“I wish someone had ever, just once, told Anna [Duggar] she was capable of [saying, ‘I don’t deserve this’],” mother Jessica Kirkland fumed in a Facebook post that’s gone viral in the wake of Josh Duggar’s cheating confession. “As for my girls, I’ll raise them to think they breathe fire.” (Photo: Instagram/annaduggar)
Little did Georgia mother Jessica Kirkland imagine that she would ignite a movement when she penned an open letter about Anna Duggar on Facebook last week. But that’s exactly what the mom of two did with her Aug. 20 note imploring people “Let’s talk about Anna,” in the wake of the former 19 Kids and Counting reality star’s discovery that her husband, Josh, had cheated on her via the Ashley Madison website, mere months after news broke that he’d molested five young girls as a teenager.
Kirkland’s essay — vowing to raise her daughters, who are 6 and nearly 2, “to think they breathe fire,” unlike Anna, who is reportedly supporting her husband — has been shared more than 245,000 times since it was taken down on Wednesday afternoon. Not bad, considering she tells CNN that she “banged it out in two minutes” from her couch before going to bed.
“Anna Duggar was crippled by her parents by receiving no education, having no work experience (or life experience, for that matter) and then was shackled to this loser,” wrote the married Georgia Southern University graduate. “[She] was taught that her sole purpose in life, the most meaningful thing she could do, was to be chaste and proper, a devout wife, and a mother. … Anna Duggar followed the rules that were imposed on her from the get-go and this is what she got in reward — a husband who she found out, in the span of 6 months, not only molested his own sisters, but was unfaithful to her in the most humiliating way possible.”
The 27-year-old mother of four “lived up to the standard that men set for her of being chaste and Godly,” Kirkland continued. “And in return, the man who demanded this of her sought women who were the opposite. ‘Be this,’ they told her. She was. It wasn’t enough.” (Kirkland declined a request for comment because her husband, Tarry Jay Kirkland, tells Yahoo Parenting that “at this time, she has decided to focus on her life as a mom.”)
Imploring her Facebook friends, “We HAVE to teach our daughters that they are not beholden to men like this,” Kirkland maps out a blueprint for inspiring young women to avoid a fate like Anna’s. “Educate them,” she rallies. “Empower them. Give them the tools they need to survive, on their own if they must. Josh Duggar should be cowering in fear of Anna Duggar right now. … Please, instill your daughters with the resolve to make a man cower if he must. To say ‘I don’t deserve this, and my children don’t deserve this.’ I wish someone had ever, just once, told Anna she was capable of this. That she knew she is. As for my girls, I’ll raise them to think they breathe fire.”
It’s that last phrase, “breathe fire,” that has taken off like, well, wildfire, spawning a hashtag, #BreatheFire, an Internet meme, and an important conversation about how to empower women. Kirkland revealed that she’s been deluged with notes from daughters and mothers who’ve responded to her message. “I had a moment thinking, maybe I shouldn’t post it,” she admitted to 11Alive in Atlanta. “Being from Georgia, I have a lot of friends and family members who are devout Christians. … [But] I want girls to know their worth and accept nothing less.”
The mother offered another note on Facebook Monday, this one of gratitude. “THANK YOU to everyone who shared, everyone who liked, everyone who paused for even a moment to consider the message,” she wrote. “Thank you for this quantitative proof that we KNOW our girls matter.”
That, after all, was her ultimate goal in speaking out about Anna in the first place. Kirkland told CNN her motivation was “simply the idea that I could never have my daughters in that position, to where they felt powerless; that they have to be a certain way no matter what. [Writing the original post] was simply just saying, ‘This cannot happen to girls. It cannot be.’”