And now I will talk about Josh Duggar.

You may have heard that someone hacked into the Ashley Madison servers. I’m sure there are ethical reasons why I shouldn’t stoop to reading about who was caught maintaining a cheat-on-your-spouse account, but, when it exposes ripe hypocrisy, I just can’t help it! Exhibit A: Josh Duggar. Yes, THAT one. First child of Jim Bob and Michelle of 19 Kids and Counting fame, and now the executive director of the Family Research Council. He’s been caught with TWO accounts at Ashley Madison.

Of course this isn’t nearly as disturbing as his sexually abusing younger girls, including his own sisters, but it’s still the sort of thing where he should know better. He makes a living in telling the rest of us what to do with our juicy bits? He shouldn’t be running around on his spouse.

Something that stood out to me, while fish-bowling his latest shame, is that the experiences he’s looking to get from an affair are so uninteresting. According to Gawker, Josh is seeking an extramarital partner for:

“Conventional Sex,” Experimenting with Sex Toys,” One-Night Stands,” “Open to Experimentation,” “Gentleness,” “Good With Your Hands,” Sensual Massage,” “Extended Foreplay/Teasing,” “Bubble Bath for 2,” “Likes to Give Oral Sex,” “Likes to Receive Oral Sex,” “Someone I Can Teach,” “Someone Who Can Teach Me,” “Kissing,” “Cuddling & Hugging,” “Sharing Fantasies,” “Sex Talk.”

That’s it? Really?

I’m not shaming him for being insufficiently adventurous; having vanilla taste in sexytimes is fine. I just think…if he were into weird stuff, I could sort of sympathize with his stepping out on his spouse. It would still be ripe hypocrisy, and unfair to Anna, but I’d see where he was coming from if he were trying to fulfill kinks that Anna didn’t share.

That, though? THAT is why he needs a lady on the side? I could believe that maaaaybe Anna won’t try sex toys, or that her sex talk game is weak, or she’s not so articulate about sharing fantasies, but Josh cannot expect me to believe he can’t have the rest of that incredibly tame shit with his faithful Quiverfull wife. I don’t believe it. *crosses arms stubbornly*

Nope. He’s been cheating on his wife just because he feels like he should have MORE. Maybe the Quiverfull model of marriage ends up being insufficiently fulfilling for Josh; maybe he feels like he needs a more interesting woman to share his bed. Maybe there’s something inherently oppressive in the sense that he cannot fuck his wife without making yet another Duggar. So perhaps he needs another lady just to get the feeling, which most people do enjoy with their partners, of fucking just because fucking is fun. And if that’s his issue, then he should not be telling the rest of us how to build our family lives, because the Family Values party line is that “fucking just for fun” is warped and wrong. Of course he lost his leg to stand on as soon as we found out he sexually abused his sisters, so there’s also that.

Tradition, Big Weddings and Shitty Parents

There’s a recent post at Captain Awkward in which the letter writer, who seems like a really nice person and deserves better than any of this shit, basically asks this: “My father mistreats me in every possible way, so how do I include him in my wedding?”

Between her letter, the Captain’s answer, and the stories being shared in the comment section, there are some things I want to talk about today. One is that the letter writer is a great example of a grown daughter who should have cut her father out of her life years ago. (Her mother and stepfather are good to her, while her father and stepmother are awful.) I think more grown children should cut ties with their parents, not because that’s a good thing unto itself, but because there are a lot of parents out there who are terrible people and their adult sons and daughters would lead much better lives without them.

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Family planning “advice” that works for no one.

I would like to co-sign this rebuttal by Natasha Chart on the expenses that pregnancy and childbirth tend to incur. I will especially highlight this passage here, as this is the tabula rasa of basically every abortion debate:

Lastly, though she mentioned it first, Fiano complained about my lack of discussion of personal responsibility, lamenting sarcastically that “it’s cruel to expect women to abstain from sex if they aren’t ready for a baby.” In a word, yes. That’s cruel.

