Most people who watch the reality show 19 Kids and Counting are fascinated by the Duggar Family, a Quiverfull family led up by Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar. The couple's 19 children round out the family photo – now only available in panoramic view - and "star" in a TLC show. We makes jokes about Michelle’s uterus crying for help, or Jim Bob’s sex life, or that their children are only permitted “side hugs” with approved suitors and only when marriage is imminent. You may have thought – or said even, as I have – that something didn’t seem “right” about the family; that they just seemed too...something.
That “something” is now clear, and it comes via oldest Duggar son Josh, now 27 and married with children of his own.
Josh Duggar had addressed reports he sexually assaulted several unnamed female minors, and that his parents failed to act in a timely or responsible manner. He confirmed "inexcusable" actions. In short, Josh and his parents are assholes.
The Duggar family and their “quaint” way of life may be fascinating to watch but it is nothing to aspire to. It is not to be admired or emulated. It is harmful and it is dangerous. That the TLC Network continued to promote and uphold this family as a wholesome throwback to “the good old days” is shameful. The Duggar family operate from a default position of intolerance and fear, actively working against the LGBT communities by aligning themselves with capital “C” Conservative religious and political movements which seek to limit freedoms and deny human rights. This is not a family to be admired; this is a family to be feared. (Note: At time of publication, it has been announced that TLC has canceled the remainder of the season of 19 Kids and Counting.)
It has been reported – and now confirmed - that Josh "was investigated for multiple sex offenses;” offenses which include “forcible fondling against five minors. Some of the alleged offenses investigated were felonies." The report also reveals that in March 2002, a female minor reported a 14 year-old Josh “had been touching her breasts and genitals while she slept. This allegedly happened on multiple occasions.” And then this, in 2006, FOUR YEARS LATER: “Jim Bob told police that [years prior] in July, 2002 Josh admitted to fondling a minor’s breasts while she slept.” And at the time, “The family did not alert authorities.”
What Jim Bob Duggar did do however, was to approach their church elders and have Josh receive a stern talking to, after which he was sent to spend time with “a family friend who was in the home remodeling business.”
I’m not sure if they understand that just as you cannot “pray gay away,” (and nor should you) you also cannot “measure and saw your way into not being a child molester.”
It’s important to remember that this is not a case of normative sexual exploration. This was not a case of “Show me yours and I'll show you mine.” This was not mutual curiosity or typical behaviour. This was assault and abuse pure and simple, oh, but hey, he’s apologized for what he did so everyone can just calm the fuck down:
Josh told People yesterday, “Twelve years ago, as a young teenager, I acted inexcusably for which I am extremely sorry and deeply regret. I hurt others, including my family and close friends,” Duggar said. “I confessed this to my parents who took several steps to help me address the situation. We spoke with the authorities where I confessed my wrongdoing, and my parents arranged for me and those affected by my actions to receive counseling. I understood that if I continued down this wrong road that I would end up ruining my life.”
This, from the Facebook page:
This boy entered the rooms and private sleeping quarters of minors and he molested them and if they don’t want to forgive him then that is their right. It’s also of note that he will pay no legal price: the statute of limitations in his home state of Arkansas for this crime was three years – time which passed before the incidents were even reported. He admitted it and his community kept it a secret. His parents lied.
In a strange tie-in acting as further confirmation Oprah Winfrey is a orange-blossom scented wise spirit angel sent to Earth to protect human kind from harm and deliver mid-size reasonably priced sedans to the deserved, it was her Harpo production team who brought the story to light. Just before the Duggar family was set to appear on her show in 2006, they received an anonymous notice from “a 61 year-old woman” informing them of the incident. InTouch reports:
"Harpo Studios faxed the letter to the Department of Human Services hotline. The report was then opened for investigation, leading to the investigation by Springdale police. When police asked Jim Bob to bring Josh in for an interview in 2006, he attempted to hire a lawyer and refused to produce his son for questioning. At least two lawyers refused to take his case. “Det. Hignite received a voice mail from Mr. Duggar stating that [redacted] had hired an attorney and would not be coming in for an interview.”
There is an alarming lack of remorse in Josh’s statement. It is completely self-centered and focuses on how these heinous acts stopped only once he realized how would affect his own life – not a word given to the thoughts feelings or futures of any of the victims.
So Josh has “apologized.” His apology means nothing. His apology is self-serving patriarchal antiquated bullshit. His apology is worth less than shit, because it reinforces the notion that women are simply chattel – vessels - property to be owned, and that women’s lives and feelings and safety don’t matter.
Image Source: Instagram
Cystic Fibrosis (CF) - if you're not familiar - is a cruel bully of disease. It picks on children. It gets them from the time they're born and it doesn’t allow them to live their fullest or most vibrant lives. It robs families of carefree days. It makes breathing a struggle and it puts the light out early on too many lives. The average life expectancy for someone with CF is 50.9 years old, which is a goal to be celebrated.
We are getting there, in terms of a cure, and so many strides and medical advancements in fighting CF have been made, even in the last 20 years. But it needs to move faster and farther because CF runs while we are walking.
I had a friend with CF when I was young. I met her when we were 11 years-old, both of us in the throes of our awkward stage. She was a tiny package but she was as full of personality as her body could hold. She told us about her disease with acceptance; she loved to laugh but with CF we had to be careful because laughing often brought serious coughing fits that had her struggling to breathe. Even the simple pleasure of a raucous laugh was denied to her. Sleepovers brought snacks and movies but also a bag of puffers and great fistfuls of pills.
