#jadapose: when rape culture and misogyny can’t be blamed on those conservatives

#jadapose: when rape culture and misogyny can’t be blamed on those conservatives July 10, 2014

There’s a new meme on twitter called #jadapose. A girl named Jada was at a party and she got raped after being drugged. So her rapist took a picture of her lying on the floor afterwards and called it #jadapose and put it on twitter. Then a bunch of his twitter followers thought it was funny so they took pictures of themselves mimicking the way she was lying on the floor and hashtagging them #jadapose. And it viralized. And that’s beyond disgusting. And it can’t be blamed on the conservative evangelicals and their purity culture.

In the standard progressive narrative of history, things always get better over time as people let go of the antiquated traditions that were the source of oppression. There are many things that have gotten better over the past fifty years for women in our country (I think!). Not as much better as guys like me want to claim, but somewhat better. But it seems to me like rape culture and misogyny have actually gotten worse, and while there is misogyny in the repressive patriarchal enclaves of our society, I don’t think they’re the source of this sick #jadapose rape culture world that has proliferated around us.

I just have a suspicion that boys didn’t grow up indoctrinated the same way that I was back in the day when it was actually a social scandal for teenagers to have sex. I’m sure boys growing up a half-century ago were socialized with a lot of other awful things, but when I was a teenager, I learned that my self-worth as a man was based on my ability to get laid, plain and simple. And I’m just not too sure that’s what all young men at all times throughout history all over the world have always been taught. When I went to parties, my goal was to find a girl with whom I could get as far around the base-path as she’d let me, even though I was simultaneously learning in my Southern Baptist youth group to wait till marriage. In other words, I was a misogynistic potential predator just like every other guy I hung out with. The fact that I never succeeded even remotely due to my social awkwardness is no credit to me.

One of the most haunting memories I have was from middle school dance around 1990. I think it was a bar mitzvah. There was a new type of dancing called the lambada that was really popular. My friends and I were daring each other to “bust a move” on the girls on the dance floor (which was another popular song at the time). So I danced with a girl named Mindy and I started rubbing on her in a way that wasn’t really dancing at all; I was doing it not because it was fun or because Mindy wanted to, but to show my friends that I was a man. When the song was over, Mindy’s friend Julie came over and chewed me out because Mindy was too quiet and sweet to say anything. I’m still ashamed and disgusted with my thirteen year old self to this day.

There’s a whole lot of critique that gets written about evangelical purity culture on the Internet. I agree with much of it. I don’t think that purity culture is the solution to “bust a move” culture, but that doesn’t mean that “bust a move” culture is not rape culture itself. Too often, in the critique of purity culture, the absence of it is thought to be a sort of “natural” sexual attraction. When I was young and single, I never got to experience “natural” sexual attraction. I was socialized for sexual conquest. The fact that I happened to develop meaningful friendships with women in spite of that was accidental. My goal until the very late end to my virginity at the age of 22 was to get laid. I often thought bitterly that God was protecting me from sex with my socially awkward personality that kept women away from me. Maybe he was.

Anyway, I’m starting a new season of my life as a campus minister walking right into the thick of “bust a move” culture with all the reports in the media of college sexual abuse, and I feel so utterly ill-equipped and confused about how to cultivate a better kind of community. I think that it requires more than just stating the rights and boundaries that need to be respected really emphatically and sternly to the young men that join our ministry group. If they’re anything like I was at age 18, they need a complete reboot on what it means to be a man. I’m well-versed in all the shitty versions of manhood from purity culture and “bust a move” culture. But I feel pretty clueless about how to cast a healthy vision for manhood that makes us into people that are actually safe and enjoyable for women to be around. I guess I’ll start from that place of complete inadequacy and hope that God gives me something.

"Very good discussion, thank you."

Five Things to Get Right About ..."
"Thank you for sharing this. I completely agree that the Scriptures—including the Hebrew Scriptures of ..."

“Against you alone have I sinned” ..."
"Actually, there are animal studies on sexual preference. OHSU did a study where they were ..."

Honest Questions For Traditionalist Methodists On ..."
"People of the day did not have the same knowledge then that we do now. ..."

Honest Questions For Traditionalist Methodists On ..."

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!


TRENDING AT PATHEOS Progressive Christian
What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Rebecca Trotter

    Morgan, I have some experience dealing with teen boys who have been socialized in this culture. If you want some tips, message me and I’d be happy to share. But as a confidence booster, allow me to share a brief story. I once had the chance to develop a relationship with a boy who was 13 at the time and had grown up in a culture which idolized a sick version of masculinity centered around sexual conquest, domination and the like. He was pretty screwed up when I got my hands on him, frankly. But as I started talking to him about sex and dismantling the harmful, erroneous messages he had come up with, you could literally see his face light up. It was actually a huge relief for him.

