Today’s post is inspired by the most recent episode of Welcome to Plathville, which I watched yesterday afternoon. If you read yesterday’s post, you might know that I’ve been getting over a nasty cold. I got a late start yesterday because I had a touch of “medicine head” and was feeling kind of exhausted. Consequently, I did less writing yesterday than I might have ordinarily done. I only wrote one travel post, which is just as well, since not that many people read the travel blog anymore.
In the episode of Welcome to Plathville that inspired this post, the camera focused on Olivia Plath, wife to eldest Plath son, Ethan. I’ve found Olivia intriguing since I first started watching the show. Like Ethan, she was homeschooled as a child and raised in a very Christian household. Interestingly enough, many members of the Plath family seem to have evolved out of fundamentalist Christianity. They’re all kind of busting loose, drinking alcohol, getting tattoos, dressing more provocatively, and moving to new cities.
From the beginning of the show, Olivia has been influencing Ethan to try more worldly things, like drinking alcohol. When the show started, Olivia ran her own photography business. She’s obviously a very bright, intelligent, and attractive young woman. So I was very surprised yesterday when she was talking about how she’d like to go to college, but hesitates because she wonders if she’d be successful. She explains that she’s never learned in a group setting before. At one point, I even heard her say she thought maybe she was too “dumb” for college.
It’s clear to me that Olivia is certainly smart enough to succeed in college, if that’s what she’d like to do. I do understand that if a person has never been in a classroom setting, he or she might wonder how the experience will go. But I can speak from personal experience that plenty of people who probably don’t belong in college manage to go… and some of the manage to graduate. I have no doubt in my mind that Olivia could flourish in college. She probably has the money to go, too, since she’s been on Welcome to Plathville. I would hope she’s getting paid for what she does on the show. She doesn’t seem like the type of person that would blindly follow whatever the Plaths tell her to do. It’s not like being in the Duggar family.
When I listen to Olivia speak, I hear someone who is plainly bright and articulate. She might need to learn study skills and how to write papers. But I have no doubt that she could easily learn those skills and get through college. I think the experience would open up a whole new world for her on many levels… Of course, it might also doom her marriage, because I suspect that if she is exposed to other people and new ideas, she may decide that she doesn’t want to be married… or maybe she’d rather be with someone else. College might change her in profound ways. I still hope she’ll consider going, though.
Which brings me to the Duggars… I recently heard from Katie Joy that Derick and Jill Dillard were considering setting up college funds for their sons. Derick Dillard has a college degree and a law degree, and thanks to Derick’s job and Jill’s best selling book about the reality of being a Duggar on reality TV, they’ve been able to declare independence from Jim Bob Duggar. I hope Jill’s youngest siblings are paying attention.
Derick is a living example of why it’s a good thing to have the freedom to go to college, not just because of the actual courses, but because of connections to the real world. Jill and Derick clearly seem to value education beyond the dining room table, as they send their older children to public school. Likewise, Jeremy Vuolo, who married Jill’s younger sister, Jinger, also has a college degree and is working for an advanced degree. I won’t be surprised if Jinger and Jeremy send their daughters to an actual school, rather than trying to homeschool them. And I won’t be surprised if their daughters eventually go to college.
I hope that Jill and Jinger will consider going to college, too, if they’d like to do that. Jill has always struck me as someone who would be a really good midwife. I know she was getting some training in midwifery, but I think it would be great if she got trained as an actual midwife, as in attending a university and getting the appropriate training and licensure for that field. I don’t know what Jinger’s passions are, but she’s always shown herself to be more of a free spirit. She’s certainly bright enough to go to college. And, as smarmy as Jeremy seems to be, I also think he’d support her in that effort, if they had the financial resources for it.
College is oversold to a lot of people, and it can be an expensive “trap” for some. However, I think people who have been raised in oppressive environments can really benefit from the college experience. I hope they’ll at least consider taking a course or two, just to see if they like it and can succeed. My guess is that once they get a taste of learning in a freer environment, they won’t want to stop. It will change their lives, perhaps in a very profound way that may even make it more difficult for them in the beginning.
I’m all for women stepping into the light and taking control of their own destinies. Accessing a college education is a great way to do that. Olivia Plath quite clearly can flourish in college. Jill and Jinger probably could, too, if they set their minds to it. If they actually cared about my opinion, I would encourage each of them to consider stepping into higher education, as they step out of the “dark ages” of the fundie Christianity mindset chosen for them by their parents. It’s time more fundie Christian women became liberated from the life roles someone else has trained them since birth to accept.
I will also admit that as well as I think Olivia Plath could do in college, I would especially love to see some Duggar women go to an accredited university and kick some ass. I’d love it for them, and I’d also love to see Jim Bob Duggar’s reaction… which I’m pretty certain would be very bitter. I can’t lie. The idea of that is hilarious to me… this obviously narcissistic man already has a son in prison, but his daughters could end up taking the world by storm. Now that’s a reality show I’d love to tune into regularly!
*Trigger warning*Today’s post is on a sensitive subject that may be offensive to some readers. I’m tackling Josh Duggar and his abuse, as well as that topic in general, but I’m doing so in a way that I hope is objective and rational. Please proceed with caution or skip this post if you think this topic might be too triggering. If you choose to comment, please be civil.
Two days ago, I finished reading Jill Duggar’s book, Counting the Cost. I wrote a review of the book, which you can find by clicking here. I only shared my link on my own personal Facebook page, but I am a member of the Duggar Family News page and group on Facebook. Other people are now reading and/or listening to the book, and they are offering their opinions. This morning, I happened to read a comment by a woman who is now listening to the audio version of the book. She wrote:
So I’m listening to the book… And I’m at the part where the letter is found about Josh… First she talks about being on Oprah, which they weren’t because Oprah got word of what was going on with Josh. Second it seems like she was also angry about information getting out…. Here’s the deal I understand she was a victim… And I worked with a victims of molestation for over 34 years.. But it seems like she is blaming everyone but her parents for what happened with Josh… Maybe later in the book she changes her tune… But I’m finding it really irritating and wishy-washy.
