(Content notice: Some explicit mention of sexual practices. Also, obviously Josh Duggar hasn’t said anything one way or the other about these allegations.)
Our new blogging colleague Ed Brayton brings us the shocking news:
Josh Duggar, the recent poster boy for fundagelical morality and anti-gay demagogue, very likely spent a hell of a lot of money at the notorious infidelity website Ashley Madison.
If you have never heard of the place, it’s a hookup site specifically targeting married people who want to have affairs. “Life’s short,” their site advises, so you should have an affair. If your wife is fat you should deffo find a hot (thin) mistress, they go on to suggest–and hint that their site is simply chock-full of gorgeous, slim, sexually voracious and adventurous–and most importantly discreet–married women dying to bang dishonest, sneaky middle-aged married schmucks. Very recently, some hackers released the names and account information of millions of Ashley Madison customers–including some with official military (.mil) and government (.gov) email addresses.*
You might have noticed that the ads I’ve linked target men, not women. Men are a huge percentage of the site’s business and very literally its bread and butter. Women don’t pay to use the service. They exist on the site as a lure, and are often apparently made-up profiles that Ashley Madison appears to pay contractors to create and run, or else they are made up by third-party scammers who have realized what a fertile hunting-ground the site is (and some of those scam profiles are created and run by men). Ashley Madison is aware of how few women would sign up for their service if they had to pay to do it, so they use these women as a lure for paying male customers in much the same exact way that RL bars use “Ladies’ Night” specials.
By contrast, men pay about $2.50 per message they send to women on the site. Looking at a woman’s profile is free, but making contact costs money. Men must buy “tickets” that they then can spend to send their messages, and they buy these tickets in blocks in the same way people buy “gem” packages on freemium mobile games to spend on ingame perks. Then the women they message sit back and decide who they will respond to and to what degree–the purchase of tickets doesn’t guarantee that women will respond to the men’s messages. Given that the women’s profiles might not have been actual adultery-minded married women, a man’s presence on the site doesn’t actually mean he actually had an affair with anyone from there–simply that he was actively taking measures to do so.
Of course, in fundagelical Christianity “lust in your heart” is exactly equivalent to committing actual adultery. So while non-Christians might be let off the hook somewhat for failing to find a partner there, Josh Duggar finds himself in as deep and hot a pot of water as if he’d had a dozen fuckbuddies or none. With that in mind, we observe that Gawker notes that not only did Josh Duggar have two accounts there, but at one point he bought the special $249 “affair guarantee” account package that promised that if he didn’t find a partner on Ashley Madison within three months, he’d get his money back. All in all, he gave the site almost $1000 to purchase tickets to talk to women there.
So it’ll be interesting to see if he offers up excuses of being there to “do research” for journalistic purposes, like Piers Morgans’ wife Celia Walden has openly claimed was her own reason for having an account on the site. For what it’s worth, her reasoning sounds fairly plausible, but more to the point Ms. Walden hasn’t made herself famous through ceaseless efforts to marginalize, demonize, and dehumanize an entire demographic group so I find myself way less curious–and way less critical.
I don’t think that Josh Duggar can use that same excuse of doing research given how much of his own personal money he used to buy tickets, and even if he tried to use that excuse it wouldn’t work because he is a massive hypocrite from stem to stern.
His entire occupation was being an anti-gay bigot-for-Jesus before he had to quit because he’d been exposed as being a longtime child molester and sex abuser. That isn’t quite Ashley Madison’s wheelhouse; the site’s designed for adult men and women to hook up to commit voluntary adultery. If he was there for some innocent reason (and had simply forgotten that the Bible he idolizes and wants to force the rest of us to obey commands Christians on pain of eternal torture to avoid even the appearance of evil), certainly he has some splainin’ to do about his self-curated list of hoped-for activities he wanted to explore:
“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.”
And he definitely has a few questions to answer about what he wanted that fuckbuddy to be like:
In other words, I suppose, he’ll take any thin woman with a pulse and somewhere to fuck him, which is its very own level of pathetic.
“A Professional/Well Groomed,” “Stylish/Classy,” “Casual Jeans/T-shirt Type,” “Muscular/Fit Body,” ”Petite Figure,” “Tall Height,” “Short Height,” “Long Hair,””Short Hair,” “Girl Next Door,” “Naughty Girl,” “Sense of Humor,” “Imagination,” “Creative and Adventurous,” “Relaxed and Easy Going,” “Aggressive/Take Charge Nature,” “Confidence,” “Discretion/Secrecy,” “A Good Listener,” “Good Personal Hygiene,” “Average Sex Drive,” “High Sex Drive,” “Dislikes Routine,” “Has a Secret Love Nest,”** “Disease Free,” “Drug Free,” and “Natural Breasts.”
