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Sweet Christmas Sparkle @sparkle_heretic
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Hello my darling #Exvangelical fam. What a week, huh? How are you all holding up? Holidays go okay, you surviving? Ready to be fucking DONE with 2018? I know I am. Tell me how you are. <3
You got a Christmas Dobson break last week but it is time for us to dive back in.
Of course it HAS been a pretty long week for a lot of people and if you are not feeling like what you most need going into the new year is to talk about James Dobson, Celestia bless you for your good life decisions. The threads will be here later if you want. Take care of you. <3
If you DO feel like what you most need after time with family this Christmas is to pull apart some of James Dobson's terrible godforsaken approach that impacted so many of us, welcome friends. I got you. Feel free to catch up here if needed.…
And of course, these threads take more emotional labor an effort than they may actually be worth, but if you find value in them and feel like buying me coffee or a belated Christmas gift, by all means, feel free.

CashApp - $BethanySparkle
All right kids, let's go.
Our next chapter is entitled "Something Crazy Is Happening To My Body" which I think we can all agree is the last thing that any of us really want to hear Dobson talking about but here we are all the same. Onward we must go.
Dobson starts, in the most condescending way possible, by saying that he is sure kids have noticed that adults are not just bigger than children but also "they're shaped differently and they work differently." He says he is going to get into talking about puberty.
The first section heading is "The Big Boss Upstairs." I don't know how he can make everything sound so gross. In the case the image that immediately came to mind was like some kind of factory with a caricature of a gross movie man boss overseeing everything. Maybe that's just me?
He then tells kids about the pituitary gland. I have mentioned this before but I will mention it again. I was given this book when I was fairly young, and this was definitely the most information I got on my body, and what to expect. I'm curious how many people were the same.
So as a quick aside to sate my curiosity, for those of you who DID read this growing up, how old were you? Please feel free to elaborate in the comments as far as how much you feel like it was the single voice teaching you about your body (or whatever else you want to add).
So he talks about how the pituitary gland is called the "master gland" of the body because it "tells the rest of your glands what to do." Which is true, but he then says that "when it screams, your glandular system jumps." Why does he only think of things in these terms?
I know it's kind of dumb, but I actually think it matters. Dobson portrays everything as a battle. We've talked pretty extensively about how he portrays child-rearing as a battle. Here he is actually portraying your own maturation process as a battle, presumably with yourself.
Believing we are at war with ourselves isn't new territory for Christians - it is a big part of the whole ethic. The "flesh" is sinful, there is a battle between our sin nature and the nature of god within us. And I think about using this language to kids for their growing up.
I find it upsetting. Because I think that it all plays into the same things. I spent most of my growing up life in some various level of dissociation. I worked *hard* to detach myself from my physical body, for all kinds of reasons. And those things don't just come back.
I'm better than I was, more aware of myself. I'm *slightly* less prone to assuming that my body is lying to me, assuming I can hear it at all. But that has taken years of work.
There will be other times in this book when he says more egregious and blatant things than this.
The reason that I started this tangent here is because I want it clear how it saturates every part of his language. How he uses it as much to talk about processes like puberty that even he considers to be good, as he uses it to talk about "sin." Say it with me - language matters.
Now that we've gotten that tangent out of the way for a minute, we can return. He is busy telling the kids that lots of stuff is going to change with their bodies in the next few years and he doesn't them to be scared and think they are strange or have cancer or something.
Which you know. I support that. Kids SHOULD have as much information as possible so they don't worry. But he ends this section by saying "there's just no reason for you to be anxious" because he is a condescending prick who can't ever take anyone seriously for a minute.
But don't worry! It gets better! Because our next section is "Preparing for Parenthood." But wait, Sparkle, you might be saying. Wasn't he just talking to children who are pretty young because of how they're just going through puberty? And therefor parenthood seems not relevant?
Well, yes. Yes, that is true. But don't worry. That doesn't matter. Dobson assures the kiddos that they aren't going to become a parent (that should be years away still) but your body is going to get all set up for it. Which honestly seems like weird planning on god's part?