To me, this comment, while kind of negative, was basically the poster’s genuine reaction to the book so far. Maybe it was her use of the phrase “here’s the deal”, that set off some people, but I noticed that some folks immediately jumped on the woman’s case for what she wrote. The first comment I noticed was this:
I haven’t read the book, but I think it’s not up to us to judge victims of sexual abuse for how they process it and whom they blame for it.
At this point, the above comment has 94 likes. When I first read it about an hour ago, it had 89 likes. People think it’s a good rebuttal. I guess I can understand why people like the comment. It seems very patient, victim edifying, and kind, while the original comment seems a little “judgey” and critical.
Personally, I am a little troubled by the rebuttal to the original comment, because there’s an element of shame to it. It’s basically a subtle suggestion to the original poster that she should just “shut up” and stop “victim blaming”. It’s as if the person who responded to the original poster thinks Jill Duggar will be reading her comment and feeling hurt by it. Maybe she will read it, though I doubt it. I’m sure Jill is feeling kind of overwhelmed right now, even though the response to her book by the public has been largely positive. Her family may be really angry with her right now, and their opinions will mean a lot more than some random person’s in a Facebook group.
If we assume Jill Duggar won’t be reading the critical, but honest, comment about how the reader thinks she was “wishy-washy”, maybe we can be more objective about the original poster’s opinion. While it didn’t occur to me that Jill was “wishy-washy” in her explanation about how she was victimized by her brother, Josh, I don’t think it’s a bad thing that someone else had a different take and dared to express it. I support allowing people to express their opinions without automatically being attacked or shamed for sharing their views. Maybe if people shamed and knee-jerk reacted less, more people would be willing to ask for help when they really need it.
Someone else wrote this– it came across as kind of angry, shaming, and judgmental to me, compounding the issue. Shouldn’t we encourage people to share their opinions, insights, and impressions?
As someone who ” worked with victims ” for 34yrs I’d like to think you would have more understanding and empathy.
No 1 victim processes nor deals with what has happened to them in the same way. Every single person eho has ever experienced this kind of trauma has every right to FEEL and PROCESS hiw they like.
Your statement is extremely ignorant considering the yrs of expertise you should have.
The discussion continued…
The Duggar children were raised in a home where they weren’t allowed to dance because dancing might arouse sinful thoughts in other people. Jill wrote extensively about how the girls were all expected to dress modestly, so the boys wouldn’t be tempted by them. Jill’s mother, Michelle Duggar, told her daughters that she used to dress inappropriately “before she became a Christian” and that led men to think sinful thoughts. When she changed her “sinful” ways and started dressing more modestly, she became a “better” person by not causing men to “fall” into sin.
Jim Bob and Michelle made their daughters responsible for half the population’s thoughts and actions by telling them that they had to think of the men when they got dressed in the morning and in literally every move they made. They attached shame to their daughters simply for being who they are (beautiful, young females), giving them a duty to always have to think about the lustful thoughts of males. What a burden to put on their daughters and every other woman!
Jill further explained that her mother used certain kinds of music– mostly classical or religious– to train her children. When they didn’t do the right things, she would turn off the music, and the joy would stop. They learned to curb the natural desire to dance– move rhythmically to music– which is a source of great joy to many people and an art form. And yet, in spite of the fact that dancing was banned in their home, four of the Duggar sisters (that we know of) were still victimized by their brother, Josh. Josh went on to view illegal material on the Internet, cheated on his wife, and was accused of having very rough sexual relations with a sex worker.
Meanwhile, Josh was “punished” by having his head shaved in front of people in his community and being sent away to do manual labor for a family friend. Later, he got a stern “talking to” by former Arkansas State Trooper, Joseph Hutchens, a (presumably) former friend of the family’s. Hutchens is now himself in prison for sex crimes, having been sentenced to 56 years for child pornography charges.
Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar did NOTHING to help Josh with his obvious problem. They did NOTHING to help Jill or her sisters deal with the trauma of what happened to them. I think the commenter has a point– Jill does hold Jim Bob responsible for the financial abuse he perpetrated toward Jill and her siblings, but she doesn’t seem to realize that her parents failed her and her siblings in their responsibilities to protect their children from their oldest brother.
Indeed, although reportedly Josh told his parents about his problem in 2002, when he was still about 14 years old and legally a child, his parents responded by having MORE children. Several of their youngest children are girls. Instead of dealing with Josh– trying to find him appropriate treatment and minimizing the risks toward their other children (and not making more victims)– the Duggar parents simply made more rules for everyone else to follow. The whole thing was swept under the rug, and the abuse continued– seemingly under the radar. Then, Jim Bob put his whole family on display for the world to see. Frankly, I’m shocked that the news about Josh’s abuse wasn’t made public long before 2015.
When I was earning my MSW, I had a professor who had done a lot of work with domestic abusers and sex offenders. He was very matter-of-fact as he talked to us about the clinical work he did before he became a professor. I remember him telling us that in a clinical situation, we must never react with shock or revulsion when someone talks about distasteful subjects. As therapists, it would be our job to listen objectively to those who came to us for help.
