(1/2) Not sure if this needs trigger warnings..rpe? Purity culture? Do you have any suggestions for dealing with " purity culture" type stuff? Like before i was rped, i was super evangelical and wanted to save my first kiss for my wedding and stuff.
(2/2) that probably seems weird, but it was talking important to me. Now, im not evangelical anymore, but I still feel like im doing something wrong when I miss my partner and like I’ve better them, by not being pure for them, because I was raped
So um… I grew up pretty Evangelical. It was weird. Like signing a purity pledge when I was 11-12ish. They gave us little ATM (abstinence ‘til marriage) cards that we were supposed to keep in our wallets until we got married. I thought I was so special because I “wasn’t like all those other girls” who probably weren’t having as much sex as I thought…
Anyways, purity culture is based on this whole idea that penises have magical powers that change the core of who a person is. When you phrase it like that, it seems a little silly. You’re not dirty. Even if you wanted to remain abstinent, most Evangelicals don’t equate sex with rape. They grant that a horrible thing happened to you that doesn’t change who you are or where your value is.
There are some resources online for people who leave the evangelical community. I like a couple blogs on Patheos. No Longer Quivering is a good resource. It’s pretty general for ex-Quiverful/Evangelical, but it does touch on sexual ethics in a couple posts. There may be some forums, but Google at your own risk. Fundie Christian results will also show up. If you’re looking for a somewhat religious answer, God doesn’t love you any less. That’s the point. The number one thing in pretty much every part of Christianity is unconditional love.
The non-religious response is that your worth isn’t tied to your sexual history. Anything that happened before your relationship is irrelevant to what’s happening right now. Whatever you feel right now, just remember that your value isn’t connected to your assault. Your partner didn’t date you because you were “pure.” Your partner is with you because you two have some kind of connection. You’re not letting anyone down.
Anon, I also grew up evangelical. I spent literally half my life in a strongly Baptist school (and they emphasized street corner evangelism, which was an… interesting unit to take, looking back). My faith broke for different reasons before my assaults, but a few of the ghosts from that belief system stayed behind.
And one of those ghosts was the purity culture culture stuff.
The thing about beliefs like that is that they can be a lot like emotions: they can be based in emotions and they’re generally a bit more difficult to reason with than, well, reason. For many people, reasoning is their tool of choice and this can cause some problems here. Some people solve it by redefining virginity to include choice and consent. It doesn’t count as a first anything if you don’t willingly give it, which is in line with the belief that kissing/sex is a valuable gift. But I wasn’t able to do that until….. last week? Some people can, some people can’t, and that’s okay.
In the meantime, what I personally struggled with was letting go of the metaphors (ie- licked lollipop, chewed up piece of gum—those ones). The main problem I had was knowing that it wasn’t true, but not feeling like it wasn’t true. The thing that helped me the most was actually a different purity metaphor. It’s really more of an anti-purity metaphor, but it has the same structure.
If I have two $100 bills and they’re sitting on a table. And if I take one of the bills, and crumple it up and throw it in a river and bury it and write on it, and whatever— does that make the $100 any less valuable? Did it lose any value? Is a bank going to reject it? If I offer it to someone, are they going to say “no thanks, I don’t want a crumpled bill”? Nah, most people are gonna be like “hell yeah I want that bill! It’s $100!!” and they will be stoked to be able to have that $100. The crumpled bill and the crisp bill are still both the same value.
Moral of the metaphor is that the value of the person is in the essence of their humanity, not the external forces that affect them. Money doesn’t become worth less just because of what happens to it, and people don’t become worth less because of what happens to them. And whenever I found myself going “but the gum…” I’d counter it with “ONE HUNDRED DOLLARS!!!”
So that metaphor took me a good 9/10ths of the way there. The other 1/10th came from realizing that the purity metaphors have a very broken, surprisingly obvious flaw. They’re about gum. Candy. Plates. These are all objects that are made for one specific reason- to be consumed (or to insist in something being consumed in the plate’s case). Are people objects that exist for the sole purpose of consumption? Are people really equivalent to a 99 cent impulse buy in a grocery store checkout? Are people really that generically interchangable? If the metaphors were true, then, well, yeah.
And that’s not something I’m willing to believe.
(Also, since we’re doing blog suggestions, I’d recommend Defeating the Dragons! Very well written, very reflective, and pretty analytical. Most of what I’ve seen from her focuses on Evangelism/purity culture and sexual assault/rape culture. I don’t remember reading anything particularly graphic/triggering on there (it’s been a while), but be careful just in case).