Josh Duggar and Ms. Walden aren’t the only big names to be caught out, though that link cautions people not to get too overexcited about some of it because the accounts might be very old–potentially from before the account holder was married to whoever he or she is married to now. We are also reminded that Ashley Madison doesn’t actually verify email addresses, so some of the information leaked may well be fake. That excuse is also highly unlikely in Josh Duggar’s specific case–according to Gawker, the details provided for his account seem very personal and unlikely to be forged or spoofed, which will doubtless be an excuse offered up by him or his supporters.
Add to this story the other one breaking right now about someone noticing that the Gmail account used for Josh Duggar’s Ashley Madison account is tied to an OKCupid account from around that time that sure as hell looks like it might be Josh Duggar’s profile with a generic photo attached to it, and he’s suddenly looking more sketchy than ever. The OKCupid account is from 2005, a few years before he married a young woman who is probably regretting that idea more and more every passing day, but it quite explicitly says its owner is seeking casual sex. (UPDATE: The link indicates that the profile was last used in 2014, not 2005, which does change quite a few things. I don’t know if I misread it or if the date was changed/deleted, but I’m very grateful for the correction either way.)
I thought there wasn’t much of a way that a sanctimonious bigot-for-Jesus who molested and abused his own little sisters could ever seem worse, but apparently he has discovered one more avenue of attack. This dude creeps people out like it’s his very own personal mission statement.
I wish I could be surprised at all that someone who talked as big a game about his moral superiority and who made his life mission trying to force everybody to behave like Christians whether they were Christians or not turned out to be even more of a hypocrite than anybody could have guessed.
And that really is why we’re talking about this story.
We talked not long ago about how hypocrisy is built into the Christian religion–especially for the ultra-conservative branches of the faith. The more fervent and loudmouthed a Christian is, the better the chances that he or she has a few skellies in the ol’ closety-woset. As long as that Christian behaves with humbleness and respect, I see no reason to leap down his or her throat over any shortcomings. Adultery’s right up near the top of my list of awful things to do to someone (and I don’t need a god to tell me that!), but policing total strangers’ relationships ain’t my circus, my monkeys, or my rodeo–unless they are jumping down other people’s throats over their very own sin.
While I’m very curious about some of the other names that might be on the list of Ashley Madison customers, ultimately it seems to me like searching for them would be like looking at someone’s nude sexting photos–an invasion of privacy done without provocation.
Josh Duggar, however, has offered plenty of provocation.
Generally speaking, it’s not okay to “out” someone unless that person is doing harm to others while persecuting others for doing exactly what he or she is doing in secret. The LGBTQ community is still trying to figure out when to “out” closeted gay legislators, with the general consensus being to respect their decision to stay in the closet unless they’re actively harming LGBTQ people through bigoted behavior and words. At that point, the gloves come off because it is considered a greater good to “out” such a legislator because he or she is a hypocrite whose vested interest in persecuting and harassing the LGBTQ community is something voters need to be made aware of.
In the same exact way, I think it is perfectly acceptable and even a good idea to “out” a Christian hypocrite like Josh Duggar. He and his parents have made their living selling their extremist version of ultra-right-wing wacky fundamentalism to people on every platform they could wrangle. They and their leaders sold parents this vision of the Happy Christian Family: selling them safety for their children, divine approval, a long-lasting and happy marriage, power and rigid structure at least within their family units, and a Heavenly fate for everyone they loved most in exchange for adherence to strict rules set by people who have turned out, by and large, to be categorically incapable of living by those exact same rules.
What these leaders sold was an illusion. It doesn’t produce good, strong, safe, happy kids, strong families, happy marriages, or even a more stable society. It’s nothing more than a cover that lets those leaders flex and preen and strut around basking in adoration and power.
People deserve to know the truth about what these sorts of groups are selling.
Josh Duggar is more than just Jim Bob and Michelle’s oldest son; he is also the scion of their entire faith system and the embodiment of exactly what parents can achieve for all that obedience to all those rules.
In every single direction conceivable, Josh Duggar is exactly what one would expect of a parenting system like the one practiced by his parents. He is not a failure of the system; he’s a failure of the hopes of the people who bought into the system, which is a totally different animal. The system itself is all but guaranteed to produce hypocrites and failures of its boys and ignorant, repressed victims of its girls–and then send those poor kids out into the world to try to replicate their beliefs in others and force society to look like what their parents taught them a Happy Christian Society should look.
If Josh Duggar can’t keep Junior Activewear corralled in in his pants, then he has no right to tell other people what to do with their own equipment. And he sure as hell has no right to pretend he’s qualified to judge, control, or instruct others if he can’t manage the very most basic demands of his faith system.
At this point, I’m really just wondering what’s going to happen next with this skeeveball. His parents’ hopes of getting another reality-TV show are probably looking more slim by the day.
* Adultery is a big-time no-no for active-duty military.
** Good night almighty, what a cheapskate–can’t even pony up for his own love nest?!?