist community. When they become adults, if they attempt to go out on their own, get jobs, etc., if the adults in their lives don’t approve of the kind of job they want to get, they won’t provide references, won’t help them to get that job. (The same is true, for that matter, of colleges. They might be able to get references (very important) to go to conservative Christian colleges, but the adults in their lives often won’t provide references to secular or liberal Christian colleges because they disapprove of those colleges for girls.)

    So if the girls want any sort of life for themselves, they have to create their *own*, by their own hands, often by doing things like getting admitted to a conservative/Christian college, then transferring to another school assuming there are at least *some* professionals in the Christian college or other adults they’ve encountered who will provide references for them.

    These girls grow up believing they are first under the authority of their fathers and then under the authority of husbands. If they don’t marry, they stay under the authority of their fathers. If their fathers die, they are then under the authority of their pastors/elders. They can’t do anything without the approval of their “covering.” They are homeschooled with the idea that they will be homemakers, wives and mothers and that is the focus of their education, although in general, they learn math, science, and everything else as well, but that is not the focus of what they are taught.

    So if you are a daughter in a home like this and you want out, your only real hope is going to be to get into Christian college, then transfer, or leave home, get some kind of job, save your money, and try to support yourself and get into community college or something like that *without* your family’s support, as we all know, very difficult, and especially if your family is affluent or middle class (as the Duggars certainly are) and so you are ineligible for any grants, student loans, etc. The only “support” these girls might get is prayers for their soul and that they will “repent.”

    For girls like this, college provides the kinds of connections they have been forbidden throughout their lives, offers them opportunities they can’t get otherwise.

    This is definitely not so true for girls outside this world. I think they can learn everything they ever need to know on their own, in all sorts of ways, although it will be more difficult to get well-paying jobs because our culture looks for the paper, the letters after the name.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | September 12, 2007, 5:41 pm
  97. So if you are a daughter in a home like this and you want out, your only real hope is going to be to get into Christian college, then transfer, or leave home, get some kind of job, save your money, and try to support yourself and get into community college or something like that *without* your family’s support, as we all know, very difficult

    And even getting a job after leaving home is hard for these girls. Say they decide they don’t want the quiverfull life for themselves. First of all, everybody will shun them, including their friends, good bye references. They have been homeschooled, so they don’t have a diploma or references from teachers. If they are lucky, they might be able to get a job as a nanny or something like that, and then they can save their money and will have their employers as a reference. Any girl who wants a different life in this world has a very hard row to hoe.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | September 12, 2007, 5:46 pm
  98. “I assume there’s a reason you completed a degree that taught you nothing.”

    Yes. Because we live in a patriarchal system run for and by men that in effect, only recognizes men’s way and giving accolades to women who follow that way. Like all women I have been taught by our patriarchal system that what I know and how I learned it has no value to the real world.

    And if you doubt that still exists, then why can we, some of us, still calling ourselves feminists, descend into flaying Michelle Duggar.

    Posted by Sis | September 12, 2007, 6:00 pm
  99. Yeah, I do mostly agree with you, Sis. It’s just that my own experience with my value being restricted to one very specific venue (fundieland as described by Heart, accurate right down to the inability to be recommended to “system-unapproved” educational institutions) makes me reluctant to offer another venue-specific world of contacts/education/information (women’s space) as a solution. Even though I find it night/day in terms of freedom, it’s only freedom within that one specific system.

    When women’s networks have power in the rest of the world, I’m in favor of offering that as a suitable strategy. With the exception of some hybrids (accredited women’s colleges, for example), it’s not. It’s a retreat but not a workable life-wide system in my opinion. And until such time as women’s space is fully developed, I think giving girls the ability to cope *with* patriarchy, recognizing that we’re immersed in it, is valuable. And unfortunately, the only way to cope with patriarchy is to have at least some power of its system at our disposal (formal education, money, mentors, etc.). So, bottom line, we have to be able to participate before we can choose not to. Some of us are already there and ready to choose, but those who have only experienced insularity need the opportunity to have broader horizons.

    Posted by funnie | September 12, 2007, 7:44 pm
  100. Those young women (or others like them–you?) have everything they need to survive. They could be dropped in the wilderness and survive and feed, clothe and entertain everyone around them. They can likely grow or raise everything they or anyone would need to eat or barter. They don’t need a rubber stamp from the patriarchy to do it. They already have been raised to shut out most of consumerism, and if not that what else do you need a lot of money for?

    But we’re veering far off topic so I’ll just leave that there.

    Posted by Sis | September 12, 2007, 10:19 pm
  101. Money? I don’t know. Health care? Retirement? Independence? Options, career and otherwise? Certainly one purchases things like drugs and insurance and a plane ticket to a job interview, but boiling that down to “consumerism” and suggesting that girls already living on the margins are actually WELL situated to just drop out of modern life…well, it is veering, I guess. Because I don’t get what it is you’re advocating or why. If they want to swim upstream, I’m not stopping them! I think they need to be told it’s navigable, though, since that’s the one message they’re NOT hearing at home (they are, in contrast, being told how noble it is to struggle against the current for the rest of their lives in a way that leaves them entirely worn OUT, impoverished, and therefore *dependent*.)

    Posted by funnie | September 13, 2007, 12:46 am
  102. Heart, your post doesn’t sound to me all that different from overly-relativistic “choice feminism,” which I know you don’t espouse. Some women, no doubt, love having 16 children in the context of a patriarchal family. Some women also no doubt love stripping and being prostituted. Does this really change anything as far as the feminist argument goes? The point of feminism is to say that a) these women are exceptions, and b) these women are often abusing themselves.

    I believe in making judgments. In fact, life is impossible without making judgments. And in my judgment Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar are royally screwing over their children with their ideologies and their practices, particularly the lack of education (and GIVE ME A BREAK with the “you don’t need to go to college” bit–that may be true, IF you have access to books and writings on your own, but the Duggars’ daughters do not have such access. They are not “unschooled,” they are indoctrinated).

    I agree with ginmar that Jim Bob gets at least 75% of the blame here, but I don’t think Michelle is completely off the hook either. And yes, I absolutely would criticize the Muslim, Hindu and Rastafarian women who have 16 children because of their patriarchal ideologies–though those are fairly uncommon. But I’d save the bulk of my criticism for their men. Maybe that was your point? (I don’t have the time to read every single comment right now so maybe you clarified your post a little).

    Posted by Leia | September 13, 2007, 2:14 am
  103. And now, finding that I do have the time to read your earlier comments, I see that you did address my questions in them. Okay–so you want us to criticize the Duggars but without personal, nasty, misogynistic attacks and without forgetting who holds the real power in this relationship (i.e. Jim Bob). Fair enough.

    Posted by Leia | September 13, 2007, 2:18 am
  104. This is irrelevant to the discussion, but did anyone notice there are only 16 children (including the baby) in the picture of the Duggar family? One of the kids is missing.

    Posted by Branjor | September 13, 2007, 3:14 am
  105. Thanks for making me think. I try to be a decent person in general :-) Being female, I am certainly NOT anti-female. Misogynist? No, not me!

    I have reflected further on my original post that you linked and have removed some content. Upon further consideration it fell short of humor and I can see how it could be hurtful. Shame on me.

    To answer your original question, people who seek the spotlight (and this includes Jim Bob and Michelle) tend to be the lightening rod for attention. Good, bad, or ugly. If you have a TV show and run for political office, people WILL notice you. 17 is a lot of kids. I hope everyone’s needs are being met.

    I apologize to those whom I’ve offended. Humor was the intention (if not the result) in my original post on my blog. I am sorry it fell short and I wish the Duggars well. I stand by my statement that I’m grateful — 17 would be too many for me. Best of luck to all of the Duggars.

    Posted by Grim Reality Girl | September 13, 2007, 3:16 am
  106. The more I see of women who have PhDs in women’s studies, now almost non-existent and replaced by something called gender studies and headed by either men, MRAs or transwomen, the more I am embittered by higher education ie) college.

    On a tangent, a good friend and I were both Women’s Studies majors in college – not Gender Studies, but Women’s Studies. People have “corrected” us. They tell us that that’s not what we majored in, that the correct term is “Gender Studies”. It’s such a pompous and unbelievably ignorant response that it floors me.

    Posted by gingermiss | September 13, 2007, 3:18 am
  107. I noticed that too Banjor, but assumed this is a picture of the 16th birth instead of the most recent birth.

    Posted by E. K. "Kitty" Glendower | September 13, 2007, 4:11 am
  108. Perhaps one of the children has grown up and out of the house by now? They seem like the type to marry them off young.

    Posted by justicewalks | September 13, 2007, 9:39 am
  109. Thanks Heart, for bringing up the very limited choices girls have in these situations. I grew up in a quiverfull family (although my parents “only” had 8 kids, a relatively small number) and the options for girls who do not marry young are very grim. Since girls are taught that their sole purpose in life is to marry and raise kids, having a career is never given as even an idea to contemplate – the question “What do you want to do when you grow up?” is just never asked, and that limiting mindset can be crippling later on when contemplating escaping from the lifestyle

    I think that fear in general plays a huge part in keeping women in the quiverfull lifestyle – it took me years to move out of my parents home, because I was so scared that god would cause something awful to happen to me since I would be living out from under my fathers authority – it’s bizarre to think about now, but the authority structures are so ingrained that the idea of going against them can be paralyzing. That, and the combination of the shunning that Heart mentioned from friends and family if they ever were to leave, the loss of any sort of support network that these women have is often enough to keep them “in their place”.

    I was lucky in that my parents let me get a job in my teens (very rare in that world), and that has led me into a career that allows me to support myself. But I still know many women in their 30’s and 40’s who still live at home under the “protection” of their fathers and church elders, virtual slaves to other quiverfull familes because as single women with no families of their own, they are expected to serve those who do – provide free childcare, assist with meals and housework, etc.

    It’s impossible for me to get upset with Michele Duggar, because I know so many women like her, including my own mother – these are women who helped raise me, women who taught me how to sew and make bread, and compost and use herbs medicinally, women who were there for my mom during her pregnancies and labors. I know that most of these women made the choice to lead a fullquiver lifestyle – or “cut a deal” as Heart says, and so no, I don’t really feel sorry for them. But I do look at those girls in that picture and my heart breaks open, because that was my 10 years ago in my little homemade jumper gazing at yet another sibling my mom was holding and wondering how the hell I was going to manage the extra work of yet another baby. I know that the road to freedom is a long hard one for those girls, and the thought of them being faced with censure from other feminists or judged as brainwashed and stupid – now that makes me upset!

    Well, this is the first time I’ve posted here at any length (I’ve been a long-time lurker) but I want to thank all of you for making this blog such a wonderful space for women – I’ve learned so much reading here, and thanks for letting me voice my thoughts as well!

    Posted by Ruthann | September 13, 2007, 2:36 pm
  110. GREAT comment, Ruthann, thanks for weighing in– I had hoped you might!

    This is really a great point that hasn’t been made so far at all:

    it took me years to move out of my parents home, because I was so scared that god would cause something awful to happen to me since I would be living out from under my fathers authority

    YES. The operational term for women and children in the quiverfull world is FEAR. Those in this world will not admit to it. They will smile at you and say, “Perfect love casts out fear, for fear has torment,” and similar Bible verses, as though that addresses the issue. But children in that world grow up believing in a God that will punish them for their wrongdoing and sin: “Be sure your sin will find you out!” They grow up believing in an omniscient, omnipotent, male deity who is everywhere present, who watches and sees everything they do and whose nature it is to exact judgment on the disobedient. To leave that world is to be aware of yourself as in imminent danger– not only your soul, but your very life. Folks in that world tell all sorts of stories about people they know who went astray and fall into sin and leave the faith and have all of these tragedies happen to them — they get sick, they die, they get in horrible accidents. But just in case none of that should ever happen to them by the “mercy” of this harsh and violent God, they invoke other scriptures as warnings, i.e., “God gave them the desires of their heart, but sent LEANNESS into their souls.” I.e., it might look like somebody got away with leaving the faith/sinning/disobedience, but be comforted, they aren’t ENJOYING themselves!

    For myself, my hands literally shook and my heart almost beat audibly the first time, after my excommunication, that I picked up a feminist book. Even though I knew, underneath it all that I was going to be just fine, it cannot be underestimated the way these warnings become part of you when you’re in that world. You hear them ALL of the time– from the pulpit, on the radio, in your reading materials, in the Bible, in your devotions, in prayers, in daily study, in your homeschooling materials, these ideas and words are as natural to you as breathing.

    Of course when the difficulties of life befall those who have left that world, just the regular crap that happens, that we all have to deal with, it’s not just life, and regular crap to them. It’s a Sign. It’s God. Dealing with them. And they are aware that all the people who have shunned them are watching and waiting for the axe to fall so that they can have this reassurance that they are right and women don’t just walk away, don’t break ranks, don’t “sin,” without God making sure they are visibly punished for it.

    It’s sick and dark and has nothing to do with spirituality or with anything noble, good or beautiful. It is all about, all about, all about, male power and control, of women, of the bodies of women, and of children too.

    So true, Ruthann, about adult women basically enslaved as servants to other large families. Also so true the ironies, the beautiful worlds fundie women create inside this insidiously horrible world– the organic gardening, the composting, the herbal medicines, grinding the wheat for the day’s whole wheat bread, all of the lovely things. Wherever women are in community, they create beautiful and often revolutionary subcultures, under the noses of their oppressors.

    {{}}

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | September 13, 2007, 3:50 pm
  111. Heart and all, this is a fascinating thread. I really resonate to what you are describing when you use the terminology of cutting deals.

    I just want to say that so many women are pointed at and called feminists by their detractors simply because they may espouse some “liberal” beliefs. It’s gotten to the point where the term feminism brings to mind patriarchal images of hairy, angry hags more often than the idealism that the movement initiated “That women have the basic human right to make their own choices”

    Those choices include having multiple children, or none. Belonging to a church, temple, coven, AA or not.

    The other thing that I wanted to mention is the classism that seems to underlie some of the projected reasoning as to why this woman is up for ridicule where others who’ve made similar choices are not – judging a person by their socio economic or racial background is as insidious as judging them for their genitalia.

    Both systems described use stereotypes: one to undermine the message of feminism, the other to maintain strict social boundaries = Divide and conquer the Patriarchal way, or at least thats the way it seems to me.

    Thanks
    Hazel.

    Posted by Hazel | September 13, 2007, 4:33 pm
  112. PS thank you for introducing me to Kay Stoner via your side bar. :)

    Posted by Hazel | September 13, 2007, 4:35 pm
  113. Heart, I know I’ve mentioned to you in an email before about the way that I am often saddenned to see this sort of disparagement of quiverfull women on some feminist blogs– written by women that I otherwise like and respect. The trend of framing pictures of the Duggar family with the “VAGINA/clown car” thing was foremost in my mind. These women live in an environment that constantly tries to define them in relation to their reproductive function: as feminists, the very LEAST we can do is to NOT define these women in that way when we consider their lives– we can recognise them as full people even if their whole social and familial network does its best not to.

    Over a year ago now, some of the blogs that I read went on, what I can only call a mocking spree of a few quiverfull women– linking to posts where they talked about submitting to their husbands and the like. It made me deeply uneasy: of course the whole wifely submission thing is abhorrent to me, but I didn’t like how personal these attacks were. As a result of this, I started reading the blogs of a number of quiverfull women. A lot of the time, I find myself cringing when I hear about how they’re getting their daughters to listen to Doug Philips CDs about obeying your father, etc, or when they make homophobic comments. However, in amongst that, I found women that I like– women with whom I could imagine having a laugh and a drink, women who create activities for their kids (including the girls) that sound like amazing fun, and sometimes, I have a funny feeling that I am seeing myself, if I had been brought up by conservative Christians, rather than liberal demi-hippie agnostics.

    There are also some great moments. One stands out to me in particular. Many of the women with more popular quiverfull blogs will be asked advice: one of these women was approached by a woman whose husband wanted her to display her wifely submission to him by allowing him to hit her as part of sexual play. You should have seen how the blogger (who is a survivor of childhood abuse herself) went off! She was MAD– she posted a huge rant about how men didn’t have the right to rape and beat their wives, about how disgusted she was. I was cheering. Unfortunately, a few hours later she had deleted that post, and replaced it with a request for the woman to contact her by email: I just hope that she’d removed the post at the request of the woman asking the question, rather than removing it because her husband ordered her to. Either way though, it was great to see it at all.

    I’ve really enjoyed reading this discussion.

    Posted by Beppie | September 14, 2007, 7:15 am
  114. “It’s gotten to the point where the term feminism brings to mind patriarchal images of hairy, angry hags more often than the idealism that the movement initiated”

    What’s wrong with being a hairy, angry hag? I am not going to give up my feminism just because someone thinks (rightly or wrongly) that I am a hairy, angry hag. That patriarchal image has power because too many women care more about being sexually pleasing to men than about getting equality and justice for themselves and their sisters.

    Posted by Kali | September 14, 2007, 5:17 pm
  115. “I just hope that she’d removed the post at the request of the woman asking the question, rather than removing it because her husband ordered her to. ”

    Did she remove just her answer, or the question too? If she removed only the answer, then I suspect her husband must have ordered her to. That’s horrible.

    Posted by Kali | September 14, 2007, 5:20 pm
  116. Yeah, gotta have some angry hairy hags in feminism for sure! All the Goddess’s women have a place in the choir. :)

    Thanks for your kind words, Hazel!

    Beppie, great comment, and yes, the quiverfull women are often, maybe usually, very smart, very resourceful, creative and strong. So much so that their husbands spend a fair amount of energy shutting them up if they are too outspoken, which I’m sure is what happened in the instance you describe. Even husbands who might not shut their wives up on their own will shut them up in this world, because all of the “brothers” will “come alongside” and tell them to rein in their wives. In uberspiritual terminology, of course.

    Which is one reason this movement is so destructive.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | September 14, 2007, 6:27 pm
  117. re: leaving the fundamentalist world. You’ve brought up some great points, ruthann and Heart. But it’s also likely that any young woman wishing to get out *also* knows from experience how the ‘left behind’ families react, and how they feel.

    It’s a great hindrance to even entertaining the thought of walking out of the life – going to college, missing a scheduled prayer, claiming your own time ahead of your duties – when you’ve seen family after family enduring grief for a child who might as well be dead, and who they hope, pray and work towards them coming ‘home’. Community members who might not ever have met the individuals know about them, because their family members talk about them – often discussing their ‘misdeeds’ or where they, themselves, went wrong in bringing up that child.

    I care for myself enough not to want to be in the spotlight with my childhood and behaviour analysed in my absence, among all my former acquaintances. And I care for my mother enough not to put her in the state of shock and grief that I’ve seen so many parents never get over. And not to increase the self-blaming that already consumes her.

    College – yeah, college can be a great thing. We have to deal with the patriarchy set-up now, and achieving the pieces of paper that patriarchy applauds – well, I wouldn’t be running my own business now without them. College did two things for me – and this is in part because I was going into a career that had already rejected me for being female. It gave me a glimpse of life ‘outside'; of different views. And it gave me an advantage that was able to put me on a nearly equal footing with the males when it came to getting employment.
    I had to fight and argue to be allowed to go to a ‘normal’ college, and in the end I didn’t tell my parents about the application until it was a done deed.
    It’s a ‘knife without a handle’ in some ways, college.

    Posted by sophie | September 14, 2007, 6:46 pm
  118. Kali, she had removed both question and answer, and she never said why. It’s even possible that she’s internalised her husband’s voice at this point, to the extent that she removed it without being told to– although of course, I’m not denying the huge possibility that she was directly ordered to take it down and respond by email.

    It strikes me, reading all the comments about how hard it is for girls to break free of this life, that this is another VERY important reasons that we feminists must be respectful and considerate of quiverfull women, even as we criticise the movement: it’s not inconceivable, particularly when feminist blogs link to quiverfull ones (as I have seen happen), that the older daughters of the women writing these blogs could check the trackback. Instead of seeing feminism as a movement that would welcome them, they’d see it as a movement that makes fun of them, and reduces them to their sexual/childbearing function. So when/if these girls and women do feel that they need a way out, they could well feel like that particular option is closed off to them.

    Heart, if you felt like it, I’d love to hear some more about that first time you picked up a feminist book someday. Only if you want to share, of course, but it sounds like a lovely story.

    Posted by Beppie | September 14, 2007, 10:45 pm
  119. I have taken a moment this morning to read through most of the 118 comments on this topic. I too saw the television show which highlighted this family.

    I have to say I was a bit disheartened for the children.

    I personnally know of one family who had 20 children. The mother had one child every year for 20 years. Again, this was a Catholic family. As the children aged, they began to play surrogate mother to the other children who were born. You had children raising children. In the years that followed, this family has seen its share of dysfunction (depression, alcoholism, suicide, etc) and I believe it is a direct result of being in such a large family environment.

    I have always questioned the notion of large families and whether or not there was enough parental love and guidance to go around? The family that I know clearly had a large family “bond” but each child lacked the individual attention needed to grow into responsible and mentally healthy adults.

    As a result, I do not believe that procreation on the basis of your religious values and forsaking man-made or natural birth control is realistic or rational behavior. As in the case of the family I know, they were strong Catholics yet the husband and the wife even ignored abstinence – something that the Catholic faith preaches as the primary method of BC!

    Great blog – I am adding it to my favorites!

    Posted by RitaV | September 16, 2007, 3:04 pm
  120. Hi Heart –
    I realize I am posting on this a little after the fact, but I ran across all of this just today. I checked out all the links above and the comments and I just felt the need to support you.

    You have frequently mentioned, here and in other comments, how some women simply love to be pregnant and truly enjoy the whole pregnancy/delivery/child-raising experience. You then follow this with a statement that you were one of these women, but you realize not all women are like this.

    I want to yell, “I am one of these women!!” ;)

    I love being pregnant, love the empowerment of giving birth, and truly enjoy my children. When I am pregnant I have so much more energy and feel great almost all the time. I have four children and would love to have more, but my husband is a realist and he knows our financial situation would not support any more. Bummer for me!

    I just wanted to support you in saying that there are some women who love everything about bearing and raising children. It does not make me un-educated, (I have a BA), a religious fundamentalist (liberal Lutheran here), or an oppressed female in a patriarchal marriage, (happily married and making my own choices). I simply love being a mother and I love having my children around me.

    I just wanted you to know you are not alone! ;)

    Posted by Jules | September 17, 2007, 5:25 am
  121. What’s wrong with being a hairy, angry hag? I am not going to give up my feminism just because someone thinks (rightly or wrongly) that I am a hairy, angry hag.

    Nothing is wrong with being hairy or haggy. Before a women gets to hag aren’t their a few other revolutions she must experience? Nymph and Maid for example?

    I’m personally tired of having my appearance dragged into the conversation whenever my comments verge toward whatever it is that seems to intimidate the anti-feminists out there.

    It really is starting to piss me off. I don’t understand why feminism isn’t seen as both powerful and sexy or why women are separated into categories of one or the other. Or how choosing to shave or not to shave has transcended personal choice and become a badge of membership.

    Does a woman have to be of a certain size shape age or appearance to be considered a “feminist” or “not”?

    Posted by Hazel | September 17, 2007, 8:46 am
  122. PS can anyone explain what quiverfull women means?
    Thank you.

    Posted by Hazel | September 17, 2007, 8:58 am
  123. Things we don’t understand:

    Leg plaits: Those who oppose feminism have nothing logical to counter us with so they have to paint us as ugly, cannot get a man, therefore we become bitter feminists spending our lonely evenings plaiting our leg hair and wishing we too were empowered enough to get breast implants.

    Empowered: I don’t understand why I’ve had to axe that word numerous times out of a thesis I’m editing. Why don’t the people who use it parse it? It means “to give power”.

    Quiverful: Lots of posts here on quiverfull if you use the search bar up top Hazel.

    Posted by Sis | September 17, 2007, 3:22 pm
  124. Hey, Hazel, “quiverfull” is a reference to a verse in the Christian Bible which says, “Children are a blessing from the Lord; blessed is the man who has his quiver full of them.” A movement has been created based on this verse. The idea is that if children are a blessing, why wouldn’t people want as many “blessings” as “God” gave to them? People don’t reject such blessings as health or wealth, for example. Then, the arrow imagery has to do with “godly men” “shooting” their “arrows” (children) into all of the various spheres of influence: government, business, science, medicine, etc., something the patriarchy movement takes very seriously.

    RitaV, I do think that children in large quiverfull families sometimes do “fall through the cracks,” so far as the attention and love of parents go. Even where the parents really try, and even where there aren’t difficult personality conflicts between a parent and a child (which usually, in a big family, there are; there will be at least one or two kids who are a problem, chemistry-wise, personality wise, to one or both parents), there is just so, so much work in these families that the women and older daughters, especially, are like machines. They have to be– just to get all of the physical work done, meals cooked, clothes laundered, diapers changed, immediate spats, conflicts, and owies attended to, shopping, homeschooling, gardening… it goes on and on. On the up side, where parents are reasonably emotionally healthy, large families do bond and are like their own little community, including after they’ve all grown up. So though each child does not get a lot of individual parental attention, all of the children have the support of many different siblings, older and younger, as well as parents. In really large families — say, more than six children — usually there are small “families within families,” sort of, certain children click with certain children. You don’t have the kind of thing you have in smaller families at times where there are two or three kids and they all fight! Because in a huge family you can avoid, to a degree, the kids you fight with and choose the kids you have better chemistry with. Children don’t expect the undivided attention of their parents — nobody gets that! (except possibly newborns and nursing infants/toddlers, when they are nursing, and even then, usually mom is multi-tasking; I’ve breastfed children while pushing a shopping cart, driving a car (yep), washing dishes, cooking, homeschooling, reading, talking on the phone, sleeping, gardening, you name it) — and they learn early to care for one another. There are some really beautiful things about large families, or there can be, where again, parents are emotionally healthy.

    sophie, really good point about the way children are picked apart after they’ve departed from the “truth” and how hurtful that is. In quiverfull families, when a child leaves the fold, others view this as a failure on the part of parents and will also scrutinize the parents. Usually fathers will be blamed for not exercising “authority” properly and mothers will be blamed for not being in submission to fathers, church or God.

    Hey Jules. :) In my utopia earth mothers like you and I could do whatever, bear children, as many as we wanted, with or without husbands, in or out of relationships. :)

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | September 17, 2007, 7:04 pm
  125. Beppie, I’ll write about that moment where I picked up that book one of these days. :)

    I’m thinking of starting a new blog, just for former Quiverfull moms and kids and people who are interested in our journey, like you. :)

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | September 17, 2007, 7:44 pm
  126. LOL Sis, leg plaits! Thanks!
    And thank you Heart for the explanation of quiverfull. I believe I would qualify as a 3rd generation quiverfull child. In fact I’ve been tracing my maternal family dysfunction (and legacy of suppressed rage) right back to that particular time in our family history. I’m definitely going to search the term within your blog to learn more.

    Posted by Hazel | September 17, 2007, 8:29 pm
  127. “Does a woman have to be of a certain size shape age or appearance to be considered a “feminist” or “not”?”

    My point is that until women continue to care about being a certain size, shape, age, appearance, the antifeminists will continue to use these factors against us. If someone says “you are fat and ugly”, you can say “OK. Now, getting back to what I was saying …” or you can say “I am not fat and ugly!!! Why can’t I be both feminist and sexy?!!!” Until you are choosing the latter, the antifeminist trick will work.

    Posted by Kali | September 18, 2007, 5:42 pm
  128. Hi Kali, I hear you. I have chosen the latter and hope other women will join me in that choice.

    What bothers me is an apparent assumption (on the parts of many commentators across many platforms not specifically here in this thread) that there are two camps of women: the beauties and the beasts.

    That beauties all hold certain mindsets, and beasts hold certain mindsets.

    I feel strongly that we, as women are both. We can choose to be either both or neither.

    We can pick and choose from either camp what we want or don’t want.

    Why do we have to set up ideals to judge other women by?
    What about celebrating the beauty inherent in variety? I think ideals are dangerous, but variety? Variety is the spice of life.

    I think this might be part of why I find this Duggar controversy so compelling, among other things; the comments about her appearance and the appearance of her kids.

    Disparaging an individual or group for fitting a certain physical appeal is as appalling to me personally as disparaging someone for not fitting such a mold.

    Stepping off my soap box now,
    thanks for listening.

    Posted by Hazel | September 18, 2007, 6:38 pm
  129. I have chosen the latter and hope other women will join me in that choice.

    I think Kali meant “[AS LONG AS] you are choosing the latter, the antifeminist trick will work.” At least, that’s how I read it, but then, in some languages the word for “until” and “so long as” are the same.

