Trump World Grab-Bag--A Collection

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Getting the Duggar Interview out of My System

Sometimes I really want to leave a particular story be and just stop blogging about it, but something about it won't let me--the Duggars are that way. I never had any interest in their reality show because I basically think reality tv is a sign, in and of itself, of a kind of unhealthy exhibitionism. What's the pull in watching the day-to-day doings of your friendly next-door conservative Christian fertility cultists? The most I could sniff about is that a reality show is inherently exploitative, and that, since many of the children are minors--they don't really have the ability to knowingly consent to having their family's business aired. That these kids are otherwise very highly sheltered from what I would think of as "the world" never struck me as being as obviously a problem.  It's a bit easy to assume that the Duggar parents, however, have some idea of what they're doing.

It's easy enough for me, not being a parent, to snipe. But the interview revealed certain things (Salon uses the term "horrifying"--which only seems sensational until you think about the context) that make me genuinely wonder what they think they are sheltering their children from. Because among the things they actually said out loud where people could hear is that they compared notes with other families and what Josh Duggar did wasn't that bad.

I am assuming they did not join a support group, where one might expect to find people with similar experiences, but they just happen to be around people who have their kids feeling up on each other. Their homeschooling mentor Bill Gothard was a serial sexual harasser and the law enforcement officer they turned to to give their son a stern talking-to was deep into the child porn.

Do these people know anyone with a healthy concept of sexual boundaries?

A lot of the things they were saying kind of sounded like they were ameliorations they were telling themselves to make things not seem as bad. The girls were mostly asleep. They didn't even know what was happening. Josh came forward on his own. I'm not sure how convincing that really sounds to me. (The babysitter that was inappropriately touched did not know what happened to her--that doesn't even make sense!) They basically lied all over the place about how it was "taken care of"--it wasn't "taken care of" right away--the boy felt up five young girls, on several occasions. Their solution--to change the ground rules to where the boy Duggars couldn't have their sisters on their laps, where the boys could not babysit their younger siblings, and they could not play hide and seek--are appalling in that they presume that this inappropriate touching was simply going to happen if the boys (not just Josh) had an opportunity--and they were not able to teach them not to do that and to respect their little sisters' bodies without such ground rules.

As if "boys will be boys" and that necessarily means inappropriate touching. It seems to me to be a lousy message to send to those young males that self-control was not expected of them.

It also seems to me that an opportunity was wasted to properly inform all the children about what we sometimes call "good touch/bad touch". It troubles me when they use phrases like "our son violated God's principles" when what he violated was other people's bodies. The actual idea that those bodies are not to be touched because they are other people's bodies is hidden behind a more-vague and less-instructive idea of "because God says so."

I'm sure, faced with the possible loss of their show, the Duggars feel like they are being "punished" and that the criticism they are facing is unfair.  Still, blaming journalists for reporting what happened and looking to sue the person who leaked the police report (which was not a sealed juvenile record at all, but obtained under a perfectly lawful information request) seems like an exercise in blame-shifting, and a damned unhelpful one.

I don't think this interview was helpful, but the upcoming interview Friday with the sisters (who are called victims even if the Duggar parents don't consider what happened either child molestation or rape--by the strict legal definitions) is likely to be more disturbing still. Jim Bob Duggar said that he believed that the victims should get to tell their own stories, not have the tabloids tell it for them--but I feel skeptical about how their story will be presented. This isn't about telling their truth--this feels like a PR campaign and I genuinely wonder how they feel about having to get their story out there within a certain news cycle window to try and make their whole family a bit sympathetic again.

From my POV, it stinks. (Note, of course--they will be interviewed. Not Josh. Whatever he had to say for himself, I guess his parents have said.)


mikey said...

Meh. I don't watch any of the PR for any religious fundamentaist extremist groups. I don't watch the beheading videos. All these fundie nutjobs, whether christianist, islamist or hindu (yes, hindu sectarian violence against muslims in India is a thing now, and Prime Minister Modi was once banned from traveling to the US because of his involvement in hindu hate crimes) have the same, nearly identical worldview. Patriarchal family and community structure, subservient womens roles, an unhealthy obsession with sex, a hatred and fear of the rest of the world - these shows, interviews and videos serve only as vehicles for enablement and recruitment.

It is always unhealthy and dangerous, and the bad behaviors that are fostered in such an environment - from sexual violence to murder - will always affect the surrounding communities in very bad ways.

Formerly Amhert said...

Hi Vixen, clearly we have a bumper year for sexual molestation stories.

Jerry Sandusky was in the news for weeks for multi molestation of young men at Penn State. Some petty officers on Navy submarines were just indicted for taking pictures of unclad female sailors. Dennis Hastert apparently a bit like Sandusky is also guilty of homosexual molestation. And Bruce Jenner (Caitlyn) is … is, well, whatever that species is called.

