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Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Josh Duggar and His Victims are "Damaged Goods"

Josh and Anna Duggar. Image source.
[content note: sexual abuse, rape culture]

Last week, the news broke that Josh Duggar sexually abused at least 5 girls back in 2002. People all over the internet have opinions about it. And I'd like to talk about a particular point in the story which those who are unfamiliar with purity culture likely misunderstood.

Anna Duggar, Josh's wife, says that she knew about it before they got married. Actually, in purity culture, you're supposed to "confess" all previous sexual experiences and romantic relationships to your partner before getting married.

Why? Because, according to the teachings of purity culture, if you have sex before marriage, you have ruined your chance at ever having a good and healthy marriage. If you do other "impure" things- sexual things, kissing, dating and breaking up- you've also hurt your chances. Basically, purity culture promises that if you come into marriage knowing absolutely nothing about sex, having had no relationships other than the one with your husband or wife, you will have a perfect marriage.

It's all about the initial conditions. I've heard so many times "The best gift you can give to your husband is your virginity." You guys. This is bullshit. The best gift you can give to your husband is being a good marriage partner. It's not about what you did in the past. It's about who you are now.

But in purity culture, it's ALL about what you did in the past. What were you supposed to be doing in the past? NOTHING. ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. And if you did something, then your future marriage will be suffer for it. Forever.

So before marriage, people who follow purity culture have to "confess" their relationship/sexual histories to each other.

Furthermore, people who are "impure" are unworthy of a "pure" husband or wife. The pure person has worked so hard to stay that way, and God owes them a perfect spouse. A virgin deserves a virgin. A person who has never been kissed deserves a person who has never been kissed. Etc.

So do not think for a moment that Josh Duggar telling Anna about his past had anything to do with "oh no, this guy has molested children, he's a predator- could he be dangerous?" No. No no no no. It's because Josh had had sexual thoughts and sexual experiences, and was therefore impure. I don't know about Anna's past, but assuming she was "pure", Josh was unworthy of her. The question in her mind would then be "oh... for my whole life I've dreamed of having a perfect marriage to a pure guy, who was saving himself for me... this is a huge step down but I love him... should I still marry him?"

(Note that this situation would be exactly the same if, say, Josh had had consensual sex with an ex-girlfriend.)

Text: "I'm so worth waiting for." Image source.
[content note: victim blaming and generally awful rape-culture stuff]

And... you guys... in purity culture, the victims are impure too.

Yes, of course it's not their fault. But still, the reality is there. Your body and all your sexual experiences belong to your future husband or wife. It's not the victims' fault, but still, they have been damaged, and a "pure" person deserves better.

In this ideology, the reason rape and abuse are bad is that they destroy what should belong to a person's husband or wife. (This is why it's very hard for purity-culture followers to even understand the concept of "marital rape".) Similarly, if you had consensual sex with your ex, you destroyed what was supposed to belong to your future husband/wife. In the logic of purity culture, consensual and non-consensual sex both make a person impure and incapable of ever having a healthy marriage.

Oh, and another thing about "it's not their fault." Umm. Right. In purity culture, if you "put yourself in a situation with too much temptation," then it is your fault. (It's times like this I wish I knew how to swear better, because this is effing bullshit.)

So Josh Duggar had to "confess" his past to his wife, because he was impure.

In the same way, his victims will have to "confess" to their future spouses, because they are impure.

(But who are we kidding? A woman being "impure" is seen as much worse than a man being "impure.")

Bullshit, that.

Text: "To the husband God has for me: I will wait for you." Image source.
And let's talk about forgiveness.

Actually, this sort of situation happens a lot in purity culture- where one partner is more pure than the other, but the pure person decides to "forgive" the impure person, and they get married.

But the pure person can totally hold it over your head for the rest of your life. Wow, what a gracious act of charity they did for you! You were so unworthy, and yet they forgave you and married you anyway! (I mean, the whole premise of purity culture is that any "mistakes" you make before marriage will haunt you forever. It's a self-fulfilling prophecy.)

(In my opinion, what's more likely to "haunt you forever" is the shame and fear that purity culture heaps on everybody.)

So that's what forgiveness means. No tangible consequences, but a lot of shame. Incidentally, this is also how evangelical Christians view God's forgiveness. Jesus died to forgive our sins, but we should feel bad about it forever.

Text: "Stay pure till marriage. That is the way God set it up in the bible." Lololol yeah no. Image source.
One more thing I'd like to say here: You are not "damaged goods." Your body belongs to you, and if you choose to have sex with a consenting partner, well just be safe and healthy (physically and emotionally) about it, and there's nothing wrong with that. If you were raped or abused, it was not your fault, and it is totally not okay for someone to do that, because your body belongs to you. And you deserve whatever time, therapy, etc you need in order to heal.

Purity culture promises a perfect marriage if you just follow its rules and stay pure. Instead, it makes everyone feel ashamed, and sees victims and abusers as more or less equally "impure."

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See also: 
Josh Duggar's "Sin" Doesn't Matter Because Being Pure is Really Hard
Josh Duggar's Real Victim Was God (So It's Okay) 

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