Sermons on the “spirit of bitterness” and how it can destroy a young woman

Samantha Field at Defeating the Dragons explains how Josh Duggar is getting away with it.

The biggest reason why Josh will get away with sexually assaulting five girls is purity culture. If you’re a regular reader that connection should be apparent right now, as I’ve frequently talked about how my belief in “purity”kept me from talking about my rape for years.

Everything about this situation was not just mishandled, it was covered up. On purpose. That makes any mandatory reporter that knew about this a criminal (at the minimum, the church leadership and the original police officer, who did not file a report), and it makes Jim Bob and Michelle, in the words of Jesus, hypocrites and vipers. White-washed tombs, full of dead men’s bones and rotting corpses.

However, Jim Bob and Michelle and the church leadership and the police were able to cover this up because of the culture his victims belong to. They have been taught since they extremely young that women are capable of tempting the most holy man to sin, that women can provoke men into raping them, that if something bad happened they must always look for their part in the blame.

They’re the perps, not Josh Duggar. Simply having a female body makes them perpetrators of sexual abuse. Slutty women destroy good Christian men by Tempting them (or in Duggarspeak by “defrauding” them). The only thing women are good for is spawning children.

That is the only framework that Josh’s victims had to process their assaults. Like me, they were forced by the only things they knew to evaluate how they could be responsible for what Josh did to them. It was their responsibility to repent of “immodesty” or any “sensuousness” they may have displayed, however innocently. Then, because they contributed to their own assault, they don’t have the ability to pursue justice. They were duty-bound to “forgive” their abuser because, after all, it was their fault, too.

If his victims were to come forward, to make police reports within the limited three-year window they had to get justice, they would have been dragged through a nightmare the likes of which we can’t even begin to imagine. It is extremely likely that every single last person they knew– their family, their church– would have turned their backs and rejected them. They would hear sermons preached about them about the “spirit of bitterness” and how it can destroy a young woman. They would have been sternly reminded that Christians handle problems among themselves and don’t involve the courts.

“Bitterness” – why is that such a popular insult for women? Atheists use it just as much as fanatical Christians – it’s a favorite trope that feminists are all “bitter” because they’re so ugly and witch-like. Do people have women confused with sugar? Do they think it’s our job to be constantly and permanently sweet?

Purity culture silences victims, Field concludes.


  1. John Morales says

    They’re the perps, not Josh Duggar.

    I think a better adumbration would be ‘They’re also perps, not just Josh Duggar.’

    (Only a nitpick — the general point stands)

  2. luzclara says

    I wonder how much the victims know about the news re: Josh and his crimes and their parents’ participation in the cover up. I guess if they know, their interpretation of events has been fed to them. I hope they can get away, and get some education. It pains me to think that they have accepted the blame for a crime that committed against them. The Duggars are not liberal and worldly. They are ignorant and evil and live in a dangerous sexist fantasy world.

  3. says

    They were duty-bound to “forgive” their abuser because, after all, it was their fault, too.

    And even if it weren’t their fault, it was their Christian duty to forgive. And forgive. And forgive again and again. The assaults, the blaming, the silencing, the sneers, the accusations, the put-downs: forgive it all, day in and day out. God will not forgive those who haven’t forgiven. And anger is a sin; God will not forgive the anger towards those that are abusing you. Forgive! Your very life depends on it!

    So we were taught. And so we lived under a cloud of guilt, even for things done to us against our will. Because the anger keeps coming back, and forgiveness doesn’t come easy.

    Then Peter came and said to Him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven. Matthew 18:21, 22

  4. iknklast says

    I think a better adumbration would be ‘They’re also perps, not just Josh Duggar.’

    John Morales – Don’t think that at all. I’ve been there myself. The woman is to blame; the man is blameless, because it’s natural for men to want women. And women have tempted him. (Yes, my six-year old self, with the body of a child, not a woman, with no seductive habits at all, tempted him). And I’m not saying there is anything wrong with seductive habits, by the way, it’s simply that I had none, and was still seen as a temptation. Merely by existing in a female body.

    He was not guilty. He was “boy being boy”. He was a victim of me. Yes, that’s how it goes. It is not that I was also guilty (sometimes people will give a nod to that, but not in that type of family or church, and not inside my head).

  5. John Horstman says

    If one can frame women’s objections to their exploitation, oppression, assaults, etc. as being a function of “bitterness” i.e. a negative, individual response to something one personally experienced, then they’re no longer legitimate complaints about the deleterious effects of entrenched social systems that effect patriarchy. Remember, patterns simply do not exist – every spree killer, every cop, every abuser, etc. is just an isolated lone wolf, and shut up already. So that’s why.

  6. Blanche Quizno says

    a function of “bitterness”

    “Poisoning the well”, in other words. Because this person is clearly emotionally overwrought, we can – and should! – just *ignore* everything and anything she says. Look at the “bitter” woman – isn’t she pathetic? She’d be soooo much happier if she could just forgive. Forgiveness is healing, haven’t you heard?? And then she can just get over it and move on with her life. With a smile. As expected. As preferred.

    Forgiveness is a tricky thing. Too often, it serves as license to repeat the abuse. “Oh, she forgave me, did she? No consequences! Yippee! And since forgiveness is purely the victim’s responsibility – and must be given again and again and again – there’s no reason not to assault again and again and again.” We see this happening too often in the Amish cult. Any time people are isolated within their in-group, there is typically abuse and victims forced to keep it quiet OR ELSE.

    Social censure is one of the strongest molders of human behavior we have. To remove the effects from the abuse renders the abuse completely neutral – it has no apparent effect to deter the abuser. So why shouldn’t he continue? He clearly *likes* it on some level. He wants to do it; nobody seems to mind…why not?

    So, yeah. Giving an abuser “forgiveness” essentially gives him permission to abuse you again. Forgiveness is pernicious. Its only real value is in shutting up victims so the rest of us don’t have to be made uncomfortable by their pain.

  7. leni says

    …Atheists use it just as much as fanatical Christians – it’s a favorite trope that feminists are all “bitter”

    “Bitterness” is pretty much just anger that you disapprove of, so yeah.

  8. says

    Blanche Quizno

    “Giving an abuser “forgiveness” essentially gives him permission to abuse you again.”

    YES! THIS! A thousand times this!

    I don’t know how many times my abuser forced me to forgive him, and expected me to just forget what he’d done. Hell, I don’t think I can even count that high.

    But, like you said, he saw the “forgiveness” as implicit permission to abuse again, and he’d throw it right in my face every time I’d point out his pattern of behavior — “but you forgave me!”

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