You can read part 1 here.
Growing up, I sat through lessons about how my body was inherently evil, that my thoughts and attractions were sinful and unhealthy. I grew up in the age of the Purity Culture Movement, the height of purity culture dated between the 1990s and early 2000s, amid the flush of “modest is hottest” theologies. I grew up surrounded by language codified around victim-blaming, slut-shaming and heteronormativity. I had attended retreats where we were told to pray for our future husbands, where we placed white roses on the altar as an homage to our purity in veneration of the Virgin Mary. I did not wear a purity ring or sign a purity pledge, but the expectations placed on me reinforced the ideas embedded in these objects none the less. I learned over and over to keep my candle unlit until marriage.
I had repressed my sexuality so far that it felt non-existent. I had shamed and punished myself for years whenever I felt any sexual attraction. If I felt ashamed of my attraction to men, my response to my feelings towards women was far worse, avoiding the eyeline of Victoria Secret models and magazine covers. I didn’t know who to talk to about these feelings—I was conditioned that my thoughts about men were sinful but forgivable. Everyone struggles with attraction prior to marriage. But who could I ask or talk to about my attraction to women? I was worried that what I told a priest in confession would somehow make its way back to my parents or friends. Despite their unconditional love, I worried that this would be the line in the sand, a sin so ugly and unnatural that I wouldn’t be welcome back in our Church.
Continue reading ““For I know the plans I have for you:” The coming out story of a queer Catholic raised in the Purity Culture Movement part 2 by Emma Cieslik”
It was my last interview for the Muncie LGBTQ+ History Project. I was a senior in college, and I was about to complete my tenth interview focused on the intersections of Christian religion and queer identity. I was slated to conduct an oral history interview with Rachel Replogle, a nonbinary lesbian who runs Indiana’s only queer-affirming wedding videography business. I had expected to explore elements of her work in churches and religious spaces—and I had encountered experiences of trauma, both familial and religious, through the project—but Replogle’s story touched a nerve about my own experiences and made my question the project’s impact on the people conducting it.
Since 2018, the Muncie LGBTQ+ History Project has been collecting the stories of queer people who grew up in and around Muncie. I worked with the project for over a year as a research associate, conducting ten long-form oral history interviews with members of the Muncie LGBTQ+ community about their experiences growing up in Muncie, a small town in East-Central Indiana in the heart of the Rust Belt. Spearheaded by Dr. Emily Johnson  the project seeks to uplift and celebrate queer experience in the Midwest. I entered the project with an interest in how queer individuals engage with religious identity, especially in spaces that deny their personhood and/or invalidate their relationships.
Continue reading ““For I know the plans I have for you:” The coming out story of a queer Catholic raised in the Purity Culture Movement part 1 by Emma Cieslik”
As I said in Part 1 – this topic will be difficult to discuss. As I said, I promise I AM NOT SAYING ALL MEN ARE BAD. Please re-read Part 1 if this post causes you to feel defensive or protective toward males.
Unfortunately, we live in a deeply, horrifically misogynist culture. Our culture is so dystopian that it has normalized a mass butchery of violence against females. I can say these words, and most people either nod or look skeptical, but they don’t actually understand what I am talking about. People do not understand because they have so normalized horrific misogynist violence – they have been so brainwashed – that they cannot recognize brutal attacks against women, even when those attacks are right before their eyes… or happen to their own bodies.
Continue reading “Feminist Parenting About Sexuality Part 2 – pornography by Trelawney Grenfell-Muir”
Women’s bodies continue to receive an inexhaustible amount of attention. As a society, we have glorified, scrutinized, degraded, hypersexualized, underrepresented, and misunderstood the female body. Purity culture has orchestrated a movement around the management, perception, and regulation of women’s bodies. As a former Pentecostalist, I grew up knowing there was more focus on my body versus those of my brothers in Christ. There was a bodily divergence between men and women that I did not fully comprehend but felt obligated to adhere to; the ideological basis of this difference was filled with much ambiguity.
Each time the church organized a sexual purity event and/or discussion, boys and girls were unfailingly segregated. I was always so curious about what was discussed in the boy’s group so I would ask my brother, Christian boyfriend, and male friends at the church to fill me in on the gossip. In my teens, I didn’t know how to perceive the information relayed to me. Looking back now, I am surprised at the discourse around purity culture and masculinity in the church. During my earlier years at college, I convened with the male pastoral leadership, and they confirmed the following main themes taught to men during sexual purity discussions. Continue reading “The Purity Complex: Are Men Really Less Affected Than Women? by Andreea Nica”