The Hot Mess That is Purity Culture

The Hot Mess That is Purity Culture January 1, 2020
Ironic that this is the image of purity the song parodist went with. I’m seeing knees and thighs and other things many consider impure and immodest.

This is a video I initially wasn’t going to share here. I’d shared it on NLQ’s Facebook page after seeing it on Hemant Mehta’s The Friendly Atheist page. Things cross my laptop I find noteworthy, but may not have the time or the inclination to post here. Those things get shared on the Facebook page. But there’s just something disturbing about this that keep niggling at me. So here it is.

We’ve covered purity culture here off and on for years since it is one of the immovable cornerstones of Quiverfull theology. The commodification of women that all really boils down to the total control of every woman’s sexuality and body. Cattle are treated better than women’s bodies under purity culture. Purity culture demonizes the sexual characteristics we all have.

But here’s why this video caught my eye. That sliding standard of what is actually considered modest. In many of the purity culture promoting ministries out there what these girls are wearing in the video would be considered impure, tempting and immodest. Nike territory to borrow the Duggar’s word. That is one of the big problems in purity culture, the fact that what is sexy and unpure for one is perfectly fine for another. Rocks will be thrown, insults hurtled in the name of Jesus over some false man-made construct over the nebulous thing called ‘purity’

Here’s the song. Judge for yourself.

First of all, start a worldwide movement for purity? Like that hasn’t already been done to death. Hello? Purity balls. Josh Harris repudiated book “I Kissed Dating Goodbye”, the Duggars yelling “Nike!” upon seeing uncovered knees and upper arms. That goofy Justin Lookadoo and so on…..

One small thing I do like about all of this. The song puts the onus of keeping ‘pure’ on a guy controlling his eyes and mind. That’s really where purity proponents need to start, teaching young men to look away from disturbing things, take control of their own minds and not blame females for not dressing modestly enough.

Too bad this does not stop there, with young men taking control of their actions. From the first scene with the girl with the shortest skirt popping up to say “Like girls in short skirts and low cut tops?” Blaming women for tempting men yet again instead of saying that men should not drool and stare even if a woman is naked.

Did a little more digging than Hemant, looking to see who, or what exactly is behind this silly demeaning video from 2014 and came up with this:

Producer Alana Stubblebine

  • turns up nothing legitimate on Google.

Director Henk Prinsloo

  • looks like a run of the mill wedding photographer out of the greater Chicago area.

 Production Desert Clay Films

  • turns up nothing I could find.

Written by Ashley King of Spoken Word 4

  • who played the dancing teacher in the video. This looks like a vanity project for another ‘Professional Christian’ complaining about our culture. From her website.

This leaps out at me:

“The morality of our culture has been under attack for some time,”

So her answer is churn out vanity project videos to promote her flavor of Christianity? Thankfully she seems to have made just a few videos and stopped. I am hoping this is because she’s had a “come to Jesus” moment over purity and some of the other views she’s held that are harmful to women.

Exploiting the students you teach is just wrong on all levels.

Wonder if this is some backwards attempt to answer this video by Mormon boys –

Oh my! It’s not just Mormon boys shaming short skirted girls. The Mormon girls do it too!

Here’s what I am not getting about the Ashley Kings of this world. They claim to hate this world, this sick culture. But they have zero problem exploiting the culture of the world to promote their message.

Stuff like this makes me so happy I’m old and no longer worry about such things. living in a place were formal wear is clean flip flops and an unwrinkled shirt.

Here’s a better parody of that One Direction song “What Makes You Beautiful” but it’s NSFW and has some mild juvenile homophobic jokes. Still better.

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NLQ Recommended Reading …

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About Suzanne Titkemeyer
Suzanne Titkemeyer went from a childhood in Louisiana to a life lived in the shadow of Washington D.C. For many years she worked in the field of social work, from national licensure to working hands on in a children's residential treatment center. Suzanne has been involved with helping the plights of women and children' in religious bondage. She is a ordained Stephen's Minister with many years of counseling experience. Now she's retired to be a full time beach bum in Tamarindo, Costa Rica with the monkeys and iguanas. She is also a thalassophile. She also left behind years in a Quiverfull church and loves to chronicle the worst abuses of that particular theology. She has been happily married to her best friend for the last 33 years. You can read more about the author here.

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  • Here’s a major problem practically with making modesty rules about not causing dudes to 69lust (apart from cisheteronormativity and stereotyping all straight dudes as liking 69nudity and 69flesh): the famous Rule 34, which states *anything* can be made into 69smut. Feet and footwear are common 69kinks/69fetishes: however, I hear little to nothing from the modesty culture enforcers as to what women are supposed to do with their feet. If we take their ideas to their logical conclusion, then women would have to wear ground-length dresses and could not have male passengers while driving, and they certainly wouldn’t be able to play the piano or organ…esp not in church! If there seem to be so few issues here, despite none of this being insisted on, then surely dudes with more stereotypical interests could also keep it between their ears.

