@ThingsThatShine I completely disagree. They may not publically admit that they are part of the Quiverfull movement (I’ve actually heard people in the movement say that they have been given special permission to act more ‘secular’ as part of their ministry), but if it quacks like a duck …
The Duggars are very high up in the Institute for Basic Life Teachings / ATI home-school cult. The ATI is led by a man (who has never had children) named Bill Gothard http://billgothard.com/news/churchwithpower . He provides home-schooling materials, which the Duggars use (the “Big Sandy” weekend they attend on the show every year is an ATI training conference). He also provides strict manuals which have rules, he develops, for raising children and women, which govern everything from how women should dress (no pants, no skirts above the knee, no showing of the shoulders or tight shirts, no bathing suits, women must have long hair, men cannot wear shorts etc.), to how women are to behave, what their role is in the home, their submission to their husbands and other men in their home etc. A strict rule governing the acceptance into the community is following all of the principals of the Quiverfull movement.
The Duggars have also made reference to being initially drawn to their lifestyle (aka the Quiverfull movement) when they were introduced to Mary Pride’s book, “The Way Home: Beyond Feminism, Back to Reality” which many credit with being the grass roots catalyst to the Quiverfull Movement.
I completely agree with the PP’s sentiment that a woman should be able to choose when to have children, and she should be the only one, in all circumstances, who has any say over her reproductive choices. I would still question this situation, as I’m not sure that Michelle (or women like her) really has a choice. A closely held belief of the followers of this lifestyle is that women are not allowed to turn down their husband’s requests for sex. They are not allowed to use any form of birth control (this includes natural birth control / the rhythm method). They are given a mandate to have as many children as possible, in order to make an army for the Lord. They are dominionists, who believe that the United States should be a theocracy and that it is their duty to outbreed the non-believers, so that in a few generations, they will out-vote the non-believers and the US will ‘return’ to its natural state of being a God centered state. Women have to do all of the above with the heart of a ‘joyful servant’. Which explains why Michelle and the women of the Duggar family are always smiling. They are not allowed not to smile. To not be joyful is a sin.
Perhaps, Michelle has chosen this for herself, with her eyes open. But she represents thousands of other women and girls, who are raised in this lifestyle. I’m not sure all of them have the same choice. One of the defining characteristics of the lifestyle is that women are not allowed to date. A man who wishes to date a woman has to ask permission from her father. The girl’s father then allows the man to get to know his family over a series of family events (called courting), often only lasting a couple of months. Following this process the woman becomes engaged to a man that she may not know very well, based on whether or not her father approves of the man. There are many women who have escaped from this lifestyle who describe horrific abuses by men who have been given ownership over their wives and children, sanctioned by Gothard and the ATI. These women are shunned by their communities and often left to raise a dozen or more children, with no financial assistance and no education or ability to get a job. If you want to read some of these women’s stories, I would check out this blog: http://nolongerquivering.com/ (I am in no way affiliated with these women, or this group, I have been researching this issue for a while, out of my own interest).
I like the show, I think the children are sweet. However, they represent a movement that potentially has very serious consequences for women.