Inside the Duggars’ Dark World

99420909_c3a4c8419d_oIt’s the pictures that keep bothering me. I have tried to avoid the Duggars and their ever-growing family, but I have not been able to avoid the promotional pictures of the Duggars which show up in my world frequently. I suppose this is to be expected given that I am writing a dissertation on the rhetoric of virginity in the contemporary United States. Naturally, the Duggars and their seemingly impeccably pure children come up quite a bit.

Since the news of Josh Duggar’s teenage molestation of younger girls, including his sisters, was revealed early last week those smiling Duggar promo pictures have been haunting me. Now, all I see when I look at them are the victims of molestation being crammed into a family photo with their abuser and the parents that sheltered him while being forced to smile for the cameras.

Since the news broke there have been several insightful articles from many different corners of the web (see this article from Vox for a concise history of the Duggars and their rise to fame). Some pieces have been written by women who grew up in homes affiliated with Independent Fundamentalist Baptists (IFB) or the Advanced Training Institute (ATI), or the Christian purity movement more broadly explaining how and why sexual abuse flourishes in such environments.

Despite these articles and others there is something that remains to be said about the Duggars and how their family affects you. Well, the first thing to understand is that it does affect you—even if you don’t believe it does or don’t want it to. After that, though, there is a nuanced point about gender that we all need to keep in mind when we discuss the Duggars, Josh’s molestation of his sisters, the Quiverfull movement or the politically powerful fundamentalist subculture of purity in the United States today.

Let’s start with a popular misconception about purity culture. Many activists, scholars, and writers will tell you that within purity culture girls pledge their virginities to their fathers. (See here, here, and here for some examples.) Their fathers are then supposed to safeguard the daughters’ virginity until it can be passed off to a husband to whom it will belong. Yes, this is very creepy. However, it is also not quite true and this is one instance in which the details, though subtle, make a very big difference.

Here is the oath from the Generations of Light annual purity ball in Colorado Springs. This is the original purity ball, started by Pastor Randy Wilson in 1999. The oath given at the purity ball reads as follows, “I, (daughter’s name)’s father, choose before God to cover my daughter as her authority and protection in the area of purity. I will be pure in my own life as a man, husband and father. I will be a man of integrity and accountability as I lead, guide and pray over my daughter and my family as the high priest in my home. This covering will be used by God to influence generations to come.” A little further down on the same page is a note telling interested parties that, if the father is not available to come with a young woman then grandfathers, uncles, brothers or cousins are encouraged while “mothers are also invited.”

If it is not evident enough from the above text, Randy Wilson makes the purpose and intent of purity balls crystal clear in the Channel 4 documentary The Virgin Daughters when he states that the most beautiful moment of the purity ball is the moment when the fathers make the covenant of their daughters’ purity. Randy Wilson is not Josh Duggar. However, they do have close ideological ties. Both work (or in Josh Duggar’s case, recently worked) for the Family Research Council, a conservative Christian lobbying group that, among its other interests, heavily promotes abstinence-only sex education.

The articles linked to above have already pointed out that the Quiverfull movement, IFB and ATI have extremely rigid and repressive gender norms. However, that is only half the story. Indeed rigid gender norms tend to accompany fundamentalism of any type and are not restricted to the Duggars or fundamentalist Christianity. Here is the important difference: when liberal scholars talk about rigid and repressive gender norms, particularly for women, they make the basic assumption that women are people and that repressive gender norms, like other repressive social codes, circumscribe the actions of those people.

This is the mistake: According to the fundamentalist beliefs of the Quiverfull movement, the Generations of Light purity ball (and all the purity balls based on it) and the Family Research Council, Women. Are. Not. People.

Women are objects, controlled and exchanged by men to create and affirm the men’s identities. The Duggars, the Wilsons, IFB and ATI, to varying degrees, belong to the Christian Patriarchy Movement, which, as its name implies, seeks to reinstate God’s “rightful order” of patriarchy in Christian homes.