Like if god didn't intend for you to have babies for many years, why set up the equipment so very EARLY? I feel like he could have avoided a lot of hassle with just the tiniest speck of planning. Also it's super gross to portray kiddo's maturing as just being about future babies.
So we start with talking about boys (obviously). He tells boys that their muscles will change and they will get stronger and faster and more coordinated, that they will start growing hair, that their sex organs will change. He then says this reminds him of a caterpillar.
Which... look I get the attempted comparison but a caterpillar does go into a chrysalis where it melts down it's entire body before coming out a completely different form and I'm just not sure that's applicable here. Also, if you know that's what happens, it's kinda terrifying.
He talks about how their voices will change, and how also there will be skin problems. Some time is spent on skin problems as he firmly chastises children to stay away from chocolate and greasy foods and tells them if their skin is too bad to have their parents take them to a dr.
Which is definitely a privileged thing to say. The assumption that you have the money to take your kid to a doctor because of bad acne is... a large assumption. To tell the child to ask their parents to do that is intensely tone-deaf. So that's just a note.
Also he wants to point out that kiddos need more sleep at this time because they are growing, and parents should maybe go ahead and let the kids sleep in until 9am on a Saturday. Till NINE AM. THE LUXURY. Jesus.
I do actually remember trying to use this on my mom. Never worked.
Also he would like you to know that it's super important that you eat good food as a teenager because your body is growing really fast and it needs good fuel to grow fast and I'm not even saying any of this is wrong but I just hate how condescendingly he delivers EVERYTHING.
Now it is time to get into the "Beauty of Womanhood" which is only confusing because some of the information he gave about boys seems applicable to multiple genders? Like the rest thing and the skin thing, all of that is not boy specific? Why put it under that heading?
Whatever. The first thing he talks about of course, is how a woman's body needs to prepare itself for the complicated task of motherhood. I would like to pause and *especially* note this because he barely mentioned fatherhood with the boys and it's all just so goddamn annoying.
In the bit about butterflies he said the boy was disappearing and a man "capable of being a father" was taking his place but this is so much more pointed. "The way a woman's body functions to produce human life is one of the most beautiful mechanisms in all of God's universe."
I don't know, I'm just really grossed out by all of it and the mechanistic nature of it and the connection of female bodies as baby machines and just... the whole thing. As an AFAB who never wanted to have kids, I always found this sort of talk really upsetting.
So first we have to look at pregnancy and how all of that happens which like... I guess is helpful, kind of? Like it is helpful in that knowing how all of that works helps explain things like periods and all but there's a lot more to it and there is like a full page spent on this
I will say that he says specifically he thinks that boys also need to understand menstruation, which is a low bar he has cleared. He explains how menstruation works and why it happens, and calls the vagina "that special opening through which babies are also born."
He assures girls they shouldn't need to be afraid of this, it's normal and ALSO they should be happy because it "makes possible the most fantastic and exciting event that can ever occur - the creation of a new human being." OMG SHUT UP. He goes on a whole pro-life jag.
And make no mistake, that is part of what this is. When they talk about fetuses getting fingers and toes and all of that shit, it is specifically so that they can use it against women later. I am not saying having a baby isn't magical for those who want a baby. But... ffs.
Not to mention, I am super lucky when it comes to periods. I mean, right now I'm great because I have had an IUD for like 3 years and I basically never have a period. But even when I did I had basically never had cramps and it was basically just kind-of annoying.
But I have many friends who have suffered excruciating pain and discomfort as a result of their periods, and I would like to say a resounding fuck off to Dobson making this all sparkly about future babies. Periods are complicated and can really suck and it's okay to know that.
There is MORE about the beauty of birth working within the girl. Seriously, this has been happening for 3 pages. Now Dobson wants us to think about how magical it is that it happens AUTOMATICALLY, as if god is just standing right next to her, telling her what she needs to do next
He then asserts that is exactly what happens, and quotes the stupid Psalm 139:13-15 about knitting all the parts together in the womb, but that says absolutely nothing about a creepy Jesus overseeing your uterus while it performs the pregnancy steps.
