I’m so sorry you guys. I’m so sorry that the most compelling story this week is about the Duggars. I tried so very hard to find literally anything else to write about, but I came up empty handed. I would write about the amazing Anne Meara, but since my knowledge of her is limited to appearances in Zoolander and Sex and the City, I felt I could not do her proper justice.
So, fuck it, let’s talk about the Duggars.
I’ve written before about my timeline being bombarded by paid advertisements from pages such as “I dig the Duggars” or links to articles discussing the Duggar dating rules. My resulting confusion and anger had me searching desperately for an explanation for the posts, and I came to two possible conclusions – Facebook has been misinterpreting my aggravated research into the Christian purity movement or it mistook the gargantuan size of my Polish family as being a part of the quiverfull movement. Either theory is viable, but the overabundance of Duggar-related news on my Facebook timeline is inexcusable.
I’ve already been exasperated over the Duggar domination on my social media pages. At some point I just decided to accept it – somebody out there wanted me to pay attention to the god damn Duggars, and they were gonna make it happen by any means necessary.
And boy, did they ever find a way to make me pay attention.
Look, by now we all know the story – Josh, the eldest of the Duggar clan, molested five young girls when he was a teenager, some of whom were his sisters. His parents waited out the statute of limitations to report the incident to the police, thus no criminal charges were filed. He was sent off to some sort of bullshit Christian work camp where he received some sort of bullshit, victim-blaming counseling. But he totes repented for his sins and now he’s all better. They washed their hands of the incident and everybody’s fine.
Then, of course, are the even more disturbing notes to the story (yes, it gets more disturbing). There’s the excerpts from the homeschooling text that the Duggars use that counsels families on how to handle “moral failings” in the family (because this is apparently a common occurrence in this community). There are some pretty horrific tidbits, such as the chapter in which parents are chastised for tempting their sons by allowing them to change their sister’s diapers. We are even privileged to hear the expert testimony of his sister’s father-in-law, who states that we’d all molest our siblings if it weren’t for those darn consequences that were hiding around the corner. Yeah, no. Just … no.
Literally everything about this story is horrifically upsetting – not the least of which being the fact that a man who has built his career calling the gay community a threat to our children was, in fact, a threat to children (but he apologized to God, so he’s good). But one of the things that has upset me most is that the majority of the stories are Josh-centric – and that seems to echo the fundamental flaw in how we report on cases of sexual assault. Everyone wants to know what could have tempted the God-fearing man? How did the star football player veer so far away from success? How could the loveable comedian do something so unfunny?
Here’s the thing – I’m sick of talking about the perpetrators while ignoring the victims. This shit happens so much, reacting in shock is kind of proof of willful ignorance. I’m sick of talking about Josh Duggar and his marriage and penance.
I want to talk about the Duggar women.
At the time of the alleged assaults, Josh had five sisters – Jana, Jill, Jessa, the unfortunately named Jinger and Joy-Anna. And I have yet to hear about any of their therapy, recovery or feelings regarding any of these incidents. And why would I? You watch any single episode of 19 Kids and Counting and you’ll learn that the girls live to function for the betterment of the males in the house. If Josh has recovered and repented, what do any of the girls’ feelings matter? ‘
Well ladies, I’m sick of it. And as I’ve begrudgingly admitted, I’ve watched your show before (mostly out of disgusted curiosity, but I watched it all the same). I’ve always had a particular fondness for Jinger, who seemed to have a talent for the Liz Lemon eye roll and an expert sass mouth that could be truly perfected to an art in the right environment. But the other ladies certainly have their strong points and I’d love to see the day where they all break free in order to pursue individual lives.
So to you girls, I dedicate my Duggar fantasy narrative.
Oh Jana, you seem so beaten down. It can’t be easy being the eldest girl in a group of 19. Your mom is tired and nobody should be burdened with that many children. No wonder you have yet to find a Jim Bob approved suitor and started your own family – you’re too busy cleaning up the mess your parents made.
