So I've been following a number of Quiverfull/Patriarchy blogs. I was introduced to the QF/P lifestyle by ex-coworkers of my husband when we were first married. For those new to the concept, Quiverfull has been popularized by the TV show "20 Kids and Counting". Based on Proverbs 127: 3-5: "Lo, children are an heritage to the Lord: and the Fruit of the womb is his reward. Happy is the man with a quiver full of them..." Basically, women are encouraged to bear as many children as possible, as babies are how God shows his love. They believe in very traditional gender roles, women are housewives, men are breadwinners and ultimate authority. Homeschool, long hair, dresses, modesty, chastity, and patriarchy are some of the hallmarks. Don't some of these things sound familiar?
What I found a bit disturbing is how similar the teachings are to Mormonism. Most dramatically, is what the blogosphere has coined "purity culture". Basically there should be NO sexual interaction between men and women until marriage. While there are some major differences (betrothal, courtships, de-emphasizing dating), there are strong similarities as well.
For example, modesty is mostly a woman problem. The way women dress have a direct relationship to men's thoughts. This was something I was taught in Young Women's. "Don't wear that! You don't boys to have improper thoughts about you!" Interestingly enough, to the non-religious, the word "modesty" usually means humility. Not so much in religious cultures. While humility is praised, it's apparently more important to cover your goods than to adjust your attitude. Mormons have become a master of this concept, as well. Garments cover from shoulder to knee. And we guard that..well...religiously. How often have you sat in sacrament and said something to the effect of "OMG...I can see her shoulders...how immodest!" I know I have. What's worse, we teach this same standard to our children, to the point where I have seen kids as young as 5 say "She's immodest!", while pointing to a classmate. Which, while I'm on the subject, if modesty is to prevent women from dressing in clothes meant to be sexual, why are we pointing out 6 and 7 year olds wearing sleeveless sundresses? Do we really think these young girls are trying to be sexual? (If you do, please get help.) One of the problems with purity culture is that it encourages rape culture. "She was asking for it, look how she dresses!" and making women responsible for men's thoughts helps turn them into pieces of meat, only good for satisfying lust. Another problem is that it turns people into judgemental little jerkfaces. Yet another, is purity culture in general creates shame for normal lustful thoughts. Young people are told next to nothing about sex, except that it's wrong outside of marriage. Masturbation and lustful thoughts are deemed a sin, leaving many to feel disgusted with themselves and with their bodies. Young men become angry at young women for "flaunting" their bodies, and young women become fearful that all young mean will "attack their precious virture".
Any sexual act, and any sexual knowledge, it seems, is deemed "inappropriate". Young couples knowing next to nothing about their own bodies, not to mention the opposite sex, are entering marriage and suddenly all walls are down. Sex goes from being disgusting to being beautiful. I can't even describe the cognitive dissonance this causes. I entered my marriage with some...experience. I felt dirty and ashamed because I had let other guys touch me in my "sacred places". I had spent years berating myself for my sins, and was told by those in authority that it would be hard for a man to want me because I had "lost" my virtue. Minor note, anything related to sex is considered virtue. Analogies about licked cupcakes, bitten candy bars, and chewed gum abound. The real pity is how that affects victims of sexual abuse. As an abuse survivor, I felt from a young age that I was already impure and won't ever find someone to love me because my virtue-my female value-was gone. Virginity should not be a woman's value! Women's values should be our minds, experiences, and talents. Not our intact hymens.
The main point of my rambling post is that Mormon, Quiverfull, Orthodox Jew, Orthodox Islam, all have the same elements. Modesty for women, purity, and control. Because that what it boils down to. Women have to be under the control of a man. If our virginity is our only worth, because that's all that a good marriage needs, then having control and knowledge of our own bodies will always be forbidden. I know women who are in their 60s who have never had an orgasm. NEVER. They won't say why, but I think it's because being "pure" became a contest, and those who knew the least about sex would win. They don't know enough about their bodies to know what makes them happy, and are afraid to learn. I say it's time we reclaim our sexuality! If you've had one partner, or 100, you are more than your vagina. You are a person of worth who deserves to know what makes you excited. You deserve an orgasm.