    In other words, the second option (hey! I’m not fat and ugly!) is not the feminist option.

    Choosing to claim both sexiness and feminism is a conflict of interests. Feminism requires that sexiness (and, concurrently, haghood, too-hairy-for-a-woman-ness, and fatty-fat-fat-ness) be eliminated from our psyches as a legitimate classification.

    Posted by justicewalks | September 18, 2007, 7:30 pm
  130. I had 8 children, while being in a fundamentalist church. I also home educated them. The father of all of them left us. I continued alone.
    People left me left and right. My church abandoned me when he left, choosing to believe his unfounded accusations of adultery. My family disrespected me for my choices from day 1. I find myself making excuses for my fertility to feminists. Men have en mass decided I am unfuckable and unlovable.

    But I love every one of my children. And I am glad they are in my life. The only thing I would change, is who I mistakenly chose to be their father.

    Posted by sun rat | September 18, 2007, 11:07 pm
  131. I aspire to be a hairy, angry hag one day. ;)

    Posted by CoolAunt | September 19, 2007, 3:00 am
  132. A little late to the discussion, but just some food for thought:
    People have said that the Duggars are putting themselves out into the public eye and therefore should be expecting all this nastiness, but whether they expect it or not, does that make it somehow ok for you to slander them? (hypothetical “you,” here)

    Heart has this blog up and out in the open for everyone to read and comment on and I’m sure she expects there to be lots of hateful attacks upon here, like the recent forums hijacking . . . do her controversial words give those mysogynists the right to have done what they did?

    Anyway, Heart, I totally agree with you on the criticizing of Michelle Duggar. When criticizing, the things that should be said are “I don’t agree with you” instead of “You suck/you’re a pig” and other pointless nasties.

    Also, the whole concept of children as being “quivers full of arrows” just creeps me out to no end. Arrows are weapons and no matter how eloquently they phrase it, it’s still a metaphor of violence.

    Posted by Chloe | September 19, 2007, 3:57 am
  133. Oh.

    Heart, you can see how far behind I am in my reading and I can’t keep up with posting responses, but I couldn’t let this go by.

    Incidentally, I loved those pictures of the families you posted. Those women and their kids lifted me after seeing the mockery of Michelle Duggar. Sure, I know that world she inhabits, all too well. Sometimes I wish I didn’t but that’s like saying I wish I didn’t know what it was like to try being a woman technician in rock and roll in the 1970s. Come to think of it – there were way too many similarities. And, truth be told, both of those phases of my live helped make me what I am today. Cut those off, I’m cutting off part of myself. I’m something different now, but those experiences helped make me. And they sure give me a few stories to tell my students.

    I guess you and I and others we know, we are statistical improbabilities. I shouldn’t be a mother of this many and have an advanced degree that entitles me to work in a very underpaid field and to teach college (my bread and butter job). I should be too stoopid. Oh look, my vagina’s a clown car. I’m (or used to be) just like Michelle. I don’t regret leaving fundie Christianity – I was only in it for the meager fellowship it offered me and a way to get by in the weird-ass place I lived at the time. Here’s what else I don’t regret – having those kids. Not a one, Not at all.

    I’m tired of feminists, environmentalists, and any other -ists blasting me when they find out I procreated largely. I’m tired of hearing I can’t be part of their clubs anymore when the cat’s out of the bag. I’ve gotten more cantankerous over the years. I put it right out front. If I feel like talking about my own “whys” I do. If I want them to fuck off and leave me alone, I find a way to let them know that. I’m over 50. I’m tired of people wanting me to defend myself for procreating.

    In general I’m a bit more gentle with my students. Many of them are just starting out, they deserve to be around a calmer me.

    Posted by archaeomom8 | September 21, 2007, 8:00 am
  134. Hear hear, archaeomom8, and I miss you! I hope you are well. I am going to e-mail you. :)

    And go you, re “cantankerous.” We do get that way as achieve cronedom, huh?

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | September 21, 2007, 11:33 am
  135. This was the best explanation of fundamentalism I’ve come across in a long time.

    I think we have created a world where different women have simply found different places. I chose a lesbian feminist world, because I wasn’t interested in children. Fundamentalist women have chosen worlds where children are welcomed.

    Sometimes, I think it might even all come down to personal interests.

    Where the oppression comes in, is that we simply don’t honor honest choices or even fully inform young girls about how many choices they do have. Patriarchy hides this from girls!

    As a lesbian feminist, I simply invented my life based on herstorical research. I found the women of the past who lived up to my ideals of an intellectual life. So I found Virginia Woolf and I found Jane Rule and other lesbians who had these high literary ideals.

    I knew from childhood that more “traditional” roles for women were simply not interesting to me at all. It was my personal quest for things I was excited and engaged about. I never ever liked the world mainstream society foisted on me as a girl. I was physically very strong and coordinated, I loved knock down drag out debates and arguments, I was aggressive and musical. The world MADE me wear things I hated as a child, and the world gave me gifts I detested. So naturally, I began to see all families as inherently oppressive to what I most loved to do in life.

    Anyone who is in a subculture gets trashed in America — the supposed land of choices. I never ever heard gay or lesbian people have anything good to say about the Amish, Hindu families or any other “traditional” family. We hated them all equally — hetero, women destroying, lesbian and gay hating, we hated them right back. So we often make fun of traditional families, and throw metaphoric stones at them in retaliation for all the insults hurled at us since we were young. We develop often a culture of deep and abiding contempt for all that is heterosexual.

    I think it’s why we are often accused of being anti-family. I’m not even sure it’s anti- it’s just a desire for a life that has nothing to do with heterosexuality, and is a world that I feel very happy in that’s the issue.

    All of this is very strange to me. But then again, I bet my life would be very strange to Ms. Duggar. Most women in America would be totally baffled by what I consider the essentials of a very good life. They wouldn’t understand my ideology, they’d have no clue about my intellectual life, there is nothing at all.

    So I suspect that we all search for a community that really speaks most deeply to what we as women really want. It is just easier I think for heterosexual women to make these “traditional” choices, and there are loads of men waiting out there to find these women.

    Since feminism was very preoccupied with both birth control and the right to choose, I think this actually created a subconscious hatred of women who did choose to have a lot of children. There was no place for this in a movement where women wanted freedom from all of that. Like the depression generation that created the idea of social security, I think the radical feminists created a world we’d be happy with.

    I know I really don’t like the world of heterosexuality — it is unwelcoming to me, it often bores and alienates me, and I just don’t like its customs or social structures. But give me a radical lesbian feminist knock down drag out debate, and I’m the happiest of people, or put me in a roomful of 50 highly literate lesbian feminists, and that is the best place on earth for me.

    The key of women, is to honestly search for that which is best for you, and we simply will have no comprehension of each other’s choices. I can live with that :-)

    Posted by Satsuma | December 7, 2007, 11:13 pm
  136. Satsuma,

    Women didn’t want “Freedom from all of that” they wanted basic rights to their own reproduction. Whether or not this “created” a “subconscious hatred” for women who “choose to have a lot of children” is not Feminism’s fault. It’s men’s.

    Posted by kiuku | December 8, 2007, 10:28 am
  137. Heart,

    I really think we need to not focus on Feminists and blaming Feminism here.

    Posted by kiuku | December 8, 2007, 10:32 am
  138. You know women can never be right. Feminist. Not feminist. Lots of children. No children. Women, even Feminists will “pick apart” other women -for men- but WE ALL KNOW WHERE THE BLAME GOES!!!!!!

    Posted by kiuku | December 8, 2007, 10:34 am
  139. The thing is, back in the early 70s and late 60s feminists said they did want to be free of child rearing and dead end jobs. They did say these things. I think we forget those early years too quickly. We can say we know what feminism means now, but back then, it was a much more radical time.

    Women were taking to the streets, they were breaking down the barriers to entry into professional schools, and they were choosing not to have children.

    Feminism today is a watered down memory of what was very radical back then. Even saying you didn’t want to marry a man was a shocking declaration once upon a time.

    Go back in time, read the manifestos, see what women once said about housework, for example.

    It doesn’t matter if the world thinks women can never be right. I am right in my own mind, and I don’t care what others think. I carved out a life that was workable radical feminism to me, and thanks to that movement, I really avoided a lot of mistakes women fall into. The biggest mistake is to ever care what the world thinks at all.

    Freedom is something that goes beyond the fragile fear of public opinion — it is a radical desire to live life by your own lights, and if you hate all that social convention stands for, or you truly hate a heteronormative world, you are free to both hate it and reject it, and create a world of your own making.

    Early on, most of the women I knew wanted “freedom from all that.” I know I was also horrified at the “heterosexual lifestyle” that I saw all around me. I did want freedom from all that!

    Posted by Satsuma | December 9, 2007, 1:21 am
  140. A friend of mine’s parents wanted her to go to college and get a degree and “do something” with her life. Her parents shelled out $100,000 grand for private university tuition. She had two abortions so she could finish her degree. She graduated with a 2.0, worked for 6 months, got married, had three kids and never worked outside the home again.

    She wanted to be a mom and her parents didn’t care about what she wanted.

    Things haven’t changed because other people are still telling women what they should want to be instead of respecting women’s choices.

    Posted by sg | February 23, 2008, 10:51 pm
  141. The thing is women were really brow beaten to marry and be mothers when I was a kid. There were NO career women at all in my neighborhood, and I only started to meet women politicians and attorneys and business owners when I was maybe a junior or senior in high school. They just didn’t exist in the world I grew up in, but I was very fascinated with politics and business and the big world. As a child women bored the living hell out of me. They didn’t even read newspapers that often when I was growing up. I call it the wasteland of heterosexual conformity writ so large that that was all that was out there for me to see.

    Then bam bam bam the feminist movement came to town. Suddenly these boring dull child bearing women woke up, and holy cow!

    I was bored to death as a child listening to women chatter on endlessly about “my husband” “my children” “my family” blah blah blah blah. I still hate this with a passion that is volcanic. I feel like screaming if I have to overhear these kinds of conversations even today! Scream — GET ME OUTTA HERE!!

    So just having great ambition as a child and as a high school girl WAS going against the grain. There were all these girls in high school that just couldn’t stand it when I said I wanted a job, a career, world travel and NO husbands, NO children and NO housekeeping.

    You can imagine my joy when feminism came to town, and suddenly all these women were out there running for office and opening businesses and going to law school etc. etc.

    Yeah, there’ll always going to be women who don’t want to do those things. They can have the kids and the backyards and the children’s toys junking up the living room, and they can all talk to each other endlessly about all of this “fascinating home stuff,” but back in the day, those same women just made my life hell. They just thought I was weird for not wanting any of that stuff, didn’t get it, were too academically incompetant in high school to care, got married to high school boyfriend, moved to the suburbs, changed their last names to hubbie’s, and that was their life. Now they are Mrs. Joe Idiot, and Mrs. John Attorney, and Mrs. Tom Doctor, and they live in these little hetero-towns in the ticky tackey houses! NOOOO nooo nooo to that nightmare.

    Thank the goddess I escaped all that! Whew close call! Born just in the nick of time! Yuck- the cult of heterosexuality, double yuck and more yuck!

    Geez, women who have children worldwide are the norm. It’s been the norm forever, but an education, a career and life free of male control or interference, now that’s relatively new.

    You’ll always get social approval for the marriage, kids, hubbie game, but I can tell you that the lesbian feminist intelligentia is a new game on the block, and we’re going to say loud and clear, no woman should ever be bosses or bullied into motherhood and marriage to oppressors as the norm ever again! And that is my soap box rant for the day!! Hooray :-)

    Posted by Satsuma | February 24, 2008, 12:43 am
  142. P.S. And I don’t want my hard earned tax dollars supporting heterosexuality either! Go pay for your own schools and childcare — no on my dime!

    Posted by Satsuma | February 24, 2008, 12:44 am
  143. I realize this is an old thread, but just ran across it. I couldn’t agree more. I’m not a fundamentalist Christian, but I did CHOOSE to have six children. They are now 4-20. Adore them–although being pregnant and giving birth were not my favorite parts of life.

    The women ragging out the Duggars are really lame. And not very bright to be unable to discern the fallacies in their own posts.

    Posted by BookReadingMom | February 28, 2008, 2:14 am
  144. Michelle Duggar and husband set themselves up for this kind of negative response when they got their religious breeder lifestyle subsidized by various groups–including money/products from major corporations.

    Posted by sarah | March 3, 2008, 9:48 pm
  145. I am a mother of 4 and have been back in the workforce steadily since 1999. I currently have no choice and to me this is true slavery. I would give anything to be home having more children and teaching them at home and giving them the benefit of my faith and beliefs-teaching them the true meaning of being a family. I applaud the Duggars and their family values.

    Posted by Mom of 4 | May 9, 2008, 3:06 pm
  146. I have no problem with it except she is having her children now raise children and I think that is wrong. Her children need to have their opportunity to grow, become adults, etc before having to basically raise a child.

    Posted by No Problem Except | May 9, 2008, 4:24 pm
  147. I don’t have an issue with the amount of children the family has but I don’t believe they are being responsible parents in that they are perfectly OK with having children at any age. There have been plenty of studies done that prove that the age of the parents have a bearing on the child’s health. For example, the older the parent the more likely the child will be born with Down Syndrome (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Trisomy21_graph.jpg). There must be a responsible end in sight, if not they will be having babies until her uterus gives out.

    Posted by ok then | May 9, 2008, 5:59 pm
  148. When will we relize that there is more to freedom and equality that being able to murder our babies in the womb

    Posted by Peppa McGinn | May 9, 2008, 8:29 pm
  149. Behold, children are a gift of the LORD, The fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth. How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them; they will not be ashamed when they speak with their enemies in the gate. – Psalm 127

    Posted by Peppa McGinn | May 9, 2008, 8:30 pm
  150. Evidently, Michelle Duggar has announced she is expecting her 18th child, which is why there is renewed activity on this thread.

    Sarah, I’m not concerned about Mr. Duggar, but I am concerned about Michelle Duggar. No woman, including Michelle Duggar, “sets herself up” to be abused by anyone, including you. Those in the blogosphere who are attacking and vilifying Michelle Duggar (mostly males) demonstrate no concern for her or for women in general.

    Mom of 4, I agree with you that for by far most women, work is not enjoyable and for many it is more like slavery, and especially when they have kids and want to be with their kids. If I could work from home again, I would, in a nanosecond.

    But, I don’t agree with the Duggars’ values or consider them good for women or children, boys or girls, there we’d part ways. The Duggars have male-centered values, patriarchal values, not family values, really.

    In large families, everybody takes care of everybody, with the oldest taking care of the younger ones especially. It is essential and is as natural as breathing if the family is to function, especially if they are homeschooling. If the Duggars are specifically requiring some of their kids to raise other of their kids, that’s wrong, but I doubt they are, because they believe God holds them personally responsible for each of their children, for raising them. Having said all that, being the oldest daughter in a family like that is usually a HORRIBLE burden, even if the parents don’t intend for that to happen.

    Peppa, I agree that freedom and equality for women must include the right to say yes to children, to bear children, as well as the right to say no to children.

    This is a feminist blog, not a fundamentalist Christian blog, so no scripture-quoting please from here on out. The scripture you quote from Psalms, Peppa, was penned by a man (who never had to carry a child in his body or bear a child), who was a member of an agrarian, tribal culture which valued many children in part because many children were needed to be workers and to carry on the family business/dynasty/in some cases empire, fight in wars, etc. The man who wrote this was also part of a highly patriarchal culture, “patriarchal” meaning the “rule of the fathers”, which oppressed women in every conceivable way, in which daughters were bought and sold, girls who were raped were forced to marry their rapists, men took not only wives but concubines as spoils of war, girls/women could be punished because a man raped them, raped women were forced into prostitution, and so on. The idea in that verse is that men should aspire to father all sorts of children in part so they could brag about it to their “enemies” in the town square. And father children the patriarchs did, sometimes hundreds of them with many, many women. Their wives and children were all about their reputations, as men. (Which is obvious to anyone who reads the texts and learns how these mighty warriors with their quivers full actually treated their children, wives and concubines.)

    That verse memorializes or records a certain time in history. That’s pretty much all the value that it has outside of the quiverfull movement folks. In this day and age where women are not valued, including as mothers, children are not always a blessing, even if mothers love them dearly. Children are not always a blessing when you can’t be with them, can’t raise them, can’t spare them from the brutalities and coercions they face everywhere, every day, when the world for the most part hates children and hates mothers, or hates children because they hate mothers, where your children are mistreated and there is nothing you (generic you) an do about it.

    Michelle Duggar is 41. A day is coming when things are going to change for her. It is inevitable. She’s got a very tough row to hoe for the rest of her life. This time of her life, believe it or not, is easy compared with what is to come for her. So, no hating on her in this thread or on my blog. No idealizing her life either, no idolizing, no talking about how blessed she is or doing that weird love/hate thing people do, where there is all of this apparent horror and shock, but underneath there’s a weird fascination and idealizing thing going on. She’s a woman, like all women. And the time is coming when she will need her sisters.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | May 9, 2008, 9:08 pm
  151. I’ve stayed off this thread because I wasn’t sure how I wanted to respond,

    but some of the first posts, really annoy me, and now I want to say why…

    1. that her [or others] having this many children is holding them back…

    WHY? Because they aren’t slaves to the capitalist corporate system, getting boob jobs working in gyms and being the Super Woman that is shoved down women’s throats day in and day out in this country?

    Why is it that only women who choose not to have children or who choose to only have a few, why is it that they are believed to not be held back?

    All women in fact, are held back in one way or another, Including the woman with no children…

    sure you don’t have childcare to pay for or maybe no children to care for, but if your parent gets sick, its YOU, not the man that society will expect you to care for,

    if its volunteer works its Women that will always be sought after first, so forth and so forth,

    and its Women, who’ll be expected to work for less doing the SAME job as men,

    so, having lots of children is not what holds women back,

    its Misogyny that holds women back. So lets stop blaming children because its not the numbers of children thats the problem,

    its society’s Attitude towards mothers and CHILDREN thats the problem.

    now that I have that off my chest, [whew, lol],

    secondly, notice how all the comments against women who bear lots of children run something like this:

    she looks like a beatdown matron [and this is heard about women with two children, not just 15 mind you and its on every ‘look’ show on t.v.]

    her breasts sag
    her butt sags
    she has lines on her face

    Then, its the

    the kids are wild or
    the kids are taking care of kids
    or the kids miss out because they have to distribute more rather than

    What?

    buy little junior all the computer and game systems out there, because Thats what good parenting and healthy families are deemed now days?

    Its not family closeness [and on that I concur with some of the points in reference to family values, and I don’t think its just patriarchal values, there are some very valid points by Dobson and some of them] but anyway,

    its not family closeness or teaching children how to CARE for others BESIDES THEMSELVES AND LEARNING SELF-INDULGENCE,

    in other words, there is a LOT of GOOD to be learned, from families such as this,

    not saying now, that I think having that many children is a good thing,

    but why is it so necessarily bad?

    China has a one child policy, and sure, overpopulation HUGe problem and while I don’ t concur with forced abortions or Any type of FASCIST no matter how well intended Eugenics programs,

    I don’t judge China harshly either because yes, millions would starve if they didn’t take measures, I just think they could have taken other measures, like sterilizing MEN…hmmmm,

    but anyway, sociological studies Have proven now in China that the one child policy IS causing its own set of problems,

    children who are selfish, spoiled, self-indulgent, and want to know what That benefits?

    Capitalism and Consumerism, thats all,

    and NOW that consumerism has taken over China, they have another even more hideous problem in threat of starvation–

    environmental degradation caused by, you guessed it,

    selfish consumerism that has taken land, agriculture and resources, to produce,

    MATERIAL THINGS.

    So, alot of the criticism of the large family per se, is not out of concern for women,

    but is more influenced by Materialism, including Leftist Materialism,

    or Scientific Materialism and yes, dare I say it [and I’ll elaborate in a bit],

    white supremacist nationalism.

    NOW you might think, why white supremacist nationalism,

    well because, population control, actually began as a eugenics white supremacist and anti-poor idea, believe it or not…

    and why, its the White nations, seriously now, if you’ve ever studied Zero Population Growth,

    are the ones who are pushing for population control, not in White countries, no,

    but in Countries of other Races, and this is where geo-political racism is RAMPANT.

    Either they do two things,

    they push for overpopulation or support extreme patriarchal systems so they can produce mass slave labor [South America for example, Mexico] and why the administrations have fought birth control and abortion access to countless women worldwide,

    OR

    they push for population control, to stop those Other races or cultures,

    that could outnumber Whitie [seriously now] and one day overtake them…

    of course, all of which,

    centers around, control over women’s bodies,

    either by forced abortions/sterilizations or forced high number of births.

    Add to this, btw, yes in Biblical times it was patriarchal and part of the whole thing with having children was just as Heart mentioned,

    but it wasn’t always just about that,

    in that historical period there was a history of Mass Genocides against Israel, time and time again, so the children are a blessing was also meant as,

    the sign that the race or ethnicity or what have you, was still surviving and was not exterminated, so forth…

    and it wasn’t just in Judaism but this was around the world in those epochs…including yes, in societies that worshiped many gods/goddesses because thats why fertility goddesses were so important,

    children then, were the extension or the survival of the species, so to speak,

    not just for labor, but for culture, customs, beliefs, etc etc etc, in fact, this is where Christmas came from, one of the Roman holidays celebrating children,

    so it wasn’t just religious patriarchy, because children too, were also the targets of slavery and war,

    to wipe out entire nations/or ethnicities, etc.,

    and ironically, that hasn’t changed much today…one reason mass terror/rape is used in war, take former Yugoslavia, for example,

    it was to create such a generational terror, or how to put it, damage because the children born were result of rape by the enemy, that the society that followed, would be fragmented and torn, therefore, would result in a partial genocide or extermination of the peoples…

    if I put that in correct terms,

    broken orphaned children too, are easily taken over and controlled and indoctrinated into the oppressor or conquest winner, so to speak, to build new nations,

    and today this is Exactly what is happening in Sudan, in the Congo, etc., and yes, in geo-political racist strategies, I think has a lot to do with the lack of response towards the AIDS crisis in Africa as well.

    And you wouldn’t think all that, is related, to the attacks on this woman,

    but they are.

    Now I’m not saying I like the fact that women have 17 children or that it should be supported, but–

    I don’t think the alternative is much better either.

    One thing too, we forget to include, in the Biblical or Tribal times, when big families [and in some societies today] where there is emphasis on many children, they were also societies where Extended Families were there too,

    where as, now in today’s modern world, what is seemingly harsh about women having that many children, is that those extended families don’t exist now,

    [now sure, there are compounds with polygamous or societies with polygamous/cultures or sex cults, thats what some of them are may lay claim to extended families, but I wouldn’t go as far to say they are extended in the fair sense of the word]

    anyway my point is,

    while I don’t agree with the whole 17 children for one family, its not something I’d ever want to do, that is,

    I’m not so quick to say that just having one or two children or no children is a utopia or means of women’s freedom either…

    not only that, but on a social scale, its a fact, that in some countries, due to the low population rate, it IS causing some Serious problems,

    and the impact, believe it or not, is felt more negatively on Women, Russia for example,

    and why there are incentives now for women to have children.

    Not just for empire mind you, but for the survival, literal survival of an entire nation, because there simply Isn’t the labor force to support the upcoming elderly,

    and why in some societies there has been more of an open door to more of the traditional or even extreme misogynist/patriarchal cultures because they NEED the labor and social support,

    so, its not one of those issues that is clear cut so to speak. Both lead to serious problems, that do effect Women, in negative ways,

    so rather than bashing this woman, or women like her, maybe what is needed, is a more thorough study on the contributions children make to society, the benefits to women on a social scale, and the dangers of unbalance,

    either way you go,

    overpopulation or underpopulation.

    Is not having children the solution or how we structure societies, the solution?

    While I would never say, or support a patriarchal or society that throws women back into Biblical times, ever,

    I have to honestly say, the scientific materialist solution,

    is no better, and in ways, far more dangerous…to the survival of the human species,

    and it is a fact, that if we continue on this path of materialism today,

    we may find ourselves, very well living in not too far off, being overtaken by cultures due to population numbers, that are far, far more oppressive and misogynist than we could ever imagine,

    on this point, some of the points of nationalists are right.

    And this is a very important and crucial issue that each one of us, particularly our children, are going to be faced with…when you have countries that are trafficking women, not just in slavery but for being wives for men so that they can produce a labor force,

    not that I agree with that, no, just stating a fact here, then we are seeing some very real problems…or when you have countries that are allowing huge migration communities and while I’m not against that, it IS causing some huge problems, in that the laws and systems of these countries are more and more being challenged and in ways, being overtaken,

    by hostile or non-democratic systems…and its women, that are losing freedoms and will lose way more,

    so not saying, like fundies do that we should end abortion rights and go back to ten children per family–and I strongly would fight that–

    but lets not deny that there are some serious considerations to be taken here, and that if we aren’t careful,

    our one child or two child only or no child, and the goal being to have, have have and be free, free free from the restrictions to that autonomy/or freedom that comes with child caring/rearing,

    isn’t a utopia either, and can be a dangerous breeding ground [no pun intended] for a world that is far more sinister and horrid to women, or to the future itself.

    We need to come to some sort of balance there…

    Tasha

    Posted by Tasha | May 9, 2008, 10:23 pm
  152. Wow, just saw this on yahoo and I don’t normally read the little news bits on the websites,

    but its about this family, and it says she’s having another, guess her 18th now,

    but I want to paste a piece of it here,

    The new show looks at life inside the Duggar home, where chores — or “jurisdictions” — are assigned to each child. One episode of the new show involves a “jurisdiction swap,” where the boys do chores traditionally assigned to the girls, and vice versa, Duggar said.

    “The girls swapped jurisdictions, changing tires, working in the garages, mowing the grass,” she said. “The boys got to cook supper from start to finish, clean the bathrooms,” among other chores.

    Duggar said she’s six weeks along and the pregnancy is going well. She and her husband, Jim Bob Duggar, said they’ll keep having children as long as God wills it.

    “The success in a family is first off, a love for God, and secondly, treating each other like you want to be treated,” Jim Bob Duggar said. “Our goal is for each one of our children to be best friends, and everybody working together to serve each other makes that happen.”

    The other Duggar children, in between Joshua and Jennifer, are Jana, 18; John-David, 18; Jill, 16; Jessa, 15; Jinger, 14; Joseph, 13; Josiah, 11; Joy-Anna, 10; Jeremiah, 9; Jedidiah, 9; Jason, 7; James, 6; Justin, 5; Jackson, 3; and Johannah, 2.

    ___

    here is the link: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080509/ap_on_re_us/18_kids

    but anyway,

    two things,

    one, the job swap, now say what you will, but lets face it,

    I know families of Four, that don’t encourage their boys to do girls jobs and vice versa,

    so you have to give this family credit for that,

    and the part about treating each other with respect/vice versa, or how they’d want to be treated,

    18 kids or not,

    I think there isn’t a family out there, that couldn’t learn or be inspired from this.

    My only thought when reading this is, how is this woman’s health holding up? But, before any jump,

    I would think the same thing about women working 10 hour days + overtime for the corporate world, just as much…and then coming home and doing the 80% of all domestic labor they do, [thats statistical fact btw, its called double and triple burden],

    this woman probably has more help around the house than I do, thats for sure…

    not advocating having that many kids, lol, just stating the obvious.

    Would I want her life, NO,

    but if this is what she Chooses [without social or economic force], then I say, good for her,

    who is any to judge. Unless its like, a lifestyle that is hurting daughers or other women, etc.,

    but, just the fact that they are teaching the kids, to not be forced into strict gender roles,

    I think thats great. It would be even greater,

    is society, could apply some of that as well.

    Tasha

    Posted by Tasha | May 10, 2008, 2:34 am
  153. Oy vey. I get to see the effects that having children has on women. I wouldn’t want anything to do with that patriarchal hetero family nonsense. A major reason for women’s poverty is having children they can’t afford, or having children and then being stuck with men in marriage who are equally as destined to social failure. Just take a look at any jail or prison system, and see all those boys who grew up in those lovely hetero homes, causing untold havoc on society. The young criminals, rapists, girl oppressing idiots, now how were they born?

    There is so much propaganda historically to make women have children it’s not funny. So I just get down to it, and say, thank goddess I focused on work, education, culture and friends, and international travel– most of this would not be available to large percentages of the world’s women precisely because men want women as breeding machines. Why else would men support war but object to abortion?

