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058: Purity Culture with Annaleece Fairbanks

Hello! Welcome to episode 58 of I’d Rather Stay In. This week, we are talking to Annaleece Fairbanks (@annaleece.fairbanks) about purity culture.

Quick links

Episode 018: The Separation Between Church and Faith

Pure: Inside the Evangelical Movement that Shamed a Generation of Women and How I Broke Free by Linda Kay Klein

Bernie’s Mittens crochet doll pattern

Episode transcript

Welcome to I’d rather stay in with your host Megan Myers and Stephie Predmore. This week Annaleece Fairbanks joins us for a discussion on purity culture. A content warning for our listeners,

we do discuss sexual assault.

Stay tuned. Hi, Megan.

Hey Stephie How are you?

I am doing great. You helped in that regard. We are going to talk a little bit later, but I am feeling it when we talk about joy, but I’m feeling much more organized in my life because of you. So,


So you know, we’ll see if it lasts longer than a week, but I’m hoping that that’s that’s where that’s where I am at. And I saw my new therapist again today. And she was great. It was a great session. And so I’m just I’m feeling like, Okay, I’m like, kind of in my zone right now.


How are you?


I would say I am not in my zone right now.


I’m on like, the struggle bus this week. I feel like last week we were like both like killing it and getting so much Shannon this weekend was like,

Oh, yeah,

I mean, also the weather is kind of shitty here. So it couldn’t decide if it was gonna sleet or snow or just be gray and gross all day today. So yeah, doesn’t really help the mood much.

No, and my neck has been hurting probably because my dog sleeps on my face at the time.

Just like as negosyo Mama,

it’s fine. She’s just 60 pound lap dog,

you know? Sure. Thanks. She’s a lap dog.

She really does just as a teeny tiny dog.

Yeah, you know,

I would probably sleep better if I kicked all the animals out of the bed. But

but they’re so sad. They’re so sad.

I’d sometimes so my cat Cora is the most demanding of the animals that sleep with us. And she like, only wants to sleep on one very specific side of me being like, hit me in the head until I wake up and turn over and it’s really annoying. So sometimes when I really need a good night’s sleep, I lock her in the guest room by herself. Like, she has the whole bedroom. She can burrow under the blankets do her thing. No one needs to feel sorry for this cat. But she always the next morning is like, Hey, Hey, Hey, lady.

You locked me out. That was rude.

Oh, man. So she’s Yeah.

And we’re trying to get the dog to sleep in the other bedroom? Because she has. She could have the whole bed that way.

But she would rather be on top of you.

Yes, she’s very much like, you’re my alpha. I need to be snuggling with you. I feel safe with you. Which is very sweet. But also like, it’s really affecting starting to affect my sleep really poorly.

Maybe if you could just like graduate to her sleeping at the foot of the bed.

I mean, when we got her she slept at the foot of the bed. So for like two or three weeks, she slept at the foot of the bed. And then she started like creeping her way up. And now she only sleeps at the top of the bed.

You know, I think Bob just needs to sleep in the other room. And then he can have his side of the pillows. I think that that’s the perfect solution.

He does sometimes.

She goes to bed and is like Yeah, she was in my spot.

She is on his pillow when he comes to bed half the time. So sometimes he just says like, okay, I’ll just go the other room. But I think sometimes I need to go in the other room because I would like to be able to sleep with like nothing. starfish. Yeah, you know,

I was thinking about that the other day because I know you and I used to travel for work all the time. And it has been over a year since I have been in a hotel. And that was like, always my favorite thing about traveling was getting like a king size hotel bed. And just like Star fishing.

I don’t starfish I go like diagonally though.

I mean, it’s kind of the same idea. Yeah, how much space can I take up in this giant bed right by my son if

I want to roll over I can just roll and roll and

I could like fall asleep with like my book or my laptop or I could sleep fall asleep with something next to me and like never run into it because there’s so much space so luxurious. Yeah, I was thinking about that the other day and that’s like, I don’t know, I’m not one of those people. That’s like I miss travel. I just miss Having a hotel room to myself.

At this point, though, I wonder if I would even be able to fall asleep in a hotel room bed, by myself be like, Where

are the people?

Right? I don’t know. It’s wild as well, other bodies,

or people bothering me is truly wild to think about.

So in Episode 18, we talked with our friend Caleb about what it was like to grow up queer in the church. This week, we are talking about the culture of the church again, but this time with regards to purity culture.

As someone who grew up in the Evangelical Church, I’m all too familiar with purity, culture, and the harm it can have on young women. To help us unpack this topic. We invited my friend Annaleece Fairbanks to join us. Annaleece, welcome.

Hello, Fred. Hi. Hi. Annaleece,

tell us a little bit about yourself.