I just cannot get over how much of this section he has made about our bodies being made ready to have babies. I don't know why, this is exactly on brand for every Christian, but it is still gross and I hate it so much. I particularly hate thinking about like 12yo's reading it.
He then assures girls they won't bleed to death and this is perfectly normal and if ANYTHING seems wrong, like if there is some kind of pain associated or something, tell your mom and have her take you to a doctor, probably you'll be fine.
No mention of cramps, literally at all.
Also he would like to point out that probably when you go to the doctor you will find that you are completely normal and "the trouble was only in your lack of understanding of the mechanism."
The trouble was with YOU, you stupid child. For not understanding things better. Idiot.
And in a quick paragraph he says they will also have a growth spurt, also grow hair, they should know that menstruation begins at all kinds of different times and not to worry about it, and sometimes your breasts will hurt but that's totally normal and okay. Good? Good.
The thing he wants to talk about with BOTH boys and girls is the possibility of late maturity because this can be frightening and very concerning. Again, he just uses super condescending gross language but it boils down to that every body has it's own time table and that's okay.
He does once say that maybe a boy might be mistaken for a girl on the phone because his voice hasn't changed yet and "that might be the worst insult ever!" Cool.
But basically he wants you to know that there's nothing wrong with you and that everyone grows up eventually.
Now it's time to talk about "The Sex Appetite." If you are thinking gosh that is a weird and gross way to talk about sex to children, I completely agree and I would like to just double down on the fact that I did not do this, I am just the messenger here.
He assures us this will happen, boys will start appealing to girls and vice versa (always of course). He says that "sex will soon become an 'appetite' within you." At which point I rapidly lost my appetite for probably the next week. Basically he says both are caused by chemicals
Technically this is true. Most things in the body are, I suppose. Still a WEIRD WAY TO PRESENT IT TO CHILDREN. He says that this appetite will lead you to want to spend a lot of time with the opposite sex and hopefully eventually get married, because getting married is great.
He cautions that getting married too young is a terrible idea and about half of teenage marriages fail. Dobson is sometimes a bit of an outlier on this but he's really against teen marriages. I assume this is because he didn't do it himself and he only believes in things he did.
Dobson would now like to describe how it will FEEL to have these feelings over the next few years. For boys, they're going to become very interested in girl's bodies apparently. In their hair, and "the way they're built" (boobs, I guess) and their eyes and softness.
"Even their feminine feet may have an appeal to boys during this time," which I think tells us more than we ever, ever wanted to know about Dobson's sexual kinks.
He assures boys that it is very likely they will constantly think about these girls they "used to hate so much!"
And their sex drive will be super strong during this time, which AGAIN, poor planning god. Really think you could have figured this out better.
I just... I certainly didn't hate boys as a kid, and I knew boys who didn't hate me. The binary isn't really what they try to make it.
Speaking of binaries, ladies, I think y'all know what is next. He assures girls that THEY will find boy's bodies interesting but not be nearly so obsessed with them. Okay. I'm going to pause here because I have some shit to fucking SAY on this point because it is absurd.
I grew up in church, as y'all know. So I was surrounded by this rhetoric constantly, I was always being told I just didn't understand because I just didn't think about sex so I didn't know what was on boy's minds. But that was absurd because of course I DID think about sex.
More importantly, so did every girl I knew. I had a group of friends who were obsessed with checking out boys' butts, they talked about who had the best butt CONSTANTLY. I never understood it (not my thing), although I played along. I was more into the chest and arms.
But I certainly fucking noticed. I noticed all the time. I still remember with a VERY specific degree of clarity the first time I took off my ex's shirt and he was CUT and I was... I mean, it was pure lust kids, and I defy Dobson or anyone else to tell me I was just "interested."
