Raise your girls to breathe fire: A viral Facebook post warns parents about the dangers of religious extremism.
In a recent Facebook post titled “feeling like I’m fixing to preach about some Duggars” Jessica Krammes Kirkland, a suburban Atlanta mom, goes off on the sad fate of Anna Duggar, the wife of the now notorious Josh Duggar, in the wake of multiple public scandals.
Last month TLC cancelled “19 Kids and Counting,” after it was revealed that Josh Duggar, the oldest son of Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, sexually assaulted four of his underage sisters plus an additional underage female victim.
Adding insult to injury, last week Josh Duggar released a statement declaring “I have been the biggest hypocrite ever” and admitting to living a “double life” while confirming his involvement with Ashley Madison, the infamous website for individuals interested in arranging extramarital affairs.
In her viral Facebook post, Kirkland pleads with parents to raise their daughters to have self-respect amidst the news that Anna Duggar is remaining by her husband’s side despite the recent scandals.
In her post, Kirkland comments on Anna Duggar’s upbringing, noting “Anna Duggar is in the worst position she could possibly be in right now,” before offering the following observation:
Anna Duggar was crippled by her parents by receiving no education, having no work experience (or life experience, for that matter) and then was shackled to this loser because his family was famous in their religious circle. Anna Duggar was taught that her sole purpose in life, the most meaningful thing she could do, was to be chaste and proper, a devout wife, and a mother. Anna Duggar did that! Anna Duggar followed the rules that were imposed on her from the get-go and this is what she got in reward- a husband who she found out, in the span of 6 months, not only molested his own sisters, but was unfaithful to her in the most humiliating way possible. While she was fulfilling her “duty” of providing him with four children and raising them. She lived up to the standard that men set for her of being chaste and Godly and in return, the man who demanded this of her sought women who were the opposite. “Be this,” they told her. She was. It wasn’t enough.
What is Anna Duggar supposed to do? She can’t divorce because the religious environment she was brought up would blame her and ostracize her for it. Even if she would risk that, she has no education and no work experience to fall back on, so how does she support her kids? From where could she summon the ability to turn her back on everything she ever held to be sacred and safe? Her beliefs, the very thing she would turn to for comfort in this kind of crisis, are the VERY REASON she is in this predicament in the first place. How can she reconcile this? Her parents have utterly, utterly failed her.
Think of this: somewhere, Anna Duggar is sitting in prayer, praying not for the strength to get out and stand on her own, but for the strength to stand by this man she is unfortunately married to. To lower herself so that he may rise up on her back.
Kirkland states that parents must raise confident daughters that are not “beholden to men,” before concluding:
As for my girls, I’ll raise them to think they breathe fire.
Kirkland makes some great points. The dangers of Christian fundamentalism like that practiced by the Duggars cannot be emphasized enough. However, Anna Duggar is not the only victim.
Ultimately, both Josh and Anna Duggar are victims: victims of Christian patriarchy, victims of Christian homeschooling, victims of Christian parents who raised their children to be ideological props in their perverted and deluded fantasy of Christian dominion.
Both Josh and Anna are victims of the radical Christian lifestyle known as the Quiverfull movement, a movement where children are considered canon fodder in the Lord’s army: culture warriors bred to promote an ugly, intolerant, sexist, and homophobic brand of Christian extremism.
As a product of the Quiverfull movement, both Josh and Anna Duggar were raised to be cannon fodder in a Christian Holy War. As such, they should both have our sympathy, as should their children.
Let us hope as parents, both Josh and Anna Duggar manage to escape the cycle of religious abuse they have been forced to live, if for no other reason, than for the sake of their children.