Ever since Josh Duggar was caught preying upon his sisters, Michelle and Jim Bob have doubled down on "body safety."
Even in their own home, they had been vigilant about preventing their offspring from having alone time with their peers.
From Duggar homeschooling to courtship rules, everything was designed to keep children "safe" from perceived danger.
Or, well, normal teenage milestones.
As you can imagine, this rigorous system required some serious effort to enforce - even before Josh took it up 10 notches.
Below, Michelle talks about how she now walks her daughters through puberty and the "body safety" rules she enforces.
The Duggars have some unconventional views
Michelle has spoken about her family's fringe fundamentalist views about sexuality, gender, clothing, and more in the past. It is always an eye-opening read, to say the least.
This time, Jessa was the interviewer
Jessa Duggar Seewald, mother of three children herself, interviewed her parents for a video for the Institute in Basic Life Principles, the infamous organization to which the Duggars belong.
Naturally, they talked about repression
Naturally, they don't call it that. Instead, Jessa asked her mother to describe how she teaches her children about "body safety, body changes, and God’s design for sexuality."
It's quite a subject
Fundamentalists like the Duggars view sex as something that happens exclusively within heterosexual, monogamous, Christian marriages. But it's also a tense topic because of Josh Duggar. Jessa's older brother and the first of Jim Bob and Michelle's 19 kids infamously molested multiple girls, including his own sisters. What's worse, this was a crime that Michelle and Jim Bob hid from law enforcement and the world.
Obviously, they do have sex
That is, after all, how fundamentalists make more fundamentalists. Mating. They didn't get so many kids (and counting) through prayer alone.
Michelle has touched on that before
She has advised wives to "make themselves available" to their husbands whenever he wants sex, saying that doing otherwise is bad for the marriage. Which ... yikes.
Michelle says that there's a list of rules
There is protocol. Serious protocol. It's a written list, and these "body safety" rules are posted in the bathroom as a reminder.
It's not really her list
Michelle says that one of her older daughters came up with the list, and that Michelle merely tweaked it.
Michelle shared a few rules
"You go to the restroom by yourself when you shower and you bathe," she pointed out. That, at least, is a pretty standard rule when it comes to households.
There's an extra step
"And you lock the door so that, you know, nobody accidentally walks in," Michelle added. Sometimes, especially in a very full household, a rule about knocking isn't quite enough.
So far, it's pretty standard stuff
Some families have different concerns about safety - some consider locked doors to be a hazard in case of an accident, while others would rather err on the side of privacy. In the case of the Duggars, however, it's impossible not to view this through the lens of a family trying to hide the fact that they had a sexual predator living with them.
Then, there is the dress code
"You don’t wear something low so that when you bend over, you’re going to play peekaboo,” Michelle explained.
Something to remember ...
In the Duggar and IBLP worldview, a woman simply showing the shape of her body is "peekaboo" enough, so she's not talking about flashing genitals or even underwear. The goal is for no one but a woman's husband to know the contours of her butt or to see even so much as a flash of her thigh.
There's another guideline
“Or something that’s too short that’s going to, you know, reveal when you’re sitting down or whatever," Michelle details. Notably, she is referring to skirts and dresses. Many of the adult Duggar daughters are now able to wear pants, but in general, the family's rule still forbids them for women because they are "too revealing."
Jim Bob explains how he sees his children as commodities
He says that they are each "a special gift" for their future spouse. Given that Jim Bob believes that they are effectively his property until they marry someone who meets his approval, it's not too surprising that he is likening them to an heirloom necklace.
Here is what he tells them
"One day, you’re going to get married, Lord willing," the Duggars say. Did they just shade Jana for being 30 and unmarried?
Again with the giftwrapping
"You’ll have a spouse," they tell their kids, "and you’re going to be this present that’s wrapped."
These instructions are rooted in their interpretation of religious texts
"Because the scripture talks about, you know, your body is his and hers is yours," they explain, "and so you want to keep that special package wrapped, nice and clean and neat." Keep in mind that in their warped worldview, "clean" means having never had sex in any form.
Michelle shares how she prepares the daughters for life
She speaks to them about the changes that they will experience as they go through puberty. Michelle does not go into detail, and one can only imagine the sorts of terminology that she uses. It's easy to imagine that Michelle speaks of widening hips and growing breasts as things that must be hidden, like a new chore, rather than a neutral or positive change.
And then there are the supplies
Michelle says that she takes the girls on shopping trips for supplies like deodorant, powder, perfume, and acne treatments. Hey, that's pretty normal!
It's surprisingly positive
Michelle says that she tells her daughters that, despite the unpleasantness involved, puberty is a "good thing." Her reasoning is probably because it prepares them for marriage and baby-making, though.
Michelle even delves into a dangerous subject
She warns her daughters that they may begin feeling and thinking differently due to these changes. Of course, instead of a healthy talk about masturbation, sexuality, and dating, Michelle puts a very different twist on it, though she didn't spell that out here.
Also, she's nosy about it
Michelle wants her daughters to talk to her about every step of the changes that they experience, ostensibly so that she can give them advice and pray with them.
It's likely more about keeping an eye on what they're going through. Puberty can impact different people in different ways, and Michelle would of course want to know which daughter to keep an extra close watch on if one is hornier than the others. On top of that, Michelle and Jim Bob probably want to avoid another molestation scandal, since Josh's sex crimes hurt their reputation.
Jessa asks how Michelle and Jim Bob extend their obsessive need for control to electronic devices. We already know that the Duggars do not permit their children to consume normal media like television and movies, with rare "opproved" exceptions.
Michelle snoops unapologetically
Like many toxic parents, Michelle closely monitors her children's internet activity, not just at young ages, but even older teens who would normally be making their own choices.
She wants them to tattle on themselves
Michelle says that the kids are encouraged to confess to them if they have seen something that causes them to "be tempted and stumble." Again, it's all about repression.
The thing is, Michelle was once a normal person
She experienced the world through the lens of a high schooler, not a homeschooled kid who has never really been immersed in the real world or had unfiltered interactions with their peers.
That experience gives her an advantage
Her "worldly" experiences (wearing normal clothes, having classmates whom her parents didn't cherrypick for her) give her a huge advantage over her naive, cloistered children when it comes to preventing them from having normal human experiences or making real connections in society.