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Cleopatra7

What Does It Mean to be Free?

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Cleopatra7

I was originally going to post this in the Duggar section, but I think the broader issue goes beyond that particular family. There’s been a lot of discussion in the Jill and Jinger threads about whether either of them is “free,” as per the name of this site. Since both of them are still vocally conservative Christians, a lot of people say no. There’s also evidence that Derick and/or Jeremy is controlling, so that would be another mark against them. The problem I have is that there are billions of people who share Jill and Jinger’s views on gender and sexuality or on the exclusivity of their particular religion, but that alone doesn’t make them “unfree.” I consider social media to be curated nonsense, so I don’t really view social media as a good insight into any family or relationship (see how the Hart family hid their abuse through a pretty online media presence), but others may disagree.

For some people, it would seem that the only way for Jill or Jinger to indicate their freedom would be if they posted selfies to Instagram of them with a receipt of a donation to planned parenthood and a name tag from the local atheist group. But that doesn’t necessarily prove anything, since there are plenty of women in secular relationships who still end up in domestic violence situations or simply end up unthinkingly replicating patriarchal norms (ie doing the bulk of the housework and childcare simply for being female). The devolution of the New Atheism into redpilling and anti-SJW taunting illustrates that you don’t need religious fundamentalists to be a patriarchal reactionary.

So what do people think would constitute “freedom” for any of our fundies?

Edited by Coconut Flan

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Four is Enough

I'm thinking hard on this... and it's difficult to pin down.

Thinking of Jill, I'd say that seeing her go to the local college and start to take the remedial classes she's bound to need so that she could actually enter the nursing program and get a REAL, useful midwifery certification... and then her having support (like late night sitters) when she's called out to a delivery..

Sending her sons to the local secular preschool.,a certified Christian school or the local public school.

 

Jinger would be more difficult to describe. I think she's somewhat happy doing what she's doing right now. Happy doesn't always mean free, of course, but allowing more for her offspring than she got might be a measure of freedom.

 

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JermajestyDuggar

I don’t follow the Duggar threads all that well. So I’m not sure what people are always talking about over there. But I would say that it’s actually incredibly hard to figure out when a married woman like Jill or Jinger are free because of how patriarchy is set up. It’s hard to know if she truly is making her own choices or her husband is pushing these choices on her. Have we seen Jinger or Jill go completely against Derick or Jeremy’s wishes? I don’t think so. That doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened though. But it would be behind closed doors. Unfortunately Derick and Jeremy always have the upper hand in their relationship due to the way the Duggar girls were raised. 

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The Mother Dust
1 hour ago, Cleopatra7 said:

there are plenty of women in secular relationships who still end up in domestic violence situations or simply end up unthinkingly replicating patriarchal norms (ie doing the bulk of the housework and childcare simply for being female). 

Ugh, the bolded describes my mother, I am sorry to say.  And my sister, to a somewhat lesser extent.  It is SO frustrating for me to witness....I live a few states away so thank god it's not directly in my face all the time, that would really drive me nuts.  They are both politically liberal, and would identify as feminist, so I don't know what the hell is going on in there minds. Maybe unconsciously responding to what they think their respective husbands expect? (Mom's hub is our stepdad)
Mr. Dust (RIP) had no problem with pitching in on housework, he didn't even think about it, it was just something we both saw needed doing, and we did it, whoever happened to notice the needed task first.  I am proud to say both of my brothers are like this as well.  

Anyway Cleo, to your question....being free to me means the ability to choose what I spend my time on each day.  The ability to choose what my life looks like.  Of course we all have to make exceptions for taking care of responsibilities, how we make money to pay bills....but outside of that.... no one tells me how to spend my time, and there is no external unspoken pressure for how I spend my time.  That's freedom to me.

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Four is Enough
19 minutes ago, The Mother Dust said:

Anyway Cleo, to your question....being free to me means the ability to choose what I spend my time on each day.  The ability to choose what my life looks like.  Of course we all have to make exceptions for taking care of responsibilities, how we make money to pay bills....but outside of that.... no one tells me how to spend my time, and there is no external unspoken pressure for how I spend my time.  That's freedom to me.

This is very close to what I wanted to say. Thank you!

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DalmatianCat
39 minutes ago, Four is Enough said:

I'm thinking hard on this... and it's difficult to pin down.

Thinking of Jill, I'd say that seeing her go to the local college and start to take the remedial classes she's bound to need so that she could actually enter the nursing program and get a REAL, useful midwifery certification... and then her having support (like late night sitters) when she's called out to a delivery..