Return to that oath from the Generations of Light purity ball. It is all about the father’s power and not the daughter’s personhood, sexual or otherwise. In such a context the father’s protection of the daughter doesn’t come down to his love or respect for her as a person but to his need to prove himself as a worthy knight by his ability to protect a precious object. This is why it is not at all incongruous for Jim Bob Duggar, when running for political office, to state that men who commit incest should be killed. The context around such a seemingly ironic statement is a conversation about abortion wherein Jim Bob states that he does not believe in abortion even in cases of rape or incest. He argues that, in such cases, the person who committed the incest should be killed rather than the innocent fetus. There’s no room in this world view for the woman who was raped because she’s not a person to be considered. The two persons of note in this formulation are the man (and in this formulation it is always a man) and the unborn child that must be taken into consideration. The woman is a vessel. The best you can say for the woman in this framework is that the she is a vessel who has been used wrongly by a bad person, meaning a bad man.

At this point, you may be wondering how any of this applies to you. The Duggars and the Wilsons are, to different extents, involved in the Christian Patriarchy movement, but clearly, that’s a fringe movement that has little bearing on the rest of society, right?

I wish. As I mentioned earlier, Randy Wilson and Josh Duggar both work for the Family Research Council, a conservative Christian lobbying group. Among their other interests, FRC advocates and lobbies for abstinence-only educationHundreds of millions of federal tax dollars have been spent on getting abstinence-only education into public middle and high schools in the past decade. Most troubling is the fact that these abstinence-only programs, often produced by conservative religious organizations, perpetuate the ideals of Christian Patriarchy that women are not people, which robs young adults of the very idea of consent and, in so doing, perpetuates rape culture. Abstinence-only programs have compared women to dirty chocolate and used lollipops. It doesn’t matter whether or not the schools taught this particular part of the curriculum. What matters is that federal tax dollars went into purchasing that curriculum and placing it in our schools and have been doing so for over a decade—a generation of light, indeed.

If you want proof of how subtle and invasive the ideology of Christian Patriarchy is vis-a-vis the Duggars just look at the coverage of the scandal. Expressions of concern for the girls harmed by Josh Duggar are almost perfunctory in mainstream news (Fox News provides a particularly gruesome example) and barely existent in the blogs of ATI and IFB families. Instead, in meeting the Duggars on their own terms, most news outlets have focused on Josh and Jim Bob (and occasionally Michelle) as the notable actors in the story. The girls have all but disappeared. Except, of course, in those disturbing promo pictures that keeping popping up with every new twist and turn, most recently, the Duggar family’s agreement to be interviewed about the scandal.

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Photo courtesy of Flickr user Spiff licensed under Creative Commons 2.0

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Jaime Hough is a Ph.D. candidate in American Studies at Purdue University. Her dissertation, “Virgin Land: Young Women, Sexual Citizenship, and the Contemporary United States,” examines the social, medical and legal definitions of virginity during World War II and the War on Terror.

Comments

  1. Excellent article, thank you

    • WOW, thanks. As a psychologist who has worked extensively with abused children and as the author of 9 books, 3 on women, I’ am so grateful for your voice, thoroughness, and insights. I encourage you to read my latest book: The ‘girly thoughts’ 10 Day Detox, where I give the name ‘girly thoughts’ to how we have learned to internalize the negative societal judgments about us. It may be interesting for us to share blogs. My blog is on website: http://www.patriciaogorman.com. Maybe we can collaborate on a blog using my concept of ‘girly thoughts’ as a way of capturing what we are doing and how we can stop.

      I urge you to publish your dissertation…. I can speak to you about translating it ‘for the trade’ if you like. It is a fascinating and needed topic. Good luck!

    • Thank you for reading it!

    • Thank you for this informative, insightful article.

    • It has been clear through this ordeal that for the Duggar parents, one son is worth more than four daughters and a neighbor.

  2. I am a fundamentalist Christian woman, and I take offense with this article’s slippery-slope arguments. For example, just because we believe in personhood from conception does NOT mean the mother is “not a person to be considered.” It simply means that preserving one life is more important than easing another. I realize that our perspectives on the issue of abortion are contingent on our worldviews, and likely won’t reconcile until we agree on the latter (which is an entirely different and lengthy discussion). But in the meantime, please don’t claim that we’re waging war on women. Or that our gender norms repressive.
    Biblically, patriarchy has nothing to do with repression. It gives men headship, yes, but only with the solemn responsibility to show his wife and children nothing but love, respect and protection of their best interest. (Which makes sense of the purity balls you mentioned.) Perhaps some men choose to ignore that part about respect, but that doesn’t make it an inherently flawed design. What basket doesn’t have a few bad apples?
    Women ARE people in the biblical design of the family. We play an extremely important role and it’s incredibly gratifying and empowering.

