I have dedicated my life to finding dignity for others. People with money usually don’t have to hunt for dignity – people tend to respect money and that somehow translates into a modicum of respect for the person with money. That means it is the underdog I usually root for and assist. FYI, if you are reading this and owe anyone – especially me – money, pay up.
Professionally, what that looks like is I work with homeless adults and families. In my free time, it means that I volunteer for homeless shelters and charities. In my remaining free time, while my daughter sleeps, I write little stories to explain the challenges some families face. There are many reasons I have chosen this path – personal history, enacting my faith, and practice. As a kid, I volunteered at the Union Station kitchen and I had a variety of good causes to support through Job’s Daughters.
My youngest daughter had expressed an interest in joining Jobies so I started looking at it again. How had it changed since I was last active in 1993? Is it the same or better? Would she have a home there? She would be the 4th generation on my side to be a Job’s Daughter and her father was a De Molay.
She has attended installations for Job’s Daughters and De Molay. She has met Master Masons and Rainbow and Eastern Star members – and she has a collection of tiaras. Just last week she slept over at a very JDI friendly family. So imagine my surprise when she turned down the chance to go to the JDI picnic because she no longer wants to join.
“Can you keep me, safe Mom? What if that old lady wants to trap me in a room so she can yell at me?” – a few years ago in Arizona, an adult from the “Supreme Line” pulled the members into a room and barred the parents from coming in. The girls ended up crying. Someone sent me a 40-minute recording of this “supreme” adult demanding to know what she should have done once the Supreme Guardian told her to go talk to these girls. My kid has heard this recording and she shouted at it “Say no! You didn’t have to be mean”. That adult was recently promoted to the highest adult position in the order. It is hard to imagine that JDI values children when they make choices like that.
“What if I don’t make friends and someone hits me?” At Grand Bethel, the state convention for California, a girl was held in a room against her will and when she broke free she was hit in the head so hard that she had a concussion. The adult she went to for help happened to be a nurse but brushed off her concerns and eventually, this girl was banned from Job’s Daughters for three years while her attackers are welcomed to all kinds of events.
She does not know that a girl had a seizure in a bathroom and she was sexually assaulted by a De Molay. The boy was removed from his fraternity and the girl had to fight and appeal to the Powers That Be to keep her membership in JDI even though she was the victim. The adults in authority were terrible to her family and tried to bar her father from sitting near her in the meetings to keep her safe in case she had a seizure. Yes, giant ADA violation.
And so, here is the rub; As a kid, we always joked that every member of Job’s Daughters could leave and it would be years before the adults found out. I think the adults would know because they like to torture the membership and abuse their power – but the adults should have no power.
If an adult demands to speak to the girls alone, their presiding officer, called an Honored Queen, should be free to deny the request. Each potential member is vetted by members of her local group and voted on by the girls before she can join – why are girls left out of the choice to remove a daughter from her station or membership?
Where is the dignity in being a Job’s Daughter?
Where is the safety?
Where is the opportunity to have a choice and a voice?
Where is the opportunity to be a fan and a supporter of the order? A former member made ( at cost) shirts and sweatshirts for members and the adults affiliated with local, state and international levels of JDI. She offered to set up her machine and make items at the convention and give part of the proceeds to the sorority but was turned down. She was also the topic of gossip at the international level. When this woman complained, she was sued in federal court over trademark violation. There was no violation and JDI requested mediation where they agreed to settle. The adult who was Supreme Guardian when the lawsuit was filed is now on the Board of Trustees. This is not a group looking to grow or change to be more fun or easy to support.
Simply put, the dignity of JDI is gone. What was a treat for me to be a part of is now a horror show for more than one family.
It is sometimes reasoned that the demise of Job’s Daughters International is happening because modern girls have too many options. Nothing is made of the fact that JDI is an unappealing option. The time commitment is minimal but the return on investment is awful. The budget for gardening at the residential home of JDI was larger than the college scholarship funds dedicated to the members seeking education. Girls who volunteer on a state level lose their title after their term of service but the adults keep their titles for life and they all stand and are escorted and introduced at events for the girls. Escorts can take over an hour without anyone under the age of 45 being introduced. Mind you – the age of a JDI member is between 10 and 20. No adults need to be introduced. Maybe they can be invited to rise and the suggestion can be made that these would be interesting for people to visit with during any reception or social gathering?
When I came back to look at JDI I expected to see some changes, but I did not expect to find it gutted and unrecognisable. The girls have no voice. They are not protected from out of control adults or even other girls. My daughter is watching her friends be dragged to events instead of being the engine driving the enthusiastic involvement. I am horrified that my friends who have been involved this whole time or even reinvested recently, seem to be complacent. They think this is fine and normal. One says she is not free to speak her mind or even “like” things on Facebook because it would jeopardize her family’s standing in JDI. Dude, this is a kid’s club, no “family” should have “standing” and if you have to be censored, maybe you are just agreeing to be controlled.
How about if we set up an example where our girls are not finding emotional and physical abuse normalized or ignored? Why is this sorority not teaching them how to have healthy relationships?
It is clear that the “D” in JDI does not stand for dignity.
When I posted on Facebook that Darla suddenly does not plan to join, and I support her reasons, people, specifically Sally Carstensen-Hansen, jumped into the comments to complain about people who bitch but don’t do anything to solve the problem as she said she was doing. Are they calling my daughter a bitch for complaining about the conditions, or me because I had the nerve to mention this in public? Apparently, I am supposed to feel welcomed to come and make changes among keyboard warriors who are exemplars of the danger of JDI.
My time is better spent elsewhere. If I want to empower young girls while hanging with my kid, I can return to being a Scout Leader or join the PTA in addition to the time I spend with her now.
I came to see what JDI was all about these days. I came, I saw, I shuddered.