Christianity is a predominant religion in the United States. One of the arguably more obvious effects of this is purity culture. Purity culture places a strong emphasis on modesty and “sexual purity,” especially for women and girls.
The modesty of girls is enforced through dress codes for years. Dress codes are often skewed unfairly against girls. I will never forget my anger when I would get in trouble for showing my shoulders while guys could wear tank tops without a single comment. We are expected to appear a certain way so we don’t bother others, typically men. In my middle school, the girls were gathered together and told to stop wearing leggings because they weren’t appropriate. In middle school.
And what does this teach girls? They are the problem. They should do better, look less “appealing.” Because heaven forbid someone have shoulders, right?
Another crime of purity culture is truly abysmal sex-education. In this area, sex-ed often focuses on, or stresses, abstinence. I’ve seen object lessons that accompany this education, and boy do they objectify. The one I’ve seen most often is comparing people to tape. Repeated uses cause the tape to lose stickiness and become dirty, so the tape loses its use and appeal. Think about what that tells young girls for a moment. That, should they have sex before marriage, they lose value.
This, combined with being taught that they’re the problem, can be damaging to girls’ mental health.
On the topic of supposed “sexual purity,” there’s definitely a group of people that believe that being LGBT+ is sexually impure. It’s why books about LGBT issues or by LGBT authors are getting challenged and removed from libraries. Or why drag queens are getting attacked through policies at the state level. To “protect the children” from what is deemed impure. In purity culture, don’t even think about being LGBT, and surely this won’t cause any lasting issues. (Spoiler alert, it will.)
Purity culture affects other, more sensitive, issues that I don’t feel prepared to tackle, and there’s more depth to what I mentioned here.
These Evangelical Christian ideals that have seeped into our culture are damaging. Putting blame on a person for another’s mistakes will do that.
Lynn Spahr is a Hutchinson freshman in general studies.