Is Michelle Duggar Finally Standing Up To Jim Bob?

A young Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, c. 1980s. (image from Duggar family Facebook)
A young Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, c. 1980s. (image from Duggar family Facebook)

It’s been amply established that Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar are manifestly unfit parents. After all, had they gotten help for their oldest son, Josh, after his first instance of fondling girls while he was a teenager, it’s very likely that none of the subsequent incidents would have happened.

But even as we learned that their facade as the perfect Christian family hid a shameful legacy of victim blaming and victim shaming, one thing remained constant. In accordance with his independent fundamentalist Baptist and Quiverfull beliefs, Jim Bob ruled his home like a feudal lord. I used the past tense because it’s recently emerged that Josh’s foibles have prompted Michelle to do something that would be almost unthinkable in the IFB/Quiverfull world–stand up to her husband.

The International Business Times got its hands on the July 18 edition of Life & Style magazine. It paints a “less than rosy” picture behind the scenes for America’s most famous babymakers. Apparently, the discovery that Josh had been cheating on his wife, Anna, by going on Ashley Madison has “destroyed” the couple emotionally. Lest you dismiss this as run-of-the-mill gossip, Life & Style is owned by Bauer Media, the same company that owns In Touch Weekly, the magazine that was largely responsible for cutting the Duggars down to size last year.

According to sources close to the family, Michelle is no longer obeying Jim Bob without question or rubber-stamping his actions. One family friend told the magazine that Michelle has “actually raised her voice to Jim Bob” on a few occasions. Simply put, this would be unheard of under normal circumstances in a world where women are considered incubators with legs. According to that same friend, Jim Bob is not the same man whom Michelle married 32 years ago. That Jim Bob was “filled with hope and happiness.”

According to Life & Style, the only other time in recent memory that Michelle hasn’t played the role of the submissive IFB/Quiverfull wife came at some point during Josh’s teen years, when he admitted to watching porn–a disclosure that sank an engagement to another woman. The elders at the family’s church, with Jim Bob’s full support, wanted to give Josh a heavy-handed punishment “that would appease God.” Michelle nearly left Jim Bob and took Josh with her, but Jim Bob persuaded her to go along with the punishment. There’s no word on whether Josh got any actual counseling, but if he did, it can be safely assumed that it didn’t help.

The discovery of Josh’s affair apparently took the scab off this and other old wounds. However, the family is keeping up a united front for one reason alone–to keep the money flowing in from TLC. According to a family insider, when TLC greenlighted the family’s latest show, “Jill & Jessa: Counting On,” it put the Duggars on notice–if there was any hint of family instability, “they could kiss another season goodbye.” That says a lot about TLC’s standards. Remember, when TLC first discovered the Duggars, their living situation could charitably be described as unsafe, unsanitary, and unlawful.

Part of me wonders, “What took so long, Michelle?” But then again, the discovery of Josh’s cheating may have knocked the scales off her eyes. Is she finally realizing that she not only failed Josh by not getting help sooner, but left her daughters in the lurch? It’s hard not to wonder.

For now, anyway, Michelle has no plans to divorce Jim Bob. But the fact she’s raising her voice is very telling. Remember, IFB and Quiverfull women do not raise their voices to their husbands, ever. The mere fact that the most famous Quiverfull wife of them all did so makes you wonder if Michelle may be about to experience the same eye-opening moment that a lot of people who are in toxic relationships and environments experience–that is, if she hasn’t already. We can only hope–for both her sake and the sake of the rest of the Duggar brood.

Darrell is a 30-something graduate of the University of North Carolina who considers himself a journalist of the old school. An attempt to turn him into a member of the religious right in college only succeeded in turning him into the religious right's worst nightmare--a charismatic Christian who is an unapologetic liberal. His desire to stand up for those who have been scared into silence only increased when he survived an abusive three-year marriage. You may know him on Daily Kos as Christian Dem in NC. Follow him on Twitter @DarrellLucus or connect with him on Facebook. Click here to buy Darrell a Mello Yello.