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Mar 30 2007

Kompulsory pregnancy komedy korner

vaginaclowncar.jpg

I ripped this off from I don’t care much for that.

140 comments

1 ping

  1. BubbasNightmare

    Please, please, PLEASE don’t make me live in a world where this happens. I fervently pray that this is some sort of cruel Photoshop trick.

    [whimper]

  2. Bird

    That woman looks really, really tired.

    Do you think the daughters’ smiles are masking the terror they feel at the prospect of cranking out that many babies in their futures?

    My grandmother came from a devoutly Catholic family with 13 kids and had 6 of her own. She keeps warning all of us in the younger generation to please wait to have babies and make sure we have a good career first, and even though her voice is light, she gets this really deadly serious look behind her eyes when she says it.

  3. Elinor

    It seems that Michelle Duggar really, really likes having babies. And giving them names that start with J. (My favourite is “Jinger.” It’s pronounced “Ginger.” Feh.) Did you read about the husband’s political campaigns, in which the children sing a song called “Won’t You Please Vote For My Daddy”?

    Or how about this article from 2004, the emetic of the day:

    Jim Bob Duggar says he has something very special planned for Mother’s Day. Michelle says if that means he’s cooking, she’ll have quite a mess to clean up when he’s done.

    Hardy har har har!

    I find it creepy that the woman has won awards for having all these kids. It’s reminiscent of Nazi Honour Cross campaigns to get Aryan women to breed.

  4. cocoschmoco

    Oh those Duggars. I’m only counting 14 kids in that picture; she’s pregnant with her 17th right now.
    My sister is fascinated with them, I’m more into their insane recipes for food on their website – usually involving 40 lbs. of ground beef, some cans of tomato sauce and 1 teaspoon of garlic powder. Ugh.

  5. Sylvanite

    Obviously these people have access to an illegal cloning lab.

    Actually, I’ve heard of these people, and they shall simply have to deal with the fact that the record for the largest number of children produced by one woman is 69, from some poor Muscovite woman a couple centuries ago who gave birth only to twins, triplets and quadruplets. So, really, they should just quit now.

  6. A.

    what’s the problem with people having as many or as few babies as they want?

  7. Elinor

    what’s the problem with people having as many or as few babies as they want?

    Well, there isn’t really, but the Duggars are hard-core conservative Quiverfulls, which means that they pretty much think everybody should live without contraception.

    It’s true, the “Vagina: It’s Not A Clown Car” poster isn’t the most pro-woman thing one could come up with. On the other hand, neither is holding up Michelle Duggar as a model for other women to follow just because she’s reproduced a whole bunch of times.

  8. Tam

    There’s got to be a young Dan Savage or David Sedaris amongst those kids somewhere, biding their time. Can’t wait to read their childhood anecdotes one day…

  9. nightgigjo

    At once hilariously funny and embarrassingly painful to look at.

    Two things:

    My great-grandmother was the youngest of 13.

    My 27-year-old sister-in-law has had three babies in four years, the two most recent times she was pregnant she had significant health problems and significant pain starting at about five months, and they are thinking about having another child.

    It’s her choice (I hope) but man, that makes me cringe.

    I haven’t heard of the Duggars, but from their dress I would guess ‘very conservative Christian, possibly Pentacostal/some small Baptist denomination’. Mostly all the girls in dresses with long hair give me that impression. Could be really, really wrong, I know. But still. I see a woman with that many children and I automatically think of a religious denomination that limits the rights and determines the ‘place’ of women much more strictly than even our government tries to.

  10. Jane Awake

    Wow. I’ve actually seen a few of this family’s shows on The Learning Channel. (For example, the one in which they all help to build a giant house with one boys’ bedroom and one girls’ bedroom–because they all love each other so much no one wants his or her own room!) Perhaps it’s only the case while they’re on camera, but them seem eerily unreal to me. The way they communicate with each other is so, what’s the word? forced-nice? The mom has a hyperfemininized voice and always speaks softly. She nods and blinks a lot while she speaks. The kids never seem to fight. It’s really scary. Some of them must snap sometimes. I’m just waiting for one of them to grow up and write a horrified memoir like this one (the author of which is a brilliant woman, actually!).

  11. Twisty

    I had never heard of these people until this morning. I gotta get out more.

  12. RadFemHedonist

    That it’s remarkably unlikely that a person who had not had patriarchy pelted at them from the moment of birth would choose to have more than two children, three tops. (seriously, when you truly know you don’t have to I can’t imagine many women would choose to have kids at all, what with the shitting a pumpkin part) (I intend to remain childfree for life, do not call breastfeeding women moos and other derogatory names and deeply respect born homosapiens of all ages and body shapes as full persons, so don’t think I hate children or women – actually people in general – caring for children and do know I despise families, as the emphasis must be on the individual)

  13. Hawise

    Living in Quebec I have seen the future- the children will all wait to have the fewest number of children possible. I believe that the oldest daughter has already fled the family unit though that could be from one of the other Learning Channel programs of large family units. Most of the daughters will reach puberty having already raised several children in the form of younger siblings.
    However, some women are just happy having endless children and miserable when they come off the oxytocin rush. I suspect that Michelle Duggar is one these women. The problem is that they are so HAPPY that they think that everyone else will be if they only tried it.

  14. Bird

    Twisty, me neither. Apparently I don’t pay enough attention to creepy Southern Baptist families of note.

    I do get really freaked out by these people:

    http://www.cbc.ca/fifth/bustupinbountiful/

    Their activities include such lovely behaviours as trafficking underage girls over the border as wives, shunning women who dispute anything, and all sorts of other loveliness. The group has mainly been exposed by women who fled the community.

  15. Twisty

    “the “Vagina: It’s Not A Clown Car” poster isn’t the most pro-woman thing one could come up with.”

    You’re right, but I’m detecting a broader issue: humans are prone to folly, and one of the folliest is the idea that any reproduction at all is a good idea. I like babies as much as the next doting aunt, but the planet is only so big, and can really only support a fraction of the H. sapiens currently inhabiting it.

    I’m not gunning for the parents in the group; I’m just the messenger.

  16. ChapstickAddict

    Ow, I can’t even look at that picture without getting sore.

    What I find contradictory about the Quiverfull movement (and the anti-choice movement in general) is that even though these people are against contraception and abortion, none of the ones I’ve met have actually adopted a “saved” child.

  17. chingona

    Learn more here

    http://www.jimbob.info/

  18. Bonnie

    Daddy’s favorite meal is Tater Tot casserole.

    They are proud that they are debt-free (which, I admit, is admirable). Yet they got their new house completed for them by The Learning Channel. Disneyland gave the entire family a free several-day trip complete with lodging, mouse ears, and any gift they wanted from one of their on-property shops. The got a free Grand Canyon fly-over trip. They appear to rely heavily on charity while being so proud of their independence.

    Almost all of their clothes are either second-hand or home-made or hand-me-downs. Nothing wrong with that, either, but it seems that the children could experience so much more in life if ALL of the family’s money wasn’t going for just the basics. Their choice, though.

    In response to viewer questions re: individuality, the eldest boy said something like, “Oh, we each have our own interests. Some of us like mustard, others like mayonaise,” or some similar non-issue – as he sat there sporting Daddy’s and all his brothers’ haircut and “today’s” boys’ shirt color that all the males wear.

    Their faux happiness is just plain creepy.

  19. Jezebella

    Jane Awake! You linked to the Truth Book! Yay! I’ve known the Joy (the author) since we were freshmen in college. (before freshMEN were called “first-year students”). Her book is amazing, brave, brilliant, and beautifully written. Anyone who thinks the Jehovah’s Witnesses are a harmless christian sect should read her memoir.

  20. lawbitch

    These Quiverful folk are more extreme that the mainstream LDS, who would come-a-calling on me in our Denver ‘burb. Young men (women aren’t allowed out on mission unless they are considered a lost cause marriage-wise) canvassed our neighborhood to convert families, and they were less than charming when I, a mere woman, told them that I wasn’t interested in being a second class citizen. I’m sure that these young men did their “voodoo routine” on my front lawn grass. Ohh, I am sooo concerned that you cast your little voodoo spell on me, dude. I can only hope that they stepped in dog shit on the way out.

  21. edith

    Every time I see that picture, I feel like barfing.

  22. Lisa

    Ah, yes, the Duggars.

    I don’t agree with their choices and ideals, and they get on my nerves when I’ve seen them on TLC. However, If you want reproductive freedom, this is what you’re going to get sometimes. Whatever.

    I get the whole overpopulation angle. And having less children is better for all of us…but I think it is a bit hypocritical when some complain about families with lots of kids when their own family members are slapping a big, colassal ecological footprint on the earth. One thing I have to say about the Duggars is that they are pretty darn frugal. How does the footprint for each child measure up to others who have less children? I’m not sure. But I think there is more to the overpopulation issue then saying “have less children” while going around in an SUV and a million dollar house. (Not saying that of you, Twisty–just an argument I’ve heard before.

    The Duggars? Whatever. Frankly their hair offends me more than their reproductive choices. But, I did chuckle at the caption of the pic.

  23. Jane Awake

    Jezebella, yeah! I saw Joy at the Association of Writers and Writing Programs annual conference this year. She spoke on a panel entitled “Trashy Women.” It was about working-class women’s experiences in academia and as artists. It was by far the best panel I attended, and Joy was particularly inspiring.

  24. Amy's Brain Today

    Not sure how much their current frugality or “footprint” matters when you think about the factor to which these two people have reproduced themselves, and the fact that they have no control over the choices of their children (in theory anyway) when they come of age. What if each of these children decides to have 11, 14, 17 children? Even 5 children apiece? What if all 17 of them, and their spouses, and their 3, 5, 10, 15 children decide to drive SUVs for 50 years (assuming that will be possible then)? What does the environmental impact of this family add up to in that case? I think the moral and ethical issues here are a little more complicated than “well, it’s their choice.”

    I read somewhere that (in the US, probably) not having kids = 72 years of 100% recycling. I’ll take that, thanks very much.

  25. LMYC

    http://www.ninapaley.com/NinasAdventures/NewAdv11.htm

    We’d better hope that Mom and Dad love Tater Tot casserole, and that lots of other morons like them love it — without a few of them keeling over from arterial plaques, there ain’t gonna be room for those little kids once they start crapping out herds of their own on this tired old planet.

  26. stekatz

    I have had such a crappy day, and that picture gave me the first laugh I’ve had all day.

  27. donna

    I love that one! I posted it last year….

    http://www.woodka.com/2006/08/24/clown-car/

  28. Becker

    Twisty, there are days when you put the Loud in LOL.

  29. Clio Bluestocking

    I thought that picture was a joke. They are real! Damn. Imagine what that poor woman’s vagina and uterus look like.