    • Kwilson says:

      The average person hasn’t molested five children or covered up for someone who molested five children, or been an apologist for someone who molested five children, and / or someone who covered it up.

      The Duggars are setting an extremely low bar, and you appear to be sliding under it.

      Don’t know about your ‘basket’, but mine doesn’t contain any ‘apples’ who molested their siblings (or anyone, for that matter.)

      And women in the USA, are definitely people, with the Constitutionally protected right to allow, or to deny, the use of our bodily organs and systems to any OTHER person, born or unborn.
      Just like men.

      I for one, intend to make sure we retain it, whether you believe you would ever exercise it.

    • One life is more important than the other…. so the women who went through physical and psychological trauma now has to bear the child of the bastard who raped her. Has to raise that kid who will forever question if they are a good person or not because of the suffering their mother had to live with because OUTSIDE parties said the child was more important. ….? What planet are you from cause or surely isn’t earth.

    • Maylo Harding says:

      I feel terribly sorry for you. You display the typical Stockholm syndrome. You were brainwashed from birth and now you defend your abusers. How sad that you will probably perpetuate those lies on your own children.

    • It’s kind of funny, but mostly sad, you don’t even realize you’re making the point for her.

      And there aren’t a “few bad apples,” in that fundamentalist basket of yours. The percentage of sexual abuse inflicted within that sect is drastically higher than outside of it because you teach people thay they’re dirty for existing and being human and having sexual needs and warp their sense of self. Go do some research on sexual abuse within churches, fundamentalist groups, and oh yeah, hey, look at the Catholic Church! Different name, different claims on doctrine, but same theory of teaching people that being human is a sin until they’re so warped they turn into abusers.

      And the worst part? Yeah, those groups then tell the victims that it is their *duty* and shame them into forgiving their attackers.

      Also, I love that you assume we’re all ignorant and none of us have firsthand experience with fundamentalists just because we’re grown ups who have our own opinions and make our own decisions instead of adhering to what we were raised in. Although that WOULD be an absurd concept for you, wouldn’t it?

  3. Maureen Hart says:

    Insightful and beautifully written. Hope your dissertation is published, and I’m able to tead it in its entirety someday.

  4. Kathryn says:

    Thank you! I’d love to read your dissertation!

  5. “The context around such a seemingly ironic statement is a conversation about abortion wherein Jim Bob states that he does not believe in abortion even in cases of rape or incest. He argues that, in such cases, the person who committed the incest should be killed rather than the innocent fetus. There’s no room in this world view for the woman who was raped because she’s not a person to be considered. The two persons of note in this formulation are the man (and in this formulation it is always a man) and the unborn child that must be taken into consideration. The woman is a vessel. The best you can say for the woman in this framework is that the she is a vessel who has been used wrongly by a bad person, meaning a bad man.”

    That kind of blew my mind. Great article.

  6. Having never watched the show, I honestly didn’t think this affected me in the least. You have shown me I was horribly ignorant. Thank you. And wow. As Jade said, that kind of blew my mind.

  7. sue martin says:

    Thanks for your article. Clearly we are in the same page on this issue but you have offered moored insight than mammy who merely wish to be sensational.
    My feeling is that we should do something about this. It’s unlikely that a single individual can shift attitudes or behavior but unless we take steps to alter this entrenched misguided thinking more children will be brainwashed, more children will be abused in the cycle, and further damage will be done to the next generation.
    The beginning is knowledge. The next step should be action. Well need to think of strong strategies that deal with protecting children. Surely there can be advocates for children that are neutral in terms of faith/ state/ education etc. But not traditional social workers. They need some power and influence. We need to think how. ..there ates a few models to think of in different countries.
    Also…don’t lets get caught up in being pleased that the Duggard finally get caught out in their smug presentation of what they see as being a Christian family. They don’t have a monopoly on Christianity and are living in a way far from that of others who walk a good honest, open, equitable, and loving existence, and also call themselves Christians. These Christians should represent themselves more broadly – even on television- to show positive images.

