I’m Dani Ward,

and I do lots of things.

Tag Archive for Sexism

The Stories We Tell: Purity Culture and Shame.

I had a very eye-opening conversation with my mom recently.

We were talking about my marriage to my ex, and she asked me if her hunch was correct that I’d have married him anyway if my parents hadn’t given us permission. (You see, in our iteration of purity culture, even as a 22-year-old adult, I needed my parents’ permission to marry.)

I thought a moment and answered honestly: yes, I would have still married him. Then I clarified, “I honestly thought I had to.”

“You didn’t get that from us!” Mom responded in astonished confusion. “You don’t have to marry someone just because you slept with them.

Let me state up front: that’s an entirely true statement. I agree with it 100%.

And yet it was my turn to be shocked.

Because that statement flew in the face the entire narrative of my first 20+ years of life..

The Stories We Tell: Purity Culture Edition

Purity culture: a definition.

As defined by the excellent No Shame Movement,

Within the conservative Christian context, purity culture is simply the view of any discussion of things of a sexual nature outside of the context of heterosexual marriage as taboo.

Those with in purity culture must adhere to a strict heteronormative lifestyle that forbids most physical contact with significant others, as well as engaging in self pleasure, or holding lustful thoughts about another person that is not a spouse. This view is generally enforced and policed by the family and church community. Purity culture includes an insistence on female modesty and responsibility to shield boys and men from sexual temptation.

To be blunt, purity culture is distinctly religious and sexist at heart. As Dianna Anderson states, “Purity culture is, in brief, the linking of religious piety with virginal status, particularly in young people, and the association of sin and shame with sex.”

As such, it operates with an awful lot of assumptions about the world and how people do and/or should belief and/or behave:

My body is magnificent.

We’re coming upon the New Year — and that means a dramatic increase in the onslaught of marketing about weight loss, dieting, exercise, and getting a better body. But what makes a “good” body? I suggest that everyone has a Good Body by virtue of having a body. Whether you’re thin or fat, able-bodied or disabled, struggling with an eating disorder or body dysphoria, white or any minority that’s never celebrated as much as whiteness is — you have a good body.

And I want to help you celebrate it with this shirt.

Of masculinity & abusive breeding grounds.

Of Masculinity & Abusive Breeding Grounds

This post originally appeared on Plymouth Brethren Dropout on May 26, 2014. An updated version appears below. It’s been just over a year since the tragedy at Isla Vista that prompted the original penning of this post. So many things have happened since then that illustrate the points made herein, including but not limited to: the largely “secular” ongoing hissy-fit that is GamerGate…

Without GRACE: Secular vs. Spiritual Authority and An Incomplete, Discrepant History.

Last time, I gave some rather brief introductory thoughts to the GRACE report and explained what my intentions are for doing such a thorough and critical review. This time, since I’ve covered the first few pages, I’m jumping in just past the beginning of the introductory chapter and providing commentary through the end of the introduction. I’ll give an overview of the sections I’m addressing, along with direct quotes, observations, and thoughts. You can read the pdf file of the report along with me if you like. As always, your input and observations are welcome.

BJU’s lack of grace and what it means to survivors.

The GRACE report of their findings from their investigation into Bob Jones University’s handling of sexual abuse victims comes out tomorrow. I don’t have the spoons to explain the background of this investigation and what it means to all sexual abuse survivors in any way connected to BJU. GRACE’s page on the investigation has a pretty comprehensive list of the…

Lessons Learned at the Fortress of Faith: Part 3

As I’ve stated before, Bob Jones University habitually created spiritual mountains out of circumstantial molehills. We were to strive for perfection in every aspect of life, and anything less than that was an offense to God and the administration.

There’s a saying from the founder of the school…well, I mean, there’s honestly a bajillion sayings from the founder of the school. They’re so revered that they are literally engraved in plaques in every classroom across campus, and you can even buy a book filled with his quips of wisdom. But one saying in particular was quoted quite a bit when I was there: “It is never right to do wrong in order to get a chance to do right.” On the surface, and especially when I very first arrived on campus, I agreed with this 100%.

Again, I’m faced with the difficulty of explaining a subculture when some of my audience has never experienced it, and some of it may think there’s nothing wrong with it. It’s difficult to know where to begin or how to explain things that I intuitively learned through various circumstances, other than to talk about the various circumstances that taught me that sometimes, it’s good and right to do “wrong.”

Sherlock Holmes, Vulcans, and how logic isn’t everything.

I mention it because one of the defenses of his insensitivity (to put it mildly) was that his argument was logically sound. And that’s a point that gets brought up an awful lot in discussions of social justice and in general when someone is called out for doing something harmful. It’s especially a point brought up from men against women, usually as a way of gas-lighting us and saying, “You’re too emotional to get this, let me logic at you in a manly fashion.” It’s sexist, it’s dismissive, and it focuses on one aspect of a situation to the exclusion of all else.

As I said on Twitter in my original thoughts about Dawkins’ asshattery:

This is the kind of argument I see quite a lot from those who tend to hold a lot of privilege & experiential ignorance of the topic at hand. Honestly…it makes me think of that scene in the RDJ/Jude Law Sherlock Holmes. Holmes is holding something in his hand, the end of which is mere inches from Watson’s face. Watson: “Get that thing out of my face.” Holmes replies, “It’s not in your face, it’s in my hand.” That’s what these logical men are like. That’s their argument. TECHNICALLY, they’re right. But the practical application & observation of the situation shows that one can be correct but still wrong. In this situation, the argument can (& has been, repeatedly) made that Dawkins wasn’t minimizing when he was making the comparison. TECHNICALLY, he wasn’t. But functionally, he was. Just like the thing TECHNICALLY was in Holmes’ hand but FUNCTIONALLY was in Watson’s face.