  30. Foilwoman

    At first I thought that was the not-so-estimable Rep. Dan Ruby (of no-prenatal-care-for-pregant-teens-without-parental-consent-even-if-it’s-that-loathsome-parent-who-made-you-pregnant fame), but then I realized that Rep. Dan has a mere ten children (Dan’s biography is here. His email is: druby@nd.gov. His phone number is: 701-852-6132, and his address is: 4620 46th Avenue NW, Minot, ND 58703-8711). Anyway, ugh.

  31. Foilwoman

    Sorry, here’s the link for Rep. Dan’s bio: http://www.legis.nd.gov/assembly/60-2007/house/representatives/bios/danruby.html

  32. jami

    i’d try harder to respect their reproductive decisions if i believed for a nanosecond that they respect mine. my grandma had 16 kids, but she never said a disapproving word to her kids or grandkids about birth control pills.

  33. Random Lurker

    If these people are like my own Quiverfull relatives they’re virulently anti-abortion, anti-birth control, anti-gay, anti-premarital sex, and anti-sex ed. Y’all know who I blame for that. You can respect their reproductive choices all you want, but they sure as shite won’t respect yours.

  34. RadFemHedonist

    Also I feel sorry for these children, they’re being mistreated by living with these creeps.

  35. Heart

    Clio– having lots of kids doesn’t necessarily damage the vagina or uterus, and especially in the case of full quiver types, who generally birth with midwives, often at home, and therefore get the most knowledgeable and attentive pregnancy and birthing care possible. I’ve had 11 kids and my uterus and vagina are just fine, thanks, everything is where it’s supposed to be. The same is true for most full quiver women I have known. Prolapsed uteruses, poor maternal health etc., result from inadequate or substandard (or nonexistent) prenatal and birthing care, whether because of poverty, or because of American-style patriarchal medical practices which focus on interventions, drugs and things like “elective” c-sections and other invasive procedures.

    Most kids from full quiver families don’t turn around and have lots of kids themselves. Growing up in large families cures them of that particular urge, the girls, particularly, who are usually depended upon to help care for the new babies in the family. I have 11 children, eight of them are adults, the oldest is 35, and I have only four grandchildren, the youngest of which is 10. None of my six daughters wants to have more than one child (and so far none of my daughters has children, and four are adults).

    Some women really do enjoy everything about pregnancy, birthing, breastfeeding, the whole thing. I did. The fact that some women are disgusted by these things, just means some women are disgusted by these things. I loved pregnancy, I loved birthing, I loved breastfeeding, and would have even if I hadn’t been a full quiver type. I understand why women might find these things disgusting and have no problem accepting their disgust; I’m just saying, some of us really are earth mother types and revel in it.

    All full quiver types are not environmentally conscious or responsible, but many are, particularly the back-to-the-land, neo-Plain People contingent, who grow a lot of their own food, compost everything, recycle everything, live in community and share all their stuff, avoiding capitalist-style accumulating and spending, are often vegan, drive cars til they drop (if they own cars), etc.

    There is definitely much to criticize about the full quiver movement, and I have, here:

    http://womensspace.wordpress.com/2006/11/29/i-name-the-patriarchsi-name-and-blame-the-patriarchs-part-2-fallacies-about-the-full-quiver-movement/

    http://womensspace.wordpress.com/2006/11/14/i-name-the-patriarchy-part-i-the-truth-about-full-quiver-women/

    http://womensspace.wordpress.com/2007/01/15/the-quiverfull-movement-hate-speech-and-discrimination-against-women-as-women/

    I think it’s wrongheaded, though, to be assholish in the direction of the girls and women in the movement, in particular. I and my daughters were part of the movement, and now all seven of us are radical feminists. We’re far from the only ones. I’ve walked alongside many, many erstwhile full quiver women as they’ve divorced their husbands, left the movement, left patriarchal religion behind, come out as lesbians (a surprising number). Women in radical expressions of fundamentalism like this are often sharp, tough, and exceptionally strong. Life teaches them. over time, how foolish they were to trust men and male gods, and when they get free, they bring tremendous energy to feminism because they are so intimately familiar with unapologetic, power-mad extremes of patriarchy. Radical feminism gives them words for their experiences and rings for them, in a way it doesn’t for huge numbers of more traditional women who don’t seem to realize that most men, including theirs, are just a pious walk of the aisle away from similarly abusing power (and them).

    Heart

  36. Frigga's Own

    These aren’t all single births are they? I think some of them have to be twins or triplets. Every time I look at that picture I start multiplying the number of kids by nine and coming up with a number of months that sounds more like a prison sentence than a pregnancy. I mean, even if you really like being pregnant, that’s got to be a complete drain on your energy. Just looking at that makes me tired. And you have to feel sorry for the girls in that family, I’m sure they’re getting saddled with all the work taking care of the little ones alongside all the housework, except for what the mom has time to do. It makes me so glad I’m just the oldest of two kids.

  37. Chialea

    Lisa:

    > But I think there is more to the overpopulation issue then saying
    > “have less children” while going around in an SUV and a million
    > dollar house.

    The “million dollar house” part of this made me giggle. In several neighborhoods in the city where I live, you’d be lucky to find a broken-down studio condo for a million dollars. I rent in an area that appears to be gentrifying, because they’re putting in condos across the street, many of which have a price tag somewhere north of a million dollars. Where my grandfather lives (in the same bungalow for 56 years now), people largely get million dollar houses so they can knock them down; it’s the land that’s worth that much. To me, it seems like home ownership is largely for couples who are willing to take on a staggering amount of risk, essentially betting that neither of them will get sick for the next 30 years.

  38. Hawise

    Frigga- Quebec went through this type of breeding for political/religious furor from the 1700s on with little real impact demographically. This changed in the Depression era as most other industrialized nations started to see increased use of contraception but religious pressure and lack of formal education kept women in Quebec from accessing the means to control family size. Quebec saw a huge relative to its neighbours growth up until the late 1950s when a backlash started to grow as women and men became aware of what was available outside their borders. In a single generation Quebec went from the highest birthrate in the industrialized nations to the lowest, negative population growth even with immigration. Secular control of the legislature has become the norm and it is only with huge programs for support of families (child care subsidies, paid maternal/paternal parental leave. universal daycare and reduced taxes on infant care supplies to name a few) that the birthrate has started to go up. Children who raise families at a young age are disinclined to raise them once older.

  39. kcb

    Children who raise families at a young age are disinclined to raise them once older.

    Yep. The best cure for big families is taking care of kids while you’re still a child yourself. I put off childbearing until I’d had a decade-plus break from caring for my little brothers — and there were only two of them. If there had been more sibs to “assistant mother,” I might not have had kids of my own at all.

  40. Heart

    The other thing is, it’s wrong to assume that left to themselves, all things being equal, all things being het, and everybody wanting kids, women would have huge families like this. One thing the full quiver movement has taught people is that deciding to have a huge family doesn’t mean you will. There are lots of women who “let God plan their family” and end up with two, one, or zero children. Not all that many end up with gigantic families like this one, even though they actually try for them.

    So even in the case of women who have 6-15 kids, it can’t be presumed their kids would each have that many kids, even if they wanted to, because it doesn’t work that way. I was the only one of the three daughters in my own family to end up with many children. One sister had two, widely spaced (eight years between them) and one sister had none, with neither using birth control.

    Heart

  41. ginmar

    I’ve read that Michelle Duggar breastfeeds each baby for six months, then hands the kid off to a daughter to raise so she can get started on the next experiment. She’s got a regular assembly line going there, and her husband is frankly creepy. I can’t imagine fucking him once much less seventeen times.

  42. Heart

    I can’t imagine fucking him once much less seventeen times.

    HA!

    The fact that Duggar only breastfeeds each baby for six months is one reason she has so many kids. Most full quiver women breastfeed for much longer than that, years, which delays the return of fertility in the majority of women, sometimes for years. Duggar must be going for a record.

    Heart

  43. Jane Awake

    Heart said, “Growing up in large families cures them of that particular urge, the girls, particularly, who are usually depended upon to help care for the new babies in the family.”

    I have to disagree about the experience of being in a big family necessarily “curing” the girls of the urge to have big families themsleves. My partner’s parents both come from very large families, and then they also had a large family. I was visiting a few months ago, when two of his sisters were explaining to me that they wanted to have very large families also. They said, “It’s so much fun to have a really big family. Something is always going on. It’s always someone’s birthday. There are enough people for a party.” I wasn’t really how to react to this point of view, especially considering I’m an American and they’re not, so I kept my big mouth shut. But I can definitely say that having come from a large family does not deter some women; it encourages them instead.

    Also, ladies, *where* did this “quiverfull” expression come from? It’s grossing me out.

  44. Isabella

    I don’t remember exactly where “quiverfull” comes from, but it’s something along the lines of “we’re having a quiverfull of arrows to fight on behalf of the lord.” The rationale given in the article I read was the when Reagan became president, there weren’t enough conservative Christians to staff the gov’t for him, so these people are having a quiverfull of children who will grow up to staff the institutions of society (the govt, universities, etc.) and make them more conservative.

    I find it unlikely that kids from such big families would be much of an asset in an advanced industrial society. With this many children, it’ll be hard to get good education for all of them. Public schools are going downhill (maybe these people will become advocates for good public school??), private schools are too expensive, and with mom needing to take care of so many small children, it’ll be hard to provide much of a home schooling experience. AFter high school, it’ll be hard to pay for high school for so many kids. Presumably the boys are destined for the military and the girls for marriage with no education.

    So basically they’re using “quiverfull” because it sounds better than cannon fodder.

  45. Frigga's Own

    Yeah, I’m with Jane Awake on the opinion that coming from a large family isn’t necessarily a deterrent to having one of your own. Sometimes people forget just how much work their family was and only remember the fun times and how close they all are. My mom co-raised two of the kids in her family and would vividly describe how much they didn’t have in the way of resources to care for everyone, but she still wanted to have six or eight kids. My good luck in family size is unfortunately due to her back luck with carrying kids to term.

  46. Isabella

    I must say, one thing I respect about some of these conservative Christians is their resistance to consumerism. (That said, I do’t think accepting a free trip to Disneyland counts.)

  47. Twisty

    “But I think there is more to the overpopulation issue then saying “have less children” while going around in an SUV and a million dollar house.”

    There really isn’t more to overpopulation. You’re responding, reasonably, to hypocrisy, but I think what you’re describing is overconsumption. There are too many people in the world by a factor of 1000 whether Americans overconsume or not.

    I’m not advocating that we all tool around in F-650s, but I’m sure you’re aware of studies that point out how all the Hummer-driving Honky McRichersons in the world combined are as a drop in the ocean compared to industrial polluters.

    As for million-dollar houses: You’re probably alluding to the hideous McMansions that are all the rage right now, but I tell you whut, if you, like I do, suffer from romantic delusions about reducing your footprint, you can blow alotta grip even on a small one. The 5-room house I’m building right now at El Rancho Deluxe is costing about a third again what it would cost to build the same house without “green” systems and materials: rainwater collection, solar panel hookups (for future solar panels that I can’t afford now), paint that doesn’t make you sick, Forest Stewardship Certified lumber, insulation, sun shades, one of those hot-water-on-demand heater things, etc. I’m beginning to think I should have gone with my original plan and dug a cave out of the side of a hill, accessed by a hobbit door or something.