    • Brain washed? You mean like the typical liberal that preaches tolerance, but has none? Screams diversity, but not in their neighborhoods? Supports freedom of speech, unless the speech is not of their liking? Cries about the war on women, yet supports various charities that take donations from Mid – Eastern countries that TORTURE & KILL women? Hypocrites, the lot of you.

      • Kwilson says:

        Please provide examples.

        I’ve yet to read a socially conservative opinion which doesn’t completely negate itself, as you’ve done here, by rattling off everything you see when you look in a mirror, my friend.

        Your complete lack of concern for the subject at hand, namely molestation as a ‘standard’ by which the rest of the world should live, as propounded by the Duggar family, and supported by every single 2016 GOP candidate for President, is duly noted.

        Next….

  8. I give zero pardon for Fox News. That said, do we think that the disappearance of the victims in the media coverage is erasure or an attempt at protection? I am of the understanding that we protect victims of these crimes in the public discussion as possible. I realize we can and should still ensure their personhood and prominence as the most important individuals to be considered. How do we balance all of that?

  9. Monkeyshine says:

    You should call yourself Ms Information. Do you know the Duggars personally? I do. Grew up with them. Lived in one of their rental properties and bought vehicles from them. The reason Josh did this WHEN HE WAS 14 was his parents never talked to him about girls and sex. It was a taboo subject. He was curious and made a terrible decision. Thing is, most of the time molestation occurs because of a chain reaction among GODLESS people who have no moral compass. At least he knew what he did was wrong and told them about it HIMSELF. You sick twisted hate mongers are so eat up with evil that there is no humanity left in you. This pathetic excuse for journalism….. excuse me…. this BLOG is just a sign of the times. A sign that hate lives more on the side of the accusers than on the side of those who are accused. You’re sick. Very sick. This poisonous crap isn’t helping anyone heal. “Judge not lest ye be judged” you people like to throw that around a lot. But have you any clue what it means? Or is it used just to justify your poisonous hate of anyone who would hold you accountable? Sick. Very sick. Very sad too.

    • Kwilson says:

      Rape apologist much?

      I hold Josh Duggar responsible for his own actions, unlike his parents, who blame his SISTERS, for ‘stirring up his lusts’.

      I hold his parents responsible for ignoring the damage he did, shipping him off to ‘work for Jesus’, rather than getting him OR his sisters PSYCHOLOGICAL HELP, and running out the statute of limitations before reporting it, to an LEO who is now serving 53 years for child porn.

      I hold YOU personally responsible for rationalizing these CRIMES, as ‘sins’.

    • It is amazing how you put a Bible verse after insulting this person. What about ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:31) or love your enemies for that effect. Your behavior is inexcusable, “Of these things put them in remembrance, charging them before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers” (2 Timothy 2:14) You can disagree without the insults, this behavior is totally unacceptable and not a Christian way. I know because I am a Christian myself and I will be praying for God’s conviction upon you.

  10. Clearly the author of this article did not watch Megyn Kelly’s segment last night on the record release. Kelly, who personally interviewed the victims, was through the roof that there was such a lack of concern for the girls in releasing the records. The others told her to calm down, she was so upset about it.

  11. sue martin says:

    Sorry about auto correct mistakes above!
    Sue

  12. thank you for a great article. Your article makes me think about the emergence of extreme right wing politics which has gained traction in our society over the last three presidential elections. The Duggers and Wilsons represent the extremely conservative ideology of these politicians but are viewed as a safe distance from politics because the promotion of so called family values. The Duggars have repulsed me since the beginning because of their holier than thou perspective. In their effort to portray themselves as better than the average person they are just as dirty as traditional criminals. I hope the veil of extreme politics and hypocritical Christianity that is preached on tv and social media is uncovered to show that regardless of how many times you go to church they are not better than folks who are honest bs decent people. It does not take extreme religion to be a good person!

  13. Jamie Terry says:

    Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. As a Ph.D. thesis, you provide no evidence for your own claims of desired dominance on behalf of the patriarchal parties. As a result, all of the “research” which you claim to have provided is immediately suspect, as are your questionable conclusions. Apparently the bar for dissertations is considerably lower at Purdue than I have been led to believe.

