Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The only thing purity culture can say about "Seinfeld"

This show is so funny. Image source.

This post at Love, Joy, Feminism, Fifty Shades of Disagreement: Evangelicals and Feminists on Fifty Shades of Grey, does a good job of summing up the stark difference between evangelicals’ opposition to “50 Shades of Grey” and feminists’ opposition to “50 Shades of Grey.”

Both groups think “50 Shades” is horrifically awful. But, as Libby Anne writes, “Both feminists and evangelical Christians have had a problem with the books as a whole, too, feminists because they glamorize an abusive relationship and evangelical Christians because they glamorize premarital sex.”

This is a big problem with evangelical Christianity/ purity culture: it only focuses on sex, so it’s completely unable to actually say what is healthy and unhealthy in a relationship. You see a movie, and it’s “oh dear goodness, there is SEX in this movie, hide the children!” The sex is such a huge focal point that it leaves us incapable of noticing and evaluating any other aspects of the relationship.

Which was exactly the case for me when I watched “Seinfeld” as a child.

It’s a funny show, with a lot of humor based on the ridiculously dysfunctional dating relationships that the four main characters have. And of course, I knew they were unhealthy and dysfunctional, and that it wasn’t what dating is supposed to be like.

And how did I know that? Because they were having sex.

Yes, clearly, Jerry, Elaine, George, and Kramer were not modelling healthy dating relationships for us, because they were having sex.

But, I imagined, if you removed the sex part, everything else was pretty much what normal relationships are.

Yeah, so you meet someone, and date for a few days, and break up for superficial silly reasons. Just a string of relationships, each only lasting for one episode, and with no end in sight, no hope for a true commitment that could lead to a happy marriage.

All the characters were selfish. They didn’t respect whatever girlfriend or boyfriend they had for that particular episode. There was no interest in building a relationship based on trust and honesty. Instead, they complained to their friends about their love interest’s odd habits or quirks. (Which was really funny. It’s a good show, as long as you recognize that real life is not supposed to be anything like that.)

And yes, of course I recognized that real life was not supposed to be like that. Because they were having sex. 

Image source.
In purity culture, “don’t have sex” overshadows all other guidelines for healthy relationships. Oh yeah, also, probably don’t kiss either. Those are the most important rules. Sure, occasionally they’ll talk about the importance of respecting each other, but that’s just a small side concern, hard to even notice beside the flashing neon sign that says “SEX IS THE WORST THING YOU CAN DO AND IT WILL RUIN YOUR LIFE.”

There are few guidelines given for what a relationship is supposed to look like. Just don't have sex. And I just filled in the rest from what I saw on tv, minus the sex part.

So when we see Jerry in bed with some woman, OH NO this is bad! But when he later lies to her, tells his friends how grossed out he is because “she has man hands!” and sneaks around in her purse to try and steal a photo so George can take it and claim she was his ex-fiancée and thus manipulate other women, yeah, I didn’t notice anything wrong.

When George didn’t want to get married, but was too afraid to just honestly communicate with his fiancée, Susan, and then she died and he felt relieved, yes, that was immoral. Because George and Susan were having sex.

When Elaine continually got annoyed with her boyfriend Puddy, when she yelled at him for being so stupid, and they kept breaking up and getting together again, yeah that was an unhealthy relationship. Because they were having sex. 

Elaine and Puddy. Image source.

In purity culture, everything is about sex. Are you having sex or not? That’s the most important question. That’s the measure of a relationship.

And it’s completely useless at actually seeing the healthy or unhealthy dynamics in a real relationship.


  1. Yes! And then so many times after the wedding, there is only one possible problem: headship/submission not being followed properly. Any communication problem, any selfishness problem, can be fixed if only he will take proper headship and she will properly submit.

    If you can simply things to this extent, you see, you never actually have to think.

  2. Great point. When I was a child, my dad told me that the relationships depicted on "Three's Company" were not a healthy way of dating, and why, without ever saying anything against the characters' having sex. That was helpful. I have to wonder why your parents were letting you watch "Seinfeld", with all that immorality.

    Speaking of purity, I love how the sheet is so thoroughly tucked around Elaine's breasts that she might as well be fully dressed. :-)

  3. No doubt because Julia Louis-Dreyfus was?