  48. Jane Awake

    Isabella, thanks for the info. When I heard “quiverfull,” for some reason “sheath for a sword” came to mind.

  49. Blamerella

    If there had been more sibs to “assistant mother,” I might not have had kids of my own at all.

    Many years ago I read a letter in Ann Landers from a teenager who, as the eldest daughter, was being forced to help raise her many younger siblings. She described never being able to go out and have fun with her friends or date. Ann Landers chastised her, saying that children should gratefully do whatever was needed by their families. Several readers wrote in to lambast Ann for that opinion. One woman attributed that to her never having married or having children of her own, along with not developing social skills among her peers. She warned parents not to view older kids as built-in babysitters. To Ann’s credit, she acceded to the responders and reconsidered her advice.

    I feel especially sorry for the girls in that family because you know, given the uber-traditional gender roles, they are expected to be junior mothers without question. Whether or not that impacts the kids’ future life decisions, it’s really shitty for parents to enmesh their children into their own issues, whatever they are. Kids should have some chores and responsibilities around the house, but when they start to overtake their other important activities, then it’s a problem.

    Slightly OT but I don’t really care for the way some of my fellow progressive activists bring their youngsters to protests and things like that. I’m not talking about occasionally because they can’t get childcare or they want them to have the experience. I mean every time, every meeting, every protest, where it’s clearly to indoctrinate the kid. How is that different than fundies forcing their little cherubs to hold up fetuses at rallies?

  50. Lauredhel

    I read somewhere that (in the US, probably) not having kids = 72 years of 100% recycling. I’ll take that, thanks very much.

    I wonder whether this has a fair bit to do with recycling being a particularly useless environmental contribution, mostly aimed at salving suburban SUV guilt? In the Reduce-Reuse-Recycle triad, the first two are much more important than the third.

    I’m really uncomfortable with the women here who are choosing the Duggar mother’s putative vaginal appearance[1] as the most horrendous thing about this whole situation. Powerless women trying to survive in a toxic patriarchy deserve to have us denounce their male oppressors, not just shoot yet more and more barbs at their bodies.

    The women who do end up with severely damaged vaginas (in the US, assuming decent nutrition etc) usually do so because of men who can’t keep their hands and forceps and scissors out of them and leave them alone to do their job. (In Africa, say, severe vaginal damage might be more likely from peripubertal pregancy in an undernourished girl, possibly with rickets; or perhaps from being raped with a bayonet.

    For all of these, I blame the patriarchy.

    [1] which is very likely completely normal, as Heart notes

  51. emjaybee

    Quiverfull comes from the Bible; I believe in Proverbs, about having a full quiver of children.

    I think heart’s insight is fascinating, and have been interested in the Duggars for a while…and yes she has had a few sets of twins.

    My favorite thing to think about when I see the Duggars is that study that came out a while ago showing that the more older brothers a boy had, the more likely he is to be gay. You know there’s at least a few non-het kids in a group that large.

    I think having babies is simply what Michelle perceives as her career, and she’s good at it, biologically speaking. Doing something else would require learning a whole new set of skills, standing up to her husband, and probably running away from home….I think she’s just chosen not to think about such scary possibilities. Which is easy when you always have another newborn to care for.

    When menopause hits, I guess it will be all about the grandchildren. But I can’t help but think that wondering what else she could have done with her life pops up now and again.

  52. Zoe

    I first heard about the Quiverfull movement via this horrifying November 2006 story in The Nation; women are to submit to their Heavenly Father (aka “The Birth Controller”) in their dedication to supplying solders for God’s army:

    “Quiverfull women are more than mothers. They’re domestic warriors in the battle against what they see as forty years of destruction wrought by women’s liberation: contraception, women’s careers, abortion, divorce, homosexuality and child abuse, in that order.”

  53. Clio Bluestocking

    Lauradhel, I’m sorry, I was the first who brought up the vaginal appearance thing. I did not mean it as any perjorative at all. I honestly meant it in kind of a curious amazement. I’m a historian, and have read about women in the past, when the norm was to have this many children, and they suffered quite a number of gynocological and nutritionally-related problems. Today, of course, there is better care, but still, it takes a toll on the body. So, I was just wondering (in, granted, a rather glib way, but I am a glib person) how her body was absorbing this many children.

    As for turning over the new children to the older children, that happened in our house and I was the oldest and only girl. Granted, we only had three children, but, at the age of 10, I did not ask to be a mother to the other two. Additionally, while the next child, a boy, and I were less than two years apart, the last child was 7 years younger than me. I was always in charge of both of them, and the housework (while they were paid for the yard work). There was no switching off between me and the elder brother. In other words, the distribution of the child care and housework was not equal between me and the older boy. This may have contributed to my lack of desire to have children; but I KNOW it made me accutely aware of the patriarchy at a very early age.

  54. lawbitch

    A hot-water-on-demand-heater sounds like heaven. I’d love to have one of those. I’ve got a water-hogging teen in the house.

    I feel sorry for these quiverful moms. They have absolutely no time for themselves. I would go nuts! I feel sorrier for the girls who rear younger siblings. These girls didn’t ask to be nannies.

  55. kcb

    Kids should have some chores and responsibilities around the house, but when they start to overtake their other important activities, then it’s a problem.

    Ever discover you have a particular nerve only when something hits it?

    Blamerella’s quote hits exactly what upsets me about these enormous families; the older kids–most often girls–are put into service as sitters and maids at the expense of their childhood. I’ve made a solemn vow to myself that my older son will never be made to babysit, tutor or clean up after his five-years-younger brother.

    The other downside of the sibs-raising-sibs issue can be that when the caretaker sib finally takes off (woo hoo!),it’s a real loss for the little ones left at home, more so than it would be if the older sib weren’t a ‘bonus parent.’

    I don’t blame my parents too much — they came up hard in families where everyone pitched in or everyone went without, so that setup was normal to them. But it was not the norm by any means among my childhood friends.

    This is judgmental, but I think the Duggar-style setup could be exploitation of the older,caretaker sibs. Having that many kids is a lifstyle choice. Would the parents still choose it if they had to pay for the help the older kids provide for free?

  56. Heart

    Most full quiver moms homeschool their kids. In many quiverfull communities and churches, they will be shunned if they don’t homeschool. Many of these families do a really good job of teaching their kids and their kids go on to be successful in college or in trade schools. Not many join the military; many quiverfull types are pacifists and nonresisters, and even those who are god and guns types usually hate Bush because he is not enough of a theocrat and believe the war in Iraq is wrong.

    My oldest five children were homeschooled all the way through high school; all went on to college or trade school, all did well, none went into the military, all are gainfully employed, all are artistic souls. My next three down went to high school only and all three are in college. The oldest of the next three went to a prestigious four-year-college on full scholarships and will get her four year degree this year.

    Generally, these kids receive good, if religious, educations. When they go on to college, well, it is a consciousness-raising experience for them, unless it’s Michael Farris’ Patrick Henry college, in which case, oh well. I’ve seen lots of quiverfull kids leave the fold once they’ve gone on to college.

    The other thing is, quiverfull families emphasize entrepreneurial endeavors, family business, and there are many successful home businesses amongst homeschoolers (lots of them providing the needs of homeschoolers). Children are mentored in the family businesses and are, indeed, valued for the help they provide, just like in the old days when kids helped on the farm. They also often grow up and take over the businesses.

    The term “quiverfull” comes for a verse in Proverbs that says, “Children are blessing from the Lord; blessed is the man who has his quiver full of them.” The patriarchs take off with that particular warrior imagery and love to run off at the lip about all the “arrows” they will send into the various disciplines and institutions of patriarchy, and they’ve been successful there, which is one reason it’s hard in some places to get your prescriptions for morning after pills filled and which is why you have public school teachers teaching “intelligent design” despite what school boards say, which is why you have legislators, say, introducing bills that require women who miscarry to notify the cops within 12 hours so the “fetal deaths” can be investigated, on penalty of jail time.

    It’s true that some young people go on to have big families; my experience is that not many do though.

    Lots of quiverfull moms bail in their 40s. The demands on women in this world are horrifying. You feel like a machine and you are a machine. At one time I had 9 children under 18 years old with three-four still in diapers for some portion of the day. Imagine the laundry, especially for people who are environmentally conscious and reject disposable diapers. Lots of 40-something quiverfull moms leave the fold and never look back. They leave the church, divorce, become feminists, etc.

    Something no one talks much about: lots of women find pregnancy to be a highly sexual time and enjoy sex at this time of their lives more than any other time, for reasons which are physiological and chemical. Paradoxically, or maybe ironically, being pregnant also gives quiverfull women a reasonable and acceptable excuse to opt out of sex with their husbands in a world in which women are taught that their bodies belong to their husbands and sex must be provided on demand.

    Re the cost of all the green stuff. I recently read a fairly disgusting article in the Seattle paper about a guy who started a business selling frozen gourmet meals made with locally grown (within a 30-mile radius) organic produce and free-ranging, grain-fed animal products, packaged in recyclable containers. You return the glass dish each time you buy new meals and you return the cardboard wrappers for recycling, etc. Sounds great. Cost per meal? $30-$55. Talk about-offputtingly gentrified. How f’ing many people can afford that.

    Some of the quiverfull people get some things right, despite their large family size. Besides growing/making their own, sharing stuff with each other to avoid overconsuming, they reject debt, pay cash, don’t take handouts from the government in any form, many reject militarism/nationalism and the invasiveness and intrusions of patriarchal medicine. They take care of their own elderly and disabled, adopt and take in foster kids, as a matter of religious conviction.

    But their ideology horribly oppresses women and girls,including starry-eyed women who go into it thinking they want this kind of lifestyle. It also often turns garden variety heterosupremacist men into abusive control freaks, with the blessing of church patriarchs.

    Oh, and yes, in families this large, some are usually not het. Several of my children have or have had same sex partners.

    Heart

  57. tinfoil hattie

    I was offended the first time I saw the “Clown Car” photo a year or so ago, not because of the zillion kids but because even feminists make fun of this woman’s body. Why? Is it only a sin to make fun of unmarried, child-free women? I don’t get it. Women with a bunch of kids are so repulsive to us patriarchy-blamers that even we get to ridicule them?

  58. Clio Bluestocking

    Another note on the older children raising the younger children: the younger children cannot possibly benefit from this situation, either. I shudder to think of the ways that I fucked up my younger brother because I was just a kid taking care of a kid, and resenting the holy hell out of it. Raising kids takes a lot of energy. We talk about having the financial resources to do it, but we should also consider the human resources involved, as well. Hiring a nanny is one thing, but expecting a child to be a nanny is quite another.

    Don’t ask me why, but this term “Quiverfull” used in the context of childbearing conjures up this image of a nekkid woman, upside down, legs splayed apart, with about ten kid poking out of her vagina. Not babies, kids. I find the image disturbing.

