The Most Dangerous Family in America

Duggar photo

(Because picking the Kardashians would have been too easy)

 This is, as all of my blogs are, an opinion piece. More factual information can be found elsewhere on the internet. Thank you.

 Ae Padilla

Right off the bat, I have to say that I wrote part of this blog give or take a month ago – and decided to revise and publish it after the Pandora’s box was opened on the Duggar family yesterday, in particular on Joshua Duggar, the first born son of the 19 Kids and Counting family. This is a family that has a show on TLC documenting the daily struggles of their lives (for those of you who might not watch trash reality TV on a normal basis).

To start with I’m not going to deny I watch 19 Kids and Counting. Because I do. I am not an addict by any means, but I do know when their show is on, and if for some reason I am flipping through channels on a Tuesday night, as I often do more than I would like to admit, and I come across the hour long segment — I will keep it there and have a nice good amusing laugh which turns too quickly into genuine anger that these people exist.

These are the people who define the term “love to hate.” Or at least they are to me. More often than not however, there are those out there who truly do love the Duggars and think they embody themselves as the perfect Christian family fit with conservative ideals and genuine morals. They believe that the family of 21 are a great example of what people should strive to be.

I argue that they are the most shockingly concerning family of the moment. And their influence on impressionable America has long-lasting consequences.

For the next few paragraphs I will continue to dive into why the Duggars, all of them from John David to Josie, knock on the door of a very long list of unforgivable offenses. With Jim Bob and Michelle (these are the parents of all 19 children for those who do not know) as the puppet masters, the family as a whole devalues education while being a blind participant of the rape culture. They present their family as impeccably compassionate and forgiving disciples while secretly being an extremely judgmental breed of morons. And of course, they do this all in the name of God.

To understand how the Duggars have such a huge influence on a sector of the United States you have to understand that at their very core they consider themselves righteous individuals. At their very core they protect themselves from anyone who might tarnish the image they have of the world. They shield themselves, so to speak, from any corruption to their minds. And a small but valuable step to keeping that peace is homeschooling, which the family has been involved in since the first kids were old enough to attend school.

Now I have my own issues with home-schooling, but I recognize that if done properly can be just as rewarding and meticulous as “normal school.” None the less, proper exposure to children of different backgrounds, hell more children at all, is never a bad thing. The social elements go hand in hand with the idea that sometimes, most times, the education homeschooled children receive is hardly close to what teenagers across the country are able to learn. The Duggars fall into this while taking this one step further because the Duggar children are all being taught by the people who are supposed to be learning. In an interview with Michelle Duggar, Michelle openly states that she is “all for older kids tutoring younger kids.” But while she says this statement to encourage others to homeschool their children, as well as a reiteration that all her children are helpful loving siblings who care about their younger siblings education, what she is really saying is “I need them to help me because there is no way I could teach 15 kids or so at once.” Which is nothing to be ashamed of, of course until she starts letting older children – ones without any teaching training or a GED themselves actually teach other kids. Other than the basics of math, science, social studies, English, and music lessons are we really going to believe for one second that anyone in that house is capable of teaching Calculus while also being able to assign a novel and read a book report on it? Are we actually supposed to believe that Michelle teaches evolution alongside Creationism? Are we for one second supposed to believe that Michelle encourages her sons and more importantly her daughters to expand on their education after a high school equivalency test? Of course not. But you can believe Michelle wants us to. In a world of almost minimal education completely approved by Jim Bob and Michelle how is anyone supposed to expand their knowledge? They’re not, and that’s the point.

College may not be for everyone, but in the world of the Duggars college is not for anyone. With more than six children beyond the typical age of attending college none have done so except Joseph, who attends a Christian college of his parent’s choice. While some like John David have gone onto have respectable blue collar jobs the women of the house are not able to have their own careers – because their careers involving getting married and having babies. But remember again that Jim and Michelle want you to believe that they are receiving an education. This is why Jill and Jana on their way to becoming a midwife stopped suddenly and conveniently, never actually receiving their license in the state of Arkansas because Jill got married and got pregnant and Jana was set to be a professional babysitter for, what I can only assume, is the rest of her life.