    • Gale griffin says:

      Jamie — the author states this is an excerpt from her dissertation. In the interest of space I am certain she and her editors were required to cut many evidential points to keep to her premise. Please pursue reading the dissertation in full when it is published. As thoughtful as her article is, as well connected as her points are, I am certain you will be able to find the evidence for which you are looking.

    • Tim Lewis says:

      No, of course this article is not a dissertation/thesis. I will wait to read the real thing before I assume she hasn’t done her homework.

    • MaggieE says:

      It should be pointed out that this is an article, not the author’s dissertation.

    • This isn’t her Ph.D. thesis. This is a blog entry. Her research, I’m sure, is in her actual dissertation. This is basically an op/ed piece. Surely, you know the difference.

  14. Jaimie
    This is an excellent article on a very sensitive topic stretching across the themes of patriarchy, religion, citizenship, race, class, and sexuality. Thank you for your thoughtful discussion of how this topic – quiverfull – impacts everyone who calls the United States home. As a black woman of Creole heritage, I’m especially drawn to your conclusions that this teaching has invaded the public schools on the dime of the American tax payer through the abstinence-only education. This while the same conservtive religious patriarchial forces are reducing funding for public schools in the rural and urban core, while these same individuals are building private prisons and funnelling these “quiverfull” children who happen to be black or brown, into permanent cots. The systems are all connected and I can’t wait to read the full extent of your research. I hope your committee quickly approves your work and i hope you have it published in book form.

    • Taye,

      Your comments are spot-on. A major gap in the research on this topic, limited though it is, is the overwhelming whiteness of the Quiverfull movement. “Saving Sex” by Amy DeRogatis is the only scholar I know of who has talked about the complicated interplay of Evangelical tradition, race, and the concept of purity. It may be of interest to you. If you know of others who are tackling this important topic I would love to hear of them to honor them in my own work.

  15. I really appreciate the insightfulness of your article but I have to dissent on some of the assertions. The Duggars and those who subscribe to their conservative beliefs are as far right as you can get. They are not the norm. I recognized that as soon as they came on the scene and made my opinion known despite receiving flack from other Christians. Beyond the circumstances of the current situation, I’ve always been concerned about the girls in that family. There seems to be allowance for taking responsibility. There are rules and dictates but no free will. I’m assuming that none of the girls have been allowed to attend college. That in itself is a sad situation.

    In any case, as I said, they are about as far right as they can get. I grew up attending an Evangelical church. We subscribed to the idea if patriarchy or as I knew it, “the man is the head of the household.” There were families in the church who probably leaned towards a very conservative interpretation of this. I was raised by a single mother for the first ten years of my life. So I was instilled with the importance of choosing the right mate–a man who owned the importance of being the head while respecting his wife. I chose a man who encouraged me to be independent and successful in whatever I choose to do. I also remained a virgin until I married him at 26. I did believe that I was respecting my beliefs as a Christian to not engage in pre-marital sex. But most importantly I chose to respect myself. I didn’t feel like I was gaining anything by exercising my sexuality with multiple partners so I didn’t. It was a personal choice. I never went through a purity ceremony although there were many who took part in such things. Thought if I remember it correctly, it was just both boys and girls making the pledge, with no parents.

    Just shining a light on us “normal” Evangelicals.

    • Maggie,

      Thank you for your comments. I , too, was raised in the Evangelical tradition and I agree with you that the Duggars, and even the Wilsons, represent an extreme which most Evangelicals recognize as dangerous. What I attempted to speak about in this piece was that this particular extreme has an enormous amount of policy making power which is affecting some of society’s most vulnerable members–children struggling to decide what their identity is and how sex and sexuality fits into that. I’m happy that your choices have lead to what sounds like a very full life of love and partnership. I appreciate your thoughtfulness.

  16. Gill Suter says:

    I’m reading this with interest in the UK, where we don’t get this programme. I know nothing about the Duggars, which I gather is a tv show about a fundamental Christian family. Could someone please give me a bit of context? Is it a documentary with interviews or the overt presence of an interviewer looking in from outside, or a fly-on-the-wall presentation? More interestingly, because I could find out the obvious stuff on Wikipedia if I look, who is the target audience and how has it been received?

