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Posts tagged ‘Child Abuse’

Now this creeps out

I heard about this disturbing stuff at Butterflies and Wheels (in all cases, my emphasis):

Nearly 7,000 Virginia children whose families have opted to keep them out of public school for religious reasons are not required to get an education, the only children in the country who do not have to prove they are being home-schooled or otherwise educated, according to a study.

Virginia is the only state that allows families to avoid government intrusion once they are given permission to opt out of public school, according to a report from the University of Virginia’s School of Law. It’s a law that is defended for promoting religious freedom and criticized for leaving open the possibility that some children will not be educated.


I have no problem with homeschooling in itself, but I don’t see how a situation like this will ever end well.

Once parents in Virginia are granted a religious exemption, they’re no longer legally obligated to educate their children.

The statute does not allow exemptions for political or philosophical beliefs “or a merely personal moral code,” but the beliefs do not have to be part of a mainstream religion….

Yet again we have perverse privileging of religious belief over secular belief.

Now, I have no absolute proof, but it is virtually inevitable that girls will be the ones who will be denied a or deprived of an adequate education under this scheme of legalizing child abuse. How do I realize that? How many religions mandate the oppression/subordination of men? None (that matter). How many mandate the oppression/subordination of women? Most (that matter).

Denying education and choices to girls is child abuse. Here’s why (after the jump):



Spanking causes mental illness in kids

A new study suggests that substance abuse and depression, anxiety, and other mental disorders are more common in children who were physically punished (without meeting the legal definition of child abuse).

From the abstract:

Harsh physical punishment in the absence of child maltreatment is associated with mood disorders, anxiety disorders, substance abuse/dependence, and personality disorders in a general population sample. These findings inform the ongoing debate around the use of physical punishment and provide evidence that harsh physical punishment independent of child maltreatment is related to mental disorders.

The rot within

Lurking at a comment thread at Dispatches, comments there eventually led to me finding the following information (unless otherwise noted, my emphasis in all cases):

[TW:Sexual abuse, rape, child abuse]

From theologian Kathryn Riss:

“Traditional” Sex Role Hierarchy Is Associated with Domestic Violence and Incest

Studies of highly religious homes in which abuse and incest take place show that father perpetuators [sic] rigidly uphold “old fashioned” values, emphasize the subordination of women, and isolate the family unit. They often blame their sexual sin on their daughter/victims. The mothers, fearing conflict with the husband and censure by the religious community, often ignore the incest. Dependent on the fathers economically and emotionally, such wives avoid confronting their abusive husbands, thus allowing the incest to continue. Thus, the imbalance and inequality of “traditional” marriages can be dangerous.

To quote some experts: “Helfer and Kempe (1968) in their book ‘The Battered Child’ report that the assault rate on children of parents who subscribe to the belief of male dominance is 136 percent higher than for couples not committed to male dominance.”

From American Atheist Magazine:

Fundamentalism also increases the likelihood of sexual abuse according to many studies. According to a 1988 study appearing in Corrective and Social Psychiatry and Journal of Behavior Technology Methods and Therapy there are three family characteristics that pose high risk for sexual abuse. These are commonly seen in fundamentalist families. First, there’s the patriarchal family structure; second, a view that all sex is sinful, which actually confuses the distinction people generally make between healthy and unacceptable sexual behavior. And third, sexual activity becomes a family secret.


What’s noteworthy, explains Jackie J. Hudson, the author of Characteristics of the Incestuous Family, is that while sexual abuse is generally higher among stepfathers in the general population, the rate of incest is so high in fundamentalist homes that sexual abuse by biological fathers is more common than that by stepfathers.


The devil of the complementarian movement is the feminist, and by complementarian standards, any woman who does not accept a subordinate position to males is a feminist.


Complementarians are everywhere, not just in church. Throughout society, they influence and affect the lives of those around them. In politics, complementarian officials cannot be trusted to act in the best interests of women. In the workplace, both male and female employees feel the brunt of complementarian, anti-woman, sentiment.


