A Catholic School Teacher’s Argument Against Abstinence
Who does purity culture protect, really?
Candy Crush is not a great antidote to purity culture, but it was my last line of defense at a mandated middle school chastity talk. I knew I was setting a bad example for my students by blatantly playing with my iPad in the back row of the bleachers, but it was the only way I kept from making comments loudly enough for them to hear.
My first year teaching had been a constant challenge in an area I have always struggled with: holding my tongue. I have learned, sometimes painfully, to redirect what I really want to say to parents and administrators, to keep the curse words from popping out in moments of frustration, and not to allow myself or the students to derail discussions with irrelevant tangents. For all the practice I’ve gained, however, the ambush chastity talk (both the students and the teachers thought we were simply touring the high school our K-8 school fed into) was wearing away the last of my defenses.
Thus the Candy Crush, my insufficient distraction.
At times, my control broke and I had to find small ways to relieve the pressure. I tried to look like I was simply rolling my eyes at the incorporation of lyrics from a Justin Bieber song as I had earlier in the presentation. But when the frequently singing chastity speaker admonished the students to remember that every sexual partner was someone’s daughter, sister, friend (officially, she was speaking to everyone, but she kept making this kind of slip), I leaned over to a fellow teacher and hissed in contempt, “Orphans deserve love too.” Glaring at the candies on the screen, I snapped, “Leaving aside that we’re all people in our own right, not because we have a family.”
More fun was my response to: “No one writes love songs about wanting to be loved for twwwoooo weeks! We want to be loved forever!” Since then, I’d been listing songs under my breath that glorify even briefer love affairs (“Here’s To the Night,” “One Night Only,” “No Day But Today,” “Temporary Love,” “Only The Good Die Young”). It helped very little.
Sitting there, freezing under the air conditioning vent in a crowded gymnasium, I worked the hardest I ever had to bite my tongue. I told myself I should at least…