Damn, I'm hooked. The 19 Kids and Counting fascination continues with Jessa's Engagement episode. The whole thing is terrible, in that the way the family runs is based not so much on what I'd consider Christian values, but rather Male Dominance and the infantilization of teenagers and young adults.
So, I was surprised at the beginning of the episode when Ben, age 19, was getting ready to ask Jim Bob about asking Jessa to marry him. I seriously thought there was a moment when Jim Bob might say no. For good reason. JB starts talking about God (like always... which as a Lutheran, always makes me uncomfortable), and ventures into practical matters (which as a German-American, is totes in my comfort zone). Jessa and Ben talk about marriage as fun! And they get to have sex! And they seem to be physically attracted to each other, and the only approved outlet for this is sex within marriage, or at least hand holding in an engagement. JB walks around the elephant in the room that the husband is supposed to provide financially for his wife and take care of her. Which, as a glorified handyman who is bad with tools, it's a major concern about Ben marrying his daughter. And, why you know that this guy is too immature for marriage... like most 19-year-olds.
Jim Bob is right. In this lifestyle, men need to care for their womenfolk. Since his daughters were all going to marry and have dozens of kids, they are not prepared to work for wages outside the house. Jana and Jill did find work as midwives (external mothering, so preparing them for their future roles), but Jessa did not seem to have any job to speak of. Derick, Jill's husband, is an accountant for my least favorite retail chain, so he can support a reasonably-sized family, as long as JB gave them a place to live. Josh supports Anna as the executive director of a Hate Group's PAC... but at least the kids are fed and Anna doesn't have to venture outside the house. Ben seems to be trained for nothing, has no work experience, and unless he has some kind of sweetheart deal with Jim Bob, I'm sure the going rate for the work he's doing is about $6/hour in rural Arkansas. Can you raise a family on $12,000 per year even with housing in the Duggar Guest House? I'm thinking no. Google search shows that he's taking online classes, so it's highly unlikely that he'll see the type of wage premium that comes with a college degree. I'm sure he'll end up running some kind of small business eventually, but most likely it'll be because of the Duggar show that he'll have the opportunity. Without the show and the spotlight, he'd probably end up as a truck driver.
So here's a guy, with no real education, job, skills, or any way to earn money to support himself, let alone a family. So at 19, listening to this guy talk about what marriage is, and what a husband needs to do, it kind of makes me want to punch someone. (Jessa during her scavenger hunt also appears to be a few crayons short of a box). What the hell do you know about the real world, and why would you think yourself able to give advice to anyone living in the real world?
Seriously, Jim Bob should have said no to Ben when he asked to marry Jessa.