Quoting Quiverfull: The Neutered?

QUOTING QUIVERFULL is a regular feature of NLQ – we present the actual words of noted Quiverfull leaders and ask our readers: What do you think? Agree? Disagree? This is the place to state your opinion. Please, let’s keep it respectful – but at the same time, we encourage readers to examine the ideas of Quiverfull honestly and thoughtfully.

Wheeler MacPherson on Laura Wood’s Blog “The Thinking Housewife” – January 13, 2013 “When Neutered Men Speak to Boys”

“As I watched, I became aware of something that’s been gnawing at me for some time now. The young fathers and the not-so-young granddaddies had a peculiar way of speaking to the male children. They squatted down to be on eye level with the lads, or they leaned way over to appear less tall. And when they spoke, the mens’ voices were…feminine. I don’t mean lisping or mincing or effeminate. I mean feminine. No matter how low the voice might have been naturally pitched, the men without exception raised the pitch of their voices and lowered the volume until they sounded like spinster Sunday School teachers, whispering in calming tones, asking questions and making observations.

“Do you see the birds outside, Chad?”
“Let Papaw tie your shoe.”
“Did you spit out your gum, Nolan?”
“What do you want to drink?”
“Show Miss Judy your tooth!”

Each of these sentences was uttered with an upward inflection into the high tenor range, as if singing a campfire song. The younger men were the worst offenders; their facial expressions were all wide eyes and open mouths. They reminded me of 19-year old female daycare workers. But most of the older men were also doing some diluted variation of these techniques. None of them seemed like whole men in the presence of these male children.

And so I began to search my memory, and I could not recall a single adult male in my boyhood speaking to me or my friends in such tones. I cannot recall any men routinely squatting down or leaning over to make themselves appear closer to my own height. I cannot remember any men putting a breathless wheezing whisper into their words. I cannot bring to mind a single incident in which a grown man opened his eyes and mouth as wide as possible and talked to me like some grinning, masculine Norma Desmond. What I do remember are the grown men who picked me up and lifted me to their naturally imposing height, instead of lowering themselves to mine. And such lifting was always accompanied by a feeling of safety and strength. I’m pretty sure (and confirmed by my wife’s memories) that I never talked to our boys or to my nephews in such a manner. And I know very well that I have never vocally nor vertically neutered myself when interacting with my grandchildren.

The men of today, both young and old, have been poisoned, it seems. Poisoned by the feminist doctrine that has been mixed into every social expression, event, and philosophy. Poisoned by the erasing of distinctions between the sexes. Poisoned by the need to be nonthreatening and never, ever overtly masculine. Poisoned by the need to be liked by their own children and grandchildren – liked like schoolyard chums, I mean.”

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NLQ Recommended Reading …

Breaking Their Will: Shedding Light on Religious Child Maltreatment‘ by Janet Heimlich

Quivering Daughters‘ by Hillary McFarland

Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement‘ by Kathryn Joyce


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  • stairway to heaven

    If there ever anyone that should of been neutered….

  • Lucreza Borgia

    Um…how does talking to your child as a person equate to being your child’s friend???

  • Tori

    I’ve never spoken to my kid like that, and I am a woman, and I have worked in childcare. If she wants to feel safe she curls up next to me on the couch for snuggles!

  • Sal

    because the way kids were raised in the past is always automatically better than how it is being done now . . .

  • teasugarsalt

    A chilling example of femmephobia.

  • Thalwen

    Nowhere does he explain why this feminised, “neutered” method is bad or detrimental to the rearing of children. Oh right, I forgot, if it is “feminine” it is automatically bad.

  • SAO

    Let me get this, one should never lean down to toddler height or be non-threatening when saying something like, “Let Pawpaw tie your shoe?” What’s the best way for a guy to act in this situation? Beat their chests, grab the tot and growl, “You’d better put your foot where I can tie your shoe or there’ll be hell to pay?”

  • Nightshade

    This is just another way of saying that men must be one way, women must be another, and there is to be no blurring of those hard-drawn lines. What about those who don’t fit, the strong-willed woman, the gentle caring man? They are made to believe that something is wrong with them, when the problem is the system that is belittling them. Last time I checked the prerequisites for being a man were possession of a Y chromosome and appropriate genitalia, for women two X chromosomes and the corresponding female organs. Beyond that who has the right to say what a ‘real’ man or woman is?

    Yes, I’ve probably put way too much thought into this topic, but the idea that everyone has to fit into a particular mold according to gender, regardless of their own inclinations, personality, character traits, etc, is absolutely abhorrent to me, when differences among people should be allowed, encouraged, and even-dare I say it?-enjoyed.

  • Dana

    Women (and men) speak those ways to children because they -work-. It’s -good- for children to be interacted with in those ways. There’s a universal (not culture-specific) instinct to raise the pitch of one’s voice, speak in a sing-songy way, and exaggerate one’s facial expressions when speaking to babies and small children, and researchers have found that these instinctual practices actually help children to pay attention to the speaker more, understand and process what the adult is saying more easily, and develop language skills faster.

    Any man who feels it incompatible with his masculine dignity to kneel down to talk to a child, or pitch his voice higher because the child responds better to that tone, has some serious insecurity issues.

  • Teri Anne

    The author’s choice of words demonstrates how he despises women. “Spinster Sunday school teacher” is a very disparaging way of referring to a single woman. A spinster Sunday school teacher is dowdy, boring, has no outside interests except church, and probably owns a lot of cats. “Norma Desmond” is the aging actress (Gloria Swanson) in the movie Sunset Boulevard, who cannot except her new role as a spinster Sunday school teacher and instead seduces a much younger William Holden. Because women over 50 never think about sex, Norma Desmond is obviously deranged. In real life, Gloria Swanson had an affair with Joseph Kennedy, father of President John Kennedy.

