Duggars, narcissists, Reality TV, religion

Time to binge watch Shiny Happy People on Amazon…

It turns out Amazon’s new docuseries, Shiny Happy People: Duggar Family Secrets is available on Amazon.de, which is good news. That means I can watch it on my television. But, because I want to do some writing and other stuff, I will watch it on my laptop and use my handy new Mini Pod speakers. As I wrote yesterday, I wish I didn’t care about the Duggars… but I actually think people should pay close attention to them. There are a lot of non-famous people in the United States who would love nothing more than to see conservative, white, Republican, pro-life, pro-gun, fundie Christians running the country. And one of the reasons they have such humongous families is so there are higher numbers of people like them, voting for people like them. So, I think those of us who are more “mainstream” in our ways should pay close attention.

Jim Bob Duggar is not too pleased about the docuseries. He and his wife, Michelle, have issued a statement on Instagram. See below…

I find it interesting that Jim Bob is so concerned about his privacy now, when he worked so hard to keep his reality show on TLC (The Learning Channel) for so long, even after his eldest child, Josh, was outed as a sex pest. And Jim Bob pushed for creating his show, 17, 18, and 19 Kids and Counting, even when he knew that Josh had this disturbing past.

It’s now common knowledge that, back in 2002 or so, when Josh was about 14 years old, he molested four of his sisters and a babysitter. One of his victims was just five years old at the time. Josh was, himself, a child when this happened, so his parents were obligated to do something to help him with his problems. They did eventually take action, but what they did was completely ineffective, as later results shave shown.

Life went on, and for a time, Josh Duggar was even betrothed to Jim Bob’s best friend’s daughter, Kaeleigh Holt. Jim Bob and Michelle eventually told the Holts about Josh’s issues. Their solution was to have Josh lectured by an off duty cop, shave his head, and be sent away to do hard labor for a family friend. There was no consultation with a mental health professional, nor were there any legal consequences. Later, when the relationship with Kaeleigh fell apart, the Duggars simply glossed over it, and went on with their show, for which they became world famous. Jim Bob had the added benefit of also becoming very wealthy, but he did not share his new wealth with his children, who were the real stars of the show.

In 2015, the old business regarding Josh’s sexually abusive past was revealed to the masses, in a huge bombshell that dominated headlines for weeks. When this news hit the airwaves, the Duggars were still very popular. 19 Kids and Counting was still going strong. The eldest children were being married off and having children of their own. Their lavish weddings were shown on the show, and they went on fancy honeymoons in exotic locations. Josiah Duggar had just announced a “courtship” (dating with the intention of eventual marriage) with Marjorie Jackson. In the wake of the scandal, that courtship fell apart. Josiah went on to marry Lauren Swanson.

Jim Bob and Michelle try very hard to do damage control… along with Jill and Jessa, two of Josh’s victims, who were pretty much forced to say they forgave their brother for the terrible things he did.

Jim Bob and Michelle went on Fox News, where they were interviewed by Megyn Kelly. I remember watching that interview in May 2015, thinking that they were lying through their teeth. I even wrote about it in my original blog. They claimed Josh was a changed person after their “treatment”. But, of course, he wasn’t. In November 2019, the Department of Homeland Security raided Josh’s business. News came out about how Josh had paid a sex worker for a private lap dance, and had very rough sex with her. The sex worker, Danica Dillon, eventually sued Josh, although the suit was later dropped. Josh also had a secret Ashley Madison account. Ashley Madison is a website where married people pay to find others who are willing to have affairs. All the while, Josh’s long suffering wife, Anna, who bore him seven children, stood by his side… even as he was led away in handcuffs after being convicted of sex crimes against children.

When it became clear that the public still wanted to watch the Duggars, TLC and Jim Bob came up with a new concept. The spin off was originally called Jill and Jessa Counting On, which was supposed to be about Jill Dillard’s and Jessa Seewald’s married lives. But then, as more Duggar “kids” got married, they were included in the show, and then Jill and her husband, Derick, dropped out of the program. It was retitled Counting On, and went on for several seasons. The spinoff was finally canceled in June 2021, in the midst of Josh Duggar’s legal woes. Josh was sentenced to about twelve years in federal prison after being convicted of receiving and possessing child pornography.