    You see women wheeling strollers down the street with pretty dumb looks on their faces. Opportunity was taken from them because people think its cool for teenage mothers to have kids. I think women need to take a hard look on what kind of jobs they will have without training, education and time to study. The toll this takes on the intellectual development of women is extreme. At it’s this giant hetero-supremacy yuck fest out there. Out come the baby pictures, out come the clueless opinions of political issues. There are women who never even read the newspaper…their minds and bodies have been taken over.

    Also, we have to look at the people who have their tax money taken from them to support the “heterosexual family unit” the cost to schools, the damage done by teenage boys who are not properly supervised, and just the dumbing down that women often experience when they get forced into the motherhood machine. It simply horrifies the living hell out of me.

    Most of the women I know who personally achieved greatly in the world — advanced degrees, high level jobs, and international business opportunities did not have children. They did not waste time on the double shift (kids and career), and the best way to see women remain poor and limited is to have this policy where it’s ok to have as many children as you want to regardless to the damange this does to society as a whole. I’m tired of funding this nonsense, and it seems they keep on inventing new “heterosexual taxes” to take my earned income away from me.

    Can’t afford kids, don’t have them. Not interested in a high level profession, take care of kids. Weird but the child / heteronormative propaganda machine just keeps on going and going and going. Sterilize men…. hmmm… seems that the creeps who create the children and then stick women with all the work ought to be held accountable!

    I get to see this intellectual decline in women all the time; it’s scary!!! Thank the goddess I had the freedom to be my lesbian intellectual self, and to be free of the mind deadening quality that is so apparent when you see women with children wandering around the neighborhood. Little Johnny the rapist in the making, another tax burden for lesbians who are tired of this whole damn worshipful system!!!

    Posted by Satsuma | May 10, 2008, 3:33 am
  154. Oy vey.

    HA! I appreciate your participation here, Satsuma.

    I have raised 11 children. I love them all, but honest to the Goddess, given a chance to start over, I would never do it again (though I would never want my amazing kids not to be here either.)

    I have only three at home now, 17, 13, 10. The oldest goes to school, works, has a very busy schedule. The two youngest are with some of my grown kids for the weekend. I have to say, I love the freedom and the quiet I am enjoying at the moment. And how little money I am spending.

    So, I appreciate your voice, Satsuma. I am continually passing along your advice to all of the many young women in my life.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | May 10, 2008, 5:11 am
  155. You rock. :)

    – an Anarchist, pro-choice, Christian-raised, militant-agnostic, native Midwesterner, now living in California among the sad culture of intolerant “tolerance.”

    Posted by nina | May 10, 2008, 10:05 am
  156. Couple of things,

    first, how is it that Women having Children is the reason for poverty?

    how is it that Women having Children dumbs them down?

    you know, its almost like saying,

    that women having wombs, is the cause of all the world’s shit,

    and I find that thinking misogynist and demeaning, and yes, infuriating.

    I RESENT the notion that because I have children, that somehow that means I’ve been dumbed down or that I’m poor because of,

    NO, I am poor because children or no children, my wages to NOT make enough, to afford rent, etc.,

    NOR do I have the spoon in my mouth background, to Afford a Harvard Education,

    sorry but this thinking, this Blame the Woman because you know she fucked a man and had a kid,

    or kids,

    is just so male value orientation,

    the whole if you can’t afford children don’t have them,

    how bout, if you can’t afford children don’t have sex either,

    or only,

    women who are lesbians should have sex.

    Sorry but it just infuriates the hell out of me and it is, yes, a nother form of misogynist Prejudice against women,

    I am NOT GOING TO GET A DICK, AND BE A FUCKING MAN,

    TO BE TREATED AS A HUMAN BEING,

    OR REFUSE TO HAVE CHILDREN,

    TO BE TREATED AS A HUMAN BEING.

    But with that type of logic, if a woman wants to be equal or have worth in this world,

    she better not open her legs for any man or have any kids,

    NOR AM I GOING TO TAKE ON CAPITALIST MATERIALIST MALE DICK VALUES,

    that MEN PROFIT FROM=-=WHICH IS THE REASON THAT CHILDREN MEAN POVERTY,

    that will NEVER HOLD MEN ACCOUNTABLE,

    never mind being accused of penis envy,

    it should be rewarded as

    vagina hate,

    seriously.

    and I for one, am really sick of it.

    Posted by Tasha | May 10, 2008, 5:41 pm
  157. that should be reworded, not rewarded,

    and instead of vagina hate,

    better said,

    Womb hate.

    You know, if we really Think that,

    then lets just have it, where we just kill all children,

    and rip out the wombs of women,

    then we won’t have poverty or women walking with strollers being all fucking dumb like,

    and the world will be utopia because

    hey,

    those dumb wombs will be taken care of once and for all.

    I really think,

    women need to THINK before they place

    blame on the worlds problems

    on

    WOMBS.

    Posted by Tasha | May 10, 2008, 5:47 pm
  158. mY MOTHER WOULD HAVE LOVED YOU,

    you see all her problems too,

    were because of us nasty little children….

    her poverty, her not having a life, her this,

    and she made us pay, oh boy did she make us pay,

    our Father [whom we were lied about and never allowed to meet only to find AFTER he died, that he tried for years to find us and that yes, he DID love us], and Us, the Children, us little demons who

    goddamn

    were the Curse of her fucking life.

    And this is Exactly why, this womb hating shit, just pisses me off to no end,

    blaming Children for the ills, or having Children for the ills in society,

    especially that whole, only Women who have NO children succeed,

    Really?

    yea, lets keep pushing that mentality,

    only women who never have children and men with Dicks,

    matter.

    Heard you loud and clear there,

    the Dumb ones, who love and CHOOSE to have children

    why by golly,

    every goddamn thing in the world like poverty, pollution, crime,

    is OUR fault.

    you know,

    Fuck that.

    Posted by Tasha | May 10, 2008, 5:55 pm
  159. you know Satsuma,

    what Bothers me about this idea that intellectualism goes down once a woman bears a child,

    is well, taking that thinking,

    does that mean then, if we Rip wombs from all women, forced Hysteroctomies,

    we’ll have a much more enlightened ‘intellectual’ world?

    Sterilization of men only,

    wouldn’t Solve the Woman Question…

    since no matter what, women bearing children dumbs them down,

    so, the solution then,

    would be, Forced Hysteroctomies [sic],

    so that, we can remove the womb out of the way,

    absolutely NO CHILDREN

    and then, HEY,

    we are all like men and we will all be intellectual and successful,

    like

    MEN.

    I find it absolutely amazing, that during my years of bearing/raising children,

    I read more books and became MORE INTELLECTUAL

    [though I may not write like it here, because I choose NOT to have to prove myself in that way, because impressing male values, is to me, just penis worship],

    than I EVER did, before I had kids.

    And I know women, who have not ever had kids, that don’t pick up a newspaper either,

    hell I know men,

    who haven’t had kids [or who raise them]

    that are dumber than fuck.

    Go figure….

    Posted by Tasha | May 10, 2008, 6:15 pm
  160. It is possible to enjoy your femininity in all its wonderful facets – to be a whole woman, to celebrate your intellect AND your fertility (like archeomom – great story!) AND enjoy beauty & style too, if you like it, on your own terms.

    But the only way to do that is to quit giving a damn about what the warped patriarchal system says.

    I relate to Heart’s story even though I only have 4 kids and their dad is an AWESOME husband & father. But like her, I fell into the fundie trap. It was over a decade of deep anxiety and frustration, as I was passionate about being a true disciple. I also studied the Bible enough to get to the part about how Christians are supposed to be full of love, joy, peace, etc. And of course as stressed-out as I was, carrying the baggage of all my pre-church years under the added burden of trying to fit a mold I was NEVER made to fit, I was always on the verge of a huge, angry outburst. And I just hated myself. I felt like the Disney caricature of the hag/witch/evil mother.

    I tried SO hard to be the ideal church lady, but I was about as inconspicuous as an elephant in a tutu. I am intellectual and outspoken and a strong “womyn” by nature. And those good ol boys & their women could always see right through my “nice church lady” act. It was just excruciating to hear through the grapevine that the elders were saying, “she wears the pants in that family” when I had bought in so wholeheartedly to the patriarchal ideal and I had twisted my soul so out of shape to try to fit the impossible “glass slipper” of wifely submission. Blecchh!

    I’m pleased to say the Spirit freed me from all that garbage a few years ago. Amazingly, I’m still devoted to Jesus Christ. But that’s because I heard the still, small voice telling me that Jesus loves strong womyn, as they are, no glass slipper needed. And that the oppressive patriarchal system is evil in his sight. And that the promise of redemption will not be fulfilled until all women everywhere are lifted up to their rightful place of authority and honor, until the oppressors are brought down and the formerly oppressed are empowered.

    This is the sort of thing you find in the Psalms (like that one Sinead chose to sing); even while they extol patriarchy, they emphasize liberation from oppression. So there’s a paradox there, I know, and it’s okay if the Bible just puts you off. It’s like a Roscharch test anyway, bringing out the best (sometimes) or the worst (usually) in its readers. I can only hope those who study it are able to see how it affects them, to benefit from its diagnostic value so they can address their deeper problems. It did work that way for me, so I think it’s possible.

    I’m not asking you to believe Christianity is compatible with feminism, just to accept that I feel empowered by my relationship with Jesus Christ. And that means, I am breaking free of the traditions of men. I’m becoming the woman I always wanted to be. I did the homemaker thing all those years (frankly, I was really bad at it), so I appreciate my career all the more. I LOVE my job!!! And I appreciate my husband the “homedaddy” all the more. He’s brilliant with the kids, much more nurturing than I ever was. And I appreciate the fact that we’re free to do as we damn well please, to hell with the rules of patriarchy.

    This all started when one day, I realized that the most noteworthy women in the Bible had the courage to stand up for something, to take charge of their lives in whatever way they could within the context of their patriarchal world. So in the midst of this patriarchal old book you find the most subversive stories, of women like Tamar. (It’s a horrifying story, but in her day, she had no options and she was shrewd enough to get what she needed to survive. So I do admire Tamar in her context. In our day, she’d be a brilliant leader in business or something.) Or women like Abigail who completely overrode her asinine husband’s authority. And I could go on. But they’re strong womyn, a heritage for all us modern-day sisters, coping the best way they could in their world and times.

    Following a heritage like that, and following the footsteps of my mother’s brave generation, I’m no longer sorry that I’m strong and opinionated and bossy and bold. I’m not sorry God gave me leadership aptitude. I’m not sorry about being the one who thinks to ask all the tough questions. In fact, I get paid really well to ask tough questions now! And I’m not sorry the fundie world wasn’t for me (no, I’m grateful it wasn’t). I’m not sorry about my childbearing belly and its stretch marks, either. And I’m also not sorry that I love to wear makeup and dress femme. It’s my right as a woman. How can I ever thank the pioneer women who went before me enough?

    The war is over when we realize we’ve won. (BTW, no one else might tell you, but that’s the real Gospel.) Here’s to strong womyn everywhere, whether they worship my God or their Goddess or whatever. We have a lot to celebrate, when we find the victory within ourselves.

    And happy Mother’s day, too!

    Posted by Robin Pearson | May 10, 2008, 8:13 pm
  161. Isn’t feminism also about the young girls in this family and about protecting their hopes and dreams? Fostering their talents and strengths? And about teaching our sons that women have worth beyond being baby machines, if they so choose?

    I think we feel a lot of supressed rage at Michelle–and we see her as the primarily responsible one, as we identify with her more, being women ourselves–for dooming her kids to a life that isn’t remotely normal. Face it, it is not normal to, as a family, wall yourself off from others and close off your ability to interact with the wider world. Even the Amish don’t do that. They belong to a greater community and group of others like themselves. And they abhor intrusions into their religious and family lives, unlike the Duggars, who seem to be out for all they can get.

    I believe Michelle is the driving force behind the conception of all these kids, and that’s why I am angriest at her. She’s like an animal hoarder who believes the more she has, the better off they all are–even if some of them have to suffer for her obsessive and insatiable needs.

    When I look at Michelle, I can’t help but feel she is deliberately stunting those kids, keeping them close by at all times, to fill the hole inside her, to substitute for something she lacks in herself.

    Some may also suspect (as I do) that neither she nor Jim Bob would be as hip to this so-called Godly plan, if they did not also profit from it and revel in all the attention it brings.

    Where do these kids fit into the greater world and the community of people they are a part of, as human beings with their own destinies and futures, given what their mom and dad have done?

    How will these young girls ever see beyond this, to any sort of life that does not include this mentality and mindset? I am especially concerned, given that nearly all their social and recreational activities seem to occur within and with the family, as if the ties that bind are not based on faith, more like bound up in barbed wire.

    It is not helped by the fact that since they are homeschooled, too, their lives revolve around the same people and rooms, day in and day out, with very little chance to interact with people who are not carbon copies of themselves.

    I have a feeling that despite all the openness the parents are apparently showing, in terms of us seeing their daily lives unfold in their TV shows, not as much openness is allowed in their thinking–or in that of their children.

    For example, if one of their sons came to them and said “I am gay”, would that be allowed? If one of their daughters said “I want to be a doctor”, would they allow that? What if one of them were to say “I think your God is wrong” or “your way of thinking about God is wrong”?

    Jim Bob Duggar’s dad was a well known, wealthy car dealer, as Jim Bob soon will be. Prior to this I believe Jim Bob and Michelle had real estate licenses. I bet their customers tended to be white, fundie Christians, much like themselves.

    Who do YOU think is benefitting from all this self-promotion? Well, the car dealership they are going to open will, for one. And Jim Bob and Michelle as a result. But so also do the dealership’s other employees, and the other Duggar extended family members with a stake in that source of income.

    Probably even the family’s basement church does, too (they created their own church to suit themselves). More income from the TV specials=more income for the supposedly non-profit Duggar church.

    I am guessing that the family receives a share in the ad revenue from their site at Discovery health online, and I bet they’ve received a lot of corporate freebies and donations as a result of their putting their situation out there for all to see.

    That’s the love of money, not love. And that sickens me.

    If they can’t afford to have this many children and also care for them properly on their own, why do they continue to have them? How is this any different than an inner city welfare mom who expects someone else’s tax dollars to pay for bringing up her kids? Don’t they realize the strain they and their family are putting on the environment by having such a large family and also expecting to live in such a grand style? Or the strain within the family, when the oldest kids rebel against some of the restrictions placed on them–as all normal kids do?

    My main problem with this family is that the Duggars are forcing many of their kids–particularly the girls–to severely limit their own ambitions and dreams.

    To hide their lights under a bushel, so to speak. I believe that’s covered in the good book, too.

    Posted by Bookratt | May 10, 2008, 8:39 pm
  162. Oh, yeah, by the way… If the statistically few women who want huge families enjoy the freedom to have huge families, and the vast majority of the rest of us who want smaller families (or no kids at all) exercise our right of choice, I don’t think Mother Earth will begrudge any of us our choices.

    Because I’m guessing most women who choose motherhood would keep their families moderate, given the choice. And every child born can very possibly be part of the solution to the world’s problems, not part of the problems. Just think if Duggar kid #18, born next January, turns out to be the scientist who develops a truly clean, earth-friendly, renewable source of energy? Or whatever, I think you see what I mean. People are a force for good on the earth, or at least have the potential to be, given a decent chance.

    After all, if every human were empowered to follow her/his heart’s highest calling, this world would be an amazing place. And that may well include a relatively few lovely earth mommas with their tribes of kids. So I don’t think these few should be despised, but honored.

    And imagine if Mother Earth were a persona – wouldn’t she coo over every one of those babies and hope the best for them?

    I would hope the real reason for our collective revulsion at the QF movement is not women bearing children – exercising our exclusive right as women. It’s the fact that they feel the need to do so on men’s unreasonable terms. It’s the fact that women feel defined as human beings by their wombs – gaining their social status either by bearing or not bearing, depending on their context. And we know we have other merits besides that one standard, so we feel our deeper humanity is threatened by anything that implies we’re going to be branded solely based on our vaginal activities.

    But I long for the day when the whole woman is honored, and artificial gender stereotypes fall into the archaic past. So a woman can be what she really is, and if it happens to fit a historical tradition, so be it. But if it’s a patchwork quilt of so called “masculine” and “feminine” virtues, that’s great too. Because all the virtues are for everyone, and everyone deserves to be appreciated on all her/his merits, not just the ones that conform to their subculture’s expectations.

    Posted by Robin Pearson | May 10, 2008, 8:50 pm
  163. something here,

    “Face it, it is not normal to, as a family, wall yourself off from others and close off your ability to interact with the wider world.”

    Let’s look at this again though,

    according to the dumbing down of women due to bearing children mentality, [which btw, the scientific materialists would be orgasmic over that one, because thats where that mentality stems from…UNTIL, there isn’t enough children or no children then humanity starts to die out–unless of course, we develop a BORG society, e.g., Firestone, which of course, will be the results of male creation, and believe me, they are already working on that, that way wombs nor women will be necessary for the world to function],

    but, taking that…

    the walling off–

    Don’t we already Do that in this biege eugenic Corporate age,

    WALL OURSELVES IN OUR CORPORATE SUCCESS–

    IN

    CUBICLES.

    NOT ABLE TO RELATE TO EACH OTHER,

    EXCEPT IN FRONT

    OF

    A COLD

    STERILE

    NON-FEELING

    MACHINE

    the

    Computer Borg Age?

    We even have it to where, we will see humanity have sex this way too,

    no humans will be needed,

    no intimacy

    no touch

    just cold heart beat of the pulsating electric rhythm

    of the machine.

    no womb need apply.

    We have Truly arrived–that scientific elitism,

    that Bakunin,

    warned,

    would come.

    Here’s to

    intellectualism and success.

    Posted by Tasha | May 10, 2008, 9:12 pm
  164. Warning — THIS IS NOT FOR EVERYONE!!! :-) Wish I had a skull and cross bones icon here :-) :-0

    Please skip this section if you’re in the hetero-motherhood camp, it’s blunt. Skip it if you think children are important. It will only irritate you. Only read it if you want a kick butt radical lesbian take no prisoners essay. If this is too much Heart, just push the delete button. But I just had to write it!!!!

    People mention capitalism, but to me the ultimate in capitalism, is the forced childbearing that has been women’s nightmare for a very long time in human history. This means that men wanted a factory to create humans they could control, dominate and create soldiers for.

    The biggest taboo is to attack the heteronormative baby making machine, and to say flat out that women will be colonized in this process. Just watch the sparks fly when I say that taking care of children dumbs down the mind, or eliminates the chance for scientific or philosophical greatness. While women were busy having babies in the 50s and 60s, Mary Daly was off to Europe on her great lesbian feminist journey. When Jane Austen was writing her masterpieces, other women were dying in childbirth.

    I have yet to meet women who wasted their early years raising children truly be able to rise to the highest levels of professional development. Whether it is Virginia Woolf, Gloria Steinem, Mary Daly, Andrea Dworkin, Oriana Fallaci… Gertrude Stein…. Jane Austen — it takes a tremendous mental effort to produce great paintings, literature, political theory or salons of great influence if you are busy raising too many children.

    Women have been forced by social custom and economic need to have children. It is a taboo to say that the very act of raising children will mean you won’t be a literary giant, and you won’t have the time to read and study…your time will be fully taken up in this heteronormative system.

    When you take a close look at poverty and lack of opportunity, take a close look at teen mothers. Take a close look at big families with not enough money to support this family.

    Social pressure makes women do things that will prevent them from having access to something else in life. I think of all the time lesbians wasted in marriages with men, just to conform to social “custom” read coersion.

    Now my opinions are not for everyone. I know there a millions of women out there who think children are the cat’s meow. There are also millions of women out there who can bore you to death chattering for hours and hours about their little darlings. Goddess in heaven what a radical lesbian nightmare.

    This article is for the radical lesbian feminists out there and the straight women out there who are tired of the baby making propaganda even radical feminism falls into these days.

    It’s the minority point of view within a minority. Even most lesbians I know won’t dare to speak up against the baby factory system for fear of all hell breaking loose.

    Virginia Woolf told about the necessity of women have an independent income and a room of one’s own in order to write.

    We forget all too often her bottom line prescription for women who want to be brilliant. Just imagine what would have happened if Virginia had had five kids (not uncommon in that era)? Can you imagine what would have happened to Louise Nevelson’s sculptures? Think of how different the world would have been like had Mary Wollstonecraft NOT died in childbirth, or had Abigail Adams had full time to write? What have we lost because heterosexual tyranny tries to ram children down our throats?

    The look of poverty, lack of intellectual development and world influence is directly related to this obsession with cultural demands on women.

    To say that you hate and are bored by children is taboo. To say that you see women overworked and dumbed down by this process is also taboo, but that is what I see. When I observe the lives of poor women with children as they struggle to make ends meet, I wonder, “there could have been an Artemesia Gentileschi, there was the future 21st century Jane Austen, there was the woman who could have invented a cure for breast cancer.

    There is only so much time in a human life, and it seems a shame that so much of life women have drained away on this forced production machine of male dominance known as patriarchy. Now that’s the radical lesbian kick butt opinion. If you feel that people are pressuring you to have children, then read this and get the courage to JUST SAY NO. Plenty of poor women worldwide with no educational opportunites are having loads of children. Big families are poor families worldwide.

    You can argue all you want about how women can DO both. No they can’t really. Something becomes inferior to the other.

    There is so much lip service to this idea that rearing children is so wonderful and empowering and fascinating, but it’s not what I see at all. To do this is really to take the path of least resistence, and just live in the paint by number reality that has been forced on women for centuries.

    I can’t stand it, I think it is inherently oppressive to women, and I don’t think it can ever be reformed.

    The greatest adventures I have ever had were my journeys of the mind with committed radical lesbians world wide, the women who traveled on their own in China, the women who wrote the books and created the women’s centers, the women who wrote thousands of magazines, the women who had the time to read the newspapers and advance through scientific research. These lesbian pioneers had the guts to say no to the child factory hetero system. They said no to men, they said no to children, and they said yes to themselves and to women’s revolution.

    This point of view is not for everyone.

    This is for the women who never ever want their bodies to be colonized by male sexual anything ever!

    Posted by Satsuma | May 10, 2008, 10:26 pm
  165. Spam and pirate knowledge coming down the river :-)

    Posted by Satsuma | May 10, 2008, 10:27 pm
  166. QUESTION……Who gave any of you the right to compare any of these families to a mother sow? And these beautiful children to piglets? I can promise you this..none of these children seen here will be wife abusers, child abusers , victims of divorce and/or blended families . You know why? Because these families are obedient and are fashioned after what God laid down in the Bible. Sounds corny? Truth usually does. These children are taught respect, love of neighbor and family, honesty and integrity..do you possess these qualities? Yes? Then thank your parents or elders who taught you those values. You folks who critisize these people need to look in the mirror at your own lives. I doubt if your life would be picture perfect. If you want to pick people apart because they are different, start with your own family and see who comes out ahead.

    Posted by Mary Warren | May 10, 2008, 10:39 pm
  167. Tasha,

    I feel what you mean in your post, how unbalanced it is to pursue the “intellectual success” and business while despising our earthy, organic, sexual nature. And I see that in a lot of cases, that male-defined business world can be so anti-feminine and alienating. I’ve had that experience in corporate America before, which was part of why I preferred to stay home with my kids rather than struggle on in that world.

    But coming back to it recently, I’ve discovered that where there are office cubicles, there are real live women and men in those spaces. And that’s what I do love about my work. I do relate with my coworkers and I really enjoy it. Whether problem-solving happens in a household or in an office, it’s still interesting and challenging. Work is always meaningful, wherever it takes place, especially when the work serves others. If I’d been healthier during my years at home, I know I would have performed better and enjoyed it more. But I was so dysfunctional in those days.

    Anyway, I think we all at some level want to feel we’re helping someone. Whether the others you help are in your immediate family or in the human family, you’re helping them. Just as households vary from dysfunctional to healthy, so do corporate cultures. The trick is to be so healthy yourself that you simply don’t fit into the dysfunctional systems any longer. So then you naturally find yourself in the healthy gatherings, regardless of the venue. And now that I’m enjoying myself at work, my family enjoys me a lot more at home. And I really enjoy them a lot more, too. I think they’re all really interesting people and I’m grateful to know them.

    So for me, business isn’t a macho borg thing at all, even though my work mainly involves computers and intellectual pursuits (I’m a tech writer.) I’m actually amazed at how business done well is more spiritually inspiring than religion done badly.

    The goal here is not to pit one ideal (supposedly masculine) against the other (stereotypically feminine), but to integrate all these values into a rich and meaningful whole.

    Posted by Robin Pearson | May 11, 2008, 12:32 am
  168. Robin,

    first, I enjoy your posts, and find them enlightening and refreshing.

    second, well, hard to explain, I am not a big fan on corporate world–but not because of the work,

    but of the consumerist and machine or cog in the machine society that we’ve become [well this has been long time in the making, but is increasing as an extremely fast rate, not just on a physical level but spiritual one, not talking about religion, but at the inner person, so to speak].

    Either its corporate or service sector, but no doubt, the chasm between classes of people, are becoming wider and wider, not just domestically but internationally.

    My inference to the last post, was in regarding the degenderizing of humanity, not for equality, but for the corportatist and fascist corportatist world, and the materialist ethics, if you can call it ethics.

    Its not about feminine and masculine, or really even about patriarchy–

    its about, how humanist ethics are being eroded by something very sinister, for the making way

    for progress.

    And this is one reason why, genocide is becoming more tolerable in this world as human empathy and indifference, is not just a small percentage,

    but is so subtle in its growth that I don’t believe many see it or see how it came about. Its extremely clever,

    but its not new, not in the least.

    The East calls it decadence,

    and while I do not concur with like, the rise of theocratic fundatmentalism in the East–they do have some valid points in their war against modernization,

    not in regards to the moderinizing of social structure and leaving 12th century, not that,

    but in how, in the effort to modernize, human values that are, I believe essential to the good in human kind,

    are being eroded, and replaced, with a form of hedonism under the guise of

    liberalism, and other ‘isms’.

    There is a really fine line I think,

    and while, I don’t whatsoever, like or concur with the traditional mores and the notion that women’s role is to bear children, and the gender roles that men benefit from, etc., meaning,

    I see the Second Sex phenomenom there, no doubt,

    but I have to stop, when I see the Other extreme, in which, yes, is extremely oriented around a materialist borg view, that is, indeed,

    not only dangerous to women, but dangerous to humanity, to freedom of thought, to life in itself.

    I always tell women, study and read, very carefully, the women in the east, who lived in former communist countries because, what we see often being pushed today, especially the ‘womb hate’,

    has such drastic harms to women, that we haven’t even begun, to explore, what can and Will happen,

    if we continue on this path, of demonizing ‘mothers’ and especially, children.

    I don’t like the idea of women having 18 children either, I think its a little ‘out there’, and I completely understand the merits of the anger at the whole Madonna complex that yes, men have pushed because, yes,

    children, have been, traditionally the core responsibility of women, and because OF that, yes, feminization of poverty results, oppression and economic dependence of women results, the dependence and strengthening of the institution of marriage [in patriarchal sense] results, etc etc etc,

    However,

    all that aside, there is this tendency and yes, it is Very oriented around the influence of Fascist Leftism and yes, neo-liberal ideas that Benefited Capitalism [either private or state],

    that influenced feminism, on various schools, etc.,

    that, what has resulted, is rather than women being embraced, and Children being embraced,

    instead, there has been a tendency to demonize and criminalize socially, mothers and women, who are heterosexual,

    as if, they are the enemy to feminist progress, and That I strongly believe, is extremely dangerous and plays more into the benefits of male dominance and male supremacy.

    Mothers and children, are not the Cause of poverty, nor are they the Cause of misogyny or patriarchy.

    IF we Valued Mothers and Children in this world, then we wouldn’t Have the support of the stratifications AND institutions that depend on the

    exploiting of, Women and Children.

    The Reason that yes, women with children ARE impoverished, is NOT because, women bear children, NO,

    its because, they are DE-VALUED,

    and are invisible and are easily treated with vile contempt. And not just by men.

    In my strong opinion, women will Never be emancipated, from patriarchy or oppression, until we stop siding in with the bourgeois who benefit from the criminalizing of women…

    just the comment that ‘society shouldn’t have to pay for women bearing children’ is in fact,

    bourgeois, it wreaks of it. And while I strongly have issue with the dictatorship of the masses, etc., and on various other issues with restructuring the world,

    on that point, I totally am so against the bourgeois mentality, that is so embedded in Euro-centric/Western influence [and its not just white people influenced by this thinking in this day and age].

