I’m loath to make top ten lists and click-baity articles. But I’ll be honest, there are times when the only way I can explain why purity culture needs to change and why is to just quote people from the world of the purity movement. Some of the things that get said in the name of purity are downright horrific. These are the kinds of arguments and justifications and reasoning I read in research for my book, Damaged Goods. I’ve kept them to context as best I could, but even with the most charitable readings, many of these quotes are simply mind-boggling.
These quotes demonstrate the connection between objectification of women, purity culture and rape culture. Women do not exist as people in purity culture - we are merely objects that exist to help men, even through the sacrifice of our own sexual wants and needs. Our bodies don't belong to us, there is no concept of consent or bodily autonomy. We exist for men, pure and simple. And that needs to change.
1. [About modesty] “When you dress and behave in a way that is designed primarily to arouse sexual desire in men, you are committing pornography with your life.” –Joshua Harris, Sex is Not the Problem (Lust Is)
2. [About young teen girls wearing revealing clothing] “Think about your grandfather, because all of his old friends are looking at you when you wear that stuff. Eww! I know it’s gross, but that’s the truth. If you dress like a piece of meat, you’re gonna get thrown in the BBQ. It’s that simple.” – Justin Lookadoo, Dateable
3. [About the need for heterosexual marriage and partnership] “Mary had Joseph. Esther had Mordecai. Ruth had Boaz. We will not become the women God intends us to be without the guidance, counsel, wisdom, strength, and love of good men in our lives.” - Stasi Eldredge, Captivating
4. [About how women need to be more passive in dating] “The night that I first ‘dated’ Bob, I knew I needed to be governed by my value. I could tell that he fit my list and I was interested in dating him – for “real,” next time. But I had really blown it. I had called him … how desperate does that look? I let him kiss me on our first date … how easy does that seem? I was determined to begin to make some tough choices that better reflected my value. That might mean a few less blissful moments but had the promise of a happily-ever-after loosely attached.” – Dannah Gresh, And the Bride Wore White
5. [About women who ‘flaunt’ their bodies] “Yes, you can turn me on, but don’t expect me to respect you. Yes, I might find you attractive on the outside, but that won’t make me think of you as attractive on the inside. Sure you might get my attention, but it will be negative attention.” – Respondent to the 2008 Modesty Survey, as quoted in Damaged Goods
6. [About the slippery slope toward sin] “Maybe you agree with this and plan to save sex for marriage, yet you view ‘make-out’ activities such as kissing, necking, and sexual touching as no big deal. We need to ask ourselves a serious question: If another person’s body doesn’t belong to us (that is, we’re not married), what right do we have to treat that person any differently than a married person would treat someone who wasn’t his or her spouse?” – Harris, I Kissed Dating Goodbye
7. [About being a man who ‘pursues’ his woman] “Chances are, your wife or girlfriend is carrying around an unseen uncertainty about your love and needs you to come after her, look her in the eye, and tell her that you love her … and you’re not going to let her get away.” Jeff and Shaunti Feldhahn, For Men Only
8. [About how women are not visual or even necessarily sexual beings] “Your wife, though, is not like you. She is not sexually aroused simply by seeing you at your studly best. If you are looking particularly handsome or sexy, she will notice and she will find you attractive. But – get this – her body is still not lusting over your body.” – Fedhahn, For Men Only
9. [About how husbands feel when their wife says no to sex] “Although you might just be saying you don’t want sex at that point in time, he hears the much more painful message that you don’t want him.” Feldhahn, For Women Only
10. [About a wife who was ‘withholding’ sex from her husband because she didn’t like to have sex] “Then, through a series of events, the Lord spoke to her and said, ‘Who is supposed to be the mature one here? He is a new believer and you’ve been in Christ for many years.’ She got the message. She decided to minister to her husband sexually, not because she particularly wanted to, but because she wanted to do it as unto Jesus Christ. She didn’t have a need for sex. It wasn’t within her, but she realized this was her husband’s need, and the Lord had spoken to her about meeting his needs first.” – Emerson Eggerichs, Love and Respect
For a sex positive and healthy alternative to such ridiculous sexual ethics, I strongly urge you to pick up a copy of Damaged Goods: New Perspectives on Christian Purity, sold wherever fine books can be found starting on February 10th, 2015.