The downside of the cute, quiet ATI-patriarchal-quiverfull life of the Duggar family is now all over mainstream media. While it’s somewhat of a relief to see the public realize that conservative homeschooling is not as innocent as it seems, as an ATi alum myself, it’s also gets very triggering and downright weary to hear the media mock my childhood leaders as if it’s nothing but a good story for them. Likewise, seeing the Duggar kids pictures on the front page of the tabloids makes me sad. The Duggars aren’t a juicy story to devour. They are a broken, hurting family.
I don’t like what the Duggars have done and are doing, never will, but I am so sick of the media turning the victims into a juicy headline, as they seek to ‘unlock’ what Anna Duggar will do. Poor Anna, she is a headline: “Anna Duggar won’t leave Josh,” the headlines read. In philosophy, we call reducing a woman to a headline the equivalent to reducing her to an object.
Here is what I want to know: How does the media know Anna won’t leave Josh?
They are guessing.
The media is browsing around ‘interviewing’ homeschool alumni or any and everyone who can give them a juicy line about what it’s like to be a Duggar. But none of the juicy lines, usually which were pulled out of context without really understanding of the greater picture, yield any real knowledge of what Anna Duggar will do. The media is guessing.
We need to stop ‘knowing’ what Anna Duggar is going to do.
The media is assuming Anna won’t leave based upon what they think women in cults do when they are cheated upon. But here is the deal. I grew up ATI, and I have seen families divorce on grounds of infidelity. I’ve seen them not.
The media is going to assume the worse about cults, the darkest reality of a cult, not because they care about Anna, but if they can make the ATI religious group the darkest and most freaky group humanly possible, than they can get more page views. So ‘homeschool leaders could support her’ isn’t a good headline. ‘Anna is trapped for sure’ is a much better pickup line.
I should mention that if Anna wants to leave, she does have Biblical grounds for divorce. No, not everyone will argue that she has Biblical grounds for divorce (i.e. John Piper), but she has it, and most Christians know it.
I should mention that even the extreme fundamentalist leader Kevin Swanson recently admitted that Josh Duggar is a disgrace in the podcast Homeschool Murderers. Even leaders are starting to think Josh is kind of evil.
Within Anna’s own family, some have supported Anna all the way, including one of her siblings and cousin Amy. She and Josh have a lot of siblings; I’m sure there are plenty more who will also support her if she divorces Josh.
I do believe that if Anna wants to get out, she will find people within conservative homeschooling who won’t condemn her for divorcing Josh and won’t blame her for not having enough sex with him.
Josh didn’t just cheat. He willingly walked into bars, willingly set up profiles online, and cheated on her over and over. People know they can’t blame Anna for that. Sure, some of the homeschoolers will say Anna just should have had more sex with her wayward husband. But for pete’s sake, she was extremely pregnant with her fourth child when some of this was going on. Leaders can try to ‘blame Anna,’ sure, but it’s going to collapse in their faces. Plus Josh’s parents wouldn’t have sent him away if they thought more married sex was going to cure him.
It won’t be easy for Anna to leave, but she can, if she wants.
Another thing I keep hearing: “Anna Duggar won’t leave because she’s brainwashed.”
Stop calling homeschool alumni brainwashed. It’s insulting and rude.
At this point, we don’t know if Anna will leave or not. It’s her choice, not our choice. It could take her days, months, or years to work this out. Everyone has a different journey. But I believe in Anna, just like I believe in all other homeschool alumni. If other homeschool alumni have escaped, so can Anna.
I don’t have a clue what Anna will do. Neither does the media. But Anna owns this story. It’s her story, not ours, and the media needs to quite telling Anna’s story.
They need to quit ‘knowing’ what Anna will do.