The narrow margin

When I read The Purity Myth last week, I was struck by how narrow the road to virtue is for the anti-sex conservatives Jessica Valenti writes about.
This isn’t news, not really. Reading blogs such as Slacktivist and Defeating the Dragons has made me conscious that the good Christian world is a very small place surrounded (at least in the imagination with a wild, hostile anti-God universe. And Robert Altemeyer points out in The Authoritarians that one of the traits of authoritarian personalities is a fear that if people step outside the lines even slightly, if any piece of the social jigsaw is disturbed (gay marriage, for instance), everything falls apart.
Which is pretty much the mindset Valenti writes about. She concludes conservative efforts to promote chastity or fight porn are ineffective (as statistics prove—abstinence-only education doesn’t have much effect on teen sex), partly because everything outside the walls is obscene. Jokes on Friends about having a porn stash are just as ghastly, godless and soul-destroying as child porn. Girls gone wild and having consensual sex on Spring Break is just as horrifying, if not more so, than sex slavery (Valenti also concludes that sex slavery and prostitution draw less attention because so many of the women involved are non-white). If girls get the HPV vaccine, they can go wild and have endless orgies, which would apparently be worse than the risk of cancer (as Lawyers Guns and Money once put it, it’s not that they want their kids to get cancer, but the risk is preferable to implying that premarital sex is ever acceptable, even for adults). And, of course, the conviction that if gay marriage is okay, there’s no moral ground for stopping pedophilia.
It’s the same logic that sees gay marriage as not about love but defying established norms. It can’t possibly be about two people wanting to be together, it has to be about rejecting the law of God and (conservative Republican fundamentalist) man—and if you reject that, obviously you can’t object to man-on-boy (or dog) sex.
if you don’t make distinctions, if everything is equally evil, it’s hard to fight effectively against the real evil (and as Valenti notes, damn hard when your concept of evil includes women getting out of a subordinate place). If teen sex with birth control is just as horrible as rape, then rape isn’t any worse or more immoral. As Elizabeth Smart said, she was taught that if you had sex, you were as worthless as a chewed piece of gum; what was the point in trying to escape when she was worthless?
The war on women isn’t just about the law, it’s about attitudes like that.

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Filed under Politics, Undead sexist cliches

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