    This twisted culture puts a lot of pressure on boys to act in ways that conflict with their better nature. If you can explain to them what is wrong with what they see all around them and offer a better understanding of what it means to be a man, more of them than you’d guess will respond. They want an out. They want to hear that the path they’ve been told they must follow to prove themselves as men is a load of bull.

    I think the big thing is you have to be just as blunt and open as the wider culture is. If you tiptoe around the issues, they won’t take you seriously; they’ll figure you’re just naive. But if you can be brutally honest, make them laugh and expose the wider culture as not just wrong, but absolutely absurd as well, you will have a more receptive audience than you might expect.

    • MorganGuyton

      Thanks so much Rebecca. Great thoughts here!

  • eurobrat

    I’m a liberal who happens to agree with you as well. I don’t think the purity culture is at fault for everything here. And if we’re going to get away from oppressive, patriarchal culture, we have to offer a valid alternative solidly founded on integrity and ethics, not just sexual attraction.

    And the jadapose thing turns my stomach.

    • Right-wing Realist

      “And if we’re going to get away from oppressive, patriarchal culture…”

      Could you please expand on that?

  • Mysterious_Man

    Wow… A Christian writer I can finally agree with! Why is that so rare?

    The ‘get laid above all else’ culture in modern America is the most pathetic thing ever. Religious values may seem restrictive or whatnot but at least they provide a model of ideal behavior that’s based some form of restraint. I personally have issues with so-called ‘purity culture’ but it’s not as toxic as a set of values that places a man’s ability to get laid above all else. Beyond the fact that ‘manhood=getting laid’ theory encourages and eggs on the sincere and enthusiastic rapists, it also encourages men who AREN’T sexually aggressive to try and IMITATE this kind of behavior. It’s so pervasive! I even bought into it myself once… When I was university I bought into that outrageous ‘pickup artist’ garbage and I did so many awkward and creepy things, all because I was insecure I didn’t have a GF. And I didn’t even really want to get laid anyway, I just wanted people to think I was getting laid!

    • MorganGuyton

      It’s absolutely pathetic. I’m so glad that you’re out of that world. Be blessed and stay safe.

  • GaryBT

    Morgan, I don’t envy you and I pray for your ministry. I think that dealing with these young men in college is almost too late. They need someone, like Rebecca, who can teach them early. Fathers need to be actively involved in their sons’ lives teaching them things like respect, graciousness, and healthy relationships. These same fathers need to model those attributes as well. Unfortunately, too many boys grow up without fathers in their lives and only gangs and other groups to teach them the ropes of rape culture.

    • MorganGuyton

      You’re right that it’s almost too late. I guess I just have to do what I can.

  • John J. Barrister

    But “purity culture” IS the answer. A REAL “purity culture” one that does not encourage boys to see the loss of virginity as a priority or some criteria for becoming a man and does not see a woman’s unwillingness to have sex as a bad feature. A real purity culture requires responsible parenting, including fathers that do not shame their boys for not being sexually promiscuous and parents that make real efforts to ensure teenage courtship does not get out of control. If we are going to conclude our children and teenagers are not capable to vote, sit on juries, smoke, or drink until they reach an age of majority, we cannot expect them to make sound judgments in a social context before they reach majority.

    There is no such thing as “natural” sexual attraction outside of a purity culture because, as nature shows us, natural sexual attraction generally is two males fighting for the right to rape females. Moreover, Pastor, you know damn well that which is defined as “natural” is not necessarily that which is “righteous,” Jesus was rejected by this world because he did not teach and live what comes naturally to humans, he taught and lived righteousness.

    • MorganGuyton

      I apologize because I should have clarified that “purity culture” has become a specific term in the evangelical blogosphere for a kind of overprotective, hypervigilant, sin-management approach to holiness. I don’t think that trying to control kids is the answer because they always rebel and the harder you lock them down, the harder they rebel when they get out. I do think there should be good, safe boundaries set for adolescents absolutely, but I’ve seen hypervigilance fail over and over again and result in young adults who walk away from the faith entirely. What I want to do in my campus ministry setting is offer holiness as something beautiful and enticing to explore in the form of ascetic spiritual practices. I want to invite the kids to try fasting with me and try some of the different prayer practices that I’ve taken up. I don’t know how well it will work. But I would rather define holiness as a positive than a bunch of Thou shalt nots.

  • Jin

    Learn to kids to treat others with respect, and compassion and never to do anything without consent. Being a man (or a woman), an adult is to act responsible.