Domestic abuse and violence is a much more frequent occurrence among professing Christians than is commonly believed. It has become a popular conference and discussion topic within the evangelical community. Some family counselors, such as, Barrington H. Brennen, assert that complementarian teaching is directly responsible for accelerating abusive and violent behavior in husbands.

To put it bluntly, complementarianism is really hierarchicalism.

And from an study available online:

Gender role attitudes have been extensively studied in the empirical literature (Bryant, 2003; McGovern & Meyers, 2002). Positive relationships have been found between traditional sex role attitudes and negative attitudes toward women and the acceptance of rape myths. For example, in a landmark study, Burt (1980) reported that individuals who had more stereotypical gender role attitudes were more likely than those with egalitarian attitudes to endorse rape myths. This finding was replicated by Mayerson and Taylor (1987), who reported that individuals with stereotypical gender role attitudes were more accepting of rape myths and the use of physical and sexual violence than those with egalitarian attitudes. Similarly, Finn (1986) reported that for the 300 college students in his study, those who endorsed the most traditional gender role attitudes were more likely to endorse the use of force in marriage. Willis, Hallinan, and Melby (1996) found that individuals who espoused stereotypical gender role attitudes were more likely to blame the victim and less likely to see the seriousness in domestic violence scenarios. More recently, traditional gender role attitudes in a sample of adolescents were also associated with less perceived seriousness of scenarios depicting interpersonal aggression (Hilton, Harris, & Rice, 2003).


[Compared to previous studies], other [studies] have found that Judeo-Christian beliefs are consistent with male dominance. For example, Jeffords (1984) argued that these beliefs contribute to a patriarchal system that assigns women a subordinate role to men. He investigated relationships among gender role attitudes, religious orthodoxy, and beliefs about forced marital intercourse and found that those who held traditional gender role attitudes and those who reported religious orthodoxy were more likely to endorse the use of forced marital intercourse than those with egalitarian gender role attitudes or those who did not report religious orthodoxy. He also reported that traditional gender role attitudes were positively associated with the religious variables in his study.

And this is on top of the meta–study I posted about months ago.

To put it very explicitly, (conservative) religion harms women and children. And isn’t it obvious that in order to advance women’s rights, conservative religion and social conservatism must die and the sooner the better.

The real problem

I have no problem with homeschooling. It may well be the best choice for certain people, and since I cannot possibly know everyone’s circumstances or situation, I cannot decide that for them. The majority of them, I’m sure, have nothing but the interests of their children’s education at heart and lack any sort of ulterior or ideologically–driven indoctrinination/brainwashing motive. Indeed, some people homeschool specifically to get away from fundamentalism plaguing public schools in some areas, such as creationism and abstinence ignorance–only sex education.

What I do have a problem with is people who homeschool under the guise of “freedom of religion” to abuse their children and deny girls their rights (via Denialism) (my emphasis):

[Erika Diegel Martin] recounts notable educational gaps in her own family, where there was little academic encouragement. One of her brothers decided to quit school at 16 and faced no parental opposition. The youngest, Diegel Martin says, ceased his formal education at the age of 12, when she left home and was no longer available to teach him herself. And though she was fortunate enough to receive sex education before leaving public school, her siblings were not so lucky. Their parents never taught the three other children about sex, and Diegel Martin remembers giving her 21-year-old sister “the talk” the week before she got married. She also had to intervene to ensure that her younger brothers learned about sex.

As for herself, when she completed her schooling, she says her parents did not allow her to obtain her GED as proof of high school graduation. Their reason? “The girls weren’t allowed to get a GED because we were told we wouldn’t need it. It would open up opportunities that were forbidden to us. We would work in the family business until we got married, and then become homemakers.

“When I talked about wanting to go to college, my parents said, ‘Well, you’re a girl. You don’t go to college.'”

In other words, they’re breeding dependent doormats.

