Wednesday, November 29, 2006
From an otherwise perceptive, informative, educational and fascinating post on "quiverfull" families - those folks who read that bible thing about "be fruitful and multiply" and took it really literally -
November 29th, 2006 at 6:52 pm
Lya Kahlo: I don’t have any trouble imaging that there are women who do like having gigantic families. I have a very hard time understanding women that “want” to be
subservient, or who are willing to serve a “god” that demands such a thing.
Lya, I think this wanting to be subservient to men and to a “god” who demands this kind of thing from women is of a piece — not to open a can of worms, but I do believe this — with what makes sadomasochism, and heterosexual relationships, period, attractive to many women. Under male heterosupremacy, sexual violence, including in the form of dominance and submission of whatever kind, whether religiously based or just sex-based, are, in fact, “sex.” We all grow up with these messages, all of us, we are affected by them, and our sexuality is formed in the crucible, for women, which they create. To me, there is no material difference between saying, “I really like SM sex,” and “I really want to be a submissive wife.”
Heart (emphasis mine)
Folks, I am absolutely NOT trying to start shit with Heart, or with Lya, or, at least for the moment, with anyone.
But I'm having a really tough time keeping my hands to myself here, metaphorically speaking. I could comment on the thread itself, but I highly doubt I'd get through moderation; given my reputation, even if I said "oh Heart, you are so right in your rightness! Thank Goddess for your courage and strength and compassion and brilliant brilliance" - I doubt I'd get through, even if I meant it. So I bring it here, even though I know it now looks like I'm having a go at someone for no reason. But I feel I have a gripe valid enough to speak up about it, and in case we need reminding, SPEAKING UP IS A FEMINIST VALUE.
Because, oh my little white socks, there's a lot to speak up about in this sentence:
To me, there is no material difference between saying, “I really like SM sex,” and “I really want to be a submissive wife.
Heart - I believe you are in error on this, and I believe that error is no small, overlook-able nitpick but in fact reflects a pervasive flaw in your worldview.
Some definition of terms would be groovy.
"SM Sex" is a pretty broad term, encompassing all manner of activities ranging from relatively low-impact sensation play to activities that some would quite logically find dangerous and creepy. When a woman says "I like SM sex", she could mean:
"I like it when I/you bite your/my neck", or
"I like it when you spank me lightly," or
"I like it when I spank you heavily" or
"I like it when I/you wear this/that", or
"hell yeah, tie me up!" or
"your tears turn me on" or
"I like it rough" or
any combination of those, or none of those at all.
So I don't really know what Heart means exactly by "SM sex", but I have the feeling that in her head all "SM sex" involves elaborate harnessings and lashings and egregious humiliations and all manner of nightmarish sexual horrors. Well, let's say that's what I mean when I personally say "I like SM sex". Just for the sake of argument, and also because it's true.
when I said to Mr. Abusive Ex "I like SM sex", and elaborated a bit on what I dug, I thought I was saying "I like SM sex." I didn't realize I was really saying "I like being at your beck and call twenty four hours a day, having no life of my own, suffering through your insane and dangerous and abusive rages, and being completely unable to function like a normal person."
See, my exhusband thought that when I said I liked rough sex, I really meant that I wanted to be a "submissive wife".
He thought that because I liked rough sex, I liked to fetch and get and make and fix and fluff and fold and stir and scrub - which, you know, except for the stirring, I could give a dirty toilet brush about housework. And he thought that any failure to meet his rigorous housekeeping standards meant that I was disrespectful and possibly unfaithful and certainly disinterested in being married to him and definitely getting uppity and needing to be brought into compliance.
He thought that because I liked rough sex, I liked to have rough sex all day, every day, and on into the wee hours, and out of a sound sleep, and with strangers. And he thought that any lack of enthusiasm meant that I was disrespectful and possibly unfaithful and certainly disinterested in being married to him and definitely getting uppity and needing to be brought into compliance.
He thought that because I liked rough sex, I liked to be entirely responsible for the finances despite having no money of my own (even though I had a decent job), and I liked to ask permission to spend $10 on my damn self every now and then. And he thougth that any bookkeeping error or desire to read a new book meant that I was disrespectful and possibly unblahblahblahyougetthepicture...
You know what's sad? what's sad is that after a while, I started to believe it myself. I started to believe that because I liked rough sex, I wanted to be a doormat.