The professor explained that sexual preferences are hard wired. Those drives are very powerful and difficult to fight against– like eating, drinking, or sleeping. So, we must realize and understand that while it’s illegal and extremely damaging for people like Josh to act on their impulses, they truly can’t help themselves for having those urges. If we were to work with sex offenders or domestic abusers, it would be up to us to try to help them find ways not to be abusive. The first step in helping people with that problem is to not automatically be repulsed by them. That is how trust and rapport builds, and people can then feel comfortable enough to talk about their problems. That is how problems can possibly be solved.
To be very honest, at this point in time, I don’t think we have very many effective avenues of real help to offer people like Josh. Part of the reason why we don’t have more ways to help sex offenders is because people don’t want to talk about the problem. Instead of trying to understand where the deviance comes from and address it, we attack, revile, and shame the people who have these feelings. So they continue to suffer in silence until they finally decide to hurt someone.
Most people– if you ask them what should be done with a sex offender like Josh– won’t even think twice about it. They’ll say the person should be taken out and shot, or exiled to prison, or something extreme like that. It doesn’t occur to them that no one really wants to have these dark urges. It must be a terrible way to go through life, actually– having these highly taboo obsessions and not being able to act on them without great risk– maybe like having an intense itch that can’t be scratched. Complicating matters is that there are very few people who can be trusted to give them real help. If you are someone who has these obsessions, you can’t just go to just anyone and tell them that you have the obsessions without risking your freedom, your safety, or even your life. So there’s no real help available, and the person is left to try to deal with those thoughts and feelings in secret. Some of them are successful. Some commit suicide. A lot of others end up victimizing innocent people.
A lot of people also assume that they will never be personally affected by this issue. When they glibly suggest that someone ought to be taken out and shot for being a pedophile, it doesn’t occur to them that perhaps one of their loved ones or friends struggle with this problem. That’s because the vast majority of people would never talk about it with someone else. Another poster shared this thought, which I thought was very astute (bolded emphasis is mine– I’m sure someone whose child is a sex offender wouldn’t necessarily want to see them taken out and shot):
I am wondering if Jill just didn’t want to blame her parents. After all, they gave her such a “wonderful childhood” and she loved them with all of her heart. It’s easier to blame people that don’t really matter in your life, and aren’t immediate family.
As Bill and I were discussing this issue today, I was reminded of a professor I read about who had worked at Old Dominion University (ODU) in Norfolk, Virginia. The professor, whose name is Allyn Walker, is non-binary and uses the pronouns “they” and “them”. Walker was teaching sociology and criminal justice at ODU, and researching minor-attracted people (MAPs). They wrote a book titled Long Dark Shadow, which is about so-called minor-attracted people. Walker faced huge backlash due to their research of this topic. People at ODU were offended by the work Walker was doing, accusing them of “normalizing” pedophilia. I suspect the vast majority of people who had issues with Walker’s work knew very little about it and hadn’t been able to bring themselves to think about the topic rationally. Ditto to the reviews on Amazon about this book. I’ll bet a lot of the people who left one star reviews never bothered to read the book.
Walker’s work is about pointing out that not everyone with inappropriate thoughts commits crimes. It’s not a crime to think “bad” thoughts. It’s a crime to act illegally on those thoughts. Moreover, putting it on everyone else to avoid dancing, dressing “immodestly”, or otherwise behaving in ways that might cause other people to sin is not effective. We can see that by simply looking at what happened in the Duggar home. Worse, the girls were blamed for Josh’s sins, and “rewarded” with even more rules and restrictions.
Walker is providing a potential place for people with this problem to seek effective help and increase understanding of it so that fewer people are abused. Ultimately, their goal is an extremely valuable one for all of humankind. But instead of realizing that this is a problem that needs to be solved, people were reacting emotionally, judgmentally, and extremely negatively to Walker’s work and the book they wrote. They weren’t taking a moment to consider that being able to treat pedophilia safely and effectively is a good and valuable thing. It would be a good thing to be able to keep people out of prison, stop them from feeling like they should commit suicide, prevent them from hurting innocent children, and help them be productive members of society. As a result, Walker left ODU and is now at Johns Hopkins University. Ultimately, they may be better off– Johns Hopkins is certainly a more prestigious university than ODU is. But what about the criminal justice and sociology students at ODU? Are they better off that Walker left their campus?
Imagine what might have happened if, instead of sending Josh Duggar to dig a pond, humiliating him in front of the community, and shaving his head, Jim Bob and Michelle could have sent him to skilled and highly qualified people who could have helped him try to master and effectively control those dark obsessions and impulses. Imagine if, instead of acting like the abuse had never happened, Jim Bob and Michelle confronted it, and got help for the children who were victimized by their brother. Wouldn’t it be better for the entire Duggar family if Josh and his sisters could have gotten real help for this problem? How about Josh’s wife, Anna, and their seven children? What will it be like for Josh’s children when they decide they want to get married? Especially his sons!
We, as a society, need to be able to talk about these tough subjects. But we need to be able to do so without shaming people who bring up views that aren’t necessarily mainstream. I, for one, commend Allyn Walker for doing the work they’re doing. We’ve got to do better than just sweeping this problem under the rug. Automatically condemning people for simply having inappropriate obsessions and speaking up about them doesn’t solve the problem. Those people need real help, before they turn into someone like Josh Duggar… who, I think, is exactly where he ought to be right now. In her book, Jill wrote that when Josh first came to Jim Bob and Michelle, he was very tearful and remorseful. She said that he’d apologized to her many times. By the time he was facing a federal judge for his crimes, Josh was acting like the whole thing was no big deal and his crimes were no more significant than a parking violation! He’s become callous and cruel, and he will never be safe to walk the streets as a free man.