Sex drive is basic to human nature. We’ve been having sex as a species for a long time—close to 200,000 years by now if you believe in the same science that gives us miracles like advanced antibiotics and level 3 neonatal intensive care units—and many of us are sick of being made to feel guilty about it.

I’m going to take it as a given that Fiano disapproves of sex outside of marriage. And I’m going to guess that when she talks about personal responsibility, it’s code for the people the forced birth movement always acts like they’re talking about exclusively: childless, unmarried teens and early 20-somethings. (Nothing gets their predominately male audience frothing like young girls having unauthorized sex, and Fiano clearly knows her audience.) This creepy voyeurism is stomach turning and is probably at least as much to blame as widespread racism for the conservative movement’s demographic death spiral.

Even as a married woman, I reject the idea that sex should always be about being ready for a baby. No matter how guilty many people feel in public when they’re shamed into mumbling their agreement about the evils of “irresponsible” sex, not all married people are always ready for a baby, even if they already have children.

To be more clear, if Fiano isn’t planning to join the Quiverfull movement, or isn’t one of the less than 20 percent of Catholics who agree with the church hierarchy on contraception, to suggest that women (not men, naturally) should abstain from sex if we don’t want babies is an extreme minority position. If she is planning to do something like that, well, there’s a reason the Duggars have a reality TV show—because most modern U.S. citizens have decided not to live like that.

Emphasis mine. I should change that clause to “precious few married people are always ready for a baby, especially if they already have children.” When anti-choicers tell us “If you don’t want a baby, then don’t have sex” as if we’re too stupid to have known already that vaginal intercourse is the cause of pregnancy, they’re proposing a system of family planning that nobody actually practices. No one really controls their reproduction by never having sex, ever, in the years when they’re not interested in creating new humans. Try telling a married new dad that not only does he have to wait for his wife to recover from childbirth before he can have sex with her again, he has to wait the next year and a half or so until she’s ready to get pregnant again. Seriously? He’ll be having none of that. The idea isn’t really for long-term abstinence to become the new birth control; the idea is for births to be uncontrolled and for women to take the blame for not putting Bayer aspirin between their knees.

Non-procreative sex isn’t just a part of life, it’s a vital part of building families. The supposedly simple formula of “no sex until you’re ready for babies” is cruel precisely because it’s unrealistic.

“He was raised to believe” that family is not so important.

I’m sorry to be doing this over the phone, your father has forbidden me from seeing you in person.  I’m sorry, he just cannot support your lifestyle anymore, he will not be speaking to you again, he asked me to tell you.

Ashley Miller’s father disowned her, just after Thanksgiving, because she’s dating a black guy. Her stepmother called to tell her the situation.

Your lifestyle is just not OK with him, he has bent as much as he will bend.  He has bent so much and you haven’t bent at all.

I insist on clarification, “My lifestyle?”

Yes.  Your father is an old Southern man, he was raised like that, he was raised to believe that races just don’t mix.  It was the final straw.  He loves you, he just doesn’t like you.

“So, this is entirely because he’s black?”

I told him it didn’t matter to you, that all you cared about was that someone didn’t believe in God and nothing else.  But he just can’t bend anymore. You knew this would be his reaction.

I was admittedly worried he’d disapprove, but then he’d meet the boyfriend and like him and it would be fine.  Also, my boyfriend isn’t even atheist.

We’ve gotten to the point in race relations in this country where we assume that acceptance of interracial relationships is a low bar to clear. We still argue about institutional issues like college admissions policies, mass incarceration, and racial profiling, but we don’t often hear about opposition to interracial romance.

However, Ms. Miller’s father is not alone in his belief that “races just don’t mix,” and he probably insists that this does not make him racist.

Take a closer look at this:

Your father is an old Southern man, he was raised like that, he was raised to believe that races just don’t mix.

That “belief” is not an evidence-based one, but it has resulted in copious, utterly unproductive misery for centuries. Races do mix, and there are a lot of people who wouldn’t exist otherwise. The entire racial group we call “Hispanic,” for example, is a result of “The gang’s all here!” reproductive interaction.

