Quoting Quiverfull: How to Answer the Guys That Don’t Want Courtship?

Quoting Quiverfull: How to Answer the Guys That Don’t Want Courtship? December 11, 2012

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.

The Botkin sisters of Visionary Daughters from their book “It’s (Not That) Complicated”

These sorts of situations can be uncomfortable to deal with, but they don’t have to get truly sticky unless we let them. We often have more power to direct this sort of situation than we realize. Young men have told us time and time again: Girls really are the ones who set the tone for the interaction. Young men tend to unconsciously defer to what the young lady seems comfortable with (e.g. if she seems to be enjoying his attentions, he’ll ramp it up; if she thought his coarse joke was funny, well, he’s got more where that came from…). Most often, they let us set the terms; they let us establish the boundaries. The kind of young man above usually tests the waters to see what kind of girl he’s dealing with and what he can get away with. You don’t have to play his game.

You need to talk to your parents about how they would like you to handle situations like the ones below, but here are some general principles our parents gave us.

If Don Juan accosts you in the dentist’s office waiting room and tries to charm you out of your phone number, a firm “I don’t give out my personal details to people I don’t know” is usually sufficient.

If Lancelot might be a possibility someday, but is acting like he wants to be married now – pushing the boundaries of your friendship and letting it get a little too emotionally intense way too early – it’s usually possible to remind him of what’s appropriate in your own respectfully reserved conduct. If he doesn’t take the hint, you can ask your father to talk to him about it.

If Romeo seems smitten with you and showers you with attention and compliments (and is exactly the sort of Montague your parents do not approve of), you can make it very clear in your cool but respectful manner that you are not interested in sharing a balcony scene with him.

If your friend Han Solo asks if he can take you for a ride in the Millennium Falcon and you are affronted because it is a bucket of bolts and you’ve already kissed romantic intergalactic joyrides goodbye (and you’d rather kiss a wookiee anyway) – you don’t have to tell him so rudely; there is a polite way to say, for example, “Have you checked with my dad on that?”

If Edward Cullen is stalking you in a creepy manner, always staring at you across the room and trying to corner you so he can ask you creepy questions about yourself – you can respond so honestly (“Yes, I believe in Total Depravity”), seriously (“I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how God judges sin”), and confidently (“What is your position on supralapsarianism vs. infralapsarianism?”) that he will probably never come ask you questions again. If something firmer is needed, your father or brothers should be able to do the job.

If Willoughby wants to take you on a solitary ramble to read Shakespeare’s sonnets and then have you stay home from church so he can ask you a Very Particular Question, you’d better be sure your father or father-figure is fully behind what W. is doing. If you know that W. is not playing by the rules, you can point him towards the right person to ask, or ask your father to talk to him.

If girls would realize that they don’t have to go on romantic rambles, tolerate creepy questions, welcome inappropriate flattery, laugh at crude jokes, accept dates, allow over-friendliness, or give away their phone numbers just to be nice, everything would be a lot simpler for them.

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  • Cathy W

    I suppose I give them a brownie point or two for recognizing Edward Cullen as a creepy stalker, and for the general principle that women should be able to politely, but firmly, reject unwanted attention rather than “being nice” to that guy they don’t actually want to talk to… even girls who aren’t into courtship have trouble with a lot of these situations.

  • suzannecalulu

    Yes, but most of us don’t need to talk to our parents about it, we just tell the guy no thanks and move on.
    I find it creepy that they used all fictional characters in their samples of how to shut down attention, like the only real romantic suitor examples they know of are fictional.

  • Cathy W

    I agree – a girl rejecting a romantic overture should do it on the basis of her own agency, not her dad’s or her brother’s! Even in the case of the creepy stalker who won’t give it up, there are more appropriate authorities to invoke, especially if the stalk-ee is a legal adult.

  • Cldg

    Botkins trying to be cool is kinda funny.

  • Actually, I thought the use of fictional characters was rather amusing and was good writing. And I don’t disagree with the main premise that girls should not let guys walk all over them. I do have several problems, however:
    1. The reason this essay is necessary at all is that the patriarchal system teaches women to be so submissive that women in these situations need permission from the movement, to stand up for themselves.
    2. But what these women are actually being told to stand up for is not themselves, but Daddy’s rights over them.

    Also, isn’t it ironic that the essay acknowledges that young men do (and should) defer to the woman’s wishes, when the whole point is to enter a marriage where this will no longer be the case?

  • Em

    This actually makes me angry to read this . Even the name of the book “it’s not that complicated”. The formula is to make relationships sound so complex, and high pressure for inexperienced young people, then come in with a bunch of crappy solutions for problems their own beliefs created in the first place. Yes, setting boundaries is important, but this post, and many, many others I have seen from this movement seem to think of girls as just sitting passively by, warding off advances from men. Girls like boys too, and *gasp* girls are also are capable of having sex drive of their very own. And not every boy is some sort of relentless maniac. This kind of thinking is dehumanizing to both women and men, boiling them down to one demensional stereotypes.

  • Sarah

    Gosh, I just can’t figure out why these girls aren’t married yet.

  • You owe me a new monitor…

  • Sal

    They could have really cut down their word count if they just said “Have your dad negotiate all social interactions like you‘re a five-year-old looking for a playdate“. I mean, he might not know what kind of guy you‘d be into, but you should‘ve thought of that before you let yourself have an opinion.

