Will Mike Huckabee’s Forgiveness of Joshua Duggar Extend to Other Youthful …

27 May 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

9 Reasons the Duggar Family Is BAD for Women.

Their television series, 19 Kids and Counting (the title changes with every new member of the Duggars that chugs off the production line), had, blissfully, never once entered my viewing stratosphere. The revelation that the eldest son of TLC’s Duggar clan, Josh Duggar, had molested a number of underage girls—including his sisters—has created an explosion of attention and outrage.

Several outlets have noted in the past week that the Duggar family has been outspoken in its support of Bill Gothard’s home-schooling program, which includes lessons on sexual assault that blame and shame victims for their “immodesty” and for contributing to their own abuse. (Gothard happens to be no stranger to problematic sexual behaviors; he was accused of sexually harassing his female employees last year.) Mother Jones posted a sample of the sorts of lessons the Duggar family advocates, originally cited by blogger Samantha Field, and the takeaways for children are horrifying: These lessons do not just teach girls and women to blame themselves. The fury has a sharp political edge to it, because the Duggars are important figures in the world of religious-right activism and Republican politics.

In a long and mostly eloquent blog post, as noted by Gawker, he acknowledges the “criminal aspect” of Josh’s behavior, because yes, his actions constitute a crime, but then says he’s not here to speak of that (though he does note Josh’s “shame” is legitimate). But then the boy next door sneaks into the shed and borrows your new bike; he stunt-rides it up and down the back alley. “On Christmas morning your parents lead you out to the shed to reveal the special gift they bought for you, and as they open the door and say, ‘Surprise!’ they’re just as surprised as you are. Duggar admitted to molesting five girls—some of them reportedly his sisters—and while the family claims to have addressed the situation, a timeline constructed by Gawker suggests he did not get counseling while managing to dodge any prosecution. Imagine an ultra Conservative, way cheesier and infinitely more annoying version of the Kardashians; a family so ludicrously pure and pious in its self-acclaimed ethos they make the Osmonds look like gangsters. Jeb Bush, Bobby Jindal, Rick Perry, Scott Walker, Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum, Ted Cruz: Posing for a picture with this guy is apparently a requirement to run in a Republican primary.

Josh Duggar, 27, the couple’s son, issued an apology last Thursday, acknowledging “wrongdoing,” but did not directly address allegations reported by In Touch magazine and other websites. “Twelve years ago, as a young teenager, I acted inexcusably for which I am extremely sorry and deeply regret. The family’s fame guarantees this story will stay in the public memory for awhile, but it’s far from the first sex abuse scandal in the tight-knit world of far-right fundamentalism. But my favorite is that skirts above the knee are banned in the household because Michelle believes they don’t just reveal thighs, they reveal ‘nakedness and shame’ and ‘defraud’ men by encouraging ‘lustful thoughts’. As I wrote last year for Slate, Doug Phillips of the far-right group Vision Forum was forced to step down after admitting to “a lengthy, inappropriate relationship with a woman.” The woman in question, Lourdes Torres-Manteufel, claims it was more than “inappropriate,” noting that they met when she was 15 and that he “methodically groomed” by moving her into the house as a nanny and becoming “the pastor of her church, her boss, her landlord, and the controller of all aspects of her life” before pushing for sex. Maybe they didn’t do it in a way that pleases everyone, but they acted decisively to confront the sin, to call a penitent son back from his errors, and to seek to aid the hurting victims …

The Quiverfull movement — to which the Duggars not only subscribe, but also support mightily on their now-shelved reality TV series — promotes exactly the sort of retrograde, misogynist ideas that allow sexual violence to flourish. In their efforts to salvage the wreckage that these transgressions brought, and bring healing to all involved, Jim Bob and Michelle are to be commended. Duggar has this much access in part because he was the executive director, at the precocious age of 27, of the Family Research Council’s FRC Action, a Christian-right lobbying group that fights against gay rights, reproductive rights, and even the Violence Against Women Act, calling it a “slush fund.” The FRC is a big deal in Christian-right circles, and therefore it’s a big deal with Republicans.