Now let me say that there is nothing wrong with being a stay at home mom, if this is the choosing of the individual and what they want to do. The toughest job in the world should never be looked at lightly. But let’s say one of them decided that they want to take a political science class, dare I say, an acting class at a state college or local college? Would they really be allowed? Would they feel as if that is their right?

Jinger Duggar alluded to it, and her mother shot her down faster than if she claimed she wanted to wear a tank top on a hot summer day. When Jinger (who frequently takes photos of her family) stated that she wanted to possibly move to a city one day and pursue photography, Michelle went on the record to state that Jinger moving out of the house alone, (because you can only move out when you get married) was not really plausible but also not even what she meant. She chose to speak for Jinger by saying that Jinger’s big town ideas meant somewhere with a WalMart just a few miles from their rural Arkansas home. Not New York or Los Angeles or Little Rock. Jinger could never think for herself or want a career for herself in the eyes of her parents.

But their life lessons do not just come from books, or rather lack thereof. Oh no, their biggest lessons (in particular for the girls) flourish from their mom and dad about modest and purity, loaded words which I will dive into later now that Josh Duggar’s allegations have been made public.

Once again, for those who do not know this conservative family, the Duggars are huge promoters of dressing modestly. As the years have gone by the attire has become more fashionable but the rules have never been altered. Trading in their pilgrim almost Amish attire for long maxi dresses still means that the Duggar girls have to cover a solid amount of their skin. They cannot show their shoulders, most of their legs, or wear anything “provocative” or “inappropriate”. Again, giving them the benefit of the doubt would be saying that all the girls decided individually that this was the path they wanted to take with their own wardrobe. That they felt that their body, which only they own, is better reserved for more clothes because modesty was more important to them and the image they wanted to give off. Again, their decision.

But it was not their decision, it was the decision they had to make because purity was engrained into them long before they could know what purity was. And purity in the Duggar household has a direct relation to attire.

Let’s look at a few quotes from Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar’s own blog. “We typically don’t go to the beach in the summertime. And in general we don’t do a lot of swimming events where swimming suits are worn because it’s just too hard for the guys to try to keep their eyes averted in those situations.” Additionally: “we felt like we needed to be covered from our neck to below our knees mainly because God talks about the thigh being uncovered, and how that’s nakedness and shame.”

As a result of this: In this terribly misguided world innocent acts of playing outside and swimming become instantly sexualized because of what you are or are not wearing. Women are the aggressors and at fault if a man is tempted because they did not cover up. It is not the man’s fault (if he is at fault at all for looking at a woman). It is the woman’s fault for being born with body parts that might distract a man and not covering them properly. The Duggars from birth, with an emphasis on the women, are taught that they are of less value if they do not abide by this code of conduct. With supporters of modesty comes support of the idea that boys are the ones to dress for, and that boys are the ones that girls think about more than what the girl feel makes themselves comfortable.

More so than just modesty though is the idea that they all have to appear entirely “feminine” at every opportunity. Not only are they fully clothed, but they are fully clothed in skirts and dresses. Short of Jinger and Jessa in two separate photos, the girls are never seen wearing pants. Seems just a bit weird doesn’t it? If modesty was in full Duggar throttle I would assume, as many people would with me, that pants would be the absolute go to. But it is not. And the reason it is not is because pants are not the epitome of “womanhood.” Dresses are. In one episode Joy Anna and many of the other girls along with Ben Seewald (Jessa’s husband) are working out at a gym…in skirts. Joy, looks to the camera, and says that she’s used to doing everything in a skirt now because of how long she has worn them. But does she really want to wear one? No. She feels as if she has to wear one because she has to fit into the script of what a woman is in that household.

And in the Duggar home a woman is someone who adheres to being a domestic figure for her husband and bowing down to the wishes of man, particularly that of her dad who she sees as “wanting the best for her.”

Now I have my own terrible opinions on Jim Bob as a dad and person but first and foremost wanting the best for his daughter and actually giving them the best are two different things.

Jim Bob’s idea of the best for her is, to be perfectly blunt, an arranged marriage to the man of his choice and pushing heavily the idea of being a virgin for that man, and a virginal figure as well.

