The Duggar Thing

It’s all over the news. As a teenager, Josh Duggar molested some kids, including some of his own sisters. While some out there may have a little seed of gratification, that “I told you there was something wrong with those people” justification, it’s really just bad all around.

The poor victims now have this blasted all over the news, knowing that the average reader is calculating in their head, “which sisters? How many of the five victims were his sisters? How old were they when it happened? Which girls were born at the time?”

What a horrible thing to go through.

I have a friend who referred to the stars of 19 Kids and Counting as “Baby Hoarders.” Not a bad description. Over the years, we’ve also speculated that Ma Duggar was addicted to pregnancy hormones. I have a friend who referred to them as “Grifters.” Also rather accurate in its way.

Cut flowers in silver Trader Joe's buckets
“Children are like flowers…”

My mother made one of the best observations, upon watching them build their house. The parents talked about how, rather than paying people to do the work, they paid people to teach the kids how to build the house, run the electrical wiring, lay and weld the plumbing pipes… There was an episode where the older kids were welding together some sort of metals while the younger ones sat feet away, staring, fascinated, without any sort of protective eye gear.

“When those kids end up with permanent vision damage, will they send them to an ophthalmologist, or just hire one to show the older kids how to perform eye surgery on the younger ones?”

But through all of this speculation and fascination, the theme always remained, “They really aren’t hurting anyone. If it makes them happy…”

I would say it myself, until they started their campaign to overturn an anti-discrimination law because they were worried that transgender individuals might molest their daughters if allowed to use the bathroom stall adjacent to them in a public restroom.

Now, it turns out that, like most people, those daughters were in greater danger in their very own home, from the trusted older brother who shared meals with them and acted as a “buddy.”

Really, though, their ideology does harm people. It is psychologically damaging to every woman who has ever felt she must live up to some Christian Ideal of “Forgiving” her attacker, while at the same time going through guilt and self-loathing for allowing herself to become “impure,” or somehow less than herself.

“Turn the other cheek.”

Why is it that the people who preach a victim mentality are often the ones who are victimizing others?

How did they harm anyone outside of their own family? They pushed others to follow in their example. They used fear and hatred, while under the cloak of “Biblical Principals” to create a world that encourages discrimination. By “shielding their children” from the world, they spread an insidious message that there is something wrong with anyone who does not think and act the same way they do.

I suppose you could say that every single person on the planet engages in this sort of behavior, and I am doing so now in condemning them. I had those thoughts, even when I had a sense that there was something awful about them, and so I would always add the tag at the end of my mockery: “Well, to each their own, as long as they aren’t hurting anyone else.”

Religious indoctrination is one of those slippery slopes, though… Often, people are harmed in ways they don’t realize for years. Being told by the deacon of your church that you can’t serve as an acolyte because you are the wrong gender gives you a message that you are somehow less worthy than the kid sitting next to you who has a penis. There is no “separate but equal.”

In a thousand ways, while my parents were good people who tried to teach me that I could become anything and anyone that I wanted to be, I was still given the message, through society, that I had to be kind, serving, gentle… That those qualities were “feminine.” Despite a resistance to sexism, it still seeped in. My career was put on hold, and ultimately tanked, to serve the needs of others. I was told it was a virtue to give of myself unto the last penny. I was taught to turn the other cheek.

I didn’t learn to stand up for myself. I allowed fear and anxiety to rule so many of my actions and interactions, though most people who knew me would never realize that.

So, these girls were taught that it was somehow their Christian Duty to put the needs of Others before Yourself (JOY = JESUS first, OTHERS next, and YOURSELF last.) They were taught forgiveness. How much of the forgiveness was real, and how much of it was because they felt it was their Christian duty to put the person who harmed them before themselves?

Michelle Duggar has another thing she likes to say. “To say that there are too many children is like saying there are too many flowers. Our world needs more joy.”

Isn’t that a lovely sentiment. Too bad her children are more like Flowers in the Attic. It sort of makes sense… the fictitious Doppleganger  Dollanganger kids were also kept away from the world and told they were unworthy, and that sex was wrong.

Today, another one of my friends posted an article about the psychological harm caused by the whole “Purity Movement.”  While kids should be allowed to be kids, perhaps there is a better way to rephrase the issue? Perhaps instead of teaching children that sex is wrong, we should be teaching them that they are in control of their own bodies and their own destinies, and that such acts are not to be taken lightly because they carry with them some risks and responsibilities.

As for Purity Balls? That stuff is just creepy.

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4 thoughts on “The Duggar Thing

  1. The Duggars thing has always kind of bothered me. I understand children are wonderful, but really. The whole thing just reminds me of the cults in the 60s and 70s, but the Duggars created all their followers. And the Purity Ball thing – why do the Dads have to pose with their daughters that way – those photos made me really uncomfortable. I can’t imagine posing for a photo with my Dad that way – too weird.

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  2. My thought was…So all these people knew about it why wasn’t that brought out in the show that is what smacks of duplicity to me. Hmmm still thinking on how I feel but if you put your family out there on display you might want to make sure all is ok with them. Very sad.

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  3. Organized religion has long held a vision of people using God to often mark things as “bad”. I was raised a Christian, but am not fully spiritual. I see God in and of the world and not as a judge, jury, and executioner. Setting yourself outside of the world and marking it as dirty and bad, I think, misses the mark of living full lives. Also correct is the idea of people often pointing out and marking down what they themselves are doing. To me, it doesn’t matter how many of the girls were sisters, how old they were, or other such things. What is important to me is what are they going through now and who is letting them know they are not dirty, not marked, and can still have a wonderful loving life? They need guidance here and I don’t know that the family is the best place for that to come from in this instance.
    Scott

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  4. I have to admit I don’t get the whole Duggar thing.I don’t watch reality shows or whatever cable channel theirs is on, so I hadn’t even heard of the Duggars until just recently. Nevertheless, I don’t get it. I have a bunch of questions about the Duggars and their show, and strangely all of them start with “Why…” Why do they exist? Why do they have a TV show? Why does anyone care? …

    It occurred to me that there are so many Duggars that one of them being a child molester might fall within the rate of child molestation within the general population. So, I went looking to find what that rate might be. The first place I landed had a characterization of child molesters which included this intriguing sentence: “Chronic child molesters prefer either their own gender or the opposite gender as sexual partners.” Wow, more questions. Like “Isn’t that true of everyone?” And, “Whoa, wait, you mean there are other choices?”

    I finally found a study that claims the rate of child molestation in the general population is between 1% and 5%. At the upper end of that range, that would be about 1.5 Duggars. So, having a child molester among them should not be entirely unexpected.

    The really sad thing about the story is what reporting the molestation did to the molested daughters. Outing the son didn’t do him any good, but it may have hurt the daughters more than it hurt him. It certainly generated more questions beginning with “Why…”

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