Review: Quiverfull, Kathryn Joyce

Eurgh.  Recommended by Stephanie of Open Mind, Insert Book, Quiverfull is all about the Christian patriarchy movement, where women embrace “complementarian” gender roles and submit to their husbands/fathers in everything.  Apparently it is very liberating not to have to bother about making decisions; unless, of course, the decision-maker for your household (your husband or father) has decided to hit you, in which case your spiritual community will assure you it is your fault that he’s behaving that way.

From my (strongly feminist, semi-lapsed Catholic) perspective, Joyce manages to steer clear of judgment calls about this to a remarkable degree, though she doesn’t provide a lot of historical and societal context for the movements.  She interviews a number of key figures in the Quiverfull movement and other, similarly-minded Christian movements; she attends several events intended to promote complementarian values; and it appears that she manages to avoid getting into quarrels.  Which is more than I would be able to do, and here, in a nutshell, is why:

Michael and Debi Pearl of the No Greater Joy ministry caution against women developing close friends with other women.  “There is a grave danger of becoming emotionally dependent on other women,” writes Debi.  “Too many times I have seen this lead to something abnormal and sick.  Your husband and God should be the ones to whom you turn for emotional support and intimacy.”

So it’s the kind of relationship where the woman should really be completely dependent on her husband for everything, and not have any interest in friends outside of her husband.  And also he’s in control of all decisions for the household.  I feel like I’ve heard that kind of relationship described another way, but I just can’t think where.  In short, I don’t like this.  I mean the book was fine, but the movement is disturbing, and after a while I got upset reading about women who opt out of exercising their moral choice.  I think I will find my book about the Christian youth movement far less disturbing and fringe-y.

Other reviews:

Open Mind, Insert Book
Peace of Brain

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