I wasn’t sure I was going to have time to read Kathryn Joyce’s Quiverfull before my move to Baltimore next Wednesday, but I’m so glad I did. I’m only 50 pages in, but I’m finding Joyce’s study of the Christian patriarchy movement fascinating. Most of what I’ve read about the religious right turns on specific political issues – abortion, gay marriage, abstinence and the purity movement, the ex-gay movement, the so-called “Christian feminism” – rather than on the more fundamental question of how patriarchy is being established and re-established in the evangelical movement. Joyce delves into the origins of this recent trend in re-establishing the dominant husband/submissive wife model, as well as its position in the broader evangelical movement to bring American society “back to God.”
What I’ve read so far has focused on homeschooling and organizations that try to instill particular values in women so that they will desire to take on “Christian” gender roles. I find this really interesting because I have a few friends who were raised in this model, and I never knew much about it, or understood how young women are taught to buy into it. It goes beyond anti-sexuality messages, and extends to the whole structure of society – to patriarchy. I have a vague idea that my (eventual) dissertation will focus on patriarchy, specifically on how education and media notions of gender and sexuality inform adult understandings of sexual violence. Now that I think about it, religion also probably plays a big role for at least some men and women. I’m looking forward to reading more.