Saturday, November 13, 2010

19? Really?

So I know we're all over Foucault-- that was so last week-- but I took a look into the Duggar Family and they happen to have their own website, which is totally normal and not at all ridiculous. So I'm not really that aware of this family, other than knowing they have or at one time had a TV show. But just casually browsing their website is pretty interesting.

So obviously there's a lot of God things going on, but there's more than that. The first thing you see on their homepage is a sort of request to see that they are an ordinary family, which I see as a desire to be normal and not a perversion; they are trying to normalize having 19 children, and the possibility of more, as their motto seems to be "19 Kids & Counting!" There are so many pictures of the family all over the place, and obviously an emphasis on the children. Having your own website and TV show are clear indicators that this family has turned itself into a commodity, which is more Marxist, but I feel that because it all revolves around the amount of children this couple has it becomes sexualized. The whole gimmick is the craziness of having 19 children and then of course, their religion.

In the "About" section, the parents go right into talking about how when there were first married they used birth control but after a miscarriage they thought it was the wrong course. These people clearly like having sex. And talking about it. Yet their religion values modesty and basically the suppression of sexuality-- at least pre-maritally. The children must wear modest clothing and I find the set up of their house telling. There are pictures of their house, which is quite big. Apparently all of the boys are in one bedroom and all of the girls in another. This is quite average, but after Foucault's reading it becomes more complicated. Like the German schools, are the boys and girls separated because of the possibility of sexual interactions? I understand that them being siblings, there's perhaps a greater question of incest here, but still. Sexuality is made into an issue by separating the children by gender; if sexuality isn't an issue, then why bother?


  1. You raise some really good points. The website is really child/family-centric, and obviously quite religious. And the Duggars do seem to be stressing their "normalness" and ability to be relatable to other American families. But like you said, this all makes sense, considering the fact that they have 19 kids...Their son and daughter-in-law stress this as well on their website:

    To me, at first there seems to be something odd about the idea of 19 kids. Times have changed, and nowadays, anyone having like 8 or more kids definitely is perceived as strange and "otherly." But then I realize that maybe having such a huge family is simply a part of their religious goals, or even just their way of life -- to promote Christianity. They express their religious values openly on their website, and also on their show. There are many "big family shoes," but I'm pretty sure I remember seeing an episode in the past about their kids not being allowed to hug or kiss while dating...something about just holding hands.

    So after further thought, their lifestyle does follow their religion, and may not be so strange after all. They strictly adhere to their belief that God reserved sex for marriage, and so do their kids.

    It is interesting to think about the meaning of the child separation in relation to Foucault, but this actually seems pretty normal to me. Most girls don't share rooms with their brothers, and vice versa. Maybe just a socially constructed norm?

  2. That website is fairly creepy. I also like the tagline "19 Kids & Counting!"... Also that house is gigantic, does anyone know how they made all their money?

  3. Their house looks like they just tack on a new mini-house every time they have another kid.

    Speaking of sex, they apparently are starting to have grandchildren as well. I wonder if the Duggars' kids will wind up having exorbitant amounts of children as well, and how they might be raised.

  4. Lemme throw QuiverFull into the mix. The Duggars have denied being associated with QuiverFull, despite that handy dandy DVD they're selling in the margins of the QF website. However, as you've all discovered, they also preach modesty in the face of having obviously enormous amounts of sex. So take whatever they say with the appropriate critical Foucauldian mindset.

  5. Exactly my point. They are citing religious text on fertility and the blessing (God's gift) of having children to support having a large family. So, for them, this is perfectly normal. They are following modesty because they promote marriage before sex.

    Foucault talks about the Church and sexuality: "It may be the case that the intervention of the Church in confugal sexuality and its rejection of "frauds" against procreation had lost much of their insistence over the previous two hundred years..."

    The Duggars are preaching sex after marriage and abstinence before marriage, just as the Church in history did, and as some churches preach today.