Gawker has a handy guide to some of the movement’s basic principles, which taken together create a perfect storm for rape and sexual assault to occur, and then for the burden to fall squarely on female victims’ (modestly covered) shoulders. It looks worse than something you would have bought at a garage sale. “I’m sure you would still be grateful for the bike, and you would have fun riding it, but it won’t be in the condition your parents had hoped and dreamed it would be when you received it. Though his writing is heavy on the Biblical notions of sin and Savior, it’s worth noting that, unlike literature likely utilized by the Duggars in the homeschooling framework their children study within, Seewald does present a kinder, respectful tone when speaking of the victims of sexual abuse: Finally, a word to the millions of muted victims of sexual abuse all over the world. Can you imagine what her body has been through? “Anyone can fix him lunch,” Michelle Duggar told Today, “but only one person can meet that physical need of love that he has, and you always need to be available when he calls.” That explains the 19 kids then… Also, there’s a word for sex that you don’t really want and it begins with “R.” Everything about this is incredibly sexist. Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Cruz, Jindal, Perry, Bush—the Values Voters Summit, FRC’s big annual shindig, is a veritable murderer’s row of Republican politician seeking religious-right votes.

Via Gawker: On the surface, Quiverfull follows your typical radical evangelical principles—every word of the Bible is taken literally, traditional gender roles and “family values” are emphasized, and the secular world is alternately scorned and feared. This corroborates a comment by a person going by the name of Alice on a blog post in 2007, which stated “Oprah was informed that Josh, the oldest son, had been molesting his sisters. Gothard was the leader of Institute in Basic Life Principles, an organization that promotes the “quiverfull” philosophy—particularly its emphasis on forsaking contraception and having as many children as possible. Jill Duggar saying “We couldn’t hold hands before we got engaged because men can get aroused by that.” Jim Bob Duggar saying “I’m sure Jill’s looking forward to the wedding ceremony and all that, and I’m sure Derrick’s looking forward to after the wedding.” Urgh. Josh, now a 27-year-old married father of three, repeatedly molested at least five underage girls while he himself was still a 14 and 15-year-old minor.

Oprah turned them over to the Arkansas State Police Child Protection Agency and the Washington County Child Protection Agency.” Springdale, Arkansas police spokesman Scott Lewis told reporters that Judge Stacey Zimmerman, the Juvenile Judge of Madison and Washington county, ordered the destruction of the report according to ReverbPress. “The judge ordered us yesterday to expunge that record. So we now have a whole assortment of adults, including two parents, churchmen and a state trooper, who knew of sustained sexual abuse but never felt it necessary to report it to the police. The wife is forever under the authority of her husband, and a daughter is completely subservient to her father until the day he finds a suitable husband to take up the role. As far as the Springdale Police Department is concerned this report doesn’t exist,” Lewis said. “Josh’s actions when he was an underage teen are as he described them himself, ‘inexcusable,’ but that doesn’t mean ‘unforgivable,'” Huckabee said on his Facebook page. Despite this bombshell lurking in the background, the Duggars, unbelievably, decided to chase the money from their supposedly wholesome family image by launching their own TV show in 2004 starting with four specials.

Only then, after Josh had been seen on television for a year, did someone anonymously alert Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Studios that he was a sexual abuser – shortly before the Duggars were due to be interviewed. Women aren’t supposed to work outside the home, and if the father can’t find anyone for his daughter to court and marry, they have to live at home to take care of the other children. (Sorry, Jana Duggar.) College?

Even before the Duggar revelations, the head of Patrick Henry College, itself an extreme religious-right organization, was distancing himself from the Christian patriarchy movement. But under Arkansas law, child sex abuse offences of the type he committed must be reported within three years, and that statute of limitations had elapsed by the time the police got involved. But hearing this story now, knowing that Duggar son Josh has apologized amid allegations that he molested several young girls as a minor, is especially sickening. “Another story Jim Bob shares starts with a disgusting image: ‘What if we were at a meeting with about one hundred other people and the speaker asked that a large cup be passed around and that everyone spit in the cup? Incredibly, Josh Duggar’s vile secret remained just that from the public for nearly another decade until InTouch magazine finally revealed it last week.

