No Shame Movement began as a conversation about U.S. Christian evangelical bloggers who had begun tackling the issue of “purity culture”: the idea that one must refrain from all sexual activity until marriage because of a biblical mandate.
Their hearts were in the right place.
However, they mostly ended up indirectly enforcing the very ideology they claim to reject. Many would lament about being shamed for having sexual desires (or even giving into them) while growing up in conservative Christian circles. However, the conclusion has always been the same: you should wait until you’re married (preferably to a member of the opposite sex), and further, you should WANT to do so because that’s what the Bible tells you.
This mentality is shaming for a number of reasons:
1) Many people don’t hold marriage as their goal.
2) Many people are legally barred from getting married, or unable to do so for financial reasons.
3) It is based on a narrow definition of the Bible that the authors assume everyone holds.
4) It is simply a choice that is unsustainable for many people.
The biggest problem with this is that the general assumption is that people are incapable of making healthy decisions on their own, and need blanket rules for what they should and shouldn’t do with their own bodies.
So, back to No Shame Movement. It began in June of 2013 as a hashtag on Twitter. The idea was create a platform for people to discuss growing up in conservative Christian environments that were taught abstinence only and “unlearning” this ideology as adults. It was inspired by the “girls like us” hashtag, started by transgender advocate Janet Mock to celebrate transgender women.
At the same time, I noticed two pro-abstinence movements starting on twitter in the form of hashtags: “purity over lust” and the unfortunately titled “no sex movement”. I wanted to counter the things they were saying with positive things that encourage personal autonomy and health decisions regarding sexuality.
The main purpose of No Shame Movement is to be a platform for sharing stories for anyone affected by conservative Christian purity culture, regardless of their current religious affiliation. It is inclusive of people of all races, classes, abilities, sexual orientations, and gender identities. For example, we often discuss the ways purity culture enforces rigid gender norms, gives inaccurate or false information about sex education, and body shames through the encouragement of “modesty”. I hope No Shame Movement will also assist people with practical information about sex such as contraception, reproductive health, etc., which will not just help with unlearning, but also relearning by getting to know their own bodies and be comfortable with themselves.
My long term goal for No Shame Movement is to see it expand offline in the form of support groups or other safe spaces where people can vent and process their experiences.
You can find No Shame Movement on Twitter and Tumblr.