    Do the programme makers intend to deliberately shock a liberal audience, to make people laugh at them, are they setting them up as something others should aspire to (blimey I hope not), or are they presented entirely objectively? US fundamental Christian movements have far, far more presence and clout than here in the UK – they”re here, but they keep a low profile and don’t get involved in politics. I want to know what Americans generally feel about people and movements that espouse these kind of values and how much it divides opinion, not just readers of this blog because that is more telling of society.

    I would just like to add, as a post script, that I am typing this using predictive text where for the word ‘Duggars’ my phone repeatedly suggests ‘ethics’.

    • Kwilson says:

      As an American, I genuinely feel that the premise for the Duggars’ television show is grotesque, and therefore have never watched it. This scandal, in my opinion, was inevitable. What is horrifying to me, is that it took so long to come to light, with the constant stream of media attention given these people. This show has been going on in blissful complacency on the Duggars’ part, that ‘nobody knew’ about their son’s proclivity to molest his sisters, and others, for the better part of a decade, following the abuse.
      But there are media people who have known about it, for at least three years.

      If not for the loan of a book, and the discovery of a letter, eventually sent to Oprah Winfrey, which initiated the investigation into this mess, 3 YEARS ago, the Duggars never would have been investigated at all, because they ran out the statute of limitations on sexual assault before reporting it to any law enforcement. That they won’t (and cannot) be prosecuted for abuse and neglect of their daughters, and that they, instead, have made MILLIONS of dollars hawking their ‘holier-than-thou’ religious beliefs, is one of the most egregious aspects of our sick, stunted, and twisted society.

      JMO.

  17. Outstanding article, Jaime, and I hope your dissertation will be available in book form one day, as I would love to read it. The way I see it, the whole “Christian Patriarchy Movement” ideology is almost the same as the “cult of true womanhood” mindset that prevailed about women in the 19th century.

    This same “cult” prevented women from getting college educations, from getting access to the lucrative trades and professions, and of course, from getting the right to vote. I have no doubt whatsoever that if far-right “Christian” politicians had their way, all women would be forced to return to those dark and evil days. As you pointed out, women are simply not people to them, which is a frightening thought given that we are now living in the 21st century, not the 16th or 17th.

  18. Excellent and informative as well as disturbing. Will the ‘dehumanization’ of women ever end?

  19. ” I was instilled with the importance of choosing the right mate”

    Dude. You dont get it yet. You were just taught a more PC version, the version that even some secular people ascribe to, the fallacy of teaching girls to think of themselves in terms of future relationships. This view still makes women into products, albeit with a bit more dignity,

    Also, as a former Fundie, I want to point out that these people are NOT as far right as you can get. They are middle of the road. They dont wear headcoverings and they do wear makeup, and obviously condone TV. My dad sees them as dangerously liberal, and they probably see themselves that way too. As pushing the edge, as modern and hip and liberal. Where I was raised, these people are misled at best, likely heretics, and straight up worldly.

  20. Just a little editorial work here:

    Purity movements have been around long before Pastor Randy Wilson was doing Purity balls in 1999. As a former Southern Baptist, we had True Love Waits. I took my pledge in like 1997.

    True Love Waits (TLW) is an international Christian group that promotes sexual abstinence outside of marriage for teenagers and college students. TLW was created in April, 1993 by the Southern Baptists, and is sponsored by LifeWay Christian Resources. It is based on conservative Christian views of human sexuality that require one to be faithful to one’s husband or wife.

    There is also Silver Ring Thing. Silver Ring Thing was created in 1995 by Denny Pattyn, an evangelical Christian youth minister from Yuma, Arizona.

    I’m sure there are others. Abstinence education isn’t new. And looking up said organizations, it shows somewhere north of 60% of people who take these pledges fail them within 2 years.

    I liked your article. I can’t wait to read more, and good luck with your dissertation.

  21. Summer Else says:

    Spot on. Well done.

