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.”

Dear “One pissed off mother”

***Warning: Extreme Amounts of Snark Ahead!***

How are you?  I just saw the sweet little letter you wrote to “lady living at this address,” and, as a person on the autism spectrum, I feel I and the autistic community owes you an apology.

I’m sure you didn’t think your letter would end up making the Huffington Post, but it did.  Now, a incredibly large audience is aware of your feelings about an autistic neighbor of yours.  Now, I know it must be awful that a woman had the audacity to not only give birth to a cognitive disabled child, but then had to nerve to live in a house which happened to be in your neighborhood?  Where does she get off?  And then she maliciously allows her child to go outside.  Call the National Guard!  I can only imagine the pain and anguish you must feel when you are at the park with your children, and this mother and child show up, and the child has the nerve to be openly autistic, “scaring” your “normal” children.  And where does this child get off making weird noises in a residential neighborhood?  I find it hard to believe that you didn’t suggest the mother get the child a muzzle!  At least that would somewhat drown out the sound!  I mean, how dare he?  How insensitive can this child be, making noise in a residential area and all?  And how insensitive is this mother by allowing the child to make these noises?  Something must be done!

***end snark***

OK, now I’m being serious.  I was going to be snarky with the rest of this woman’s letter as well, but it gets so horrid that I am not mentally able to do it.  Instead, here’s is an actual letter to this woman:

Dear “One pissed off mother,”

Where the fuck do you get off writing a letter like that?  What on Earth made you think it’s acceptable to antagonize a woman and her child just because the child is disabled?  The child you speak about is a person, despite your belief that he is a “wild animal.”  Along with being a person, this child has rights, such as being able to live in a residential neighborhood.  This child also has the right to make any noise he chooses (or doesn’t choose).  Although you write that his noises “scare the hell out of your normal children,” I can’t attest to how much they actually do.  Perhaps they scare you more than they scare your children.  Or, perhaps, the noises just make you uncomfortable.  Additionally, I have to note your use of the word “normal” within that sentence.  You use the term “normal” to posit your children as, somehow, superior to hers, thereby implicitly saying they have more rights than her child.  You make out being normal as something to be revered when it’s not.  At the same time, you imply that people who don’t fit within your standard of “normal” are less worthy, not only of rights, but of existing.

And, who are you to determine the entire outcome of this child’s life?  What makes you so certain that he’ll never marry, have a job, and spend the rest of his life being a “hindrance to everyone”?  Based on your comment about donating “whatever non-retarded body parts” he has “to science”, it is clear that you have little to no knowledge of anatomy and physiology, not to mention psychology, neuroscience, biology, and probably anything else related to science.  In short, you having nothing to offer this child or his mother in the realm of scientific advise, and you have no business mentioning it in the first place.

Then, immediately after you call her child worthless for a second time, you have the audacity of accusing her of doing something negative to you?  Do you have no self-awareness at all?  You’re acting like she is committing a crime by simply raising her child.  As I have said before, her child has the right to live and has the right to be in public.  This mother probably takes her child to the park for the same reasons you take your child to the park, so your vile malice and intolerance should have no place in your thoughts about her actions.  Her taking her child to the park is not “special treatment” if that is what you are insinuating (although you don’t make clear what “special treatment” means at any point in this letter).

Finally, telling her to euthanize her child brings any reader of this letter to the awful, irrefutable conclusion about the type of person you are.  You are a vile human being with no shred of decency within yourself.  I find it ironic that many people believe that people like me are incapable of empathy, when you, a presumably neurotypical person, demonstrate such an incredible lack of compassion and understanding that I cannot even comprehend.  If anybody deserves to be cut off from society in the way you suggest this mother and child should be, it’s you.  Writing a letter like the one you did shows, beyond a reasonable doubt, that you have no business interacting with the public in any fashion.  If I thought you were capable, I would tell you that you need to look long and hard at your actions and try to find a way to improve in the future, but I don’t think you’re able to do that.  You are someone who will probably live out their days holding on to your vile and disgusting attitudes along with your false sense of superiority.  I realize none of what I said will probably get though to you, but at least it is being said.  I’m glad your letter reached the Huffington Post, and I will revel in whatever isolation and ridicule it will cause you for the rest of your life.

Sincerely,

Towanda