This last week I came across a blog network that has kept me reading attentively during much of my spare time. I have been reading the words of women who have grown up in cultures so like the one of which I was a part, what they call the purity or virginity culture. They write about the Botkin sisters (visionarydaughters.com) and Josh Harris’s I Kissed Dating Goodbye, taking an honest look at how these bits of the culture are causing more harm than good. They write about being owned by men, having little choice but getting married and having babies and keeping house. They write about modesty, body policing, rape and shame. They write about freedom.
It is thrilling to know I am not alone. Well, I guess I knew I wasn’t alone. I have read story after story online of people who have gotten free from religion. I rejoice in these stories, but I hadn’t yet read the stories of anyone working their way through issues of how their religious culture had affected their sexuality. I have been writing my last segment for my book, writing about my sexuality, sexuality in general, feminism, and the effect Christian and American cultures have had upon these things. It’s interesting to be off in my own little world, struggling, working my way through my experiences, talking with Denny and a couple other friends about their experiences, trying to make sense of it and looking for connections without making broad, sweeping, unnecessary accusations... and then to have this floodgate open, to be washed in a deluge of similar thoughts and experiences that confirm and enhance my own story... Joy!
This is good stuff.
Interestingly, just the other day I was trying to remember the name of one of these websites. I had come across it a few years ago. I recall it was very anti-”Biblical Womanhood” and I publicly bashed it on Facebook. I was rebuked privately by an older Christian woman whom I respect. She essentially told me there was more damage being done by this “Biblical womanhood” culture (in which she was, and is, tightly bound) than I was aware of and that maybe, in so many words, I should pipe down. I respected that and let the matter drop. After writing about the things I’ve been writing about lately, I got to wondering what I would think of the website now. Couldn’t remember the name of it. Then the other day I got to following links and stumbled upon the Spiritual Abuse Survivors Blog Network (SASBN).
From their "about" page:
Through cross-promotion and collaboration, the Spiritual Abuse Survivor Blogs Network is a powerful way of supporting and promoting spiritual abuse survivors in our individual blogging efforts. We are working together toward a shared goal of increasing awareness of this issue of spiritual abuse – the control, the confusion, the devastation, our struggles, our triumphs, our survival and recovery.
The blog at the top of the list was the very one I had been thinking of; Vyckie Garrison’s No Longer Quivering.
Before I go any further, I would like to thank Vyckie for her excellent website, blog and community. I get it now. Boy, do I get it! I’m terribly sorry I bashed you before. Please accept my sincere apology and full endorsement. I look forward to getting to know you and the many others whom you are helping to unite to raise awareness about spiritual abuse.
The following is a list of blogs currently in the SASBN:
No Longer Quivering – Vyckie Garrison
Seeking The Light – Calulu
Love, Joy, Feminism – Libby Anne
The Phoenix and the Olive Branch – Sierra
Wordgazer’s Words – Kristen Rosser
Incongruous Circumspection – Joe Sands
Permission to Live – Melissa
Baptist Taliban and Beyond – Cindy Foster
Mari’s Muses – Mari
Past Tense Present Progressive – Latebloomer
Dispelled: One Girl’s Journey in a Homeschool Cult - Chandra Bernat
The Way Forward – Bruce Gerencser
Becoming Worldly – Heather Doney
Defeating The Dragons – Samantha
Wide Open World – Lana Hope
Feminist in Spite of Them – Sarah Henderson
Leaving Fundamentalism – Jonny Scaramanga
Love is Not Equal to Love - Mere Dreamer
The Talking Llama -Boze Herrington
Like I said, I have been devouring these blogs in my free time. The Phoenix and the Olive Branch particularly caught my eye, as well as Permission To Live (excellent titles, ladies). I am loving these women and their stories! And Libby Anne’s and Vyckie’s, of course. Just... wow. So much thought, consideration, love, pain, joy, freedom, concern... It’s my pleasure to add my voice to theirs. Though I admit, I fear I haven’t much to add that hasn’t already been said! But I reckon my voice and my story are unique, too, just like theirs. And the more, the merrier, right? Of course right. Unity, not uniformity.
For those coming to my blog from the SASBN, a quick introduction:
Hi, I’m Kaleesha. =) How ya doin’?
I wasn’t raised in the purity/virginity culture, but I was definitely influenced by it. My family was semi-religious. To this day I can’t quite figure out what we had going on. Just when I think I have it figured out--whoosh! Out the window it goes. My mom was a Bible-believing, God-fearing woman, but her faith was her own; she talked about it, but she didn’t want to push it on her three children. Dad seemed to be along for the ride, very easy going. When I think of my teenage years I feel they were both very permissible. I think the idea was that they expressed trust in me and expected me to act worthy of that trust. But I wasn’t trustworthy. I was a punk kid. I was homeschooled through Jr. high and high school, but very informally, so I pretty much did what I wanted and had little guidance. However, I grew up with a sense of God watching over me and judging me, so I felt some inner conflict and a tremendous amount of shame for falling short of what I imagined I was supposed to be, especially in the area of my sexuality.
If I keep this up, it won’t be a quick introduction!
As an adult I embraced what I guess they call fundamentalist Christianity. I took the Bible very seriously and lived my life according to what I thought God expected of me. Or tried to, at any rate. I strove to submit to my apathetic husband (an interesting endeavor), let God plan our family size, dressed modestly and railed against our sex-crazed culture. This continued for and grew worse over the course of 14 years.
I have seven children (four girls, three boys) that I have been raising up to believe in purity, modesty, Biblical womanhood and manhood, etc. I was doing a damned fine job, too, until last fall when I saw the light and got myself unsaved. I studied myself right out of the Bible and have been exploring our great big universe outside of the box ever since. I am thrilled to be free and thrilled times seven to offer my children something better. I just hope I can undo some of the damage I’ve done and give them the opportunity to live shame-free lives, out from under the burden of being Christ-like.
I’m currently putting the finishing touches on my first book, detailing my life and thoughts during the year or so following my laying down of the Bible. I haven’t been sharing a lot here on this blog since I’ve been working on the book, but I am trying to share some updates, as well as excerpts from the book. So much to write, so little time! My partner and I also blog about our life on Make-It-Do Farm.