Quiverfull is one of the worst offenders when it comes to using “freedom of religion” and the parental rights (to abuse, to deny healthcare, and to deny education) movement to oppress women. Here what one of the biggest proponents of this movement, Doug Phillips, said (via Libby Anne) (again, my emphasis):

“Daughters aren’t to be independent. They’re not to act outside the scope 
of their father. As long as they’re under the authority of their fathers, fathers have the ability to nullify or not the oaths and the vows. Daughters can’t just go out 
independently and say, ‘I’m going to marry whoever I want.’ No. The father has 
the ability to say, ‘No, I’m sorry, that has to be approved by me.'”

Very rarely do these people make it more clear that it’s about ownership of women.

Freedom of religion shouldn’t be “freedom” to oppress women. If there is a conflict between women’s rights and religion, women’s rights ought to win 100 times out of 100.

If you can’t beat the shit out of your own child who can you beat the shit out of?

CBC reports on a new study to be published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal that physical punishment of children (such as spanking) has severe negative health consequences, and that the exemption in the Criminal Code that allows it should be repealed. The issue of spanking was covered by the Supreme Court in 2004, which allowed the exemption to stand.

Children who have experienced physical punishment tend to be more aggressive toward parents, siblings, peers and, later, spouses, and are more likely to develop antisocial behaviour, said Joan Durrant, of the department of family social sciences at the University of Manitoba and Ron Ensom of Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario in Ottawa.

Physical punishment is also associated with a variety of mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety and use of drugs and alcohol.


They noted that when parents in more than 500 families were trained to reduce their use of physical punishment, the difficult behaviours in the children also declined.


Although working to outlaw spanking is the correct move, one shouldn’t focus so much on corporal punishment that one neglects to target other forms of child abuse. There are destructive things that parents can do to their kids that don’t involve any hitting. For example, Clarissa has mentioned force–feeding. Another example is arbitrarily denying healthcare.

The title of this post is taken from a comment by Jake Squid at an old Pandagon thread.

This is a post about premarital sex

Last week there was a sudden spree of posts about premarital sex. They have inspired me to write my own post concerning the same topic.

First of all, premarital sex is extremely common and it has been for an extremely long time. “Extremely long time” does not mean since the mythical 1950s, but rather since before then. Indeed, premarital sex has been the normative behaviour for much of the past eighty years. In the 1930s, 70% of men and women had premarital sex (cite). Similarly, today 95% of Americans have had premarital sex (cite). And the 1950s are of a mythical view. In her book The Way We Never Were, Stephanie Coontz refutes the idea that the 1950s were some sort of pure “family values” period. Back then a majority of people still had premarital sex. Indeed, she sums it up succinctly: “The 1960s generation did not invent premarital and out–of–wedlock sex.”

Clearly then, the religious right’s wrong’s promotion of abstinence ignorance–only sex (mis)education is not only an attack on women and an attack on public health, but is also an attack on reality.

A few of the posts in the recent spree mentioned supposed “negative consequences” of premarital sex. As I will show, those supposed “negative consequences” ought to be considered irrelevant and furthermore, the things tied to opposition to premarital sex have sinister and bad effects.

More discussion is after the jump.


Book Review: Quiverfull – Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement

Before my previous computer died, I arranged an inter–library loan for a book I had been badly wanting to read. The book is Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement by American journalist Kathryn Joyce. The book is available from Beacon Press. I promised a review and a summary of its contents, and here they are.

The book is divided into three sections. The first part of the book isn’t really about Quiverfull specifically, so much as conservative and fundamentalist Christianity. It covers women in various churches and denominations. This part in no way distracts from the rest of the book, as it provides a necessary background and context. The second and third sections cover Quiverfull and other natalist movements more specifically. Throughout the book, Joyce focuses on specific people/organizations within the QF/P movements, such as Vision Forum or the Botkin sisters. She also covers several people who escaped from Quiverfull. Some Lastly, a few parts of the book began as magazine articles, and can be found online.