  59. LMYC

    …the older kids–most often girls–are put into service as sitters and maids at the expense of their childhood.

    And their education. I wonder how many days the oldest girls are kept from school or NOT schooled even at home because something needs to be done, and Gawdknows we ain’t gonna ask the oldest BOYS to inconvenience themselves to do it.

  60. Beth

    I agree with tinfoil hattie…while I do find this photo hilarious, I think it is because I may have that shock value/sick/very mean sense of humor. And this photo is very mean to women, no doubt. Is the mean-girl mentality congruous with being feminist? I’m not too sure.

    My mom only had 3 kids and I, as the oldest, was still a built-in babysitter. Do people really think this only happens in large families?

    Also, Twisty, just wanted to let you know that I love your blog, you are the best. Many a day you bring a smile to my face and warmth to my heart. Who would I blame without you.

  61. Heart

    Clio and LMYC, very true re the girls taking care of their younger siblings and not being allowed to attend to their own needs, of whatever kind. The oldest daughters, especially, often really are servants. In a lot of the quiverfull households, maybe all, while girls are educated, they are discouraged or forbidden from preparing for careers and are taught they are destined for wife-and-motherhood (often via arranged marriages with the sons of quiverfull families), so the childcare and household duties are considered appropriate “training.” They are also shipped off to the homes of other quiverfull families when the moms have babies if they themselves don’t have older daughters. The girls definitely get the raw deal in the family compared with the boys, in a million ways, to include, for example, that in many of these families, the boys can speak, teach, and lead in church whereas the girls and their moms must remain silent and submissive.

    Heart

  62. Penny

    …the older kids–most often girls–are put into service as sitters and maids at the expense of their childhood.

    My grandmother was oldest of 6, 2 sets of twins. She once told me the story of the happiest moment of her whole life. Her work was done, and she sat on a hill and just looked around. The part that was special was that “her work was done”. From the sounds of it, that didn’t happen again, that she could remember.

    I love some models of kids teaching and helping younger kids, but those are set up especially for the benefit of the kids (Montessori) not as primarily a labour saving device. Most kids love to help and be included in work, to take advantage of that is a perversion and misuse of their good nature. Everyone should have an opportunity to develop her gifts, as well as be of service.

  63. TP

    Heart is amazing. 11 kids. I understand the joy of 11 babies must have been incredible.

    For my part, I am kind of sheepish for having even one when my saintly friends are adopting crack babies. Black girls – most unwanted babies of them all, snubbed by yuppies for chinese and russian kids every day.

    Yet the timelessness of holding my own baby girl for hours on end is something that I will never forget. In a life full of starlike splendor and bursting with love, those moments are untouchable pinnacles of heavenly bliss.

    But I look up from my bliss and see endless human beings smothering the face of the world and even – unbelievably – sucking every single fish out of all the seas, and I think I maybe shouldn’t have done it.

    I guess one more baby wasn’t too much to ask.

  64. thebewilderness

    I think the clown car snark may be based on the assumption that maximizing child production is a thing done to women through oppression rather than a thing a healthy independent woman would choose to do.
    We are so used to a culture that objectifies women that we sometimes fail to notice that we are nodding in time to the music.

  65. Sheni

    I did a little bit of background research on this family, and according to their official website, the two oldest girls (not oldest children, mind you, just the oldest girls) make the meals: The thirteen year old makes lunch every day and the fourteen year old makes supper. It’s really the fact that it’s the girls doing the extra work that bothers me. When my small sister was born eight years after me, my older sister and I were thrust into the role of “built-in babysitter”, but my parents were certainly around as well and it wasn’t a big deal. Had there been a brother, however, there’s no question that he would have had an equal share in the work. That doesn’t seem to be case in the Duggart household. IBTP.

  66. Hattie

    Why be kind? How do you think these people feel about, oh, say, Lesbians?

  67. BubbasNightmare

    Random Lurker:
    “If these people are like my own Quiverfull relatives they’re virulently anti-abortion, anti-birth control, anti-gay, anti-premarital sex, and anti-sex ed. Y’all know who I blame for that. You can respect their reproductive choices all you want, but they sure as shite won’t respect yours.”

    And there’s the bottom line on why this situation is so repulsive. Respecting others’ rights is a proper moral choice, but when it doesn’t works in both directions there’s no obligation to respect their choices.

  68. ginmar

    What really pisses me off is that the girls but not the boys do the housework and servitude. My brother never did any chores in our house at all; it was all the girls, and in school, the teachers were always trying to get the girls to do the cleanup work, while the boys were never tapped for it.

    Those kids wear identical clothes, adn the girls are being raised to be servants, as free labor.

  69. Banshee

    http://www.viceland.com/issues/v10n9/htdocs/eat.php

    An article detailing the consequences of having this many children. Of course, I’m childfree, so this is biased.

    An excerpt:
    That’s when I totally lost it. I said, “Okay, Mr. Roan, so you’re saying that if a rich person who drives an SUV, goes on foxhunts and never recycles, decides he’s not going to have kids, then he’s better than me—a vegetarian, with one kid, who recycles and has never so much as killed a fly?”

    “Environmentally speaking?” the idiot replied. “As far as Mother Nature is concerned, she would much rather tolerate the childless rich person. In the long run she’s better off with him.” I was so dumbfounded by this guy’s stupidity I hung up the phone in disbelief. Then I went over to my son who was sleeping on the couch. I looked at him and swore I would never let him or his brothers and sisters or any of their children or any of their children’s grandchildren or any of their grandchildren’s children’s children turn out like the oblivious buffoons I had talked to on the phone today.

  70. Pony

    They will still, a number of them will. Because it isn’t mothers who raise families. Oh we do the work, but it’s society who raises the adults who become like this buffoon, whose mother is banging her head against a wall somewhere.

  71. Pony

    Did you see the video on that site?

  72. Tracey

    Only here can you find such a great CR-type discussion about women’s lives resulting from a single picture. Thanks, Twisty!

    And thank YOU, Heart, for sharing your story. I don’t believe this particular movement is mentioned in the magazine, but the latest issue of the feminist journal Off Our Backs is completely devoted to women in fundamentalist religious groups all over the world and the unique challenges they face. It includes a few narratives by women who tell stories of leaving their husbands and/or sects that sound very similar to yours.

    http://www.offourbacks.org/

    It’s probably important that we not make too many assumptions about what Michelle Duggar’s life is actually like, but I would say that the way her family lives is most certainly a feminist issue.

  73. niki

    what’s the problem with people having as many or as few babies as they want?

    Are you kidding??? Noone’s genes are that important.

    If you were truly interested in future generations and/or, you know, the planet, it would do you well to avoid creating a whole tribe of resource users.

    People can do what they want, and they will, but making an enormous family in a time of depleted resources and impending global catastrophe is pretty selfish and ignorant.

  74. niki

    In regards to the frugal commune back-to-the-land Christian living, unless everyone is pooping in a hole in the ground et al., they are most likely still using up resources that could be better distributed among a wider variety of people, likesay the groups of people considered pariahs by their scary right wing community. But perhaps that is the point, to create enough people to buy/hoard the resources so that the shunned and banned have to struggle harder.

    It’s terrifying to me to think that there are women out there mechanically creating enormous ‘quivers’ of arrows for the Christian god. Am I the only one that thinks this sounds like a bad sci-fi movie?

  75. j

    Twisty, do you have a MySpace?

  76. Belle O'Cosity

    At least these people have a plan and are taking time to do this. They live frugally and are not asking the world for hand outs. Sure they use a lot of resources, but they do pay their taxes. People of the same ilk are the ones handing out prizes to them, not the community at large. The folks with a zillion kids I have a problem with are those crazys who were artificially inseminated and carried all 7 viable embrios to term. The community gave them a house and paid all kinds of things for that family including the medical bills for the children who were damaged by being in a womb made for one. They were premature and underweight, the kids have all kinds of problems that we as a society will be paying for for the next 50 plus years. Those godbags make me sick. They new the risks of artificial insemination and did it anyway. I think their doctors are to blame as well. They were a really expensive experiment. Their sense of entitlement sickens me.

  77. Puffin

    Girls from small families (even one-child families) usually get left doing the cooking, cleaning, laundry, etc., so I’m really perplexed why so many of you are upset about the Duggar girls having to cook lunch and dinner and take care of babies and so on. The Duggar girls’ childhood lot in life may take place in a more unconventional setting, but it’s hardly that different from other girls’.

  78. Jezebella

    Puffin, there’s a HUGE difference between helping out with one or two younger siblings, and a teenager being responsible for dinner for TWENTY PEOPLE every single day. I’m the oldest of two and was required to do a lot of babysitting, but it didn’t come close to the kind of drudgery the girls in a family that large are having to do.

  79. Pony

    Those women with the seven embryos in one pregnancy are the victms of men who don’t want any other man’s child to raise (and from what we see of the way they do treat other men’s children when they are stepfathers, often, maybe they’ve got a point) and the medical profession that thinks if they can invent it it’s good. Let’s find a use for it! I shudder too, when I hear them announcing that the 18 ounce baby is healthy. Not all disabilities are evident at birth, or even within the first several years.

  80. Lisa

    Belle,

    Just as a point of clarification…If you are speaking of that family in Iowa, I think their name is Dougherty??? They did not use artificial insemination. In fact, there is no risk of multiples from artificial insemination alone. You may be thinking of in vitro fertilization, in which they implant 1-3 embryos. This is where the twins and triplets come from. No doctor on the planet would implant seven embryos. What happened with them is that she took medication to ovulate and they had good ole’ fashioned sex. But she hyperovulated (which is a somewhat low risk of that method of IF) These six and seven “tuplets” are usually a rare effect of hyperovulation. Most of the time, women who take meds like clomid to ovulate have just one baby and in 5 or so percent, twins.

    It was for sure a medical risk they decided to take, right or wrong, but I don’t think it is quite like you are portraying. It was a very rare fluke that happened. If the community wants to help out with the consequences of that kind of risk…I say, let ‘em. No skin off my back.

    Of course she could have selectively reduced, but then it goes back to reproductive freedom. You can’t have it both ways. The whole quiver thing creeps me out as well. But I’d rather not put myself in charge of monitoring other people’s reproductive choices, whether it be Plan B or abortion or sterilization or IF or having more kids than I would ever want.

  81. whyme63

    I can only see this as breeding your own personal cult.

  82. Katelyn Sack

    I would like to add my experience to Heart’s on the continuum of constructions of work and play. Some of the happiest times in my life have been at home, as a child (considering myself at the time a young woman), cooking and cleaning for my loved ones. It is a form of taking care of, caring for, Dasein. I’m not jittering for a Heidegger-was-a-Nazi-and-Nazis-mistreated-women schlock here. I’m just saying, as caring for patients brings some doctors joy and caring for students brings some teachers joy, so caring for loved ones at home brings some people (men and women) great pleasure. You can call it productive play, child labor, Stockholm syndrome, or another delusion. I call it meaning. Everyone finds her own sources of the stuff, and they change (both the sources and the people seeking them).