But I can tell you without equivocation, and with knowledge bought and paid for by my own blood - it is exactly that attitude, that "liking rough or weird sex = wanting to be a doormat", that leads to DANGEROUS, LIFE-THREATENING SITUATIONS.
the minute I realized "hey, I'm not a doormat, I'm just kinky!" well, things made a lot more sense. and I left.
I don't know if the opposite is true - if saying "I want to be a submissive wife" is materially the same as saying "I like SM sex" - but I don't imagine that most of your average surrendered-wife style Good Christian ladies really want their husbands to go fetch that elephant-hide cat-o-nine-tails from the broom closet on a Saturday night.
(I don't know, Rootie - what do you think? do you have an opinion on this?)
But here - the most important thing is this:
when I say "I like chocolate ice cream", I mean "I like chocolate ice cream," not vanilla yogurt.
when I say "I like to knit sweaters", I mean "I like to knit sweaters," not crochet scarves.
when I say "I can hammer nails," I mean "I can hammer nails," not saw wood.
when I say "I was raped," I mean "I was raped," I did not consent to sex.
when I say "I need an abortion", I mean "I need an abortion," not "I want to have a baby."
and jesus gay - when I say "I like SM sex," I mean "I like SM sex" - not "I want to be a submissive wife."
and if our wise crones and respected elders and matriarchs can't believe a woman knows her own mind, well, how the hell can we expect ordinary, average men to believe a woman knows her own mind?
and I am not down with being a submissive wife.
I am not down with being a live-in slave.
I am not down with having sex with my man when I do not want to.
I am not down with aggressive behavior outside the bedroom.
I am not down with bowing down to men.
I am a gun owner...
and oh, yeah, a WHOLE lot of the time *I* am the aggressive one!
You know what clicks in my brain every time the S&M devil raises its head in these conversations? What I see as the assumption that the MAN is the dominant, sadistic one ALL the time. Does not matter how many women say "I'm the top" or "We switch", hell even if the man involved is tied up and thrashed within an inch of his life by an over the edge female partner...the MAN is the dominant, sadistic one (because obviously he talked HER into it, I mean, no woman, with the Patriarchy and all, might actually be into restraining, commanding, or roughing up her partner because SHE gets off on it...) And yeah, yeah, I know, I am suspect of having sketchy motivations, issues, and all that other shit already, but I have had partners, male ones, be like "Is that...a cattle prod? No FUCKING WAY!" -run screaming from the room never to ask RenEv out on a date again- (okay, not a cattle prod, but some equally sinister sexual torture device that has left a man or two in my life VERY unwilling to..um, ever speak to me again...)
Sure, S&M is about power and control and role playing and exploration, even pain and restraint sometimes, but once again, it AIN'T ALL ABOUT THE MEN...and it seems like everyone, even feminists, is making sex, ALL sex, kinky or otherwise, about THEM.
I know the plural of anecdote is not data. and just because our experiences happen to match (or at least harmonize) doesn't mean that all (or most) women have experienced what we've experienced, or should, or blahblahblah disclaim disclaim disclaim.
but people's reasons for wanting to explore "SM sex" are as varied as snowflakes, or gall wasps, or some other varied thing, I don't know.
in my experience, I've sometimes felt pressure and coercion to top some partners (one, notably, female). I've also, on separate occasions, felt a strong pleasurable urge to top my partner.
all part of life's rich pageant.
Yeah, there is a shit load of variety out there...
i'm trying to remember the quote, and i think it's gayle rubin: "a sexual aim is not considered legitimate in this country."
And i think that says it all. an erotic purpose or desire is always secondary to the political or moral structure to which it relates, be it lefty or conservative. that's a damn shame. and my rainbow loving ass isn't going to live with that.
I guess she has more experience in the evangelical christian world than I do, and she's made quite a thorough study of it all, and so I am inclined to assume that she's found evidence to suggest that the quiverfull movement is not specifically racist. And since I've not done that research myself, I really can't pick apart that particular aspect of the post.
at the moment.
but I do have experience with SM sex and psychotic exhusbands. maybe I'm not an expert witness, but I do have a passing familiarity.
I don't know - I included most of the comment for context. do you think I somehow misunderstood it?
which, yes, perspective; but i mean, she went from that directly to a school of cultural feminism that...
eh, i've said it before and said again: with her, i always think, "Old Job, New Job." you can take the girl out of the reactionary mystical gender-stereotyped authoritarianism, but...
well, you -could- take it out, the etc. authoritarianism out of the girl; but i'm not at all she -has- done, is the thing.
i'm still not clear on exactly how the transition to wimmin-lovin' separatist came about; it must be a fascinating story.
it's just this one little idea that I think does not accurately reflect reality.
and I think that this inaccurate reflection of reality is dangerous.