    The one incident in youth group that involved modesty policing was an all-girl thing: the church rules, for fundamentalism, seem to have been relatively lax (as even the pastor’s family wore sleeveless tops, shorts, and flip flops, even in church); however, shorts were required while swimming. One day, when the girls were swimming, the homeschooled girls tried to enforce the rules on the public schooled girls, and tensions broke out. The youth leader gathered us around (boys* and girls) and had the girls talk it out, and she suggested they learn from each other. (Yes, the youth leader was a woman: the pastors’ daughter. Pentecostal/Charismatic circles seem to be more tolerant of women in leadership; however, they could still be virulently misogynistic69.)

    *At that time, the youth group was mostly girls; there were only three boys, and previously there had been only two.

  • wannabe

    Does anyone have a link to the printed lyrics? I couldn’t follow them or find a link on my own.

  • Kev Green

    Most people are probably already familiar with this song; but Garfunkel and Oates’ “The Loophole” provides a nice irreverent take on purity culture. Unfortunately, I have no idea how to link to the YouTube video. (Just in case, the lyrics are pretty explicit.)

    Edit: Definitely NSFW

  • frostysnowman

    That song is hilarious.

  • lady_black

    Right click on the address in the search bar of the youtube video. Then hit ctrl and c at the same time. Come to where you want to post the video, and hit ctrl and v at the same time. The link will come up, and when it posts, it will be the video. Hope this helps.

  • persephone

    I’ve had a few days off and been catching up on TV, so I’m going to ramble a bit.

    On Hulu, I watched an episode of Into the Dark called Pure which was about a purity ball retreat. So triggering. The guy playing the pastor was too good. The fathers were so abusively controlling, but in different ways. Happily, Lilith shows up and things get crazy.

    I’ve started watching Moral Orel because Adult Swim (also on Hulu) is rerunning it. I had caught a few episodes during the original run. The writers are really good at taking fundagelical beliefs and extrapolating them out to the extreme. A recent one involved Orel being told to not take pleasure in things, and ends with him addicted to a BDSM club, which upset his father because beating Orel with a belt was having the opposite effect.

    Right now, I’m watching a documentary on the Jodi Arias case. I’m learning all kinds of things about Travis Alexander that have caused me to have some sympathy for Jodi and a much better understanding of the situation. Yes, purity culture was involved.

  • AFo

    Why can’t these people just accept that sexuality2 is nothing to be ashamed of? Evolutionarily, it comes from our desire to procreate and continue the species, which is what they claim to be all about.

  • Jennny

    I think that too, it’s a basic human (and animal) need, like the need for food, water and shelter. I’d like to ask these folk why god created it to be one of life’s most pleasurable activities, and a very strong urge, but then forbade it, except apparently in their very strict and narrow confines.

  • Wan Kun Sandy

    Purity culture is still held and regarded highly in Indonesia (thus it’s not just in conservative Christianity, conservatives’ favorite thing to do regardless of religion is controlling the matters of the groin). Not just that, it’s hailed as a “virtue of the Eastern culture as opposed to the loose Western culture” (never mind that other, more developed and affluent Asian countries are generally more lax about the matters of the groin and less conservative than Indonesia). I once see someone said about “impure women” that “if it’s not a virgin, it means it’s already a used goods. Do you want to use a used, second-hand goods? If me, I would be disgusted.” (emphasis mine, notice the wording expressing his stance). I also recall someone saying “animals don’t care about virginity and pureness, just like this stupid commenter who acts like an animal,” to another person who advocated to not put heavy emphasis on virginity and pureness. (Never mind that humans are also technically counted as animals, at least scientifically).

    I’ve seen many news about youths (especially girls) who are brought to the point of being shameful, guilty, and distressed after being caught doing pre-marital sex (even sometimes including consensual ones) and are immediately judged as negative and naughty. This is because of purity culture. Many of them believe that they have plummetted their own and family’s value and image to the ground, and thus are afraid to show face to society in fear of ridicule and shaming, just because of “being impure before marriage”. Tied with the taboo-culture of talking about sex in general, it becomes worse since there’s no clear and good information about it. It’s also the driving force of unwanted pregnancies, school abandonment, hastened marriage, and often includes prompting abortion and/or abandonment of the unwanted babies in the wild (often the babies are just left untreated to death inside a box in the wild).

    Many people keep making a big deal about this, while in fact sexual purity doesn’t really have any impact or effect in a noticeable manner (if the sex is done properly and safely, of course). I mean, does being seually pure even really matter in practically all everyday activities? No, it doesn’t. Sexual purity is actually insignificant in daily life, it doesn’t hamper daily life at all. So it’s ridiculous to make a big fuss on it.

  • Carstonio

    The true purpose of purity culture goes beyond general control of women and into protection of paternity, the idea that a woman is merely a baby factory specifically for a husband. It explains why the myth persists that the ‮nemyh‬ is like a factory seal on the uterus.

    Also, I find it strange that “hot mess” is being used as a general term. I had associated it with creepy men who, for Lindsay Lohan and Anna Nicole Smith, find the self-destructiveness to be part of the sex appeal.