    The real debate, in my mind, should be about why women’s reproductive choices still significantly delimit their professional possibilities. With over a million viewers at IBTP, 2 million at Feministing, and a whole gaggle of folks still gagging over the Edwards bloggers affair, why is this still the sad reality of sex in America? Why don’t women have equal rights as laborers? Any woman who can raise this many healthy, happy children should be leading her own contingent in Iraq — or organizing a Quiverfull anti-war march. But without a strong support system including extended family and halfsies-shared parental responsibility, her sphere is still, by necessity, the private one. If she works outside the home, she is neglecting her family and not holding herself accountable for her choices, because there is no day care she will not be charged and blamed for putting her children in. She is ostracized by political society, disqualified from the rat race, and made obsolete as a public actor for her choices — except as an ambassador for those same choices. This is the issue. This is the tragedy.

  83. mearl

    Hmmmm. I think the real issue could also be why you won’t find hundreds of GUYS proclaiming their love for cooking and cleaning and caring for their own kids or younger brothers and sisters. I find it a tragedy that one guy can get a good job and work the same 8 hours a day as a teenaged 7-11 employee, yet be able to “support” a giant family, while a woman’s work in this same family has octupled or more to the point where she needs to employ her daughters as helper-slaves (while the sons run around doing what they want, naturally). I find it a tragedy that new fathers don’t volunteer en masse for paternity leave, for flextime, for a couple extra days off a week to care for THEIR new families. Their PAID JOB comes first. It is the imbalace in family life/parental roles, which is due to a gender-split-based capitalism ideology, that is the problem.

  84. Alarming Female

    People should have “fewer” children, not “less.” “Child” is a count noun, and count nouns get “fewer.”

    Sorry–I couldn’t think of anything to add, as you all said it so well and so thoroughly, so I played my English teacher trump card.

  85. Belle O'Cosity

    Lisa, you are probably right in some regards, but I still have the same opinion. They took a risk? No they forced 7 children to take a risk, not to mention the two children they had already. And yes it is the family in Iowa I am thinking of. They did it for their own personal gratification whatever the so called reason or method. The community may have come together for the birth but do you think they are still as supportive now that the kids are in special ed and need all kinds of things? The more power to them arguement seems a little weak if taken to the logical extreme.

  86. lawbitch

    Shouldn’t the goal be healthy children and mothers? I felt sorry for those 7 children. A few of them needed feeding tubes as infants (3 or 4 of them?). I hope that these kids are healthier now. The press definitely glossed over the medical problems.

  87. saltyC

    “Of course she could have selectively reduced, but then it goes back to reproductive freedom. ”

    Yes I think this illustrates
    very well what the forces that want to outlaw abortion are really about.

    With IV fertilization, there are many many embryos created which are later destroyed. If they’re in a petri dish, they’re not entitled to life.

    But if they’re inside a WOMAN well then they’re as human as you or I.

  88. Antoinette Niebieszczanski

    I’ve always felt very, very conflicted about the whole having-babies thing. From the start, I knew it wasn’t for me. Having been present for my best friend’s c-section was only confirmation. Thanks but no thanks, huh uh, not me.

    I’m the youngest of five girls and my eldest sisters spoiled me rotten, toting me everywhere they went, spending their first paychecks on me, and doting on me in general. My elder nieces & nephews are more like brothers & sisters to me. This has always been a happy situation for me, and continues to be so as we go into future generations. Coming from a large family is *not* what made me not want to reproduce.

    My nephew’s wife is one a those women who could have a baby every year without ill effects. Three days after she misses her period, she knows she’s pregnant and carries the child to term with relatively little discomfort. She’s added two beautiful, sweet-tempered souls to our family, whom I adore. Bless her. Would I wanna be like her? Hell no!

    Still, I used to delight in poking fun at women like her, calling them Fertility Goddesses and inferring that they oughtta sleep with a baseball bat handy. As some of you have mentioned upthread, I’ve come to respect their choices, and I continue to insist on the validity of my own. Gestation and parenthood are, I believe, the most difficult tasks in the world, and not ones to be borne unwillingly. Why can’t we have a little sanity about this issue?

  89. Lalock

    Lisa and Belle:

    The McCaughey septuplets *were* the result of fertility drugs. It made me sick to hear the mother, while she was still pregnant, saying that God gave her these babies, so she didn’t want to get a selective reduction. Seems to me that God made her infertile and the medical community gave her these babies. Why isn’t getting fertility treatments defying God’s will in these people’s heads? Aaauuuughhh!

  90. tanya

    Funny poster, but I didn’t think it was real until I started reading comments.

    They may not be in debt, but having more than 15 kids is a choice, regardless if a deity makes the choice “for” you, and should not merit charity alone.

    Another disturbing thing is that the jimbob.com website looks more like a political campaign site than a family photo album.

    Now for the mind-melting philosophies of the Quiverfull…that could make me puke. I could have done without reading up on this new one for me. Having more kids to spread Christianity is a scary thought, not because I find it a threat but because I find the reasoning a vacant excuse.

  91. Twisty

    j: “Twisty, do you have a MySpace? ”

    No. As far as I can tell, MySpace is for social networking, and I hate people.

  92. Heart

    Tracey, thanks. Just ftr, I wrote one of the articles in that Off Our Backs issue you link to, so one of the stories actually is mine. :) I wrote Confronting the Religious Right.

    Heart

  93. A.

    the quiver full of arrows verse is actually in one of the psalms, not in proverbs. that doesn’t change anything about the discussion, just saying.

    my question above was honest and no, I’m not kidding. I was curious what people here would say about reproductive choice when the choice was one they probably wouldn’t make and possibly find offensive.

    I do appreciate those who pointed out that their choices would not be respected by these people. I think that’s true. I’d add, however, that I don’t respect people’s choices just because they respect mine.

    But I do know it’s true that people in these kinds of communities can be very insular and very harsh in their judgments of those who don’t conform to their way of thinking. I have several friends who are conservative roman catholic, don’t use birth control, want to have families of 10 or more kids, homeschool or plan to homeschool etc. And no, they don’t have the least bit of respect for my reproductive choices or how my husband and I are raising our kids.

    I do respect their choices, however, and they aren’t mindless drones or walking vaginas. Sometimes I think they’re a little deluded, sure. Number of kids is one thing, but I’m frankly more offended by those I know who refuse to vaccinate their children and then watch them pass 19th century diseases back and forth. That makes me want to shake people, dammit! I also cringe when I hear them wish and hope out loud for a girl baby at the top of the birth order so she can help out and I think some of them are in for a bit of surprise once their kids are grown. I keep most of this to myself.

    The worst of it, though, is the feeling I get from them that my occasional kvetching about how hard it is to pursue my career and take care of home and children. Their response? The fact that its so difficult is proof that women should not work outside the home. I’ve even been told I’d be a lot happier if I would give it up and just stay home to have kids. To me, the fact that it’s so difficult is proof that the world sucks and women aren’t really equal. Katelyn Sack, a few comments up, said it perfectly.

  94. Isabella

    Heart,
    Thank you for your input. You bring a great perspective to this discussion.
    My assumption that these boys are headed for the military was based on rather limited information. In the articles and interviews I’ve read about such mothers, the families didn’t appear to have home businesses.
    I’m glad your kids had such academic success, but the way things are going with the cost of college education and shrinking financial aid (I was on a committee looking at the issue when I was in college), I think college will become more out of reach for anyone who’s parents didn’t start saving in large amounts from the day they were conceived.

  95. maja

    I saw this family on TLC a while ago. I’m all for women making their own reproductive choices, but the girls in this family did not choose becoming housekeepers and little mothers while their ages were still in the single-digits. That is my main feminist concern with this family.

    One girl makes dinner every day, while a boy near her age does his daily chore by feeding the dog? That’s FUN. Making dinner for 18 is not that fun.

  96. NKBurlington

    I hope every single one of those children grows up to be Childfree!

  97. niki

    Here here, NK!

  98. tigtog

    Another disturbing thing is that the jimbob.com website looks more like a political campaign site than a family photo album.

    That’s not really surprising. Jim-Bob has run for office before and no doubt will again.

    He was in the Arkansas House of Reps from ’99-’02, according to Wikipedia. He ran unsuccessfully for the US Senate in ’02. He ran unsuccessfully for the Arkansas State Senate in ’06. I’m sure he has plans to run for some office in ’08 too.

  99. Belle O'Cosity

    I think it is really important that we note that the website for the family is under his name, not the family, it’s jim-bob that matters. Ew and yuck. His women serve, damnit.

  100. Tracey

    Heart,
    That’s awesome that that was you! This thread immediately made me think of your article and the others like it in that issue. I really learned so much from it, and I would recommend it to anyone. Your story and your strength are truly inspiring.

  101. kate

    I too saw the photo and was a bit confused. What’s the joke about photoshopping like that? Making fun of wingnuts by pointing out the narcissism inherent in wanting to replicate oneself to the umpteenth degree? A woman willing to put her body into service to feed a man’s ego?

    Then I saw it was real. No, a woman’s vagina or uterus is not a clown car, its not a piece of machinery made by a man for a man. Its a part of a living, breathing person with a fully functioning mind and ego of her own.

    I have to respect this women’s tenacity. Everyday people complain that life is too difficult and yet have less then one quarter of the work this woman faces each day. I’d bet she’s one tough woman, but masks it with her dutiful feminine mask. So convenient this convention of ‘femininity’ in that it serves as a means to convey, albeit through affect, the illusion that woman alone has no power or strength.

    Also, I have no problem with parents on the left bringing their children into participation on an active level. I too often have seen activist parents disconnected from their children in this way, as if a lefties with kids is some kind of contradiction. I say bullshit.

    Since I have moved to NH I have met many people who grew up in large families, in poverty. Most will tell you it was no picnic, most never finished high school as they had to work in order to assist the family. I know one man who said he missed school days often because he had to stay home to watch the younger ones if mom was sick or had to ‘go to town’.

    The saddest part of all this is that having a large family has always guaranteed that one will live in poverty and more than likely, the children will too, unless they get a good start at home or a break. This is even more true today than ever. And poverty is a prescription for powerlessness. Hence, my believf as to why the richie Republicans love the idea of a bunch of ignorant, powerless, angry people eager to find a quick answer to their misery.

    Let them breed I say, they are only breeding the contempt for the very principles they claim to defend.

  102. kate

    Might I add that my reference to large families and poverty obviously overlooks the wealthy and comfortable, as it well should because in my world, they don’t count.

  103. lawbitch

    It takes a while for a women’s body to replenish vitamins and nutrients depleted by pregnancy and lactation. If a woman has not sufficiently recovered before she becomes pregnant again, the woman is at risk for poorer nutrition. The baby will receive the nurtients before the mother. The woman may eat more to try to compensate. Also, the woman hasn’t had sufficient time to loose excess maternal stores.

    Sounds like fun? I’m grateful for birth control. Fewer, healthier children and moms.

