Anyone who watches TLC's Counting On or follows the Duggar family knows that the growing brood has a very specific code of conduct for dating. Under dad Jim Bob Duggar's watchful eye, each of the Duggar children has to go through a long courtship process before they can even think about settling down with their chosen partner. Not surprisingly, though, many Counting On fans think the Duggars' courtship rules are sexist, and honestly, you can't blame them.
Parents Jim Bob and Michelle have said in the past that they view courtship as "dating with a purpose," according to TODAY. They consider courtship a path to marriage, while dating is hanging out with a person without any real commitment. But the issue doesn't lie in how Jim Bob and Michelle view dating; rather, it's in how they apply the rules to their children.
The Duggar family's courtship rules and questionnaire, which are built on traditional and conservative values, are focused on the actions of the Duggar daughters, primarily. And that's why many fans of the hit TLC reality TV show believe the "rules" are pretty sexist. (Romper reached out to the Duggar family for comment, but has not heard back in time for publication.)
In the subreddit DuggarsSnark, a redditor posed a simple question: If there is a courtship questionnaire for the men who want to date Jim Bob's daughters, does he have one for the women who want to court his sons?
Not taking the "snark" part of the subreddit's name lightly, one user replied, in part, "Nope. The boys get to just trust their own spiritual spidey sense that this is the right one for them. It's only the spiritually wimpy ladyfolk who need to be shielded from their own womanly limitations." Another redditor wrote, "Have a vagina. Be willing and joyful. Preferably sweet," followed by another user, who answered, "1. Be a VIRGIN. 2. Resemble the Duggars. 3. Shut up. 4. Be a VIRGIN."
It's not surprising why many fans of TLC's original reality TV series 19 Kids And Counting, and its spin-off show Counting On, would think the courtship rules do not apply to the sons. After all, patriarch Jim Bob has to approve all courtships, so any guy who's interested in a Duggar daughter has to first go through dear ol' dad, according to TLC. But there's no indication that the woman pursuing a Duggar son has to go through the same process.
Same goes for Jim Bob's courtship questionnaire. The Duggar family first spoke about this survey, if you will, during an episode of Counting On: The After Show two years ago, according to The Daily Mail. At the time, they were discussing the intense "vetting process" potential boyfriends have to endure, including a hefty list of questions from Jim Bob that span over 50 pages. Before asking for a Duggar daughter's hand in marriage, male suitors must complete the questionnaire, The Daily Mail reported.
On the episode of Counting On: The After Show, only the husbands and fiancés spoke about answering the questions. Jeremy Vuolo, who was engaged to Jinger Duggar at the time, told producer Scott Enlow that he sent back 105 pages with his life story, according to the Stir. You read that right: 105 pages.
There has been no indication, though, if the female suitors have to fill out the same questionnaire. But it wouldn't be surprising if they don't. Jim Bob did, after all, tell TODAY that the courtship process is "really examining the person and considering, 'Would this be the guy I want to be the father of my kids?'" So calling the entire process "sexist" is not that much of a stretch — not by a long shot.