A Girl’s Guide to Sexual Purity
March 12, 2015 11:49 PM   Subscribe

My friend Karla and I bought a book called And the Bride Wore White, a guide to remaining sexually pure. Three chapters of And the Bride Wore White are titled as follows: “Satan’s Big Fat Sex Lies,” “Satan’s Second Big Fat Sex Lie,” and “Satan’s Biggest, Fattest Sex Lie.” The book explained to me why condoms don’t work, why everyone isn’t “doing it,” and that oral sex is just as bad as intercourse. The author painstakingly outlined her own sexual foibles and missteps, honesty that I appreciated. I was ready to learn. I read the book steadily — during study breaks, walking through the hallways, before I went to sleep. Karla and I met at her house and talked about the different chapters while her mother brought us garden-grown beefsteak tomatoes that looked like hearts. We swore to strive for purity in every way possible. No more touching. No more being touched
Carmen Maria Machado writes about growing up, sexual assault, Christianity, family, realising your own queerness and more.
posted by MartinWisse (35 comments total) 47 users marked this as a favorite


 
“It wasn’t a rape, exactly,” I said, because I’d looked it up.

But in my head I thought of it as the littlest rape, a white dwarf star that had collapsed on itself and was burning, burning.
My circumstances are totally different but I felt like that, too.
posted by NoraReed at 12:32 AM on March 13, 2015 [13 favorites]


I can't help but think that there's not a lot of originality in her story as such, I'm sure I've read almost the same story at least a couple of times before, by different writers. The small details change, but it's basically the same story. But this is still really well written and felt real and authentic, so I liked it anyway.

(I'm left really curious about what the various Satan's Big Fat Sex Lies were, though.)
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 1:36 AM on March 13, 2015


(I'm left really curious about what the various Satan's Big Fat Sex Lies were, though.)

Presumably the three claims that immediately followed?
posted by DoctorFedora at 1:39 AM on March 13, 2015


You can see a preview of it on Amazon.

They are indeed the three claims immediately following. Page 22, "Satan's lies" are, thus: "everyone is doing it!", "safe sex protects you!" (Satan's a modern guy, he started adapting his tune to condoms in the 80s – speaking from being raised in an evangelical church here), and "oral sex is safer than PIV". Includes the evangelical trope-and-homophobic-dogwhistle about AIDS being related to Satan, sigh.

Brought back non-fond memories of my own childhood, ahhh chlamydia, the favorite STD of evangelicals, the nuclear weapon of purity. "But CHLAMYDIA!!!1!!!one!1!! No babies EVAR!!! and of course you KNOW babies are the PURPOSE of your LIFE as a WIMMIN!!"

le sigh.
posted by fraula at 2:10 AM on March 13, 2015 [10 favorites]


fraula: "They are indeed the three claims immediately following. Page 22, "Satan's lies" are, thus: "everyone is doing it!", "safe sex protects you!" (Satan's a modern guy, he started adapting his tune to condoms in the 80s – speaking from being raised in an evangelical church here), and "oral sex is safer than PIV". Includes the evangelical trope-and-homophobic-dogwhistle about AIDS being related to Satan, sigh."

Ah. I somehow thought the Father of Lies would make up some more insidious ones, not just, you know, join in the general consensus.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 2:46 AM on March 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


That was a gripping essay.

Tangentially, I love it that here in the twenty-first century I can read a sentence that begins,
I dated a former Marine with clear blue eyes and anxiety about...
and be in suspense over whether the next word is "his" or "her" or something else, even.
posted by XMLicious at 5:11 AM on March 13, 2015 [18 favorites]


That was very beautifully written, and also far from my personal experiences, so it was interesting too.
posted by Too-Ticky at 5:14 AM on March 13, 2015


Excellent post.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 5:15 AM on March 13, 2015


Oh, I have a rage now.

He told me that his wife couldn’t get pregnant, and they’d stopped having sex altogether.

As a professor who interacts every day with 17, 18, 19 year olds just trying to figure their shit out, the idea of a person in authority stepping over boundaries like that makes me mind-numbingly angry. It's not that I'm going "Think of the chillllldrennnnn!" here, but, shit, she sure as hell didn't need that dumped on her. At 16. What 20, 30 year old, what PASTOR talks like that with a 16 year old?