I don't think I was real clear about that and I fear I may have come off a little snide.
jeez, though - it's hard to speak up through this fear of being misunderstood.
Ahem. Now that THAT'S out of the way...
I think it is very dangerous to conflate "SM Sex" with "wanting to be a submissive wife." And let's leave aside for a moment all the problems that come along with those very broad, general descriptions (which you already covered very nicely, Antiprincess). Your description of your ex made the problem perfectly clear - it's dangerous because it sets up a false state of affairs where one's sexual proclivities make it okay for that person to be abused.
And I would just like to say something pre-emptively to anyone who wants to come in with their lines about, "Well, that's how patriarchy sets it up..." FUCK patriarchy. We're supposed to be trying to dismantle it, right? So let's work on dismantling THIS manifestation of it! The same old virgin/whore bullshit... and may I remind you, none of the abuse Antiprincess received was in any way her fault. Because she likes certain sexual kinks is neither here nor there. I feel some people who self-identify as feminists get dangerously close to blaming the victim in these kinds of discussions. "Well, if she hadn't been dressed like a whore..."
Well, you know, before I claim that Dr. Monsoon's assertion that the moon is made of green cheese is hogwash, I really should make extra sure that Dr. Monsoon is actually claiming that the moon is made of green cheese, and not cream cheese, or green tea, or bee knees.
hence the equivocation.
She's got it sort of backward. Like, say, those stupid logic problems on IQ tests:
All roses are red.
All roses are flowers.
But... all flowers are not red. See?
So, in this case, she's fucked up the logic:
All Biblical wives are submissive.
All subs are submissive.
Therefore, (in her mind) all subs are Biblical wives.
It actually works like this:
All Biblical wives are submissive.
All subs are submissive.
Therefore all Biblical wives are a form of sub.
She's not 100% logically spot-on, but I understand how she arrived at the error. When you look at the Biblical wife info, particularly the recent(ish) stuff by, say, Debi Pearl the sub-by flavor is totally and 100% actually there. Comparing the current trends in Biblical submission to lifestyle hetero Spanko couples, or secular "Surrendered" wives, or the Taken in Hand folks, it's incredibly easy to arrive at the opinion that it's all operating on the same sort of continuum. But... imo, at least the kinky folks are being honest and not hiding behind Jesus. Heh.
Anyway, as for QFers and racism--she sounds a lot like those Minutemen that claimed they had absolutely no affiliation with white supramicist groups. There are a lot of QFers on the boards at mothering.com--and believe me, any one of them can tell you about how European birth rates compare to American birth rates. Doesn't mean that any of them want to drag a black man behind a truck, no--but last time I checked the Average American, who is supposedly no more or no less racist than QFers according to that post, sure as hell isn't willing to bear their own baseball team as their small part in preventing White Race Suicide. When the QFers stop quoting Buchanan, then I'll stop thinking they are more overtly racist that "the average white American."
Veronica - thanks for breaking it down.
I am painfully aware that most feminists seem to believe that children are a burden, and that mothers are slaves. I hope I am wrong. Quiverfull mothers are as committed to their beliefs as any UCBerkeley Womens Studies profeesor is to hers.
Another thing..it should be apparent that they rather like sex. You should hear the conversations we have at Thursday Morning book Study. It ain't all Friday Night Lights Out.
In my experience, that has NOT been the view of most feminists. It's unfortunate that people have these ideas of what feminism is. It's one of the successes of the political right (esp. windbags like Rush Limbaugh, Neal Boortz, Sean Hannity) - getting people to believe that feminists are all a bunch of crazy, hairy dykes who eat babies for lunch.
Oh, for sure. They can do what they want. And, I want to make it clear that I see QF as a specific movement--not everyone that just up and wants a dozen babies is Quiverfull.
I am painfully aware that most feminists seem to believe that children are a burden, and that mothers are slaves.
