Baby after baby after baby on board
So the Duggar Family welcomed their 18th child yesterday, immediately after which the inevitable internet shitstorm commenced. I am resigned to the fact that, without further information than what I already know about them, I will never be entirely certain how I feel about the Duggars. My only certainty about them is this: if you’re thinking of commenting on a bulletin board, MySpace or LiveJournal with that “a vagina isn’t a clown car” thing, understand that you’ll be approximately the 746,242nd person to make such a witty observation, which is only 683 people less than the amount of those who claim that Michelle Duggar’s vagina must be the size of the Holland Tunnel by now. Biology, go learn you some: the vagina is made of muscle and tissue that expands and contracts specifically for the purpose of pushing tiny humans through it. While it may lose some elasticity over time, that’s usually a result of aging, not overuse. The same goes for breastfeeding: contrary to popular opinion, it does not make your breasts saggy and pendulous, age and not wearing brassieres with proper support do. The more obnoxious childfree types like to throw out these anecdotes as proof that they’re superior to breeders, as clearly giving birth renders them no longer fuckable.
ANYWAY, as for everything else about the Duggars, well, I just don’t know. While it’s mind-boggling that anyone would have a double-digit number of children, I am not quite solipsistic enough to not admit that it may only be mind-boggling to me. I’ve come to the conclusion that, at worst, they’re very weird. The giving their kids names that all start with the same initial, the raising their daughters to aspire to do little more than marry and have eighteen kids of their own and most importantly their method of essentially handing off the youngest children to the oldest children to take care of, these are parenting techniques I don’t particularly approve of, but aren’t necessarily “wrong” either. I have one child, an 11 year-old who I let watch Family Guy on occasion, so clearly I’m not in the running for Mother of the Year either. I don’t know enough about the Quiverfull movement to make an educated decision; on the surface it seems to be a group of people who take God’s instruction to be fruitful and multiply to the nth degree, while some more paranoid types insist it’s part of an insidious plan to squeeze out minorities, Jews and homosexuals. I suppose it’s possible this might be the goal of some Quiverfull members, but I really don’t think blacks and Hispanics need to worry about being run out of town by a bunch of Jesus freaks who dress their daughters like cast members of Little House on the Prairie.
The eternal question about the Duggars is, of course, who is footing the bill to take care of these children? No one seems to be quite clear, either dad Jim Bob (yeah, I titter at the fact that he’s really named Jim Bob too) is supporting them through his real estate business, which, unless he’s selling mansions in Beverly Hills, is unlikely, they’ve had themselves declared for tax purposes as a church, or they’re living on the goodwill and generosity of others. Whatever the case is, what does it matter as long as the children are being properly taken care of? If they’re on state assistance, unless you live in Alabama too it doesn’t affect you a whit. If you think it’s unfair that they can get themselves declared a church to get out of paying taxes, get yourself declared a church. Call yourself the First Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, or start a cult with some friends called the Holy Rickrollers, inserting your sermons during the chorus of ‘Never Gonna Give You Up.’ In any case, from what I’ve seen, by way of donations, real estate proceedings or whatever, the Duggars seem to be living modestly. They have a large house, yes, but what are you supposed to do when you have eighteen children, stack them like firewood? The kids all reportedly wear either thrift store or handmade clothing, and computers and video game consoles and the like seem to be low on the parents’ priority list. Regardless of where they’re getting their money from, they appear to be spending it sensibly.
I prefer to reserve my unreasonable, hypocritical dislike for Jon and Kate Gosselin, the stars, along with their eight children, of TLC’s Jon & Kate Plus 8, who TLC proclaims as “America’s Favorite Family” (and here you thought it was the Jolie-Pitt clan). Three seasons into their inexplicably popular program, neither Gosselin holds down a job, living instead on their income from the show, handouts from sponsors and fees for “speaking engagements,” though I’m not quite sure what either of them have to say that would be useful to anyone, other than how to get your own reality program simply by having a lot of children. The benefits they’re reaped include a built from the ground up luxury home with all the trappings, vacations to Florida, Disneyland and Hawaii, regular spa treatments for Kate and even a hair transplant for Jon. Whether any of this could be considered a “necessity,” whether for parents of eight or two children is a matter of opinion, but regardless of the goldmine they’ve stumbled across, Kate Gosselin seems to come across as largely unpleasant, frequently berating her husband and throwing supposedly OCD-powered fits over how put upon she is. Yes, I understand, she’s a mother of eight children, but she’s a mother of eight children who will never have to worry about how she is going to pay for anything for any of those children. You can bet all of the Gosselin kids are financially set until at least adulthood, provided their parents are willing to continue trotting them out in front of a camera, which they seem to be. I suspect she’d be feeling a little more put upon without those spa treatments and first class Hawaii vacations, which most average mothers have to do without, regardless of how many children they have.
Fans of the Gosselins are a rabid bunch who will berate anyone who criticizes them, often invoking the name of Jesus, which is always an effective way to argue with someone. They don’t appreciate them being compared to the Duggars, pointing out that the Gosselin children are the product of two multiple births, while the Duggars deliberately had so many children. That’s sort of right, but not exactly: Kate Gosselin went through fertility treatments for her first pregnancy, resulting in twins, then went through them again a few years later, resulting in sextuplets. She had to have known there was a chance of conceiving several children during the second set of treatments, so in a way it was a deliberate decision. It’s not a miracle that she gave birth to so many children, it’s a miracle that they survived, and without apparent long-term effects (as opposed to the McCaughey septuplets, born in 1997, two of whom have cerebral palsy). People have been raising large families for generations without television shows focused on them, I’ve yet to see what’s so remarkable about the Gosselins, other than their children are terribly cute and their parents are ambitious publicity hounds. I can’t help but wonder what the Gosselin kids are going to be like twenty years from now, which of them are going to be milking their “former minor celebrity” status for everything its worth, just like Mom and Dad, which of them are going to be writing a tell-all book about Mom and Dad, and which aren’t even going to want to be around children, let alone have any themselves.