Being a journalist, Joyce sticks only to objective language and point–of–view, and avoids judging the people she discusses, even though she strongly disagrees with the QF lifestyle. In some sense, this sticking only to reportage detracts from the book, as more analysis and discussion would have been better. Another issue is the lack of footnotes or endnotes. Although Joyce mentions sources inline, it is easier to find the exact spot of a quotation with a note rather than something like “said X, in their book____”. This prevents having to read straight through some other book until the fact or quotation is found.

The is well–written, and excellently researched. There is no need for the book to tell how bad the QF/P subculture is, as it does an excellent job showing it instead. The followers and adherents of this disturbing lifestyle chillingly speak in their own words. Being a long–time lurker and reader of anti–QF/P blogs, and having read some of the online excerpts, I already knew the general gist about Quiverfull, so the book was less informative than it will be for someone who knows nothing about QF/P.

Overall, this was a really necessary and eye–opening book. I recommend it.

As for Quiverfull, it is inextricably connected with the movements called Biblical Patriarchy or Biblical Family Values. These are all movements within Protestant Christianity. One does not need have all of the characteristics of QF/P, or meet them completely, to be a Quiverfuller, so the following characteristics should be interpreted as indicative of a spectrum stretching from ordinary conservative Christianity at one end, through fundamentalism, with QF/P at the other end.

The traits of Quiverfull/Biblical Patriarchy are (sources are the Joyce book and various websites and blogs by those who left QF/P):

  • Abstaining from all forms of birth control and contraception, including natural family planning and fertility awareness. Frequently, followers forgo maternal health or the services of an ob–gyn. The end result is that women are expected to bear children until they keel over and expire.
  • Restricted gender roles, or “Biblical manhood and womanhood”. Men are providers, breadwinners, and always in charge. Women are submissive doormats and helpmeets, doing housework and homemaking. If the position of a marriage is not going well or if troubles and difficulties happen to a family, then it is blamed on the woman. Her marriage advice is mostly summed up by the sentence, “Shut up and submit more.”
  • Isolationism. QF/P families often live in rural areas. They often reject any form of government assistance, even it if means living in appalling, over–crowded or substandard conditions. Parents restrict access to outside or “worldly” influences. This usually leads to home–churching and homeschooling, as well as claiming total owner over one’s children, under the guise of “parental rights”. In the context of QF/P, “parental rights” usually means some combination of: (1) the right to beat the shit out of your kid; (2) the right to deny education; (3) the right to deny healthcare; and (4) the right to raise your daughter to be a doormat.
  • Treating women little better than chattel. Daughters are kept isolated, and are denied any chance to be able to support themselves should they leave, and are denied any real “control” over their own lives. Daughters are kept at home doing chores and housework (the “Stay–at–Home Daughters Movement”) as a helpmeet for their fathers and a future helpmeet for their husbands. They undergo “courtship” (instead of dating) and a given away (the same way you give away a coat) to men in what are essentially arranged marriages. In addition, this controlling treatment of women leads to an obsession with female sexuality and a focus on “purity” (leading to things like purity balls) and modesty rules (like dresses only).

Disturbingly, some of these sentiments (like purity balls) have become more mainstream amongst ordinary evangelical Christianity.

In any event, “patriarchy” seems to be the wrong word for this movement; “patriarchy” is too weak and certainly is not strong enough.

And lastly, a mini link farm to more sites providing additional information on QF/P:

  • No Longer Qivering is a blog run by QF/P escapee Vyckie Garrison. It tells the story of her escape from QF/P, and likewise for several other people, and also serves as an information source on QF/P movements.
  • A Quiver Full of Information is run by Hopewell, and serves a link directory to most websites/blogs concerning QF/P. Hopewell is a self–described “campaigner against abusive religion”, but her page links to QF/P sites in a neutral manner. It includes a page of links to survivor/escapee websites.
  • Rethinking Vision Forum by Libby Anne is a website compiling responses to and exposés of one of the biggest promoters of QF/P, Vision Forum.

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