Half An Army?

I have a sister who would make a better drill sergeant than nurse, and yet she plans to study nursing. This sister could be a CEO or a military officer or a politician, but she has never even considered being any of those things. She literally does not realize they are options. Nursing in contrast is an acceptable feminine pursuit, and besides, once she marries she plans to stay home and have children as is expected of her.


The Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull goal is to return this country to “Biblical Christianity.” It is for this purpose, for example, that homeschool leader Michael Farris founded Patrick Henry College, intending to train homeschooled youth to lead the nation and influence the culture with Biblical values and principles with the final goal of restoring the country and its government to Biblical Christianity. I actually had a friend who went to Patrick Henry. She completed a degree in government and won awards on the school’s debate team. Where is she today? She is a stay at home mother with a young baby. Apparently this is the course Patrick Henry encourages for women.


It strikes me that dominionists are ignoring half of their potential talent by urging their daughters and young women to think of nothing besides homemaking and other womanly pursuits. Women are seen as only useful as mothers of future culture changers, and as wifely supporters of current culture changers. The play a secondary, rather than primary, role.
If dominionists really have such grandiose goals of changing the country and restoring Biblical Christianity, I have to ask, why not leash the full potential of both males and females? Why not use all the possible talent? The answer, I think, highlights the misogyny of the movement. Women are seen as valuable only in their prescribed role: as wives and mothers. They are seen as legitimate only as wives and mothers. Outside of that role women are seen as dangerously out of place. You see, those in this movement really truly believe that this is all women are meant to be. They don’t think about the fact that their daughters, just like their sons, have the potential to be movie directors, scientists, and politicians.  

I am not saying that women should never be homemakers. What I am saying is that shoehorning every daughter and young woman into homemaking ignores a lot of potential and talent outside of homemaking. Women have just as much ability as men do, and can be just as successful as engineers, administrators, police officers, doctors, or accountants.

Now of course, it could be argued that the value of young women of the movement as baby making machines producing dozens of new warriors is greater than their value as a CEOs, military officers, or politicians. I have indeed heard the saying “the hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world.” But again, note the misogyny: the woman boils down to her womb, not her brain or her talent or her abilities. Her womb is what matters.

And so, as my sister plans to study nursing and then be a mother, I shake my head and wonder at the potential and talent that is overlooked, not only in her, but in every other daughter of families influenced by Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull ideals.

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About Libby Anne

Libby Anne grew up in a large evangelical homeschool family highly involved in the Christian Right. College turned her world upside down, and she is today an atheist, a feminist, and a progressive. She blogs about leaving religion, her experience with the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements, the detrimental effects of the "purity culture," the contradictions of conservative politics, and the importance of feminism.


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