So… all of this stuff is already very public, but this new series kind of condenses the whole thing into more salacious entertainment. This is pretty much what Jim Bob did when he agreed to put his family on TV. Only now, he’s no longer in control of the final product, and all of that stuff that he willingly put out, is now being used against him. Television is a sword that cuts both ways.

I think Jim Bob’s reputation is pretty much shot now. I guess it’s understandable that he would issue a statement pleading for privacy. However, he can’t think that his pleas are going to be taken seriously. For years, he was all over TLC, openly advertising Bill Gothard’s fundie ways to the world, trying to make it seem like an idyllic, wholesome, squeaky clean way to raise families. He influenced countless people to follow his lead and join a very damaging cult. And NOW, he wants privacy!

I have already watched the first episode of this docuseries. It’s exciting to see the people involved in this series, to include Heather Grace Heath, whose excellent book, Lovingly Abused, I read and reviewed in December 2021. Jill Duggar Dillard and her husband, Derick, are on the series, as is Jen from Fundie Fridays, a YouTube channel I have been enjoying for some time now. I understand that Katie Joy, from Without a Crystal Ball, was also contacted about being on the series. However, she does not appear on the program. I know she’s a controversial figure, and there has been some speculation about why she’s not involved in this series. However, I’m not involved in any drama regarding Katie Joy, and I have no personal beef with her. So I’m just going to say that she’s not on the show, and I don’t specifically know why. I can only speculate, which I won’t do in this post.

Jim Bob Duggar was paid millions of dollars for showcasing his massive family, and being a living billboard for the Institute in Basic Life Principles, a fundamentalist Christian sect founded by Bill Gothard. Gothard never married or had children, but he expected his followers to marry and have huge broods. Additionally, Bill Gothard had a certain way he preferred the girls in his movement to look. He liked girls with long, curly hair. So, years after perms went out of style, the Duggar girls and their ilk were perming their long hair, so they could please their cult leader, Bill Gothard.

I am probably so interested in learning more about the IBLP and Bill Gothard because I’m interested in cults. I’m not just interested in big, established cults, though. I’m also interested in mini-cults… those within families. Cult leaders are usually narcissists, and they typically behave in telltale ways. My husband’s ex wife, for instance, is kind of like a cult leader within her own family system. When her children were young, she controlled every aspect of their lives and refused to allow them to be influenced by anyone above her. That meant that when her relationships with their fathers fell apart, the kids were expected to take her side. If she had her way, they’d never leave her home or her sphere of influence. But it’s not because she loves them so much. It’s because she craves absolute control, and she sees other people as tools.

When the kids were young, there was a facade presented that indicated that the kids were “happy” (although we had our doubts). Now, we are hearing that actually, things were pretty bad, and there was a lot of lying going on, to present a certain image. Listening to Jill Dillard now, I can see that she went through a similar dynamic. Yes, when she went on Megyn Kelly’s show on Fox News, she was lying… Lying for her father, to preserve the show and her connection to her family… But she didn’t feel good about it, and now she is openly stating that it was all a lie, that didn’t turn out to be enough to save the family’s tarnished reputation.

I see people like Jim Bob Duggar as mini-cult leaders. Look at how Jim Bob has managed to keep so many of his children under his control, even though they are adults. And most of them don’t seem to realize that he’s controlling them so much. He uses the prospect of being cast out and ostracized as a means of controlling his children… to include their spouses and their children. Because they don’t get adequate educations, it’s hard for the children to break away. Heather Heath’s book addresses this issue, as does Tara Westover’s book, Educated. Westover was raised Mormon, as were Bill’s daughters. Not all Mormons are like Westover’s parents were, just like not all Christians are like the Duggars. But these are just examples of people who use extremist religions as means of keeping a viselike grip on their children, forcing them to stay trapped in their cults and continuing the indoctrination with their own children.