His protection is not the protection of a normal father who is concerned about his daughter dating a man who might emotionally break her heart or physically take advantage of her. His concern is a whirlwind of sexual thoughts and a lack of trust on his daughter’s part. He simply does not trust his children. He, along with his wife, have enforced a strict rule about having a chaperone in the courtships of their daughters to suitable men, of once again their choice. And speaking of courtships, a man interested in his daughters must first seek permission from mom and dad Duggar before “courting” his daughters. This is not the same way that a man would ask a father for permission to marry his daughter as the Duggars would like America to believe. This is not an issue of respect. This is “you own your daughter’s body and I go to you before I go to her.” Ladies and Gentlemen that is the truth. And sadly the Duggar women know it, as Jill said herself that she was not so sure about Derrick (her now husband) but trusted in her Dad to make the right decision for her. The lesson here? A man always knows what is right, particularly a father, for his daughter.

Because as I move along here, the decisions of the parents are the ultimate decisions in this household. They are always the right decisions even when they are the wrong ones. And they are the wrong ones, because they get some, if not all of their parenting advice, from Bill Gothard.

Gothard, is an American Christian minister who speaks extensively about large families following the Lord, about dressing conservatively and acting conservatively, about maintaining a house for God with everything from appropriate music, to finances, and tips on women’s hair. If there was ever a person that the Duggars could blindly follow — this would be the man.

And they do. They very much are Gothard supporters in every way and follow many of his principles, the first being the strict implementation of corporeal punishment on children and “blanket training.”

Now we aren’t talking about using a small slap on a seven year old’s behind because the kid is being a pain, and that slap itself is merely a warning more than an outlet for true physical pain. Gothard uses corporeal punishment, as do the Duggars, to keep their children in order. They use it as a way to instill fear and control And they use an actual rod for this. All evidence comes from the Arkansas police report released yesterday which states that the children were frequently hit with this item when they were being uncooperative. I will struggle to comprehend what “uncooperative” means in this family but I venture it is something like “I want to see a PG movie.” Oh I forgot to mention, the Duggars don’t have TV, or internet, or access to any type of outside influence because that would corrupt the “values” Jim and Michelle instilled in them.

But sorry I got distracted.

The rod, but more importantly the blanket training, show the amount of dominance the parental figures have in this house. As early as six months old a baby is placed on a blanket. When they venture from that blanket as toddlers will often do they are smacked and told to stay on it. This encourages a child to respect their boundaries and realize authority.

The problem with this is that a child of that age in no way can consciously make an effort to rebel against their parents. They are simply exploring as any child would. But even from an early age they learn that testing any limits is frowned upon. And they also learn that crying or not accepting this punishment will induce more punishment.

As a result, the Gothard teaching states that happiness is the only true emotion that anyone should have. And that a failure to smile, which shows this happiness, tells the world that the parents are not doing a good job in raising their children or worse that their children don’t appreciate the efforts of their parents. This is an extremely important fact, or rather observation, because an ability to be able to show any emotion limits the basic rights of being a human being.

The Duggars are only allowed to be sad in rare situations. When Jubilee, the 20th child of Jim and Michelle tragically was miscarried the family was able to mourn their loss with tears and real emotions. But this was the only time they were allowed to not be happy because Michelle and Jim Bob were not happy and because understandably so, they had lost a sibling.

I challenge anyone else to find an episode where a child can be just having a bad day or be mad at another family member for stealing their toy, or be any emotion besides blind happiness. They are not happy all the time because they have a loving supportive family every second of the day, they are acting out happiness because that is their script they have to play into, to be the ideal conservative American family.

Are there smaller issues the Duggar’s have that make up so many larger ones? Absolutely.

There is the fact that Michelle condones marital rape, claiming that a women should always be able to give their husband what no other person can give them. Sex, at all times, even when the woman does not want to that day.

There is the fact, as I stated before, that they have no contact with the outside world, a contributing factor to their extremely narrow minded point of views they have on political and social issues. Leaving aside their pro-life views and even their views on gay marriage for that matter, their issues on Transgender people as simply being human are despicable enough. When Arkansas was deciding on a law for Transgender people to use the bathroom of their choice Michelle stated “I doubt that Fayetteville parents would stand for a law that would endanger their daughters or allow them to be traumatized by a man joining them in their private space.”