  • MaryOGrady

    The skirt lengths on six of those young women would have evoked physical violence from the nuns at my school back in the day. Just sayin’.

  • Here is a similar video. I mean, it looks similar, with dancing high school girls. Kinda different content.

    “The Loophole” by Garfunkel and Oats; a.k.a. “God’s Loophole.”

  • Suzanne Harper Titkemeyer

    And there’s no self-destructiveness in the purity culture?

  • Whitney Currie

    As a woman, I refuse to allow others to judge my relative value based on my intimate activities or lack thereof for any reason. One of the perks of having been there, done that, and decided the t shirt wasn’t worth the price of admission, so to speak.

    That said, I think what bugs me the most about purity culture is that it does two things at the same time: it demands women submit to the men in their lives, then also insists that women be responsible for all intimate activities that they cannot say ‘no’ to and still be submitting to the men in their lives. There is no honest way to do both; you can’t both submit to someone and tell them that no, you won’t do whatever it is they’re asking for. If all that weren’t bad enough, young women in patriarchal situations don’t normally even have the ability to say no anyway, it’s been trained out of them. I’m given to understand young men don’t have an easy time with purity culture either, but I really don’t have any experience with that.

    Honestly, all three of these videos strike me as something the church leadership/parents put their kids up to. Some of the kids may well be earnest in their singing, but I have to wonder how long it’ll stay that way.

  • Whitney Currie
  • Jennny

    And in many purity cultures, the man is always blameless. I recall reading a novel, may have been ‘A Thousand Splendid Suns’ by Khalid Housseini, not sure, where women are divorced or even murdered in his culture because they have HIV-AIDS or a 69sexually-transmitted disease. Since they never leave home without their husband being with them, and he’s been seen in the red light district,…it’s not the wife who’s caused the infection but she is always blamed.

  • Carstonio

    Not sure what you mean. Are you saying that purity culture involves women making bad decisions that harm themselves? If so, that would ignore that purity culture artificially limits the options available to women.

  • The Jack of Sandwich

    Do the Duggars have something against athletic wear? Or specific Greek Goddesses?

  • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

    Weird part is, IIRC, it means ‘victory’ in Greek?

  • I don’t know how many times as a teenager I was driven to thoughts of lust by the Nike “swoosh” symbol. Well, okay, I do, it was a grand total of zero. Knowing the way such things work their chant is probably based on some rumour Jim Bob Duggar heard about Nike back in the ’80s.

  • Raging Bee

    Well, yeah, winning is ungodly when anyone other than a True Christian does it.

  • Jennifer

    Maybe they wore Nike shoes and that was a signal to look down at their shoes.

  • chemical

    In Greek mythology, Nike was the god of victory.

  • Friend

    Yes, that is the correct explanation. The sisters and mother would yell NIKE to warn the boys of nearby visible female elbows, knees, and so on.

    All of this happened before the Colin1 Kaepernick1 era. Obviously.

    I’m sure JimBob and Michelle would love to go back in time and yell EASY SPIRIT.

  • zizania

    Not to mention that the one who jumps up at the start has on enough make-up to star in a Kabuki play.

  • paganheart

    …or a half-eaten donut, or a cupcake with the frosting licked off (to list a couple more of the common–and terrible–analogies associated with purity culture…ugh…)

  • Saraquill

    My ex, not-Pearl, dislikes Christianity. He still harbored icky purity culture ideals. Namely pressuring me into s3x when I really didn’t want to. He later said if I expressed interest, he’d have been too disgusted to say yes.

  • B.A.

    Did anyone else notice (in the Virtue Makes you Beautiful video) the picture of Anne Frank next to the blackboard,behind the only girl still in the classroom? The irony–these girls,and the teacher,would have had her thrown in a concentration camp for being Jewish.

  • SAO

    There’s a huge amount of creepiness with older men fetishizing virginity and ‘purity’ in young girls. Then there’s the girls working so hard to be ‘pure’ in thought as well as deed, expecting it will make them desirable to a shining Prince that they end up single, when maybe if they’d dated or gotten out of the house and met some men, they might have ended up married. The whole courtship thing sets up the expectation that if a man expresses the slightest interest in a girl, he needs to make a commitment to marry her.

  • It’s less to do with her having been Jewish, or the specifics of how, and why, she was killed. She’s a teenage girl who died a teenage girl without having ever gotten married. She’s an emblem of “eternal purity”, in part because she’s “safely” dead. They are venerating, for the lack of a better phrase, a fictional version of the girl rather than who she actually was or what she actually believed.

  • ConcepcionImmaculadaPantalones

    This is why I shouldn’t drink and watch stuff at the same time. Coca Cola out my nose HURTS. 😉

  • Donna

    So, not only are the girls/women responsible for not enticing the men to lust in the first place by their ‘slutty2’ dressing, but they are even responsible for POINTING OUT the ‘sluts2’ in public to their menfolk? jfc….