I Spy With My Little “i”… The Not-So-Subtle Misogyny of THE FAMiLY LEADER’s Marriage Vow


THE FAMiLY LEADER, a federally-funded public advocacy organization associated with Focus On The Family has garnered plenty of media attention recently.

Republican presidential hopefuls Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum have signed on to the para-church group’s “The Marriage Vow: A Declaration of Dependence upon MARRIAGE and FAMiLY” – a right-wing political policy document which calls on candidates to support a federal “Marriage Amendment,” oppose same-sex marriages, pornography, abortion, no-fault divorce and adultery and to encourage “robust childbearing and reproduction” in order to ensure U.S. global economic and political domination.

The public outrage is justified.  The Marriage Vow pledge, which ironically makes a show of rejecting “Sharia Islam and all other anti-woman, anti-human rights forms of totalitarian control” is one of the most misogynistic and totalitarian political policy proposals in recent history.

There’s one “little” detail in The Marriage Vow that critics have overlooked – small, subtle, and yet glaringly obvious once you see it – an alarming point which warrants the careful attention of freedom-loving women and everyone concerned with human rights.

A quick visit to THE FAMiLY LEADER’s website reveals the self-abnegation ideal which is expected of American women according to THE FAMiLY LEADER’s extremist paradigm.   Notice that in their logo, in The Marriage Vow document, and throughout their website, the “I” in FAMiLY is never capitalized?

The first footnote to The Marriage Vow explains this consistent use of the little “i”:

“Sociological data squares with tradition to argue that self-centered adult egos and agendas in American families must be subordinated to the long-term interests of America’s children.”

Simply stated, women who are unwilling to subordinate and sacrifice themselves to populate America’s economic and political war machine are selfish with a capital “I” - s.e.l.f.I.s.h.

Female self-abnegation is a core principle of the growing “Quiverfull” contingent of the Evangelical community’s “Biblical Family Values” movement which calls upon submissive wives to stay at home to conceive and birth large quantities of  ”foot soldiers for Jesus” to advance the Kingdom of God on earth.

The little “i” on THE FAMiLY LEADER’s website caught my eye immediately because, as a former Quiverfull believer, I have been there, done that.  I lived the lifestyle of submission and prolific motherhood for nearly two decades, producing seven “arrows” (children) to fill my patriarchal husband’s “quiver” – the means by which fundamentalist Quiverfull Christians intend to take back America for God.

Burnout, combined with what small flicker of self-preservation I had left, finally forced me to abandon the “Biblical Family” vision which had consumed my life until there was practically no recognizable “ME” left at all.

An interview with Kathryn Joyce, author of “Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement” led me to start a website to provide information and support for other Quiverfull walkaways: No Longer Qivering.

Notice the subtitle: There is No “You” in Quivering.

The misspelling is deliberate – it is a visual cue which suggests the same principle which THE FAMiLY LEADER intends to convey by using a lower-case “I” in FAMiLY throughout their website.

Here’s the point which THE FAMiLY LEADER plasters all over their website and yet hopes we won’t notice:  The “I” means nothing.  I as a woman, I as a human being, “I” am of no consequence to the purveyors of “FAMiLY values.” 

THE FAMiLY LEADER is fighting to save an INSTITUTION.  Tradition and domination are all that matter – individual people, especially individual women, the “I’s” in FAMiLiES – are little, insignificant and expendable in the “culture war.”