The second episode of Shiny Happy People includes a horrifying segment on how children in the IBLP are disciplined. At one point, a pastor demonstrates how to spank a child. A little boy comes up to the pulpit as the pastor pretends to spank him. Then afterwards, the boy is forced to give the pastor a hug. When the hug isn’t good enough, the pastor admonishes him and says he needs another spanking, which he delivers. Children in this movement are not allowed to move or defend themselves when they are receiving corporal punishment. They are expected to remain still, as this “discipline” is for their own good. Then, they are supposed to be “grateful” for the correction, even if it’s extremely traumatizing.

As if that wasn’t sick enough, the show also includes clips of lessons given by Michael and Debi Pearl, authors of the book, To Train Up A Child. This book is very popular and well known within the fundie Christian community. It’s basically all about how to beat your children, and they provide very explicit directions on which implements to use. The Pearls are extremely abusive, in my opinion. My father was a spanker, but he used his hand, and basically did it when he was very angry (not that that’s the best time to spank, either). I wasn’t forced to hug him or tell him I loved him after he hit me. And he didn’t use dowels or glue sticks.

There’s also discussion about how women in the IBLP are expected to just accept whatever man shows up and says he wants her… as long as her father approves, of course. As I mentioned up post, Josh Duggar was originally supposed to marry Kaeleigh Holt, eldest of Jim and Bobye Holt’s eleven children. This pairing was decided when both Josh and Kaeleigh were teenagers. When that fell apart, he ended up with Anna Keller. They were married when they were both about 20 years old. They now have seven children. Anna has all of Josh’s kids, and obviously made herself “joyfully available” to her husband. But that wasn’t enough. He still cheated on her and consumed illegal porn. Meanwhile, Anna had to present a perfect, happy image to the world, often while pregnant and on television.

It amazes me that the Duggars were able to keep up their facade for as long as they did. Jim Bob is “pleading” for privacy, and yet he’s the one who put all of that stuff out there in the first place. People love to see people fall off of pedestals, especially when they are as sanctimonious and smarmy as Jim Bob is. So… I suspect that things are going to be harder for Jim Bob and Michelle. I am sorry for their innocent children and grandchildren. I especially feel sorry for Josh’s kids, who will have to live with the stigma of their infamous father for the rest of their lives. I hope they can escape the cult and raise their children in a better way.

I’ll probably write about this tomorrow, after I finish the last two episodes. For now, I think I’ll end this post. It’s already pretty long. Hope you have a great Friday.


Josh and Anna Duggar’s latest baby’s name is finally revealed…

Grateful to have found the featured photo of the day… You’ll see why at the end of this post.

Like a lot of people, I wondered a bit about the identity of Josh and Anna Duggar’s latest baby. I mean, I wasn’t obsessive about it or anything, but I have been following Josh and Anna’s story for years. Of course, I’ve also been watching Josh’s impending legal case regarding his apparent habit of viewing extremely inappropriate things on the Internet. I have a feeling Josh’s court case is going to be disastrous, and he’s probably not going to be in the free world for much longer.

I certainly won’t be sorry if Josh goes to prison in the highly likely event that prosecutors can prove that he’s guilty of his alleged crime. The evidence against him is pretty compelling, and it’s not like he doesn’t have a history of being a sexual predator. Indeed, just a few years ago, Josh Duggar was busted for having an “Ashley Madison” account. What is an “Ashley Madison” account? It’s basically a Web site where married people go to hook up and have affairs with other people who aren’t their spouses.

Josh Duggar is one of Ashley Madison’s most notable former clients. On August 19, 2015, Josh was outed on Gawker.com as a paid member of the site. His identity was part of a hacking effort undertaken on July 15, 2015 by an outfit called The Impact Team. According to their research, someone living at Josh’s former address and using his credit card, was on the site from February 2013 until May 2015, and he had spent $986.76 for two different Ashley Madison accounts. The user was hoping to find a woman who would satisfy his desires for:

“Conventional Sex,” Experimenting with Sex Toys,” One-Night Stands,” “Open to Experimentation,” “Gentleness,” “Good With Your Hands,” Sensual Massage,” “Extended Foreplay/Teasing,” “Bubble Bath for 2,” “Likes to Give Oral Sex,” “Likes to Receive Oral Sex,” “Someone I Can Teach,” “Someone Who Can Teach Me,” “Kissing,” “Cuddling & Hugging,” “Sharing Fantasies,” “Sex Talk.”

