Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Perfect Number Watches VeggieTales "Sumo of the Opera" (2004)

That's the sunk cost fallacy!


To see all my VeggieTales reviews: Perfect Number Watches VeggieTales (Master Post)

Monday, January 14, 2019

Stats (a post about my "purity" and my marriage)

A rainbow-colored bar graph. Image source.
This is a follow-up post to "How Far Is Too Far?" My Story, And What I Wish I'd Known, which I wrote last November. But it's not necessary to read that post in order to understand this one. 


[content note: mention of how Christian "sexual purity" teaching doesn't distinguish between consensual and nonconsensual sex]

Number of boys I've dated:

So I've set out to write a post about the "stats" related to my "purity." Everything "my future husband" would need to know about "how far I've gone", which is the most important factor in my potential value as a wife. (Or so they said.)

Number of boys I've kissed:
On the cheek:
On the mouth, no tongue:
With tongue:

I wrote "boys" there because I am straight, so all my romantic/sexual experiences are with boys. I'm just writing about myself here, but obviously if I were writing about people in general, I would use all gender-neutral language. People in general aren't straight.

Number of boys I've had sex with:

Wow, we've just come to a very effed-up item on this list- the idea that non-consensual sex (ie, if someone raped me) would count as a strike against my "purity" and make me less of a good wife in the future. That is so wrong, but I'm putting it as a category on this list because that's the way it is according to Christian teaching on "sexual purity."

Number of boys I've had sex with:
Vaginal sex:
Anal sex:
Giving oral sex:
Receiving oral sex:
Giving a handjob:
Receiving a handjob (uhh is this the correct term for people with vaginas? sorry I am not very familiar with the terminology):

I separated out all these different sexual things because they would damage one's purity in different amounts. OBVIOUSLY, if you have vaginal sex (ie penis-in-vagina), that's the end-all and be-all of sex, that's the pinnacle, you do that and there's NOTHING left, no purity left. The other kinds of sex are of course bad and sinful and impure, but not *as much* as penis-in-vagina sex. According to purity teaching.

You may have noticed I'm not actually writing any numbers here. I'm not filling in the "answers." Why? Because the point I want to make in this blog post is that it doesn't matter. Back when I believed in "purity," I was so obsessed with this stuff, trying to repress my feelings in order to keep these numbers as low as possible. But now I'm married, and ... who cares? Who cares about how many boys I dated before my husband? Why on earth would that matter? So I'm not writing my numbers, because I want you to know these stats don't matter.

Well, I say "I was so obsessed with this stuff", but the items listed above are related to sex and I never got anywhere close to anything sexual back when I was in purity culture. Yeah, because it turns out I'm asexual. So the things I was "obsessed with", the places where I really really "struggled" to keep my numbers low, were about romantic attraction and sensual (not sexual) touch.

Number of boys I've had crushes on:
Number of boys I've hugged while we were dating:
Side hug:
Front hug:
Laying down:
Was there any rubbing back/shoulders/arms/etc:
Total duration in seconds:

I want to clarify: The lists in this blog post represent my own (extremely asexual, it turns out) take on "purity." Nobody actually said I should literally make a list and subdivide things into all these little categories. But they definitely DID say we need to "confess" to our spouse if we've had any sexual experiences (consensual or not), if we've kissed other people (consensual or not), if we've dated other people. They DID say the best-case scenario is no physical contact at all before marriage. They DID say that every time you have a crush, you lose some of your "emotional purity" and that makes you not as good for your future spouse. I am a math person, so when I was in that ideology, my natural response was to think in terms of a giant list quantifying everything and giving different weights to things depending on how much of a hit one's "purity" would take.

Number of boys I've hugged where I was attracted to him but we weren't dating so the hug didn't "mean anything" to him but I was super excited and it meant A LOT to me:
Number of times I've touched a guy I was attracted to and I LOVED IT but we weren't dating so he didn't know how I felt:
Number of times I set up that kind of situation on purpose (for example, sitting next to a cute guy at bible study because I know we're all going to hold hands in a circle during the prayer):

Yep, I can subdivide and overanalyze physical touch FOREVER. That was the territory I lived in, back when I was in purity culture. Maybe my crush happened to brush his hand against mine and it made me so happy and I just wanted to keep daydreaming about it, but I tried so hard to stop those thoughts, "guard my heart" ... because having such happy feelings about a boy touching me would make me less "pure" for my "future husband." I prayed a lot about this, back then. Trying to repress my desires.