The explanation is that Ashley’s father was raised with a belief that interactions such as his daughter’s current relationship are not acceptable, and that he is addressing the conflict by cutting ties with his daughter rather than by challenging his beliefs. This belief, that racial boundaries are set in stone and some lines must not be crossed because “old Southern men” say so, is more important to him than his relationship with his only child.

This is why, whenever I hear someone support some nonsensical practice with “It’s tradition!” I am unimpressed. One might even say I’m skeptical of the idea of tradition itself. Some traditions are innocuous and fun. Some traditions are oppressive, nonsensical and break up families. The stepmother’s defense of her husband as “he was raised like that” is an appeal to tradition, and a strong example of why any idea whose main defense is that we’ve always done it that way, deserves our scrutiny, not our deference.

Alyson Miers is the author of Charlinder’s Walk.

“Make more babies! But don’t let them read Harry Potter!”

What in the shit is this?

A library in Columbia, SC has been showing the Harry Potter movies this month. This has drawn some protests, I’d like to say from the usual suspects, but these folks are actually…special.

Asking supporters to call and email Lexington County Council members demanding they put an end to the Witch-a-thon and decrease the library’s funding, Columbia Christians for Life indicated that any council member who disagrees should be voted out of office. The group backed up their demands and proved God’s apparent dislike for the Potter series by including several Bible verses from Deuteronomy and other Old Testament books:

“There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire (which, in the Harry Potter series, could be accomplished by a simple shield charm), or that useth divination (one of Harry’s least favorite classes at Hogwarts), or an observer of times (sounds like Hermione’s time-turner), or an enchanter, or a witch, or a charmer (such as Gilderoy Lockhart), or a consulter with familiar spirits (hopefully fire whiskey), or a wizard, or a necromancer.”

Something tells me the general voting populace is not going to share their priorities.

What I wonder is how Columbia Christians for Life, which you can tell by the name is an anti-abortion group, got so interested in protesting Harry Potter movies. As Ashley Miller shows us, their website is covered in spittle-flecked pronouncements about how abortion is sending America to Hell in a handbasket. (I’m not even exaggerating.) Harry Potter doesn’t say anything about abortion. If anything, you’d think the forced-birth set would appreciate the fact that Harry’s favorite family are the Weasleys, who seem to be in the camp of “babies are awesome so let’s have lots of them.”

I guess it makes sense if they view fertility less as building families and more as making lots of little Warriors for Christ, which, based on their website, appears to be their angle. They want you to make more babies, but don’t show them anything as left-leaning as Harry Potter, which has a nuanced view of authority figures and shows women doing interesting things with their lives. Nothing but Left Behind books for Columbia Christians for Life kiddies.

I’ll know I’ve made it when library systems start banning my books. If Columbia Christians for Boring Lives think Harry Potter is offensive, I’ll introduce them to Charlinder. Wait until you hear his thoughts on the Immaculate Conception. We won’t even get started on Gentiola.

Parents found guilty of being Native American in South Dakota

NPR has a report up about the prevalence of Native children in South Dakota being placed in foster care, mostly outside their tribes. This is in violation of the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978, which mandates exactly the opposite for all states.

State officials say they have to do what’s in the best interest of the child, but the state does have a financial incentive to remove the children. The state receives thousands of dollars from the federal government for every child it takes from a family, and in some cases the state gets even more money if the child is Native American. The result is that South Dakota is now removing children at a rate higher than the vast majority of other states in the country.

Native American families feel the brunt of this. Their children make up less than 15 percent of the child population, yet they make up more than half of the children in foster care.

Critics say foster care in South Dakota has become a powerhouse for private group home providers who bring in millions of dollars in state contracts to care for kids. Among them is Children’s Home Society, the state’s largest foster care provider, which has close ties with top government officials. It used to be run by South Dakota’s Gov. Dennis Daugard. An NPR investigation has found that Daugard was on the group’s payroll while he was lieutenant governor — and while the group received tens of millions of dollars in no-bid state contracts. It’s an unusual relationship highlighting the powerful role money and politics play in South Dakota’s foster care system.

If that sounds like a perfect storm for driving a wrecking ball through Native families, that’s because it is.

It gets worse.

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