    In closing, I will say this,

    while I have my issues with communism,

    Cuba, because they do value mothers and children, say what you will about them, but Cuba, has the lowest infant mortality rate, and some if not, the BEST programs for mothers and children,

    even though, they have dealt with sanctions and corruption within the politburo. Its because, they VALUE mothers, and children,

    and not only that, they are the One, if few countries, that give WORTH to unpaid women’s labor,

    while yes, no argument that there isn’t like, gender parity imbalance in extremes in high office, machismo, and a host of other ills,

    in comparison, with the so called advancements of Professional women in the US and in Europe,

    we are far more oppressed, even AS single women with no children, not because of mothers having children,

    but because of the bourgeois neo-liberal womb hate, that is so damn rampant in this nation, pushed by none other than,

    white upper middle class women in feminist movement

    and yea, I take STrong issue against it. Those attitudes against women who are heterosexual and/or who choose to have children, [Lesbians included here, in fact, in Europe, and in Russia/East, there is Huge divide over this very issue within the Lesbian community],

    do Nothing but assist the male corporatist and transnational capitalist world, in exploiting millions of mothers and children, in the labor market.

    In other words, its like, blaming the victim of exploitation for her victimization,

    and I won’t take part in it, NOR will I ever support it in any fashion or form. Not only that, it infuriates me, and on this issue, I honestly have to say,

    I stick with my solidarity, with millions of women around the world that do resent, the implications that because they don’t concur with the no child is only way to freedom, etc., [and I do concur, that it is, racist as hell on a geo-political and yes, domestic scale], and I can see why,

    they deem Western Feminism, sometimes, as imperialist as hell. On many points, they are absolutely, Right.

    Tasha

    Posted by Tasha | May 11, 2008, 5:36 am
  169. Satsuma,

    well good for you, though I find your stating ‘superiority’ a bit obnoxious to say the least.

    But let me throw out a few things here…I find it interesting,

    that now, women who have thought like you, until, lets say, they are about 40, then finding, that their views have changed…

    decide they Want a child, but can’t have one.

    Guess what the new market is now, for women, who bought into that whole rhetoric that having children = inferiority and dumbing down and poverty, etc etc etc,

    Paying, women in India, thats right, to bear children and then give them up, for them.

    Talk about, Western Imperialist ENTITLEMENTS.

    and the exploitation…the women in India, due to poverty, their only way out, being Chattel,

    not for men mind you,

    but for women, who in This nation think they have some god-given right, after their years of ‘professional endeavors’ to pay for the use of women of color’s ‘bodies’ so that they too, can have children.

    This is just but one example,

    and I can’t even begin, to dignify the comments that only women who aren’t ‘forced’ to have children, are intellectually superior, on all fronts, etc.

    So, if you took that logic, I suppose then, all the women in history throughout the centuries that have done Amazing things, art, literature, science and politics,

    and that have had children,

    what are they now? Invisible? They didn’t exist, or only women have done great things what, since 1970? I mean Come on,

    and this doesn’t have anything to do with being a kick butt lesbian,

    if anything, it reads more like something a Man would say,

    sorry but it does.

    Yes, there is pressure to have children, no argument there, but this idea that women are Forced to have children,

    is like saying, women don’t have minds of their own and are just so naive and gullible, that they can’t make decisions about their own bodies and choices in regards to having children, etc.,

    If its the case that women can’t do both, in rearing children and pursuing her dreams, etc., is that Because of having children,

    or Because,

    social norms of strict gender roles that let men off the hook, have made it to where, the responsibility of children falls only and foremost on children?

    I hear, you referring to women, having children,

    but I’ve yet, to hear you refer to the fact that men father children all the damn time,

    why aren’t THEY INFERIOR?

    Its not because they are forced to have children, or that they force women too, no,

    its because, they’ve been allowed to have license to do what they want, without the social ‘guilt’

    whereas, women have not.

    Its not having children, that is the root of all of the barriers to women,

    its how men have been able to dump their child rearing responsibilities onto women.

    I don’t believe, the problem is women having children,

    I think the problem is, and why the anger, is that women who choose NOT to have children, feel the social guilt, whether implied or not, because they choose to do something that many say,

    that isn’t natural,

    and they feel resentful because not only have men done this, women do it too.

    IF we had a world, where all women made some conscious choice and chose to be lesbian and refused to have children,

    what do you think would happen to the human race? In about, 300 years?

    Not saying, that its some Duty for women to have children, but I find your statements to be on the tad extreme and yes, even a tad fascist…

    maybe for YOU, it is not possible or desired to have both children and career, and there is NOTHING wrong with that,

    nor should you, or any other woman feel pressured or feel criminalized [sic] or treated like a deviant, because thats right for YOU,

    but how dare you, seriously now, do likewise to women who choose to have children?

    I see a lot of merit in your statements, don’t mistake me,

    but it comes across far more, like a type of prejudice,

    than,

    concern for women.

    And I could almost bet, if all women, just one day, decided to not have children,

    they’d still, have to deal, with the stratifications that would put obstacles and limits, on their ability to pursue their interests without any interference,

    believe me, men would find other ways.

    Children are not the only interference or beings that need care, nor are they the only beings that women, take a care-giving role for,

    which, leads me to something else…art, literature, science, is great, botta bing, great,

    but the attitude that care-taking for children is somehow ‘less than worthy’,

    just contributes to the demeaning of many caretaking roles,

    Teaching being one of them,

    and hey,

    if it wasn’t for all those women, many who are mothers, teaching children,

    including those great women you refer to,

    they, nor most men, would be Anywhere today, and we would still, be primitive as hell.

    And its that attitude that only greatness comes in so called professions, that contributes to the feminization of Poverty that we see today, and always have,

    we wouldn’t Have doctors, nurses, healers, and you want to know something,

    we wouldn’t Have the great art and literature and science and discoveries and advancements, if it were NOT for mothers,

    and the influence of mothers in the world,

    nor would we have, the Majority of REVOLUTIONS FOR FREEDOM AND EMANCIPATION FROM ENSLAVEMENT,

    IF NOT FOR MOTHERS,

    in almost Every revolution, social and political, it was Always, the Mothers, who speared it off,

    including the Anti-WAR movement.

    I find, the attitude that mothers are inferior, to be down outright prejudice,

    NONE of us would be here on this forum today sister,

    if it wasn’t for all those MOTHERS out there who bore the feminist movement, Never forget that.

    We owe them a great debt, and by calling them ‘inferior’,

    is more insulting, than any man, calling feminists bulldyke bitches.

    Posted by Tasha | May 11, 2008, 6:02 am
  170. just quick correction to last post: typing in hurry,

    social norms of strict gender roles that let men off the hook, have made it to where, the responsibility of children falls only and foremost on children?

    that should be, foremost on women.

    Posted by Tasha | May 11, 2008, 6:07 am
  171. Well, women, in this thread, we have the state of womankind as it currently exists in the U.S., pretty much. Honestly, I cannot tell you how thrilled I am that all of you who have posted over the last couple of days have posted. To me, your voices are all important, all deserve to be heard, you are all women and therefore your lives matter to me. I have enjoyed all of your comments and feel honored that you felt comfortable commenting here.

    Satsuma, I know that you’ve called it as you see it and as you have observed it from your perspective as always a lesbian radical feminist. As I’ve said, I do value your insights and perspectives. The one thing I want to argue with you about is, it just isn’t true that having children dumbs women down. It is true that there are plenty of women (and men! more men, I think!) who don’t seem to be interested in intellectual pursuits and who aren’t achievement oriented in the way I think you’re talking about, but they aren’t all mothers. I know plenty of women who are not mothers, plenty of lesbians, as well, who are singularly uninterested in intellectual pursuits or achievements, the life of the mind, art, books, culture. And I am telling you, honestly, some of the absolutely smartest, most accomplished, most highly educated women I have known in my life — and I’ve known many — have been evangelical/fundamentalist/some-kind-of-Christian mothers. In religion, including Christianity, women find a place where, if they operate within usually carefully established boundaries, they can spend plenty of time studying their faith’s holy books and applying themselves to mastering the theology of their belief system. While they often can’t be bothered at all with secular politics, engage them in discussions of church history, doctrine, theology, and their knowledge and command of these will be impressive. One of the draws of religion to women, I believe, is that it provides this avenue for pursuing the life of the mind, even though they may be stay-at-home moms who might be otherwise isolated from studies with other women especially.

    Beyond that, here’s a list of great women who were or are mothers:

    Delores Huerta (founder with Cesar Chavez of the United Farm Workers) (11 children), Elizabeth Cady Stanton (7 kids), Marie Curie (2 daughters, one of whom, like her, won a Nobel Prize), Sonia Johnson (4 kids), Robin Morgan (1 child), Adrienne Rich (4, I believe), Sandra Day O’Connor (3 kids), Ruth Bader Ginsberg (2 kids), Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (first elected head of an African nation, 4 sons, 8 grandchildren), Wangari Maathai, first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize, 3 kids, Meena Keshwar Kamal, RAWA (Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan) (3 children), Hillary Clinton (1 child), Grandma Moses (10 children), Wilma Mankiller (2 children), Toni Morrison (2 children), Victoria Woodhull (2 children), Mother Jones (4 children), Sojourner Truth (5 children), Anne Hutchinson, midwife and woman healer, defied the Puritan fathers of Mass. Bay Colony, imprisoned, condemned, excommunicated (11 children), Winona LaDuke (5 children); Indira Gandhi (2 children), Ida B. Wells Barnett (4 children), Harriett Beecher Stowe (7 children), Margaret Atwood (3 children), Audre Lorde (2 children), Jamaica Kincaid (2 children); Ursula LeGuin (3 children), Grace Paley (2 children), and thousands and millions more women.

    I think Harriett Beecher Stowe was also the 17th of 17 children. What a loss to all of humankind had Uncle Tom’s Cabin never been written.

    I can’t respond to all I’d like to, but did want to respond to some of what you said, Bookratt.

    The Duggars are part of the quiverfull/homeschooling community, and, as such, they do have community with many other families like them. They are, if I’m recalling correctly and I think I am, part of Bill Gothard’s (horrifying) ATI homeschooling program, also a closeknit community. Again, one of the draws of fringe-y religious groups is the community and support they provide for mothers.

    If any of the children in the family were to be gay or lesbian, this would be viewed as a grave sin and they would be expected to repent. If they would not, ultimately, they would be excommunicated. There probably are gay or lesbian children in the Duggar family, given the statistics that 1 of 10 persons is gay or lesbian. These children suffer greatly in the religious/quiverfull homeschooling community and families. They will have to deny who they are or leave and lose everything.

    If a daughter in this family wanted to be a doctor, she might be able to so long as she did not have children and operated under her father’s, husband’s or church elders’ authority. In general, ATI families do not permit girls or women to work for male employers they are not related to and mothers working outside the home is viewed as an option only for single mothers and even then they are constantly being urged to find a way to work from home.

    I think it’s interesting the way so much is in my opinion projected onto Michelle Duggar but not Jim. She is using her children to fill some need she has, she is seeking attention, and so on. In this world, men are the leaders and are ultimately responsible for their families. Michelle Duggar bears all of these children only because this is what her husband, Jim, wants. If he didn’t want this, clearly, he could prevent it.

    The Duggars are on television, etc., as evangelists. They believe that they are letting their light shine before men (humankind) in a way that gives God the glory, with the hope that others will want to join their world. I do not fault Michelle Duggar for this. She is acting out of her deeply held faith and beliefs, as Jim Duggar is as well. If what they are doing in making their lives an open book this way is offensive to others, then people shouldn’t watch. You know? But people *do* watch. They watch all the time, and with each new pregnancy, there is all of the brouhaha and suddenly thousands of people are reading this post I wrote a long time ago and commenting and so on.

    As I have said before, there are women who really enjoy pregnancy and childbearing. I did; hence, I had 11 children. I don’t like it at all that Michelle Duggar does not do what would be in the best interests of her own physical health and her children’s, i.e., I think if she is going to bear many children, she should responsively breast feed them until they wean themselves. This would delay the return of her fertility increasingly with each birth, in a way that preserved her health, the health of her breasts and reproductive organs, and was most healthy for her children. She doesn’t do this and I think she will ultimately regret it. It’s beautiful, the way women’s bodies are designed. There were only 18 months between my first two children, but there were three full years between my 10th and 11th, because in the wisdom of a woman’s body, breastfeeding, again, spaces children to allow for maximum health for both mother and child.

    Be that all as it may, it’s her body, these are her pregnancies, her children. And her family is not on any public dole of any kind. One man attempted to comment here to say if it was up to him, he’d sterilize Michelle Duggar!

    You know what? It’s this impulse, this fear, I believe, of women’s abilities to conceive, to bear, to make these choices for themselves, that many centuries ago were responsible for the overthrow of matristic/matrilineal/matriarchal goddess cultures. Men do fear this particular power in women and the fact that at least some women can bear as many children as they want, with whatever men they want, and only they will know who their children’s fathers are. So they rise up to control and, at times, destroy such women. These revulsions, fears and hatreds do not come from any woman-centered place, from any place of real concern for the lives of women.

    Well, I should post about this, there is so much more I have to say.

    Beyond all that, I’m glad all of you women, again, have joined me here.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | May 11, 2008, 6:15 am
  172. Jane Austen was far from a feminist. In many of her books, her characters or supporting characters assert and perpetuate the notion that it is Providence for the woman to be the mother, the caregiver, the submissive one. In Persuasion when Mary is on the verge of an almost feminist screed about Charles getting to go to dinner and meet Captain Wentworth and she cannot because their son is sick, Anne jumps in and reminds her that it is Providence, it is the woman’s job.

    In Mansfield Park when the Bertram sisters, particularly Maria wants to do the play Lover’s Vows, Fanny Price, the virtuous heroine of the story reminds Edwin and his sisters the risks they all run by having an engaged woman (Maria) play such a risqué part. And the allusion to slavery is so diminutively nuanced that I am quite sure that most contemporary readers could not pick up on it if they were forewarned.

    In Emma, Emma Woodhouse is not worthy of Mr. Knightly until he humbles her good opinion of herself.

    I like Jane Austen as much as the next woman, I especially like her when I want/need to pretend as if the order of the patriarchal world could be all right if men were all like Mr. Darcy. Having said that though, I cannot lie and say Jane Austen was a feminist, especially not a radical feminist. There is no evidence that Austen would not have married and had children if she had the opportunity. She has no suspected letters that were burned similar to Charlotte Bronte. Maybe an almost liberal feminist in the sense that she would expect women to be able to publish if she likes or work if she likes, but we will never know because Austen never focused on anyone below the middle class.

    Posted by ekittyglendower | May 11, 2008, 8:03 am
  173. I think the issue with Jane Austen is her brilliant honesty in describing the status of women in 18th century society ekitty. She is a shrewd analyst of human nature, and her books are filled with a sharp wit that mocks the falsity and pretense of the “marriage market” women were forced to give in to. She is reporting on that marriage market with art and intelligence, and is the kind of subtle feminist that is often overlooked. A lot of women look at her stories on the surface, but they miss the economic understanding of 18th century women of a certain social class. This is where the clues lie.

    I’ve often believed that her brilliance comes from the fact that devoted her short life to writing, and putting the time, thought and energy into this enterprise. From an artistic point of view, we are talking about one of THE greatest 18th century novelists. It is about high art and the life of the mind, and the unmarried woman that is so powerful.

    Women who marry men and have children don’t have much access to this. From a lesbian feminist point of view, this abdication of potential greatness is a tragedy women have suffered with for eons.

    Death in child birth is a huge issue for women worldwide. Economic servitude to men is also a huge issue, and women often don’t know what they are getting into when they are forced by social convention and the idiocy of heteronormative life to be a part of this institution. Women fall victim to social conformity often. Women are very afraid to openly reject conformity, or to even have a knock down drag out political argument. Women with children become timid, and they lose the ability to converse about the life of the mind.

    There are loads of smart women out there who have children. They are experts in the bible, in fundamentalist doctrine, and they meet in all kinds of woman centric ways. But the actual work to come out of that movement is pablam and garbage as theology. It is deeply flawed because these women are steeped in male supremacy. Real choice has been taken from them. You can study racist biology all you want (a la the NAZI) but that does not lead you to true understanding and it won’t produce good science. Women can be stuck in the loops of quiverfull movements or even an ordinary catholic church, but that doesn’t make them intellectually focused. Recently some hetero women were talking about a book club they were in; they admited it was an “excuse” to get together. This is what hetero motherhood produces — excuses, but no great literary work or thought. You can’t do both. Again, only exceptions prove the rule.

    The radical lesbian, even from an early age, as profound outsider to this oppressive structure known as the heterosexual family sees the destruction of the minds of women. We hear the boring conversations, and we see the distrupted minds. We see the role playing and conversational incompetance of both the men and women in these static suffocating worlds.

    I really don’t think most women out there even know what’s possible after they’ve been supressed and coraled like cattle.

    I do mean unfettered intellectual achievement. I am not interested in the mindless world of changing diapers, or the broken conversations. Of all the mothers I’ve personally met (we are suffering now from an invasion of young hetero families into our previously child free neighborhood), none of them read books. If you ask them the difference between Sunni and Shia, they have no clue what you are talking about. They push strollers around, the drive to and fro to play dates, day care, pre-school, they conduct elaborate birthday parties in which all the children are rounded up in these strange new 21st century world. They drive these huge SUV. Their children are noisy, clueless and rude.

    They don’t read newspapers, they can’t tell you what is going on in the world, they are deprived of art, science and culture.
    When women give up their souls to the ultimate colonization known as heteronormative existence, they lose their shot at greatness. I’m not talking about the exceptions to the rule, I’m talking about the women you see at Starbucks, the women pushing the strollers in the park, the women with children at the airports. You don’t see them reading anything, and without a persistent life of the mind, you become dulled down and dumbed down. When was the last time you actually saw a young woman reading a book (serious challenging) while her husband minded the children? Be honest, you never see this.

    It is horrifying for me to see this. Even the looks on their faces have this colonized gaze. They somehow have never developed the ability to look another human being directly in the eye. It is the gaze of the colonized, just as India was colonized by the British. When you see the faces of lesbians who were never married to men, and never lived with them, you see this direct gaze, this powerful presense. I come across this incredible personal power in lesbians who are in their 60s through 80s. You’ll see this in women who graduated from the women’s colleges of the east, the women who went into the hard sciences, the women who participated in the invention of penicillan in the 1930s. Read the obituaries of the women college presidents, scientists and political writers, and at the end of the obit, you’ll see no husband mentioned, no surviving children… because they are lesbians. Lately, I’ve noticed that the New York Times actually mentions their lesbian identity these days, but only after our movement forced heterosexuals to stop erasing our identity.

    You’ll see this in the Boston Marriages of women committed to the life of the mind, the power of art and literature. “Mark De Wolfe Howe, a late 19th-century editor of Atlantic Monthly, numbered among his friends notable female pairs such as the writer Sarah Orne Jewett and Annie Fields. These women were usually feminists and almost always career women, or otherwise financially independent of men, and tended to live in couples… Think of the great feminist French intellectual tradition embodied by Mmme. de Stael and Juliette Recamier. This great intellectual tradition was a lesbian one. It was the power of lesbian mind free of the stifling 19th century family. But you won’t see this power very often if women are devoting their incredible youth and early years to the care and feeding of children. Men have never been forced by social custom to give up an outside life. They freely leave their families to travel the world or go to constitutional conventions. You can see the difference in the quality of political discourse over the years.

    Marriage to men is the great destroyer of women’s soul. They keep on doing this, they keep on thinking that the right wing male powered churches are going to help them become full human beings. But it doesn’t.

    As I continue with research into lesbian life worldwide, I find more and more examples of these great women of the past. First we had to unearth their true identity, because homophobic straight people tried to erase their lesbian identity, and then historians tried to erase accomplishments of women throughout time.

    Now we see in the brutal resurgence of patriarchy and patriarchal family values, that times haven’t changed as much as we think. Women who did have children delayed their political careers way too long. It’s the disadvantage Hillary Clinton is dealing with now. Barak Obama flourishes because his wife has opted out of the political / intellectual world. She has given up her last name, she has sold out her soul to patriarchy. Feminists should be alarmed at this, they should at least challenge Obama publically on this point alone.

    I think heterosexuality and child manufacture should be boldly challenged. I think the dumbing down of women with children needs to be named. Believe me, I have no stake in that world, but I see the compromise of our own neighborhood as it turns into this mindless hetero / stroller mess.

    I think perhaps women feel they should be given a free ride for not developing their minds, or not challenging a system that is so dreadful worldwide.

    You wonder why women keep giving away their energy to the oppressors age after age? You wonder why women cover up their faces with the masks of make-up? You wonder what women fear? I believe they fear moral agency, and self-sufficiency. I believe they abdicate responsibility by giving husbands power over the entire family. Just about every week, I hear women tell me, “Oh I don’t understand finance, I let my husband do all that.” I kid you not, they say this again and again and again.

    What could this mean? Does it mean they are afraid of math and numbers, because numbers are the real reality check? You can’t fudge or fool with them. Is it because they are accustomed to deferring and not engaging? What is it with all of this?

    So after over 16 years of listening to women tell me this, I’ve decided to ask them now and then, “Why do you place all your power in the hands of a man?” “Why do you abdicate responsibility for growing your own money, and why do you let yourself be exposed to incredible risk of poverty or extreme lack, because you weren’t paying attention?

    The costs to women are extreme. And yet, they still think that by engaging in the colonization known as wife and mother, that things will be different. They repeat the same system again and again and again, and still they think “oh my man is feminist, my man is different, my Johnny would never take on the values of men in the culture…” still they do this. I call doing the same thing over and over again, and believing it will be different “this time” is a common definition of insanity.

    I think part of the problem is that lesbians are often afraid to speak up against the institution of heterosexuality loud enough. I think radical lesbian feminists go along with the women who collaborate with the right wing enemies. I think most heteosexual women aren’t challenged enough intellectually. I think a lot of women can’t even understand the context and sublety of Jane Austen; they perhaps are unaware of how she defined the traps of the marriage market, the hypocracy of that social class, or her astute financial commentary.

    There will be no true intellectual revolution for women, unless they decide by the millions to change the very face of what they think is the safety of family. They will never know true power as long as they are subsidized and owned by men. The minute women stop earning a living, the minute they accept that first welfare check known as a husband’s income, they have given up. They have become dependent children, and most women I think still fear the challenge of really throwing their minds as far as they can go.

    You can see this in the mind of a Susan B. Anthony or a Mary Daly. Those communities that push women down the most rarely produce great scholars. Sonia Johnson, as brilliant as she is, was not of the caliber of Mary Daly.

    Now I am only talking about the power of women who are fully self-sufficient, the women who work to raise the intellectual bar. I’m not talking about how smart women are, or how good they are as mothers, or how clever they are in their right wing bible classes. I am talking about intellectual breakthrough and a power that is free of colonial influence.

    It all depends on how much freedom you really want in life, and I believe when women have children, they largely give up this chance. You will lose untold years in the sciences or technology, for example. I am talking about the mind here.

    I don’t like the lack of intellectual life women settle for. I see it and I name it. Sometimes I can’t help but see, that women who give up on a life of the mind, are really too lazy to take on the world out there. Better to nest in a home, and once again leave the ruling and governing to men.

    This demographic I found interesting: there are these huge numbers of elderly catholic women and working class women who see Hillary Clinton as a champion. Occasionally, I see an elderly women speak up in anger and take on a tall man who has stepped on her toe. When women yell in anger in public at tall white men, I take notice. It means they are finally standing up against tyranny after years of oppression.

    I often meet women who are widows in their 60s-80s, and they have told me again and again, “I wish I had never been married, and had chosen the life you lead. I wish I had stayed in school, I wished I had studied advanced economics, fundamental analysis or technical analysis, I wished I had paid more attention to my husband’s financial decisions.” Every day of the week, I meet women who tell me this. Their husbands die, they fire the male financial advisor their husbands hired, and they thrive by dealing with a woman who takes their concerns with a deadly seriousness that no man ever does.

    In old age, they achieve a kind of power and freedom, but they have lost decades in study. The mind and the body are interesting things. You can feed the mind pablum or you can take that mind on long distance runs or a climb up the tallest mountain. You can let your body deteriorate and your mind deteriorate. We have all seen what happens to women’s minds under colonization. But yet, we still fear naming it.

    We still fear telling this awful truth that age after age, women have claimed so little, when they could have had much more.
    They have settled, but they have not fully challenged.

    I have been a radical lesbian feminist for a very long time. I stood up to the homophobes and all those wonderful hetero women who thought my directness and drive and ambition was worth making fun of. Even though there was no lesbian anything available to me until I was maybe 19 or so, I saw a large world out there. When other girls were talking about who they would marry, I was dreaming of walking along the Great Wall of China, when I was reading “The Tale of Genji” (the first novel written in world history, by a woman of course) they were focused on being prom queen. When I dreamed of a job in Washington, they were getting married or having abortions.

    Not long ago, hetero women thought they were morally superior for having children, but I saw them as going to the opt out default position. They will come up with a million reasons why women do this like lemmings. They will think up all the exceptions to the rule, but just observe what women do in their daily lives, just see how their time is taken up with childcare. Just see how the conversation sinks to nothing or what I call “tiny talk” and you’ll see the real intellectual devestation women have settled for.

    There is no freedom if someone else owns you and is paying the bills. There is no freedom if you give up your name to follow some man. It’s not about smart, it’s about a life of the mind. It is the difference between a string quartet and playing a kazoo concerto. Both musical forms are music, but in the world of musical greatness, people don’t go in droves to hear a kazoo concerto, music for the kazoo was not written for the world. Raising children is settling for the kazoo, or it is Mozart’s sister, or it is Virginia Woolf’s musings on Shakespeare’s sister.

    The horrible truth, is that until women are given free reign to intellectual development, and not sacrificing it to children, we won’t have real change in the world at all. I question that biological argument in the face of incredible over-population.
    I often wonder about the rise of the gay and lesbian movement in the early 1950s and how this coincided with the huge population surge worldwide starting in the 1840s. If you look at the population statistics starting in say 500 A.D. and see the chart leading to the 1800s, you’ll see very clearly what I am talking about here. It’s a shocking change. I used to look at that chart a lot, just as I looked at the charts for interest rates from 1789 to 1981. Government bonds were very stable ever since the Washington administration, then Ronald Reagan changed all that. Just how bad was Reagan?
    Well we all know that answer. Statistics mean things, and women often avoid them. They want to live in “exceptionalism” but they won’t face how the majority of women actually live day in and day out.

    Change is sharp and worth commenting on. I see radical feminism as the opportunity for women to claim the life of the mind with no apology and no bowing down to heterosexual propaganda, because this idea that women are smart is a ruse. We know you can’t do advanced scientific research and publish all you need to public if you have children at a young age. You and I know how much time it takes.

    We know that children in poor families fare badly. We know women who have children at too young an age have opted out of real intellectual opportunity, and they do it constantly, never even knowing the price they are paying. We know heterosexuality has attempted to beat lesbians into marrying men or degrading them for truly not wanting anything to do with children. We know the most threatening thing you can say to women is that they will be dumbed down in childcare, they will lose the life of the mind. You can see this in operation daily.

    Lesbians are claiming a new space in the world. There is great danger in lesbian assimilation to heterosexual norms (another topic completely), but this is it.

    It’s a long post, but this worshipful nonsense that great minds come out of motherhood or childraising is a lie. I am talking about a life of the mind, and a life of study that Mary Daly embodies, and thank the goddess for the woman who rose above all that hetero indoctrination to become the uncompromised, the uncolonized and the pure radical lesbian feminist that she is. Imagine if we had 5000 Mary Dalys in the making now?

    Posted by Satsuma | May 11, 2008, 11:10 pm
  174. P.S. Jane Austen wrote about the social class she lived in.
    So did Virginia Woolf. We all write from the social class we have lived in. It’s not bad to be a great woman of letters and an aristocrat, it just is an accident of birth. The main difference is Jane Austen rejected marriage or talked her way around it, and she devoted her short life to writing. She took a bold step into a new world.

    Many women of Jane Austen’s social class never wrote a book in their lives. They were too afraid, too colonized or two unimaginative to attempt this.

    I meet women who are the pampered elites of west Los Angeles. Married to powerful men, they have plenty of opportunity to write and think. They opt out, they settle for a life of shopping and botox and spas… They chatter mindlessly, they are unable to form a serious question. So wealth and privilege will gain women nothing, without something else behind it.

    Wealth is a good thing for women, but only if they have ambition. A lot of women have no ambition at all. Yes, they are very smart, but in a lot of ways, they really seem very dumb.