Wouldn’t it have been so much better for everyone if Josh could have been helped by someone qualified when he was still a child? I think so. And I agree with the original poster who inspired this post that Jim Bob and Michelle certainly share in the responsibility for what happened to their children… and what is now happening to their reputation. Perhaps Jill isn’t yet ready to face that fact, and I agree that we shouldn’t judge her for that. I’m sure she has a lot of processing to continue to do, and it will be ongoing for the rest of her life. But the original poster also wasn’t wrong to express her opinions or her observations about Jill’s book.
I wish more people would stop being so intent on correcting other people’s opinions and impressions. We all have different takes on things, and being willing to hear other voices and rationally discuss other perspectives is one of the best ways to learn about and expand our understanding of all things… even if we ultimately don’t agree with the other person’s viewpoint.
Please note, however– this does NOT mean that I think we have to argue until the argument is somehow “won” by a particular side. In this world, there are a lot of things that don’t have a “right” or “wrong” answer. Sometimes agreeing to disagree is good, too.
I am considering reading Dr. Walker’s book. I may or may not review it, if I do decide to read it. I simply think Dr. Walker’s work is brave and important, and it needs further discussion by people who are willing to set aside their emotions and communicate rationally and objectively. I’m not sure if my blog is the right forum for that… but I do think Dr. Walker’s book should be given a fair chance.
I know I’ve written a lot of posts about the Duggar family. There was a time, years ago, that I watched their reality television program on TLC. I remember seeing them featured on the Discovery Health channel back in the early 2000s, when Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar were just a fundamentalist Christian Arkansas couple with fourteen children and another on the way. I watched with amazement as they went from being a seemingly very humble family from the “sticks” of Arkansas to household names.
I’ve never been a very religious person myself. So why was I so interested in the Duggar family? Well, the truth is, I do find strict, fundamentalist religions very interesting, even though I have no desire to participate in them myself. I also got the sense that the family was too good to be true. I know I wasn’t the only one who felt that way. Sure enough, it turned out my suspicions that there was some underlying trouble in paradise was on target.
Although I used to watch the Duggars’ show– 17, 18, or 19 Kids and Counting, (depending on how many kids they had at the time) and later Counting On, on an intermittent basis, I have never been one to read their books. Like I said, I’m not a very religious person myself, so I don’t really have any desire to read books about promoting Christianity. The Duggars aren’t people I look up to, either. But, when I heard that Jill Duggar Dillard was going to be writing a book called Counting the Cost, with help from ghost writer, Craig Borlase, I decided I would read that one. I finished the book yesterday, and now I’m ready to offer my thoughts.
Jill Michelle Duggar Dillard was born May 17, 1991. She is Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar’s fourth born child, and the second oldest daughter of their brood of 19 living children. In her book, Jill writes that she always felt compelled to be a people pleaser. She always tried to be the most mature and best behaved of her siblings. She was so sweet that she earned the nickname Sweet Jilly Muffin.
Early in her lifetime, Jill and her siblings lived in a house next to a church that was much too small for their growing family. She writes of how her mother, Michelle, trained her children, using music and other rewards to influence their behavior. Jill writes that the kids were not allowed to dance, because her parents worried that moving inappropriately, wearing “immodest” clothes, or being exposed to worldly media would encourage sin in themselves and other people. From a very early age, Jill was trained to obey without question, and taught that if someone fell into sin, it was her fault. That early training set the conditions that made it especially difficult for her to break free of her father’s hold on her.
Thanks to Jim Bob’s wheeling and dealing with the TLC network, they were able to build their own “big house” in Tontitown, Arkansas. Jill and the other oldest siblings were involved in helping to build the Big House, to which she refers frequently in her book. The “Big House” is the specially built home the Duggars built to accommodate their huge family; it is about 7000 square feet, but it only has about four bedrooms in it. There’s a master bedroom, a girls’ room, a boys’ room, and a guest room. TLC filmed the family building the house, doing all they could as a family before professionals had to be called in to do the more challenging work. Jill writes that she was happy to have had a part in building a house for her family.
As she grew older, Jill realized that finding a husband would complicate her life, especially since she was a “star” on the Duggars’ reality show, and her father was famously very strict. Jill writes that she was raised in Bill Gothard’s Institute in Basic Life Principles (IBLP), which is a lifestyle system ultra fundamentalist Christians adhere to as a means of preserving their version of raising godly families. Gothard founded the IBLP in 1961. It should be noted that Bill Gothard was eventually ousted from the IBLP because he was accused of preying on young women. Jill mentions that her sister, Jana, the lone blonde older Duggar girl, used to work for Bill Gothard. He specifically requested that she come to Chicago to work for him, running a training program for girls in the IBLP. Gothard reportedly favored blondes.
Within the IBLP, there is the idea of the “umbrella of authority”, which is a hierarchical structure of the family within a church. Jill explains that she was raised to always honor her parents, especially her father, who would then honor the church. She believed that if she simply did everything she was told to by her father, she would never be in any kind of danger. Meanwhile, Jim Bob had a hunger for money and power. He wanted to keep the reality series going, because it brought in a lot of money and prestige, although he claimed he saw the show as a “ministry”, bringing the masses to the Duggar brand of Christianity. He bought rental properties and airplanes, new RVs, and other trappings of success. The Duggars had always said that every child is a gift from God, and that they were open to taking as many of God’s gifts as God wanted to send them. But then they used God’s gifts to fund their own prosperity gospel… to show everyone else how much God favored them and their way of life. To me, it just looks like plain old greed disguised as something “godly”.
Even though finding a mate as a Duggar wasn’t an easy prospect, as the potential spouse had to meet with her parents’ approval, Jim Bob wanted to marry off his children. Why? Because every time a Duggar got married or had a child– especially the Duggar daughters– it brought in a lot of cash for Jim Bob. And I do mean for Jim Bob— because as Jill and her husband, Derick, discovered, Jim Bob was getting paid by TLC, but he wasn’t sharing the wealth with his adult children. Instead, he’d do things like give them places to live or cars to drive. Jim Bob Duggar, it seemed, wanted his children to work for him for free, and forever. He wanted them to be under his control, and make themselves available to his every whim and command. And he even went to tricking or coercing them into signing extreme “scientology like” lifetime contracts, to force them to stay under his control.