  • chervil

    These people just can’t stop finding things to bitch about, can they. They have to get more and more picky. Now it’s kneeling down to talk to kids. What’s next? Talking to kids? Only women talk to kids, just the spinstery kind. How are kids going to differentiate men from women unless men act like brutes. Real men just beat kids.

    They’re constantly finding fault with every kind of behavior. The intolerable part is for them is the behaviors, whatever they are, seem to really be working out pretty well for a lot of people, otherwise they wouldn’t do it. People are probably getting desirable outcomes how they relate to their spouses and kids, and things are running smoothly. And that’s bad for business.

  • Jenny Islander

    What exactly is looming over a smaller weaker person and booming commands at them supposed to accomplish? And why does my big strong broad-shouldered bearded bass-voiced husband have to act like a complete ass in order to be considered a man?

    Oh, right, this is the subculture that thinks that preachers screaming and spraying spittle at people is a sign of Godliness.

  • Jenny Islander

    Yet again: How does being gentle with the small and weak among us translate to a denial of masculinity? You know what I recall from being picked up by big jovial men who told me who and what I was with a big booming laugh (“Oh, you’re just a cute little thing, aren’t you? Such a charmer. Buy a shotgun!”)? I remember that my armpits hurt like hell from being manhandled like that! If that’s an overt display of masculinity, I’m glad it’s going the way of the 8-track tape, thanks.

  • Lolly

    If he keeps grabbing up kids* in order to masculinize them, their flailing limbs may do the job for us.

    * just the male kids, obviously.

  • chervil

    Uh, yeah, some kids really don’t like being picked up. Goodness knows, we shouldn’t respect that, they need to be picked up against their will, for their own good.

  • Rae

    What. The. F***?

    Seriously, that is ALL that my brain had to react to that after a full three attempts at deciperhing it.

    Also, I’ve heard the phrase “the cult of masculinity” and never before has the use of the word “cult” in that context seemed so appropriate as when they try to regulate such minor details of behavior.

  • Meggie

    Evolution. Terrifying word for some people.

    Ten thousand years ago our men were hunters. Big, tough and strong would have been very desirable in a mate. You wouldn’t mind if he was unable to act gentle and relate to little kids if he could bring home a mammoth for dinner. Fathers didn’t need to spend any time with the kids until they were in their early teens and ready to begin learning to hunt.

    Then we evolved. We became farmers instead of hunters. This doesn’t mean men have been “neutered”, it means their roles change. Nowdays a partner who can relate to young children; speak with a high sing-song voice, bend down so as not to be intimidating, etc, is more desirable as they are able to help raise the children.

    What a pity these people only read the bible and don’t study biology, sociology or even open their eyes to look around them.

  • What I find really alarming in this statement is the inference that sounding like a 19-year-old daycare worker–or a female in general–is “poisonous” or bad. Thanks for the insult to my gender. I guess I’d better hide away my loving, nurturing self so I don’t poison or corrupt any of the noble males around me….or worse yet, show them how to relate to their children in a nurturing manner.

  • I agree with Dana. I took a class in developmental psychology in college, and the professor talked about how adults instinctively raise their vocal tone, speak more sing-song (and more slowly/clearly) and widen their eyes when talking to very small children. When an adult does not do this, it seems to me to indicate that the instinct is not kicking in– from which I tend to infer that the adult is not consciously making an effort to relate to the infant/toddler as an infant/toddler.
    If men used to not do these instinctive things, and now are doing them, that indicates a positive change in the way men in our culture relate to young children– consciously making an effort to relate to them, so that the instinct to raise the vocal tone, etc., kick in.

  • Another point: I distinctly remember my husband’s father (who loves children and has always had a reputation of being good with them) doing exactly these things (the singsong voice, the widened eyes) when talking to our kids. So apparently this is not something that his generation is just too masculine to do.

  • Sheena

    Actually, the *most* appropriate way for a Real Man to approach that situation is to berate the child for not already having that shoe tied, then berate the older sister/mother who neglected to tie that shoe/teach shoe-tying skills before said Real Man entered the room.

    Because, of course, they’re not Real Men unless the women and children are submissively cowering.

  • teasugarsalt

    I feel like this is a really oversimplified bit of evo-psych based on an outdated model of prehistoric humanity, though. Hunting and gathering were not nearly so separated between genders as previously thought, nor do hunter-gatherer societies spend nearly so much time hunting and gathering as, say, a member of an industrial society spends “working” – most of their time is spent in some form of social interaction. Also, children were with their parents as a matter of course right up until the Industrial Revolution. Remember, we’re talking about a difference between one generation and the generation immediately after – hardly enough time for a major evolutionary shift. No, this is pure culture shift, and the culture of men being uninvolved with children is the aberrant one. It isn’t biblical not to be close to your children, and it isn’t historical either: it’s Freudian.

  • Yes, exactly! My only thought (besides “Wow he must really hate women”) is that he could stand to take a course in general linguistics or anthropology, or at least browse a Wikipedia article. “Parentese”, as they call it, is instinctual in humans and it facilitates language learning in children. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baby_talk

  • Christine

    Because heaven forbid that children should be treated with dignity. Nope, it’s more important that the men be powerful.

  • Samantha Vimes

    Check out some actual information on how hunter-gatherer tribes act, Meggie.

    Men do a lot of child care. When they aren’t out on a hunt– and they aren’t out on a hunt that often– they have a lot of free time. Women do most of the food preparation and the creation of durable goods is divided and doesn’t consume that much time and attention. So grown men play with children, tell them stories, explain to them the crafting they are doing, let them try to pull a bow string, etc. Different tribes have different cultures, of course, but, for instance, among the K!ung-san, a man who could not be gentle with children wouldn’t fit in well in their society *at all*.