Friday, May 29, 2015

Those Fucking Duggars

So, a member of America's Freakiest Family was a child molester when he was a child himself (and may still be for all we know). Color me unsurprised. Since I read about this over a year ago. (The current furor is prompted by In Touch magazine obtaining legal records proving the story.) Plus, they've always been pretty fucking creepy.

Which makes sense since they belong to the Quiverfull movement, which aims to ensure that conservative Christians win the culture wars by outnumbering the rest of us via giant families. No, really. The name refers to a quiver full of arrows - arrows being children in this case. They like their women subservient and pregnant as often as God allows. Even when it's a health risk to the mother, or the marriage has already produced several children with special health needs. 

They also don't believe in going into debt, so many Quiverfull families live in overcrowded conditions. That gorgeous house The Duggars live in? They were building it themselves (literally - home school field trips were to construction sites so the older ones could learn how to build a house), debt-free, when TLC came along and did a special on completing the house - with professional assistance. Without TLC, the Duggars would still be living in a 2 bedroom apartment. They were clearly in over their heads with that one.

How do I know so much about the Duggars? Because they're a total freak show and I could not look away. I read about them and their religion as much as I could, because what the hell was wrong with these people?! You see pictures of them now and see a very large family. Back when they first sullied our televisions, they dressed like Mormon fundamentalists. 

Actually, that's completely unfair to Mormon fundamentalists. The Duggars dressed in a style best described as Prairie Hideous. Their (shared) dresses all featured giant white bibs or collars, so they could, "draw attention to their faces" and away from their sinful, sinful bodies. Of course, all those dresses drew attention to was themselves. (Pictures here.)

I watched, along with a lot of my raging liberal friends, because TLC was/is a modern freak show. When we first met the Duggars, TLC was all about extremely large families, conjoined twins (and their separation surgeries, allowing us to gawk at their anatomy) and dwarfism. Instead of gaping at people in person in a carnival tent, TLC let us gape at them through the TV. And back then, the Duggars' clothes and hair alone were enough to qualify them for the freak show circuit. They started dressing more mainstream to protect the ratings of the show, which is really the only way to support that many kids.

I finally couldn't watch anymore when I saw how much the daughters were drinking the kool-aid. One of the older daughters was asked by a producer how she felt about not be allowed to kiss boys. (They can't even hold hands without parental permission.) She pretended not to know what he was talking about and insisted that she'd kissed her brothers - and kissed one of the little ones on the cheek to prove her point. She was trying to be sarcastic, but failed. And knowing what we know now...ugh.

By that point, I'd already been worrying about how many fans they had. Millions of people were watching them sincerely instead of hate watching them. It made me queasy to see how many people agreed with their extremely retrograde world view.

This past week, I've seen liberals drowning in their own smugness on social media. Yes, their religion protects molesters and blames the victim. It has such a fucked up view of sex that the little ones are forbidden from dancing because moving their body in an enjoyable way could lead to masturbation. So yeah, I can even go along with the argument that their religion encourages sex crimes through extreme repression and misogyny. 

But - and here is where I've forced to defend the goddamn Duggars, and don't think for a minute I feel good about it - as far as we know, not all Quiverfull men are child molesters. We haven't heard anything about any other molesting Duggar brothers, and I'm sure that there is more investigative journalism going in that area right now than in corporate corruption and other worthier causes. So I'm going to assume that there's a good chance that at least once Duggar son over the age of 14 has gotten that far without molesting his sisters. #NotAllQuiverfullMen if you will. 

Now, I'm not saying this to be fair or because I like them - because I don't. I point out this fact because people love to point their finger at anyone who hurts children and declare how they'd never do that themselves. (When a local child was killed a couple of years ago, all the quotes in news stories were either expressing sympathy for the parents, or horror at the killer (how could he do that?). I didn't hear anyone sympathizing with the poor little boy, who must've been so scared and now doesn't get to grow up because he asked the wrong person for directions.) Child abusers and molesters are "other".

Except they're not. Children are far more likely to be molested by a relative or friend of the family than by a stranger. (In case you don't feel like clicking, 90% - that's ninety fucking percent - of reported sexual abuse is done by someone the kid knows.) America has been watching several sexual abuse survivors every week on 19 Kids and Counting, and had no idea. Abuse victims are so good at pretending everything's fine that no one had a clue until they finally get the courage to tell someone. And too often that someone doesn't believe them because their abuser seems so normal. So not "other".

And that's why I'm (sort of, not really) defending the Duggars. Because if we're going to protect our children, and support survivors of abuse, then we need to stop thinking that only freaks abuse. That it's only creepy uncles and weird strangers we have to worry about. Yes, we still need to teach kids about stranger danger, but anyone can be a physical or sexual abuser. You can't assume that you know what everyone does behind closed doors.

I'm not saying that we should teach kids to be afraid of everyone they know, or that we can't trust anyone. I'm saying that we need to get over our false assumptions so we can protect kids from all abusers instead of just the ones that fit the profile.

So no, I won't be rejoicing over the Duggars' downfall, no matter how much I've wanted to wipe those smiles off of their smug faces. Because the problem is so much bigger than them.


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