Jill Duggar, the reality television star from the show 19 Kids and Counting on TLC will soon go from one man, her father, controlling her sexuality, to another: her new fiancé Derick Dillard. Duggar met Dillard over Skype after being introduced to each other by her father. Dillard used to be prayer partners with Duggar’s dad, who thought his daughter and Dillard would make a good match.
In extremist households like the Duggar’s the men often take it upon themselves to control the women’s sexuality and how that sexuality is allowed to be expressed. Duggar will not be allowed to kiss Dillard until their wedding day because she has been brainwashed by her fundamentalist Christian parents to think of sex as unnatural outside of marriage instead of the normal, natural and healthy expression is in when undertaken in any loving relationship.
In a new book called Growing Up Duggar, some of the Duggar’s gaggle of 19 children state that sex outside of marriage is wrong. “It’s easy to put yourself into physical and moral danger and give into those emotions or sensual thoughts that promise pleasant, but only temporary, fulfillment,” they say. According to their rationale, all relationships in which the couple is not married are unfulfilled; an assertion which is not backed by any actual evidence.
Interestingly, the boys and men in these types of fundamentalist Christian families don’t seem to have the same obsession with “purity” as do the females. They are content to control women by brainwashing them with negative messages about sex. Now, Jill Duggar will go from one man controlling her sexuality to another.
Duggar’s father Jim Bob personally controlled the decision about who his daughter would marry, and hand-picked Dillard for his daughter, further cementing the reality that her sexual choices are fully within his jurisdiction of power rather than hers. Since she is not even allowed to kiss Dillard until her wedding day, she currently has no idea whether or not the two have sexual chemistry together.
In the fundamentalist Christian tradition known as the “Quiverfull” movement, women are treated as no more than baby-making machines, and they have zero choice over their own reproductive desires. They are convinced that it is their very purpose to keep popping out as many babies as possible without regard for how many babies they may have wanted had they not had the misfortune of being born into a family that views women as nothing more than incubators.
An online blogger who was raised in a fundamentalist Christian household says she was taught that women’s sexuality was inherently unclean but at the same time, that childbearing was her only real reason for existing. “I grew up with a mix of ignorance and shame about sexuality that was no accident,” she writes. She also learned that “women’s sexuality and reproduction (is) inherently unclean at the same time that this is considered a big part of their purpose in life. And there’s the attitude we keep coming up against everywhere – women are dirty whores who should just be making babies.”
In an editorial for the Daily Beast, author Amanda Marcotte says that the Quiverfull movement is all about men controlling women completely and that women in these types of families are not even allowed to seek higher education. Marcotte says the movement is focused on “absolute female submission, a ban on dating, homeschooling, a rejection of higher education for women, and shunning of contraception in favor of trying to have as many children as humanly possible.” In these kinds of families, the man is the absolute patriarch while the woman is fully expected to submit to him.
Thus, Jill Duggar will go from one man controlling her sexuality to another, and will never know the personal freedom that other women enjoy—freedom which should be granted to all people: the right to control their own bodies, sexuality and reproductive choices without being brainwashed and controlled by a male patriarch, whether that be a father or a husband. So, while Duggar is all smiles in the photos of her and her new fiancé who her father selected for her, deep down, she may feel a justified sadness; the sadness that comes with knowing her life never was and never will be fully her own.
Opinion By: Rebecca Savastio