In the years before Josh Duggar was arrested on child pornography charges, critics of his famous family often hoped that the Duggar media empire might be toppled from within.
Specifically, they hoped that one of Jim Bob’s long-suffering daughters would finally become fed up to the point of going public with their many grievances against him.
Thus far, that hasn’t happened, but the women in Jim Bob’s life have rebelled in subtler ways that might turn out to be equally effective.
There was a time when it looked like pants-wearing Jinger would lead the rebellion, but these days it’s two cousins who are leading the fight for female liberation within the Duggars’ ultra-patriarchal society.
We’re talking, of course, about Jill and Amy Duggar.
For a long time, rebellious cousin Amy was considered an outcast by the rest of the family, but that changed when Jill cut ties with her parents in 2019.
Suddenly, Jill was drinking alcohol, listening to secular music, and hanging our with Amy — activities that all are strictly off-limits for Jim Bob’s other daughters.
Obviously, the biggest blow to the Duggars’ reputation came in the form of Josh’s arrest and subsequent conviction.
But in the months before that highly-publicized fall from grace, the family’s wholesome image was weakened from within as the youngest generation grew weary of Jim Bob’s authoritarian control.
Amy has been a thorn in Jim Bob’s side for most of her life, and she deserves a world of credit for sticking to her guns amid enormous pressure.
But Jill’s decision to cut ties with her parents was likely Jim Bob’s first indication that his era of unquestioned authority was coming to an end.
Back in 2019, when Jill and her husband, Derick Dillard, publicly went their own way, no one could have predicted the succession of scandals that would eventually lead TLC to cancel Counting On, thus ending the network’s long, lucrative relationship with the Duggars.
At the time, it looked as though the Dillards dispute with Jim Bob was purely financial in nature.
Derick alleged that Jim Bob had stolen millions from his own children by pocketing their TLC paychecks.
Jim Bob — likely feeling that he could rely on the contiunued support of his millions of devoted fans — felt no need to publicly deny these allegations.
After all, the Duggars had already faced much larger scandals — including the revelation that Josh had molested five young girls, four of whom were his sisters — and survived.
But as Jim Bob smugly sat back and waited for the support to roll in from his army of evangelical diehards, something surprising happened:
The majority of Twitter and Facebook users who commented on the matter seemed to be siding with Jill and Derick.
Derick — a recent law school grad — appered to have built a successful case against his father-in-law, and unlike others who had come after Jim Bob in the past, his arguments were backed up with solid evidence and hard numbers.
Of course, he couldn’t have done without his courageous wife.
For as much as she might have succeeded in shaking off the more repugnant ideas she grew up with, Jill is still a product of the hyper-patriarchal world in which she was raised.
So she might have felt that her allegations against her father would only be taken seriously if it was Derick who gave voice to them.
And sadly, she may have been correct in that assumption.
We may never know for sure where Jill found the strength to go against the problematic ideals she was raised with and do battle with her formidable father in the public arena.
But it’s worth noting that while the rest of the Duggars seemed content to keep cousin Amy at a safe distance, Jill always maintained close ties to her rebellious cousin.
In the end, despite his best efforts to keep them apart, these strong-willed cousins found their way back to each other.
And together, they’ve proven much stronger than the forces that sought to keep them down.