  104. Heart

    When people defend these creatures (Jimbob and Michelle, the breeders) they should remember that their children do ALL of the work

    Leaving aside, for a moment, feminist women calling women “creatures,” which I don’t think is a feminist thing for anybody to be doing — Michelle Duggar is a woman and a potential feminist; I, and many former full-quiver types were the abhorrent “creatures” you are talking about, now committed to women, to feminism; guess I didn’t leave it aside after all — it isn’t true that the children in these families “do all the work.” The mothers are machines. They work their asses off, all day, and all night, too, 24/7. Just for starters, children are born newborns, babies. To get to the place where children are any actual help at all, you have to raise at least a couple of them to be 8 or 9 years old, and if you are Michelle Duggar, or if you were me, when your oldest was 8 or nine, you had 5-7 younger than your oldest, all of whom were not doing any of the work. As babies/toddlers/children will, they were *making* the work which their mothers were doing day after godforsakenly weary day, usually with zero help from the patriarchs, who are off doing their bible studies with the other godly doods or whatever.

    I think indignation and even horror over fullquiver ideology is appropriate, but hatred towards fullquiver women is not, and neither is dismissing the difficulties and hardships of their lives.

    The one exception to this would be rich white quiverfull types who have servants, but I have never known anybody like that personally, and I’ve known hundreds of quiverfull families in my day. These are one-income families who live on salaries most people would not believe one person capable of surviving on, let along a huge family, and the main way they make it is, the mother works her ass off. She sews all the clothes, she makes all the family’s bread, down to grinding the wheat every day (something I did, for 10, 11 people), she gardens organically, she goes gleaning, she goes berry-picking and cans and freezes everything, she cooks 30 meals in a day and freezes them so she can feed her family on a comparative pittance, she uses cloth diapers and washes them over and over and half the time, she made the diapers, just like she made her own and her daughters sanitary pads, etc.

    These women WORK. Once their children are old enough to help, they help, but the women STILL work, and as others have said, far and away, the burden falls to the girls and not the boys.

    Heart

  105. Pony

    Cheezney (appropriate addy) I’m no breeder, but I come from breeders. I imagine you do too. Families in NA in the 1800s early 1900s had 8-12 children “surviving”. The scenario I see described here describes the way my grandparents and parents lived. Not quiverfull mind you,just culture. I don’t envy it and don’t want it for me or mine, and I’m glad it’s not the norm anymore, but those were my beginnings, and I’d bet most people’s, likely yours too.

  106. Heart

    And for Michelle, “cum dumpster.”

    And for Cheezney, “misogynist.”

    Heart

  107. RadFemHedonist

    cheezney

    “And for Michelle, “cum dumpster.””

    that is deeply misogynist.

  108. thebewilderness

    WTF
    Misogynistic name calling AND telling people to shut up? Who are you and why are you here?

  109. kiki

    And for Michelle, “cum dumpster.”

    Wow…what a misogynistic, frat boy worthy insult. Please, tell me this isn’t really a women speaking this way.

  110. Heart

    Cheezney: Take a quick look at the name of this blog. It is I Blame the Patriarchy.. Not “I blame the women.” Not “I blame the victims.” This is a blog where radical feminists perfect their patriarchy-blaming skills, it’s not a playground for misogynist creeps.

    You’re a troll. Fuck off.

    Heart

  111. LouisaMayAlcott

    Cheezney has named himself after that which lurks beneath his foreskin.

  112. Artemis

    I think there has been a continuum of misogyny scattered across this thread, starting with the original photo and text which essentially makes fun of a particular woman’s body in a really nasty and intimate way. That image and text reeks of the classic liberal dude blaming of women. Of course, said dude is a totally cool feminist (so his liberal dude friends tell him), it’s just that some women are acceptable targets. In the bright light of patriarchy-blaming, we know that he has his usual quantity of culturally-approved general hatred of women, but he usually can’t show it so openly.

    The woman whose page sports this poster (where Twisty found it) has this charming thing to say:
    “A depressing portion of the people who hit on me are either mentally retarded men, middle-aged women, or people of either/any gender who are obsessed with suicide.”

    I don’t even have the energy to go into the many ways that’s offensive – I put it here to illuminate another element of the continuum I mentioned. It’s a slippery slope, that women-blaming.

  113. S-kat

    Heart-

    Just another comment about how awesomely cool and strong you are. Thanks for all the quiverfull info. I had no idea.

  114. medrecgal

    As someone with absolutely NO interest at all in having any children, my immediate reaction to these “quiverfull” types and related stories is “yecch”! It seems to me that these situations are a direct extension of a particularly virulent form of patriarchy, even if (and especially if) the women buy into it. I’m not, however, “blaming the victims”… I’m only suggesting that this particular sort of patriarchy that’s so deeply rooted in religion has some serious brainwashing potential. Why else would a woman willingly submit herself to years and years of pregnancy and lactation, as well as effectively forcing the oldest of the resulting children (at least the female ones) to effectively become mothers at an obscenely early age? There’s no way this kind of life is good for women; being required to make the utmost of limited resources that must be stretched to their limits to support an abnormally large family cannot possibly be conducive to a healthy state of mind (or body, for that matter). I can’t even begin to imagine…

  115. Feminist Avatar

    Having mulled over this topic for a few days, I am inclined to think its her clown car and she can do what she wants with it.

    I am a bit disturbed by the arguments that we should restrict childbirth as its better for the environment as this sounds suspicously like controlling women’s bodies under a liberal friendly argument.

    While I am suspicious of any movement that restricts women to the hearth, I think we should grant these women some agency. You may think their choice is deluded, but they are as entitled to their delusion as the next person. Two of my aunts joined a church that promoted quiverful values as adults, one was a trained nurse and the other a teacher. They now both have ten children a piece and homeschool. I disagree with many of their values, but their lifestyle was their decision.

  116. redwards

    too bad it’s been respecting peoples “decision” to breed like rabbits that’s gotten us to such a nice, healthy population of over 6.5 billion mouths to feed…i really think we breeders need to re-evaluate our position and stop treating birth like a “miracle”…i have three children, and can understand how that is a net negative for the planet as a whole…then again, i’m not a practioner of the woo, just a flee-er…

  117. Lovingmother

    You all make me sick. I only have 3 so far and I’m hoping for #4 and many more. I loath feminists. You’ll all men usurpsing and self righteous. Life was far better before it became so difficult for women to stay at home with children, where they belong, instead of out working and babykilling on demand. Look where our world has gone since women started working and baby killing on demand became available. The world is falling apart and it’s all because of the “women’s movement”.

  118. EN

    “Quiverfull women are more than mothers. They’re domestic warriors in the battle against what they see as forty years of destruction wrought by women’s liberation: contraception, women’s careers, abortion, divorce, homosexuality and child abuse, in that order.”

    The thing that really got me from this quote was “in that order.”
    Child abuse is considered the least destructive of those things? Planning your children is not worse than beating your children. Working to provide them with healthy food and warm clothing is not worse than beating them. Even coming from a group hostile to basic rights, I am sickened to see that child abuse is presented as a lesser evil. Not surprised, but sickened.

  119. JSmith

    “Imagine what that poor woman’s vagina and uterus look like. ”

    Borat had an insight on that: “I have seen your wife’s shakira. It hangs like the mouth of a tired dog.”

  120. ginmar

    God, she’s having a seventeenth kid. Maybe we should send lovingmother over with her special brand of parody to help out! It’s got to be a parody, right? Right?

  121. Annie

    En, I wanted to say that when they say “in that order” they don’t mean child abuse is last because it’s the least. What it means is that contraception basically started it all, which *led* to careers, which *led* to all the other things in that order. There actually is a logic behind the progression but the main point is they’re definitely not saying child abuse is lesser; more like, look what it ends up in – the worst thing, child abuse. And it all started with X.

    The picture doesn’t seem funny, it just seems nasty. But unfortunately I’ve read a few hundred pages on Television Without Pity of merciless slaughtering of Michele Duggar – by other women – that is so much more hateful of her, that the picture is pretty tame. They say they are feminists but I guess they are not radical feminists because they do hate her and it’s obvious the conversation here is very different from that. I’m so glad Heart has commented too.

    Heart, just one thing – the Duggars aren’t like the quiverful families I know and you know who work super hard and live on a shoestring. They had enough money that they were both able to stay home at first, for one thing, and took care of the little ones. She doesn’t cook anything from scratch, grow anything – everything is store-bought, frozen, pre-canned, pre-processed and heated up by the daughters. The babies are nursed a few months and then literally handed to a buddy who is very young – basically as soon as they can dress themselves and hold the weight of the baby, they are given charge of a baby…with the older ones’ help of course. The children take full care of baby after it’s weaned at 5 months or so, they cook, they sew, they clean – I’m not belittling how hard it must be to give birth 17 times in a row and nurse even for a few months each, but in this particular case she’s not doing anything else. Even the lion’s share of the schooling is done by the other kids, as well as all the laundry. They live in a beautiful huge house, with a grand piano and an industrial kitchen, with large enough grounds that every single child could build their own house and have grounds for their own families eventually (which is the plan.) They are very different from every quiverful family I’ve ever known. But at least since she isn’t working herself to death at least she doesn’t look as worn out as Mrs. Murch.

    Anyway, when Jana makes tatertot casserole for 18 people it really only takes a few minutes – once the meat is browned she just throws on canned soup and tater tots and cheese and puts it in the oven, then they generally eat it off paper plates. I feel sorrier for them having to sew, but they seem to be wearing a lot more store-bought clothes nowadays.

    I enjoyed reading this page admin, and especially enjoyed the links to your site Heart. Thanks if you decide to post this.

  122. KBZ

    I generally agree with everything that is said on this site – and as such have little need to comment. As a feminist mother, it pains me greatly that my first comment on this site is in disagreemenet … but this is entirely disgusting.

    Nothing says “I’m a feminist”, or “I blame the Patriarchy”, like indiscriminately trashing a woman for choosing to have children (including taking a pot-shot at her genetalia?!?! … Christ, I’d expect nothing less from a MRA!).

    Feminism is, and should be, about loving women no matter whether they’re conservative or liberal; Christian, Muslim or Atheist; heterosexual or homosexual; married or single; a mother or childless; and regardless of how many children she chooses to have!

    Also – I fail to see why this is filed under “compulsory pregnancy”. Is the possibility that a woman could derive joy from pregnancy, childbirth and motherhood completely out-of-bounds for feminists? Must a happy wife and mother be brainwashed?

    With this kind of hatred from feminists, is it any wonder that Ms. Dugger has sought out the fundamentalist community, and apparently shunned feminism?

    Disgusting diplays like this hateful attack only relegate us to many more years on the fringe – where only 30% of women are self-described feminists, where misogyny is rampant and unquestioned in the mainstream, and where our only refuge is a few scant websites and blogs (or so I thought … as apparently such blogs are not devoid of their own misogyny).