This is a representation of the average daily number of pills for CF treatment. DAILY.
She was often in the hospital with pneumonia or other respiratory infections – sometimes for weeks at a time - and she missed countless dances, parties and other typical teenager events. CF kept her from thriving and she knew she’d likely never graduate college, get married, or have children.
And she didn’t. My friend died in a hospital hooked up to breathing machines when she was just 17 years-old.
There were many things my girlfriend couldn’t do easily - or at all. CF limits your ability to be active and despite willingness or want, there are too may things you can't do.
Think of all you've accomplished - all your children have or will accomplish - and imagine having to do those things while getting your breath only through a straw. CARSTAR sent me a kit to emulate how someone with CF feels when their breathing is constricted. I open the box and quickly closed it again. It contained a narrow straw and nose plug. I don't want to breathe that way, but I have a choice. Too many do not.
I tried some simple tasks while breathing this way: walking the dog around the block, making my son's bed, and putting groceries away. I felt dizzy and winded and had to stop. I was frustrated and angry and tired. But I took the straw out and drew a great breath and my challenge was over.
Could you go grocery shopping while breathing through a straw? Chase a toddler? Play in the surf? Have a regular childhood?
Imagine all you can do. Now imagine all you couldn't. This is reality for one in every 3,600 Canadian children born with cystic fibrosis every year.
Why not take a day to walk for those who cannot? Why not walk for those whose lives ended too soon? Join CARSTAR Canada on Sunday May 31, and walk towards #AWorldWithoutCF.
There are things you can do to help, such as:
CF research has come a long way in the 20 years since my friend’s death but we still have a long way to go. People with CF are having children and living longer with the continued support from Cystic Fibrosis Canada, a not-for-profit organization that supports CF research, advocacy, and care. Another supporter is CARSTAR, a 15-year partner of CF Canada and the 2015 title sponsor of the Great Strides Walk for Cystic Fibrosis Canada. There is now hope that families can stretch beyond two generations of growth.
When I think of my friend, first I see her face. Then I see the face of her mother; a mother who had to bury a child. It’s a look I will never forget, and one that a cure for CF would eliminate from the faces of too many parents every year in Canada.
The end of the school year is in sight, and let me tell you, I am stoked! Sleeping in will be a nice change from our regular early morning routine, and I don't want to see that red brick building for two whole months. Don't get me wrong – I love our school, as does my son. I love everything about it - the teachers, the admin staff, the curriculum, the location. But I am quite happy to bid adieu to the routine for 10 or 11 weeks. I especially look forward to no longer having to fill out 46 page liability waivers so my son can walk to the mailbox or open a juice box. If judged by size, these field trip forms indicate taking a shuttle to the International Space Station to have kidneys removed before parachuting him home.
But even permission forms are a treat compared to what I hate most about the school routine: packing lunches.
Lunches are the worst thing about school. I once tried to convince my 10 year-old that it was "skip lunch or somewhere a dog will die" day. Another time, I kept him home an extra day from school after recovering from a head cold just so I wouldn't have to pack a lunch.
It wasn't always like this. When my kids started school, I was so excited to pack their lunches. Being an all or nothing kind sort of gal, I was going to pack the most delicious, nutritious, and satisfying lunches anyone could hope for. Their lunches were going to be the envy of every student and teacher in the school. Kids were going to be offering them new bikes and baby brothers in exchange for organic roast veggie and feta spelt wraps and smoothies chilled by purple butterfly-shaped ice packs. I bought the most beautiful lunch bags I could find and filled them with eco-friendly BPA free litter-less reusable colour-coded containers and matching flatware. I sent notes about how much I loved them. I bought monogrammed organic hemp napkins. I MADE SOUP.
Lunch soon became the centre of my universe and took the better part of a day to orchestrate. Every day I came close to tears, in a near state of panic about what to pack. I scoured the Internet searching for healthy lunch ideas; I purchased kid friendly cookbooks written by celebrities, I peeked in random school windows hoping to get a glance at fads in school dining. I accosted children at random bus stops asking what they had in their bags and how they'd rate it. Each night I would get out my laminated copy of the Canada Food Guide, sanitize the counters with bleach and don my apron. But the resultant lunch was worthy of a magazine article photo spread on healthy eating. I was exhausted, but it surely was worth it – the food was an extension of my love, a motherly gesture felt in my absence.
I grilled the children incessantly on what others in their class ate. What do they bring? Do they like it? Do they trade with you? They looked at me blankly and just shook their heads at my obvious incompetence in the lunch department.
Slowly, the refusal to eat my gorgeous lunches led to less than exciting midday meals. Now, a decade and a half into my parenting journey, I am experiencing what I call "Brown Bag Burnout." The average lunch now consists of broken crackers and a curled piece of sliced cheese that slipped under the crisper drawer, an apple with the bruise bitten out, some shriveled baby carrots I convinced them were dried apricots, and a granola bar I found in my purse. Any loving messages of pride or support have slowly morphed into something like "Tell your teacher your math homework isn't done because you were at soccer. DO NOT tell her it was because it was so hard it made me cry and I had to drink two shots of gin and then had you make your own dinner." It was written in purple sparkle eyeliner on a napkin that I found in the garbage.
When I was in school we did it the right way – we walked home for hotdog chunks in a bowl of Zoodles and purple Kool-Aid while we watched The Flintstones.
I've decided that for the remainder of this school year I am sending them with a paper sack, scissors, and a copy of The Field Guide for Wild Edible Plants of Ontario . They can forage for lunch in the field behind the school.