I don’t think whether or not someone pursues education is a good indicator.

In her book “Escape” Carolyn Jessop was very definitely not “free” and in an incredibly abusive relationship until she escaped from the FLDS, and she was still able to go to college and get a degree. I think she wanted to get a computer science degree and her husband forced her to get an education degree or something like that (it’s been years since I read the book), but she still went to school because she wanted to.

I’m guessing Jill will go to school eventually, but not until the boys are older and/or Derick is out of law school. I think the main reason she hasn’t done it yet is she hasn’t wanted to...or has decided she would like to but is waiting for a better time. None of these are things she has to share followers. I’m guessing registering for college is also a pretty daunting task even if she had an abnormal amount of support. The homeschool moms I know spend lots of time getting their kids transcripts ready, helping them pursue scholarships, researching dual enrollment, etc. Thanks to all the dual enrollment opportunities in my area a lot of homeschooled kids I know graduated with a good chunk of credits under their belt and entered college as second semester sophomores. I can’t imagine trying to pursue that for the very first time in my mid-20s when I’d been out of school as long as Jill has with no access to her high school transcripts (I’m assuming her parents have them).

I keep on thinking of going back for my Master’s and chickening out!

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Four is Enough

I meant if Jill went to a regular college and exposed herself to all the different thinkers. If her OB classes discussed abortion and the care of the woman afterwards. That sort of thing. Being exposed to, and learning to deal with, the rest of the world, warts and all, and coming out the other side. For many of us, this is something we do in adolescence.. but I'm not sure Jill has ever done it.

But yes. I'd want HER to pick the time, the school, the course of study.. herself.

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TuringMachine

When I think of people we follow who have unambiguously broken free, Cynthia Jeub and Alecia and Chris Pennington are the ones that come to mind.  It's hard to compare Jill and Jinger to them. I don't want to say they have to be publicly atheist or gay or have a law made specifically about your parents for me to think they've broken free. However I think the ability to say something negative about their parents or childhood is the clear indicator for me that they have freedom to think for themselves.

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JermajestyDuggar
17 minutes ago, TuringMachine said:

When I think of people we follow who have unambiguously broken free, Cynthia Jeub and Alecia and Chris Pennington are the ones that come to mind.  It's hard to compare Jill and Jinger to them. I don't want to say they have to be publicly atheist or gay or have a law made specifically about your parents for me to think they've broken free. However I think the ability to say something negative about their parents or childhood is the clear indicator for me that they have freedom to think for themselves.

And for Cynthia, Faith and Chris, their journeys were all quite a process. There wasn’t just one day where they said “I’m free!” Because they had left the home of their parents. Mentally, they were not free for awhile. And some might say they still aren’t completely free in that aspect. The physical aspect of “free” is much more obvious and probably a quicker process for most people. Mental freedom must take years. I’m just guessing here based on what I’ve read. I’m no expert on the topic. 

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Marmion

To me , being free entails having a mind , and life of one's own , plus being able to be oneself , and fulfill one's own dreams .  As long as people aren't under the undue influence of others , then I feel that they are free to be whomever they want to be , as they see fit .  And it takes time for them to assess what in how they were raised is sound , and what might have been in error .  So I don't expect any apostates from extreme systems of belief to do a complete 180 overnight , in regards to their worldview , and state of mind .  And also some might not have as much of a metamorphosis as others .  I think that we all should just bear with them , in where they are in their life's journey , and give them space to grow as persons , wherever that path may lead .  

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SilverBeach

Being free means being deprogrammed and no longer brainwashed. It's a process.

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seraaa
Posted (edited)

In some ways, I think it's impossible to know short of them issuing some kind of testimony as to how they arrived at their currently held belief system.

I think the process of actually thinking is a key component. Using all our capacities of reason and feeling for ourselves. It's the difference between believing something because it something that you have been taught and have unquestioningly accepted, and coming to believe something independently as a result of whatever - reasoning and analysis, your own experiences, an examination of where and how your beliefs fit into the world, your own faith conviction etc

Once you are thinking independently, then comes the question of what you're able to do and how you are able to behave. I don't think someone is completely free if their autonomy is being actively stunted as opposed to encouraged. 

(And I suppose, at a very basic level, part of what makes a 'cult' - a vague and often unhelp term! - is when you're actively discouraged from this kind of thinking, or when you are punished for doing so. And obviously there are restrictions on the type of actions deemed acceptable and people you're supposed to associate with. Choices have steep costs attatched).