Naturally, these are all high-profile hetero and homosexual molesters. Apparently one can find few professional or political categories where sexual abuse does not rear its ugly head.

We are moving into very dangerous territory as the Kali Yuga proceeds. One of the little understood facets is that when we went from the modern world to the post-modern world, it was a regression rather than an advance. We have all been raised to see every century as an improvement on the one before. Every generation committing itself to initiatives that advance humanity in some ways to some point further on.

Many would be startled to discover that this is not the point of view of any of the deeper esoteric teachings, nor the point of view of those who study the philosophy of history. i.e., you rise to a golden age, and then you decline.

The esoteric perspective demonstrates a digression and devolution into a totally chaotic state before a new impulse starts the whole rigmarole over again.

Of course, there are movements of advance even in the counter-initiation that are attempting to lay a groundwork for a recovery period after chaos has been achieved and then concluded.

It is entirely foreign to orthodox thinking to grasp that regression has already started and is rapidly under way. A point of interest might be that the vice of Tipareth is pride; however, our culture is moving away from the Tipareth impulse and into Netzach where the vice is lust. We moved from the cathedral to the business office towers, and now the entertainment complex becomes enormously influential with all its characteristics of Netzach.

Another commenter just mentioned the superstitions in India, and in fact this is true. A frequent topic of discussions among authorities on the East is how you have the combination of some of the most sophisticated thinking and insights ever produced by humanity living side by side with primitive superstitions. You know, nothing is ever entirely one-sided. Not politics, not religion, not sports... there are always legitimate propositions to be considered. The naive ideologues are the ones who truly and faithfully believe that their puppet masters are ultimately without flaw.

Vixen Strangely said...

The concept of decline is pretty familiar to me as a student of literature--the fall from golden age to silver to bronze to iron from Greek Mythology is pretty much recapitulated in other folklore traditions, notably the East--what I think marks the change is the current Western Tradition of the myth of progress, where we talk about the Space Age or the Atomic Age, applying our faith in technology as a net positive. It's one of the reasons when, in talking about geologic ages, referring to the present time as the Anthropogenic Age makes so much sense for me--it's a warning that our sense of progress and faith in technology must be coupled with a sense of responsibility, because we now do have world-wrecking powers because of the power of the atom, the rocket, the engines of our industries. The quandary of our Atomic era has been the coupling of world-wrecking power with attitudes only a little way away from cavemen--Shakespeare had us pegged:

'What a piece of work is a man! How noble in reason, how infinite in faculty! In form and moving how express and admirable! In action how like an Angel! in apprehension how like a god! The beauty of the world! The paragon of animals! And yet to me, what is this quintessence of dust? Man delights not me; no, nor Woman neither; though by your smiling you seem to say so.'

And the ashes of Hiroshima still take wing even as the rubbish of Fukushima washes on our western shores. The lint that kills the millworker, the coal dust in the lungs of mineworker, grains of anthrax in the mails and the plutonium of dirty bombs: the DU of so-called clean ones--the chicken shit and ground animal meal that find their way into animal feed spreading prion disease: we are dust, and know an awful lot of ways to do our ashy selves in.

Skepticism of government as well as thought systems like religions always strikes me as being more sensible than paranoiac. Fear of being paranoiac keeps me hopeful that these things still hold a little candle of the humanity that made them.

Vixen Strangely said...

But I do have to pall a bit at lumping Caitlin Jenner in with the predators. If, at 65, Caitlin Jenner is ready to experience life as a woman, her transition affects her far more than it does anyone else. I'll admit that the space between her iconic Wheaties box portrait as Bruce, the epitome of Olympian athleticism, contrasted with her Vanity Fair cover as a very feminine-presenting woman, skews our sense of gender--bends it, you might say. That one person, in the continuity of their experience, embodies both these aspects seems astonishing--indeed, there are some people petitioning to take back the medals "Bruce" earned forty years ago because Caitlin, as a woman, would not have been eligible for the event in which she participated. Notwithstanding that Bruce was not out at the time and her body was 100% biologically male. And it would very obviously not be easy for a biologically female body to achieve the same athletic accomplishments.

But I have to object to treating Caitlin as a anything other than a person who by now should know her mind. We have come a long way since Christine Jorgenson shocked the world with her gender reassignment. Trans people have spearheaded the fight for LGBT rights--before Stonewall, which was also largely a trans fight, there were demonstrations at Dewey's Coffee Shop in Philadelphia and Compton's Cafeteria in San Francisco--contemporaneous with the civil rights movement. You won't catch me putting down trans people. They don't have it easy, and their challenges are not always well-understood. But I will point out that there is a strong mind-body-genetics connection that indicates that trans people are "born this way", and that expressing their identity, as they understand it, is a hell of a lot better for them than trying to conform to an impression that seems alien to them. Gender, like sexuality, is largely a mental state. So long as people aren't hurting one another, I am for people experiencing life in the way that makes them happy.