In Which Alice Conjures Fire and Brimstone

[CN: child molestation.]

Dear Readers, 

You should know, I’m about to go off about Josh Duggar again. This story is touching nerves for me — some very old, some related to an incredibly painful family drama unfolding with my own parents over the past two months — and there is absolutely some transference going on in the anger I am feeling. However, I want to start by acknowledging the critical importance of a point Charles Blow raised earlier this week. (h/t my awesome friend Elizabeth)

When discussing revelations of sexual abuse, Blow writes:

“…we shouldn’t stray far from focusing on, extending help to, and seeking to be sensitive to the survivors and using these cases educationally to better protect other children.

“As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, I can say with some authority that no one should take an ounce of joy in these revelations and accusations. This is not a political issue, even if people — including abusers themselves — have hypocritically used it as one.

“This is not the time for giddiness or gloating. Child sexual abuse is tragic and traumatic for its survivors — and that is where the bulk of the focus should always be.” 

I agree with this sentiment 1000%. If I could follow it in what follows, I would. Since I can’t — since I have my own rage storming to be let out and heal — I’m going to suggest that if you only have it in you to read one piece about the Duggars today, let it be Blow’s column or something similar. Skip what follows below the jump, or just scroll past my words until you come to the cleansing video break at the end (which I think we all have earned!). You can pick back up with me on the next post!

Of course, that one may well be me raging about rape in Game of Thrones, so ya know. . . I’m not promising it will be exactly cheery or nuthin’!

But since when did anyone read CaaBP for the uplifting lyrics??


I can’t anymore, with yesterday’s additions to the Josh Duggar sexual molestation story. Not to mention his parents’ interview last night on Fox. I am finding it hard to stop following. I also feel flayed alive by the details.

All I can think is: WE KNEW.

We all knew — or else we actively chose not to know — that the Duggar daughters were, in the very best case scenario, being groomed to become compliant abuse victims after marriage. Josh just jumped the gun on that for four of his sisters. The youngest of whom was only FIVE when her teenage brother began coming into their bedroom at night to methodically assault his sisters, one after the other. For OVER A YEAR — and no one stopped him.

Every public statement this family has ever made, every aspect of that garbage “reality show” people watched as if they were gawking at sideshow freaks and not children, trumpets the idea that girls and women are chattel. That they are not to enjoy their own bodies but to give themselves over to a man as his sexual property. These parents have built an empire out of the commodification of their children and their hate.

And we have watched them as they did so.

I try very hard not to be a hateful person. I don’t find it productive — or healthy for my own soul — to think of abusers in terms that do not acknowledge their humanity, however damaged or disordered it may be.

But, in this particular moment, as related to this particular story, I want to believe that Josh Duggar and both his parents will someday burn.


It’s an odd feeling for me to be struggling with. I am not a person of faith; I never have been. I am slightly unclear why apocalyptic religious imagery keeps returning to my mind, as it has been for the last several months.

Hellfire. Purgatory.

(At least I don’t go so far as eternal damnation, when my backbrain conjures up the image of a just universe.)

I think it may be related to my father’s own spiritualism. Cosmic, posthumous despair is the only remedy I can picture having any chance of reaching him deeply enough that he recognizes the damage he has wrought — continues to wreak — upon people I love. I have not given up hope of him experiencing true remorse, you see.

Only of him getting there in his lifetime, or mine.


And now — if you’re still with me — WE DESERVE THIS BREAK TODAY!!

7 thoughts on “In Which Alice Conjures Fire and Brimstone

  1. I never watched the Duggars. I hate reality tv. The thing that really bothers people is when people hold themselves up as a beacon of religion and goodness, and then they do something so horrible. There is so much evil in the world, but the worst is when there is evil masked as a saint. It brings out the worst in all of us because we are angry. It is super understandable.


    1. What bothers me is not just how they present themselves — but the willingness of the media and the viewing audience to give them a public platform, just so we can gawk at their “oddity.”



  2. Alison and I watched it. We got stuck for quite some time on Mr. Duggar’s line which went something like, ‘It wasn’t rape or anything…’
    Also the repeated assurances that ‘the girls never knew’ that they basically had to be told what their perverted brother was doing to them, OVER THEIR CLOTHING mind you, while they slept, then later while they were awake.
    After about 20 minutes in we just stopped talking because there really was nothing more to say. They so believe themselves and their stories and their form of truth and I just felt defeated in personally trying to understand them or their excuses.
    We will watch Friday, to hear the women speak, knowing the parents are just out of sight, knowing these now married women will most likely be teaching (training in Duggar language) their hoards of upcoming children in the rightful ways of their lord.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You may be interested in these responses by Melissa McEwan at Shakesville:

      I was particularly struck by this observation, after the interview with the two daughters aired:

      “We should regard with informed skepticism any minimizing narratives trading on the notion that sexual abuse can’t or shouldn’t be viewed as a big deal if survivors say it isn’t. Not just because survivors can have their own reasons for minimizing sexual abuse, which the rest of us should not exploit in order to defend their abuse, but because one of the most basic features of the rape culture is that victims, especially young victims, are frequently coerced by their abusers or abettors of their abuse, to participate in the defense of the people who victimized them and/or failed to protect them.

      “To question Jessa’s lack of comprehensive agency is not to audit her descriptions of her experiences, but to hold accountable the people who have limited her agency only to then exploit those very limitations.

      “What we are seeing is very likely a secondary trauma: A victim groomed to defend abuse, to protect her abuser and comfort rape apologists.”


      1. We both thought this very thing as we watched the sisters interview. To announce that the brother was just a boy in the midst of puberty with curiosity about girls, or that they had to be told what happened to them because they were sleeping and the touch was over their clothing was difficult to watch knowing that these women have come to truly believe the stories fed to them.

        Liked by 1 person

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