Jill Duggar's Feminism, Examined

The fourth Duggar child, 26-year-old Jill Dillard, has a family of her own. Her son will soon have a sibling, and whereas it's nowhere near 19, her brood is definitely growing. Raising kids is the ultimate responsibility; Values are passed through generations, so it's important to evaluate what truly matters to families. Given her family's conservative Christian values, is Jill Duggar a feminist? Whereas she certainly exhibits some feminist behaviors from time to time, fans shouldn't be so quick to label her just yet.

Jill's beliefs were set in place by her parents, Jim Bob and Michelle. Therefore, the Duggar family's anti-feminist ideologies are rooted in their specific interpretation of Christianity, specifically their apparent rejection of birth control. In fact, the Duggar's radically pro-life musings are what have helped make them so well known (19 Kids and Counting, anyone?). The anti-birth control movement that they ascribe to cites the Bible as its foundation, viewing children as a "reward" from God. Fertility, then, is placed as an external responsibility, and is no longer a conscious, personal choice — and definitely not a choice made by a woman regarding her own body. Newsweek's Kathryn Joyce's noted the movement's misogynist nuances, specifically "the importance of women submitting to their husbands and fathers, an antifeminist backlash that holds that gender equality is contrary to God's law and that women's highest calling is as wives and 'prolific' mothers."

So where does Jill stand on all of this? For now, she seems to have followed the same path as her siblings. Before she married her husband Derek Dillard, the two underwent the Duggar's infamous courting process, which limited their communication to group texts (with Jill's parents included) and some phone calls. The decision to date Derek wasn't Jill's to make, even; In a blog post she remembers Derek wondering if "he should contact my dad to begin a relationship with [her]." It seems even in adulthood, Jill's choices are being monitored by the men in her life — though for her part, it doesn't seem to bother the mom of soon-to-be-two.

Currently, Jill spends a lot of her time traveling for mission work with her family. Though she's been exposed to new experiences and new ways of life working in Central America, she still attributes the "poverty and hopelessness" she observes to a lack of faith in God (rather than address issues of poverty in ways that have proven effective—like, let's say, empowering women or providing clean water—her work focuses instead on sharing her religion, evangelizing locals).

Though Jill ascribes to a lifestyle rooted in female disempowerment, a few aspects of her day-to-day give some hope. The ministry she works with, for instance, does offer various women-focused ministry programming that she participates in occasionally. Additionally, Jill is a certified midwife. Seems pretty feminist, right? Helping women through pregnancy? Her reasoning, though, might arguably fall a little flat for more progressive feminists: "My prayer in pursuing midwifery early on was to make wise use of my single years while gaining valuable skills that I may someday use on the mission field," her blog reveals.

The March for Life participant hasn't gone so far as, I don't know, comparing abortion to the Holocaust, but her stances still show a lack of awareness of her fellow woman and others' choices. Duggar children tend to follow the pattern presented before them, and gender equality, unfortunately, isn't part of that pattern. With so many children (and grandchildren), you'd think that someone would break the mold but, for now, it's all about traditional, fundamentalist courtship and child-bearing. If nothing else, at least she and her family are happy and comfortable.