Yes, I was fascinated by, as Dobson says here, the way boys walked and talked and thought. Sure. But I knew boys who were the same. Yes, I got crushes on many boys, as he suggests here, sometimes one after another, sometimes a number at once. But I knew guys who did too.
There is a REALLY disturbing line here where he explains what a crush is. "A rush occurs when you begin to think that one particular person is absolutely fantastic, and you fantasize about the possibility of being married to that person." Quick pause - married?
I was not fantasizing marriage. I was fantasizing at least kissing. Give me a few years I was fantasizing something else. Marriage is such a specific assertion of what a crush or fantasy SHOULD be but it becomes even more disturbing when he follows it up with...
"It is not uncommon to get a crush on a teacher or pastor or older man. Usually crushes are constantly changing, lasting only a few weeks or months before another takes it's place."
I... wait, what? You're just going to say that and not say anything else? Like NOTHING?
Because he actually opened up something here that could have been important. You could use this moment to be like hey, it's actually pretty common to get crushes on an older man or someone in authority in whatever way (true enough), but here if someone ever reciprocates...
It's DANGEROUS to tell a child that it is normal for them to have a crush on a man and then just leave it at that. Eh, it'll pass. What if it doesn't pass? Is the child then to think it is not a crush after all, that it is love? What do they do if he grooms them, approaches them?
It is a neverending source of horror to me how little he actually seems to care about the safety of children. And I don't know how he could, because he doesn't take them seriously as people. It's just... it's not great and I hate him.
I also want to say, before we jump into the next section, that this is all he says about the changes in bodies specifically and there was something he didn't mention at all, something that is SO fucking important. He didn't mention their brains.
I know why, of course. Christians don't like this science, they ignore it usually. But I just have to say that I cannot overstate the importance of adolescent brain development. Look, your brain is growing really fast, some things are hardening and firming up.
It's a good thing, it's part of the process but it doesn't all happen at the same time and that means that some things will come really easily and some won't. Impulse decision making will be a big deal during this time, a difficulty taking long term consequences seriously.
Kids are not stupid or broken, LITERALLY their brains aren't done cooking yet. That's not even taking things like trauma into account, which have incredible impacts on this process. But even a brain without any of that, there is so much happening. Till mid-20's!
And I believe so much that it matters that kids know this. I wish I had known this. I wish I had understood that some of the things I was doing actually made SO MUCH SENSE in the context I was in. I wasn't crazy or broken, for so many reasons. I was adaptive.
Sometimes kids do dumb things, so do adults. We have a crazy bias against children in general, we tend to hold their mistakes against them more as a society (depending on age, race, gender, a lot of factors). We don't take them seriously. We don't give them the room they need.
Dobson would say they are just being rebellious. I'll repeat myself again - differentiating and rebelling is part of the process, it's part of the development. Finding ways to channel that lovingly and help them learn safely and discover their own selves is part of the joy.
Because here's the thing, all that energy going into the brain during this time? All that settling and hardening, all those neurons running all the fuck over the place? It ALSO leads to tremendous creativity and passion and intuition and life. Which is why teens are the best.
There are a lot of reasons I hate Dobson. We cover a lot of them at length in these threads. But if I had to pick a number one, it would be this - it is the way he despises and looks down on kiddos, the way he doesn't take them seriously, the way he lies to them. Fuck that.
NOW then. On to sex. Dobson describes sex for the kids. It has some issues.
"Sexual intercourse is the name given to the act that takes place when a man and a woman remove all their clothing (usually done in bed) & the man's sex organ (his penis) becomes very hard and straight...
He puts his penis into the vagina of the woman while lying between her legs. They move around, in and out, until they both have a sort of tingly feeling, which lasts for a minute or two. It's a very satisfying experience, which husbands and wives do regularly."
So... as someone who has had sex with multiple genders, I can assure Dobson that it is still sex when it is not between a man and a woman. Even when a penis isn't involved! Also okay, I am old now and I admit I do often have sex in bed, because... bed. But it's weird to specify.