HA! Do you know about DruBlood or her friends, the homeschoolers and unschoolers, the suburban homesteaders, etc? For real, there's a whole feminist Mommy blogosphere out there. Might change your mind about some things...
and of course there's kactus, SuperBabyMama. who doesn't homeschool, of course, but...
actually you know i realize, i have a lot of moms, many "nontraditional," on the 'roll. i don't know why; it just worked out that way.
yeah, there are some seriously obnoxious "childfree" people. they aren't the vast VAST majority of feminists, though. hell, a lot of the radfems driving me crazy have kids (i mean besides Heart).
and you know, i think people see "quiverful" and think of, whosis, the family with the sixteen kids.
i read the stories about them and you know what, i'm sorry, they're creepy. kids are -people,- not symbols of your devotion to whatever. and yes, there is definitely a white supremacist undertone to a lot of it.
but mostly, if you can't even keep track of your kids' damn names..
honestly, you know, besides everything else, i think maybe some people do things like that because at some level they need to be busy 24/7. you know, we're staying together for the sake of the kids? hey, no time to question anything when you've got your hands THAT full. no time for real marital strife, much less existential crisis.
i've known people who i think used houseguests in the same way, to a lesser extent.
the demonizing goes both ways.
"them" being the Duggars, specifically.
and no, i am not saying this simply because they have a lot of kids; i looked at their website and read some of the interviews, and...yeah. it feels very authoritarian. they do, anyway. i dinna like. yeah, it's their business as much as anything else i expect; but the idea of this as a -movement-...
Yes, Quiverfull is a movement, with organization and support systems, but it is ecumenical, not specific to one denomination, even though you tend to see it more in the fundamentalist/charismatic churches than you do in mainline Protestantism.
OK, so I can safely say that not all feminists look at QF's with condescension? Then I can also safely say that not all QF's are mind-numbed robots following the lead of a charismatic and totalitarian preacher?
I realize that, IN GENERAL, the QF lifestyle is something many (if not most)feminists would choose not to live, and that there are SOME feminists who think nothing but disparaging thoughts about QF's.
I am getting the impression that QF's are viewed as some sort of oddity, to be studied under a sociological microscope and their flaws to be headlines and mocked. Of course there is abuse in QF families. It's in Methodist families, Muslim families, and gay/lesbian families. Yet when it comes to light in a QF family, it's all "SEE! Cultural abberation! Full of Abuse and Horror! It must the the fault of their (insert unapproved of belief system)" rather than something that happens in an individual family, and is a family problem.
I realize I am rambling...sorry about that and thak you for your patience.
My husband's father came from a family of thirteen children.
I've spoken to my husband's grandmother about how she felt about having such a large family.
first she looked at me as though she thought I needed a lecture on where babies come from. Then she sort of shrugged her shoulders, took a sip of her steaming hot black coffee, and said "that's just how it was."
"we were never lonely," she said.
Rumor has it that she and her husband just really enjoyed each other's...um...company...and so they had thirteen children.
it wasn't particularly a religious or political statement, nor a real desire for a big family. they just did what came natural, if you know what I mean. of course, this was years back.
I had thought that the QF movement was a sort of stand against medical interference in fertility, whether encouraging or discouraging. but I guess it's a lot more than that.
I think it's a remarkably optimistic way to look at the world.
So if a sexist man believes that SM sex and submissive housewifery are the same thing, then that's evidence in favour of the truth of that statement. Given this sort of framework.
But they do so by arguing that any resistant strategy--e.g. relationships that do not support behavior like that of Abusive Ex--are in fact franchises of patriarchy.
I can't personally condescend to anyone that goes on about the Evil Birth Control Pill, because of my own personal history with it. I quit 8 years ago, and I can say in all sincerity that BC probably ruined my first marriage. I've been known to say, "I'd rather have 12 kids then spend all of my fertile years completely insane." 'Cause that's what the pill does to me--makes me CRAZY. And, not cute crazy.
And, I've got a whole rant that goes with it about how women are treated by the pharmacuetical industry, and how "crazy" just doesn't count as a real side effect for women 'cause we're supposedly nuts already, etc, etc, etc. And, I've given that rant at places like Pandagon, and been told that I'm a bad, bad feminist and probably scaring some 16-year-old into baby slavery or some stupid shit.
So, I really do get it. I promise.
But, I'm not personally down with calling children "virility objects" like a coupld of the larger, childfree types are.