Jill and Derick have always seemed to me like a very close and loving couple. And, in fact, that is exactly how Jill makes it seem in her book, as Derick has encouraged Jill not to let Jim Bob run her life. However, it turns out that Jim Bob actually picked out Derick for Jill, and encouraged her to get to know him, as he was serving as a missionary in Nepal. She writes that she wasn’t interested at first, but he managed to capture her heart. TLC arranged for Jill and Jim Bob to travel to Nepal to meet him in person, and that’s when they entered their “courtship”– so called “dating with a purpose” of getting married. Jim Bob was right in that Jill and Derick were very suited to each other. But he didn’t know that Derick was not going to stand for Jim Bob dictating everything in their lives together. If he’d had a clue that Derick is as assertive as he is, there is no way Jill and Derick would have ever been allowed to wed.
As the Duggar children became adults, Jim Bob realized that he needed to make everything legal. So he tricked Jill into signing a contract she didn’t read– asking for her signature on the day before her June 2014 wedding, and not giving her the whole contract, or the time to read it. Jim Bob later told Jill and Derick that he had paid Josh and Anna for awhile, but found that arrangement wasn’t to his liking. So instead of giving his children a salary, he basically paid them in gifts in kind. But he had his accountant tell the IRS that they were being paid, for tax purposes. Later, Derick, who was a trained accountant before he became a lawyer, figured out what was going on. The couple later sued Jim Bob and prevailed in getting a small pittance of money for all of the time and labor Jill put into the show.
As if the the demands of the reality show wasn’t enough stress in their relationship, back in 2015, the tabloid, In Touch, got ahold of police records from 2006, detailing interviews Jill and her sisters had with law enforcement. The 2006 police interviews stemmed from a tip that Oprah Winfrey got regarding Josh Duggar’s deviant behavior.
In 2006, the Duggars were supposed to be interviewed by Oprah Winfrey, but the producers got a letter about Josh Duggar’s abusive misdeeds in 2002, when he was about 14 years old. The producers called the police, and that led to an investigation of Josh’s perversions. The police records were supposed to remain sealed, since Jill and her sisters Jessa, Jinger, and Joy Anna, were all minors at the time of the investigation. But In Touch got the records, and they were later released to the world, which led to the reality show being temporarily axed. The loss of the show was, of course, bad for Jim Bob’s finances, but the records’ release also revictimized Jill, her sisters, and the other person who was molested by Josh. It was devastating and humiliating to have that incident revealed to the public years after they thought it was in the past.
Jim Bob later finagled an idea to make a new show called Jill and Jessa: Counting On, later retitled simply Counting On. It would focus on the oldest children’s lives, minus Josh and his wife, Anna, and their children. However, once again, Jim Bob fixed it so that he was the only one being paid by the TLC network. Jill and Derick were “volunteers”… except they were bound by a contract that required them to work, while Jim Bob pocketed all the money. It prevented them from living their lives on their own terms… everything from forcing them to be available for filming, even when they were out of the country, to allowing cameras in while Jill was giving birth. It was unacceptable to the couple. So they decided to fight back, and that caused great strife in the family. Jim Bob used a variety of different tactics to get Jill and Derick back under his control. They resisted him, but it came at great cost… hence the title of the book.
Overall, I think Jill and her ghost writer, Craig Borlase did an excellent job on this book. Borlase did a good job making the book sound as if it came straight from Jill, yet it was very easy to read and understand. I spotted a few awkward sentences and at least one typo, but even the awkward sentences lent an air of authenticity to Jill’s story. I would not expect her to sound like an extremely educated person, because she was homeschooled using a fundamentalist Christian curriculum. She hasn’t been to college, nor is she super worldly, although I think she’s probably the most worldly of her siblings.
I did notice a couple of things that I haven’t seen other people mention about this book. I think I detected some subtle shade thrown at Ben Seewald. I know Ben and Derick had a falling out a couple of years ago. Jill never mentions Ben by name. She refers to him as “the guy Jessa was courting”. But later, she mentions Jinger’s husband, Jeremy, and refers to him as a “great guy”. Very interesting indeed. I don’t know if that was intentional, but I did pick up on it.
After all she’s been through, one might expect Jill to be super bitter and angry. I don’t know how Jill really feels off the record, but to me, this book is a very even-handed, yet honest, treatment of her situation with her family. She makes it clear that she loves her parents, even though her father has, quite frankly, been a totally narcissistic creep.
There are a few bombshells in the book. For instance, Jill shares how her father justified telling the IRS that he paid her about $130,000 when they never received that money. Jim Bob sent an itemized list of things he’d spent money on for Jill, to include her care and feeding when she was still a minor! And he never accounted for all the work she did for him– to include doing the heavy lifting of raising several of her siblings from the time she was a child herself.
It blew my mind that Jim Bob had made so much money off his children’s weddings and grandchildren’s births, but he was unwilling to so much as help Jill and Derick pay their $10,000 insurance deductible when their second son, Samuel, was born and Jill almost bled out and died. Jim Bob offered Jill and Derick $20,000 to “settle” the situation– a total insult, really. He gave them two days to decide, then rescinded the offer. Jim Bob also used the threat of lawsuits to keep his adult kids in line (definitely not a very Christian or Christlike thing to do) .