There's something about the description that weirds me out. It most reminds me of the sex education scene in Monty Python's Meaning of Life (NSFW if you somehow haven't seen it before). Or I just imagine like two people robotically doing these things.

Also of course many people do this regularly who are NOT husbands and wives, although he wouldn't want to admit such a thing to children. I'm not sure how I feel about describing orgasms as "tingly feelings" (and not naming them!). I think they're hard to describe? Still.
He would also like the kiddos to know that men and women don't just do this to have babies, they do it to show love for each other and because they enjoy it and it's very special and a thing they save only for each other, etc., etc., etc.
Now we are onto the usual disclaimers, which is of course that god loves sex because he made it and he would never make anything bad or dirty, sex is good and wonderful but this good and wonderful thing must be contained at all costs like a raging fire or whatever.
He doesn't actually use the fire analogy in this book, but that's the one I remember best in general. That fire is good and useful and if it is in a fireplace it is wonderful and important but if you just put it everywhere it burns the house down and THAT IS LIKE SEX.
He assures us that god plans on us saving our sexual appetite for marriage, and that "there is just no other way to interpret the Biblical message" which is one of those astounding things he says that I don't quite know what to do with. Like... there is, Dobson. People do.
I mean, I don't really care. I have no horse in the race anymore, I think the Bible has no real place in my life, but to say there is NO OTHER INTERPRETATION is clear nonsense. And yet of course people told me that all of the time growing up and I believed it because I had to.
"Some of your friends may tell you differently in the days ahead. You may hear Jack or Susie or Paul or Jane tell about how they explored each other's bodies. They'll tell you how exciting it was, and try to get you to do the same."
I have a serious question at this point - do you think Dobson has ever talked to a kid? Maybe I was hanging out with the wrong crowds, I don't know. But can you imagine some of your teenage friends "telling you about how they explored each other's bodies." HE IS SO WEIRD.
He wants the kiddos to please decide now to save themselves because if they wait until the moment they won't make good decisions, which was another thing I was constantly told and is only kind of good advice. It's important to know what you want but also listen to yourself.
And of course, that's the thing. He's not really encouraging a decision here, he's demanding a commitment to his way or no way. He's not saying 'hey decide what you think here,' he's saying, if you don't there will be dire consequences.
Speaking of which, now we talk about venereal disease!
The most notable thing in this part is that he says repeatedly that AIDS is 100% fatal always, there is no cure, it is a death sentence. This is... not at all true by the time this book came out. It wasn't EXACTLY true ever.
There are people who survived inexplicably with HIV, although of course he doesn't mention HIV, he only says AIDS. He doesn't distinguish because he doesn't want to do that. By the late 90's when he re-released this book, the first treatment drugs were available.
They weren't great, there were a lot of issues. But they were available. It was not a guaranteed death sentence. And let's be real a bit more than that. The odds of the white, upper class kiddos he presumes to be straight that he is talking to contracting AIDS is... low.
They are MUCH more likely to get chlamydia or herpes. And he does mention those. But none of those work quite so well to scare people as AIDS. In this particular book he doesn't talk about condoms being completely ineffective against AIDS, but he has in other books. True story.
Also he says the worst consequences aren't even the affects on the body or the tragic possible death, it's actually the impacts of impurity on your MIND. This could affect your future marriage and your life (which couldn't have anything to do with all this guilty he's creating).
And finally he'd like to note that our eternal destinies actually depend on following god so like... no pressure.
Did I mention he started out this whole section, and then repeated reassurances that god demands control of our sexuality because he loves us? Abusive pos.
The next part is one I feel like a lot of us who read this book when we were kids remember. "Self Stimulation." Dobson has a weirdly chill take on this. He cites lots of stories about how it makes people go crazy or whatever but if that were true you'd see a lot more crazy people
While this is true I find it so annoying that he is able to make this perfectly rational move in THIS instance and not in so many others.
Basically he says that god doesn't say anything about it and he can't speak for him but he can only give his personal opinion.