Raaaaaaaage.
posted by chainsofreedom at 5:25 AM on March 13, 2015 [28 favorites]



As a professor who interacts every day with 17, 18, 19 year olds just trying to figure their shit out, the idea of a person in authority stepping over boundaries like that makes me mind-numbingly angry.


that's the thing: you and the judgemental methodists have exactly the same idea about boundaries and the same implied morality: it's just as bad that Sam Jones wanted to fuck a 16 year old as if he actually did.
posted by ennui.bz at 5:41 AM on March 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


AND THE BRIDE WORE WHITE! We totally studied that book in our youth group "small group" one year. We thought it was pretty cheesy but did our best to take it seriously. I see in the Amazon preview she's added a little warning about the HPV vaccine- it's not 100% successful but abstinence is! ::bangs head on wall::
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 5:42 AM on March 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Great essay, by the way, thanks for sharing.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 5:43 AM on March 13, 2015


Satan’s Biggest, Fattest Sex Lie

I will not come in your mouth.
posted by Segundus at 5:49 AM on March 13, 2015 [20 favorites]


that's the thing: you and the judgemental methodists have exactly the same idea about boundaries and the same implied morality: it's just as bad that Sam Jones wanted to fuck a 16 year old as if he actually did.

No, it's bad that he was clearly unable to remain her youth pastor. You know. The job he was hired to do. No one talks about implied morality when your boss hits on you at work. Jesus.
posted by chainsofreedom at 5:50 AM on March 13, 2015 [25 favorites]


This reminds me a lot of Jenny Kutner's Texas Monthly piece. Man in position of authority running the same manipulative script on a minor and the family and community shame and blame the victim.
posted by asockpuppet at 6:24 AM on March 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


What sort of scum do you have to be to go around making teens think that condoms don't work. Bead-jiggling assholes.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 6:31 AM on March 13, 2015 [7 favorites]


that's the thing: you and the judgemental methodists have exactly the same idea about boundaries and the same implied morality: it's just as bad that Sam Jones wanted to fuck a 16 year old as if he actually did.

Yes, yes I do. It is bad for a man in a position of authority over minors to want to have sex with one of them. And if he finds himself with those feelings, he should obviously recognize that he is the adult in a position of authority over a minor and therefore that he should not 1) sleep in a sleeping bag next to her, 2) hang out with her in his office with his door closed, 3) go out with her on things that look like dates, 4) continue to take her out on those dates after her parents have told her that she shouldn't be dating him, or 5) talk about his sex life with her.

I am also a college professor, and I would never do any of those things with my legally adult students. Because it is an abuse of power. The idea that someone should not be doing these things with a minor under their authority should not be a controversial one.
posted by hydropsyche at 6:32 AM on March 13, 2015 [51 favorites]


It is bad for a man in a position of authority over minors to want to have sex with one of them.

This, and it is worth remembering how predators choose to go into those kinds of jobs, because having a position of trust with access to young people is exactly what they want.

My graduate department had a male professor who was on this second or third wife, each relationship started when she was a young graduate student, and each one replaced with a younger version some years later. Most of the departments on campus had a version of that guy -- totally legal under the rules at the time (something that might have changed by now, I don't know) but skeevy to be sure.

I liked the article but I definitely felt like I had read versions of this before; hers was interesting, though, because of how she showed the interplay of her queerness, the sexual assault in the classroom, and the inappropriate (but not physical) relationship with the pastor. In an interesting reversal, where usually the man suffers no consequences, Pastor Sam lost his job and family over the incident because people thought the relationship had gone further than it had.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:44 AM on March 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


It's pretty dismissive to call what Sam Jones did in the story "want[ing] to fuck a 16 year old." He took active steps to be inappropriately close to a minor. That's not "wanting" that's doing, even if you never have actual sex.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 6:46 AM on March 13, 2015 [8 favorites]


a male professor who was on this second or third wife,

Thinking about it more, he was at least on number three, and possibly number four.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:48 AM on March 13, 2015


My graduate department had a male professor who was on this second or third wife, each relationship started when she was a young graduate student, and each one replaced with a younger version some years later.

