Some are maligning Josh Duggar. Rightfully, to be honest. He did a very bad thing that I think it’s reasonable to assume he knew was a very bad thing when he did it.
Others are maligning the media and public for outing him for his bad deeds ten years later because it re-victimizes the girls who were molested and have “moved on” since.
Here’s the thing. We don’t know whether Josh has rectified things—whether he still poses a risk to young children now as he did in 2006. I’m willing to believe that he is no longer a threat. He may very well have realized the awfulness of his deeds and made amends and cleared his brain from such evil thoughts.
He also may very well have made personal amends with the young women affected by his terrible acts. I certainly hope he has. They deserve his apology, at a minimum. They deserve more than that, but an apology would at least go some ways to righting the wrongs done to them.
But what I’m frustrated by is people who argue that this should not have come out these years later because it’s re-victimizing the young women. As if they’ve forgotten what happened. Forgiveness is a powerful thing—they may have been capable of forgiving Josh Duggar. But I am betting they did not forget. And nor should we. We should not say, “Hey, they moved on, so no biggie.” You know why? Because forgetting isn’t a thing.
I have been on the receiving end of teenage boys’ sexual curiosity, and as a result, I’ve been on the wrong end of “let’s deal with this privately” on the adults’ side. The wrong end is a land of self-blame, confusion, and distrust of men. I long ago forgave—the person wasn’t a terrible monster but a person who made a mistake. A mistake that led to a lot of long-term problems for me, yes, but not by that person’s intentions. I wish that person had been made to apologize to me so that I knew right away that I hadn’t done something wrong and that the adults didn’t blame me for being a bad person. I wish that nearly every day. But he wasn’t. And so here we are.
But to say that ten years later (for the Duggars) or nearly 30 years later (for me) that it was “behind” them or me is a fraud and a scam. To say that the media—or liberals or whoever—are trudging up something these girls had “forgotten” is bullshit. It’s never forgotten. It’s not the media that re-victimizes. It’s a culture that tells them it “wasn’t a big deal,” or “boys will be boys,” or “just forget it ever happened.” That we shouldn’t be talking about it. That it was just a mistake, don't make it a big deal.
It is a big deal. It is a huge, monstrous, giant big deal. I know too many other women who were in this very situation, like me and the Duggars, as girls. All of them were told the same message: “Just forget it.” “Just move on.” “Don’t make a huge deal of it.” And boys are left to carry on, making the same mistake because boys will be boys, they can just forget they ever did it, they can rest assured that their victims will forget it, too. Time will make it a distant memory.
It’s not distant. It’s not just a memory. It’s a thing. A real thing that lives in my daily life with me. And I’m guessing with the Duggars girls. Forgiveness is pretty easy. Forgetting is not. So yes, I think the outing of this event is reasonable. There are people using it for their own vindictiveness and petty reasons against the Duggars. Of course there are, and that may be problematic. But there are also people trying to rationalize it away by minimizing it and saying talking about it is worse than hiding it.
And to them, I say: you’re the bigger problem here. You’re the much bigger problem.