"Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast"
-Oscar Wilde
Brilliant at Breakfast title banner "The liberal soul shall be made fat, and he that watereth, shall be watered also himself."
-- Proverbs 11:25
"...you have a choice: be a fighting liberal or sit quietly. I know what I am, what are you?" -- Steve Gilliard, 1964 - 2007

"For straight up monster-stomping goodness, nothing makes smoke shoot out my ears like Brilliant@Breakfast" -- Tata

"...the best bleacher bum since Pete Axthelm" -- Randy K.

"I came here to chew bubblegum and kick ass. And I'm all out of bubblegum." -- "Rowdy" Roddy Piper (1954-2015), They Live
Sunday, November 01, 2009

Halloween is over; it's NLQ Carnival Days!
Posted by Jill | 6:40 AM
What's NLQ Carnival Days, you might ask? It's arguably the most awesome idea for blog promotion that I've ever seen, and while every blog we blogroll is worthy in its own way, No Longer Quivering is one to which you ought to be paying attention, as the teabagger lunatics take over the Republican Party. Vyckie of NLQ started the blog to tell her story of her "escape" from the Quiverfull movement.

Quiverfull's web site is deliberately innocuous, as is it's "about us" statement: "Quiverfull.com's first priority is to serve God through proclaiming that every child is a gift and blessing from our gracious heavenly father." Sounds benign enough; it's standard fetophile boilerplate only without the "shoving our views down everyone else's throat" rhetoric. Have as many children as you want, folks, that's part of what "choice" is about. The problem with Quiverfull is that it's about more than just not using birth control; it's about subjugation of women and about reproducing faster than your "adversaries" can. Quiverfull conjures up images of Armies of Children for Jesus -- horrific little Village of the Damned zombies killing heathens for Christ -- and I'm not sure that's all that far off from the truth.

The problem with Quiverfull isn't in its advocacy of large families, it's in its view of women, and in questions about just how much "free will" is involved with women who become embroiled in its clutches. Kathryn Joyce wrote about Quiverfull, and about Vyckie, back in March, and what emerges is a picture of something akin to any other cult, which presents to troubled young people a sense of belonging, of meaning, of something important, as well as providing a rigid structure that so many troubled young people lack in the chaos of their own families. Cults pray on these kids, and Quiverfull appears to be no different as it lures young women into its web. Religion and spirituality contain strong elements of mind control, and it's clear, reading the stories of the women who have been drawn into, and then escaped, the Quiverfull web, that just invoking Jesus is not enough to turn a cult into a mainstream religion.

So go check out the NLQ Carnival, and read about what Vyckie and her colleagues have been doing since leaving the movement. But make sure you have a lot of time. Because once you start reading you won't be able to stop. And catch Vyckie on The Joy Behar Show on Tuesday.

It's interesting that the NLQ Carnival comes the same weekend that has brought us customary New York Times hack Jodi Kantor for once not being completely hacktastic in her article for the Magazine about the First Marriage. Perhaps it's the ambiguity, the "charting one's own course" aspect to this article that fully puts the Quiverfull movement in perspective. If there has ever been an institution that has its own peculiar rules, it's the political marriage. Historically the political marriage has consisted of Ambitious Man and his Pastel-Suit-Clad Helpmeet. Hillary Clinton was the first First Lady to bash through this stereotype, and I think she can be forgiven for being clumsy at it, especially when she put her own goals on hold in favor of her far more charismatic husband's political career. You could almost hear the sighs of relief from the Village when Laura Bush, with her thorazine vacant smile entered the White House and promised us a period blessedly free of uppity women.

And then came the Obamas.

This is a marriage that fascinates people far out of proportion to its own dynamic. Perhaps it's the idea of an intact black family that blows people's minds, which means that the fictional Huxtables really didn't make much of a difference after all. Or perhaps it's a marriage in which its partners seem to genuinely care for and respect each other. That the participants are black while pious white advocates of family values such as Mark Sanford and John Ensign fall like dominoes creates a certain amount of cognitive dissonance among those for whom "black" still connotes gang members in bandannas on street corners who don't pay child support. Perhaps it's the idea that the Obamas are, well, sexy, which creates an uncomfortable sense of "I just don't want to know" that Wanda Sykes blew right through in her recent HBO special:

And once again, we see an accomplished, achieving woman trying to navigate through the minefield of Political Marriage at the same time as trying to navigate through Marriage itself. And it's a public service that the Obamas have done in consenting to this article, for all of America has tended to insert the Obamas into a kind of marital fairy tale, where they seem to be living a magical existence that the rest of us can't even hope to aspire to. What the Obamas are saying in this article is that we CAN aspire to what they have, but it doesn't happen by magic, it takes constant work and compromise and consideration.

On the one hand we have this Bridezilla culture of diamond solitaire rings and big puffy white dresses and big parties, and by the time the couple is done with all the foofarah they have no idea how to live together for the decades to follow. On the other hand we have Quiverfull, in which women passively agree to a set of rules so they don't HAVE to think or do any emotional work. The Obamas have found a middle ground, and while it's clear that they have to work every day to stay there, they're also demonstrating that the rewards are there too.

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