“…as arrows in the hand of a mighty man, so are the children of ones youth, happy is the man who hath his quiver full of them.”
I had never heard of the Quiverfull Movement until this past weekend when I met a woman, Vyckie Garrison, who used to practice this notion. I use the phrase “used to” very heavily. Vyckie’s story is nothing short of exceptional and I’ll take time to share it with you, but first, if you’re like me and had no idea what the hell Quiverfull was, allow me explain…
Quiverfull is something practiced by Evangelical Christians and is just like the above verse states–people following, and “following” really isn’t the proper word since this isn’t a separate denomination or anything, just something these people practice. Anyway, it promotes procreation…and lots of it. People who practice Quiverfull shun birth control of any kind, including the most common, The Pill, as well as natural family planning (we can only have sex on such and such days because I’m not ovulating then, so it should be safe), and sterilization, i.e. vasectomy and tubal ligation.
Breed, and breed often. You are doing God’s Will by creating many offspring because to do so is favorable to the Lord.
…or not so much.
Vyckie, as she was telling me, had several difficult pregnancies, four to be exact, before she and her husband sat down and said, “hey, you know what? This is a good idea and all, but your health is in danger every time you get pregnant and I’d rather you be around then not, so let’s do something about this.” Vyckie’s husband got a vasectomy. End of story, all is well, pass the salt, please.
…or not so much.
Firmly based on their faith and being prominent members of the church community, they began wondering if they had taken their lives into their own hands, which…holy crap, I was starting to shake from wanting to go off on a tangent and yell, “BUT OF COURSE IT’S YOUR OWN FUCKING LIFE!!” but Vyckie is a new friend to me and I didn’t want to scare her off just yet, so I let her continue with the story.
Her husband got his vasectomy reversed and they had three more children, again, each pregnancy being more difficult and arduous than the previous one and the last one nearly took her life, as she ended up suffering from a partial uterine tear, which, ladies and gentlemen, is not good. It’s not good at all, not only from the woman’s standpoint, because the potential of bleeding to death is enormous, but the life of the child is also a jeopardy.
So, seven kids total, which she even remarked isn’t that many compared to other families in the area that boasted ten, eleven, twelve…you get the idea. Vyckie and her husband were the “slackers,” if you will. God must have been sooooo pissed off about that.
…or not so much.
I hope Vyckie forgives me for leaving out pertinent information and other details to the story, but part of that is having my flabber gasted the entire time and I couldn’t let some things she talked about alone, and part of it is horrible memory, but you can read about her and other women who were also Quiverfull’s stories on Vyckie’s website http://nolongerquivering.com.
Vyckie eventually got out of her marriage, which was also extremely tumultuous given the fact that she was completely submissive to her husband. He was the patriarch and that was that, never mind the fact that he was blind and really couldn’t take care of himself to the full extent one with such a title is capable of doing, so not only was Vyckie tending after seven children, but also her handicapped husband, but by golly, this was all in God’s name, so she sucked it up and toughed it out for as long as she could.
Then, she recalls meeting her biological father’s brother, an uncle she had no contact with prior. Her family won a vacation to Branson, Missouri and her father and his family lived nearby, so an impromptu reunion transpired. Vyckie says her father warned her of his brother, saying, “he has ideas…careful not to fall victim to his ideas.”
Hmm…interesting. These “ideas” are ultimately what prompted Vykcie to realize her life was not suited for her and she escaped her tyrannical husband, and good on her. I had no doubt in my mind that if she had continued living the life that God had planned for her, she wouldn’t be living.
Aaannnddd cue rant in three…two…one…
WHAT THE EVER-LIVING FUCK?!
The feminist in me is just screaming. To submit to wholly and fully to a man and to do nothing but be a baby machine is just asinine to me. For a woman to think that her entire self worth is based on how many kids she can pump out is mind-boggling and I don’t even know how to react to that. Grant it, humans, by nature, are made for procreation. Simple as that. We are not monogamous creatures, we are meant to bear children and have many partners to spread our genetics about, but really? To devote yourself to one man, one dickhead of a man, if I may add (author’s note: she called him that, too), and to have children that reach into the double digits? We have our limitations, and in Vyckie’s case, where each pregnancy posed a threat to not only her health, but the child’s health is just…what the fuck? Yeah, God’s reaalllllllly got his shit figured out here, friends.
Listening to Vyckie speak about her struggles, and hearing how she turned away from this lifestyle was humbling and also terrifying to me as an atheist, and I’ll tell you why: to devote yourself so wholly to a god I don’t believe in, to let your blind faith dictate your life to the extent of family planning? Holy shit.
I’m really struggling with how to proceed next. I don’t agree with the Quiverfull Movement. I think having children because the Big Man in the Sky told me to is bonkers. It’s dangerous in so many ways: to the mother’s body–just because I said earlier we are meant to procreate, which is true, we are also supposed to practice some constraint here. Just because I’m of childbearing age doesn’t mean I’m going out an havin’ with the babies. If I may get all medical-y on you for a moment, and pardon the vulgarity of it, but a woman’s uterus can only take so much. As I mentioned earlier, Vyckie’s partially ruptured. The women who conceive again and again and again and again are doing damage to their bodies they have no idea about. Ever heard of “colpoptosis”? No? Well, that’s when your uterus falls out of your body. Allow me to repeat that if you didn’t understand it the first time: Your uterus…falls OUT…of…your…body. Want to be even more horrified? Do a Google image search on “uterine prolapse.” So there’s that to look forward to.
Having umpteen kids is also dangerous to the children themselves. There is no way a mother and father can fully devote the time, attention, patience, etc to 14 kids. The older kids end up raising the younger ones, which isn’t a horrible thing, but that puts far too much pressure on a pre-teen kid to have to help raise their own 2-year-old sibling. That’s the parents job.
I could continue, but I think you all understand the gist of what I’m saying.
To have infallible belief in something no one is certain exists and to trust to that being matters of your health because it’s what the Bible said to do? I can’t get behind that at all. Let’s put this in a different perspective for those of you who may be shaking your fists at me: hypothetically, say I have cancer. I have terminal cancer of the brain. I don’t want to have operations, take medications, radiation treatments, or chemotherapy. I don’t believe in artificial means for helping me. Not only is it outrageously expensive, but most of the “treatments” will make me more ill in the process. It’s a vicious circle I don’t want to be caught in. I read an article on the internet one time were a woman with my same plight ate nothing but blueberries, chocolate donuts, and drank tequila and by golly, her cancer disappeared. If eating blueberries, chocolate donuts and drinking tequila can cure her cancer, surely it will cure mine because I read that on the internet and everything you read on the internet is 100% factual. I begin my diet of blueberries, chocolate donuts and tequila and a few months later, I die because the cancer I didn’t want to treat metastasized and slowly devoured all my internal organs, killing me within months. My blueberries, chocolate donuts and tequila failed me.
I put my blind faith in something I read to be my salvation and look where it got me.
Please stay tuned for part two of “A is for Atheist Blog-o-rama”: The Night of the Great Shitshow.