    Posted by Satsuma | May 11, 2008, 11:15 pm
  175. I support the concept that we need to stabilize and probably reduce the size of our population. But, frankly, I don’t care how many children any woman chooses to have as long as the overall fertility rate is reduced to 1.79 or lower, the level needed to attain stability in the native (non-immigrant) population. Economic incentives are all that’s required. Since the current fertility rate is about 2.1, we don’t need for a woman who would otherwise choose to have sixteen children to have only two instead. We need for her to choose only fifteen. We need for women who would choose to have ten to instead choose only nine. And we need for those who would otherwise choose three to choose only two instead, and so on. Most people eventually choose to limit the size of their family at some point, and it’s usually an economic decision. Economic incentives – like adjustments to tax policy – could easily do the job without resorting to crude tactics like the one-child policy of China.

    Pete Murphy
    Author, Five Short Blasts

    Posted by Pete Murphy | May 12, 2008, 2:03 am
  176. I know that to some reading, Satsuma’s comments might seem hurtful. I felt to approve even though there is a lot we could argue about, I know. But she has her thoughts, her perceptions, her experiences and understandings, just as all the women here have their thoughts and perceptions, experiences, and I’m hoping we can listen closely to one another and where something seems wrong or hurtful, I hope we can let it be in the interests of recognizing we are coming from very different perspectives at times.

    I’d just say one thing, I guess. Mary Daly is, I agree, brilliant. I love her and have every book she has ever written and I have read a couple of them several times or even 10 times, Gyn/Ecology and Pure Lust in particular. Nevertheless, there is incredible value, as well, in women like me, with 11 children, speaking out of our lived experiences and realities. We know things Mary Daly does not know and cannot know or speak to, however brilliant she is. My voice is as important, and brilliant in its way, as Daly’s. All women’s voices are. This is something very core and central to me. Every woman on this earth has such important important things to contribute to the discussion we are having together as women who care about the lives of women. Every woman is brilliant in her way. She just needs to find her voice and to encounter women willing to listen.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | May 12, 2008, 2:56 am
  177. I have to go in a bit but I thought of this today,

    lets not forget, that the ‘standards’ of all the achievements,

    such as art, literature, science;

    have been standards created by none other than

    MEN,

    especially the Upper Crust men, meaning, through out the centuries, it has been

    MEN [and especially those in power, such as nobles and Lords and Clergy, etc, Kings],

    that had created the Academia [since beginning of modern age] that created a type of ‘male world’ in which,

    women’s Art [not crafts]
    women’s Music [folk]
    women’s Dance
    women’s Healing [herbs, etc]

    were all tore to shreds, when Men in those epochs, decided what was Aesthetic and Progressive,

    and the achievements of Women’s Contributions [mothers especially], were relegated to

    peasant or a demeaning class, and then when industrialization emerged, it became even more so, when women’s Art and Works, became replaced by machines.

    a really good book, on this subject, [though it pertains to art and literature but it carries over into the other fields] is

    “Old Mistresses Women, Art and Ideology” by Rozsika Parker and Griselda Pollock.

    We wouldn’t have the medicine today without the contributions of women/mothers, who worked as healers, as well as science,

    one of the first computer scientists was a woman [and a mother if memory serves me right]…

    I used to have a forum on women in science/politics, in left politics especially because I was just shocked, at how many women, in left polemic, who had made major strides and achieved so much–were left in a pile of archives and that the majority of men, I’m referring to liberal and pro-feminist men,

    had no idea these women even existed.

    ONLY those women, who were Married to the Greats, were recognized, so I started a forum celebrating these women, and they were women in photography and inventions and politics and labor, etc.

    I took the forum down couple of years ago and maybe I should have left it up, and it was international, like, women in South Africa who were heads in the Communist party that fought Apartheid, that unless one lives in South Africa, you probably would never hear of them here, and thats among the most progressive.

    Or artists, we often hear about Frida but rarely if ever, about Kathy Kollwitz [German],

    and even if you purchase a majority of art books, you Won’t see these women,

    the upper echalons of the fields wouldn’t allow it, or give them merit, they were always somehow diminished or filed away under a pile of archives, left to wither away years later in cobwebs.

    It was Women who fought to bring recognition to these women and their achievements,

    many of them, mothers.

    Then, not only having to fight to bring recognition to their works, and the credit their works Deserved, [and even now, that is still an ongoing battle],

    they Then had to fight, sadly, for a venue to Show these works or to discuss them.

    So, the ambitions that we have today, lets not forget, that there has been such a glass ceiling, put there, not just in corporate world but every field, to discredit the work and contributions women do,

    so to be considered as Worthy of male recognition or male standards [meaning a man’s world], women have had to ASSIMILATE into that world,

    including, in attitudes towards children.

    It hasn’t been too long ago, when women’s ‘craft’, hand crafts especially in the hand embroideries and weaving [that were taken over, with some economic violence I might add, when you look at history and the restructuring of society, even before the Cotton Gin Age],

    were considered an ART, example, the weaving done by women in the Chiapas, [Mexico].

    In Textiles, which is btw, by World Bank standards, second largest industry in the World–was started by none other than women,

    and today is the most exploited. Textiles is not just dumb down work, its work that takes a lot of intelligence and creativity, knowing resources, etc., and sadly, is easily exploited,

    not only that but it isn’t always female dominated, in Asia, many men have been the spearheads of Textiles–

    but here’s something else, in the Women’s fields, those traditional fields that many find inferior because they are those fields, created by, and often carried out by Mothers,

    those fields and those arts and those social contributions, are a part of Culture, and its the reason why, in Culture Genocide, they are attacked, and done away or, no, replaced, by the modernized or progress that comes in—

    good example of that, is how dance and art, was literally fought and carried out by Women, mothers, in Cambodia, or how, today, there is groups of women, in Palestine, fighting to preserve the native art and textiles, of their Culture.

    In addition, the ONLY reason, in many parts of the world, that we Have access to KNOWLEDGE of rare cultures and customs, is because of the generations of Mothers and Women and Daughters, for example,

    parts of Former Soviet Union–Ukraine–Stalin did all in his power to stamp out Folk culture, the native languages and cultures that were, oh whats the term, centered around Goddess beliefs, nomad cultures, etc….some of these ethnic peoples were literally wiped off the map [or killed by ice–Stalin’s preferred method–Shalamov-Kolyma Tales],

    there was One woman, an elderly woman, the only one left, this was in early 90s I believe, that knew how to do the gold embroidery that thousands of women knew, it was an art that was completely stamped out…only one woman knew how to do this, and a young woman sought her out, and today, there is the Ukraine women’s collective to preserve this art,

    its not just embroidery of threads, mind you,

    its the weaving of a history of a PEOPLE, who were nearly wiped out. Their culture, and their story, preserved by none other than the so called,

    inferior art of women.

    During those years I researched on women on an international scale, often having to pull up archives and resources in other languages and having them transferred,

    I was absolutely amazed and impressed, and yes, PROUD to be a woman, when I realized, just how much, so many mothers and women,

    who sure, they didn’t have degrees and they didn’t have all the fame of artists, such as O’Keefe, etc.,or scientists such as Curey, etc.,

    but let me tell you, they not only moved mountains, they saved, entire histories,

    not only that, sometimes Entire Societies. [example, the women in Poland, Warsaw Uprising…four women, who, live in Europe today…who I would be, so honored if I did only a fourth, of what they accomplished],

    or the women, mothers, who without them, we’d be under the rule of Hitler’s world today…

    these women, sacrificed EVERYTHING,

    and they don’t have the prestige or the money or the admiration…

    but if I had a choice, to pursue my ambitions on the example of many women,

    I’d choose many, who you would never hear about,

    because they just didn’t quite measure up to male standards in a male world,

    but want to know something,

    because they Over succeeded those standards, there are no measurements, for the contributions they’ve made to humanity, to US.

    To freedom and to the cause of human rights…against tyranny and for preservation of cultures and ethnicities,

    and sometimes, believe it or not, by Having children, crazy as it may sound, to RESIST a tyrannical power that was hell bent, on destroying their race/or culture or ethnicity.

    there isn’t an achievement award or a Nobel Prize, that would even begin,

    to do these women justice, and I think,

    after writing this, I’m going to restart that forum…so that we just don’t forget, and that these women, so many of them mothers,

    aren’t lost in the archives of modernized rooms under cobwebs and dust.

    Tasha

    Posted by Tasha | May 12, 2008, 3:22 am
  178. Heart I know you mean well, but Mary Daly created the very intellectual tools to take a part patriarchy. I believe she is quite a bit more intelligent than almost all the women writing about radical feminism today. I actually don’t believe it is possible for women who have been deeply colonized in heterosexual marriage to get beyond that barrier. I just don’t hear it or see it happening out in the workaday world.

    They can try very hard, but it is not the same as taking apart the very foundation of patriarchy, going into the dens of the oppressive fathers, decoding Aquinas and Beacon or even Thomas Moore to get at the truth. Mary Dlay had access to education unknown to straight married women of that era. She was THE only woman in the advanced theology and philosophy classes at European universities.

    You can’t get that kind of education to bring forth a new dream of freedom in a heterosexual social system. It simply doesn’t ever happen. Rarely I’ll concede.

    Believe me, I have waited for years for this revelation to come to women. I don’t believe all women are equally intelligent. That’s like saying my violin playing will ever be as good as Sonnenberg or Bell. No matter how hard I practice, I will simply never be a concert violinist at Carnegie Hall. I’d be insulted to have someone claim that all women violinists are equal, or that all women’s life experience is equal. It isn’t. Some women are just damn dumb. Some women are exceptionally bright, and some women do great things and average things. But to say that all women’s experience is equal or even interesting is not true. We’d like to think it is true, but it isn’t unfortunately.

    You will not publish a great philosophical work if your mind is not trained to do this. It’s why it is so hard for women to truly produce things of quality and consistency at that level. Women can do anything, but the question is will they?

    No, all women aren’t equal. Some are dumber than others. I know when I meet women of greater intelligence, and I get excited. I like to see who is brighter or better, because then I have something to aim for. To level all women into a mass of “every experience is equal” seems an insult to the greatness that has been women’s past and present. It’s like comparing Nancy Pelosi to Queen Elizabeth I. It’s like saying Alice Walker is the equal to Shakespeare. I love both, but Shakespeare is the far greater writer. To say otherwise is kind of wishful thinking. To say that you should read both I think is best, because in reading both, you grow more. That was my major fight with Harold Bloom. I told him he was intellectually lazy for not reading both white male classics AND feminist works. Another story for another time…

    We can aim for equality of opportunity, but we won’t ever have everyone be equal, because not everyone is equally driven in the same way. Not everyone is equally talented. I know I love to write, but I don’t consider myself a great writer. I consider myself meerly completant. My partner is a truly great writer, I am a truly great public speaker. So she coaches me on writing and I coarch her on public speaking. That way we both can become good at our weaknesses, for example. I can see how she can recreate an entire day, and reproduce conversations in an incredible literary style. You can most certainly tell the difference.

    We have to create a world where women really do have a clear choice, and are not subject to the hetero propaganda machine that bores my brain and drives me nuts. No, children are not welcome in my home for the most part. No I am not interested in that world. Yes, I am interested in the intellectual virtuosity of women.

    The Mary Dalys of the world are small miracles. They are products of the uncolonized and very powerful lesbian mind. I don’t believe heterosexual women will work hard enough to go there. They may pay lip service to this renaissance of lesbian publishing and academic work, but in the end, they will not see the real danger women always face when they leave the family unchallenged.

    Mary Daly saw this world in the 1950s. She took a big risk. I really learned a lot from her works, and I used her information to decode and outwit patriarchy in every area of my life. To a radical lesbian feminist, we (or maybe it is just I) long for this kind of purity. We long for the powerful lesbian force free of men, free of their contaminating selves. We have a deep digust for heteronormative anything, because the contamination is too great. I look at heterosexuality itself as perhaps an outdated thing in an over populated world, but perhaps that’s going to far. Straight women will rise up in protest, and that’s ok. It’s just my humble opinion.

    I find the equality concept a nice idea, but to tell you the truth, I didn’t want to settle just for that. It’s like settling for a low income in America, when a higher one is possible. It’s like settling for mircowave food, when you could prepare a Chinese feast. Settling is what a lot of human beings do. Maybe it was why that movie “The Secret” so captivated America; it opened up the possibility of dreaming big, that a lot of people forgot existed. There are flaws in that movie, but I’m talking about the concept or the delight of it. We can critique it as well.

    Maybe I have a different philosophy. I don’t see motherhood or children as worth learning from. I’m not trying to be mean here, it’s just that I perhaps what I have learned from this is the sadness of women’s destroyed potential. We could be doing more if we stopped doing this. Believe me, I was surrounded by this in my youth, and it bored me to death then. Even at the age of four, I just had to leave the room. Maybe it was my young lesbian self that just felt horrified by it all, who knows?

    There are women you can learn a great deal from, and there are women who are complete wastes of time. There are the smart, the dumb and the dumber. It’s not fair, but to delude ourselves into thinking that having children will change the world…. the woman who started this thread was a catalyst I think. It would be a similar delusion for me to dream of Carnegie Hall, even though I have deeply connected to a world through classical music. I can still love Vivaldi and remember how I struggled with Beethoven’s Fifth finale, but I know that Beethover is great. Carly Simon is not the equal of Beethoven. Perhaps as feminists, we get carried away and fear merit or we fear truly changing the world through ideas. We are getting there.

    This is what I’m talking about here. I guess I’d like to see a greater level of genius that women rise to, or attempt to rise to. But it pains me to read your belief that all women’s experience is of equal value. Kali, the destroyer of illusion, would say otherwise.

    This doesn’t mean that women aren’t great or interesting or wonderful, it’s just that some women have changed my life while others bored me to death. If we are honest we will admit this.

    Posted by Satsuma | May 12, 2008, 7:47 am
  179. Satsuma, I think you mean well, but.

    Some of the most brilliant women in the world, whose minds have been trained to do amazing kinds of analyses and creative thought, will never advance feminism a millimeter or never have because in ways that don’t have to do with their training or their brilliance, they are, as you put it, very “dumb.” Their words do not capture women’s imagination, they alienate women in various ways, they aren’t good communicators. They don’t relate to women and women don’t relate to them.

    I think there are many kinds of intelligence. And I think there are as many kinds of ways to be really dumb. Some of the most intelligent people in the world in certain ways are sometimes the dumbest of people, again, in certain ways.

    All the brilliance and training of the mind in the world will be useless if, for example, you have antagonized people to the degree that they want nothing to do with you. Or if the perception is, fair or not, that what you have to say isn’t relevant to their lives.

    I did not say that all women are equally intelligent in the way you’re talking about. I wouldn’t say that not only because I don’t believe it, but because I don’t care about it and it wouldn’t occur to me to say it. Who the heck cares whether all women’s minds have been trained to write philosophy? Not me. That’s one gift to the world, one I value very much, very deeply, but it’s just one. All of the gifts women offer to the world matter, not just this kind of gift.

    What I actually said was that all women’s experiences and insights and lives and recounting of their lives and their analyses of their lives *have equal value* *to me*.

    Here is my paradox, and the irony, so perfectly illustrated here.

    Because I *do* believe all women’s lives have incredible value, all women’s voices are extremely important, all women deserve to be heard, all women are intelligent in their own ways, I approve comments like yours in which you are here to tell me that certain women’s voices, are not important, or are less important than other women’s — the women whose voices you think are important. In other words, my own feminist philosophy and ethics, values make room for you. You seem to be more than willing to exploit that in order to advance philosophies which are antagonistic or opposed to my own in their willingness to recognize the importance of all women’s voices, apparently blind to the fact that my feminism makes way for you in a way that yours makes no room for other women. You may not realize what you are doing. Make no mistake, other women do.

    They can try very hard, but it is not the same as taking apart the very foundation of patriarchy, going into the dens of the oppressive fathers,

    Women who have lived in the dens of the oppressive fathers, who have spent decades, inside of them, have experiences, realities,and, as feminists, insights and tools to take apart the foundations of patriarchy that other women do not have and never will have, I do not care how hard they train their minds. There are things they won’t get, won’t understand, and hence there will be masses of women whose ears they will not gain, who won’t pay any attention to what they have to say.

    As to not seeing motherhood and children worth learning from, nobody suggested any woman should learn from those specific experiences who doesn’t want to or hasn’t been forced to. That doesn’t change the fact that women DO learn about the workings of male heterosupremacy in their experiences as mothers and having children. Women also learn from children directly, from their relationships with them. And when they analyze and make knowledge of those experiences as feminists, they have something to offer that is valuable. As valuable, in its own way, as whatever theory is gathering dust in the library stacks of some college somewhere because women are so antagonized or alienated by the writer they want nothing to do with her work.

    Is this anti-intellectual? No. It is woman centered. To hierarchicalize women as you have on the basis of how well they stack up with what amounts to the male markers and signifiers of intelligence and achievement in patriarchy just isn’t woman centered.

    My woman centeredness, Satsuma, makes room for you here on my blog. And will continue to. But I will have to draw the line where you suggest that your voice or other women’s voices — those who think as you do — are somehow more important than the voices of other woman here (or anywhere), or have more value, or where you tell me that some women are worth listening to and others are not worth listening to because they are “dumber”. All women’s voices, again, have incredible value as they make sense of their lived experiences *as* women.

    I think Kali, the destroyer of illusion, might well destroy a few of yours? Because some of yours, in my opinion, are kind of dumb, as I understand what is “dumb.”

    So there we have it. I feel very strongly about this. I won’t allow the voices of women to be put in that particular hierarchical order you’ve set forth, I’m afraid, with mothers at the bottom, viewed as unable to ascend to the pinnacle or something. That’s where patriarchy tells them they are and belong all day every day, for one thing. And I don’t really want to hear anything like that from anybody here, whether it’s trolls or feminists.

    Because of my own woman centeredness, again, I’ve made room for you to make your point, even though I’ve said, “no hating on Michelle Duggar here”. But this is enough now. You’ve been heard.

    Posted by womensspace | May 12, 2008, 12:27 pm
  180. The other thing, of course, is that where the mind is trained to value only certain voices (the voices of those similarly trained), marginalized voices (of those who have not had access to that training) are effectively erased.

    And the revolution that could be made, never is.

    Posted by Heart | May 12, 2008, 12:51 pm
  181. I think we are talking about two different things. I actually don’t believe that people place equal value on all things women do. You have to choose where you will spend your time.

    I say that lesbian philosophical time is paramount to me. I believe that lesbian feminist mind is not about the heterosexual conditioning that women are stuck in. It’s a different story.

    We don’t all value everything, we have specific interests. The thing is, heteronormativity is forced on us as lesbians, and we come to deeply hate it. The philosophy of radical lesbian views is important to develop. If you don’t have a blueprint, you won’t get the change you want to see. I have never trusted straight women to do the right thing from a lesbian feminist point of view ever. Just as I’m sure a lot of women of color don’t have high hopes for white women.

    It’s just not going to happen. I remember awhile back an old friend said she was no longer going on any marches for women’s choice and abortion rights. She’d spent a lot of time on this in the late 70s and 80s, and assumed that straight women would reciprocate on lesbian issues. I was shocked when I heard her say this. “Are you kidding! Straight women are not going to work on our issues very much at all, and in fact use us to steal our labor for their best interests at our expense.” Lesbians can be duped a lot. We got duped into the AIDS activism, we got duped into “reproductive rights” and we got duped into creating shelters for battered heterosexual women. I believe we can be at the communication stage, but I see little or no evidense that straight women are at all congnizent of lesbian mind. I’m talking about the daily world.
    I’m not talking about radical feminists.

    You all know how women communicate in the world. You all know this, and I think we should question what it would take to blast women out of this sleep walking state.

    This is a given based on what we see on a day to day basis.
    We’re not going to agree on all of this. But I don’t believe my ideas have much application for straight women. I don’t speak with a straight voice, and never have.

    We can all be about peace and love, but then there are the things we really care about. I will say, just so other women don’t feel obligated to believe any party line. It’s ok to say that you want nothing to do with children, don’t get motherhood and want a more intense academic life. I value intellectual content more than most women out there. It’s ok to say that stay at home Moms are fascinating. I don’t think they are, but many women disagree. Again, I don’t want straight women to think that this fascinates me.

    I’m talking about daily life. What people talk about around the water cooler, what girls do in high school. We can see that a lot of women are stuck in the trivia of life, and that is what they think is ok. But there has to be a passionate voice of the women who say, hey, mass producing children for family labor is not very creative or interesting. We have to admit that women were enslaved by childbearing, and that having children is blared out of the propaganda horn everywhere.

    Why else would patriarchy harp on this and create the idiocy of doctrines like the virgin Mary? It is again to make women believe that they don’t have other choices, or that they might want something different.

    We will never agree on this, because heterosexuality itself holds women back. It makes them dependent on men, and as long as this state of affairs exists, women will be stuck. There is nothing I can do about this. If heterosexual women want to keep on marrying men, it’s not my fault.

    When I talk about Mary Daly’s journey into the mechanics of patriarchy, I’m not talking about the hell of straight women foolishly living with men, I’m talking about a close textual study of male authored theologies and philosophies. Again, I’m not interested in what women do in the home, or what they do with their husbands. Women are experts at personal things, but the work Daly did was different.

    Women like Daly and Anthony or even Chiyuki Tada are power houses precisely because they did not live with men in adulthood, they went off on their own, and they did not raise children. Virginia Woolf has this power because she devoted her entire life to writing. This life is very interesting to me, because I too wanted to devote my life to study, books and ideas.

    For all the women out there who love this, this is our mission in life. It is our mental freedom from heteronormative anything, and so we value the purity of the radical lesbian path. This option for a radical separation from all that bored or annoyed us is delightful. Again, it’s not for everyone, but it is available. Lesbians do not have to pretend to like anything about heteronormative worlds. We don’t have to pretend a fascination for that which has always secretly bored us to death. Let’s stop this female pretending and niceness. Goddess “niceness” in straight women drives me nuts!!

    Go to any women’s group, and listen to the chatter. It is often about the weather, clothing, children… and it will go on like this endlessly. You and I know this is true. Women under 40, for the most part, live outside the world of information. They don’t read the news either in print or online. They have no clue how economies work, or how a knowledge of this would make their lives a whole lot easier. They choose dead end careeer tracks, and dead end salaries. They make no connection to money at all, I think because they are still thinking of men as the paychecks. If it’s low paying, women flock to it. We have sexism to blame for salary differentials, and then it is something else that holds women back. I think it is a lack of analysis, and a kind of trapped state in chatter that can be a real intellectual draw back.

    Women are taught to read and write, but what do they do with these skills? Childraising really cuts into time, and if childraising is held up to this worshipful standard, well the mind will decline. If you compare the mind and the excersize of this, heteronormativity fully supports the dumbing down of women. It is always men’s goal to keep women dumb, in their place, materially insecure… That is the function of men in patriarchy.

    I may be a rare minority of the world’s women that says that women can often be terrible uneducated bores. It is true in many social settings. Motherhood has for centuries been about producing a labor force; it is about production. In the past, humans perhaps thought that they needed to build up the tribe, but in this day and age, things have changed.

    We need to take a hard look at the heteronormative practice of having children willy nilly whether this is economically viable or not. If you feel you can afford this, mentally and economically, then it is a fair thing. But if women can’t afford this and do it anyway, and then expect me, a radical lesbian, to pay for any of it, guess again.

    That’s my bottom line. Harsh, uncompromising, and pretty damn blunt. But again, I have truly had it with the heteronormative arrogance that believes the private lives of children should be of concern to lesbians who want to spend time elsewhere. I always loved Mary’s Daly’s famous quote, “Even if I was the only one, I would still be a radical feminist.” Think of childbearing as the factory of the fathers, and the ultimate product in capitalism. Throughout time, women were stuck in that world. Now we have a choice to never deal with any of it, and thank the goddess there are millions of women around the world who can claim their own economic power separate from male colonizers and rapists.

    Women’s incredible poverty is linked to homes and servitude. It is a frightening intellectual poverty as well. Again, I’m talking about women’s ability to develop philosophical systems of thought, to create thealogy, and to produce the incredible works of scholarship that is the great lesbian radical feminist renaissance. Male contamination can destroy women’s minds.

    I don’t value home life or “beta”– I never have and I never will. It is a minority viewpoint, one that women will get upset at. The truth often can upset women. But it is a truth I see, it is mine, I deeply value it, and I want other women out there who secretly think the same, to have a voice. Radical lesbian feminism is not a mass movement. It is very small, but extremely powerful in what it has produced. Lesbian invisibilty and lip service to heterosexuality does nothing for us. Silence never saves us, so those of us who feel this way need to really speak out loud and clear. For the sake of the record and herstory.

    And there in a peculiar nutshell is the story :-) My greatest horror story, the large family…. eeeek

    Posted by Satsuma | May 12, 2008, 5:03 pm
  182. My problem with the Duggars compared to the families in the other photos is the fact that the other families aren’t parading their children on documentary after documentary, nor are they getting paid or a house built for them! The Learning Channel pays them every time they do a television segment! If they weren’t a religious white family and instead an inner city black family putting their children on television and getting free gifts, people would say they were ghetto and on welfare.

    My other issue with ALL of those families is the fact that if they want to follow the “be fruitful and multiply” rule, why aren’t any of them adopting some of the thousands of children waiting for parents in the United States? Is it because most of the children available aren’t white?

    Posted by scorzi | May 12, 2008, 8:15 pm
  183. I dont think it has anything to do with their faith, but rather that they have allowed themselves to become public spectacles unlike the other families you pictured.

    Posted by The Vinyl Villager | May 13, 2008, 9:10 pm
  184. Well, but as I said in 150, the Duggars have gone public so as to let their lights shine before the world– it’s part of their belief, their faith. It’s fine to disagree with what they believe, but I don’t think it’s fine to be all fired up because they get so much publicity. Clearly, people are interested in them!, I never can much get behind criticisms of women, in particular, for trying to gain attention or becoming spectacles, or whatever. Most of the time, people don’t criticize men for being “spectacles” or drawing attention to themselves in the endless number of ways men do that and are appreciated for doing it no matter how idiotic what they’re doing is, professional wrestling comes immediately to mind. It’s just women who draw forth such acrimony if they are in the spotlight no matter why the public is interested in them, and that, to me, spells misogyny.

    They don’t adopt because they believe the scriptural mandate is that they “let God plan their family” by being open to conceiving as often as it happens. The program they are part of — which is horrifying on every level, another story for another day, but I wrote about it in this article:

    http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3693/is_200607/ai_n17178746

    — is, in general, not positive towards adoption. The view is that adopted children bring the “sins of the fathers” into the adopting families. Last time I researched this, and it’s been many years now, so Gothard could have had some new “revelation” in the interim, the teaching was that the only time a child should be adopted was when both sets of grandparents (and great grandparents if they were living) were in agreement and the parents of the child being adopted and the child’s grandparents were also in agreement. Otherwise, the teaching was, adoption was, in general, not consistent with the commands or will of God and adoptive parents could expect to suffer repercussions for their lack of wisdom or “disobedience.”

    I’ve said this before but will again, not all quiverfull families are white. There are black, multiracial, and other people of color quiverfull families. I have also known quiverfull families who were NOT part of Gothard’s program who have, in fact, adopted many children, some, most, or all of them black or of color.

    Of course, there are plenty of issues to be concerned about so far as that goes as well. I don’t particularly think it’s a great thing for white quiverfull families to be adopting and raising children of color, even if they are reasonably enlightened so far as matters of race. For one thing, all religions but fundamentalist Christianity, including adoptive children’s ancestral religions, are viewed as “heathen” or satanic or whatever. (Another reason ATI/Gothard opposes adoption, bringing all of that heathen spiritual influence from generations past into the home. Very creepy stuff.)

    So far as them being on the dole, just no. Quiverfull families, as a matter of their faith, just aren’t. Most vehemently oppose any sort of dole, especially government dole. They do, however, help and support each other, including financially. If a family does end up on welfare/take government or other handouts, the community will be very critical and may confront them in various ways about it.

    Posted by womensspace | May 13, 2008, 11:57 pm
  185. Satsuma, you said many things I could dispute, but there is one thing in particular that signifies the crux of my problem with your line of argument.

    We will never agree on this, because heterosexuality itself holds women back. It makes them dependent on men, and as long as this state of affairs exists, women will be stuck.

    I think you are confusing heteronormativity and heterosexuality. The former does hold women back, by definition, but there is a distinction. Heterosexuality does not necessarily conform to norms, so it does not necessarily hold women back. IOW, it is the norm for women to be held back, dependent on men, stuck, but none of that is inherent in heterosexuality.

