FULL DISCLOSURE: I'm a dirty sodomite and no one—NO ONE—should listen to anything I have to say about anything. Ever. I can write whatever I want, of course, because this is a free country. (Maybe a little too free!) But there's one thing I'm not allowed to write about: the Duggars. People like me shouldn't even think thoughts about good people like the Duggars.
Which is funny because the Duggars—children included—think thoughts about people like me.
The Duggars, for those of you who don't watch TV, are the stars of 19 Kids and Counting, one of the top-rated reality shows on television. Jim Bob Duggar and his wife, Michelle Duggar, the couple with the 19 kids, are hardcore fundamentalist Christians and members of the Quiverfull movement.
"Quiverfull members aspire to have as many children as possible, arguing that to win the culture wars, the faithful must literally 'out-populate the enemy,'" as Amanda Marcotte explained on Slate. "It's also a 'patriarchal cult' that teaches that men are 'leaders, teachers, initiators, protectors, and providers' and women are helpmeets who serve men by being 'submissive and yielding.' Submission is also demanded of children, particularly daughters."
The Duggars, thanks to their TV show, are the world's most famous Quiverfulling family. Their prior claim to fame involved a swiped family photograph and a parody motivational poster. ("VAGINA. It's not a clown car.")
Anyway, last April, a copy of People was sitting on the table in the waiting area at the place where I get my hair cut. There was a photo on the cover of Jill Duggar, one of Jim Bob and Michelle's nine daughters, holding the hand of her fiancé. "A DUGGAR ENGAGED," screamed the headline. "THEIR EXTREME COURTSHIP RULES!"
I snapped a picture, added a mildly snarky comment, and tweeted it out.
That was at 2:37 in the afternoon. Within four hours, a post detailing the "creepy viciousness" of my tweet went up on Twitchy, a right-wing website that targets liberals and progressives on Twitter.
"Jill Duggar, one of Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar's 19 children, is engaged to be married," wrote an anonymous Twitchy staffer. "But Dan Savage isn't wishing them well. No, the guy behind the 'It Gets Better' campaign is much too busy obsessing over their virginity... Jill and her fiancé have chosen to wait until their wedding night to consummate their relationship. In Savage's world, that's not just uncool—it's downright shameful and worthy of derision."
Twitchy's outraged followers—the only kind of followers they have—blew up my Twitter feed for a week.
So what was this hateful, vicious, shameful thing I'd said in my tweet? What was that snarky comment? Just this: "I'm guessing #FuckFirst isn't one of the rules."
Fuck first is one of my rules—and it's not even a rule. It's a suggestion. I encourage couples to "fuck first" on Valentine's Day, wedding days, and anniversaries. Fuck before that romantic meal or wedding reception because you'll be too exhausted/full/drunk to fuck after.
I honestly couldn't see what was so vicious about my tweet, and as a Catholic, I'm prone to guilt and self-recrimination. I didn't mock Jill for waiting to fuck her fiancé until her wedding night. I was only highlighting the fact that my rules are different than the Duggars' rules. We can safely assume that Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar would not only agree, but would like to have that fact widely known.
For a week, angry Twitchy readers scolded me for having the nerve to even think about the Duggars. More than one said I was bitter because a nice girl like Jill would never marry a sad, angry man like me. Twitchy readers who knew I was gay called me a rude and filthy cocksucker and told me that I should leave the Duggars alone and stick to sucking rude and filthy cocks.
What? A guy can't multitask?
To go on television and to appear on magazine covers—to put your family at the center of a reality show—is to invite comment. Real housewives know it when they sign up, top chefs know it when they sign up, and the Duggars knew it when they signed up.
And the Duggars aren't just on TV. They're proselytizing on TV.
"At the heart of this reality-show depiction of 'extreme motherhood' is a growing conservative Christian emphasis on the importance of women submitting to their husbands and fathers," Kathryn Joyce wrote in Newsweek. "Fans of TV's novel large families should not overlook their comprehensive ideology that argues that family planning and feminism are cultural scourges to be eradicated."
Family planning—access to birth control—and feminism aren't the only things the Duggars would like to see eradicated. Their eldest son, Josh Duggar, works for the Family Research Council (FRC), one of 38 organizations designated as antigay hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center. This fall, Jim Bob and Michelle and various little Duggars made appearances at campaign rallies for rabidly antigay, antichoice Republican candidates. They stumped in Kansas for Pat Roberts and Sam Brownback, in Arkansas for Tom Cotton, and around the country for antichoice measures. Michelle Duggar recorded a transphobic robocall against a proposed LGBT civil rights measure in Fayetteville, Arkansas.
So, yeah, the Duggar family—politically active TV stars with antigay and antichoice agendas—are thinking thoughts about people like me. And they're not very nice thoughts: They're actively working to harm families like mine. I think that gives me the right to think thoughts about them.
I had pretty much forgotten about the whole Twitter/Twitchy blowup until I went to get a haircut again a week ago. That's when I saw it: sitting there, on the table by the door, a month-old copy of Us Weekly with Jill and her sister Jessa Duggar on the cover. The headline: "THE DUGGARS: OUR RULES FOR LOVE & SEX!"
These people sure do love their rules.
The Duggar Family Rules for Girl Children recapped: Dad "auditions" potential boyfriends for you. (Okaaaay.) Your parents read all your texts. All dates are chaperoned. No hugging allowed. No holding hands until after you're engaged. (That picture of Jill Duggar on the cover of People holding her fiancé's hand? Quiverporn.) Your first kiss takes place at the altar. Duggar girls are always clothed "from neck to knee to avoid [arousing] men." Also: no dancing ("encourages 'sensual' feelings," warns Mom), no romance novels, no beaches.
"Waiting ensures there's no regrets," Michelle Duggar told Us Weekly. Marriage counselors, divorce lawyers, and advice columnists weren't asked to comment, but if we were, here's what we would have told Us Weekly: "Ha-ha-ha-ha! Our offices, conference rooms, and columns are packed with people who waited and have regrets."
And once a Duggar girl is married, says Mom, she is never allowed to say no to sex. "Duggar women don't get headaches," Michelle told Us. "You always need to be available when he calls." And if you're not always available—if you do get a headache, or you're just not in the mood one night, or if it turns out that your husband prefers Dad's auditions—then you're to blame when your husband cheats on you.
No dating rules for Duggar boys are mentioned in Us Weekly. I'm sure the Duggars have rules for their boys—they have rules for everything—but Quiverfull followers and other fundamentalist Christians aren't as concerned with keeping their male children "pure." A girl, though? A girl's value is entirely tied to her virginity. (Note to Twitchy staff: Looking for the guy who's obsessing about the virginity of the Duggar girls? Check out the guy who's "auditioning" their boyfriends.)
Those are some of the Duggars' rules. Now here are some of mine: Don't wait until your wedding night to fuck your fiancé/fiancée for the first time. Sexual incompatibility leads to divorce, so it's a good idea to establish the shit out of sexual compatibility before marriage. Don't marry young. People who marry young are much likelier to wind up divorced. And don't marry evangelical or fundamentalist Christians, as they have higher-than-average divorce rates, according to a study conducted by private Christian school Baylor University. ("Despite their strong pro-family values, evangelical Christians have higher than average divorce rates—in fact, [they are] more likely to be divorced than Americans who claim no religion.")
And don't marry into a family like the Duggars. Quiverfull families, despite how the Duggars come across on their reality show, are actually pretty scary in reality.
Almost all Quiverfullers are Dominionists. They believe the United States should be under the dominion of conservative Christian men—they've had it with all these Buddhist and Jewish presidents!—and that we should all have to live under biblical law. The Quiverfull/Dominionist plan is to out-breed, and some day outvote, all the secularists, liberals, and non-Dominionist Christians who oppose theocracy.
The Quiverfull movement takes its name from a Bible passage—because of course it does—and the verse makes it clear what people like the Duggars are having all those children for:
Like arrows in the hand
of a warrior
So are the children
of one's youth.
Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them. (Psalm 127)
So not only do Quiverfullers want to impose theocracy on the United States, they think of their children as weapons toward that end. Like I said: pretty scary.
Quick thought experiment: If 19 Kids and Counting were about a Muslim family who were as politically radical as the Duggars—if their daughters appeared on the cover of People and Us in hijabs, if they were part of a movement that viewed children as weapons (even metaphorically), if one of the Duggar kids worked for CAIR—the right-wingers at Twitchy and Fox News and the Family Research Council would be attacking the Duggars, not defending them from harmless snark or offering them cushy jobs.
But the right-wing doesn't have a problem with the Duggars: They're the right color, they worship the right god, and they want to impose the right brand of theocracy.
While I'm prone to obsessing over worst-case scenarios—I'm Catholic—I honestly don't think we have much to fear from Quiverfullers or Dominionists. Quiverfull moms are abandoning the movement (and blogging about it), and their kids will rebel (not all, but enough). Still, liberals and progressives and even sane conservatives might want to have a kid or two, just to be on the safe side.
Jill and Jessa Duggar aren't children. They're adult women in their 20s who consented to make their sexual choices—their (not entirely free) decisions to wait, the vetting of their boyfriends, their courtship rituals, the exact timing of their first kisses, their plans to "get busy" after their marriages—the focus of a reality television show. They've both discussed their sexual choices with national magazines. That opens Jill and Jessa's choices up to general discussion, and the conversation isn't limited to people who agree with them. As we are not yet ruled by Dominionists, Twitchy, even those of us who disagree with the Duggar agenda—those of us who are annoyed by the way their lifestyle is being shoved down our throats—are free to comment.
So the Duggars believe that women should be virgins on their wedding nights. I happen to disagree. I think women should fuck first. Men, too. It's too late for Jill and Jessa: They're both already married and they were virgins on their wedding nights. Good for them. Honestly and sincerely: I wish both of them well. I hope their marriages are long and happy ones. I hope they beat the odds on the sexual-compatibility, young-marriage, and fundy-Christian fronts and that neither winds up divorced.
I also hope they abandon the Quiverfull movement.
And I have hopes for all the unmarried little Duggars still being pimped on television and dragged to campaign rallies: I hope they all get out from under the thumbs of their crazy, controlling, virginity-obsessed parents. I hope they can one day go to the beach and dance. I hope they fuck first. And I hope the gay Duggar—which will probably be one of the boys (science: the more sons a woman has, the likelier the younger ones are to be gay)—doesn't suffer too much when he finally comes out to his crazy parents. I also hope he gets married to a nice man someday—but after fucking him first, of course.
Always fuck first.