  22. Beth Cone Kramer says:

    Well-written and thought piece on the Duggars, Christian fundamentalist sects, and the impact.
    As a side note, while I can try to understand the religious reasoning behind purity vows, I think this pretty extreme value placed on “remaining pure and untrodden territory” until marriage vows disrespects individualism at its core. The religious reasoning behind this seems to be protecting one’s body that does not belong to the individual but to God, one’s father, and eventually, one’s husband. This misogynistic view of women as serving their husbands and acting as vessels for an endless stream of fetuses profoundly disturbs me. The Duggars (and the ATI movement) hold women responsible to step away from tempting men in an extremist Eve brought Adam into temptation model. I am furious that church-based abstinence education programs are funded by tax dollars. It’s not surprising that the states with abstinence education have the highest teen pregnancy rates. We need to pay attention to the fundamentalist intrusion into government and society.

    • Kwilson says:

      Thank you for such an excellent comment. The tectonic shift to the right in American politics, has horrific implications for the right of women to be bodily autonomous people. I too am furious at being forced to contribute with my hard-earned tax dollars, to the fundamentalist Christian ideology of abstinence-only PUBLIC education. I too am profoundly disturbed by the fact that so many of those who make my laws, believe I am responsible for the actions of the men around me. That my body belongs not to me, but to my father, my husband, and especially my fetus. That I am to be ‘protected’ only as it applies to things within me, such as my hymen, or my embryo. That my only value is as a vessel for the perceived identities of men, and fetuses which might become one.

      I want with all my heart to see the following become the 28th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States:

      ” The right of all born persons of any gender, to allow, or to deny, the use of one’s bodily organs and systems, for any purpose, to any other person, born or unborn, shall not be infringed.”

      And it needs to happen soon, or by 2030, American women will be in State-run “gestation centers”, carrying out compulsory pregnancies, and being obligated to turn the babies over to religious organizations, for sale to the highest bidder. We’ll be implanted at birth with microchips, monitored for pregnancy from menarche to menopause, and incarcerated “for the sake of the fetus,” as soon as a pregnancy occurs. Miscarriages will be punishable by death – ours.

      And no, I don’t think these are hyperbole, or gross exaggerations, of the situations Christian fundamentalist politicians would like to facilitate for American women. By law.

      I shudder in my shoes to think any of the current GOP Presidential candidates might one day, in the very near future, have the power to appoint 3 more ultra-socially-conservative Justices to the US Supreme Court. It would be absolutely disastrous.

  23. Kristin says:

    Why can’t the money they’re getting from TLC in return for their privacy and legitimacy as individuals be used to educate them about the idiocy of feeding the worldwide epidemic of overpopulation? We aren’t getting the cure for cancer out of that giant pile of hair. We don’t have enough denim to floor-length skirt however many females they have going on, and they could all use a pretty heavy psych evaluation to get them out of their mini-cult before things get REALLY nasty. I am clueless as to why people might find this family endearing… If I bake a “lasagna” for 36 people using nasty bulk ingredients, can I get a TLC show too? Girl needs to retire that womb.

  24. You make some good points, but I have to say that I’m really confused about why you would have been avoiding learning anything about the Dugars if you are in fact writing a phd dissertation on the rhetoric of virginity in modern America. Isn’t this exactly the kind of case study you would be seeking out?

  25. Where in the Christian Patriarchy movement literature does it say that women are not people? I read the article 2x and looked at the references and did not find any evidence to support this claim. Teaching that they are to be submissivr is repugnant, but it is not the same as saying they are not people or are mere objects.

    • Kwilson says:

      Considering anything located in women, such as our hymens, and our embryos, to be the necessary subject of ‘protection’ by father, husband, and State, does not in any way indicate that the Christian Fundamentalist Patriarchy movement considers women to be PEOPLE. In fact, it is glaring evidence to the contrary. It is evidence that women are considered nothing more than vessels, to be filled as men see fit. Teaching that women are to be submissive, is repugnant BECAUSE it encourages such perspective, on the parts of both women, and men, and results in laws which treat women as mere objects, rather than people.

  26. So glad you wrote this. It’s important to make the connection between these so-called ‘fringe’ stories and the way that media and lawmakers influence policy that affects every girl and woman. The connection between fundamentalists leaders and the laws that ultimately affect us all have to be called out.

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