His opinion is that it doesn't cause disease or make babies and Jesus didn't mention it so it probably isn't a big deal. He hopes you won't feel the need for it but if you do, don't be super guilty. He says this because he has talked to many kids with so MUCH guilt about it.
He suggests that you talk to god personally if you need to, and he'll leave it there. To me that sounds like a man who doesn't want to talk to anymore kids about this issue and is hoping this closes the matter but maybe I'm just a cynic.
I do remember this really clearly because when I first read it, I didn't know what masturbation was and I just sort of skimmed it. When I started masturbating when I was a little older I specifically remembered this and was like 'ah, well, that's all right then.' Broken clocks.
Also he wants to assure young boys that wet dreams are totally normal and not to stress out about those, everything is totally okay. Which you know. Fine.
He says he is doing all this because he has gotten so many questions and he just really wants kids to understand that what they are going through is normal. He lists a bunch of the questions. Let's go through them, some are fine and need no comment, some are very, very not fine.
1) Are all these changes supposed to be happening? (I just want to note in response to this one that if no one has told these kids what is going to happen I am super upset with a LOT of people in their lives, and if Dobson is the only one... rage).
2) Is there something wrong with me?
3) Do I have a disease or an abnormality?
4) Am I going to be different from other people? (this one is interesting to me because it's so vague & also doesn't sound like any kid I know. All my kiddos WANT to be different, at least to a point)
5) Does this pain in my breast mean I have cancer? He reminds them that happens sometimes.
6) Will I be able to have intercourse or will there be something wrong with me? (He gives no response to this but, again, the fact that this is such a concern is probably partly his fault)
7) Will the boys laugh at me? Will the girls reject me?
8) Will god punish me for the sexual thoughts that I have? I told you that you're likely to think about the opposite sex often during these years. When this happens you may feel guilty for the thoughts that occur. (okay???)
9) Wouldn't it be awful if I became a homosexual? A homosexual is someone who is not attracted to the opposite sex, but who is attracted to the SAME sex. It's a boy's interest in boys or a girl's interest in girls. Homosexuality is an abnormal desire that reflects deep...
problems but it doesn't happen very often and it's not likely to happen to you.

HEY. HEY. Quick pause. I'd like to take this moment to say that I love all of you say much, especially my queer babies and fam. This man is hateful and says horrible things and WE READ THIS STUFF.
I was 12 and I read that who I was was abnormal and reflected deep problems and that was before I was even old enough to really understand any of those things. Some of you did too. I'm so fucking sorry. My beloveds, I hope you know you are beautiful and perfect, every part of you
I just needed you to hear that because I want you to know that you are a gift, including, ESPECIALLY, every single part of your queerness.

Take a breath with me, okay?

Take another.

You are loved.


We're almost done.
10) Could I get pregnant without having sexual relations? (He talks about how this only happened when Jesus was born and that's all great but AGAIN the tremendous shame and fear these questions imply just kills me. Kids are asking you this because you are breaking them)
11) Do some people fail to mature sexually?
12) Will my modesty be sacrificed? It's common during the early adolescent years for you to become extremely modest about your body. You know it's changing and you don't want anybody to see it. Therefor you may worry about being...
in a doctor's office and having to take your clothes off in front of other people.

That's it. That's all he says about that. I mean, first off, what a bizarrely phrased question. It again certainly does not sound like anything a kid actually said.
Second, why bring this up with no suggestions? I mean, I can see how what he's saying could be true but it's okay to TALK to kids about ways to manage that, how to feel more comfortable. Except he... just doesn't care. He doesn't fucking care.
He closes out with a dumb paragraph about how he wants to help kids avoid anxiety and know that they're normal and if they just control themselves like god intended, everything will be fine because jesus basically. Maybe if you do it right you'll even get to have a happy marriage
So that's that for now. I am very tired but also glad to be back with y'all. I love you and I've missed you. Please respond or DM or however you'd like to engage. I'm so glad you're here.
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