Purity Culture is (Unfortunately) Here to Stay: A Twist on Paglian Archetyping

I had the honor of writing this article for the Substack Cracks in Postmodernity.

I grew up in the intersection of deracinated evangelical Protestantism and 90s-haunted, Lifeteen Catholicism known as Central Maine. Ask a woman what it was like to grow up religious in the Northeast counterpart to the Unchurched Belt and they will either give a halting, qualified-then-requalified answer, or they’ll just tell you it sucked. And, odds are, they’ll tell you about the purity culture that pervaded their minds, their closets, their relationships, and their youth retreats.

Being homeschooled, I had to get creative when making friends. I joined public school sports teams, and attended Bible studies, lock-ins, and Superbowl parties hosted by the local Baptist church. I performed in Shakespeare plays directed by the socialist-turned-Anglican-in-disguise pastor of another Baptist church. I looked for love among the Calvinist, evangelical, mega-church crowd and at my extremely tiny Catholic college. There, I learned the terms ‘trad’ and ‘SSPX-er,’ and was judged for preferring the Novus Ordo.

I ran the ecumenical gamut and, as I grew older, the discourse around purity morphed from general warnings like ‘boys are blue and girls are red, please don’t make purple’ to claims that women shouldn’t wear pants and that dressing to seduce your husband is sinful. I sat through countless women’s talks, read numerous books on purity, and have seen too many adult women crying over being dress-coded in public. The people changed, the churches changed, but the discussion always circled back to the same problem: how women must dress to be considered ‘pure’, i.e., virtuous and trustworthy…

Read the rest of this post on Cracks in Postmodernity.

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