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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A Matter of Patriarchy
Steve Is a Man: On Minecraft and Gender
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.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15654013636892916062 Erika Martin – Stampin’ Mama

    They don't unleash the full potential of females because their view of "biblical Christianity" doesn't include females anywhere other than the home. I find it interesting that Patrick Henry College will willingly take the tuition money of females but discourage them from actually ever becoming more than just baby making machines. It proves, once again, that this is all just about the all mighty dollar.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15081106611030131955 Meg

    The key word is choice. My daughters have college educations but have choosen to be stay at home moms because that is what they wanted to do. They were not coercised into it. It seems the women of the patriarch have no choice in the matter. It's have an interest in computers, teaching, science etc oh well to bad, stay home and be fruitful and multiply. Seems like the human race has fullfilled what God said to Adam and Eve quite well already. What seems to be ignored with the patriarchals is that a mom can stay home with her children but can also pursue outside interests and use her God given talents in many areas away from the home in addition to raising children. It is not an either/or thing.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16232186225573312896 Incongruous Circumspection

    Pulling for your sister. Maybe she'll wake up and be my boss someday.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12117442983915295489 Jesse

    Very well said!I grew up in a home with a mother who was very smart and driven…she would have been an excellent lawyer or CEO or professor. Something that would have let channel all of that drive. Instead, she graduated from Brigham Young University in MFHD(Marriage, Family, and Human Development)…basically a glorified home economics class from the "ERA is bad" era. By the time she graduated, she hated all of those things, and so I rarely remember her using those skills. Instead, she took her three children, homeschooled them, and drove their lives to the point of micro-management, determined to make them succeed where she hadn't been able to. If she had chosen a less religiously-acceptable path, her relationship with her adult children would be better, and we wouldn't have been scraping by on a teacher's salary! Even now, when we aren't on speaking terms, it makes me so angry to think about the potential she had.

  • http://www.greenegem.wordpress.com Claire in Tasmania

    While I take your point about wasting talent, can I just say, as a Registered Nurse, we need more people like your sister in the profession ;) (and we need more men like my DH in homemaking :D)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10562805251128821984 Libby Anne

    Claire, sorry to be unclear, I think that nursing is a perfectly wonderful profession. It's just that my sister is thinking of nursing because she doesn't see other options, not because she knows all the options and has picked that one. And of course, she doesn't plan to actually *work* as a nurse long term, as she believes the woman's role is in the home. So yes, nursing = good; not knowing you have options = bad. :)Also, I'm totally into guys being homemakers if that's what works out for an individual family. I think it's perfectly legitimate for one spouse to stay home with the kids (especially with daycare costs what they are), but I think that which spouse stays at home should be determined by what's right for a given family, not strictly by gender. So good for you guys! :)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03820077215682328240 boomSLANG

    Testing.Have I understood correctly that the "What Jesus Said" thread has been closed? I can post here(obviously), but the long response that I had prepared for the aforementioned thread won't be accepted. Thx.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10562805251128821984 Libby Anne

    No, it should still be open. I haven't closed anything, and I just tested and it lets me post. Send me an email (see the "contact me" tab) if you continue to have problems, and I'll see what I can do!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03820077215682328240 boomSLANG

    Okay, thx. I'll try it again.