Sunday, March 21, 2010

Too Controlling? The Patriarcal Lifestyle at a Glance

The Duggars live their lives by the Biblical model of a patriarcy. The father is the head of the household and the wife defers to her husband. Now anyone watching the show can plainly see that this couple is clearly in love with each other as if they were still in high school, so it's not as if he was leading her around and ordering her what to do. Michelle is clearly in control of her own destiny and makes decisions.

Now, again, full disclosure time, I too live in this type of marriage. For the interest of discussion, I personally have found it to be quite freeing. Most people see it as oppressive and demeaning. I find it liberating--as in, nothing is my fault! hahaha The bills didn't get paid or something was late? Not my fault, hubby is in charge! My role is to grocery shop, take care of the house, the laundry, and be the mother to our lovely daughter. Frankly on most days I'm more Peg Bundy than Joan Cleaver, but I usually pull it together and since I love to cook, things run pretty smoothly around here. But we have a sense of humour. To put in simply--my husband takes care of me by taking the role of leader. I like that. I like being loved and cherished that much that someone wants to take the burden of worry off of me and take care of me by making sure the household bills are paid, our money is wisely invested, I have money to buy our food and essentials and extras, and still trips to Europe twice a year. By the twinkle and glow in Michelle's eyes and on her cheeks I'd say she feels the same way.

As for the kids "not getting to have choices or freedom" well I don't see that. They sure get to do a lot of things. Even before TLC came along the family made regular trips to conferences and did a huge trip along the east coast. TLC just happened to come along when the Duggars were planning their trip to the west coast so it happened to get filmed and a few extras added (like Disneyland) but if you'll notice, all the kids said the Dude Ranch was their favourite part of the trip--something the Duggars planned on their own. They play family sports with other families in their worship group, the individual kids all have hobbies of their own--some of the girls do volunteer work with children. Point being---THEY DON'T FILM EVERYTHING!

13 comments:

  1. IMO Hubby and wives are created equal. But their role of male leadership is dangerous. None can question his decisions. For example, JB told the girls they were giving blood and none of them questioned his decision. One could say "I don't feel like it now maybe later.'or simply "no ". What people mean by freedom is will they get to pick their own faith or will they be shunned for living a different life. We mean freedoms to date, hang out at malls,watch tv, their choice of books,listen to other music besides Christian. Traveling with your entire family even if you are legal age all the time isnt much freedom. You mentioned a key word 'their worship group." We dont see their whole life as you say but from my view they dont have a wide asortment of friends other than what their parents pick. I kinda feel like your profile but have concerns when it intersects with cultish. Fundamentalism has marred many who left it.

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  2. You make a very good point, but just because none of the girls didn't say it, doesn't mean they couldn't. The argument about the blood donation goes both way, neither side can prove their point--you can't prove the girls were forced and we can't prove they could say "I don't feel like it." We have proved, actually the girls themselves have proven, that they can date if they want to. Every side has two stories and it just depends on how you choose to look at things, and since we aren't living inside their home, we'll never truly know what goes on. One thing I will say about the cult, however, is that Jim Bob breaks all the rules of a cult---he's too loud, too vocal, and too public, and he exposes his children to far too much of the world. That's why I don't think their family is quiverfull but likes the passage from the bible, borrows everything from ATI but isn't truly Gothard, because Jim Bob is too in the spotlight.

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  3. I guess the patriarchal system works great for some couples. My hubby and I are equal partners. We both work full time and it takes a team to manage everything. My children are getting a little older now,and it's easier than it used to be. My daughter has a chronic illness and frequent hospitalizations, and that's when we really have to pull together.

    I would love to stay home, be a homemaker,and relinquish a lot of responsibility to my hubby, but that would not be fair or realistic.

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  4. The funny part about my marriage...and I'll be honest here...mine's far more Peg Bundy than the 50's June Cleaver. I waste more time in front of the TV than anything else, but then I only have a 3 yr old and not 19 kids. My husband knew that when we got married and he didn't really care if I worked or not, so of course I wasn't going to go to work. And again, my marriage....we're equal, I let him decide things just because I don't want the responsibility if something goes wrong, but I choose that after he asks for my opinion....every marriage is different. I personally think I lucked out and have the best husband on the planet, but I'm sure a lot of women out there feel the same way about their husbands too :) Realistic and fair is completely subjective to everyone's personal situation.

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  5. Many of their early ATI supporter have quit suporting them. They feel the Duggars have gotten away from their true mission. Patriarchy sounds so 19th cetnury when only the girls were ezpected to stay home until marriage. It ruffles the feminist in me. The only difference in the Duggars/ATI is the young adult boys remain at home but they tend to have more freedom. Fundamentalists/ATI/ Quiverfull thrive on male headship which disturbs many people. There are varying degrees. I just used the blood drive as an example. It would ease viewers minds if any one of them dared to disagree with daddy JB. If they ever disagree we dont see it.

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  6. But i admit some things a man can decide better and some thingss a woman can decide better. Not many of us would trust our husbands to pick out a dress for us lol The point is asking the other spouses or family member's opinion. I dont see the trait in old JB.