  • In my personal experience, this advice is completely unnecessary. The Don Juan situation — In my 20 years as a patriarchal daughter and my 10 years in the real world, I’ve never once been asked for my digits. As far as Lancelot is concerned, in my personal experience, men run away as soon as they have an inkling you *might* be into them.

  • Verity

    Krwordgazer got it right: it IS ironic that women are told that men defer to their wishes when the whole goal of courtship is to leave the men in charge (both in marriage and parenthood). Essentially, the Botkins’ courtship-and-marriage advice boils down to “women are in charge, but we should pretend not to be!”

    As regards the sticky situations advice, it annoys me to see the Botkins stereotyping men. Do these “Edward Cullens” and “Don Juans” really exist in real life? How many have the Botkin sisters encountered in their own experience? Stereotypes like these train young women to view men not as individuals but as categories and stereotypes.

    This approach also trains girls to see danger, threats, and potential rape/sexual sins in just about every young man who doesn’t stand coldly aloof until their marriage day. A hapless boy who just wants a girl to laugh at his jokes during a “rambling country walk” gets branded a “Willoughby.” The young man who cares enough about a girl’s feelings to attempt romantic talk (much harder than it looks) gets cold water dumped on his head. There’s no such thing as a good, if mistaken, intention.

    In fact, I wonder whether books like this train girls to approve of cold, distant men who show no feelings, no attraction, and no sexual interest towards them at all–in the mistaken belief that these men will magically morph into loving, adoring husbands after the wedding day. Not that a properly submissive wife would admit to any imperfection or coldness in her husband…

  • Lolly

    I’d be more inclined to believe them if quiverfull girls were equally encouraged to reject bad matches made by their fathers. There’s no, “No thanks, pater; I’m going to have relationships when and if I see fit, and certainly not with that creep.”

  • Ann

    It’s also disturbing how the girl is encouraged to still be meek and polite when saying no. If the guy’s attention is unwanted and persistent she can’t resist more strongly, she has to get her dad to do it for her. Four times they say this. A girl needs to say no, apparently, just not too forcefully. I suppose a girl who feels like she can draw and enforce a strong line to defend the thing her patriarchal world holds most dear is still a girl who feels that *she* can draw a line. We can’t have that now, can we.

  • They arent married yet because that would mean they no longer would be daddy’s princesses but another mans slaving wife and would no longer be in the spot light. If you notice, their mother, and most if not all mothers, are rarely mentioned. Wives, in this movement, are simply baby making machines and house slaves.

  • revsharkie

    Yeah. There was a point when I had a young man treating me badly, and I welcomed my dad stepping in to protect me. But I was 14 at the time. As an adult I expect to be able to take care of myself.

  • Petticoat Philosopher

    OMG, I JUST HEARD THE FIRST PIECE OF GOOD ADVICE FROM THE BOTKINS EVER! If some creepy guy just won’t leave you alone, saying stuff like “I’ve been thinking a lot about how God judges sin” and other inappropriately personal displays of fundie-dom is probably an awesome way to get him to go away! And would also be hilarious. Thanks Botkins! I am totally trying this. (I think I”ll come up with something better than “I believe in Total Depravity” though. A guy could, you know, take that in a different way…) And, yes, with Cathy on being glad that they recognize Edward Cullen for a creep. They’re a somewhat surprising source for that message (although I guess it is consistent with the rest of their outlook.) Weird that they should end up on the same side as feminists on something…

    In all seriousness, there is a grain of sense in here, which is that women shouldn’t feel the need to put up with behavior that makes them uncomfortable just to be “nice.” It’s, again, weird how they have this almost-feminist message and then veer into wacky patriarchy territory by making it all about Dad and his approval and protection. The fact that they’re almost onto something that’s actually important and helpful for young women just makes it that much stranger and more sad.

    Also, um, is “Lancelot” really being presented as a future possibility here? Like the Lancelot who has an affair with his best friend’s wife which destroys the lives of everyone around him and ends up causing the collapse of the entire kingdom? Girls, READ TO THE END before you make literary references! lol.

  • Rae

    That’s exactly what I was thinking about Edward Cullen!

    Although, I was a little surprised that their immediate response wasn’t to report his creepy stalking to your police officer father…

  • Sarah F.

    but I would bet they have never read the books or seen the movies… probably told about the evils of Twilight by their father (who has probably neither read nor watched) who heard it from some “great” preacher.

  • jaimie

    Because any male who shows an ounce of friendliness or attraction is always a bad guy. Avoid all of them at all cost!
    Enjoy being single ladies!

  • Kathleen

    On its face, I think the advice is sound. Girls should know that it is no one’s choice but theirs as to what they do with whom. The problem is that the Evangelical culture has already spent the girl’s life up to that point teaching her the opposite — that her body and soul are not her own, that her feelings and will are to be suppressed and surrendered, that her role is to follow and never lead. It’s completely unrealistic to teach them they have no meaningful voice up until they start interacting with the opposite sex and then expect them to respond with a confident “No!” when approached romantically.

  • Kathleen, that is probably partly why they want extreme modesty and that girls do not leave the parents’ home – these girls have the totally wrong training to be capable of saying “no” to men.

    As such they cannot allow them out in the world. In the real world every woman, single or married, pretty or less attractive, need to say or imply “no” on occasion. They got to dress them in a way that signals to most men: “I am not interested in sex at all.”

  • This.