17 hours ago, TuringMachine said:

When I think of people we follow who have unambiguously broken free, Cynthia Jeub and Alecia and Chris Pennington are the ones that come to mind.  It's hard to compare Jill and Jinger to them. I don't want to say they have to be publicly atheist or gay or have a law made specifically about your parents for me to think they've broken free. However I think the ability to say something negative about their parents or childhood is the clear indicator for me that they have freedom to think for themselves.

It's just easier to assess with those people because they are so obviously in disagreement with their upbringing!

Edited by seraaa

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Cora Persephona

I think it's very hard to pin down exactly what being free means and when that happens. As more knowledgeable FJ members have said, it is a process, it comes in steps and may be different from one person to another.  

I don't believe that jeans, haircuts or even not having pregnancies every year means that they are moving away from fundamentalism, unless they tell us that is what it means for them, which so far none of them has done.

For me, an outward sign of being free is how they will treat their children as they grow up, especially their daughters. Will they be encouraged to pursue higher education if they feel so inclined, will they be encouraged to have jobs outside the home (not just inside the family businesses), will they be able to move out of their parents homes before marriage without it being a scandal or covered up, will they be able to make decisions (important ones, not haircuts and jeans) for themselves that differ from what the rest of the family does without being shunned?

So I guess unless they come out and state directly that their beliefs have changed, finding out if they are "free" is a long term game. I just don't think we can tell this early, just based on some superficial changes they made.

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AmazonGrace

I am on the fence whether it's worse to be a brainwashed cult member who hasn't been allowed to know any better or to choose disgusting misogynistic world views out of free will.

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SassyPants

To me, being free means living, planning and experiencing the life that each person wants, obviously within the context of decisions already made. As an example, I think a mom with young children pursuing her own education or career while attaining her own Personal goals is appropriate. OTOH, leaving her young children in a motherless home is not. As others have said, most of us are raised with age appropriate responsibilities and goals, so we can more readily handle the realities of life. With fundies, they seem so isolated and developmentally stunted it’s like a bad car accident in progress, hard to look away. jinger is likely living the life she wants. Adding 5 more kids and moving to some small, rural church in BFE, likely would make her unhappy and less free. Jill seems to not know what she really wants. Joy is OK, for now. Add 6 more kids in rapid succession, who knows. I doubt any of these families, neither mom nor dad, wants 20 kids. It’s not novel any more. No one is going to pay Josiah and Lauren to birth a litter. JB was a unique combo of being the first, a bit of cunning and faux awe shucks. None of his kids have this skills set!

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SassyPants

Thinking more about this question, and I’ve come to the conclusion That freedom has to be defined by each individual. As long as each person feels free, and in the process of living their life is NOT infringing on the rights of others, including their own children, to live life freely and devoid of exploitation, that’s all that should matter. If all the Duggars feel free, great, but that does excuse their horrid belief system, how they disregard others or exploit their own children!

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Marmion
8 hours ago, AmazonGrace said:

I am on the fence whether it's worse to be a brainwashed cult member who hasn't been allowed to know any better or to choose disgusting misogynistic world views out of free will.

I would say that , if we are to play the would you rather game , with the latter , at least I could possibly reason with the person , and show the individual the errors of such a mindset . But with the former , if they despise reason , and instead vainly hold to presupposition , it would be like talking to a brick wall .   As Thomas Paine put it , 

Quote

“To argue with a man who has renounced the use and authority of reason, and whose philosophy consists in holding humanity in contempt, is like administering medicine to the dead, or endeavoring to convert an atheist by scripture.”

https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/8510-to-argue-with-a-man-who-has-renounced-the-use 

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treehugger

I think we need to be careful not to replace the expectations of a cult with expectations of our own on people.  I see a lot of, “well if she would just get a career or an education, then she is free”.  But it doesn’t necessarily work that way.  The truth is, the psychological trauma of growing up and finding your way out a cult (or even just a fundamentalist environment) takes an enormous amount of energy. And often the education they have received is subpar, so getting a higher education just isn’t practical or even feasible.  A very few will have the inner strength needed to do the things we wish for all of them, but for the majority that don’t, I just hope they will find the support and strength and peace and space they need to break the cycle at a very personal level.  

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raspberrymint

I talk negatively about my parents and childhood, but not using identifying details i.e. names and specific locations.  I don't feel the need to personally shame them.  They aren't famous, but I don't think it's fair that I'm not required to publicly say "I'm Jessica Smith and my parents, John and Jean Smith of the Scamming Smith fame in Zanyville, Wyoming, they are hypocritical liars who really fucked up raising me and here is how!" while the children of more known extremists are required to do so to be considered free.

