When I found out that last night’s 19 Kids and Counting had the Duggars taking fencing lessons, I immediately assumed that Jessa and Jinger would be the first kids clamoring to put on masks and poke their siblings with swords. (Excuse me, foils.) Jinger is a fan favorite and the Duggar that everyone thinks will actually escape the compound, but this season has also established Jessa as another rebel. Are we really supposed to believe that these girls are not fans of fencing?
First, there’s an extended gag where Jim Bob and Michelle giggle over how their poor kids think “fencing” means they’re being sent outside to mend a fence. Either these kids are brainwashed into being good little workers, or they’ve never actually heard of the sport. But it was still weird that not even the older girls knew what it was:
Jessa: “My dad told me, I was thinking, actually putting in fences or something.”
Jessa: “And he was like, ‘Fencing, it’s swordfighting or something.’ I guess we’ll find out.”
But when they got to the fencing studio and started the (admittedly cute) process of stretching and warming up, the older girls all retreated to a corner, whispering and giggling. Even when Jim Bob got his ass whooped by Justin, Jessa just gave a thumbs-up from the sidelines. In the confessional, the cameraman asked Michelle why the older girls weren’t into it:
Michelle: ”Because they’re older girls, that pretty well answers it. It’s all about not messing up your hair and it would be embarrassing. They’re at that age, everything is embarrassing. So they prefer to be spectators over participants.”
Jessa and Jinger have been doing their confessionals together lately, which is good because it breeds solidarity. But her answers were so on-point with Michelle that I wondered if she’d been coached.
Jinger: ”I am adventurous, I love trying new things. But when it came to fencing, it was just a little too unique for me, I guess.”
Even Grandma Duggar put on a helmet and faced off against Michelle, for crissakes! (And yes, it was amazing.) But the girls, who usually giggle and seem to be sharing inside jokes in the confessional, didn’t seem tickled by the fact that their grandma had gone after her daughter-in-law. Jinger was weirdly neutral about the whole thing:
Jinger: “Grandma loved it. She still talks about it. So I think that it’s a good experience, and you never know, there may be a couple kids who go back later and try it out.”
Where are these girls’ spirit, their adventurousness? Jessa and Jinger seem to be the only girls who don’t take the Duggar bullshit, who dream of escaping to the big city and finding older guys who’ll buy them coffee and not force them to pop out twenty babies. They openly wisecrack to the camera, and let’s not forget that Jinger is the one who had the most fun turkey hunting with Jim Bob! I refuse to believe that she could shoot that rifle like a pro, smack her gum, and rock a pair of pants, and that she doesn’t want to do basically the same thing with a foil and helmet. Seriously, it would’ve been the 2012 equivalent of The Parent Trap‘s fencing scene!
As someone on the Free Jinger boards pointed out, it seems that the girls are taught that it’s sinful to not appear perfect at all time. If you want to get all conspiracy theory like I am, the girls probably wanted to but had to pretend that they didn’t even like it. (Just like in Gretchen with those great white-gold hoops in Mean Girls.) Perhaps as a consolation prize, Jim the sound guy later helped Jinger pull together two pianos and play “Amazing Grace” on them. And wow, that was pretty fabulous.
Basically, this episode reconfirmed my love for Jessa and Jinger. Even when they’re being fed lines to sound like perfect little Duggars, we know they’re the black sheep. They don’t need foils to escape.