Now, I’m used to shameless hypocrisy from ultra-right Conservatives, particularly those who love to preach to the rest of this about what perfect little goody-goodys they are. A family that knows one of their own members is a repeated sexual predator who preyed on girls in his home, yet allows him to co-star in a TV show extolling the sanctimonious virtues of family morality. ‘I don’t believe citizens would want males with past child predator convictions that claim they are female to have a legal right to enter private areas reserved for women and girls,’ she raged. In addition to the likelihood that followers, especially women, are unable to report sexual violence, there’s almost an equally high chance that they’re bereft of the language for describing it. Following the InTouch expose of Josh Duggar, Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee popped up to add his contribution to the debate that instantly raged across America.

And so Josh Duggar, his wife and his parents have portrayed allegations of sexual assault within their own family as “mistakes.” He has “taken responsibility” for having “acted inexcusably” without taking the blame. Bart Hester is demanding the firing of the police chief who leaked this information to the press. (Hester last made national headlines by trying to argue that it’s somehow not discrimination for businesses to refuse service to gay people.) It would seem politically expedient just to cut the Duggars loose and, if possible, pretend never to have met them, but such is the love that the Duggars inspire in the Christian right that diehards are still out there going to bat for them. The Duggars built their brand on a slavish dedication to ideals of modesty and purity, keeping their children away from Unwholesome Influences, even to the point of shouting “Nike!” when the family was out for a walk in the presence of a woman who was immodestly attired, in order to get them to stare at their shoes.

Huckabee huffed and puffed his way around the airwaves like a fulminating fossil, telling anyone who would listen – and flog his book in the process – what a terrible example Bey is to young people, and how personally disgusted he was by the sexual content of her songs. Beyond that, though, there is the entire culture undergirding rape culture and victim-blaming, and the outcome is shaping up exactly as one would expect. As caught by People magazine, however, Ben Seewald himself had less kind words for parents “who yield to their rebellious children in compromise” in an Instagram post he shared on Mother’s Day. While most Christian conservatives reject the Quiverfull lifestyle for themselves, the Duggars’ extremism elicited admiration and maybe a little envy among the ranks. He and his family dealt with it and were honest and open about with the victims and the authorities…’ Taken to its natural, logical conclusion, this presumably means Huckabee would, if he were elected President, instantly release all teenage sex felons?

Just as urban liberals compete to see who can eat the most organic food and libertarian types race to see who can have the most polluting truck, Christian conservatives compete to see who can deny women’s autonomy the hardest. But isn’t it quite extraordinary that someone could actually attack Beyonce for her sexual morality, then a few months later stand up and defend a sex predator who escaped justice?

The Duggars’ show has now been taken off air while TLC, the network which airs it, considers what to do in light of these shocking revelations about one of its biggest stars. It’s time this repulsively hypocritical family was sent packing permanently from the airwaves and their equally hypocritical supporter Mike Huckabee dispatched with them. Where you are no longer as good as anybody else?” A teacher had likened women to chewed pieces of gum, and the image stuck with her. “I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m that chewed up piece of gum, nobody re-chews a piece of gum.

When all sexuality is a sin, when even holding hands is off limits, there isn’t a clear line between permissible, healthy forms of exploration and acts that are impermissible to anyone, not just the particularly devout. This gospel of shame and purity has the potential to be incredibly harmful because it does away with important lines. (Studies not only suggest that abstinence-only approaches to sex education do nothing to decrease the incidence of sexual behaviors, but also that they can make them riskier and that they deprive kids of the vocabulary they need to discuss when bad things happen.) Patheos blogger Libby Anne writes, “Handling child molestation as ‘sin’ rather than addressing the psychology behind it is a serious problem. Failing to do so places other children at risk.” (The whole post is worth a read.) Kay Steiger at ThinkProgress also put it well: When you treat this as a sin instead of a crime, you let everyone down. “Such a message can leave children confused about what is actually harmful behavior and what is merely something of which his or her religion does not approve. There is also evidence that using accurate medical terms to educate children in an age-appropriate way can be effective at allowing children to report abuse when it happens to them.” The account of what happened and how it was handled — failing to report the incidents promptly to authorities?

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