A brief note about the title: the “you” here may not be you personally, and it’s not that the term “purity culture” doesn’t have its place. Rather, there are specific uses of this term that have put a dent in a speaker’s credibility for me and impeded their argument. In those moments, I’ve wished for the words to explain to them what I thought they were doing wrong. This post is my attempt to put together those words: first by explaining the origins of “purity culture,” leading into my understanding of its key traits, and then contrasting that against the kind of usage I see a problem with.
[Crossposted to Pillowfort.]
Hi, folks. If you don’t mind, let’s sit down and have a talk. An actual, honest talk, if you will.
This is a post about the target audience of imperative grammar (i.e. command words) in the context of talking about abuse in relationships. It’s also a post about making moral-grounds proclamations about sexual violence. It’s also a post about the internalized obligation to have sex. It’s also a post about that thing that we usually call victim-blaming. It may even be a post about rape culture in the guise of fighting rape culture? And, basically, yelling at abuse victims to stop getting abused.
A short linkspam of linkspams (and some individual posts) on ace intersections, including intracommunity issues and problems faced outside the community. I’m still not all there in the head but, hey, wanted to do a thing, still.
Note in case of tumblrwarp: please visit the original wordpress post in case of future edits/updates.
Gender (Identity and Alignment) – Carnival of Aces November 2011: Gender and Carnival of Aces March 2016: Gender Norms and Asexuality feature posts on being trans, being female, and being nonbinary.
Race and Ethnicity – Vesper’s APoC Resources page has tons of links to content on/by/for asexual people of color, including articles and videos on racism inside and outside of the community, such as The Large Space That White Supremacy Occupies In Conversations About Sexuality.
You can also find some posts on being Jewish in the roundup for Carnival of Aces October 2014.
Gay, Bi, and Queer – On this subject, I’d highlight Living gay (and ace), On “no romo”, and Being asexual, “of the bi-ish persuasion,” and afraid, as well as this post on guilt over desire for representation. For further reading, see Queenie’s so-called teeny tiny linkspam on asexuality and queerness.
Illness and Disability – Carnival of Aces June 2015: Mental Health and Carnival of Aces October 2013: Disability and Asexuality feature posts on being mentally ill, being disabled, and choices on the part of the ace community, disability activists, and health care providers.
Sexual Violence – Queenie’s Ace Survivors as Rhetorical Devices series explains how to avoid damaging rhetoric about survivors of sexual violence.
The RFAS (Resources for Ace Survivors) Recommended Reading page covers a broader range of topics under the same umbrella of asexuality and sexual violence.
Miscellaneous – Examples of Bad Ace Advice and Hezza’s Asexual identity prescriptivism linkspam address identity-policing and other issues.
In my first year of high school, I was assigned to read a book with a subplot where a girl has pity sex with a boy because he’s a virgin, and whose plot and characters did not make nearly as lasting an impression as the rape/incest joke I can remember almost word for word. In my second year of high school, I was assigned to read a book where I saw some of my own sexuality represented in literature for the first time, as a key part of a dystopian regime, and where the protagonist contemplates becoming a rapist out of irritation with an evil prude. In my third year of high school, I was assigned to read the friggin Scarlet Letter, a book which could not possibly be more melodramatically obsessed with how awful the Puritans are — not for being racist, or misogynist, or any of the other things that the book gleefully embraces, but for being such darn prudes. In my fourth year of high school, I was assigned to read another book where one of the main characters contemplates becoming a rapist because of an evil prude, a character whom one of my classmates described as an “All-American Hero” and who is overtly celebrated in the book.
You know, sometimes, I feel like how messed up I am is way out of proportion to my actual life experience, but when I get to thinking about the kind of things I had to read and hear as a teen kid, I kinda have to wonder how I didn’t turn out worse.
More than a year ago I wrote this post on “gray area” violence that has now made it onto the RFAS Recommended Reading page. Reflecting back on that now, I’ve got some thoughts on how to give reassurance to people whose stories set off those kinds of red flags for you — when someone relates a past experience that sounds, to you, exactly like rape, sexual assault, or abuse, but they themselves explicitly communicate that, for whatever reason, they see it as more of a gray area.
Here’s a rough outline of what’s been helpful and unhelpful, in my experience, from on both sides of the problem.