An article on the BBC recently detailed how a Christian evangelical movement is becoming more popular in the UK (BBC News, 2013).
A core motivation of the Quiverfull movement is the desire to obey God’s commands as stated in the bible. The rationale of the Quiverfull religion is to have as large a family as possible. It advocates leaving family planning entirely up to God, whether that means many children, few children or no children. It also advocated refusal to use contraception, medical treatments or natural family planning to prevent or control pregnancy. The main basis of the Quiverfull stems from a biblical quote, psalm 127: 4-5, which reads: “As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them,”. But the Quiverfull movement not only emphasises the creation of children, it also advocates the proper training of children. The Quiverfull psalm previously mentioned reflects an important aspect of the Quiverfull worldview, which sees the world as a battlefield between Good and Evil. The Quiverfull movement is a neo-fundametalist one, and thus consider those who oppose their viewpoint as being on the wrong side of the battlefield in the war between God and Satan along with ‘secular humanists’, religious liberals, corrupting elites in encroaching government, mass media and education.
Many feminist groups are expressing concern around the Quiverfull movement, the concern being around the patriarchal model that the religion follows, with the husband having full control of the entire family making every decision for the whole family and the promotion of female submission.
But I question whether there is as much oppression of women in this movement as is suggested. On the BBC’s Heart and Soul programme ‘A Womb is a Weapon’, the presenter pointed out that many of the main fan base of the quiverfull movement are female. In the BBC article on the Quiverfull movement, it is put across in the cases mentioned that the women are generally being the leading partner in wanting to join the movement, with one case stipulating that “in common with other Quiverfull families Vicki had to wait for her husband to come round to her ideas”. Now to me, if you are having to wait for your husband to come round to an idea and potentially coerce and coax him towards it, does he really have leadership in the first place? If he is playing a part in a religion which he may not necessarily be comfortable with, particularly considering the prospect of having to provide for many potential children. This, in theory, could be taken as the man being oppressed rather than the woman.
While I do understand the concerns of the risk of men who ‘rule women with an iron fist’ being drawn to such religions, and also of the possible oppression of women being unable to go out and work due to having to stay at home producing more children and looking after the ones that she already has, to me it seems that many of the women involved WANT to be in that life. They WANT to have lots of children, they WANT to be stay at home mothers, and at the end of the day why should we stop them. Who are we, as a society, to stand there pointing a finger and claiming that they are oppressed women and are not being treated equally in a religion that they choose to be in while ignoring the potential for men to become oppressed and treated unequally. I doubt very much that it is allowed for any of the men to become stay at home dads if they wish. They may get to make many of the day to day decisions in family life, but at the end of the day this is undermined by the fact that in many cases it is the female who made the decision to join the religion, the man at the end of the day seems to be the sheep following.
BBC News (2013) The Quiverfull: The evangelical Christians opposed to contraception <http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-22526252> (accessed 21 May 2013)
For further reading on the Quiverfull movement I would recommend looking at Juliana Denson’s research on the Quiverful movement which I used to better inform myself for the writing of this blog post <http://scholarship.claremont.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1010&context=lux&seiredir=1&referer=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.co.uk%2Furl%3Fsa%3Dt%26rct%3Dj%26q%3Dfeminists%2520against%2520quiverfull%26source%3Dweb%26cd%3D8%26ved%3D0CGIQFjAH%26url%3Dhttp%253A%252F%252Fscholarship.claremont.edu%252Fcgi%252Fviewcontent.cgi%253Farticle%253D1010%2526context%253Dlux%26ei%3DYBKcUa7yN6KP7Aa0soGgAw%26usg%3DAFQjCNGgPUj5yY59DRvPHHDMtrxpRR4cbA#search=%22feminists%20against%20quiverfull%22>