For you, I wish the life of a high powered CEO. Take as many business courses as you can find in the Duggar-approved Christian correspondence college and crush every paper you have to write. Take your role running the Duggar home as training for a position in management. Take your doula training to the next level and accept a position managing the prenatal unit of a hospital.
And seriously, take a break for a few years and just be awesome Aunt Jana. You’ve been parenting other people’s kids for too long. Take some you time.
Jill, you actually seem somewhat-happily married. That’s nice. I’m glad for you. You also seem to be beaming after the birth of your first son. That’s also lovely. I believe that both marriage and children are great things (within reason). Good for you.
My only wish for you is a planned family and that you shirk the insanely misogynistic philosophy of the quiverfull movement. Take some time with your son, one is enough for now. There’s plenty of time to have more kids. For fuck’s sake, you’re only 24. Please don’t go baby crazy like your mom.
Jessa, you seem a bit less invested in your husband. In fact, you seem downright bored. Unfortunately for you, you are already burdened with a Seewald baby. I’m sorry, hon. But contrary to what your parents may say, divorce is actually an option. It’s totally legal! And you’re so young! You can go do a lot of things!
My only wish for you is that you go do something other than your dull-as-dishwater husband. You actually seem somewhat interesting. Please go live up to your potential.
Oh Jinger, I have always felt a strong connection to you. Your bitchy side-eye, track-pants-wearing, evil-grin self has won my heart many times over. You were never a Duggar and I’m so sorry you were forced into this abomination of a family.
Anyone who has watched this show has sighed over the scene where you expressed your wish to move to the city and become a photographer and you were shut down by your mother and sister. Apparently it’s just not in God’s plan for you to become a photographer. And according to your mother, your version of a city means living within 20 minutes of a Wal-Mart. Given the numerous trips you have made to NYC for television appearances, I’m pretty confident that you know what a city is.
I’m also pretty confident that you know how to escape the Duggar compound. In fact, I’m pretty sure you have the original blueprints of the house and may even have a tunnel built, hidden behind a poster of Rita Hayworth (which is hidden behind a poster of Jesus). Please, be the guiding light that shows your sisters the way out.
Also, please change your name to something acceptable. Your parents are serious assholes. Julie, Joan and Jacqueline were all available, but they went with Jinger. Tell them to fuck off and change it. Bonus points if you change it to a non-J name.
Stay strong Jinger. You are the mockingjay to the Duggar’s capitol.
Joy-Anna, I hear you can dead lift 145 lbs. Fantastic. After you snap your father in half like a phone book, I would like you to train your ass off as an NXT fighter. It would seem to me that you’ve probably got a lot of rage issues to work through and I’m sure there’s an amazing character to be had with the escaped quiverfull girl gone pro wrestler. Please fulfill my wildest dreams.
The worst thing I could think is for any of these women to continue to be stunted by the tragedies of their youth. There’s so much awesome potential within all of the Duggar children, much of which will not be reached because of the bullshit upbringing they have suffered. Here’s hoping that with some legitimate therapy (no, Christian labor camps don’t count), they can all find some freedom.
And maybe, just maybe, Jinger’s made some serious progress on her underground tunnel. Fingers crossed.
On a more serious note, I wanted to provide some resources for those who may be suffering from some of the horrific experiences mentioned above. Trauma is not something that has to be suffered through alone. PTSD is an extremely treatable condition and sexual assault can be treated – and can be treated very well. You can look to some of your favorite HoboTrashcan columnists for PTSD success stories (that’s me for those of you who can’t catch on). Please utilize these resources if you are suffering and pass them along, because you never know what someone may be going through. We all deserve to live a fulfilled and happy life.
Resources for victims of sexual assault:
Molly Regan is an improviser and writer in Baltimore. She likes chicken pot pie, Adam Scott’s butt and riot grrl.