Anyway, I do think that QF is somewhat racist, yeah--all based of the things that I've heard QF mother's say online. And, hey... arrows for war? Little weird. I think I'd have more respect for QF if it took a more Catholic view of things, to tell you the truth. "God says so, and babies are blessings" is far more compelling, in my mind, than, "Woot! We're gonna outbreed the heathens!" But, if we're going to play Poor Oppressed Housewife for Jesus, I'd say that the QF's don't even come CLOSE to the Colorado City FLDS or People's Church FLDS--the polygamist cults--ever been to a Wal-Mart in Southern Utah? They make the Duggars look positively mainstream. (I need an eye-popping smiley. 8-| )
IMO, it's not possible for white people to engage in dominionist eugenics without being really fucking racist. It works the same way as hawkish imperialism and anti-choice rhetoric in general: you cannot discuss productive proprietary interest in other people--your spouse, your children--without engaging in the kind of brittle selfhood that, in this culture, is always tied to racist supremacist anxiety.
oh for -fuck's- sake. that is so obnoxious. yeah, if that were my experience, i'd probably have felt the same way. and i can't say i've never encountered so-identified liberals and feminists (among others; libertarians seem particularly prone to this for some reason, at least a certain kind does) like this, sadly; just haven't been on the receiving end.
i do remember once saying to a woman who particularly drives me crazy, who made some sort of remark about the irresponsibility of having three kids, blah blah, in response to an article by some woman who'd written about her experience being sneered at in SF (the general reaction was to not believe her when she said things like people would -say- to her, don't you think you have enough?)
...i said, and what exactly is someone supposed to do, faced with a remark like -that?- "Gee, I'm so sorry, I'll go retroactively abort right now"?
and what really must drive people crazy is, it's people like this--that woman, TF (at least the woman in question isn't noxious like her*)--"no one can afford kids." oh, SHUT up. you are sitting near the apex of one of the wealthier populations in one of the wealthiest countries in the fucking -world.- you probably consume by dint of your sheer -existence- more than 98% of the planet --and yes, so do i, maybe 97.5% instead of 98, point BEING, i don't go around lecturing other people about their forfuckssake family planning. if you're SO concerned about the well-being of the planet, why not give away all your worldly goods? better still--hey, let's make a pact to -all- off ourselves when we reach a certain age! seems only fair, right? make room for the next generation? no? not volunteering? didn't think so.
so, no, i don't buy that this is about anyone's genuine concern about overpopulation, although that IS a real concern; i don't buy that the expression of it via sneerage is the real motivation any more than i do TF's sneerage as being motivated by real concern for women (other than herself).
i think in the CF case...
well, at least in the case of the person i was talking about: my suspicion is that she is, indeed, jealous--*not* of the parents, but of the actual kids. (Her being into ageplay--she talks quite a bit about her BDSM activities, often in places and contexts where quite frankly no one gives a shit; she seems to feel it's her duty or something. i think she's singlehandedly responsible for making anti-kinksters out of previously neutral people, myself, and i'm not alone in this--anyway, that to me was one tipoff).
But you know: if one's had a not particularly joyous
or carefree childhood, full of the unconditional love and approval aplenty and ample opportunity to play--as was true at least of this woman--then sure, makes sense to me that watching someone else have what you never did might end up expressing itself like that.
*nice on a personal level, but...if she didn't exist, in some ways, i think the "anti-sex-pos" people would've had to invent her. just as rigid and dogmatic and myopic in her own little way as...well, bunch of other people; even though i agreed with her on a number of issues, she regularly drove me up the frigging wall even when i -did- agree with her. and when i didn't...she was just maddening.
As per the QF thing: yeah, what Veronica said, pretty much. I take your point wrt the anthropological tone, though. i guess we all do that to a certain extent, if we have no personal familiarity with the people being discussed...
I like to really feel a person's hands on me, sometimes enough to leave marks. But the don't give me any shit or they're so out of here!
I really believe that is one bizarre statement. How can someone equate the two? Being the "submissive" missus is bound up with patriarchal norms and the position of women within the family while with SM sex, as antiprincess argues, encompasses a lot. One aspect of it is that it's potentially within your own control. Again, how can they equate the two?
Jesus, these people judge women as inferior simply by seeing what their fantasies are and deeming those fantasies to be flawed. How anti-woman is that?
On the Quiverful people, what else can you say about a movement that says it's creating "God's Warriors"? I realize there are genuine people out there who are completely not like this and just enjoy having a large family, but the movement as a whole... "God's Warriors"?! That scares the shit out of me.
Word Verification: dkouxtlx
btw - grandma ROOLZ. just thought I should mention. she is an admirable, terrifying individual.
the best Grandma quote, from when my husband was just a pup among pups, bouncing around in the giant pack of wild cousins - on some fourth of july weekend lost in the mists of memory, heading out to the meadow with a milk-crate full of fireworks, and Grandma said:
"do you kids have enough matches?"