Fortunately, Jill and Derick were smart enough not to take Jim Bob’s monetary offerings or sign any other contracts with him. They have maintained their freedom and independence. They can make decisions for their own family, including sending their sons to public schools, drinking alcoholic beverages, wearing what they want to wear, and deciding if they want piercings, tattoos, or whatever else on their own bodies. I think they know that the freedom to make their own choices in life is worth so much more than money is. I also think they will make a lot more money on this book than any lump sum monetary gift Jim Bob could ever give them. It’s too bad most of Jill’s siblings weren’t as clever as the Dillards were.
Personally, I think Jim Bob Duggar is a narcissistic dirtbag. I’m sure he comes by it honestly, as a lot of narcissists do. I know he had a difficult upbringing. There was a lot of uncertainty and periods of poverty during his childhood, and that makes him very anxious about his own station in life as an adult. He corrects that anxiety by being hyper-controlling and dictatorial, and being a fundie Christian is one way to keep everyone in line. I get that. However, I still think Jim Bob is a creep for treating his kids the way he does… especially his daughters. He acts like his children, their spouses, and his grandchildren are his property. Jill even pointed out to Jim Bob that he treats her worse than he treats his child molester son, Josh. And all because she doesn’t want to live under her father’s thumb for the rest of his life or hers.
I also don’t think Jim Bob Duggar is a very good Christian. There’s a lot more to being a Christian than simply following rules and reading the Bible. Jesus Christ was not someone who craved riches, power, and control over other people. Jesus hung out with the people who were misunderstood and cast out from society. He served other people with no strings attached. He loved other people and ministered to them. Jesus didn’t seek to own other people, nor use them to prop up his image so he could be “example” for others to follow. Christ also didn’t threaten people with lawsuits or use shady contracts to keep people under his control. Jim Bob seeks admiration from people, control over them, power, and MONEY. That is not Christlike behavior.
Somehow, Jill has managed to show grace toward her parents. The book even ends on a positive, hopeful note. She shares a sweet picture of her parents holding her youngest son, Freddy. I know Jill loves her dad, in spite of everything. I admire her for that. She’s probably a better person than I would be in her shoes.
Anyway, I enjoyed reading Jill Duggar’s book. I applaud her incredible bravery and insistence on living her life on her own terms. I hope some of her siblings will follow suit. Living under the thumb of a control freak narcissist is no way to go through life. I think the Dillards are living proof of that. So bravo to Derick and Jill! I wish the best to them and their family, and I recommend her book.
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Guten Morgen, y’all. Two more days before we jet off to Norway. I will probably bring my laptop with me, but I don’t know how much or how often I will blog. I expect to be busy, and I may not have the best Internet access. And anyway, it probably would be a good idea for me to take a break from blogging. Maybe it would improve my outlook on things.
Yesterday, I recorded a couple of new songs. I think they turned out pretty nicely. I mainly did them because I felt like it. Singing makes me forget my troubles and helps me express my creative side. It literally makes me feel physically better to sing, especially when what I’m doing turns out nicely. This week’s songs are pretty good, if I do say so myself.
I got a comment on one of the songs from someone I “know” from the Recovery from Mormonism messageboard. I have been actively avoiding that site since March, when we lost Arran and I had an unpleasant interaction with a couple of people on the board. Although it certainly wasn’t the first time that had ever happened on RfM, I was feeling a bit “fed up” with being disrespected by total strangers. That was kind of the straw that broke the camel’s back.
I decided to take a break from ex Mormons for awhile. To be honest, I wasn’t sure if I’d ever be back to RfM, since there are a few people on that site that I find insufferable and it’s hard to avoid seeing their posts. I did need the break, though, because I was finding RfM a toxic place to be at a time when I couldn’t handle the toxicity. Still, it was hard to stay away from that site at first, since I’d been lurking there for about twenty years. After a couple of weeks of concerted effort, I did fall out of the habit of wanting to visit RfM. I won’t say I completely forgot about the site, but I did find other places to go, and other things on which to focus my energies.
Anyway, I figured that since I got a comment from a prominent RfMer, someone must have mentioned me there. And, because I was feeling pretty strong yesterday, and because I’m about to go on vacation, I decided to take a peek. I noticed that someone did, indeed, link to one of my new songs on YouTube.
One person said they’d thought of me recently, which I found kind of surprising. I don’t think I was one of the more popular posters on RfM, especially recently. Mormonism means somewhat less to me now, even though Bill’s daughter is still a very active member of the church. I used to blame Mormonism a lot for Bill’s situation with his ex wife. I still think she misused the church in her parental alienation campaign, and some of the church’s policies facilitated her ability to do that. However, I no longer feel as angry at the Mormons, because ultimately, it was church members who helped Bill’s younger daughter get away from her abusive and manipulative mother.
On the other hand, although I no longer really care as much about the LDS church as I used to, I have noticed a lot of traffic on an old book review about an ex Mormon that I reposted here, on this blog. I had originally posted my review of Lynn Wilder’s book, Unveiling Grace, on Epinions.com. There was a time when I read and reviewed a whole lot of “ex Mormon lit”, and I had a huge list of book reviews with brief synopses and links to full reviews. When Epinions went defunct, so did many of those old reviews that I worked so hard to write. But I did manage to preserve some of them through the magic of reposts.
I reread that book review yesterday and thought it was pretty good. I guess the book’s author has launched a somewhat new Web site. She’s an evangelical Christian now, and thinks that people who are LDS are deceived. I disagree with her, but I respect her right to share her views, and I appreciated being given the chance to consider and express how I felt about her story. And lot of people do agree with her opinions, even if I don’t. That is certainly okay… especially in supposedly free thinking countries. Unfortunately, I don’t think the United States will be considered a free thinking place for much longer.
