The XX Factor

But Mrs. Duggar Did Get to Choose

Choice is certainly the word humming at the center of the American viewing public’s fascination with the Duggar family, but Lauren, I’m not so sure that, as you write about the announcement of their impending 19 th child , “Mrs. Duggar never had any choice in the matter.” In fact, from what I gather (I don’t watch the show), it’s quite the opposite. She and her husband chose to forego any sort of birth control (which they’d employed earlier in their married life), chose to join the Quiverfull movement, and chose to go on TV. And lots of people who disagree with those particular choices choose to watch them-as mindless entertainment, perhaps, but they’re still registering their vote by flipping to TLC, which means PR people and network execs and the media all learn that, hey, the Duggars equal ratings, which means they’ll get more airtime, and thus, of course, get more exposure for their views. (And how widely was Quiverfull known before they went on the air?)

The word choice, when we’re applying it to the reproductive sphere, often ends up getting defined too narrowly. If you’re pro-choice, that means you don’t want someone else passing judgment on your reproductive decisions, whether they agree with them or not. You might be creeped out by the Duggars’ broader views, Lauren, but it’s a crucial part of being pro-choice to make room for them.

(Disclosure-I’m from a larger-than-average family , so I’ve got a little skin in the game here, and am irked when people make all sort of exptrapolations about what being from a big family implies about my values and upbringing, and those of my parents.)

Image is a screenshot from the Duggar family’s Today Show appearance.