    Posted by Aletha | May 14, 2008, 6:46 am
  186. I don’t see this in the comments I’ve read (about 1/2 way), but my biggest beef with the Duggars isn’t looks – it’s the lack of education. Education, that could allow both the girls and the boys to figure out what they want to become. It’s equally disturbing that the boys are not given a chance to become midwives, to me, as it is the girls are not allowed the chance to become mathematicians. Of course, I have had all the breaks – I’m the daughter of immigrants/refugees who valued education above all else; I have 2 university degrees; I’ve supported myself from teenage on up; I have a loving husband I met in my late 20’s; and I’m pregnant with my second child and loving it. Of course we are very influenced by early events, and if they learn they must be submissive/helpless or dominant/domineering at an early age, it’s hard to break that! Why can’t they teach them somethign other than fundamentalist bullsh*t – fine, teach that on top, but have you seen Gothards’ schoolwork? There’s no science, no math, nothing that would round a person out. As someone outside looking in, I am totally horrified at the backward steps of the fundamentalist crowd when it comes to educating children.

    Posted by Sue | May 14, 2008, 5:29 pm
  187. Just a follow-up: what will these people do if the male becomes ill or the female incapacitated? I’m young, but I’ve already been through a bout of my husband being ill (right after the birth of my first child) for about 2 years! I could not imagine going through the distress of that, with the added problem of not being able to financially support myself and my family. How do these people cope????

    Posted by Sue | May 14, 2008, 5:31 pm
  188. Hi, Sue,

    The quiverfull crowd, particularly homeschoolers, Gothard/ATI folks, are tightknit. This is a huge part of the appeal of these groups. If something should happen to the Jim or Michelle Duggar, the community would step up and take care of the kids. Some of the Duggars’ kids are adults and they would also assume responsibility for their younger siblings.

    ATI does actually incorporate traditional subjects into its curriculum, math, science, etc. It’s a pretty rigorous curriculum academically.

    Posted by womensspace | May 14, 2008, 6:30 pm
  189. Hi Aletha, in response to your quote:
    “I think you are confusing heteronormativity and heterosexuality. The former does hold women back, by definition, but there is a distinction. Heterosexuality does not necessarily conform to norms, so it does not necessarily hold women back. IOW, it is the norm for women to be held back, dependent on men, stuck, but none of that is inherent in heterosexuality.”

    Your comment is not very convincing. I think that heteronormativity and heterosexuality have such a vice grip on societies worldwide, that straight people have no idea how they look and act most of the time. It’s why when I’m in straight social settings, I see this kind of draining effect on the women.

    I believe the whole point of the rise of a coherent and politically sophisticated lesbian movement was precisely this understanding that we need to really challenge the social structures that women willingly buy so easily into.

    Now straight women want to believe that they have such freedom as they live with men, but I don’t see this at all. It’s like living in communism and expecting the society to “allow” you to be a business person. They can think they are in business, but communism that surrounds them dictates the entire structure of the country, and the interactions of the people. It’s why I see heterosexuality itself as highly problematic for women who really want freedom without the compromises they are always forced to make in the home.

    Remember, the home is where the prison is, the home is where the major crimes against women are committed. Since there is not adequate protection for women in homes, this sort of thing will continue.

    When we have whole days “Mother’s Day” devoted to this, it is really a celebration of heteronormativity, a schocky Hallmark mess of a day. I never paid much attention to this day when I was younger. Our family simply hated “fake” holidays. I never could put my finger on what the irritating factor was for me, but now I know.

    If you are a straight woman, you really will be trapped in this ideology whether you know it or not, and most of the time women have no idea what it is they give in to on a day to day basis, that so undermines their creativity and moral agency. It is the constant dumbing down that women in families often experience, the draining, soul destroying boxes known as homes with men and the cute kiddies. To me it is absolutly awful to see.

    Heterosexual slavery that women willingly buy into is like water to fish. They will never ever really see it because they are in it all the time.

    We would need to really look at a society that was completely centered on the advancement of women in order for me to give either heterosexuality or heteronormativity its due. I see a huge downside, women go along with it to get along, and feminism and the worldwide freedom of women is forever doomed in the process.

    Someone mentioned boys becoming midwives. I believe the last time men took over the child birthing process, infant mortality shot through the roof… another issue side bar.

    If you are a heterosexual woman, you’ll want to wiggle out of this argument because you truly want to believe you are not fitting right into the roles laid out for you. Roles, roles and more roles is what I see played out in the world. When you’ve been free of that for more than 33 years, you really do see this stiffling social structure for what it is, poison to women’s freedom. I’m sure other radical lesbian feminists have often commented on this. It’s not a new idea at all.

    We often are bored with the same issues being compained about again and again. Women getting beat up in their homes! Year after year after year! Girls dropping their studies and wasting valuable time on that stupid high school institution known as the dating scene. Women get married, have children, get beat up and we are all shocked at this. Men think they have a right to do anything they want to to as many gullible women as possible. They are very open about this, but straight women are in denial. Not this man! He won’t beat me, he loves me! Yeah right! Ask me for another donation to the battered women’s shelter.

    You’d think with all this feminist activism that women would be much freer, and that we would have far less rape, prostitution and sex slavery. But we don’t, we have more of it than ever.
    Where do you think the most attrocities against girls are committed? In the home, with the male relatives.

    Who keeps giving up identity in marriage ceremonies that are performed across the country? Every wedding I’ve heard about lately involes the woman (yet again) changing her last name. They seem completely unaware that this is the first step in the seasoning of the future servant in the home. That they don’t think at all about any of this shows how this danger to the freedom of women will always exist. Otherwise, men would be changing their last names in droves, but they aren’t are they? Heterosexuality, the greatest social conditioning force in world history, and now that populations are destroying the world, we really do have to wonder at the social cost to everyone of leaving this institution such free reign.

    Posted by Satsuma | May 14, 2008, 6:55 pm
  190. Hello womensspace,

    I’ve actually had a look at the ATI curriculum. I particularly object to what is classed as “science” and “medicine” in their sample booklet located here: http://ati.iblp.org/ati/about/curriculum/wisdombooklets/documents/wb4sample.pdf?show=true . C’mon, “How does weeping aid physical health”???? Is that going to prepare anyone for anything but feeling justified in making someone cry? Why would you train a child to become a “true mourner” in any case?

    I’m sorry but I do not see anything TRUE in here, just twisted. By TRUE I mean scientific method, mathematics, literature (other than the bible, which is of course important to learn in addition to other literature), art theory, music (other than biblical), design, etc.

    How is this going to help anyone become anything in today’s technology-driven society? Technology aside, I see nothing here that would help one become a nurse, or a midwife – or even learn how to manage finances and a household, come to that. Home ec anyone? Or am I missing something? Is this sort of education going to help the USA rebound from the coming (and it’s surely coming) recession?I guess everyone can safely cry about it, because tears are after all “healing”.

    And as for Quiverfull families helping one another, did you not say they shun or cast out anyone who doesn’t live up to their standard? Did you not state that the cases where there are problems/depression etc., are thought of as “abnormal”, etc? That doesn’t sound helpful to me. I hope I have misunderstood and they are much more helpful than that…

    Not everyone will have my opinion, my advantages, my take on life, but one of my single greatest enjoyments is being self-reliant and self-sufficient. It has not stopped me from finding a loving husband. It has not stopped me from being a very moral person. It’s just that I know I and my children have a better chance at a future. Why would anyone want to deny their own children that future? Please help me understand, as I am at a loss.

    Posted by Sue | May 14, 2008, 10:48 pm
  191. Dear Satsuma,

    I hear ya, but I have to say, as one who did NOT change my last name and is constantly struggling to define marriage on my own terms, I also see the same problems among some of my own lesbian friends. In fact, I have one friend (and have seen others) who is a devout lesbian, but acts so much like a white-trash male around her mates that it truly disgusts me.

    Not all of us are easily “converted” to the “other team” ;) I quite enjoy being heterosexual, but you have to acknowledge in a partnership that you will struggle in every case to define your own identity and that of your partner. Granted in many societies the female gives up her identity, but it does not have to be that way – if that’s all you see, I’m sorry for that! But I do see the same struggles in many of my lesbian friend’s lives and relationships (and I’m in a large, very diverse capital city, thus I have actually grown up among very diverse ethnic, religious, and sexual-orientation groups).

    I have a mate who has seen what violence against women does, and has vowed to never raise a hand in anger – and he never has. They do exist.

    Posted by Sue | May 14, 2008, 10:57 pm
  192. Sue, ATI families don’t use the Wisdom booklets exclusively. I agree, the Wisdom booklets are creepy! Everything Gothard publishes is creepy– I never used any of it in my family even when I was in that world and would *never* have been part of ATI if it was the last program available for homeschooling families. ATI families use conventional curriculum materials as well, and what families use varies family to family. The Wisdom booklets are like the heart of their curriculum and the parents bring in other stuff, whatever they think will be useful. I’ve known some ATI families to be rigidly academic.

    ATI and quiverfull families, in general, are into mentoring and home businesses. Many have home businesses and mentor their children to work in them and eventually run them. Other kids get mentored by others in the quiverfull community.

    Home Ec! You’ve got to be kidding. The quiverfull girls get home ec 24/7! Not the boys, though. They get wood shop and mechanics, etc. There’s tons of teaching in quiverfull families about managing finances (biblical principles, anti-debt/anti-usury/interest). Quiverfull/homeschooling families are way high-tech, as well, they were among the earliest to have computers, internet, etc., and they rely on the internet for a lot of things including connection with other quiverfull/homeschooling families.

    Girls are mentored in midwifery by midwives, usually who grew up quiverfull and watching babies be born in their moms’ bedrooms.

    As I have already said a couple of times, so long as Quiverfull folks are living up to the standards of their community, they are taken care of, including in crises and disasters. This is one reason so many stay in the community and why it’s so hard for them to leave it, so they try to tow the line even when there is abuse in the home.

    Quiverfull people believe they are ensuring that their children have a good future. They do what they do because they believe God ordained it, mandates it and requires it. They believe they are giving their children the best life it is possible to give them and that if they should depart from the truth as they know it, they and their children would be lost, in this life and the next, some of them, or just in this life by the consequences of their disobedience to God.

    If you’ve never known anyone in this world, it is, I agree, very hard to understand it or to envision what it must be like to be part of it. I am certainly not defending the beliefs quiverfull people have, but it bothers me how much garbage is out there about them and how vilified they are in ways that are just, in my opinion, openly misogynist, sexist.

    I always wonder, for example, why there isn’t similar criticism of “Jim and Kate plus 8″ or whatever the parents’ names are that I just learned about recently, the folks with, like, 8 kids under 5 or 6 years old because the wife used fertility drugs? They have a regular television program as well. Why are they not subjected to the kind of trashing and attacks the Duggars are?

    Posted by womensspace | May 14, 2008, 11:04 pm
  193. Satsuma, I do not know whether it is more appropriate to yell or laugh at you. You have acknowledged on this blog that you really have no clue about heterosexual women. You prove that, over and over. You do not see inside our heads. You may see how we act out in the world. You have remarked about hearing women change the subject when men walk by. You seem to miss the significance of that. Heterosexual women often prefer not to let men in on what we are really thinking and feeling.

    Yes, many women do buy into the role playing, but the ability to “see this stiffling (sic) social structure for what it is, poison to women’s freedom” is not restricted to lesbians. When I and my friends revived the Free Soil Party over thirty years ago, we defined its primary purpose as abolishing sex roles. This did not come out of lesbian sensibility. You know the word tomboy. I never accepted the concept that some things were meant to be the sole province of males.

    You say, my comment is unconvincing. I did not expect you to be convinced. I merely felt compelled to point out what to me was your most glaring oversight. Heterosexuality is not an ideology inevitably trapping straight women. That is heteronormativity, against which I have always rebelled. When a man is willing to cooperate with that rebellion, a different kind of relationship is possible. You may not see it, because it is still all too rare. You can say such are outliers, exceptions proving the rule, but they also prove the rule can be broken.

    Posted by Aletha | May 15, 2008, 4:45 am
  194. All will be well until one or more of her kids moves out and rebels..then Michelle and Jim Bob will pray that the child “comes home” and repents for all of the worldly “sins” they have committed. I feel sorry for girls that cant wear a pretty one or two piece bathing suit, or take ballet lessons because their body will show. This can’t be good for a kid’s body image-to be ashamed of what they look like.

    Posted by Shanna Corner | May 15, 2008, 12:56 pm
  195. Aletha: I decided after the 50th wandering treatise stating and restating the same exact offensive things that it just wasn’t worth my time to read anymore, since I couldn’t possibly address every last disparagement of women. If that gives readers the mistaken impression that disparaging women’s lives within patriarchy (YOU make YOURSELVES poor and stupid!!) is part of the feminist project, so be it. (I try to stick to it, anyway, but it’s hard.)

    Heart – very interesting indeed, re: the treatment of the wealthier family and the fertility drugs. But, of course, they “had to” have that many kids (because their deep-seated personal values/beliefs/desires surrounding childbearing are legitimate, and so are the methods by which they acquired said children, and so are the values with which those children are being raised). Supposedly.

    At least, I hope it’s about their “superior” values and needs; I’d hate to think the different treatment is as simple as their money and fashionability (nary a mullet in sight).

    Posted by funnie | May 15, 2008, 3:09 pm
  196. Hello all, I think I should address the main question, “why is Michelle considered fair game”? I think this may bring up some points as to why other reality shows or families with large amounts of children are not ridiculed to the same extent. This does not mean I condone making fun of her appearance, but it might explain why I think some people are going overboard in defending her choices against other peoples criticisms (and let me state, most of the discussion boards I have seen have only occasional comments about her appearance, most of it is logical discussion and criticism).

    Firstly, Michelle does NOT come from a Quiverfull background. Michelle went to high school; she had a job; she was a cheerleader, and had every opportunity. She CHOSE to not only join the movement, but to become the “face” of the quiverfull movement. This is in direct contrast to many of the families pictures posted above, I’m sure.

    Secondly, Michelle and Jim-Bob are very prideful on the fact that they are “debt-free”. This despite maintaining a debt-load of over $100,000 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jim_Bob_Duggar). This despite not paying any tax on their extensive house and land property (thus increasing the tax burden of all their neighbours). This despite the fact that they whored their family out for hand-outs of a free house, free furnishings, etc. This is not a realistic view of what will happen if you “choose” to have unlimited children.

    Thirdly, Michelle and Jim-Bob are to my mind unethical in their wastefulness. Never mind the waste that comes with increasing the population; there’s also completely plastic diapering on their side; the fact that most meals are served on paper plates that are thrown away; etc.

    Fourthly, NOTHING is grown on their extensive property – not a fruit tree; not chickens; not goats; not a vegetable garden; not even herbs. They use almost exclusively prepackaged, prepared foods and canned foods. This ties in with my earlier comment about “lack of home ec”. I do not consider opening a can of food (or 20 cans) to be “cooking”, personally. Do you know how many families they could feed if they put their land to good use? Instead they live off hand-outs, tax-free status, etc. Again – far from realistic.

    Fifthly, their kids ARE ATI schooled, and not only that, the older kids must school the younger kids at their own school-time expense – from what I see the parents have little to do with it. Not only that, I read the eldest Duggar’s website when it first came out – and the spelling errors, grammatical errors, lack of cohesion and coherence really showed the extreme lack of education of those kids.

    Finally, every time Michelle shows her face as THE FACE of the quiverfull movement, another person gets sucked into being the woman-alone-in-an-unheated-trailer giving birth for the 10th time and feeding her kids on $100/month.

    For all these deceptions, I place MIchelle and Jim-Bob as YOUR WORST ENEMIES womensspace, because I know how hard you fight against women’s oppression in this group, yet Michelle and Jim-Bob are putting on a SHOW of how great their lifestyle is. Every time you see them on tv, you are missing seeing the 10-kids-in-a-trailer-abused-woman’s face. Every single time.

    For all the choices Michelle has had in life, to deny her kids the choice, to continue with the public deception, she has not got my vote as someone who needs to be protected – she is perpetuating the stereotype and the hype.

    I’ve got a meeting and have to run, but this issue really really bugs me in a big way. Why do you defend them so much????

    For all those of us who TAKE RESPONSIBILITY for our decisions, I’d like to see some responsibility taken for Michelle (and Jim-Bob)’s choices and the mess they are going to be leaving behind, which to me seems obvious.

    Posted by Sue | May 15, 2008, 5:01 pm
  197. Sue, I think there’s a difference between calling out misogyny — come on, Duggar has been compared with that pig up there with the piglets, and that inexcusable poster up there is in her “honor — and defending “them.” I do not defend “them.” I speak up on behalf of Michelle Duggar who is being targeted in ways that are sexist and misogynist. Jim Bob? He pretty much walks. Nobody has much to criticize so far as Jim Bob goes. But oh my goodness, is it fun for folks to hate on Michelle Duggar.

    I think this may bring up some points as to why other reality shows or families with large amounts of children are not ridiculed to the same extent. This does not mean I condone making fun of her appearance, but it might explain why I think some people are going overboard in defending her choices against other peoples criticisms (and let me state, most of the discussion boards I have seen have only occasional comments about her appearance, most of it is logical discussion and criticism).

    You certainly are not reading the same boards I am! Maybe I need to post a few more choice excerpts from various places but seems to me what I’ve blogged already should suffice.

    Firstly, Michelle does NOT come from a Quiverfull background. Michelle went to high school; she had a job; she was a cheerleader, and had every opportunity. She CHOSE to not only join the movement, but to become the “face” of the quiverfull movement. This is in direct contrast to many of the families pictures posted above, I’m sure.

    Well, again, your biases are showing here (not to single you out, I think EVERYBODY’s biases end up illuminated in these discussions).

    If you take a look at the Hindu family above, you will see in the caption that I note that they have just converted to Roman Catholicism (which will embrace their large family).

    You note by the caption that I know the mom in the bottom picture of the Conservative Mennonite family. These folks are converts to their faith. They were “saved in 1972 out of the “Hippy culture.” The Lord Jesus delivered them from drugs, drinking, and many other things that go along with that life style.” You can click on the link and check them out. You can’t look at a family and tell whether they were born into their faith community, but I think it’s really interesting that because the other families wore distinctive dress, you assumed that they were. This is one reason these groups dress distinctively. It sets them apart and is a kind of protection from the kinds of criticisms you and others bring against Michelle Duggar. Most people would never criticize a nun in a habit for having given up her life to serve the church, you know? In the same way, most do not criticize Muslim women, Amish women, Hindu women, Rasta women, but they DO criticize Michelle Duggar. If she were wearing a veil and a cape dress, like my friend Jackie Kenaston in the bottom photo, she’d likely escape everybody’s attacks. The Amish are pretty much idolized, definitely idealized by Americans, yet they hold views which are every bit as rigid, and really MORE rigid than the Duggars do. All Michelle Duggar has to do is put the clothes on, she’ll get a free pass.

    So what’s that about? Really. What’s that about.

    Like most young people who were hippies, or like Michelle Duggar, or like me, we similarly had “all of the opportunities.” There are lots of women in the quiverfull movement who were hippies, cheerleaders, college grads, advanced degrees, and today they are ATI or conservative Mennonites or some brand of neo-Amish.

    It isn’t correct to say that people who become fundamentalists “choose” in the brainy sense you’re intending. No woman ever ever says, “I’m going to choose to join a patriarchal, male heterosupremacist, abusive, fringe-y extremist TACO today!” (TACO=Totalist Alternative Christian Organization) Any more than any woman ever says, “I’m going to become deeply involved with an abuser and marry him!” Never happens. Women get involved with these groups because they want to know God, because they are deeply spiritual, because they want to live in community with others, because it looks to them as though women, including mothers, are valued *as women* in these groups, because the groups promise them love and fellowship and spiritual growth, the potential for service, a certain safety from the horrors of the world outside. Just as women get involved with abusive men because they believe the men love them and they love the men, because they want intimacy, relationship, family, connection, security and safety. It’s after the women are solidly in that everything begins to change.

    I have been to several ex-cult member national conferences over the years. At one, I went to a really good ex-member workshop where the facilitator asked us, “What did you want when you joined your group.” Everybody called out what they were looking for and she wrote it on the blackboard: “God,” “spirituality,” “fellowship,” “a community,” “a family,” “safety,” “inspiration,” “a way to serve the world.” Didn’t matter what kind of cult it was, could be a TACO, could be a psychotherapy cult (there are many!), could be a yoga cult, could be a political cult, everybody had the same kinds of answers. After Carol, the facilitator, had written all the answers on the board, she asked us all, “Did any of you get any of these things?”

    Of course, the answer was “no.”

    Abusive men promise something to women, and they’re good at convincing women that they will deliver what they promise. In the same way, abusive religious groups promise something to women and they are good at creating the illusion that they are able to deliver on what they promise. But they don’t.

    Little by little, a woman loses her freedom, her voice, her free will. As the abuse intensifies, she becomes preoccupied with survival, whether spiritual, emotional, physical, mental, all of the above. Over the years she will be deeply harmed by what she experiences, whether in an abusive marriage or an abusive cult. Being in an abusive group is just like being a battered woman, even if the woman isn’t being physically battered. Part of the battering women in these groups receive is the battering to present a beautiful, glorious face to the world, to be a “good witness”, a “good testimony,” to be obedient and godly.

    Michelle Duggar is completely immersed in this world now. She is dancing according to what is choreographed for her. She’s not really herself anymore, though she’s in there, somewhere. Because of what has happened to her, she’s not going to make the kinds of choices that seem obvious to others or that she might have made before the group. A lot has been written about this. Google Janja Lalich, an ex-member who has done significant work with women exited out of abusive groups, read her articles, get her books, follow the links. You are judging Michelle Duggar unfairly, as most people do, with no awareness of what has happened to her, in the same way that people judge battered women and chide them, “Why did you ever get involved with HIM?” “What’s wrong with you that you WANTED to get involved with him?” Or, “She CHOSE to get involved with that guy!” And of course, “Why don’t you LEAVE?” “Why doesn’t she leave?” “She must LIKE to be the victim! She likes the attention she gets from playing the VICTIM all the livelong day, unlike those of us who are really RIGHTEOUS, you know, we TAKE RESPONSIBILITY for our decision.”

    Right.

    Although the level of public consciousness has been raised so far as battered women goes (to some degree, the backlash has cost us a lot, certainly), there is little public consciousness of what happens to women who become members of fringe-y, totalist religious groups. It’s not a matter of “choosing” to join.

    Secondly, Michelle and Jim-Bob are very prideful on the fact that they are “debt-free”. This despite maintaining a debt-load of over $100,000

    I don’t get this. If they are debt-free, how is it that they have a debt load of over $100K. I will need a little more info here.

    (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jim_Bob_Duggar). This despite not paying any tax on their extensive house and land property (thus increasing the tax burden of all their neighbours).

    Okay,why is this? Are they incorporated as a religious organization or something?

    This despite the fact that they whored their family out for hand-outs of a free house, free furnishings, etc.

    Well, this is about as fucked up a thing to say as can be imagined, but whatever. I’ve already said, and will say again, that they are letting their light shine before men. They are being a “witness.” Nobody had to give them a free house, free furnishings, etc., but people did. So they did? People give millions of dollars to Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, John McCain, the Roman Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church, Islam, you name it, people are free to throw their money down the toilet. I’m not seeing how the Duggars receiving house, furniture, etc. means it’s fine to pile on to Michelle Duggar, attack her, make posters about her, depict her as a sow with piglets, make fun of her appearance, and so on. But if someone is going to do that, let’s include Jim Bob in there somewhere.

    This is not a realistic view of what will happen if you “choose” to have unlimited children.

    No, it isn’t, but I hold the media AND the watching public AND advertisers responsible for what has happened with this family. They sure couldn’t have done this on their own. This is a symbiotic relationship we’ve got going here and it’s really sick, people fascinated in a love-hate way with a family doing something most of them think is really wrong to do, and all the while, advertisers rake in the bucks and producers rake in the bucks. At LEAST the Duggars are motivated by their religious faith and devotion! You can’t say that about the advertisers/producers, etc., they’re just cashing in.

    Thirdly, Michelle and Jim-Bob are to my mind unethical in their wastefulness. Never mind the waste that comes with increasing the population; there’s also completely plastic diapering on their side; the fact that most meals are served on paper plates that are thrown away; etc.

    Yeah, this sucks. But they live in the Southwest– I wonder if water is an issue. It takes a LOT of water to wash all the clothes/dishes for a family this size every single day. When all my kids were home I really needed two washers and two dryers, though I never had them. I *had* to hang clothes on the line and fence whenever I could or I would never be able to get the laundry done.

    Fourthly, NOTHING is grown on their extensive property – not a fruit tree; not chickens; not goats; not a vegetable garden; not even herbs. They use almost exclusively prepackaged, prepared foods and canned foods. This ties in with my earlier comment about “lack of home ec”. I do not consider opening a can of food (or 20 cans) to be “cooking”, personally. Do you know how many families they could feed if they put their land to good use? Instead they live off hand-outs, tax-free status, etc. Again – far from realistic.

    I don’t care about the handouts. Why do you care so much? Why don’t you criticize the people who are giving them the handouts? Nobody is forcing anybody to give a thing to the Duggars, you know?

    If we’re going to start criticizing people for eating canned food or not planting gardens in their yards or for using paper plates, I think we’re going to have to expand our criticisms substantially because by far MOST people in the U.S. do this (or don’t as the case may be). I don’t see any good reason to pile on to Michelle Duggar for these reasons, any more than I’d pile on to 90 percent of American citizens who do the same damn thing. (Which, btw, I do not do. I have always cooked from scratch, avoided paper products, even paper towels, planted large gardens, raised sheep, chickens, etc. I say this because I could be all self-righteous too, but what good does it do for women to clobber women for everything under the sun that it is possible to find to clobber them about?)

    Fifthly, their kids ARE ATI schooled, and not only that, the older kids must school the younger kids at their own school-time expense – from what I see the parents have little to do with it.

    Nope. They’re ATI. Guaranteed, Jim Bob gets up at 5 a.m. and does “Wisdom Studies” with the kids, guaranteed the parents are intimately involved in the kids’ work. They have to be, the reporting requirements for ATI are an atrocity of Big Brother Orwellian 1984. To even be accepted into the program, you have to have the recommends of your elders/pastors, permission of all the grandparents, and they have to fill out these lengthy questionnaires about every facet of your family’s life. To stay in, you have to follow the whole rigamarole of the program, including going to Tennessee or somewhere like that for 2 weeks each summer. I am absolutely sure the older kids help with the younger, but the parents work their asses off. That’s something that really pisses me off, and it’s again misogynist and sexist. If a woman has a lot of kids, rather than acknowledging a certain awe of her that she is able to manage it — as these women often are — people will say she isn’t really doing anything, she is probably laying around in her bedroom eating bon bons while the kids are doing all the work. Any way to slam a woman, to undermine her and suggest she’s not what she appears to be. This is NONSENSE and it is mean-spirited nonsense. There is no way the Duggars could pull this off without both of them working at all of it all of the time.

    Not only that, I read the eldest Duggar’s website when it first came out – and the spelling errors, grammatical errors, lack of cohesion and coherence really showed the extreme lack of education of those kids.

    You are showing your extreme lack of education of the philosophies of homeschooling parents, and I’m not even going to get into it in this thread, this is already ridiculously long. In short, one reason parents homeschool is so their kids do not have to endure the pressures of the educational establishment to perform in certain ways before they are physically, mentally, emotionally or socially ready. Homeschool parents encourage each other a lot in this way. Really, to me this is in the Duggars’ favor, that they posted their kids’ stuff as it was. They could have posted only the very best stuff. They could have posted false stuff that they did themselves. But they posted what was real about their children. Of course, if they’d posted only perfection, you or others would say it probably wasn’t really the kids’ work, no? That’s the way this stuff goes.

    Finally, every time Michelle shows her face as THE FACE of the quiverfull movement, another person gets sucked into being the woman-alone-in-an-unheated-trailer giving birth for the 10th time and feeding her kids on $100/month.

    Why I’m here, telling the truth. Why I will be on television soon, having told the truth. Why a woman who is writing a book about these folks interviewed me recently. Why I have written about this world for publication. Why I will continue to.

    For all these deceptions, I place MIchelle and Jim-Bob as YOUR WORST ENEMIES womensspace, because I know how hard you fight against women’s oppression in this group, yet Michelle and Jim-Bob are putting on a SHOW of how great their lifestyle is. Every time you see them on tv, you are missing seeing the 10-kids-in-a-trailer-abused-woman’s face. Every single time.

    See above.

    And btw, all the trashing of Michelle Duggar will not keep a single woman from entering the quiverfull movement. In fact, it might make it more likely that women WILL enter. Only telling the TRUTH will keep women from entering which is why I am so determined to tell the TRUTH. Not attack the Duggars. Not lie. Not make crap up. Not allow people to talk about stuff they are ignorant about without challenging them.

