Jessa Duggar Doesn’t Belong On The Public Speaking Circuit, Here’s Why

Photo: Courtesy of Jessa Seewald/Instagram.
Jessa Duggar Seewald, along with her sisters and a family friend, was molested by her oldest brother, Josh Duggar, when she was just a child. After Josh's history of sex abuse became public, Jessa went on national television to defend him. At the time, she explained away the abuse, saying that Josh was "a young boy in puberty and a little too curious about girls." "And that got him into some trouble," she shared. "And he made some bad choices, but, really, the extent of it was mild — inappropriate touching on fully clothed victims, most of it while [the] girls were sleeping." It is impossible to know whether or not any of the Duggar daughters got the support they might have needed to truly work through the trauma of being molested as children; and indeed, it seems as though Michelle and Jim Bob have consistently put the united public face of their family — along with the mounting "needs" of their son, Josh — ahead of anything else. So, when Jessa Duggar says that she forgives her brother, I keep trying to cultivate happiness for her. I try to believe her, and be glad that she has chosen to move forward with an open heart. And — when I can't quite get there — I try to remember that she is a victim, and a very young woman, and someone deserving of compassion for what she has been through. Unfortunately, the road to empathy isn't always easy. This week, the Southern Women's Show announced that 22-year-old Jessa Duggar will be a special guest at the Birmingham convention on October 10. The bio page references her achievements, which include authoring a book with three of her sisters, having a wedding, being a newlywed, and preparing to become a parent. In case it wasn't already clear, this event not a reconvening of Seneca Falls. It's supposed to be light and fun and maybe even a little self-indulgent. And yet, I cannot for the life of me figure out why the organizers thought inviting Jessa Duggar to come share her wisdom on party planning and pregnancy would be met with open arms. People are, to put it lightly, ticked. "It is disgusting and insulting to educated, employed, confident, successful, and ambitious women to see that Jessa Duggar Seewald is a speaker. SHAME ON YOU," one commenter wrote on the Facebook post announcing Jessa as a speaker. "I'd be insulted if I were a Southern woman," another shared. "Jessa is NO role model for women. No college education. No work experience. Making excuses for her molesting brother. There are so many strong, accomplished Southern women out there making a difference. Jessa or any of the Duggars are an awful choice." The comments go on and on. And I get it. I really do. While I don't think that Jessa deserves to carry the repercussions of her brother's abuse like a ball and chain for her entire life — or that, as a victim, she is supposed to hide out to protect the rest of the world from her "shame" — I don't think that she should be asserted as a role model for women anywhere. Not because she was molested, or because she's conservative, or even under-educated. No: I don't think that Jessa Duggar needs an audience right now because when she justified her brother's sex abuse by qualifying that the victims were sleeping and fully clothed, she diminished the trauma faced by victims everywhere. And until she's willing to acknowledge that there is no acceptable grey area when it comes to sex abuse, I don't think she should be awarded a soap box to stand on.

You guessed it! Jessa Seewald from TLC's 19 Kids and Counting will be joining us at this year’s Southern Women's Show Birmingham! Jessa will appear on Saturday, October 10th.

Posted by Southern Women's Show Birmingham on Monday, July 13, 2015

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