Are we supposed to believe that Michelle is actually caring about the welfare of other people as much as she cares about limiting the rights of others? I would say no, and I would say no even more now based on the allegations that came to light yesterday.

And this is a sensitive topic, so as a result I need to approach it with an equal amount of sensitivity.

Josh Duggar, yesterday, confessed to molesting five juveniles when he was fourteen. Allegedly, four of these victims are his sisters.

After In Touch broke this story, Josh who works for an organization in DC that specifies in limiting women and gay rights, quit his job and released a public statement. In this obligatorily vague statement he ends with “I understood that if I continued down this wrong road that I would end up ruining my life.”

And in one sentence he managed to capture the narrative of this family. He regarded himself as the true victim of his own sexual assaults, stating that this “incident” (yes this is what they called it) would ruin his life. He did not go into detail about his victims lives nor did he ever reference his assault as a crime. He spoke of it as merely a problem that a prayer to God helped fix. And his wife Anna, who was supposedly well aware of these assaults before marrying him, defended her husband by calling these crimes “a teenage mistake.”

I’m sorry Anna but a teenage mistake is drinking too much at a party, coming in late after curfew, maybe even stealing something petty from a clothing store. It is not, and I repeat, it is not sexually abusing your sisters and another girl in their sleep or in the closed laundry area of you house. Or while you are reading a book to a toddler.

I need to back up here a bit. When news of the police report broke, and with it the confirmation that Josh did indeed do this, I was shocked but not that shocked. Sad, but true, everything seemed to make a lot more sense in the most depressing but realistic of ways.

After I was able to overcome the fact that Josh was indeed a person who knew what he was doing at the age of fourteen, and not just exploring sexuality as a child with no motives, I had to ask why?

Did Josh do this because of how he grew up? Was he encouraged because of the environment? Was he a victim himself at one point? I think these all might be true. But right now it is important to note that Josh created victims, and this was perpetuated by the dangerous family he was living in.

I am not a psychologist. I do not know if Josh’s actions stemmed from himself and not from his environment and that because of this he will always have sexual feelings and desires for young girls. If this is the case, therapy and counseling will help, but still these urges will be there no matter what. (I try not to think about the fact that he has a young daughter though.)

But for the moment I urge people to let that idea of utter helplessness go and realize that this family allowed these assaults to happen and allowed them to be covered up. And that they very well might have happened because of a lack of education, an obsession with purity and modesty, and a system of values that are not valuable at all.

While I would like to protect the victims themselves by not stating their names nor alluding to who they are, it is very easy to know who they are unfortunately by the reports. Still I will not use their names, as I feel if at the very least they deserve that.

As stated before ,when Josh molested his sisters he was fourteen and very much aware of what he was doing. The simple act of seeking them out in the middle of the night should tell us this. He waited for when his siblings were the most vulnerable and when he had the most power. He waited for a time that could allow him the most freedom with cover ups.

Again, he was fourteen when he did this. He was just growing through puberty and becoming very much aware of urges he felt and very unaware of what to do with said urges. Never believe that I am condoning the act of assault, but is there an idea that he might not have been taught properly about masturbating, about human sexuality, about what is right and wrong on the most basic level because Jim Bob and Michelle would not have had this talk? It’s a possibility. But just a possibility.

The drastic more disturbing problem is that the assaults continued for more than a year in that household and that the parents knew about it, and did absolutely nothing about it. And why did they do nothing about it? Because they did not want to admit that their son could do something like this to his sisters comes to mind, that seems like a true reaction any parent would have in this very difficult situation.

But you know what most families eventually would end up doing? They would do anything to protect their daughters [children.]

Only when others got involved did this happen with the Duggars though. Up until that time the girls, I am sure, were monitored and told to forgive their brother, their assaulter. And they were told to continue living under the same roof with him. And they did live with him, for almost give or take two more years while he assaulted more people. This was a 16 year old who definitely knew what he was doing was wrong. This was not a 6 year old “playing doctor” with another 6 year old. This was a 16 year old knowingly touching the genitals of his 5 year old sister. This was/is a predator.