    I am a mother, a Christian, and a feminist (though I am neither conservative nor fundamentalist, and I only have 2 children). Am I not welcome in the feminist movement? Am I brainwashed because I love my children and my husband? If I had a few more children, would I be the subject of your ridicule? Would my vagina be called a “clown car”? At what point do I cease being a woman, and become a breeder in the eyes of feminists?

    At what point would a hate-filled attack on me no longer be seen as misogyny, but instead be seen as a trendy and clever feminist rant? For such disgusting displays of misogyny, IBTP … I think.

    KBZ

  123. Crystal

    In response to KBZ’s comment:
    At IBTP, everything is assumed to be in the context of blaming the patriarchy, not the woman. Obviously, Twisty blames the Patriarchy for treating womens’ vaginas like clown cars, not the vaginas in question themselves. A lot of times people seem to overlook the title of the website in big orange and red letters above the story and think that Twisty is criticizing women’s choices when really she’s criticizing the options they are given.
    As far as criticizing a woman’s decisions, those decisions are made within the context of her community. For example, if someone were to make fun of the fact that I am at this moment wearing a bright turqoise bra from Victoria’s Secret that was made in the Sri Lanka and that I paid an exorbitant sum for, I would consider it totally valid, because that was a stupid, patriarchy based choice on my part. It’s not personal.
    Also, I think that if this was just a picture of a woman and her 14 children with no other bizarreness, it wouldn’t be worth bringing up here. To me what I find freaky about this picture is that it’s a group of people in identical gender-specific dress posing as a family. They all have the same hair and attire as their respective parents. I’ve never seen the show, but I just checked out their website and if you look yourself you’ll see that there are very gender specific activities. Besides for whole family outings, the girls are shown in all pictures engaged in some kind of childcare or housework. The boys, on the other hand, are always doing something recreational.
    They look like the New Aryan Army or something. I was lucky enough not to have a fundamentalist family, but I spent several years of my childhood in a town that was 98% Mormon, and I can say that, while there are many good qualities to most Mormon people, the women having a ton of children and indoctrinating them into SuperAmericana is not what I would call an independent and uncoerced choice in most of these groups for most women. The uterus is treated perhaps not quite like a clown car (although, seriously, look at those outfits), but more like a factory.
    As you may have noticed there are several women commenters on this thread who have children, or even several children.

  124. justicewalks

    For example, if someone were to make fun of the fact that I am at this moment wearing a bright turqoise bra from Victoria’s Secret that was made in the Sri Lanka and that I paid an exorbitant sum for, I would consider it totally valid, because that was a stupid, patriarchy based choice on my part.

    On the other hand, if, for example, you belonged to a religion that indoctrinated you with the belief that to not wear your Victoria’s Secret turquoise bra meant you’d burn in hell, and you had a husband from said religion who’d make your life hell on earth right now if you didn’t wear it, I hardly think the best thing to do would be to make fun of how stupid and ridiculous you are.

    But, then, like you said, wearing that ridiculous brassiere was your own choice, not one your husband/lord/master/priest demanded you wear.

    So, perhaps instead of calling that woman’s children “clowns” and calling her vagina a “clown car,” we could direct a little derision and ridicule toward the man who insists, under penalty of hell, that his family behave and dress in this manner. That is, of course, only if derision and ridicule are in fact the best responses to Jim Bob Duggar’s deliberate exploitation and subjugation of his family, in the first place.

  125. justicewalks

    To me what I find freaky about this picture is that it’s a group of people in identical gender-specific dress posing as a family. They all have the same hair and attire as their respective parents…

    And yet, you’re defending a poster in which the “freaky” thing is this woman’s vagina. That poster doesn’t say a damn thing about how weird it is to strictly gender-code your family life. It doesn’t say a thing about how “freaky” it is to deny your female children educations. It doesn’t say a single word (and the image speaks thousands) about how terrible it is that this man doesn’t give 2 rats’ asses about what the constant childbirth is doing to his wife’s body.

    It says “The strangest thing about this family is a woman who’d bear 17 children. She is so strange, in fact, that all of her children are clowns and her vagina is a clown car. Nothing at all wrong or “freaky” or strange about the man, though, oh, no.”

  126. Crystal

    justicewalks:
    My response to your comments is the same as my response to KBZ’z: take a look at the big orange and red letters at the top of the page.

    If you want further defense of my comment:
    Twisty didn’t make the caption, she just posted this poster, with no comment as to her own view of it except for the big red and orange letters at the top of the page. Also, “make fun of the fact that” is not the same as “make fun of me.” Besides which, do we really all take ourselves that seriously?? My point was that it was a “patriarchy-based choice” probably like this woman’s, so it makes sense for us to be discussing and critiquing it here on IBTP. Remember, as I said at the beginning of my comment, it’s all said in the context of blaming the patriarchy.
    Also, though it’s beside the point, yes I think that the “Vagina: it’s not a clown car” is a direct commentary on the idea that 1. the dude seems to have no respect for his wife reproductive health, vagina included and 2. the kids look churned out to appear as some character part, not people. And dude, the post is there to encourage discussion, why shouldn’t we comment on everything that’s presented there instead of just the text itself?
    I don’t get why even on a site called IBTP, any comment about anything a woman, or even a couple does is construed as blaming the woman. Oh yeah, because everything in the patriarchy is about blaming women.
    Also, that last bit is totally your own interpretation of the thing, but I can’t imagine even the most misogynistic dude was actually intending to lay the blame for this on the vagina itself and there’s nothing in the text about the woman except for her vagina. Obviously they’re indicting the idea of a vagina being a clown car of sorts.

    I’m continually amazed at how patently ridiculous internet arguments can be. I mean, seriously, do you think that when I make fun of the way all the kids are dressed identically I’m not aware that it’s the result of some creepy dude’s decision? Does absolutely everything have to be repeated before each sentence? I don’t think I can even handle the level of obtuseness I seem to have encountered since trying to involve myself on feminist blogs commentary.

  127. Crystal

    AGH!!!!!!!!
    I just looked at my original comment again and realized that I had already addressed everything you brought up:

    “It’s not personal.”

    “not what I would call an independent and uncoerced choice in most of these groups for most women.”

    “Obviously, Twisty blames the Patriarchy for treating womens’ vaginas like clown cars, not the vaginas in question themselves.”

    You know, I’m tired of being purposely misunderstood in spite of going to great lengths to explain myself. If you disagree, either read what I’ve written with a basic level of comprehension and then disagree with that or STFU. Your assumptions about the intent of the poster are already baseless enough, but your flagrant misinterpretation of what I’ve said is positively offensive.

  128. CoolAunt

    Crystal, about those big orange letters at the top of the page, when are you going to start blaming the patriarchy? My reading comprehension is very good, to say the least, and so far I haven’t read any patriarchy blaming in your three comments to this blog post. Further, those orange letters at the top of the page read “I Blame the Patriarchy,” not “I Blame Everyone Who Lives in a Culture of Patriarchy.”

    “I’m continually amazed at how patently ridiculous internet arguments can be. I mean, seriously, do you think that when I make fun of the way all the kids are dressed identically I’m not aware that it’s the result of some creepy dude’s decision? Does absolutely everything have to be repeated before each sentence? …

    You know, I’m tired of being purposely misunderstood in spite of going to great lengths to explain myself…”

    Which way is it? Are we, the readers, to assume a disclaimer before all of your statements? Or have you been going to great lengths to explain yourself? If it’s the former, then the latter statement is a lie. If it’s the latter, then there’d be no need for the readers to do the former.

    “Your assumptions about the intent of the poster are already baseless enough, but your flagrant misinterpretation of what I’ve said is positively offensive.”
    If you’d say what you mean and mean what you say then there’d be no wrong assumptions about your intent nor misinterpretation.

    “If you disagree, either read what I’ve written with a basic level of comprehension and then disagree with that or STFU. ”
    Write with a basic level of communication skills or STFU. For that matter, if you can’t handle others disagreeing with you, perhaps you should just STFU, forget communication skills.

    “I don’t think I can even handle the level of obtuseness I seem to have encountered since trying to involve myself on feminist blogs commentary.”
    Hah! If you think it’s tough here at IBTP, where a lot of non-feminist and anti-woman discussion takes place, I suggest you not wander into deeper feminist waters.

  129. Crystal

    CoolAunt, I have spent time in other feminist forums. I don’t use the same screenname (and I’ve seen your comments elsewhere too, so I wouldn’t be too quick to pull the woman shunning or woman blaming card on me). That’s why I find all this nit-picking so tiresome.
    Since apparently you fail to see any signs of blaming in my comments, I’ll bold all of the most unmistakably blaming bits.

    In response to KBZ’s comment:
    At IBTP, everything is assumed to be in the context of blaming the patriarchy, not the woman. Obviously, Twisty blames the Patriarchy for treating womens’ vaginas like clown cars, not the vaginas in question themselves. A lot of times people seem to overlook the title of the website in big orange and red letters above the story and think that Twisty is criticizing women’s choices when really she’s criticizing the options they are given.
    As far as criticizing a woman’s decisions, those decisions are made within the context of her community.
    For example, if someone were to make fun of the fact that I am at this moment wearing a bright turqoise bra from Victoria’s Secret that was made in the Sri Lanka and that I paid an exorbitant sum for, I would consider it totally valid, because that was a stupid, patriarchy based choice on my part. It’s not personal.
    Also, I think that if this was just a picture of a woman and her 14 children with no other bizarreness, it wouldn’t be worth bringing up here. To me what I find freaky about this picture is that it’s a group of people in identical gender-specific dress posing as a family. They all have the same hair and attire as their respective parents. I’ve never seen the show, but I just checked out their website and if you look yourself you’ll see that there are
    very gender specific activities. Besides for whole family outings, the girls are shown in all pictures engaged in some kind of childcare or housework. The boys, on the other hand, are always doing something recreational.
    They look like the New Aryan Army or something. I was lucky enough not to have a fundamentalist family, but I spent several years of my childhood in a town that was 98% Mormon, and I can say that, while there are many good qualities to most Mormon people, the
    women having a ton of children and indoctrinating them into SuperAmericana is not what I would call an independent and uncoerced choice in most of these groups for most women. The uterus is treated perhaps not quite like a clown car (although, seriously, look at those outfits), but more like a factory.
    As you may have noticed there are several women commenters on this thread who have children, or even several children.

    justicewalks:
    My response to your comments is the same as my response to KBZ’z: take a look at the big orange and red letters at the top of the page.

