16 votes

How purity culture messed up most of the men I know

19 comments

  1. [9]
    Rez
    Link
    From my perspective of a life without purity culture, making friends with single heterosexual women has by and large been a mistake. Now it depends on what one means by the definition of "friend",...

    Women are great friends, and I think that every man needs more of them.

    From my perspective of a life without purity culture, making friends with single heterosexual women has by and large been a mistake. Now it depends on what one means by the definition of "friend", but at this point in life with a career, responsibilities, etc. and more limited free time, I'm no longer interested in striking up friendships with single women outside of any work or school or other more neutral settings like that. If a date fizzles out and she says she senses a friendship thing (and actually means that rather than as a polite excuse), then I want to see 50/50 effort in establishing that friendship, rather than me chasing in a traditional dating sense.

    The issue I have here is that even for friendships where they had been 100% platonic from the start - even on my end with 0 romantic or sexual intention - I have no idea if the woman is going to drop our friendship the second she gets a steady boyfriend, which is what happens in most (not all!) cases of female friendship I've had. A guy friend is much less likely to do that to me. He might have less time available, but he's not going to completely drop me. I'll happily acquaint myself platonically with women now, but actual friendship? Nah, not on the table anymore unless I see genuine reciprocal effort in trying to make friends with me. I've been burned too many times on this.

    The author has the right to her perspective, and to strike up whatever platonic relationships she can with men, but I don't think her perspective really understands the lived experience of many men, and how different she is from the average woman actually out there. She seems to already have a psychological defense in place with this:

    They praised me for my ‘progressive viewpoints’ and ‘openness and independence’, but made the classic mistake of blurting “but most women don’t think like you.”
    This is a red flag. It indicated to me that these men grew up ingesting purity culture and patriarchy, and haven’t yet unlearned it.

    Nope, that's just your assumption. I have my own lived experience that is just as valid as yours. And to end your article like with some infographic that amounts to "educate yourself" is pretty patronizing - I've already in fact seen/read most of that list and greatly enjoyed most of the content. I wonder how receptive she would be to an article saying "How x culture messed up most of the women I know."

    21 votes
    1. [3]
      rosco
      Link Parent
      I don't completely agree with the article, but I do agree with the premise that men should have more platonic relationships with women. There is a lot to be learned and it goes a long way toward...

      I don't completely agree with the article, but I do agree with the premise that men should have more platonic relationships with women. There is a lot to be learned and it goes a long way toward building empathy. I think negative perceptions of women crop up because it's easy to 'other' people you don't interact with or care for.

      I have no idea if the woman is going to drop our friendship the second she gets a steady boyfriend, which is what happens in most (not all!) cases of female friendship I've had.

      I think this is a tough premise regardless of sex. When a friend gets into a relationship you are going to see less of them. I have one friend who we all joke enters his "relationship cave" when he is partnered and we'll see him in a few years if they split. I think some of what your experiencing might be projection. Are your male friends less likely to split because those are deeper, longer friendships? Are you inspecting your male relationships with the same vigor as your female ones?

      Your lived experience is valid and if you get the chance try viewing it from other perspectives. Last note is if someone says 'let's be friends' on a date, that's fine, but I think the expectation of a real friendship growing from that is usually slim to none.

      12 votes
      1. [2]
        Rez
        Link Parent
        I've had more friends that are women than men. The best, long-lasting friendships I've had with single, straight women are the ones where she made the effort to strike up the initial friendship...

        I've had more friends that are women than men. The best, long-lasting friendships I've had with single, straight women are the ones where she made the effort to strike up the initial friendship rather than the other way around. I consider this to be a very important distinction. The author probably falls in this category so that may be where her perspective is coming from, but that type of woman is definitely the exception from my experience of numerous platonic friendships with women.

        The friendships where I was the one to make more of the initial effort - the pattern there is she will drop you once she gets a boyfriend. In my experience, the average single, straight woman will be confused on some level if you try to meaningfully befriend them without ever expressing romantic/sexual interest in them, if they also know you are straight, because their average experience is that heterosexual men only try to bond with them if they have some sort of ulterior motive. If you do have this motive and express it and then get shut down, then it is possible for a friendship to come from that, but if you never have that motive in the first place? Yeah that will cause confusion and ambiguity if you try to strike up a friendship anyways, and a conversation addressing that topic (something you don't have to do with straight men, lesbians, et. al.) can be fraught and easily cause offense if you try to talk about how you like them but don't find them attractive. This conversation can be important to have before you try to privately hang out just the two of you at your place or hers or wherever.

