Thursday, January 10, 2013

Article on purity culture

There's an article in The American Prospect, "Purity Culture Is Rape Culture," that links the brutal rapes in India to purity culture. Some quotes:

“Rape culture,” as young feminists now call this, isn’t limited to India. It lives anywhere that has a “traditional” vision of women’s sexuality. A culture in which women are expected to remain virgins until marriage is a rape culture. In that vision, women’s bodies are for use primarily for procreation or male pleasure. They must be kept pure. While cultural conservatives would disagree, this attitude gives men license to patrol—in some cases with violence—women's hopes for controlling their lives and bodies.

In other words, only virgins can be raped—sweetly white-gloved, white-skinned virgins. Any woman who ever wanted sex—yes, that includes married women who unconditionally give permission when they put on that ring—deserves what she gets. 

Connecting the dots between rape culture and purity culture is a recent thing for me, and something I would have scoffed at 5 years ago. Most people within purity culture have never thought these things through to their ultimate implications. They don't realize that the underlying belief system that promotes purity also promotes a very discriminatory view of women. And as long as the women in these cultures follow along, rare few will ever have to face the ugly truth. It's not until women begin questioning and taking control of their own lives and their own sexuality that the backlash against them will come out. And the anger and disgust you will see will reveal their true feelings towards women.


  1. I think what is worse is the use of modesty rules to circumnavigate consent. The idea that a woman's skirt length means she is "asking for it" is just crazy. Purity culture and rape culture are definately connected. I think we should replace them both with respect culture.

  2. Why is there so much rape on secular college campuses? And in the military? Because of the "purity culture"? You guys are crazy....the problem is, you were all at one extreme and now you are going to the other extreme and seeing where you are coming from as 100% bad. Get some perspective. The American culture had a TON of suffering caused by all kinds of sexual disorder, rape and everything else. It is a whole lot more complex than just to blame it all on somebody thinking you should wait until you are married to have sex. Good grief. It's really just way over the top.