I bought my own place with my own job's money, against my parents' wishes, and I'm LGBT.  That's not even most secular women.  

If I had instead married into freedom in a heterosexual marriage, I probably wouldn't be considered free at this point since I can't prove my future child raising methods.  However, I could still have my personal beliefs in that situation.

No one needs to prove anything or justify choices that were not their own.  Freedom in the context of freeing fundie kids is freedom from oppression in one's home life, by my definition.

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Cora Persephona
1 hour ago, raspberrymint said:

I talk negatively about my parents and childhood, but not using identifying details i.e. names and specific locations.  I don't feel the need to personally shame them.  They aren't famous, but I don't think it's fair that I'm not required to publicly say "I'm Jessica Smith and my parents, John and Jean Smith of the Scamming Smith fame in Zanyville, Wyoming, they are hypocritical liars who really fucked up raising me and here is how!" while the children of more known extremists are required to do so to be considered free.

I bought my own place with my own job's money, against my parents' wishes, and I'm LGBT.  That's not even most secular women.  

If I had instead married into freedom in a heterosexual marriage, I probably wouldn't be considered free at this point since I can't prove my future child raising methods.  However, I could still have my personal beliefs in that situation.

No one needs to prove anything or justify choices that were not their own.  Freedom in the context of freeing fundie kids is freedom from oppression in one's home life, by my definition.

You are absolutely right that we are not owed that they come out and explain themselves. Some of them may be free already, even by our hard to define standards, if not only by their different standards (after all JB and M surely consider themselves to be free and they are the poster family for their particular branch of fundamentalism) and we might never know and that is OK. To be completely honest, I don't even expect them to come out and say my parents were wrong on issue X . At most, I would expect them to say we have searched our hearts and decided we feel differently, but not even this necessarily. And that is also OK. I think most people here would be happy to know they are free, even if we never get to find out.

There is a larger discussion to be had about the harm they are doing to other families by pretending to follow the fundie rules if they are not actually living by them themselves, but that is another topic.

My thoughts* were more to how can we even tell if they are "free" and I still stand by my original post that unless they tell "us"or do something drastic, we will not know until we see if they treat the next generation differently than their parents treated them. Jinger, for example, may currently feel free from oppression in her home and she might as well be, but will Felicity also be free from oppression in the same home? 

I'm very happy for you that you got out, everyone deserves to be able to make their own decisions about their own life.

 

* If I completely misunderstood the purpose of this discussion, I am sorry. I'm not a native speaker of English so I may have lost some nuance along the way.

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raspberrymint

I don't believe it's the adult child's job to publicly alienate their parents just because their parents have a blog (or social media, or a vlog, or even a show).

They can do this, but it's not their job.  They're not the "wrong type" of survivors if they don't.  People are known by the fruits of their labor, or ought to be, and it's also the right of every individual to live a private life if they so choose.

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formergothardite
5 hours ago, raspberrymint said:

and it's also the right of every individual to live a private life if they so choose.

They should probably get off a tv show based on terrible beliefs if they want privacy. 

As long as someone is participating in publicly pushing hate(and by being on these shows they are) then they don't get to claim that they want privacy about their beliefs. 

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AmazonGrace
17 hours ago, Marmion said:

I would say that , if we are to play the would you rather game , with the latter , at least I could possibly reason with the person , and show the individual the errors of such a mindset . But with the former , if they despise reason , and instead vainly hold to presupposition , it would be like talking to a brick wall .   As Thomas Paine put it , 

https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/8510-to-argue-with-a-man-who-has-renounced-the-use 

Sometimes it might be the other way around. If someone was raised in the dark basement and had no choice to be forced into a pre-set mindset their opinions might be changeable if they got exposed to other ideas. But how do you reason with someone who already was exposed to other ideas and had other options and decided to shut them out, stick fingers in their ears and chant cult-cult-cult?

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kmachete14

Part of the "Freedom" also belongs to the theological aspect.

For example, they might still be super conservative, but maybe they aren't berating their 5 year-old about Satan lurking around every corner and how they are such unworthy disgusting sinners who are so lucky they know Christ. 

They can be horrible people (in my OP) but have a measure of freedom simply from rejecting some of the theology they have been taught. 

That also takes years and years to de-program (probably it's like Catholic guilt times a million). 

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HereComesTreble

Good question/topic.  IMHO, "free" looks different on everyone.  We'd know it when we see it.  Just like non-fundies (normies?), our lifestyles are too varied to have set requirements.  

Personally, I know a 4 kid, homeschooling, church going family, with non college-d parents.  The check a lot of fundy boxes, but are definitely "free" normies.

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