        So at this point, I will happily reciprocate any effort to befriend me if I otherwise like them enough, but no, I'm not going to initiate that effort anymore with a single, straight woman, and I don't need to be implied I'm somehow "messed up" for this being what I've learned through life experience. Most women are not like the author and it is not a red flag for me to acknowledge this. I'd probably get along quite well with her otherwise besides this disagreement. She's the woman with a lot of male friends and I'm the man with a lot of female friends and this is my perspective.

        6 votes
        1. rosco
          Link Parent
          Hey, I'm sorry if my original reply came off harsh. I don't think you're messed up and I'm sorry if that is what came through. I wanted to provide some alternative perspective. I read this...

          Hey, I'm sorry if my original reply came off harsh. I don't think you're messed up and I'm sorry if that is what came through. I wanted to provide some alternative perspective. I read this statement from your original comment and went off of that:

          making friends with single heterosexual women has by and large been a mistake.

          I agree gender dynamics are nuanced and confusing. I think we disagree on how to navigate it but they are both valid methods.

          If you do have this motive and express it and then get shut down, then it is possible for a friendship to come from that, but if you never have that motive in the first place?

          If this question was rhetorical apologies, but I think it's an interesting question. My own anecdotal experience is that it hasn't really come up. I agree that having a conversation about attraction is likely to make the relationship more awkward (ie. I'm glad we're friends because I don't see you as a viable partner, like you said). In my mind we're friends unless there is express interest, but I do appreciate that friendliness does come off to some women as motive in our weird collective culture (and understandably so).

          4 votes
    2. [6]
      Comment deleted by author
      Link Parent
      1. [4]
        Akir
        Link Parent
        I honestly do not understand this "risk of attraction" thing. When I was a young man, I was finding myself attracted to a lot of guys around me, many of whom I had fantastic friendships with. It...

        And there's of course always the risk of attraction.

        I honestly do not understand this "risk of attraction" thing. When I was a young man, I was finding myself attracted to a lot of guys around me, many of whom I had fantastic friendships with. It seems that a lot of heterosexual people of either gender seem to have this fear that you can't be friends if you're attracted to someone. Attraction is fleeting. The more you see the person the more you see them as a person and move past that attraction.

        12 votes
        1. [3]
          teaearlgraycold
          Link Parent
          Except for the times when the more you see the person the more attracted you get. Looks don't get you a lot of points in my book.

          The more you see the person the more you see them as a person and move past that attraction.

          Except for the times when the more you see the person the more attracted you get. Looks don't get you a lot of points in my book.

          4 votes
          1. [2]
            rosco
            Link Parent
            Do we really need to move past the attraction phase though? Like you pointed out, I think a lot of the attributes I view as attractive are also things I value in friendships. Personally the...

            Do we really need to move past the attraction phase though? Like you pointed out, I think a lot of the attributes I view as attractive are also things I value in friendships. Personally the feeling that I have romantic or sexual interest someone doesn't mean that I either need to act on it or distance myself.

            2 votes
            1. teaearlgraycold
              Link Parent
              It's not about whether I can stop myself from acting on desires. It's about not subjecting myself to unnecessary strain when someone becomes overwhelmingly attractive and I know they don't...

              It's not about whether I can stop myself from acting on desires. It's about not subjecting myself to unnecessary strain when someone becomes overwhelmingly attractive and I know they don't reciprocate my interest.

              3 votes
      2. rosco
        Link Parent
        I'm curious about this because I've had the opposite experience. Of my post schooling friends I would say about 60% are women. As an adult, I have found that in neutral spaces (such as work) or...

        I'm curious about this because I've had the opposite experience. Of my post schooling friends I would say about 60% are women. As an adult, I have found that in neutral spaces (such as work) or activity related spaces (climbing gym or running groups) women tend to be the most inviting and open when first joining. I don't feel like I have to prove myself quite so much as I do with men (ie. what grade do you climb). I understand these interactions could be anecdotal, but I've never assumed any romantic pretense and there never seems to be any.

        11 votes
  2. [3]
    Kuromantis
    Link
    An article I found on r/menslib that someone wrote about how Christian-derived social norms the author describes as a purity culture has negative effects on men, mainly focusing on how various...

    An article I found on r/menslib that someone wrote about how Christian-derived social norms the author describes as a purity culture has negative effects on men, mainly focusing on how various wrong beliefs it has are placed on men and affect them negatively. It honestly talks about men and women in fairly equal proportion rather than being male focused, but it's IMO a decent, if a somewhat intro-level feminist read.

    Last night, over too much wine and tequila, I engaged two of the single men in a conversation about dating.
    After our discussion ended, I realized that it’s possible they only view me as an acceptable and ‘safe’ woman to be friends with because I am married, and they are friends with my spouse. They praised me for my ‘progressive viewpoints’ and ‘openness and independence’, but made the classic mistake of blurting “but most women don’t think like you.”
    This is a red flag. It indicated to me that these men grew up ingesting purity culture and patriarchy, and haven’t yet unlearned it. Other red flag statements I’ve heard since I arrived here include: “I don’t really have any female friends,” “If you sleep with someone you’re going to be labelled an asshole,” “Once you sleep with someone, you can’t be friends with them,” “All women want relationships and feel attached quickly,” and “I don’t get involved with anyone because I don’t want any drama.”

