The Word "Helpmeet"

LM104 April 17, 2013 User blog:LM104

Doing research into the Quiverfull Movement added a strange new word to my vocabulary: "Helpmeet." Although not in my mainstream vocabulary, and maybe not in yours either; the word shows up everywhere from wedding vows to regular conversation within the Quiverfull/Christian Patriarchy movement.  There is even a book entitled, "Created to be His Helpmeet," written for women of the Christian Right, which suggests a "smile and submit" way for Christian women to treat their husbands.

What exactly is a helpmeet? Merriam-Webster online directed me to the word, "helpmate," which is defined as "One who is a companian and helper, especially a wife."

If you click back to the original definition, you find two example sentences:

exasperated, the army surgeon requested a helpmeet who wouldn't faint at the sight of blood


[He] chose for his helpmeet a woman who could share his passion for rock climbing


I'd never use that word like that. The first example I get, although I would probably use the term, "assistant." The second one, no. It seems like they literally take out the word, "wife," and swap it for the word, "helpmeet." Which presents us with problems. First, in my hyper-feminist, liberal worldview; a wife's principal purpose is not to obey her husband blindy, but be a shared provider and a shared homemaker. Note the word "shared." If a man marries a woman to be his "helpmeet," which does happen a lot in Christian Fundie Land, he's basically taking charge and she is reduced to nothing more than a servant.  Even though I've heard Quiverfull women and girls use the word to refer to themselves, I don't know how or why they do it.  Frankly, if you call someone a helpmeet, you're practically dehumanizing them.  You might as well be calling them a slave.  As for writing a book entitle Created to be his Helpmeet, the word "created" is making the problem more severe.  What this word helpmeet is doing is teaching girls that their only place in life is to help men.  It completely removes of any entitlement that they are given from the Constitution, including the right to form and voice their own opinions.  Quiverfull women are nothing more than glorified slaves. 

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