    For all the choices Michelle has had in life, to deny her kids the choice, to continue with the public deception, she has not got my vote as someone who needs to be protected – she is perpetuating the stereotype and the hype.

    See all of the above.

    Posted by womensspace | May 15, 2008, 6:26 pm
  198. womensspace, we’ll have to agree to disagree. I’m very glad you’re telling the truth. And note: I mentioned Jim-Bob every time I mentioned Michelle above. Another note: the Duggar kid who made that website is 20 years old! Don’t tell me he’s in the midst of “learning” how to spell.

    Jim-Bob has incorporated his property as a “church”. And I provided the $100,000 debt website link above. Every single thing above can be verified very easily, many on the Duggar’s own website.

    Good luck in your truth-telling. That is what is needed more than anything – but you will always have the Duggars contradicting what you are saying, and much much much more publicly.

    Posted by Sue | May 15, 2008, 8:12 pm
  199. Yeah, I’m glad you equally trash Jim Bob, Sue! I’ll go look at the website and see what the 20-year-old Duggar kid did, and I’ll read the debt link and report back. :p

    One thing I didn’t say:

    How likely do you think it is that women will have the courage to leave this group if they see what is happening to Michelle Duggar? It happens to me, too. “Feminists” and “progressives” and “liberals” — who, agreed, if they are jerks will use anything they can find to attack someone but still — have often tried to use my own background against me in the most dishonest, stupid, and ignorant — and above all, sexist — of ways. There are a lot of women who would like to start over, make a new life for themselves, in this movement. But what is appealing or hopeful about these sharkfeeds around the Duggars? What I would like is for quiverfull women to see that feminists and progressives of good will will offer them support and practical help, that we are educated as to their situations and the complexities of their situations, not all of this, “YOU CHOSE.” Jeezus. All that kind of thing does is keep them in their prisons forever. The evil they know is better than the evil they don’t, and especially if they have 5-20 kids depending on them who they do not want to leave alone in an abusive church with an abusive man.

    Posted by womensspace | May 15, 2008, 8:41 pm
  200. Okay, the Wikipedia article says Duggar’s 2002 Senate campaign has closing debts of $101,163 that were unpaid as of 2004. How do we know the debt isn’t paid now, four years later? Not to mention, campaign debt is not the same thing as family debt, anymore than, say, the debt owed by someone’s business is the same thing as his personal or family debt.

    See, this is what I mean. Attacking the Duggars for this kind of stuff just isn’t helpful. When people go take a look for themselves what’s accurate is obvious and the attacker’s credibility goes down, down, down.

    I checked out the Duggar’s website and it looks fine to me. Where are you seeing the 20-year-old’s poor spelling, etc.?

    I also noted that Jim Bob works with Jim Sammons, a muckety muck with ATI and a guy who is very bad news. I didn’t realize the Duggars were conservative Baptists, but in light of that fact, their appearance makes sense, definitely.

    Posted by womensspace | May 15, 2008, 10:29 pm
  201. OK, let’s get this straight: I am giving reasons why I feel the Duggars are “fair game” to so many people OTHER than “looks”. I never said “you chose”. I said “take responsibility”. There is a CONSTANT opportunity for choice. You have different data at 17 than at 30 or 40, and there’s no way you should stay somewhere because that’s what you initially chose. I don’t know how you read that into my statements.

    Also, I was referring to Joshua Duggar’s website, not THE Duggar’s website. I will try to look that up for you, although it’s been about a year since I ventured down that road.

    How come you chose to leave? Is it because you saw the hypocracy and didn’t want to lend your name to it any longer? I really don’t know, only I applaud you for that choice. Equally, every time, every day, every hour someone makes an immoral choice (by that I mean, one that hurts others) like choosing to represent a way of life that harms so many as benign and even beneficial, I am not applauding.

    I have long fought against the tobacco industry, for example. I often hear about how smokers are victims, and many times they are. However, every time they choose to expose someone else to those toxins, that is a choice – sometimes out of ignorance, most times out of a willfull desire to impose their way, even if harmful to others. I feel the Duggars are like that. They must know by now that their lifestyle is less than ideal for many, but continue to actively promote it, in a very false way.

    Not an ideal analogy. But I’ve been reading about this family for awhile and about Quiverful for awhile. And while I think, in certain instances, a couple may choose to have a large family in a loving and mutually beneficial environment, most times I see it as abusive. And this is no exception.

    My parents were victims of war. My spouse’s family had extensive domestic abuse problems. Some things are beyond control – but there are always choices within almost every circumstance. Not everyone has every choice, of course. But every day you make a choice. If you say “I do not have a choice” you are making yourself a victim over again.

    By responsibility, I mean, you live in this world, you pay your taxes, support yourself and your family, pay attention to your environment, etc. I do not mean you have to stay somewhere because you CHOSE to. I mean, if you’re going to have 20 kids, then you STILL have to pay into the community as you take out, and support your family, and ensure they get a good education. If you are in a domestic violence situation, take responsibility and GET OUT for you and especially your kids sake. Staying would be the OPPOSITE of taking responsibility in my mind.

    Quite frankly, I feel like everything I say is being taken the exact opposite of what I mean. If you want to find offense, you will.

    Posted by Sue | May 16, 2008, 1:16 am
  202. I’m just astounded by the length of this conversation and wish I could sit longer and read all of it—I’ll admit that I read the first dozen or so comments and skipped to the end so excuse me if I’m saying something that has been touched on….Personally, I think Michelle Duggar is drawing such fire because she’s doing something that seems impossible—parenting, organizing, schooling, loving and providing for 18 children—what mother among us doesn’t feel completely overwhelmed at such a thought? It’s plain jealousy over the fact that she’s accomplishing this, and apparently doing it well, looking at all those beautiful, scrubbed, well dressed kids who willingly sit down and help their little siblings with phonics and piano lessons (my siblings would rather have died than give of themselves that way). It’s like how we look at people who reach Everest….most of us have no interest in doing so, but wow, those who can do it are amazing.
    And for all this talk about them ‘pimping’ themselves with shows and websites…I’d like to know the facts behind this…who’s to say they weren’t approached first? Who would turn down the chance to make more money to provide for a large family? And that the website might have simply become the easiest way to deal with all the well wishers/critics wishing to know more about the family. I don’t think we can assume that the family went after this…frankly that doesn’t fit with their lifestyle.

    Posted by Les | May 21, 2008, 8:34 pm
  203. Hi, Les. :)

    If you read through the thread, you will note that I do not allow attacks on Michelle Duggar (or I do not allow them to go unrefuted) and that I hope for the best for her.

    Having said that, I don’t think the response to Duggar has to do with jealousy, except if we’re talking about quiverfull-type/Gothard/ATI/Titus 2/patriarchy movement people, and they are less likely to criticize Duggar. The one exception might be women who have never been able to bear a child or a second child feeling jealous of the ease with which Michelle Duggar conceives and bears children.

    I also don’t think the photos of beautiful, scrubbed, well-dressed kids tell us much about them or their parents, and neither does the fact that the siblings sit down willingly and work together. These children have no meaningful choice in the matter. They cannot refuse. They have to do what their parents tell them to do or face punishments/discipline of various kind, face the censure of their community, and fear the wrath of God Himself, as they envision God. Bill Gothard’s program is centered in obedience to authority and these children have been steeped in the “principles” of “submission to Godly authority” and to all authority, for that matter, since birth.

    I do not believe it is possible to adequately parent 18 children, no matter how hard a woman or two women or a man and a woman or two men try and no matter how dedicated they are. I think that parenting according to priniciples of “biblical” and “godly” submission is, in itself, inadequate-to-negligent-to-abusive parenting, depending. Some of the Duggar children will survive and be okay. Some –sadly, I am writing this with tears streaming down my face, and I’m not saying this to be dramatic at all — will not be okay. Some will fall through the cracks, will feel themselves to have been neglected, abandoned, abused, unloved. Some will not be able to make their way through to peace in working through the levels and complexities of their upbringing and may hurt themselves and others in various ways.

    I do not blame Michelle Duggar for living the life she is living. As I have said many times, I DO blame the media and the surrounding culture for idolizing/idealizing the Duggars’ lives. This idealization/near-worship creates an unconscionable burden for the children– all of them. In time, I believe Michelle Duggar will begin to bend under this burden as well.

    Just as I will not allow Michelle Duggar to be attacked here, neither will I allow her to be idealized, and neither will I participate in any fantasies about how perfect and wonderful her and her children’s lives are. We cannot know anything about that. What I do know, up close, first hand, and personal, is that many, many families who live like the Duggars with fewer children, over time, suffer. The children suffer. The mothers suffer. Some end up in mental institutions. Some end up excommunicated. Some end up drugged by doctors or languish in depressions that go on and on. Many end up struggling to raise huge numbers of children pretty much alone, without support. Usually, they do not do well, and they and their children suffer greatly. Mostly, the men do all right. They find some other woman, or buy a woman from somewhere, and pick up where they left off after destroying the first woman’s life, and their children’s lives.

    That’s what’s true about this world. The shiny helpful Walton image is not something to take at face value, ever.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | May 21, 2008, 9:20 pm
  204. Well, I still think it’s a form of jealousy, a variation on the mother-guilt that 99% of us mums experience…and 1% lie about. We see another mom—ok, I’ll give it to you— “apparently” doing it well, and have some pangs of “I’m not doing it as well”….and in this situation, “with way less kids”. Again, I’m not saying that the average mom seeing them on TV is going, ‘yeah, I’d like to have that many kids’, but alot of women who do see the Duggars instead of saying ‘wow, that’s really something, what can I take away/learn from this situation’, go right past that into, ‘she’s a brainwashed freak’. It’s their own insecurities that cause them to lash out at her. You’ve asked the question, ‘why is she fair game’, and that’s what I think the answer is. That, and that there’s alot of cruel, pessimistic people in the world.

    I guess I’m wondering why teaching children obedience to authority could possibly be a bad thing. And if you’re trying to teach children to obey, how else to do it other than by appealing to something or someone greater than yourself–whether that’s a time out in the corner, or telling your child not to hit their sibling because God wants us to love one another? If I’m not teaching my children ‘submission’ to authority now, how do I expect them to respect the law as an adult? The Duggar children don’t have a choice? Sure they do. The same way any child does—and so often they choose not to obey. They decide they can handle the consequences or just ignore the fact that there will be consequences (if the parents are strong enough to follow through with punishment) and they disobey. Short of physically restraining the kid, no parent can stop a stubborn child from disobeying.
    “Some of the Duggar children will survive and be okay. Some — will not be okay”…I think you’re making a prediction that you can’t possibly know will happen. You’re asking me to assume that the bright and shiny, happy faces we see in the pics and videos are not the whole story, and you’re presuming to know the whole story, which includes this dreary future. I’m willing to believe that the Duggars have their moments of anger and frustration, disagreement with their kids and dealings with temper tantrums, just like any other family. I don’t think I’m willing to believe that mental breakdowns are the logical outcome of a very large family. I guess you and I will just watch for the next 20 years and see what happens….
    I guess it just depends on the environment you were raised in–you obviously saw large families who struggled, I saw large families that thrived and produced well adjusted, truly happy, balanced adults that contribute mightily to our society. You’ve seen men who would abandon and cripple their families; I’ve seen men who love and protect their families through thick and thin.

    Posted by Les | May 24, 2008, 3:20 am
  205. Les, I agree with you completely that a lot of the criticism of Michelle Duggar is pure meanness and cruelty. I’d also agree that some of that comes out of insecurity, but I think it’s more complex than women looking at Duggar and thinking, “I can’t even manage two or three or whatever and there she is with 18 all neat and tidy!” (Although that might be going on with other quiverfull/Titus 2 type women who are really struggling, but again, they aren’t the ones who are going to be publicly criticizing Duggar for the most part.) I think women deeply resent the way the media and culture in general idealize Duggar, portray her as supermom, because women know better. They know it’s a lie. It’s a sort of societal raising of the bar for mothers — “See, if she can bear and raise 18 kids and have them all neat and tidy, you have nothing to complain about with your measly one or two, cry me a river” — kind of a deal. But, that’s nonsense. Raising children is tough unless you have a whole lot of money, can hire a whole lot of help, have a lot of support, and not many kids and even then it can be tough. To me the Duggars-on-television phenomenon and the Jon-and-Kate-plus-eight thing, as well, are simply a new and improved form of male heterosupremacist propaganda and a trivializing of the lives of mothers. And mothers and all women appropriately resent that and see it, again, for the lie that it is being shoved down their throats. But instead of placing the blame where it belongs — on the propagandizers and the trivializers — they blame Michelle Duggar. It’s as though it’s all her fault because she allows her life to be public. But, as I’ve already written, she has her own reasons for that and if Jim Bob wasn’t all for it, it wouldn’t be happening. And if her church elders and “authorities” weren’t all for it, it wouldn’t be happening. And if, again, the American people, media, culture, weren’t all for it, it wouldn’t be happening. And if it wasn’t her, it would be some other family like hers at this time in history when there is such animosity towards free women. (Well, there always has been, but the successes of feminism have ratcheted up the intensity in various ways.)

    What’s wrong with teaching children obedience to authority? Authorities often act immorally, destructively and violently. If everyone had followed biblical principles of submission to authority of the type the Duggars believe in and practice, there would probably still be slavery in the United States, institutional racism would go unaddressed, women would still be chattel, without human and civil rights, Hitler’s Germany would have prospered, and so on. It is an immoral act to obey an immoral or unjust “authority.” To obey that kind of authority is to be complicit with it. Children raised from infancy to ignore their own faculties, senses, intelligence in situations of disagreement and conflict, who are told over and over again, in various ways, that compassion or empathy should not get in the way of “obedience,” and who are forced to rely on their “authorities” have difficulty developing their own internal, moral compass or acting out of love and compassion for others.

    It isn’t true that children raised like this can always choose not to obey. If they do, they will be beaten and severely punished, and if they continue, they will be thrown out of their homes and communities and shunned. It’s not about “time outs” for these folks, it’s about losing everything and everybody you love, ultimately. I’ve known a number of young people and women who have ultimately fled these families with the clothes on their back and that’s it, had to scratch and claw to survive. Remember, these are homeschooled kids. They are under the eye and thumb of their parental and church authorities 24/7. They don’t go to school where teachers or other students or their families could help them. Everybody in their community is just like them.

    Posted by womensspace | May 24, 2008, 2:46 pm
  206. ” The Duggar children don’t have a choice? Sure they do. The same way any child does—and so often they choose not to obey. They decide they can handle the consequences or just ignore the fact that there will be consequences (if the parents are strong enough to follow through with punishment) and they disobey. Short of physically restraining the kid, no parent can stop a stubborn child from disobeying.”

    This is extremely simplistic.

    A child absolutely can have their will broken by their parents. After that point it isn’t obedience anymore it’s simply brokenness. It’s like Stockholm syndrome times 10. This is what many fundamentalist families are like, though most wouldn’t think so, as mental manipulation is so common within parenting styles in general –within fundamentalist communities to such a degree that it seems normal, even holy, but it isn’t. Jesus was the one who said it’s better you were drowned in the sea than offend a little one, however that’s the main practice of many people, to offend children in multitudes of ways physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. Fundamentalist kids *are* often happy-seeming (and to a certain degree, are often happy, at least in young childhood) But their parents’ whole lives are devoted to turning out holy kids who will go to heaven not hell, as opposed to just good, happy kids like many other people. See the difference? There is a paranoia surrounding the raising of fundamentalist kids, and so every effort is given to promoting certain qualities, and stamping out others. Of course their kids are going to seem so great, they are fashioned to be pleasing to their parents (and other adults) at all costs. And adults LOVE any little kid who wants to please them. So they love fundie kids. Adults have control issues.

    Anyway most kids in fundamentalist big families are going to be good, and even the disobedient/tantrum-y ones will still look basically like angels compared to the average middle class kid. I have seen this played out in my life (as somene who has usually had some job involving kids)– even the angelic average secular kid, or I should say non-fundie kid, will disobey at times or be cheeky in ways the “bad” fundamentalist kid would never do. Why is this? B/c people, including kids, have a survival instinct. The non-fundie kid has way less to lose, the fundie kid has everything to lose.

    Also fundie kids seem so happy and good due to many things often to include the fact that kids from big families are generally starved for attention, and they are usually very grateful for things, as they are usually not spoiled, whether rich or poor. Even if the fundie kid is from a small family and has alot of attn., they often crave affirmation in a way I don’t see amongst alot of secular kids. I think this has to do w/the fact fundie kids are usually being watched for sinfulness and so they like it when adults like them and see the good in them b/c they often feel they are going to be called out on being “bad” in some way.

    Kids are going to be even less prone to becoming criminals where there’s not an abundance of fear, which you illustrate with the idea of them not being able to follow the law if they don’t obey parents (which is ridiculous–following the law is normal for most people. If you are raising a well loved child who is above the poverty level and has been given opportunities and encouragement and hope for their futures they in all likelihood will not become criminals). What people are really afraid of though (it seems) is their kids having sex
    and getting into drugs, which alot of fundamentalist kids do get into but straighten up by their 20s and get back into fundamentalism, have kids and families, and then they can tell their story of when they dabbled in “the world” as if the world is all sex and drugs. Or, never talk about what they did at all.

    I never had sex in my teen years or did drugs, and I’m not a Christian, definitely not a fundie, anymore. I left fundie-ism at 18 and I still didn’t do any of that stuff. I was still Christian at that point, just not fundie. Nor did my older brothers– we never did anything “bad” and certainly not criminal in our teen years–However many of our fundie friends did!! (Whilst judging us for becoming non-fundie–meanwhile we were like monks compared to them.) And these same ones who did (sex, drugs, alcohol) are all still fundamentalist! It’s a weird paradox.

    Posted by Jeyoani | May 24, 2008, 4:24 pm
  207. Another of my 2 cents:
    Children were said by Jesus to be closer to God than adults and so adults should not be meddling in the spiritual lives of children. But that is all fundie parents do, interfere, which is very sad and sick and does often do lasting damage. Yes guidance is worth something but faith and trust in children, the people whose “angels are always beholding God’s face” is immeasurably better. It’s only when I think of children’s spiritual lives being intruded upon that I begin to feel a little “religious” again in that I feel very zealous on this point. It’s supposed to be the inner wo/-man/child who is important right? That’s how the story goes. But there are almost nothing but calls for and looking for external obedience and “smile at me/make me feel good” when it comes to kids. Which is really very unimportant in the grand scope of things. It’s form over substance. And as well, it’s not listening to what Jesus said. I just think fundies go about it so wrong when it comes to kids and growing up in it, I know that what it does is obliterate the natural spiritual life children whould have, installing an artificial one in which it’s all about parents, not God. It’s a hideous loss, it’s a huge casualty of fundie-ism. I actually think it’s incredibly, sickly abusive. I mean Jesus said you’re better off dead than offending kids. And it is very sad b/c fundies THINK they are helping their children to build a relationship w/God doing this! Since they’re into Jesus though, they need to look up what he said, not seek to ease their paranoias and look good to their fundie friends.

    Posted by Jeyoani | May 24, 2008, 4:51 pm
  208. A child absolutely can have their will broken by their parents. After that point it isn’t obedience anymore it’s simply brokenness. It’s like Stockholm syndrome times 10. This is what many fundamentalist families are like, though most wouldn’t think so, as mental manipulation is so common within parenting styles in general, –within fundamentalist communities to such a degree that it seems normal, even holy, but it isn’t.

    YES. In fact, among literalist parents, there is constant talk about the importance *of* breaking the will “without breaking the spirit,” as though that is even possible. When the will breaks, the spirit breaks. These can both be restored, but it’s tough, a very hard road for children from these families. And of course, the women.

    I said: Children raised from infancy to ignore their own faculties, senses, intelligence in situations of disagreement and conflict, who are told over and over again, in various ways, that compassion or empathy should not get in the way of “obedience,” and who are forced to rely on their “authorities” have difficulty developing their own internal, moral compass or acting out of love and compassion for others.

    What is more important is something that goes along with what Jeyoani said and that I left out. These children often have difficulty acting out of love and compassion *for themselves*. It’s all about external approval — the approval of parents, church authorities, elders, pastors, church community, “authority” just in general. It’s about presenting the right image, really, the right facade, and presenting it convincingly enough that all will believe it is true. So, the real person inside, the child’s self, in all of the self’s humanity, uniqueness, struggles, creativity, and like Jeyoani says, brokenness, becomes the child’s most loathsome enemy, to be suppressed, hated, denied, ignored, lied about, just like the prophet says, “Who can rescue me from the body of this death.” These children sometimes despise themselves and find themselves unworthy of anyone’s love or care. But as Jeyoani says, this manifests as apparent gratefulness, being nice and friendly and so on because other adults respond well to that and it eases the pain of knowing yourself to be the despicable creature you honestly believe you are.

    Such amazing, amazing thoughts and insights, Jeyoani. Thanks so much.

    Posted by womensspace | May 24, 2008, 6:15 pm
  209. Somehow my posts aren’t going in the line….

    Posted by Satsuma | May 24, 2008, 6:16 pm
  210. Sorry, Satsuma, I just went through and approved a bunch of comments in my moderation queue that have been sitting there waiting for me to take action, but I keep not doing it, so finally.

    Posted by womensspace | May 24, 2008, 6:33 pm
  211. Don’t worry, I just wanted you to know I sent something.
    Don’t stress out with this Heart, it really is way too much material to keep up with.

    This was a weird spam though, not the usual… Let’s me know what happens :-)

    Posted by Satsuma | May 24, 2008, 11:25 pm
  212. “Let me know” geez my grammar is dying today!

    Posted by Satsuma | May 24, 2008, 11:26 pm
  213. Probably you may never see this with all these comments!

    I think the reason people focus on the Duggars is because, unlike the other families you refer to, they were born in a society where women have completely free access to contraceptives and are not under traditional or societal pressure to reproduce many times. Moreover, they live in a society where they have completely free access to information about women’s health and the impact of overpopulation. Finally, other people are paying their way- most people could not afford such a thing. It’s not easy to make fun of people who are starving.

    The intriguing thing is that they have freely chosen to do this despite all of that.

    But I agree with you about the people who have taken to making fun of her hair, body, etc. That is inexcusable.

    Posted by carla | June 4, 2008, 8:53 pm
  214. LOL,

    Satsuma,

    look, I’m married [long story], with kids,

    AND I DON’T LIKE SITTING AROUND TALKING ABOUT HUSBAND-KIDS EITHER,

    geesh, what world did you come from, are you Sure you didn’t grow up where I did, ROFLMAO?

    but, as much as I hear you, and understand where you are coming from,

    I almost had to hang on to my seat with laughter over this one…

    ‘Go pay for your own schools and childcare — no on my dime!’

    OK Satsunuma we get it, you don’t want to support in any way the het lifestyle–

    but, Schools?

    LOL, think about that for a moment…if you don’t want to support schools,

    then how are all the future LESBIANS going to be educated?

    By HET tax dollars?????

    :0

    you know, you make me think of a poetess–you should read her and her bios and autobios if you haven’t already,

    Marina Tsvetaeva,

    the biography by Simon Karlinsky is one of the better ones I’ve read on her…

    I believe you would find her theories on the tensions between het and lesbian women quite interesting–

    and its not what many think, as the source of that tension, its part of, but Marina takes it a bit further…the “letter to the Amazon’,

    well, I’ll leave it at that.

    you do remind me however, of some of what she discusses in her works and her relaying of few of the Russians she knew closely.

    Tasha

    Posted by Tasha | June 5, 2008, 3:28 am
  215. Heart, thank you for this. All of it — sharing your experience in a fundamentalist cult (am I right to call it that?) and calling out misogyny wherever you see it.

    One thing, to carla, above:

    I think the reason people focus on the Duggars is because, unlike the other families you refer to, they were born in a society where women have completely free access to contraceptives and are not under traditional or societal pressure to reproduce many times. Moreover, they live in a society where they have completely free access to information about women’s health and the impact of overpopulation.

    If you said “they were born in a society where women have more access to contraceptives” — referring to life (specifically for middle to upper class white people) in the United States, I’m assuming — then I would agree here. Access to contraceptives is not unilaterally free in the U.S., neither in the sense of women having the freedom to access them, nor in the sense of being without cost. Women’s sexuality is shamed by the culture at large, and sex (for women) is automatically equated with pregnancy (it’s what I was chiefly taught to fear from sex, getting pregnant), as though to emphasize that women have no existence as sexual beings outside of their role as incubators.

    I did not grow up with “traditional” or “societal” pressure to reproduce many times, but I did grow up with the expectation that I would reproduce, at least once. Now that I am pregnant for the first time, I’m getting pressure to not let this one be the last child, as I intend it to be. This is coming from a relatively moderate, not particularly religious upbringing.

    I do not know what the pressures for women of color are, but I can imagine than people born into different circumstances than I was (and possibly, than you were) might experience those very pressures you don’t exist for women in the U.S. Even in the less-fundamentalist versions of Baptist theology (which I was subjected to briefly as a teen) the pressure to be a Mother Above All is certainly present, and to be a Good Christian Woman is to raise Good Christian Children. This I understood from a mere year and a half. I can’t imagine what the girls in my Sunday school class got from a lifetime of this stuff.

    I am also relatively educated, privileged to be born middle class and white, and yet I didn’t have real information about women’s health until just a few years ago. So much of the medical establishment’s knowledge about women’s bodies is so pathologized that it’s not easy to discern what ‘normal’ actually is, unless it’s ‘male’. It was only when someone referred me to Our Bodies Ourselves that I really started to get it. Women’s bodies and their normal function were not something that got covered in health class, or that even my mother could tell me about really, because she hadn’t gotten any better than public school health class, which being a true product of our misogynist society, treats women’s (normal, healthy) bodies as ‘icky’ and taboo subjects. Between the treatment of women’s bodies as aberrant (always in contrast to the male body as ‘standard’) and the shaming/confining of women’s bodies, and their sexuality in particular, I’d say there’s more misinformation out there in general circulation than useful information, especially when it comes to sexuality and reproduction.

    The patriarchal society we live in actively seeks to keep women in the dark about the power that belongs to women alone — the power to foster life — in order to keep that power under the control of men. I can’t honestly look at the world as I understand it today and say that any woman has completely unrestricted choices.

    Posted by nightgigjo | June 22, 2008, 2:59 pm
  216. There wasn’t supposed to be a ;) in that last post. Silly formatting, trying to break me of my semicolon habit.

    Posted by nightgigjo | June 22, 2008, 3:00 pm
  217. I think her sincerity, peaceful nature and love for each of her children & her spouse & God is really awesome.

    I have no concerns going on with this family other than this:

    Will they, husband and wife, allow their daughters to attend college, and are they encouraging all of their children to do so and be themselves individually (embrace different temperaments, etc.) that they can be in this life?

    It’s one thing to break a child’s strong will and redirect that negative engery into positive activies and encourage their good will built in, given by God himself (the things they enjoy, love, find meaning in). That is the most important thing they can do for these kids.

    I hope they’ll answer that question for us because I believe deep down we just all want to make sure each child is being treated fairly and given all the same fair chances in life – not boys over girls, and 1920s crap LOL

    And one more thing I’m concerned with – The Bible (same one I read and they read) states that men should love their wives just as God loved the church (which means that they would lay their life down for her just like Christ did for his church all the time) not just that women should be submissive constantly to all men in the household. The Bible does NOT teach that and that is being misinterpreted and is incorrect.

    The boys and girls in this household need to be taught now to be submissive to each other in love, and be aware of each other’s needs, so that when they get out of the parent’s house, find their mates for marrying/relationships, they’ll be ready for those relationships to work and be equipped.

    If they are only teaching the girls to be submissive, then they’re going to have a bunch of bully husbands and battered wives running around one day.

    I pray to God he doesn’t let this happen, but they really need to take a long, good look at this movement they’re following.

    Nothing wrong with being a Christian, but being a fanatic definitely something wrong with that :0/

    Posted by Carol | July 19, 2008, 4:43 am
  218. i can understand the overwhelming joy that is experienced with each and everyone of michelle duggars’ births.

    what i can’t undrstand is, how can someone, anyone, in this day and age, justify having more than 3 children?

    how can someone hide beneath the “cloak of God” to justify their own selfishness?

    God created all creatures. With increasing OVERPOPULATION humans are rapidly destroying the natural habitats of all of Gods other creatures.

    God gave Michelle Duggar a brain. And all those other women that run to “fundamentalist” religions to have babies.

