What’s a campus feminist to do about Pinky Promise?

On my way into the office today I saw the poster at left on the wall in my building.  One of my students notified me that she has seen a similar poster in her dormitory.

Since I didn’t know much about the organization, I consulted their  website:

Pinky Promise is…

A promise to honor God with your body and your life. To refuse to give your body to anyone that hasn’t paid the price for you called marriage. It’s a promise to stay pure before God in EVERY single way. It’s a promise that says, I won’t test the boundaries in my relationship to see how far I can push it sexually–but instead–I want God to have my heart.
 
It’s a promise to God that you will honor your marriage convenant [sic]. It’s saying that I promise not to step outside of my marriage, cheat on my spouse and that I’ll work through every issue.
Thanks for joining Pinky Promise. Find a group or start a group in your area, and lets encourage each other and build a bond between sisters in Christ.
Here’s my dilemma:  I understand the desire to reach out to all women, regardless of faith traditions.  However, I also share a lot of the concerns raised in this post by

“On the surface it seems to be teaching good values: value yourself, don’t cheat, love God. Yet, I don’t know where to begin.  The program seems to be teaching abstinence only sex education focused around the purity myth. According to this, you can love and value yourself, but only on the basis of your virginity.  This extends not only to how you view your own self worth, but how your family views you (as you are making a promise to your father-or other male relative) and worst of all how God sees you. Tying this organization into religion is what stuns me. I do not believe religion is an evil and even if I did this would not be the place to insert my own religious views. I bring religion into this dialogue because  in this instance religion is being used as a means of control to oppress women.

The religious aspect of virginity is all part of a power game by the male dominated religious leaders who read and interpret religious texts through an oppressive lens and then let their interpretations trickle down to those of their faith as the word of God.

At its core though, the Pinky Promise movement is just another way to deny women the right to own their sexuality. For a woman, sex is for making babies not for pleasure. For men it is just the opposite. Which brings me to the point that Pinky Promise is not against sex: if they were they would have both men and women pledge to be chaste. Instead this is just for women. Women having sex is apparently a scary thing. It is, according to such abstinence only pledges, the woman’s role to keep both her own desires under control (because she obviously has a lower sex drive than a man-not in fact true) and control the man’s desires as well. From this flawed logic, it is her fault if she has sex, or is raped because it is her worth on the line and her responsibility to keep herself  pure until marriage. Why this purity matters and why virginity is being used as a test of morality is never explained.

In addition, the entire organization only accounts for straight Christian girls. What about bisexuals? lesbians? If the logic is that women must be pure until marriage, what about those who can’t legally get married and where sex is considered to be something different than male-female intercourse? What about asexuals? By these ideas are we just eternally moral or is there a point where we become to old to stay the chaste virgin? What about Jews? Muslims? Buddhists? Hindus? Are we not all women and therefore all under this umbrella of purity?

There are too many unanswered questions. In addition Pinky Promise has a limited scope and is not fostering communication with God as they claim. They are instead communicating with the patriarchy to keep women uninformed about their sexuality and using the principles of Christianity to enforce this control.

I have written to Pinky Promise but they have not gotten back to me. I will write again. I’ll talk to the organization’s leaders on campus and open up a dialogue. I only ask that you speak out as well. Be informed and be proud of your sexuality. Women are not less sexual than men, no matter what lies we are told to keep us quiet and chaste.”

Opening up a dialogue sounds like a good idea.  The meeting was scheduled to be held at our campus Women’s Center but was cancelled because of Hurricane Sandy.   My student wrote to our Women’s Center director about this but hasn’t heard back yet.  Meanwhile, what do others think of this organization?

Update from Women’s Center Director:

Please know  the Center does not discriminate against women, the various views of women, we welcome all men and women to the Center. We encourage dialogue of opposing views and would be happy to engage you in dialogue with the facilitate for Pinky Promise.  We support and defend the Mission of the Center. We support and defend ” Our Doors are Open’ statement.

Mission

The Ruthe Boyea Women’s Center exists to provide resources, to advocate, to inform, and to support personal development. The Center offers a variety of services for and about women. We sponsor educational and cultural programs designed to promote gender equity, knowledge of women’s rights issues, leadership, and independence. We encourage understanding and cooperation among women of varied socio-economic groups, cultures, ethnic backgrounds, races and sexual orientations.  We welcome all women and men who enter our doors.

Our Doors Are Open
The Center is open to all of CCSU’s community, men and women. The Women’s Center values and celebrates the multiplicity of women’s lives; recognizes the intersections of gender, race, sexual orientation, economic status, and other significant aspects of individual and cultural identity; accepts responsibility for opposing injustice; and commits itself to service to the University and larger communities.

Women of all backgrounds can drop in and help one another grow towards personal effectiveness and independence.  We encourage understanding and coming together of women of varied cultures, races and ethnicities, as well as different sexual orientations, socio-economic groups and ages.  Our Center is for and about women so that both women and men are welcome to drop in and use our resources, attend activities or just hang out.”

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