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I Name (and Blame) the Patriarchs, Part 2: Fallacies About the Full Quiver Movement

The Rod-- A Full Quiver Family's Home Business

I’m writing this post mostly in response to this post and the comments thread.  There seems to be a lot of interest in the Full Quiver movement right now; aggravatingly, there doesn’t seem to be as much interest in what is really true about it.   That’s unfortunate because it’s a movement in which women and children are routinely and systematically subordinated and subjugated by the men in their lives — fathers, husbands, older sons, sons, period, pastors, elders, leaders —  as a matter of biblical principle.  If we don’t get to what’s true about this and how it all works, then what is happening to women and children in these families will be missed, and they won’t get the understanding, help and support they need to get out, get free.

So here are some responses to erroneous information in Amanda’s post (and elsewhere on the internet) and in her  comments section.   I’m not intending to be hard on Amanda here — I think it’s great that she’s talking about this movement.  It’s very difficult for outsiders to gather information about what actually goes on in full quiver families.

The Full Quiver Movement is Racist

In my experience, the movement is no more racist than rank and file white people in the United States are racist (meaning, yes, the movement is racist, as the U.S. population, in general, is racist; again, no more, no less).    It has its share of horrifying racists and white supremacists; it also has its share of anti-racists and people who are committed to ending racism.  Remember, “conservative Christian”, by a long shot,  does not equal “white”.  Gazillions of conservative Christians are people of color, and some of them are part of the Full Quiver movement.

The Full Quiver Movement is a White Folks’ Movement

Not really.  There is an increasing number of families of color who are part of the Quiverfull movement– biracial families, too. There are also quite a few white Quiverfull types who adopt children of color (a thread all its own; it’s coming soon).

Children in Full  Quiver Families are Ornaments; They Aren’t Expected to Work Like Children in Large Families Did in Days Gone By

Completely untrue.  Children in full quiver families work– they work, in some cases, really, really hard, much harder, in fact, than children, particularly young children, should ever be expected to work.  A full quiver distinctive is the goal of families being debt free, and preferably off the grid and self-sufficient.  That means, many times, moving out to rural areas,  living  in difficult conditions (trailers, combinations of trailers/school buses/lean-tos), building houses a few boards and a bag of concrete at a time as funds allow, meaning the whole family lives in first one small unheated, uninsulated room with an outhouse, then they add insulation, a bathroom, another room, and so on.  This means primitive, difficult living conditions in which the kids’ help is essential– to do things like clear land, remove and burn brush, help with building the house and outbuildings, plant and maintain gardens and harvest food, then can, dry, freeze, or smoke it.  Families often heat with fireplaces or woodstoves so there is wood that needs cut and hauled in, or they use alternative power, hydros in streams, wind power, combined with generators.  This means that quite a few families spend quite a bit of time without power, without running water.

Another emphasis of the full quiver movement is home business (one element of the goal of self-sufficiency).  Not only do parents  create, run and operate their home businesses, the kids work for those businesses, too,  meaning, when they’re not chopping wood or clearing brush or cleaning up after themselves and their many siblings, or folding laundry for 14 people, several of whom are in diapers, or cooking dinner for 14-plus, they are doing things like entering data into databases, filling orders for whatever they sell, collating publications and mailing them out, fixing things, depending on the business.  These families need every one of their kids and all the more, the more kids they have.  Especially difficult are the lives of older daughters,who usually bear a lot of the caregiving/babysitting/housecleaning/cooking/laundry responsibilities for everybody (including elderly parents and relatives which full quiver families take in as a matter of religious obligation.)  Boys work hard, too. They hunt, fish, learn to fix motors, cars, farm equipment, care for farm animals, rototill, plow, weed, haul in wood.  The boys do everything that is gendered male; the girls do what is gendered female.

Full Quiver Types Are A Burden on School Systems

Full Quiver types are not a burden to local school systems.  These families reject government help (generally speaking; there might be 3.5 families per 100 who will accept some sort of government help, but as a matter of biblical principle, they rely on one another, the church, and God.) They don’t trust schools and usually steer clear of them.  They buy their own curriculum and school supplies, organize their own activities, support groups, and events,  pool their resources, organize their own conferences and curriculum fairs, and pay for all of their children’s home education themselves, while continuing to support public schools with their tax dollars although they reap none of the benefits (other than the benefits all of us reap when the nation’s children are educated.)  They don’t get any sort of tax breaks for this; they pay for it all themselves.

