UA-138053742-1
top of page

Purity Culture Part 5: Making Men Monsters


I like to start out my Purity Culture Process Group by inviting the participants to name all of the messages they have heard throughout their lives. It can be such a validating experience to have strangers name mantras that have been drilled into one’s head along with the deep sighs and eye rolls for each idea. After that first brainstorming session, I take the content shared and organize it into themes. Often similar themes emerge in each group, although the emphasis can shift to best fit the participants. While much of the past groups have focused on the messages given to women about how and who they should be, one session is often spent talking about men.


In purity culture, heterosexual men are both the knights in shining armor that all women are expected to desire and the lurking monsters who only want one thing….sex.


In Talking Back to Purity Culture (2020), Welchers notes that much of the rhetoric used to encourage young men leans on battle imagery, creating a sense of victory in their abstinence. This sense of accomplishment was elevated alongside the core belief that men (not women) are inherently lustful creatures. Books such as Every Man’s Battle and Wild at Heart taught that the call to sexual purity was exceptionally hard for men, given the tie between being male and being sexual.


Sex educator Emily Nagoski notes how spontaneous desire more often found in men (or at least 75% of men) creates the expectation that wanting sex is always on every man’s mind (2015). This type of desire perpetuates the sense that men are always turned on and eager to ejaculate as soon as possible. When you combine that concept with what Gregorie, Lindenbach, and Sawatsky found - that 81.2% of the women believe that “boys want to push girls sexual boundaires” every man becomes an animal ready to attack (The Great Sex Rescue, 2021).


Men are simultaneously elevated to be the norm against which everyone else is measured as well as the threat to avoid. Additionally, each man is one or the other, there is no space for nuance or curiosity. These dual ideas not only damage the relationship many women have with men, but also damage the identity men have with themselves.


Whichever way you decide to pursue your exploration of Purity Culture, it is our hope that you know that there is nothing wrong with you, it’s never too late to make a change, and you have intrinsic value based solely on your humanity. You are enough.

Like the women they grew up with, men raised in purity culture often lack appropriate sex-ed, resulting in ignorance about what is happening in their bodies and the bodies around them. This lack of information propels the mind-body disconnect often found in western culture as both sexes experience shame and anger towards their bodies, desires, and sexuality. These messages are further complicated for those not adhering to the heteronormative narratives and strict gender binaries defined in purity culture.


Individuals are taught to fear their desires as animalistic urges lacking choice and self control. However, the “slippery slope” purity culture taught is not about learning where to draw the line with sex and pleasure, but rather a slide into simplification of self. You are either male or female, good or bad, a virgin or a monster.


Many resources for purity culture focus on the female experience which is very distinct and incredibly important to validate and unpack. However, we cannot strive for community healing unless we also acknowledge the disservice done to men as well in the purity culture narratives. Our healing process is incomplete when we only look to challenge lies told about our internal selves - we must also acknowledge the misinformation taught about others. In denouncing our singularity of self, we are also able to recognize the complexity in others. Men and women are both complex beings with unique desires, skills, and passions.


To the men who have been raised to believe that you are either meant to save damsels in distress or animals who can’t control their sexual urges - I firmly believe you are neither. To the women who have seen themselves as less than or the partner responsible for saying no - I firmly believe that is a lie.


If you resonate with anything that has been said, I hope you will reach out and join one of my next Purity Culture Processing Groups. I’m so excited to offer female and male groups in 2023 to help men and women unpack, explore, and heal from Purity Culture.


Whichever way you decide to pursue your exploration of Purity Culture, it is our hope that you know that there is nothing wrong with you, it’s never too late to make a change, and you have intrinsic value based solely on your humanity. You are enough.


26 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page