    (Admittedly, this is kinda weird to read for me because I personally was influenced by a "TFW no GF" subculture which views women becoming attached to men as nigh-impossible.)

    Many articles have been written about the negative effects of purity culture on women, and I could write several more. However, in this essay I want to focus on how purity culture has negatively impacted the men I know, especially those who find themselves leaving the Church and deconstructing their faith.

    Here are six lies that purity culture teaches:

    1. Virginity is a real thing: it is something that should be protected and can be ‘lost.’
    1. Masturbation is wrong, and men are the only ones doing it.
    1. Men and women can’t be friends with each other in any real sense, especially if they’re single, and most especially if they’ve slept together.

    (Some people complained about some of the wording the author uses here when talking about how great men having women friends is and I am inclined to agree.)

    1. Only men want casual and non-monogamous relationships, and women will be hurt if men express this. Women are the drivers of traditional relationships.
    1. Sex causes unnecessary drama and hurt feelings. Sexual relationships are full of jealousy, attachment issues, and communication issues. Healthy sex lives are the exception, not the rule.
    1. Relationships are an escalator with a clear trajectory. If the relationship ends, it has failed. If you get married, it has succeeded. If you get divorced, congratulations, you’ve failed again.

    [...]

    Certainly, there are some (many) relationships which fail; relationships where one or more people are dishonest, break boundaries, or physically or emotionally hurt each other. But many relationships don’t fail; they just end.

    10 votes
    1. inwardpath
      Link Parent
      I grew up in this culture and left it (and left the faith) and I think she is spot-on with her assessment. These six points were reinforced multiple times by churches and schools I used to attend...

      I grew up in this culture and left it (and left the faith) and I think she is spot-on with her assessment. These six points were reinforced multiple times by churches and schools I used to attend and it has taken time to unlearn them (and I'm sure there is still work to be done).

      It went so far as to where we had to attend some purity 'ceremony' with a parent (a dinner, probably with a sermon at some point) and there was even purity 'merchandise' they attempted to sell as part of it. It also had stuff like asking all the teens there to make a pledge 'of purity' to their parents, etc.

      Just, yuck.

      10 votes
    2. EgoEimi
      Link Parent
      I think that there are a lot of interesting gender dynamics to see at play when you look at homosexual communities. In SF and Amsterdam, there are many, many bars, sex clubs (each has at least one...

      Only men want casual and non-monogamous relationships, and women will be hurt if men express this. Women are the drivers of traditional relationships.

      I think that there are a lot of interesting gender dynamics to see at play when you look at homosexual communities.

      In SF and Amsterdam, there are many, many bars, sex clubs (each has at least one bathhouse), and sex parties (often very big ones) exclusively for gay men. But there are very few bars, and no sex clubs or parties exclusively for lesbians.

      I think that this cannot be entirely accounted for by culture, since gay men and women tend to resist mainstream cultural norms to some extent.

      5 votes
  3. NoblePath
    Link
    Random thoughts on a topic I am too familiar with, having grown up in a church that was practically a purity cult. Somewhere along the way (and on my way out as best as I could imagine), I came to...

    Random thoughts on a topic I am too familiar with, having grown up in a church that was practically a purity cult.

    Somewhere along the way (and on my way out as best as I could imagine), I came to consider myself an "enlightened" male who thought of women as equals, had no problem with a woman boss and plenty of women friends. But, this was coupled to an inner double self that objectified women in the prostitute-madonna paradox/dichotomy/weirdness, I'm still working on that one in therapy.

    Anyway, I later came to the position that I could not be real friends with a woman who I found sexually attractive. It makes it hard for me to work professionally with these women, and I have to exercise hard compartmentalization skills to be successful. I regret this about myself-I can conceive of an ideal somewhere that I can appreciate a woman's sex appeal but still enjoy and engage and be generous to other kinds of relationships, but I don't live it.

    I have, however, become able to be friends with women to whom I am not sexually attracted, and have a couple close female friends now. A twist is being friends with gay men who are attracted to me. Apparently I am quite attractive to gay men, or at least a certain kind of gay men, and have been as oblivious to it as Homer Simpson was to John Waters interest, thinking only that I was making a really cool new friend, when new friend was developing romantic interest, only for things to get weird. It's a good learning experience because I understand a number of women have similar experiences with men. And that leads us back to the question, is it really possible for women and men generally, or me in particular, to be friends with romantically attractive women? Or men (or women for that matter, but the days are ending when the ladies say please) who are romantically interested in me?