And Josh… –or the person living in Josh’s house and using his credit card– listed these “turn ons”:

“A Professional/Well Groomed,” “Stylish/Classy,” “Casual Jeans/T-shirt Type,” “Muscular/Fit Body,” ”Petite Figure,” “Tall Height,” “Short Height,” “Long Hair,””Short Hair,” “Girl Next Door,” “Naughty Girl,” “Sense of Humor,” “Imagination,” “Creative and Adventurous,” “Relaxed and Easy Going,” “Aggressive/Take Charge Nature,” “Confidence,” “Discretion/Secrecy,” “A Good Listener,” “Good Personal Hygiene,” “Average Sex Drive,” “High Sex Drive,” “Dislikes Routine,” “Has a Secret Love Nest,” “Disease Free,” “Drug Free,” and “Natural Breasts.”

Ashley Feinberg, the Gawker.com reporter, wrote that when Josh was living in Oxon Hill, Maryland, lecturing the masses about the “right” way to live, Christian ideals, and “family friendly values”, Josh (or his evil twin ghost) started a second Ashley Madison account. Josh also did a poor job of trying to conceal his true identity. Gawker.com reports “the birthday listed in the data for Duggar’s first account is February 3, 1988, one month off Duggar’s actual birthday of March 3, 1988. The birthday listed for the second account is March 2, 1988.” Based on the news about Josh’s most recent sex related scandal, his online privacy skills haven’t evolved much, but I digress.

So what does all of this have to do with Josh and Anna’s 7th baby? Well, yesterday, it was reported in the news that Josh and Anna have named their latest baby Madyson Lily. Anna (I can assume, since Josh isn’t allowed online) shared a very cute picture of the baby, who was born on October 23, 2021 at 2:39am, weighing 7 pounds, 9 ounces, and measuring 20 inches. Many people who follow the Duggars, and are disgusted by Josh’s perversions, are shocked by the name, since it will forever link the child to her father’s dalliances in extramarital affairs, as he hypocritically promoted “clean, Christian living”.

She is a beautiful baby… looks very healthy, too. I will pray for her.

Madyson joins her six siblings in the “M crowd”. Josh and Anna, like Josh’s parents, have chosen to stick with names that have the same first letter. So, while all of Josh’s siblings (except for Michelle’s grandnephew Tyler, who is being raised by Ma and Pa Duggar) have names starting with the letter “J”, Josh and Anna have given their kids “M” names, I guess, to honor Michelle Duggar or maybe Josh’s deceased grandmother, Mary Duggar. Or maybe they just like “M” names. Who knows?

Other people who have commented on this surprising “turn of events” have listed a variety of perfectly nice “M” names the Duggar couple could have chosen for “tiny, precious Madyson”. Off the top of my head, there’s Melissa, Mariah, Marcia, Madelyn, Megan, Melanie, Maeve, Margaret, Martha, Matilda, Marcia, Maura, Moira, Maren, and Millicent… just to name a few. And yet they chose “Madyson”, with a bastardized spelling from the usual “Madison”. Of course, it’s not the first time Josh and Anna have chosen alternative spellings for members of their brood. They gave eldest daughter, Mackynzie, a differently spelled name, too. They also gave their sixth child, Maryella, a “different” name.

I remember when the name “Madison” became popular. Back in 1984, Tom Hanks was just an up and coming movie star who was best known for being on the show, Bosom Buddies, which I remember watching during its first run. That year, the movie Splash came out, making Tom Hanks and Daryl Hannah household names. Daryl Hannah played the love interest for Hanks, a beautiful mermaid whose real name was unpronounceable by the human tongue. She was encouraged by Hanks’s character, Allen, to choose a more conventional name for herself. Noting that they are walking on Madison Avenue, the mermaid chooses the name “Madison”, confusing everyone… Next thing you know, it’s a popular girls’ name, and remains so 37 years later.

