There are few families more controversial in pop culture than the Kardashians and the Duggars, and each has wildly different fan bases. But if you break down the lessons each has to offer, you might be surprised by which family is actually the better role model.
The real deal or total hypocrites?
The Kardashians don’t pretend to be anything other than what they are. Their “reality” may sometimes be staged, as the killer Tumblr Keeping Up With The Kontinuity Errors often exposes, but they aren’t pretending to be something that they’re not. Are they shameless fame whores who give each other near-incestuous bikini waxes on international television for profit? Yes. And they have never pretended to be otherwise. What you see with the Kardashians is what you get, and whether you agree with their lifestyle or not, at least you know exactly what you’re getting.
The Duggars have been pretending to be something they’re not from day one. They have presented the facade of the perfect Christian family, while knowing all the while that they had a wolf in their midst. They may not have known about Josh’s porn addiction and infidelities, but they did know that he sexually abused his own sisters and a family friend. Yet they still presented Josh as an upstanding man of faith and themselves as the epitome of being blessed by God, when their reality was much darker. They betrayed their own fan base.
Score: Kardashians 1, Duggars 0.
Are the Kardashians feminists? In a word, yes. They are packaged differently than what we’ve been conditioned to believe a feminist is, but they are feminists nonetheless. Here is a family where the women are the ones pulling themselves up the ladder of success, turning lemons (sex tape, divorce, addiction issues) into hugely profitable lemonade. Kim had the savvy to turn a leaked sex tape into a $53 million fortune (and may have had the savvy to leak it herself to start building that fortune). Do the women use their bodies for fame and fortune? Yes. And they are making that choice for themselves — no man is forcing them to do anything they don’t want to do. That’s the whole point of feminism.
Is it vulgar? Yes. Is it also a prime example of a woman taking control of her own destiny? So much yes. Every single one of the Kardashian women is successfully managing their businesses in fashion, entertainment and publishing while balancing their family lives. Feminism is not a club meant to welcome only those with a certain level of class or education.
The Duggars, on the other hand, are members of an extremist sect of Christianity whose beliefs and practices keep women completely powerless and at the mercy of the men in their lives: their fathers, their husbands, their church elders and, in the case of the Duggars, their allegedly molesty brother. In the world of the Duggars, women cannot hold jobs outside of the home, they cannot have their own money, they cannot leave home to go to a real college and get a real education or have a career that would allow them to support themselves. Their roles consist of “daughter,” “wife” and “mother;” they exist to serve the men in their lives and are given no options for any other life choices.
Score: Kardashians 2, Duggars 0.
Support of social issues
The Kardashians are in the midst of one of the most important socially responsible storylines since Pedro came out as HIV positive on the first season of The Real World: Caitlyn Jenner’s transition from male to female. Keeping Up with the Kardshians and I Am Cait have shown the good and the not-so-easy parts of how the family is dealing with this huge change, but even in the difficult moments there is still complete love and acceptance of this valued family member. The family is also a vocal supporter of marriage equality.
The Duggars have lobbied hard to prevent gay, lesbian, queer and trans people from having the same rights as their straight brethren. Josh was the executive director of the Family Research Council, an ultra-conservative political action committee campaigning against gay marriage and LGBT adoption, among other issues, before he was fired amidst his molestation scandal. The family campaigned against a non-discrimination ordinance in Arkansas that would have made discriminating against someone seeking housing or employment based on sexual orientation or gender identity illegal. Michelle went on record comparing trans people to pedophiles.
Score: Kardashians 3, Duggars 0.
The Kardashians are not totally blameless in this area. Khloé was arrested on DUI charges in 2007, serving time in jail and performing community service as her sentence. While her crime could have resulted in far more horrific consequences, Khloé took her lumps and learned her lesson.
However, I don’t think we need to break down the horrifying crime of sexual abuse. Josh Duggar admitted to molesting his sisters and another young girl and his parents tried to cover it up while preventing any kind of legal justice. His actions will have terrible repercussions for his victims for years to come.
The Duggars have also been accused of lying under oath, not only during the sex abuse investigation, but in a civil lawsuit involving an insurance claim.
Score: Kardashians 4, Duggars 0.
The Kardashian family hair is glorious. Thick, lush, shiny and lustrous, always on point regardless of whether it’s long or short, ink black or platinum blond. Every single member of that family has glorious, spectacular hair. They have hair that you show to your stylist and say, “I want this.” They have the hair that women dream of.
We will hand it to Jessa Duggar — her hair is always perfect. It’s a great length for her, the waves are soft and touchable and always placed just so, and the color is flattering to her skin tone. But if she ever wanted to change it up and her husband didn’t approve, that would be the end of those hopes and dreams. And the rest of the family tries, they really do, but they just can’t measure up.
Score: Kardashians 5, Duggars 0.
There you have it — the Kardashians are at least five times better than the Duggars.