    I pray everyday and every night that all of those women start using their brains – their own brains- to realize that if they continue to have 6 plus children, that the world as we know it – as God created it – won’t be around for future children to love and cherish.

    Posted by casey | July 29, 2008, 6:02 am
  219. Michelle Duggar is fair game simply for the fact that her and her husband have thrust themselves into the limelight. She is no longer a private person. They have voluntarily chosen to put themselves out there for the world to see…. not just by writing articles, but by television and websites: them most popular form of entertainment.

    Personally, I don’t agree with the family. Just because your body allows you to bear a gazillion children does not mean you should. It’s not just about their children anymore, but society. Think of how many children need good homes. I think it would be more of God’s will to take in those who weren’t so fortunate. This world is crowded enough as it is.

    Yes, they do this by choice. Each baby is planned to happen. Contraception is not death as I’ve read a lot of people claim while I’ve been reading articles about the Duggars. It is prevention. You can not kill something that has not even begun to exist yet. Or better yet, since they seem to only have sex to procreate… try laying off of it for awhile. Give the body some time to relax.. and stop acting like hormonal teenagers who can’t keep it in.

    I’m not here to bash her, her looks, her ability to be a mother, etc…

    Posted by Jen | September 29, 2008, 4:14 pm
  220. Children are not valued in our society. Abortion is seen as a viable “option.” We live in a highly materialistic, self-centered culture of me-me-me. The Dugger parents have obviously had to sacrifice ALOT to raise this family. And I think people just don’t understand the blessing of children and family, and how wonderful a big family can truly be.

    I wonder if the people who hate them were perhaps raised in families with absent parents or no siblings or abuse or something that has caused them to be bitter, hateful, and really, envious deep down.

    This is obviously a very loving family, and for me, I would have LOVED to have been raised in a family like this. I think it would be so wonderful to have all these friends (siblings) and to have two married, loving, devoted parents teaching and training me. My parents were not like that. They divorced, they were self-absorbed, they put themselves first, and I suffered for it. My sister and I did not get along. No one modeled it for us. We grew up in an unstable environment with conflict, tension, and absentee parents.

    What a blessing that these children are growing up with two parents, with siblings, with a beautiful home that their father worked hard to be able to afford and built, with so much that they are learning- how to be responsible, how to share, how to be a community. Those kids will someday be wonderful spouses and parents because they did not grow up as self-absorbed, irresponsible, spoiled, or isolated individuals.

    We also live in a world where everyone has to have an opinion on everyone else’s life, as if it even matters. We are very, very judgemental and opinionated people. We abuse our right to “free speech” by condemning, hating, and judging others… people who we don’t even know!! I am not sure what satisfaction arises for people who have to hatefully judge and condemn others, but people do it, and I guess they are just angry, bitter, or maybe envious people. Or they are so bored that they have nothing better to do. Or perhaps they are just filled with hatred, miserable at their own lives.

    If this family has chosen to have lots of kids, so be it. That is THEIR decision and it is neither illegal or immoral in the U.S.A. They have done nothing wrong. I think they have a beautiful family and really, really admire and respect those parents.

    I, myself, am unable to have children and I would give anything to have a house full of children like this family. There is probably never a moment of loneliness in that household. There is love, sharing, warmth, community, and so many things that we all so long for. Perhaps that’s why people hate them. Perhaps because they have something we want but don’t have.

    I don’t know, but those parents will have lots of grandkids and they will be two very loved people for the rest of their lives. They will not be alone or lonely or uncared for in their old age, and for that alone, they are truly blessed.

    Posted by Ashleigh | September 30, 2008, 7:29 am
  221. How polluted the women’s movement has become! I remember in the sixties when we really wanted the option of having a career. We had stirrings that said we were worth equal pay for equal work. Now something has happened that smears all women regardless of race or creed with a brush that says she is less than if she does not have a college degree and aspire to greater things than motherhood. A woman more dedicated to taking care of home and hearth and her children is now considered to be some dinosaur. A throw back to another time. I am sad to see what has happened to our gender we slam each other and forget

    I gave birth to two beautiful children and enjoyed every moment of being their mom. We did without some things so that I could stay at home with them. I do not have much of an income any more and I never had a 401k but I have a satisfied soul I did what I wanted to do. I even did what the women’s movement said they wanted for me. I made a choice and selecting motherhood as a career I have no regrets. My hope is that Michelle Dugger and any other woman that makes that choice is as delighted with her career at the end of her life as I am with mine.

    Posted by BLD | September 30, 2008, 8:52 am
  222. I skipped to the the end because of the nasty comments. So glad Ashleigh and BLD got their say in. Who gives any of you the right to come up with a (magic) number of how many children people should have? It’s great you got to have the 2 or 3 you wanted – some people want a different number.

    Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar enjoy, want and do a fabulous job of raising their family. As for putting their family on television, what is so exploitive about it?? They get to take their kids on great outings that many of us can’t afford? Great adventures and memories for the kids! Is sitting in front of video games, wasting time on cellphones and gorging on food preferable to having chores and caring for family members these days? And in the end, who wouldn’t want such video memories of themselves and their family?

    Your view of their religion, doesn’t make it wrong for them…particularly if Jim Bob is in no way abusive and a full participant in raising those kids. He works outside the home; she’s OK with working inside!As for the kids having household chores, why would there being anything wrong with expecting them to pitch in????

    Who, with a profitable business, has been told to close down their business because the’ve made enough money! (Let’s examine our priorities!)

    Posted by jkmom9 | October 7, 2008, 2:31 pm
  223. She’s on her 18th child. They seem like one big happy family but who knows what goes on behind closed doors. I had a good friend who was into this weird church where women did whatever their husbands said….I’m talking doormat! She even told me she would jump off a cliff if he told her to do so. Hopefully, it’s not the case with this family. I hope he doesn’t order his wife around like a dog, hopefully this truly is a loving family.

    Posted by Annika | October 14, 2008, 2:15 am
  224. Helpful nuanced thinking. Thanks

    Posted by Clint | October 27, 2008, 5:47 am
  225. I have such a great fondness for the Duggar family….which surprises a lot of people since I’m an Orthodox Jew and have nothing to do with their Fundamentalist Christian beliefs….but that aside, we are a lot alike.

    I want to take issue with people who think that they dress funny and don’t care about their appearance. I was raised in a reform household, so I wore whatever was fashionable and regularly had my hair done. When I got married, I married an Orthodox man and slowly, as I attended an Hassidic synogouge with him, converted over to the more modest dress of Hassidic women. I now wear only skirts and dresses and shirts with long sleeves. I often cover my hair (most married Hassidic women cover their hair in public–only their husbands see their hair–but you wouldn’t know it because they wear wigs in public)–however often I don’t. One thing I’ve noticed since I “went modest” was how liberating it is. I no longer worry about what I’m going to wear or worry about falling off my 3 or 4 in heels…I don’t fret about getting out of my car while wearing a mini-skirt (I sold my entire mini-skirt collection on eBay–over 20 skirts!) and now people see me…not what I wear. I can now spend more time concentrating on WHO i am, not WHAT i am…

    so speaking as someone who chose to dress “little house on the prairie” who ISN’T a fundamentalist christian….i can say that it’s quite nice really….especially knowing that only my husband gets to see my body :)

    i think michelle duggar is great….and i honestly believe that people who put them down do it because they are jealous….people with 1 or 2 kids who are fighting to pay a mortgage and car payments and credit card bills are angry at themselves for digging themselves into a hole…while a family of 20 is living a very nice life debtfree….and they did it because they chose to be debt free….they buy everything used….EVERYTHING….clothes, appliances, shoes, toys…and they own a lot of property that they rent out….they are leaving a very small “carbon footprint” compared to families of 4….i watched them buy 30 pairs of shoes for their kids for $30….they were buying things other people had thrown away…..

    and they shop at ALDI…most people in the US won’t be familiar with this store–I shopped there when we lived in the UK…..it’s beyond a warehouse store…first off, in the UK all the products are shipped over from Eastern Europe so the labels are in another language….the produce was local and cheaper than the grocery store….there are no shelves just boxes stacked up….and they don’t give you any grocery bags…you bring your own or buy by the box…so the store has very little overhead since you do all the work….very very affordable….actually what surprises me is that they buy a lot of convenience food–premade pizza, burritos, etc….if they really wanted to save money they would make things from scratch–since they have the man power…i was happy to see them making their own laundry detergent….180 loads for the price of a bar of soap and some borax!

    jim bob knows how to make money….he knows what to buy at an auction that’s either useful for his family or easy to turn around and sell for a profit….

    i also take exception to people who say that the girls do all the work and the boys don’t….they boys know how to cook (the younger ones are learning) and they all know how to do laundry, vacuum, and clean house…

    if anyone read “The Tightwad Gazzette” in the 90s then the Duggars should be easily believable….it’s those people who are mired down in credit card debt who buy their kids every new toy on the market and own cars they can’t afford and houses they can’t afford that are annoyed by the success the Duggars have achieved.

    Posted by miriam | November 10, 2008, 6:35 am
  226. I also have a problem with people who say that the Duggars should adopt instead of having so many children…I am an adopted child and was blessed to have wonderful parents who treated me like I was part of them, not an outside addition…I always knew I was adopted, but they allowed me to forget….not every parent was meant to adopt…it takes a very special person and a very special heart to be able to adopt a child….my best friend growing up was also an adopted child and her parents were not as accepting of their decision as mine were….she was always referred to as “our adopted child” as if she weren’t really a part of the family like their “natural” kids were….it may not be the direct reason why she had so many problems in her life, but i’m sure it didn’t help—they never welcomed her like their other kids and even as a 10 yr old it was noticable to me as a bystander….so to say that instead of giving birth to 18 kids she should have adopted 18 kids is ridiculous to me….

    not to say they wouldn’t be good adoptive parents….but that has to come from their hearts….not a directive from someone who doesn’t even know them

    Posted by miriam | November 10, 2008, 6:44 am
  227. I think it is terribly sad how obviously afraid some of the women here replying on Michelle duggar are. Hey, who said the “traditional” mom, dad 2 kids and a dog type family is working? Most marriages today are ending in divorce,the kids are on drugs and fighting with one another,nobody eats dinner together let alone a single meal in a day,kids are spoiled brats who expect everything and don’t want to do a darn thing to earn anything, parents are guilt ridden due to the lack of time they spend with the kids and their spouse etc…. we all know the list goes on. So gee ya think instead of being angry with complete strangers who go against the “social norm” you could possibly learn a thing or two from these people? I’d love to see the divorce rate in this family over the next 20 years-bet it won’t be 50%! Open your minds and hearts and find the good in this family-you don’t have to agree on all their ways just find one positive thing, should not be to hard. Oh yeah-seriously, who really cares about Michelles hair? Sad.

    Posted by ellen | November 16, 2008, 4:00 am
  228. I have 5 kids. Those of you who are saying Michelle Duggar is opressed by her husband ought to consider instead trying to rescue women who really ARE opressed.(for instance, those who are forced into surgery by doctors refusing VBACs) She has CHOSEN to stay home and raise a family and educate her own children, as have I.
    Isn’t that what feminism is about? I always thought so. I never knew it was about forcing intelligent women into careers and acheivements they have NO desire to have. I had 5 children because I WANTED to. I stay home and educate my children at home because I WANT to. I enjoy being pregnant, I enjoy bearing children, I enjoy breastfeeding, I enjoy reading to my children. I am not so fond of poopy diapers but it comes with the territory. (Do you love every single part of your career?) I had no idea so many feminists wanted to infringe on my reproductive rights!
    I have fought tooth and nail for women’s rights to birth their baby where and how they choose. I have stared down and OB in midlabor and told him where he could shove it when he insisted on surgically extracting my 5th child just because I’d had two C-sections before. I have walked out of a hospital against a doctor’s orders because he was more concerned for his malpractice insurance than the safe birth of my baby. I’ve read more medical research on birth and VBAC then most doctors even know existed. I made an informed, intelligent choice and took a calculated risk. The last OB I spoke with asked me if I was an OB nurse. I have helped candidates who would change the birth laws in the state which has the most opressive birth laws in the country. Opressed and unintelligent, I am not.
    A friend of mine was a corporate lawyer. She is now a stay at home homeschooling mom of 6. Why? because she WANTS to.
    A certain group of friends and I together have 28 children. Its quite a get together. Perhaps the difference between us and many of you is that when we get together, we discuss ideas, not people. None of us could be described by anyone who knows us as opressed. Political activists? Yes! Opinionated? Yes! Intelligent? Yes! Strong-willed? Much to our husbands’ chagrin, YES! Truthfully they may not always agree with us but they wouldn’t have us any other way. These women are some of the strongest women I know.
    I have three daughters, all strong-willed, independent young women. It makes them a bit harder to raise but I’m delighted to be raising strong, young women who are a force to be reckoned with.
    My grandmother was a feminist, except when other people were campaigning for change, she WAS change. She was divorced in 1953. Her husband begged to come back 6 months later. She turned him down flat and proceeded to raise 6 children on her own, despite the fact that a man could have helped provide for her children. She worked herself up from the janitorial position at an all male company to the head of the accounting department. She attained two degrees, the second of which made all the local newspapers. Why? Because she was 73 years old. She was by most standards, a strong, independant, intelligent and REMARKABLE woman.
    A few years after I was married we had a good sit-down talk. I told her I knew she was disappointed in me because I was at home with 3 children, not attending college and with a genius IQ, I knew she thought I was wasting my intelligence. At that remark she was completely taken aback. She told me that her happiest years were the ones spent at home with her children and that giving her life in service to her children was the most important and fulfilling work she’d ever done. She told me if I still wanted to pursue a formal education there would be time for that later and I believed her. After all, she’d already proven it. She told me she was PROUD of what I was doing.
    The only person who’d ever opressed me was an OB, but I guess I’ll have to add a few of you to the list.
    Why can’t we celebrate our differences? You want to work outside your home and have no children? Good for you, but keep your OPRESSIVE views OFF MY WOMB! We’re not on public assistance so I fail to see how its any of your business. If you can do what you want to your own body, why can’t I? Or is that an ideal that only applies when it suits YOUR purposes?

    Posted by Amber | November 20, 2008, 5:12 pm
  229. Michelle Duggar is being criticized for her lifestyle because she is white, conservative, has many children, and lives in the south.
    I believe if she were another race, lived anywhere – even in the south – she would not be critized for her chosen life path; rather, I imagine she and her husband would be held up as a wonderful example of family.
    The Duggars are not taking tax money, they live on the money they earn. They do not purchase the latest styles in clothing which seems make them fair play for derision. The girls of the family aren’t at the beauty salon regularly for styling, they take care of that at home and they have the styles that they like even if it’s not fashionable.
    The sin of the Duggars seems to be that they have lots of children. They are raising those children without help from the federal or state governments. They are home schooled. Everyone seems well adjusted, until we know differently, we should stop trashing this family. What they are doing seems to work well for them.

    Posted by diane | December 1, 2008, 2:15 am
  230. I must say that I give Michelle Duggar a lot of credit for raising her large family with dignity. I think woman all over the U.S. need to look toward her as an appropriate example. She is at home with her children daily and shows more interest than most of us combined. I give her a lot of credit and wish her and her new bundle of joy peace in the new year. We all need to stop looking at the “celebrities” in Hollywood as role models and look more toward the real people for hope.

    Posted by Jennifer | December 19, 2008, 4:11 am
  231. “I don’t think anyone would put a photo of the Muslim or Hindu woman in a poster and write, “VAGINA,” and all the rest. I don’t think these women would be compared with a sow. ”

    Women of color having even only one baby have historically and routinely been compared to breeding animals. Our sexuality has in general been understood as animalistic, as has that of poor women…

    Posted by SarahNicole | December 19, 2008, 5:16 pm
  232. Sis said,
    “Which by the way, would only be a problem if her children were delivered with any or all of the tortuous women hating baby delivering methods propagated by a patriarchy medical system rather than birthed.”

    Yeah. I’m really oppressed by the C-section that prevented both my son and I from major morbidity, and likely saved his life as well. I was clearly also oppressed by the guidance I received in treating my gestational diabetes that will likely carry over in the prevention of my development of the Type II diabetes that is rampant in my family. And the – again double-life-saving – emergency gall-bladder removal and appendectomy I had at 31 weeks gestation, where afterwards my son and I were constantly monitored on the L&D ward and he was kept from premature birth. He’s a happy and healthy 13 ½ weeks old now, sitting next to me smiling at me. Had I listened to the more “natural” birth leaning nurse who originally assessed my abdominal pain, we would have missed the rupture of my appendix, as she diagnosed me with a pulled muscle.

    Speaking as a heterosexual woman of color raised by a black feminist father and a white feminist mother, and married to a white man raised in part by his lesbian mother and her partner, who actually learned quite a lot in both college and grad school, I find the general tone of your interpretation of feminism to be quite narrow.

    P.S. I neither consistently shave my legs nor dye my graying hair, and have been called all the discourse-restrictive names women and people of color have been called. I am an affiliated member of my university’s women studies program, as well as of it Africana studies program, while being a sociologist primarily. As problematic as all institutions may be, I happen to have found much of value in the academic process, if not always in academia per se, including especially the community I have found therein.

    Satsuma said: “Just take a look at any jail or prison system, and see all those boys who grew up in those lovely hetero homes, causing untold havoc on society. The young criminals, rapists, girl oppressing idiots, now how were they born?”

    The majority of people in prison in the U.S. are young men, are disproportionately men of color (specifically black men), and they are there for drug crimes, not rape. 43% of the U.S. prison population is incarcerated for non-violent crimes, and while property and violent crime rates have declined, the surge in the incarcerated population is directly linked to drug laws.

    Also, of course I think children are important, because I think people are important. Age-ism is, to me, the most ludicrous of all negative isms, as we all used to be children, and we’ll all age and eventually die… Yes, the heteronormative family is problematic, all the non-child-bearing women you named were children to some mother (and father) at some point in their lives.

    Tasha said: “the walling off–
    Don’t we already Do that in this biege eugenic Corporate age,
    WALL OURSELVES IN OUR CORPORATE SUCCESS–
    IN
    CUBICLES.
    NOT ABLE TO RELATE TO EACH OTHER,
    EXCEPT IN FRONT
    OF
    A COLD
    STERILE
    NON-FEELING
    MACHINE
    the
    Computer Borg Age?”

    Well, no, “we” don’t. Lots and lots of us use the internet to connect with one another offline. At the same time, the people, places, and ideas I’ve connected with that stay mostly online that I would not have been able to without the computer are so enriching that I hardly view the portal through which I’ve done so as cold or sterile. Unfeeling, I’ll grant you. :-)

    Posted by SarahNicole | December 19, 2008, 6:19 pm
  233. I think that the answer isn’t gender alone, but the asthetics of gender. I watch TLC – shame on me – including Jon & Kate + 8. Kate Goselin is a different, but also potent, baby-maker. She also has a proportion to her face and to her physique that is, on some very base level, comforting: “Ahh, yes, that’s a pretty woman.”

    Does it matter that she lives in the northeast? Probably. That her hair has highlights? Sure. That she is fiery, bossy and articulate? Yes. But I think that these characteristics would be cannon fodder if she wasn’t attractive in the most conventional and accessible way. If Michelle Duggar lived in Pennsylvania, had highlights and a skip in her step, she would still be criticized – because she doesn’t have the asthetic.

    That’s not to say that gender is removed from the equation. Far from it. Jon Goselin and Papa Duggar aren’t subjected to the same asthetic assessment; they aren’t slotted into an “acceptable” folder or an “unacceptable” folder based on the way their cheekbones line up with their chin. There is only one folder for them – the “man” folder – and we put all men in it, because we don’t scrutinize them like we do ourselves, and we know to expect roughly the same thing from all of them.

    Posted by Breathe | December 31, 2008, 7:10 pm
  234. Amber said: “The only person who’d ever opressed me was an OB, but I guess I’ll have to add a few of you to the list.”

    Nobody here has oppressed you. It is problematic, to say the least, that you describe an exchange of ideas and opinions as “oppressive” to anyone who disagrees with the ideas and opinions being exchanged. I’m sorry you feel that way. It isn’t true.

    And this is another topic, perhaps deserving another page, but: I’m happy for you that your deliveries went so well without medical intervention. Withour medical intervention during my only delivery, I was facing certain death. This is more common that you think.

    Posted by Breathe | December 31, 2008, 7:18 pm
  235. As a young Catholic mother who is going down the path of the Duggars as far as number of children (and yes, I chose this), I disagree strongly with many of your statements, posts, views, etc…

    But that’s not why I posted. I posted to answer your question as to WHY so many hate Mrs. Duggar. Perhaps someone has already mentioned this, there are WAY too many posts to read through. So forgive me if I am repetitive.

    I think the underlying sentiment is that women who have many children and are religious are simply uneducated. So when you have a white, “normal” woman who is not “backwoods” and a “redneck”, yet she still chooses the life of the Duggars, she is not understood and is attacked heavily. Human nature has a tendency to be overly critical of those we cannot understand. For instance, I would be overly critical of a woman who choose prostitution, probably because I cannot understand how she could degrade herself to men that way.

    Just a quick blip, I don’t have time to take into perfecting my comment here or adding to it heavily so I will just jump back out now!! I’m up too late anyhow!

    Posted by Natalie | January 1, 2009, 6:16 am
  236. Breathe said:
    I’m happy for you that your deliveries went so well without medical intervention. Withour medical intervention during my only delivery, I was facing certain death. This is more common that you think.

    Hmm, Breathe, you can make a lot of assumptions about me, none based in truth. Did you even read my post? Where did I ever say my deliveries went well, without complication? I’ll have you know I had a medically necessary C-section that both saved my life and nearly took it. Complications from it endangered my son’s wellbeing and he was quite sick until he was 9 months old. I had a second, medically unnecessry C-section, because I was bullied into it. I recovered without complications, and learned a valuable lesson.

    I do the work I do, BECAUSE of birth trauma, some caused by unnecessary intervention and some not. What do you think inspired me, but my own experiences?

    I am contacted by women in my state on a weekly basis, trying to find someone who understands their desire to birth their baby vaginally, even after C-section. They want advice, who to see, what to say, what not to say to their potential care providers. Their desperation and depression is heartbreaking and the sad part is it shouldn’t even exist. A woman should have the right to birth her baby how she chooses. I’ve got nothing against C-sections, if that is what a woman wants. You can bet, I’ll keep fighting tooth and nail for women, if a C-section is something they’re being forced into because a doctor won’t “allow” labor.

    Anyone who thinks the U.S. is on the right track in maternity care has got their head buried in the sand. We have an unacceptably high rate of maternal deaths for an industrialized country and the next to highest neonatal death rate of ALL industrialized countries. I, for one, think we should do something about it.

    Opression is defined as the arbitrary and cruel exercize of one’s power. What women say about other’s with many children is cruel and the tongue is no doubt, powerful. Did you ever stop to think of their children? The exchange of ideals is not opression. The nastiness towards Michelle Duggar is not exchanging ideals/dialogue, it is cruelty, most especially to her children.

    I take my children out alone, quite often. They’ve been subjected to nasty comments, made by people who’ve lost their filter. I’ve made it clear, in no uncertain terms to these people, that my children are not targets for their hatefulness. Maybe the rest of the world, needs to hear the same message.

    Posted by Amber | January 13, 2009, 11:06 pm
  237. Thank you for the reality check on how we treat women. I think we are so harsh on the Dougars because they simply have come out with a very precise view on thier family and shared it over TV. We feel obligated to take some stance with or against them. Maybe we need to just accept.

    I myself had once never wanted to be married, have children, or become what I saw as a forced way of being a women. As I have become an adult the reality that being a women is a blessing has changed me from feminist to simply a more informed person. This article was a helpful reminder of our societies (and my own) hypocritical stance on such topics as families. I have recently been challenged to look at michelle’s awesome perspective that children are a gift from God (or whoever you believe your higher power is). I want to be as responsible as they are with managing their lives. I too want to have that faith that you will be provided for and the strength to succeed. Mainly, I think we are jealous of people who decide to live by simple truths and are unwavering in their own purposes for their family.

    Posted by Sarah g | January 24, 2009, 3:32 pm
  238. My main issue with the Duggar’s is that they come off as very condescending when it comes to their beliefs. It’s one thing to stand up for what you believe but I feel like they want to shelter their children from being exposed to other point’s of views. The children just seem extremely sheltered & they should be out exploring the world around them. They should be able to talk to those who have different beliefs whether or not they agree with them.

    Another thing that gets to me is the “courting” instead of dating. There’s nothing wrong with that but in the episode I saw last night they wanted to preven the kids from dealing with baggage from previous relationships & how Michelle dated others before she got married etc. It’s almost like the want to prevent their children ever experiencing anything for themselves in life & forming their own views.

    I know this blog was more or less about Michelle herself but these are just things that I find that two of them as parent’s are hindering their children.

    Posted by Ava | January 26, 2009, 5:44 pm
  239. To start with, I personally do not have a problem with the Duggars. Even though I don’t personally share their views, I have more of a live and let live approach to such and don’t find anything about their lifestyle deserving of such fierce criticism. What they teach their kids and how they live their lives, in the end, affects no one but the family itself. The children appear to be happy, healthy, and well-adjusted. Certainly nothing for a social worker to be concerned about. In more recent episodes, in which the older girls have gotten more screen time, they seem like very normal young women with personalities, skills, and brains. They wear makeup, do their hair, and dress modestly but modernly. Despite their somewhat homogeneous upbringing, they don’t behave like the robots everyone is convinced that they are. So what if their dream isn’t to be a doctor or a lawyer or an astrophysicist? That doesn’t mean they’re shaming womankind.

    All families work differently. Cooking dinner for a family of 20 and helping to raise my brothers and sisters isn’t my idea of fun, but there are millions of families across America that do things this way, not just the Duggars. I’m pretty sure the critics of the Duggars would freak out if someone came in and tried to tell them how to raise their families.

    There are so many lost, abused, and unloved children out there. It’s not fair to rain down so much animosity on parents who appear to love, cherish, and provide for their children to the best of their ability.

    I think people don’t like to admit that two parents could possibly raise eighteen normal, healthy, well-behaved children, as many have trouble with just one or two. Working in a daycare, I saw too many mothers under pressure to have a family and a career, usually at the expense of their children. I’m not saying the woman should do all the child-rearing, but if you decide to have kids, they should be the priority of both parents. Someone needs to be there for them, and it’s up to the family to decide who. Michelle Duggar is there for her eighteen children a lot more than the parents I knew were there for their one or two.

    Feminism is great, but part of that is giving a woman the freedom to make her own choices. How is a feminist telling a woman how she ought to behave any different than a chauvinist telling a woman how she ought to behave? Michelle Duggar chooses not to use birth control. She chooses to continue to have children. In the end, that choice is hers and hers alone to make. Feminism should be about giving women freedom and equal rights, not forcing them to behave in a way that the feminist movement deems acceptable.

    Posted by Campbell | January 30, 2009, 9:40 pm
  240. I just have a few comments on this subject:

    first, Michelle Duggar is a woman who is obviously blessed with children and a nice home, etc. However, I think it is absolutely insane for her to keep popping out babies every other year!

    The poor woman is a prime example of what happens when the husband has all of the say in a household! Has anyone ever thought about what would happen to all of these children if she , her husband, or the both of them died?? Her poor older girls would be instant “mommies” and they already have no life outside of that house! I think it’s very unfair to the children that thay too will be forced to be barefoot and pregnant with no recognition of their goals, dreams, or talents whatsoever!

    Also, the publicity of this makes me sick! Just wait….in another 12 months or so, the announcement of “Number 19″ will bombard the TV stations again! JimBob, if you’re reading this…PLEASE get your wife a new hair do for the occasion!!! After all…..you’re “debt free”!!!

    Posted by Kelly | February 6, 2009, 12:48 pm
  241. I personally think it is awful that people are so terribly mean to the duggar family, and way of life. And to attack Michelle Duggar’s appearance? That’s just petty and mean. She’s just a kind woman, trying to do the lords work, and she’s doing a Darn good job
    Of it too. Her 19 children are all obviously loved, and happy, and since that’s the case, why question If it’s “right” of her to have 19 children.

    Posted by A.c.e.w | September 29, 2012, 9:06 am
  242. Thank you for blessing all of us with God’s gift LIFE!

    Posted by Donna Ivery-Little | February 18, 2013, 1:56 am

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Pingback: J. Dougar x 18 « Experiment IV - May 10, 2008

  2. Pingback: Michelle Duggar gravid med sitt 18. barn - May 10, 2008

  3. Pingback: Large Family Misconceptions « Alma Mater - July 21, 2008

  4. Pingback: Irresponsible choice [Darleen Click] - February 4, 2009

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