NLQ Question of the Week: Why Do Women Have Such Burdensome Roles?

NLQ Question of the Week: Why Do Women Have Such Burdensome Roles? February 25, 2016

QuestionoftheweekThis is a new series we have started running on Thursdays. Examining some of the questions involving long held Quiverfull theology and life.

One of the big things that jumps out at you from Nancy Campbell’s Above Rubies ‘daily encouragement’ postings is the added burden on women in the Quiverfull world. Men are taxed with very little, bring home the bacon and be the family patriarch. But women are told to do every freaking thing in the world, do all the housework and cooking, raise the kids, homeschool their children, have a cottage industry to help with the family finances… you name it… What Nancy does is routinely add ‘must do’s to the very gendered roles of womanhood in the movement and she’s hardly the only one.

So why do you think it is that women do all the heavy lifting grunt work in Quiverfull – Evangelical – Fundamentalist Christianity? Why are men allowed to be checked out from most activities and responsibilities in that realm?


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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Allison the Great

    Because women are helpmeets/helpmates aka “the help”. This means that women take on the servant role while their masters put their feet up. Remember, it’s a man’s world! (BARF)

    Off topic, BGR has a post up about what women of today need to do to learn our place.

  • B.A.

    I am staying FAR,FAR way from that post! Or else I’d need a barf bag.

  • Nightshade

    I saw it…note to self: Keep barf bags handy in the future.

  • Nightshade

    I know my place, and guess what? It’s not where he thinks it’s supposed to be!

  • Allison the Great

    It is indeed quite nauseating. I saw it through a link on Facebook. And unfortunately, that page or publication linking to it probably gave it more press. When people link to it because it’s disgusting, they don’t use Do Not Link.

  • SAO

    In traditional societies, where men had heavy agricultural labor, had to saw and haul firewood all winter, etc, and where 50% of kids died before age 5, the burdens were fairly even between men and women. People like Ohlman cherry pick the bits of the past that suit them without inconveniencing themselves but have little empathy for women, so they burden them with crap.

  • bekabot

    I suspect it’s because the role of the male in Fundagelical society has been cut down to the absolute minimum. In a quiverfull marriage the husband does the Bible-study and the Biblical nitpicking and the primary breadwinning (as Lolianne says) and the wife handles everything else…even to the extent of doing the “man stuff” around the house, like fixing the plumbing and the doors and the windows and keeping the yard looking decent and so forth. (This is true of more women than some men would ever believe but it seems to be especially prescribed in the case of Fundagelical wives.)

    In the days of a genteel England which has (thankfully) vanished, there were exactly four professions possible for a man of upper-middle-class birth and above. These were, in order of desirability, the army, the navy, the law, and the church (on a downward scale). It was expected that a man of upper-middle-class pretensions (or better) should not actually have or need to earn money, so these professions were specifically calibrated to display the willingness of the man in question to be of service to his nation (or society) without allowing him to make an issue of how much he was paid. At any rate, the upshot was that these were the only jobs it was permissible for a man of a certain social caste to take…if he did any others he would lose status. Quiverfull husbands are like that: there are very few things they can actually do without transgressing the boundaries of their gender role.

    That’s also the reason why this subculture sits on women so hard. Like Ben Franklin said, there’s nothing like doing the work. Those who do the work in a society will eventually garner influence in that society unless some factor intervenes to prevent it. I’m of the opinion that the designers of the quiverfull society know this — this subculture isn’t any older than I am and I’m just entering later middle age — and so they have, very deliberately, set up a number of factors to prevent the married women (or, to be truthful, any of the women) in their midst from gaining influence.

    The separation between work and influence in Fundagelical culture is intentional: the man is aligned with God, the woman with humanity; the man is the “aristocrat” and the woman is the “commoner”; the man is supposed to issue the orders and the woman is supposed to follow them. In my view, this particular subculture has been set up with a view to finding out how far this type of division can be carried. That the subculture itself may not survive is a secondary consideration…the people who originally backed it and funded it were or are interested in finding out how far certain boundaries can be pushed and how extreme certain social parameters can be. The short version is that there are people out there who are interested in finding out how much they can get away with, IMO. (I hasten to add that everything in this last paragraph is strictly my own opinion and that I have no solid proof of any of it.)

  • John Brockman

    What’s the good of having a slave if you can’t make it work?

  • texassa

    May I just say – Christian patriarchy is the worst and I agree it is horribly unfair, sexist, damaging and abusive to women and girls. But. “Bringing home the bacon” is not a small job. Yes, tending to the children and home is a huge task, but who’s to say it’s more work than an outside job? You can’t get fired from being a mom or keeping your home. There is a lot of stress in employment if you are fired, downsized, or simply in fear of retaining your employment. Having a job isn’t a singular thing, just as being a “mom” isn’t a singular task. My job entails many daily tasks, responsibilities, roles, and stresses. As a single working woman with no one to rely on (financially) but myself, I think it is a bit dismissive and naive for stay-at-home women to say that raising children is more than any job. As far as I know, parents love their kids and – although it is a lot of work – love giving them the absolute best. I wish I cared about my colleagues and our company that much – how joyful would my toils be every day if I did!

  • Olivia

    I don’t think it is dismissive. Bringing home the bacon is a lot of work. But in the patriarchal model the thing with “women’s work” is that there is nothing quantifiable about it, and because a woman’s work is less spelled out and more the general idea of “help meet” it is this open ended idea that you are always failing to measure up. If your role is to provide–no matter the struggle, you bring home a check at the end of the week you have succeeded. If your role is to please, your husband comes home in a bad mood and you’ve failedthe women at church think your kids are unruly and you’ve failed, you put on a few pounds and you have failed.
    Another note, a man’s role is to provide, but if he no longer is willing or able it is between him and God. His wife is not allowed to be anything but supportive. A woman’s libido nose dives and her husband gets to “discipline” her for it.

  • bekabot

    I was talking not about the hardness of the work but about extent of the range. The army and the navy and the law and the church are all hard work, but if that’s all you can legitimately do, your options are limited. In contemporary life, the male is more constrained than the female in terms of what he can do while remaining within the limitations of his gender-role. (MRAs, quite rightly, complain about this all the time.) Fundagelical life is not an exception to this rule but an exaggeration of it. That’s my main contention and I’m sticking tight.

  • Ruthitchka

    My husband, who is not Fundagelical at all, is very checked out most of the time, but he has depression and he also knows that eventually, I will take care of whatever task it is as long as it’s something I know how to do. Then he often criticizes the way I did said task. I hope this isn’t true of a lot of American men, but it has been quite disheartening for me.

    I can’t imagine how I would handle this as a stay-at-home “Christian Mom” of 12 children!