Which (finally) brings me to the title of today’s blog post…
I have never made it a secret that I don’t like the trendy “karen” moniker. I think it’s a very stupid and tacky thing to take someone’s first name and hijack it, turning it into an insult. And the “karen” insult now gets thrown around “willy nilly”, to describe anyone who has a complaint, whether or not it’s valid. You don’t like someone’s take on things? Just call ’em a “karen”. I think it’s a lazy, unfortunate trend that ultimately isn’t going to lead us to better places. Silencing people who speak up about issues, whether or not we agree with their viewpoints, is not productive. Moreover, it kind of goes against the spirit of freedom, doesn’t it? Aren’t we supposed to feel free to express ourselves?
Yes, I know that in a free society, a person is always allowed to react as they choose regarding someone else’s opinions, even to the point of name calling. I just think that it’s unproductive to issue a response that is intended to squelch freedom of thought and expression. Instead of having an honest examination and discussion, leading to considering whether or not the views have any merit, a lot of us simply call the person a “karen”, and call it a day.
I think we should be allowed to maturely examine and discuss all viewpoints, even the ones that are extremely unpopular or distasteful. Of course, people should do their best to consider the appropriateness of the time and place when they speak up. But sometimes, speaking out at an inappropriate time and setting is a person’s only opportunity to be heard.
This morning, I was in the Exploring Virginia Facebook group. Someone had shared photos of old coins he found while using a metal detector at a Civil War campsite. I own a few very old American coins from the 1800s myself. I inherited them from my dad. I don’t know where he got them, but he had them when I was a very young child. I was interested in the guy’s coins, since I had a few myself. Then I read the comments.
Quite a few people wrote that it’s illegal to take things from state and national parks. The guy hadn’t indicated that he got the coins from a park, so I have no idea where he actually found the coins (if it was on public or private land). The people who made the comments about the parks– maybe they were “party poopers”. But they were also labeled “karens” for speaking out about the laws regarding taking things found in parks. I don’t even think that was an appropriate use of the “karen” insult, as “karens” are supposedly middle-aged white women of means who act in an entitled way, and demand to “speak to the manager” over something considered trivial. There was nothing entitled or trivial about speaking up about laws regarding national parks. I guess if I were going to criticize, I’d say that the comments about “theft” from the parks were kind of negative, which was a pity in a group about the beauty of Virginia. But the people who made them weren’t being “karens”.
But then it went further south, when someone brought up Joe Biden. Below is a sample…
Another example of this “anti-karen” no complaining trend has to do with Christians. Over the past couple of days, Katie Joy on Without a Crystal Ball has posted two videos about reactions to the new Amazon docuseries, Shiny, Happy People. I get the sense that Jim Bob and company are terrified that more people within their repressive belief system are going to wake up to the truth about the IBLP and abandon the movement that keeps them in power and money. So, in response to the new docuseries, “pastors” within the IBLP movement– one of whom is Jim Bob’s son-in-law, Ben Seewald, are preaching about how it’s wrong to “gripe”, “complain”, or “whine” about problems in the church, or life itself. However… that message is one of “toxic positivity”, which is the idea that a person must be positive at all times, even when a situation doesn’t warrant it.
I dare say that being a child sexual abuse victim of one’s perverted brother is something to complain about! But these folks in the evangelical movement are saying that the abuse should be forgiven and forgotten and swept under the rug. As I have pointed out before, sweeping stuff under the rug will eventually make a mess that people will trip over.
Speaking up about being mistreated or abused is NOT being a “karen”. Being silent about abuse is not a sign of strength, and it isn’t helpful. These pastors in the IBLP are saying that good Christians turn the other cheek and maintain a “contented attitude”. But when doing that means submitting to being exploited and harmed, it’s simply WRONG, and it allows abusive predators to keep doing evil things to good and innocent people. It amazes me that, to these supposedly Christian people, Jill Dillard is “toxic” and “dangerous” for speaking up about being abused, but Josh Duggar deserves grace and forgiveness for doing the abusing!
Even people who follow Duggar Family News have criticized Jill for speaking out, claiming that what she and her husband, Derick, are doing is just a “money grab”. Well, first off– what the fuck is wrong with that? Jill and her siblings were exploited for YEARS by her avaricious father, who didn’t even deign to pay them for their work! People need to make money to live! Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar did NOT prepare their children to be able to have thriving and fulfilling careers. They were trained to be Jim Bob’s SLAVES! Most of Jill’s siblings are still practically enslaved by Jim Bob.
I have absolutely NO ISSUE with Jill making money off of her story. She totally deserves whatever windfall comes her way, especially since she and Derick had to live on food stamps for awhile, thanks to her greedy father. I don’t understand people in the USA– especially those who are Republicans and all about making money– calling what Jill is doing a disgraceful “money grab”. Isn’t that kind of the way of Republicans? Especially the Christians!
Anyway… I’ve ranted for awhile now, so I guess it’s time to close this post. I just wanted to point out that sometimes it should be perfectly okay to complain. No one should fear being called a “karen” for speaking up about legitimate issues, even if speaking up does spoil someone else’s fun. That doesn’t make someone a “karen”. But “karen” is a stupid insult, in any case, and it needed to go out of style yesterday. People should be allowed to complain if they feel so inclined to do so. And then we can all determine for ourselves if we believe their complaint has any merit. We can’t make any progress if everyone acts like things are always “hunky dory”, when they’re clearly NOT!
If you want to see someone who epitomizes the stereotypical “karen”, you can watch the below video… I wouldn’t call her a “karen” myself, because I hate that term. But she sure is acting like an entitled bitch.