    Sex causes unnecessary drama and hurt feelings. Sexual relationships are full of jealousy, attachment issues, and communication issues. Healthy sex lives are the exception, not the rule.

    I want to push back on this one, at least as it applies outside a committed relationship. Like I said, I can envision an ideal where sex can be enjoyed very casually and without attachment (and I have read a lot of science fiction that narrates that ideal), but my personal experience is that sex changes everything in a relationship. Much of this is my own programming, no doubt, enhancing my own experience. But it also appears to me that beyond that, there is an innate, something, which is connected to sex which is deep and profound, and it having occurred between people things are changed. It's the same thing that makes rape a unique crime from other assaults/batteries. Even if not innate, it's so deeply embedded in culture/society, as to be indistinguishable from innate.

    Finally, as a humorous aside, does anyone remember "purity tests" from BBS days? I always scored very low, although I would never admit it to any of my ascii friends.

    10 votes
  4. lou
    (edited )
    Link
    The author seems to ignore some inherent complexity of human relationships (in any gender combination) in order to make a point. The conclusions themselves may or may not be true, my observation...

    The author seems to ignore some inherent complexity of human relationships (in any gender combination) in order to make a point.

    The conclusions themselves may or may not be true, my observation concerns only to how they chose to get there.

    8 votes
  5. teaearlgraycold
    Link
    There's definitely a lot of truth to this - but at least in my circles, this doesn't seem to be an issue. I can see how if you live in an area of America heavily influenced by Christian puritan...

    There's definitely a lot of truth to this - but at least in my circles, this doesn't seem to be an issue. I can see how if you live in an area of America heavily influenced by Christian puritan values then most people there would be tainted by the weird views on sex the church pushes. And it's not that people outside of Christianity's (or many other religions') bubble aren't affected by puritan values. They are pervasive. But all of the men I'm close friends with (not a fan of the "guys don't have close friends" myth) seem to have relatively healthy relationships with women, platonically and/or romantically.

    I definitely have way more male friends than female friends, myself. And that makes sense - most people are straight and most people don't like the mild discomfort that comes with trying to maintain a platonic relationship when just one of the two people are attracted to each other. I've never seen anyone do anything wrong under these circumstances. But as a guy that's caught the attention of a handful of women that I don't consider compatible with myself, I can understand the desire to have distance there.

    I can thankfully say that I can and do maintain platonic friendships with straight single women. And perhaps a disproportionate amount of lesbian women (I am also in a very LGBT-welcoming area though).

    5 votes
  6. HotPants
    Link
    Who are these people who claim to have never masturbated, and why are they lying?

    Who are these people who claim to have never masturbated, and why are they lying?

    5 votes
  7. [2]
    hungariantoast
    Link
    At first I thought this was just a joke about being a teacher at a college and living in a college town, but then I looked at the author's profile and apparently they live in Bangkok. So... I'm a...

    My husband and I recently moved to a new city in a new country and found ourselves in a particularly peculiar environment: teacher housing.

    This means we live in a compound with hundreds of people who work at the same school: many families, many couples, and a few single individuals

    At first I thought this was just a joke about being a teacher at a college and living in a college town, but then I looked at the author's profile and apparently they live in Bangkok.

    So... I'm a little confused about what they mean by "teacher housing" and "compound". Why would all the workers at a school live in a compound together? I could maybe understand if it was a school in a remote location or something, but Bangkok that is not.

    4 votes
    1. an_angry_tiger
      Link Parent
      I get the feeling, and a big disclaimer that I haven't looked in to this at all or know any details about this person or situation, but I get the feeling it's a job at either a ritzy school that...

      I get the feeling, and a big disclaimer that I haven't looked in to this at all or know any details about this person or situation, but I get the feeling it's a job at either a ritzy school that is attracting overseas talent, or a school teaching english or something that hires people from outside Thailand to work there. As part of their hiring pipeline they probably just have a housing compound that they can control and have room for new teachers (and their families) moving there to live in, instead of having them have to find their own accommodation in a new country all by themselves.

      3 votes
  8. pjmoriarty
    Link
    I've seen this said occasionally, but there's a way that gay men can kind of get out of this trap. I've found myself able to make friends with both open-minded straight men and plenty of women....

    I've seen this said occasionally, but there's a way that gay men can kind of get out of this trap. I've found myself able to make friends with both open-minded straight men and plenty of women. The place where we have issues is sometimes with other gay men. Conveniently, just by the numbers, it's a less significant problem (though still annoying if you're in gay circles). I think it's sad that gender and sexual dynamics dominate what should be normal healthy relationships. I also think women make killer friends and they're usually the kind of friends that straight men need in their life.

    4 votes