In a Quinnipiac poll released Monday, 46 percent of white women said that they believed Dr. Christine Blasey Ford's allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. In contrast, 83 percent of black and 66 percent of Hispanic people polled said they believe Dr. Ford.
It's not clear why white women appear to be more distrustful of Ford than other demographics. But a former evangelical explains how the so-called "purity culture" promoted in primarily white Evangelical spaces in recent decades might explain why.
In a story published in the Huffington Post, Carly Gelsinger describes how purity culture pinned responsibility for men's sexual misdeeds—and even their "impure" thoughts—on women.
"In our world, we were taught that our bodies didn’t belong to ourselves. God owned them, they said, but really, that meant that men owned them. Our fathers. Our pastors. Our husbands. Our politicians. Never ourselves," she writes.
Reacting to the sexual revolution of boomers and the AIDS scare of the 1980s, Evangelicals tried to forge a culture of sexual restraint.
"Evangelicals took it upon themselves to stop a generation from promiscuity," Gelsinger writes. "They forged a mascot, a slogan (“True Love Waits”), held “purity balls,” manufactured an endless supply of merchandise — and voila! Purity culture, a subculture within an already-bizarre evangelical subculture, was born."
Unfortunately, responsibility for maintaining societal purity was placed primarily on young girls.
"When we got dressed in the morning, we were supposed to ask ourselves what our grandfathers would think of our outfits. We wore T-shirts that said, 'Modest is Hottest'" she writes.
"Our formative years were spent in shame over our bodies, in suspicion of our sexuality, and in earnest ownership over the behavior of men," she continues.
For her, that meant having a violent assault in her teenage years be brushed off when a religious leader asked her what she'd been wearing; it meant getting dumped by a boyfriend for not being pure enough because she'd kissed him.
She and her Christian cohorts were even blamed for the thoughts of men.
"When I was 18, in college, a guy at my Christian school lectured my friend and me for stretching in the student union. He said it caused him to picture us in the positions we could maintain in bed and that we should work harder to protect his thoughts. We acquiesced. After all, we wanted to be women of God, worthy of our future husbands."
She says the kind of brainwashing she experienced in the service of sexual "purity" leaves her unsurprised why so many white women are wary of Dr. Ford.
"So this is why it is not surprising to me that so many women are rushing to protect Kavanaugh and deriding Ford. The women who grew up being guardians of male sexuality are now approaching middle age, and many of us are still assuming that role and expecting other women to as well," she writes.
"The lingering effects of purity culture run deep. We were taught to distrust women — beginning with ourselves."
Read the story here.