We had a high school teacher like that. The confusing thing for me was that I was one of the girls he was friendly with, but it never verged into inappropriate territory. Having him for a teacher was a really positive experience for me, which makes me all the madder about the shenanigans he got up to with other girls. Because he didn't stop himself from going too far when the opportunity arose, he deprived other kids of the good teacher he could have been.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 7:01 AM on March 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


I feel like a certain subset of men got the message that it's not okay to prey on young women, but only took that to mean "it's not okay to have sex with young women" while feeling 100% morally okay being inappropriate with them in any other fashion. I know several women who had weird pseudo-relationships like this with older men at some point in their youth: men who leaned on girls emotionally and sometimes romantically, and disappeared as soon as those girls found people their own age to pursue. That kind of stuff still fucks with you, even if sex doesn't enter into the equation.
posted by almostmanda at 7:13 AM on March 13, 2015 [19 favorites]


the Bride Wore White, a guide to remaining sexually pure

Ideally shelved next to The Little Red Schoolbook.

(Why is it red? I dunno, maybe because Satan?)
posted by octobersurprise at 7:14 AM on March 13, 2015


Then there was the astrophysicist who picked me up and fucked me against walls and warned me about the world’s impending helium shortage.

As an astronomer who is concerned about the world's impending helium shortage: ... whoa.

(Great essay, in any case. Utterly alien to me, but great.)
posted by RedOrGreen at 8:20 AM on March 13, 2015


(I'm left really curious about what the various Satan's Big Fat Sex Lies were, though.)

"No honey, really, this is 12 inches."
posted by Greg_Ace at 8:21 AM on March 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


The whole youth-pastor thing is such a load of dynamite. Young, outgoing, couples come in to lead a youth group full of boiling hormones, while they themselves are just a tiny bit older. The kids come to church, making the elders happy, but there is so, so much crushing on the pastor (and often, his wife) going on, so many opportunities for inappropriate-ness.

The ones I knew kept on the right side of the line, as far as I knew, but the way girls would cluster around them (I was never into the guitar-strumming, think-positive type, and so was immune) was always a little discomforting. And everything is so intense, in a group of teens. Everything is turned up to 11. Those kids are so easy to manipulate, or abuse.
posted by emjaybee at 8:37 AM on March 13, 2015 [6 favorites]


As an astronomer who is concerned about the world's impending helium shortage: ... whoa.

Doing your high-pitched sexytimes talk using hydrogen, not helium, can help to conserve a limited resource vital to national security and the advancement of human knowledge. But do not combine with anything involving candle wax.

The More You Know ☆彡
posted by XMLicious at 8:50 AM on March 13, 2015 [10 favorites]


[Comment removed, cut it out.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:35 AM on March 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Ideally shelved next to The Little Red Schoolbook.

(Why is it red? I dunno, maybe because Satan?)


And why is the little red schoolhouse red, hmm? After all, Is the Schoolhouse the Proper Place to Teach Raw Sex?
posted by jonp72 at 10:01 AM on March 13, 2015


I would totally watch a film called "Satan's Biggest, Fattest, Sex Lie".
posted by mythical anthropomorphic amphibian at 3:48 PM on March 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


mythical anthropomorphic amphibian: "I would totally watch a film called "Satan's Biggest, Fattest, Sex Lie"."

"My Big Fat Satanic Sex Lie" scans better, I think, and could be set up as continuing a franchise.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 6:07 PM on March 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


I loved this article. When I was in high school, I managed to attract so many older, "mentor"-type men, it always ended badly, and I berated myself for years because they must have found me so immature. Only recently have I realized that there was nothing wrong with me and that they were pathetic losers who enjoyed the ease with which they could manipulate teenage girls.
posted by bibliowench at 6:28 PM on March 13, 2015 [7 favorites]


I liked the article. Even though I didn't find her too likeable, I thought she was sympathetic. The first half of the story communicates (past) adolescent suggestibility without being in your face about it. It's a quieter piece, worth reading even if it sounds familiar.
posted by ana scoot at 9:16 PM on March 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Wow, this is fantastic.
posted by Awful Peice of Crap at 7:12 AM on March 15, 2015


This essay and a couple of short stories have sold me: I will read anything Carmen Maria Machado writes.
posted by infinitewindow at 1:36 PM on March 18, 2015


« Older Writers, glass, Pliny the Elder, and family...   |   Role-playing games and political economy in Brazil Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments