Josh Duggar Molestation Scandal: A Portrait of Gender Inequality Within Fundamentalist Sects of Christianity

In the past 24 hours, there has been a media firestorm around Josh Duggar and the allegations of him molesting five underage girls when he was a teenager surfacing.  Duggar has admitted to the allegations being true, saying that he “acted inexcusably” and that he apologizes for his actions.  There are some, like Mike Huckabee, who believe this story has been overblown and that people should forgive him and move on.  Well, I’m not going one who follows Huckabee’s advice anytime soon.

Duggar, Huckabee, and others like them will call Duggar’s actions “mistakes” from his past, but there’s no real way I can minimize his actions like that.  First, Duggar was around 14 years old when he performed these acts.  Next, Duggar performed these acts on five young girls; four of whom were his sisters.  Finally, these acts occurred over a course of many months.   These were not “mistakes”.  This was not just a boy being curious.  These were crimes and should be seen as such.

When Josh’s crimes first came to the attention of his parents, his parents, Jim Bob and Michelle, did not immediately alert the authorities, despite some of the survivors being their own daughters.  The authorities were not alerted until months later after Josh continued to violate these girls.  Even then, Josh was not given proper counseling.  Instead, Josh was sent to live with a family friend who was doing home remodeling.  Only after that were the authorities alerted; however, no formal charges were pressed.  Josh got to continue his life with no real repercussions until now.

It needs to be noted that some of the survivors were Josh’s sisters.  I don’t note this fact to highlight  the “ick factor” that comes along with molesting siblings; I make note of it because of how it exemplifies the differential treatment that men and women receive in sects of Christianity that many like the Duggars adhere to.  The Duggars are members of an independent Baptist sect which promotes couples having as many children as possible, sexual purity, homeschooling, and very strictly defined gender roles.  Women are expected to be meek, submissive, and subservient to men.  The expectation is that women become “helpmeets” to their husbands, remaining at home to care for the children while the husband has a career.  The Duggar family’s sect of Christianity also highly emphasizes remaining pure until marriage, to the extent of refraining from even kissing until marriage.  The children are taught that engaging in any sexual activity before marriage makes the individual like a piece of used gum, which loses its worth.  Women are also expected to wear skirts as a way of promoting modesty in dress and as a way to not defraud men with their bodies.  In essence, women are expected to make accommodations for the shortcomings of men when it come to them not being able to keep it in their pants.  So, it wouldn’t surprise me of the survivors of Josh’s assaults feel they are partially responsible for what happened to them or that they feel like a piece of used gum, forever having lost their original worth.  I can’t possibly say if they do or if they don’t, but it’s definitely a strong possibility.  The survivors have had to live with repercussions for what their assailant did to them.

There’s a lot about this story which makes me really angry.  The first being the amount of privileges Josh has gotten throughout his life just because he’s a man and because of the family he comes from.  As a man, he had a job as a used car salesman handed to him.  He was then handed a job as an Executive director of a large think tank just because of the family he comes from.  Normally, obtaining a job of that type of prominence requires an advanced degree and years of experience.  However, he had it handed to him when his only real work experience was working in a used car lot and his only education was a GED.   Josh was able to gain notoriety and power while his sisters, whom suffered under his hands, were forced to stay at home and care for their parent’s younger children.

The next thing that makes me angry about this whole situation is the incredible hypocrisy surrounding the Duggar family’s work in promoting discrimination towards LGBT people while essentially excusing Josh’s crimes.  Much of Josh Duggar’s work at the Family Research Council involved spreading lies about LGBT people, trying to deny them access to a marriage license, and painting them as threats to children and society at large.  His mother, Michelle Duggar, made a robocall against an anti-discrimination ordinance, where she painted trans women as child molesters.  All of this, and more, while the family knew about Josh’s crimes.

However, the thing that makes me most angry is how Josh’s parents knew about what was happening and did nothing about it for months.  They knowingly left their own daughters in harm’s way and did not do a thing to protect them.  They showed their daughters that they were less worthy of protection than their sons.  They showed their daughters that men were to be given rights and privileges they would not be given just due to being men. They were told that they would never be equal to a man.

I fear for the rest of the children in that house, especially the younger daughters.  This story has not only revealed that Josh has a history of molesting young girls, it has also shown that Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar are unfit parents who will put their daughters in harm’s way in order to protect their sons from any real repercussions for their actions. I’m glad Josh had to resign from his position at the Family Research council and I’m glad 19 Kids and Counting has been pulled.  This family is not, in any way, worthy of praise or accolades and I hope there is now an investigation of this family from Child Protective Services.

“If you won’t listen to reason, there’s always…Towanda.”

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