Number of times I told a boyfriend "I love you":
Number of times I told a boyfriend he's "the best", "wonderful", or other compliments like that:

Total duration of all dating relationships that eventually ended in a breakup:

Ugh, this list is getting tedious. I guess I *could* keep going, keep listing things that I worked so hard to control back then because I thought it mattered, little things like when I would hang out with an attractive guy and how totally delighted I felt when I made him laugh... I worried and prayed about that so much back then, but now it just doesn't matter.

Well, let me clarify what I mean by "it doesn't matter." See, Christian "purity" teaching says that the higher the numbers on this list, the less "pure" you are. Forever. Yes, really, forever. They were very clear about the "forever" bit. They said these numbers would follow you for the rest of your life and make you unable to have a happy marriage. Best-case scenario is all zeros- then you're a perfect wife. If you can't manage that, then for god's sake at least you have to have a 0 in the "vaginal sex" category or there's truly no hope for you. I am married now, and thinking about crushes I had back in high school, over 10 years ago, and NO, those do NOT matter to me now. Purity culture was SO WRONG about that.

Of course they mattered to me a lot back then. Those feelings were real and important. And they mattered in the sense that the ways I learned to deal with my attraction back then still affect me now. The experiences I've had with dating have helped me understand more about what's healthy or unhealthy in a relationship. They matter in the sense that learning how to deal with our feelings and desires in a healthy way is a very important part of growing up. (And I don't just mean in a dating/sexual context, because some people aren't interested in dating/sex and that's fine.)

So I might say my experiences with dating/attraction/etc matter, but these numbers don't. The numbers don't tell you anything. It's not true that high numbers are bad, or low numbers are bad- you can't tell anything just by knowing the number of sexual or romantic partners a person has had. The number doesn't matter; what matters is what the relationship was like. Was it healthy? Did they respect each other? Were they compatible? If your partner doesn't treat you right, you might internalize that and believe that you don't deserve good things, and that will cause problems for you in future relationships. Or you might initially believe that guys want sex all the time and "can't control themselves" (that's what purity culture taught me) but then you date a guy who proves that wrong, and even though you might eventually break up, the relationship was a very good thing for you because you learned you CAN hold a guy to that standard.

It feels ridiculous to me now, how I really thought those things would follow me for the rest of my life. In 2005 I used to sit next to a cute guy in French class and I always hoped he would lean over and make some sarcastic comment to me, and then I would say something clever in return. I had a lot of fun joking around with him; I had a huge crush on him. Can you believe that purity culture says that that's supposed to affect my current relationship with my husband?!!! 2005, you guys. Can you believe adult Christians actually taught me that stuff like that would matter for the rest of my life?

These numbers don't affect my marriage. Ha, how bizarre to think that they would!

But do you know what actually matters in my marriage?

When I fly somewhere, my husband lets me borrow his noise-cancelling headphones so I can sleep on the plane. And then, even though I'm the kind of person who thinks it's fine to just haphazardly shove things back into their case, I know he doesn't live that way so I carefully unplug the cord from the headphones and roll it up and put them back in their case perfectly for him.

I buy yogurt cups and bring them home because I know he likes them.

He is from China and doesn't know much about celebrating Christmas, but he knows it's important to me so he listens and we do Christmas traditions together.

He watches a lot of videos online, on Chinese sites that are similar to youtube, and when he finds a video I would like he insists we watch it together. For him, that feels really romantic.

Sometimes we have plans to have dinner together and he's running late so he texts to tell me I should eat a cracker so I don't get too hungry while waiting. Because he knows I get really hungry if I eat later than normal.

I make sure we get all the laundry done before going on vacation, so that when we come home there's not a bunch of dirty clothes waiting for us.

It's all these little things, all these day-to-day things that come with living with another person. Learning what they like, what they need, what makes them happy, how to take care of each other. Right now, in the present. Every day. That's what actually matters, in my marriage.

And it's big things too, like having conversations about money, about our plans for the future, our goals, etc.

Sex is just a small part of our marriage. Because of purity culture, I very much expected that marriage would mostly be about sex. Ha. No, it's not. It's about the little everyday things we do to take care of each other. It's about love. It's about spending time together. Working together.

My "purity"? His "purity"? We don't care about that. Why on earth would we? Who cares that I liked other boys a long time ago? Of course I did! I have romantic attraction- most people have romantic attraction- of course I've been attracted to other people, and I have "acted on it."