If I had ever had a child, I probably would have chosen a more conventional, traditional name, even though we have dogs named Arran and Noyzi. Arran was named after a beautiful Scottish island we visited weeks before we met him. Noyzi was originally named Noizy, but his paperwork has the name spelled differently. Also, as a former English major, I couldn’t abide the spelling “Noizy”. I kept wanting to change it to Noisy. Anyway, Noyzi was named after an Albanian rapper by the guy who found him, and I just didn’t have the heart to change his name after all of the upheaval he went through to move to Germany from Kosovo.

But when it comes to human beings that might have come from my womb, I probably would not have gone “mod”. I seem to prefer tried and true names… although I wish to God my mother had chosen a name other than “Jennifer” for me. That was like the “Kayla” of 1972. I think Kayla is a pretty name, by the way. I have a cousin with that name. At the same time, I probably would have chosen a name like Alexandra, or something, for a daughter of mine.

I think Madyson Lily needs all the prayers she can get, as do her siblings, and their mother. I don’t approve of Anna’s decisions, but I realize that she was raised in a cult and has married into the mother of all fundie cult families. Her husband and her father-in-law are hyper-controlling dicks who literally screw over the women they purport to love. I realize that Anna doesn’t have many choices, and every time she has another baby, her choices become even more limited than they were before. So, while a lot of people condemn her for staying with Josh, all I can muster is basic empathy and compassion, and hope that somehow, she’ll be okay. Of course, this is all depending on the outcome of Josh’s upcoming legal battle.

I really do hope Josh’s children will be okay. It’s not easy to have a father who has become a notorious sex pest, especially one who has gotten away with his misdeeds for so many years and is now about to face the music. The youngest of Josh and Anna Duggar’s children were filmed as they were born. One of them was actually born on the toilet in the home now occupied by Jessa and Ben Seewald.

Jessa and three of her sisters are also among Josh’s victims, as he admitted to molesting them when they were kids. Ma and Pa Duggar neglected to get real psychological help for Josh. Instead, they shaved his head and sent him off to do hard labor and pray. Maybe working with a mental health professional wouldn’t have made a difference in Josh’s destiny the long run, but at least they could have said they tried.

Now, Josh has a wife and seven children, and it wouldn’t surprise me if he’s actively trying to get Anna pregnant again, although with any luck, her recent pregnancy, and assuming she’s exclusively breastfeeding, that may not be possible. On the other hand, the Duggars are birthing obsessed, and I’m sure they know the best ways of getting pregnant quickly. So, if Anna does get pregnant with #8, I can’t say I’ll be surprised about it. I hope it doesn’t happen, though. Even if Josh, by some miracle, doesn’t end up in prison, I think they– and the public– have had quite enough.

Oh… and just to make this whole weird baby name choice thing even ickier, I just did a Yahoo! image search of the name, “Madyson Lily”. I was looking for a potential featured screenshot, but the results of my search were not cute pics that are suitable for featured photo status on my blog. The photos that came up– at least on Yahoo!– are all of an extremely buxom woman in her underwear– perhaps even the type of woman Josh fantasizes about. I don’t know if the baby’s shared name with a sexy model is a coincidence, but it sure is an unfortunate development for that baby, who already has enough challenges ahead of her. Below is a very small sampling of the search results, which I am sharing because the model is technically clothed. There are a lot of other photos like this one, which makes me think it’s a smart thing to Google names before you bestow them on your children, especially if you give them names with an unconventional spelling. How embarrassing!

Edited to add: I tried the search on Google and got more conventional results. It looks like the Yahoo! and Bing searches included the conventional spelling of “Madison” in the results. Still… it makes me wonder if Josh chose the name. I wouldn’t put it past him.

Josh’s new baby apparently shares a name with her… Yikes!