And I can almost guarantee that I am one hundred percent right about what I am about to say. The Duggars built an atmosphere where what Josh did was the woman’s fault, even if they did not explicitly say that themselves.

They built this atmosphere with the culture implication that men will always be tempted by women and that pureness is the only good thing women can give men. They built this culture when they did not turn in their son to authorities or to a legitimate counselor (not just a religious one who gave him “a stern talk.”) They built this culture when they focused more on Josh than they ever focused on their daughters, when they brushed their daughter’s feelings under the rug, and as a result gave them tangible mental issues to deal with the rest of their lives.

They left Josh to take care of younger children even after being fully aware of his record. They told the world that he was better because he prayed, as though a mental illness of any kind can be prayed away. But remember this is the family that thinks being gay can be prayed away. So at least there is a little consistency there.

But you want to know where this is not consistency? The idea that God will accept molesters in heaven but not people who might like the same sex. This is not a blog about the rights and political beliefs of the Duggars, that could be another blog, but this does show their extreme hypocrisy.

I worry, personally, for the victims in this case. I worry because they have grown up in a house where they are not allowed to have feelings, they are not allowed to dislike their brother, and they are not allowed to have their opinions on what happened to them. Their escape, whether it to be through marriage, through fake personalities, or through anything else could very well be their coping mechanisms for what they were put through as children.

And I allow myself to worry about Josh too, because most of the times perpetrators of this sort are not born they are made, which means that he himself could have been abused or seen abuse as something that is ok, even expected. In a household and a culture like the Gothard culture (who actually was charged for 34 molestation accusations himself) he was exposed to a hypersexual atmosphere of sexual acts being glorified but at the same time dismissed. An open temptation he was never allowed to question.

But still there is no excuse. He abused his sisters, and he was able to do so and get away with it because of the people who surrounded his life and who felt the need to defend him and silence this because then there would be a backlash to their “values” they have coveted for so long.

And there should be a backlash. There should be a huge backlash. As a Christian, I feel as if they are a slap in the face to Christianity. As a feminist, a proponent of equal male and female rights, they are a slap in the face to feminism. I’ll just go ahead and say they are slap in the face to all people who claim themselves to be good families with wholesome values.

The aftermath of this sex crime confirmation, not scandal, will be telling of how America is able to deal with their “favorite family.” My hope? An immediate cancellation of the show. Don’t count on TLC doing that as quickly as you would expect with Honey Boo Boo or someone else. They are making more money off these people than they have with anyone else. And while I wish for the cameras to give the younger children the protection they do not get but need, the ending of the show would be the confirmation that we a society do not condone these actions. I would like CPS to get involved immediately. Although the statute of limitation has passed, an investigation is still very much needed, and as I said previously the protection of the small children right now in that house is an issue. Therapists and real counselors are needed for these girls. It might have been twelve years but they still have scars. And Michelle and Jim Bob need to take responsibility. And of course, Josh.

The most disgusting moment of a recent Duggar special, Digging in with the Duggars, is when Michelle stated that a woman must not tempt a man when he cannot revel in the desires of the woman who is tempting him. She stated this in a room with her daughters and her son, the son who molested his sisters. She said this in a room with other family members, sisters and brothers alike, who probably grapple with guilt for not being able to help their siblings back then or now. How could any person, knowing what she knows, in good conscious say this? It’s easy. She and Jim Bob are not good people. No matter how many food drives they do for the poor.

The most ridiculous moment however of this past day (I am sure more will come out after I post this blog) is when Michelle addressed the abuse by saying they are not the perfect family. But did they not live their lives for the camera basically claiming that they were? That they were the perfect Christian family? That their laundry might take a long time to do and they might be late to a lot of functions but at the end of the day America would be a little better if everyone was like them?

Sure they didn’t say it but you know they were thinking it. And they did it knowing this huge secret for almost eight years. They were playing the world before and they will continue to try to play us after this. They will brand their children with J names, elevate their sons and dismiss their daughters, and ultimately ruin them all as a result.

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