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Category: Blog

Reclaiming Maria Goretti from Purity Culture

Maria Goretti is a controversial saint.   When I learned this recently, it honestly shocked me.  Since childhood, Maria has been close to my heart. I took her as my own and, upon confirmation, made it official.  When I was thirteen, a lovely, holy woman, who was a longtime family friend, gifted me with a…
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Rape culture exists, whether you see it or not

“I don’t believe in rape culture.” That’s what someone said to me over the weekend. These words weren’t spoken out of malice, but during a conversation where we attempted to understand one another. And I started to wonder how many people “don’t believe,” either. Rape culture is like science. You don’t have to believe in…
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Catholic doesn’t mean non-toxic

When the culture keeps you from coming forward… Just because your school is Catholic doesn’t mean it’s free from fostering a toxic culture when it comes to sexual violence. Like different strains of bacteria, it is simply at risk of a different strain of toxicity, fueled by distorted theology and purity culture. Alumni and students…
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Let’s talk about shark attacks and the false rape myth

Do you know the odds of being attacked by a shark? They’re around 1 in 4 million — but you wouldn’t know that when the occasional shark attack does pop up. Suddenly, everywhere you look, the news is talking about shark attacks. This creates a cognitive bias that makes us think that shark attacks are…
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10 Signs of a Toxic Relationship

No relationship is perfect, be it familial, a friendship or romantic relationship, or a marriage, yet a toxic relationship can be found in any of those. Everybody needs to love and be loved, and yet everyone is human and will fail in their efforts to be loving sometimes. But there are some relationships which do…
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When Purity Culture Feeds Rape Culture

In a previous post, we discussed some of the ways that small, Christian colleges might propagate purity culture. In this post we will discuss how rape culture can grow (like a parasite) and thrive on such a campus. The “Prize” of Purity If purity culture holds up virginity as a good to be prized and…
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It’s time to acknowledge secondhand trauma

There are invisible victims of rape and other forms of sexual violence that get little care or notice: the families and friends of survivors. After my rape in 2009, my oldest brother was the first person I came forward to in my family. Then it was my parents, then my sister, and eventually my other…
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Purity Culture & Christian Colleges

You have probably heard the phrase “purity culture” at some point, usually alongside criticism of its psychological effects, and with regard to its inequalities. Maybe the concept of purity culture is something you associate with fundamentalists, purity rings, teenage promise pledges and “purity balls”. But purity culture is not limited to cults and fundamentalist sects.…
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10 Things to Know About Consent

What exactly is consent? The word “consent” gets thrown around as if everyone understands it.  But the nuances of the concept of consent can get complicated.  Of course the basics are easy: you don’t do things to people that those people don’t want you to do.  There are lots of actions, such as a hug, or having…
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5 Tips for the Friend of a Survivor

Your friend has just told you that they have been sexually assaulted, abused, stalked or raped and you want to support them but you’re not sure what they need. Maybe it happened to them decades ago, in childhood, or maybe it was as recent as today. You want to help your friend in any way…
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