Full Quiver Families Have Babies to Populate the World With White People and Take Over

Not really.    Especially not the women.  Full Quiver women  aren’t having babies to take over the world (although dominionist men speak in those terms).   They are having the babies because they believe babies are a blessing, and that it would be wrong to say no to God’s blessings.  The full quiver/arrows stuff, when you get right down to it, is just patriarchy’s justification for co-opting and taking ownership of women’s bodies and reproductive capacities.   The women in the movement are sincere; they want to “obey God.”  An example Mary Pride has used is, health and prosperity are listed as blessings in the Bible, and we don’t hear anybody complaining about too much of these, so why would women complain about  children, which God also calls a blessing?    Remember, these are Bible literalists.  In fact,  also, and again, Full Quiver families need their children, because their lives are very difficult most of the time, and there is far more work that needs to be done than two adults could ever do. Anybody want to be responsible for laundry and meals for 9-15 in your 1500-foot (or smaller), three-bedroom, double-wide in which all of you spend all of your time (read:  crayons, books, pencils, paper, toys, homeschool projects, meals, cribs, walkers, crawling babies, piles of laundry,  etc.)?  This is work and lots of it.  Parents need plenty of kids to help with this work.

Rousas Rushdoony, a Holocaust denier, was the father of the Full Quiver movement; this proves it is a racist movement

No.  Rousas Rushdoony was indeed a Holocaust denier (and also believed slavery was biblical and interracial marriage was a crime against communities), but he isn’t really responsible for the Full Quiver movement.  The Full Quiver movement really began with the Hesses’ book Full Quiver and with Mary Pride (The Way Home), then was developed and institutionalized by Bill Gothard’s ATI/IBLP organization (which is a series of blog posts in and of itself; I’ll get to them.)  Pride was something of a disciple of Rushdoony, but the Hesses weren’t and neither was Bill Gothard, and Rushdoony wanted nothing to do with Gothard.  The Full Quiver crowd is not at all monolithic; the men fight like cats and dogs amongst themselves and disagree about everything under the sun, with some spectacular fallout at times.  Some of them are dominionists, but most are not.  Some are racists, some are anti-racists, some are people of color, some are converted Jews (often “Messianic Jews”).  Only  a very, very few disciples of Rushdoony (a small number of people anyway, and  the Reconstructionists are noted for how often and intensely and bitterly they fight with each other, dis one another, hold grudges against one another, etc.) deny the Holocaust.

Full Quiver Families are All Rich, Well-Fed, Well-Dressed White People with Lace Curtains in their Windows and Huge Homes with Shiny Hardwood Floors

Totally and absolutely false!  You shouldn’t make any sort of judgment about these folks based on people like the ones in documentaries or television shows about them.  These shows generally feature wealthy people, often Republican politicians, who can afford to build mansions, have two or three washers and dryers, and pay homeschooled teenage girls to help with the babies, kids, homeschooling, housework, cooking.  They can buy anything they want.   The media spotlights this tiny number of people. They are not remotely representative of the movement.

A Truth:  Life is Hard for Full Quiver Women and Children

The lives of Full Quiver women and children are often really, really HARD.  Especially, the women’s and children’s lives are hard.  To the very low incomes (these are by and large one- income families), and the often primitive living arrangements of many, and to the hard work involved in caring for many babies and children, add the very brutal discipline many of these families practice, not only of children, but sometimes of the wife and mother.  These children are frequently severely beaten for any and all “disobedience” with “rods” (which some families make and sell as a family business, see ad at the top.)  The children are abused, the women are abused; the women work as though they are machines; the children often do, too.  The men though?  Well, too often, they are kings on thrones, pontificating on with one another about winning the world for Christ, sitting “in the gate” with the other men, gossiping about what’s going on in their “fellowships,” splitting doctrinal and theological hairs beyond all reason, requiring sex from their wives as their wives’ biblical duty, often abusing and neglecting their wives and kids, sitting around reading their Bibles and books and magazines and whatever, as their wives and children knock themselves out to be “obedient” and a good “testimony” to how “godly” and “righteous” their fathers are.

If there is anyone to criticize in this movement, anyone to blame, let it be these men, who so, so benefit in ways their wives and daughters don’t and never can or will.



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