To date, the posts that I’ve gotten the most vehement feedback on have been the ones involving The Duggars. And the funny thing is that they’ll come over time, one this month, one last month, etc. People seem to find this post every so often and just can’t wait to write me an e-mail to tell me how ridiculous I’m being. And frankly, I love hearing it. It reminds me that I’m not so ridiculous after all.
Since the people that know me best have questioned my tastes for these shows, I thought I’d take this time to clarify my position on The Duggars. It seems that a little post that was meant to be more humorous than opinionated became a soap box I never meant to set foot on…until now. So read this, enjoy and then you can all go ahead and send me more hate mail (e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org early and often).
I love watching The Duggars on TV. There are two reasons why: they are a piece of what can be right for America and they are a piece of what can be wrong for America. Bear with me on this….
They are what can be right about America
The Duggars truly do mean well. They are largely a harmless bunch that are intent (I will refrain from using the term “hell-bent”) on doing the right thing. When they took in Jim Bob’s father and mother while the father was dying from cancer, they did so in hopes that they might help. When they went to volunteer in Costa Rica and at the animal safari, they honestly did so thinking they were helping.
More than that, the parents, Jim Bob and Michelle do try and set an example for their children. Knowing too many parents who don’t think about the consequences of their actions in their own lives and the example that sets for their children. When the ice froze over the Duggars’ trees and crashed them onto their property, Jim Bob didn’t scream and yell (much the way I or my Dad might have), but instead he took a deep breath and thought about the example he was setting for his children. Whatever his actions were, he at least thought about setting an example and that means a lot in a world content with just getting by.
They are what can be wrong about America
The Duggars, while being great people, don’t seem to get the impact that a large family has on society. First of all, they home school their children, which is something that I think should be avoided. Children need the interaction that school, particularly public school, brings. If I had skipped over all of the things I learned in public school, I’d be a pretty boring person.
Secondly, they believe that having a big family is God’s will. Well, if God invented having sex and procreation, he certainly had a hand in contraception. And maybe contraception came around because there were just too many people hanging about this planet, strained as it is. All of these children could become well-functioning members of society, but at some point, after 18 kids are popped out, at least a few are bound to get lost in the shuffle and end up somehow the burden (emotional, financial or otherwise) on society.
Thirdly, while they have a lot of diversity to choose from within their own families, they surely cling to gender roles like they’re going out of style (which they are, for good reason). The women and girls in the family are locked into household chores while the boys are locked into more masculine chores. The modest clothing requisite seems to bear more heavily on the women than the men. It just rings of misogynistic best intentions–they mean well, but they end up reinforcing the stereotypes that have chained women to lower paying jobs, lower expectations and lower results for years. Their ridiculous “courting” rituals reinforce these beliefs. The fact that they don’t see this as a problem scares me. And it should scare you.
So while the Duggars bring much entertainment to my life, they do so at a cost. I’m fully aware of that cost. I’m fully aware of all of the arguments I’ve received over time calling me a horrible person for questioning the Duggars’ way of life. I’ve thought about them all and stand behind my words.
The fact o’ the matter is that I could write this post about every family in America. The people who have written me condemning me to a lower form of existence just don’t get that. And that is the sad part.
Plus, it’s not like anyone is writing me to defend the Kardashians. That I’d love to see.