The Duggar family is all about rules.
Jim Bob and Michelle strictly enforce guidelines regarding everything from how their kids dress to how they date.
Some of their offspring gradually begin to disregard some of those rules as they enter adulthood, but there are certain laws of Duggardom that remain intractable during all phases of life.
One of the biggest ones, of course, is that men are always in charge.
This patriarchal hierarchy is enforced not only by Jim Bob but by the community into which the Duggar children are born.
One of the most commonly-cited examples of rebellion within the Duggar ranks is Jinger’s decision to start wearing pants, as opposed to the floor-length skirts that are a part of the family’s famously strict dress code.
But it’s important to note that Jinger only did so with the permission of her husband, Jeremy Vuolo.
That’s just one of the reasons why many fans are now convinced that Jessa is the true freedom fighter in the Duggar clan.
The always-entertaining r/DuggarSnark subreddit currently features a lively discussion of the relationship between Jessa and her husband, the seldom-seen Ben Seewald.
It seems many Counting On fans and critics have noticed that the interactions between Ben and Jessa are very different from the kind we usually see in Duggar relationships.
In short, Jessa calls the shots.
Not only does she speak for herself more often than most Duggar women, Jessa is her family’s primary breadwinner, and one gets the impression that in the Seewald home, what Jessa says goes.
Some have even gone so far as to suggest that Ben is controlled or “manipulated” by Jessa — forced to go along with Duggar customs and traditions that go against his own belief system.
Others are convinced that Ben is simply too lazy to stand up for himself.
“I think that Ben actually does ‘run’ things but he’s lazy and so nothing ever gets done,” one user wrote on Reddit.
“Anyone would seem ‘dominant’ next to [Ben] because he does nothing … He upholds those headship values in his marriage, while his wife is hustling on socials to earn money for their family,”
Others believe Jessa is not actually the dominant force in the marriage; she merely assumes that role on camera in order to create the false impression that she’s a take-charge kind of woman.
“[Ben is] totally unmotivated yet extremely controlling behind the scenes. Ben sets off alarms for me,” one person commented.
“Jessa is high strung so Ben allows her to get her way on a LOT of things he doesn’t actually care about, primarily minutiae and day to day details,” a third commenter chimed in.
“I am convinced that Jessa has convinced [Ben] that he is in charge while actually she is manipulating him,”
The situation raises a number of interesting questions about life in the Duggars’ world:
How much of what we’re seeing is an accurate representation of reality, and how much of it is designed to make viewers think the members of the Counting On crew are more “normal” and relatable than they actually are?
Just a few days ago there was talk of Jessa joining her sisters rebellion against their father — now, there’s reason to believe she and her husband might be lying to the world in order to help Jim Bob maintain the status quo.
Obviously, it’s possible that fans are reading too much into the relationship between Jessa and Ben.
In all likelihood, they’re just on more of an equal footing than most Duggar husbands and wives, so their dynamic seems strange by comparison.
But it’s interesting that the Duggar daughter who’s most willing to stand up to her husband is also most subservient to her father.
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