Yesterday, I watched Amazon Prime’s docuseries, Shiny Happy People as I wrote my daily blog post. The series, which was eagerly anticipated by Duggar family snarkers, was preemptively condemned by Jim Bob Duggar, who hadn’t seen it before he wrote his statement on Instagram. I shared his comments in yesterday’s post, so I won’t repost them here. Suffice to say, I think he knew this wasn’t going to be great PR for his family. However, in spite of Jim Bob’s fears, although the series promised “Duggar Family Secrets”, I’m not so sure it really delivered too much more of what most of us already knew. I did notice, though, that both Joy Anna Forsyth and her brother, Jedidiah, have respectively announced the births of their son and daughter just in time for this docuseries. Joy Anna’s baby, Gunner, was born May 17th, and Jed’s daughter, Nora, was born on the 24th. Both births were just announced within this week. Jim Bob probably hopes people will pay attention to those blessed events instead of what’s on Amazon.
What the docuseries has done is shine a light on Bill Gothard and the Institute in Basic Life Principles. It has revealed just how sick and bizarre that cult is, and how so many innocent people have been caught up in it through no fault of their own. Yes, we heard from Derick and Jill Dillard, but they weren’t the whole focus of the series. Quite a few lesser figures in the IBLP were given a voice, including a couple of men. I think people don’t realize that culty groups like the IBLP are not just destructive to females. Men who don’t toe the line can also suffer greatly.
This morning over breakfast, as I was telling Bill about the docuseries, I commented that I was so glad I wasn’t born to super religious parents who were stuck in a fundie Christian cult. I’ve mentioned before that to a lesser extent, we’ve been getting an inkling of what it’s like to be raised by an extremely narcissistic control freak through listening to Bill’s daughter. The IBLP puts that micro cult experience on a whole new level, causing a generations of young people to be stuck, undereducated and too sheltered to function effectively in the world.
Heather Heath, who wrote the book Lovingly Abused, about her experience growing up in the IBLP, spoke about how even the most intimate aspects of life were controlled. She spoke of how she bought tampons at WalMart during one of the conferences she attended. When the tampons were discovered, she was severely chastised for “taking her own virginity” with “devil’s fingers”. To be fair, this isn’t the first time I’ve heard such ignorance. Years ago, I read and reviewed a book called Do Tampons Take Your Virginity by Marie Simas. Simas was raised by strict Catholics, who had similarly odd views on feminine hygiene products.
The series indicated that Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar were moving into leading the IBLP, since Gothard was forced out for being such a pervy old man. Maybe that’s a comfort to Jim Bob, who has been trying to get back into politics so he can help turn the United States into a theocracy. I don’t think he’ll ever get back into public office, but if he’s running the IBLP, that’s a measure of power. But, then, a lot of people have seen the Amazon series by now, and will be warned away from him and his like minded friends. It’s a lot harder to suck people in to such cults now, because of the Internet and the easy availability of vast information. So, their only hope of survival is courting the ignorant and keeping the members they already have busy with breeding and church activities, hemming them in with legalistic rules.
The IBLP is just one of so many religious organizations run by extreme narcissists. Some of what was said in the series sounded a lot like things I’ve heard about religious movements, such as Mormonism. Joseph Smith, founder of the LDS church, basically “married” the wives of church members and had up to 40 wives. Some were as young as 14 years old. The LDS church has obviously changed some of its problematic earlier policies and become more mainstream. But there are still offshoots of the official church that do things more the way they were allegedly done in the early days of the church. Some of what I heard yesterday reminded me of what I’ve read about Mormonism, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Scientology, and lesser known religious cults. Really strict religious groups with lots of rules tend to have a lot in common with each other, even if their actual beliefs are very different. I was actually reminded of Scientology when I heard about how Jim Bob got a lot of his children to sign lifetime contracts that obligated them to work for him. After all, Scientology has their famous billion year contracts for members of the Sea Org.
Overall, I thought the series was very well done. Four episodes aren’t really enough… and I think the producers are going to find that people would love to have more. I won’t be surprised if they make another series or another season of Shiny Happy People. It’s giving people what they want and, ultimately, that means more money for Amazon. I did notice a bunch of people wishing the series were available on other platforms, as they didn’t want to subscribe to Amazon Prime just to watch the series. Fortunately for me, I use Prime a lot, so it was not an issue for me. I don’t use the video part of the membership much, so it was good to get to use it yesterday. Especially since I have memberships to both the US and German versions of Amazon Prime. Yes, that’s right. Amazon Prime on the US version of the site doesn’t carry over to all Amazon stores worldwide. I don’t know if just being able to watch Shiny Happy People is worth subscribing to Amazon Prime, but if you use Amazon a lot, like I do, it may be well worth the money.
One other thing that really seemed very sad to me was how young children were constantly reminded of Hell and how they would be tormented forever if they didn’t instantly obey their leaders. I mentioned it yesterday, but I was especially sickened by the pastor who demonstrated how to properly spank children, forcing them to be “grateful” for the corrections. The little boy who served as the model will grow up someday, probably married to a woman who didn’t necessarily want to be his wife. He will likely discipline his children in a similarly sick way.
Or maybe not… Here’s an unlocked article from the Washington Postabout a couple who were raised in Christianity and homeschooled, deciding to do things differently with their own children. It caused a huge rift in their family, but they decided they didn’t want to raise their children the way they were raised. They didn’t want to be instructed to beat their children with rods. So maybe there’s some hope.
While I’m sharing unlocked WaPo articles, here’s another one about a reviewer’s reaction to the series. I think it’s well worth reading… but really, I think you should watch the series, if you can stomach it and have the means. Hypocrite fundie blogger, The Transformed Wife, Lori Alexander, is obviously dismayed about it… For that fact alone, you should watch. She’s an idiot who really needs to zip it.
Well, it’s noon, and we have some plans for today, so I think I’ll sign off. Have a great Saturday!
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