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  7. Well the interesting thing is, if you read their book, he points out all the mistakes he made when he DIDN'T consult Michelle first before making a decision. One of them was a $10,000 mistake. And Michelle seems to have the freedom to come and go as she pleases with the debit card for shopping. That's pretty much the way it is around our house--my husband bought me a brand new car and picked it out, but he asked me first if it was what I wanted and let me test drive it first. I just did all the leg work buying and making the offer on the house we're buying--he didn't even do a walk through before we submitted the offer to the bank, that's how much he trusts me. Yet we still have a patriarcal marriage. He's the one that's going to be paying the mortgage and car payments.

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  8. I'm sorry you had such a bad high school experience, Marybeth. Most people do not have a wonderful terrific, crazy, laugh a minute, lets put on a show, high school experience that you see in old Mickey Rooney movies. I know I didn't but I am too much of an extravert, group joining, fun loving gal to have thrived at a homeschool experience. I learned a lot in, and out of classes, that has lasted me all my life. That huge ol' public high school taught me well enough to enter, and graduate from the University of California-Berkeley. My daughters went to local public schools. One excelled in music and social life, the other excelled in sports. Both were good students and went on to advanced degrees at excellent universities, here and abroad.
    My little boys go to private schools and are also doing well. I can't imagine homeschooling any of them, and having them miss all that being a part of the school years offers.
    Of course, we live in an area with good schools.

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  9. i recently read a book called the surrendered wife. it totally changed my perspective on marriage and my relationship with my fiance. we have been living together for a year and a half now, and only recently has my faith become something making me question things (like our living together) but we started living together because neither of us makes enough to live on our own, and that hasn't changed. in addition, i find that with the wedding 5 months a way it would be a bit impractical financially.

    however, i will say that i generally defer major decisions to him. i find that when i let him be a man, hes more apt to spoil me. we do make financial decisions together though. we will talk about whether or not to join a wholesale club like sams club or costco. and he listens when i suggest we buy a store brand of something or simply try to find a better deal.

    we are not equals, but every week we haev approximately the same amount of "spending money" we both use this money to buy food. we often split our grocery bill this way because he eats more than i do, so i spend less of my money on food and maybe spend about 20 whereas he will spend 40 to 50. but he buys mostly extras for himself which make his bill so much higher. frozen lunches to bring to work etc.

    i work part time and right now (he is temporarily on a salary until the end of august) my paycheck is going into savings so we can buy a used car at the end of the year. i actually feel more loved and respected letting him make these decisions. i may bring up something to him and ask him about things. or if im bored and crunching numbers i may point out somethig about his plan i noticed that didnt add up but i always defer to him to make the final decisions. but he always asks me too :-)

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  10. I personally have a bad history with money---i grew up with a trust fund and never had to account for anything, so i never had to pay any bills. Running up credit cards was no big deal to me. This is why i let my husband have full reign with our finances--he has a background and schooling with finance and so it's his forte...our portfolio has grown since we've been married and we're debt free except for our mortgage. That's why people need to remember that it's a bad idea to make blanket statements about marriage in general, especially patriarcal marriage---just because we decide this lifestyle doesn't always mean our husbands are heavy-handed and controlling. I personally chose it because it was actually in the best interests of our family that my husband take charge of that part of our life. In our religious life I also prefer that he lead us because I did not have the luxury to be raised in a Jewish home and he was raised in an Orthodox home so he has the knowledge that I don't...so our daughter can have the full scope of his upbringing.

    People have a tendancy to hear "patriarcal" and hear "ruler"...we're a loving, happy, cuddly, giggly, ridiculous couple like any other normal couple. We fight, we argue, we make up, we laugh, we talk about silly things, we watch movies, we go out to dinner, we play games, we go for walks, we make crude jokes when we shouldn't, and basially we're just like anyone else. I just decided to be a princess and let him do all the work while I stay home and take care of our home and our child. Frankly I think I got the better end of the deal.

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  11. I have to insert a comment on the attitude that all 19 century women stayed hom until arriage and did not work. Where did all the servants for the middle & upper class come from?Woemn from the lower classes who either had no prospect of getting married, came from the poor houses and had no where to go so were sent into servitude. The middle class young ladies were sometimes given the easy ride but quite often if they did not find a husband in a certain period of time they went to work as Governess' or tutors. Life in the previous centuries were not so nice and easy. Look at how mnay women died from diseases that nowadays are unknown to us in first world countries.

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  12. Celtic Morla--you bring some very interesting and wonderful insights that I'd never thought of :) You're absolutely right!

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  13. MaryBeth

    Thank You. I would liek to suggest a book for you to read. Inside the Victorian Home:A Portrait of Domestic Life in Victorian England. Very insightful. It details a lot about life int he Victorian age as relates to the family. I have read it thru many times and it provides a lot of information and is not boring (at least I don't think so!) If you can't find a copy at the local library let me know, I might be willing to lend mine for a time.

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