The Southern Women’s Show, which is being held in Jacksonville, Florida this weekend, has been getting pressure from members of the public who are angry that the Duggar family is being included in the event’s attractions. Specifically, Jessa Seewald, one of the two married Duggar daughters, and her husband, Ben, were to appear at the event. Now, two younger Duggar siblings will appear in the couple’s place — and the result is that rumors are flying and the public is still responding strongly, asking the organizers to cancel the appearance.
Jessa has appeared at other Southern Women’s Show events to vocal criticism. Women say they are concerned about the type of role model she and sister Jill Dillard represent for young women and girls after they publicly minimized the crimes of their brother, Josh Duggar, who reportedly molested four of his sisters and a babysitter when he was a teen. The entire Duggar family is also criticized for their role in fighting against equal rights for the LGBT community.
Now, people are speaking out about Jessa and Ben’s replacement — younger brother and sister, Jinger and Josiah.
The Southern Women’s Show announced this week that Jinger and Josiah Duggar would replace the Seewald family at the event.
Coupled with information from social media, this sparked speculation that Jessa, whose first child is due in a few weeks, was in labor.
However, that wasn’t all it sparked. Jessa has already been criticized for including her husband as part of a women’s show event. Now, instead of two other sisters — that is, two Duggar women — the family is sending in her place a younger sister and a younger brother. Jinger Duggar, who will be 22 this year, is attending in Jessa’s place, with Josiah Duggar, who is 19.
For many, this just calls more attention to the Duggar family’s strong views of traditional gender roles, by suggesting that Jinger, a legal adult, couldn’t be allowed to attend the event without a male family member as an escort. On the event’s Facebook page, comments from the public call for the Duggar family to be entirely left out of the show.
It’s not only the Southern Women’s Show itself that is on the receiving end for the criticism. Sponsor Books-A-Million (noted as sponsor on the announcement above) is also hearing from unhappy consumers.
Because of social media posts by Ben Seewald’s family, there is speculation that the Duggar family may have substituted Jinger and Josiah for Jessa and Ben because Jessa is in labor.
However, it’s also possible that the organizers of the show thought Jinger Duggar wouldn’t be as controversial, since, unlike Jessa and Jill, she didn’t appear on television to tell the public that Josh Duggar’s molestations of underage girls weren’t really a big deal.
If that was the idea, it failed. While Jessa and Jill are the only individuals to have identified themselves as victims of their brother and to have spoken out about the crimes, the entire Duggar family was already controversial before those crimes ever came to public light. The fact that Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar covered up the crimes and took their family on national television, where four of Josh’s victims had to appear smilingly with their molester, was only the final straw.
Even before that, the family’s beliefs were widely seen as harmful, and the use of their public platform to influence legislation and human rights was more so. Michelle Duggar’s robocall, in which she characterized a law that would have allowed transgender individuals to use the bathrooms matching their identities, as a law giving men access to young girls in bathrooms, earned the family a new level of scorn and anger from the viewing public.
However, the Duggar family’s controversial parenting techniques are also being brought up. The Duggar children are not allowed to date in an ordinary manner, hug a member of the opposite sex while face-to-face, or even be alone with a member of the opposite sex.
Even before dating ages, the family’s child-rearing methods are problematic. Michelle Duggar has openly endorsed the book To Train Up a Child, by Michael and Debi Pearl — a book that includes disciplinary techniques that have been connected to abuse charges and to deaths of children. (BBC News reported in 2013 that at least three deaths had been connected to the book, which tells parents they must completely break the will of a child in order to gain obedience.)
The Duggar family’s promotion of the Pearls’ book hasn’t gone unnoticed by those pleading with sponsors and event organizers to ditch the family. Note the mention of “blanket training” in the post below — a practice in which a child barely able to crawl is placed on a blanket, with toys just out of reach, and punished (one recommended method is spanking with a plastic ruler) for attempting to crawl to the toys. This is one of the methods the Pearls promote — and the Duggar Family Blog reports that the Duggars use on their children.
Clearly, for much of the public, it isn’t all about Josh, though Duggar supporters characterize the response as “punishing the whole family for the mistakes of one member.”
Neither the Southern Women’s Show nor Books-A-Million has responded to the criticism regarding inclusion and sponsorship of the Duggar family.
[Photo via Duggar Family Instagram]