And you know what else? I am still attracted to other men who are not my husband. Yep, purity culture always presented it like your wedding day is the finish line, and after that, your spouse is the answer to all your attraction so you don't have to worry about repressing yourself anymore. Ha. Nope. I am still attracted to people, and wow I wish I had learned how to deal with it in a healthy way a long time ago. My current thinking is that it's fine to be attracted to people and enjoy those feelings and daydream, but I shouldn't tell anyone about it. (Including my husband.) They might gossip, they might misunderstand and think I'm saying there's a problem with my marriage or that I am comparing my husband to another guy.

(Wow, the purity-culture belief that comparing sex with my husband to ANYONE OR ANYTHING ELSE would just be THE WORST THING EVER could be a whole separate blog post...)

When I was a teenager, it felt like the most important thing in the world when a cute boy talked to me and I got fluttery feelings. Purity culture said it would be important for the whole rest of my life- and I believed that. Now I'm out of purity culture, I'm married, and I find the entire premise of purity culture ridiculous. As if the number, the quantity, of romantic or sexual experiences a person has is the most important thing. Seriously, all that mattered was the number, the "how far", the "line", the list of sexual things you've never experienced. Now I'm married, and now I realize that "purity" stuff is a bunch of crap. What really matters is the way me and my husband treat each other, how we know each other's needs and we take care of each other. That's what really matters- OF COURSE that's what really matters! I'm not going to make a list of stats to quantify my "purity", because who the hell cares.


"How Far Is Too Far?" My Story, And What I Wish I'd Known
The Checklist: Purity Culture's Alternative to Actually Getting to Know Someone
He's Not "My Future Husband"

Thursday, January 10, 2019


A baby wearing a squirtle costume. Image source.
1. One type of diversity we don't talk about at work: Body size (posted January 3) "Studies show that discrimination increases the higher a person's body mass index."

2. Trump’s tweet about migrant kids' deaths caps a year that was horrible for children (posted December 31) [content note: mention of child death] "The rash of school shootings and the effects of immigration policies are glaring examples of direct harm to children, but there are a host of less visible issues that also are devastating to children."

Children are the most vulnerable members of society. Within any oppressed group that suffers discrimination, violence, poverty, etc, it's the children who suffer most. I believe that's why Jesus said the kingdom of heaven belongs to children. We need to do better. We need to prioritize children's needs.

3. Our Bail System Costs the Country $15 Billion Per Year (posted December 20)

4. The Women’s Resistance We Aren’t Hearing About is Happening Now In Kerala. (posted January 5) "On New Year’s Day, 5.5 million women formed a human chain across 385 miles spanning the state of Kerala, India. They demanded that the Hindu temple at Sabarimala should open its gates to women in accordance with a ruling by the Indian Supreme Court in September 2018."

5. ‘Sheer Joy’: Ireland Will Have Free Abortion Care on January 1 (posted December 17) "Abortion in Ireland will be free, safe, and legal up to 12 weeks into pregnancy starting January 1, a major blow to the Catholic Church and opponents of the country’s abortion rights law, who tried to drag out the legislative process with support from U.S. anti-choice advisers." Good news~

6. Film Theory: What is Disney's Body Count? (posted December 9) and part 2 and part 3. Wow. Matpat goes through every Disney movie (not including sequels) and overanalyzes everything in order to calculate death counts. I love it.

7. Every congressperson along southern border opposes border wall funding (posted January 8) "One thing they actually all do have in common is that they all agree with virtual wall protection but not physical wall protection."

8. James Dobson Wants You to Pray and Fast to Protect Trump from Impeachment (posted January 8) Grosssssssssss. How will I explain this to my children.

9. Why Was Dumbledore Teaching Defense Against The Dark Arts? | Harry Potter Theory (posted January 8) I LOOOOOVE videos like this because it's EXACTLY THE SAME THING as biblical apologetics. In this case, Jon Carlin noticed that the timeline implied by a comment by Dumbledore in "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" (set in the 1990s, published in 2005) seems to contradict what we see in the movie "Fantastic Beasts 2: The Crimes of Grindelwald" (set in the 1920s, released in 2018). Because of our firm belief that both of these sources are inerrant and set in the same universe, we need to go on a grand research quest to resolve this problem. It involves reconstructing timelines based on offhand mentions of durations and dates contained throughout the canon, quibbling about sentence structure and how something may or may not mean what it first seemed to mean, and completely missing the point of the story. Yep, that's apologetics.

10. Why a Medieval Woman Had Lapis Lazuli Hidden in Her Teeth (posted January 9) Science!