    If you want further defense of my comment:
    Twisty didn’t make the caption, she just posted this poster, with no comment as to her own view of it except for the big red and orange letters at the top of the page. Also, “make fun of the fact that” is not the same as “make fun of me.” Besides which, do we really all take ourselves that seriously?? My point was that
    it was a “patriarchy-based choice” probably like this woman’s, so it makes sense for us to be discussing and critiquing it here on IBTP. Remember, as I said at the beginning of my comment, it’s all said in the context of blaming the patriarchy.
    Also, though it’s beside the point, yes I think that the “Vagina: it’s not a clown car” is
    a direct commentary on the idea that 1. the dude seems to have no respect for his wife reproductive health, vagina included and 2. the kids look churned out to appear as some character part, not people. And dude, the post is there to encourage discussion, why shouldn’t we comment on everything that’s presented there instead of just the text itself?
    I don’t get why even on a site called IBTP, any comment about anything a woman, or even a couple does is construed as blaming the woman. Oh yeah,
    because everything in the patriarchy is about blaming women.
    Also, that last bit is totally your own interpretation of the thing, but I can’t imagine even the most misogynistic dude was actually intending to lay the blame for this on the vagina itself and there’s nothing in the text about the woman except for her vagina. Obviously they’re indicting the idea of a vagina being a clown car of sorts.

    I’m continually amazed at how patently ridiculous internet arguments can be. I mean, seriously, do you think that when I make fun of the way all the kids are dressed identically I’m not aware that it’s the result of some creepy dude’s decision? Does absolutely everything have to be repeated before each sentence? I don’t think I can even handle the level of obtuseness I seem to have encountered since trying to involve myself on feminist blogs’ commentary.

    The third one isn’t worth posting because I wasn’t blaming the P anymore, I was just pissed. If you’re reading my comments, look at what they’re in response to. Also, I didn’t say to STFU if you disagree me, I said not to do so if you clearly haven’t even tried to understand what I’m saying. Perhaps not the most ladylike of statements, I admit.
    The whole “is it the former or the latter?” bit is getting into pedantry, but I’ll address it anyway. Clearly I was saying that we shouldn’t have to keep repeating the same trite statements over and over again before every single thing we say in order for it to be understood. I do generally try to explain myself at length (as in this case), but I don’t always and I wish I didn’t have to. My main point in this was not actually my own statements though; I was referring to people claiming that Twisty was attacking this woman or her vagina. Obviously in light of the fact that Twisty’s blog is called IBTP and she has a specific non-woman-blaming rule the things that she posts about women are CLEARLY things that she blames the patriarchy for, not the women. That shouldn’t be too difficult to see. It annoys me when people impute things to Twisty that are clearly the antithesis of her stated and demonstrated views.

  130. Crystal

    Bummer, I messed up the italics and bolds. Oh well, I’m sure if you care enough you can see it all on your own.

  131. justicewalks

    I think that if you have to rely on the same back-justifications that allow men their delusions that porn and photo-shopped magazine covers aren’t sexist to say that that poster isn’t misogynist, then, well…

    That picture doesn’t “obviously” say anything at all about those people’s patriarchal culture. It says that woman’s vagina is a clown car, instead of what? A two-seater? A fucksleeve?

    It is an ad hominem attack against that woman and her children that you find justified for all the reasons you’ve laid out here (basically amounting to: she chose to marry that man). I disagree.

    I’d have found a direct (non-misogynist) attack against her husband and his church perfectly acceptable. That isn’t what this is. It’s a direct attack against her, and because of the very very indirect and covert insinuations against that man, you find it justifiable. Plenty of people do. It’s not feminist, though.

    And it’s not patriarchy blaming.

    And, yeah, CoolAunt, she doesn’t need to wade in any deeper. There isn’t any point at which we, the feminist few, can sit on our haunches and have our misogyny forgiven, just because we call ourselves feminist. If we aren’t constantly making ourselves purposefully distinct from the masses, we don’t get a pass just because we’ve self-identified as feminists. Feminism remains an ideology of “show,” not “tell.”

  132. brightbluelizard

    I thought the poster’s critique was straight-forward: It says a vagina is not a clown car. I didn’t see what was so misogynistic about it; in fact I read the phrase “vagina: it’s not a clown car” as directed to that husband and the strange patriarchy he comes from.

    As for the whole “we can’t blame the victim it’s her choice” thing: I agree that there are times when you simply offer comfort & support, but on the other hand…

    I read somewhere else that feminists have a responsibility to examine their own choices -why they are making them & whether or not they contribute to oppression, or whether they collude in their own oppression. If we are serious about feminist values, this thing that “victims” are left off the hook, are allowed not to seriously examine their choices & their futures cannot be allowed to continue. The only real way to stop oppression is to insist that the oppressed stand up for themselves & be educated about the consequences of their actions.

    Keep in mind, some of the fiercest opponents of feminism have been other women. Based on some posts I’ve seen & some of the media out there, they still are.

  133. justicewalks

    I thought the poster’s critique was straight-forward: It says a vagina is not a clown car.

    Yes, but that hers is when it’s not supposed to be.

    I didn’t see what was so misogynistic about it; in fact I read the phrase “vagina: it’s not a clown car” as directed to that husband and the strange patriarchy he comes from.

    Well, that’s certainly a generous reading. One would think that if they’d wanted to direct the poster’s ridicule at the man, they could have written: “Jim Bob: Fucking His Way and Ours to Hell on Earth since 1980 (or whenever).”

    The only real way to stop oppression is to insist that the oppressed stand up for themselves & be educated about the consequences of their actions.

    No. The only real way to stop oppression is to insist that our oppressors stop oppressing us.

    Keep in mind, some of the fiercest opponents of feminism have been other women. Based on some posts I’ve seen & some of the media out there, they still are.

    I don’t have to belittle non-feminist women in order to address their opposition to feminism.

  134. Crystal

    The only thing I have to say in response to all of this is that to me it seems clear that the indictment is towards the patriarchal social group these people belong to. I would have a hard time believing any American who has ever watched a bit of TV (99% at least) or gone outside of the five mile limit of their hometown saying that when they look at this picture the first thing they think is not “oh, fundamentalist religious sect.” When I saw it, I knew nothing about the Duggars and I didn’t even really notice the woman, I was just wondering if they were Mormon, Baptist, Evangelicals, or what. that’s why I brought up the uniform clothes and haircut and stuff. This just struck me as “sample fundamentalist Baptists A” and that’s how I read it from there.

    ” I thought the poster’s critique was straight-forward: It says a vagina is not a clown car.

    Yes, but that hers is when it’s not supposed to be.”

    I agree, but I would say that it saying that hers is being treated/viewed as one when it’s not.

  135. CoolAunt

    “I read somewhere else that feminists have a responsibility to examine their own choices -why they are making them & whether or not they contribute to oppression, or whether they collude in their own oppression. “

    Brightbluelizard, feminists do have a responsibility to examine their own choices. More accurately, we have a responsibility to examine our own actions, rather than choices, because, as women, our choices are limited and it’s due to the limitations of our choices that we are feminists. Our limited choices are the reason that feminism is needed and exists, for that matter. That women’s choices are limited is also one of the reasons that it’s not feminist to make fun of or talk smack about other women. I can’t tell you what Mrs Duggar’s choices were before but I can guaran-fucking-tee you that they were far fewer than Mr Duggar’s choices and that Mr Duggar has further limited her choices since then.

    Feminists do have a responsibility to examine our own actions. “Our own” are important words in that statement. There’s a whole world of men and women out there who are more than glad to make fun of the actions of Mrs Duggar and all other women. Belittling and saying nasty things about women is part of the patriarchal culture, it’s what we, especially women, have been brought up to do. So, making fun of Mrs Duggar and other women is not blaming the patriarchy, it’s helping perpetuate it.

    On the other hand, examing our own actions to determine why we do the things we do and if doing them helps perpetuate the oppression of women or helps to further promote the equal treatment of women is important.

    Crystal, I finished with you days ago when I realized you don’t want to learn feminism nor become feminist, that you’d prefer to bend feminism so that it fits you and your actions. Arguing further with you under the guise of useful debate would just waste more of my time on you. I’d rather not.

  136. justicewalks

    I agree, but I would say that it saying that hers is being treated/viewed as one when it’s not.

    Ah, the passive construction. Now, who exactly is it that’s doing all of this viewing of Michelle Duggar’s vagina as a clown car? It damn sure isn’t feminists, despite your having agreed with the sentiment (“I mean, look at those outfits” or whatever it was you said) and self-identified as one.

    As for the man “treating” her vagina “like a clown car*,” again, why is it that her genitals are objectified and derided if he’s the one who deserves our ire? Instead, he’s the only entity in the picture not directly dehumanized, objectified, or humiliated by the tagline. His wife and his children are degraded, while he is allowed to retain his full personhood in what amounts to an indirect slight against him, by way, of course, as it so often is for patriarchs, of a direct attack on his property.

    At best, this poster is a big fat “your mama,” only in this case it’s “your wife.” I thought it had been decided long ago that using a person’s mother to belittle him (and it’s always him) is misogynist. I can’t imagine why it’s better when it’s his wife.

    Crystal, if you like the poster, you like the poster. If you agree with the premise of it, you agree with it. I’m not trying to change your mind. I’m also at no obligation to pretend as if your appreciation for it (or anyone else’s) is feminist, though.

    *I’m having a hard time understanding how this metaphor extends to the man in any way at all because clown cars don’t come about their occupants sexually.

  137. Jonathan

    While staring/wincing at the photo. My S.O. picked up something scary:

    So, the last time I checked, medical “knowledge” placed the “natural” male/female sex ratio at 1.05 males for every female. This statistic supposedly excludes infanticide and the preferential abortion of females in misogynist countries (like China, India, the entire Middle East, and, hell, the Earth). And research on most other mammals places their male/female sex ratio at around 1:1.

    So why do the Duggars have a 2.8:1 sex ratio?

    Worse, for the first 7 kids, the sex ratio was near 1:1, but for the last 7 kids, the ratio is 6:1. This seems statistically unlikely.

    And since abortion is illegal in these circles, she’s either using a coat hanger, or smothering the little girls after dear old daddy told her they had enough help around the house.

    If you look at the younger boys, there might be more than a year between their ages, yet I doubt the fucker let Michelle rest for a year between births. They’re aborting the girls after they are born.

    In other words, this is the Christian version of Saudi Arabia. Oh fuck.

  138. Karen

    Jonathan, I don’t think 14 (or 17) is a large enough sample that the ratio is meaningful. Plenty of large families have children of mostly one sex or the other.

  139. Greenconsciousness

    The obscenity is these throwbacks get TV shows thus inspiring octomoms to breed similar litters in order to sell the story and thus become financially stable. Reminds me of yesterday’s freak shows at traveling circuses or 3rd world parents in poverty deforming their children to be more successful beggars. Degraded roles women are reassuming to earn a living in a country that says BO is for women because he is funding childcare. As if women and children are the same thing.

    I blame the patriarchal media that glorifies polygamy in Big Love and breeding as a way of life, and bad girls and make me a super porn model.

  140. Jezebella

    Jesus fucking christ. Could y’all stop calling Nadya Suleman “Octomom”? She’s a human being with a name. I should think a feminist would treat another woman with basic common courtesy.

  1. Burning the straw radfems « Littoral Mermaid

    [...] Citation, please? (I do have two quotes from the well-known radfem bloggers Heart and Witchy Woo disapproving of calling women sexualized insults.) Some women become radical feminists because they used to be sex workers. [...]

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