Um, so I just finished up my bachelor’s in psychology. Last year, I’m taking a gap year right now before I start my Master’s in social work program, because I’ve been waiting for my smarty pants husband to finish up his degree so we can move down to San Antonio for his dental school. So that’s kind of where I’m at in my life right now. And workwise. What I’ve been doing in the last couple years is I’ve been working at a child Advocacy Center, I worked at a research assistant and a multi sensory cognition lab. So doing all kinds of fun stuff there. And another, like, important thing about me is that I spent a lot of time writing and talking about adoption, because I experienced the teen pregnancy as the daughter of a Mormon clergyman. So that was an experience. And that’s why I’m here today. Yes,

we are going to talk we’re gonna talk all about that. Because I knew when Megan and I were brainstorming topics to cover, I said, I’ve really been wanting to cover a purity culture. And I knew exactly who I wanted to have on. I was like, I gotta get Annaleece on the podcast to talk about this, because you talk a lot on your Instagram account about some of the effects of just religious shaming and things like that, that you’ve experienced. So we’re gonna, we’re gonna unpack all that in a minute. But in preparation for this episode, all three of us red pure inside the evangelical movement that shamed a generation of women and how I broke free by Linda Kay Klein. And I kind of think of this book as part memoir, part expos a part ethnography. And it’s an excellent book for anyone who has been personally affected by purity culture, or who is interested in learning more about this topic. So before we go much further, I think it would be really helpful to give our listeners some background, by for each of us to share our experiences with purity culture, so Annaleece, you want to start us off.

Yeah, so what I’m going to do is kind of try and give you a series of snapshots that will kind of try and illustrate what purity culture has looked like, throughout my life to this point. And so growing up, my dad was a bishop for a while, and he’s, you know, always kind of been very active in our church as a leader. And so that really kind of permeated our home. And, and that was a good thing. And a lot of ways, you know, my family was very service oriented, and things like that. But it also came with like the huge influence of purity culture, especially because I was a girl. And so for example, I have this really vivid memory of being, like five or six years old, and I was wearing a bathing suit in the house. And I got in trouble for doing that, because my brothers and my dad were there, and we didn’t want them to be uncomfortable. And obviously, like, we went to church every week, lots of period lessons there that were hard for me, and so there was like, that kind of thing. And it was very, like traditionally what you would expect when we talk about purity culture. And, and that was really hard for me. And because around that age, when I was kind of starting to realize like what sex was, or maybe even before really quite fully realized what sex was. And I was experiencing, like, at the same time, some sexual abuse by somebody that I really trusted and looked up to. So that was really confusing for me. And because part of the purity culture is that you don’t really talk about sex. And so you don’t really talk about consent a lot, either. And so it wasn’t just my parents, you know, obviously it was it was at church and at school that we just didn’t talk about sex. And so I didn’t really put together that I was experiencing it. used until like, probably 10 years later after, after that had ended. And so when I realized this was what was happening, I had a really hard time I was feeling really guilty, I was feeling really angry. And still just kind of being surrounded by this culture of shame around sex. So I didn’t really know what to do with that. And so I ended up getting into a lot of like, really crappy situations like, you know, relationship after relationship after relationship, just kind of trying to feel loved and accepted, and all these things. And so one thing led to another. And eventually, when I was 17, I got into a relationship with a guy that was 24. And I got pregnant. And like, as the daughter of a bishop, like, that’s kind of a big deal. It’s like very, I don’t know, stereotypical preacher’s daughter gets knocked up type of thing. And, and so that was really hard for me, not necessarily, because my parents were angry at me that, you know, that does happen for a lot of people. And I’m really grateful that that wasn’t the situation for me. But in general, in my church, single moms are not really accepted. That’s something that you want to avoid at all costs. And so I had gone in to talk to the leader of my daughter’s biological father’s congregation. And he, in turn, remember exactly what he said. But essentially, he was saying that we needed to get married. And I was like, Well, I’m 17. So I can’t really do that. And I just, I was feeling really, really pressured by this guy by not necessarily my parents, but a lot of people around me, I felt like I was being pushed into marrying this guy. And he was getting a lot of praise by a lot of other people, for wanting to be an involved dad, and all of these things. And nobody was really pointing out the fact that this was not legal or okay. And so, that was obviously really overwhelming. And I definitely didn’t get the support that I feel like I needed and deserved. And so since I didn’t want to get married, and I couldn’t be socially accepted as a single mom. And what I ended up doing is placing that little girl for adoption. And

that was really hard for me because it felt like at the time, and even it’s something that I struggle with now that because I had had sex outside of marriage, I was automatically not good enough to raise my own child. And so that’s something that I think purity culture, if we’re going to sum it all up is where that really hurt me the most is that it made me feel like I couldn’t raise my own daughter. And that adoption has ended up being a good situation in the long run for myself and my birth daughter, but it still was a really traumatic experience that I definitely still struggle with. So yeah, that was kind of a long story. But to kind of wrap it up that that’s kind of where we’re at and what I’m dealing with right now. Yeah, thank you. Thank you. Thank

you for sharing that. Um, yeah, i. So, you know, you grew up in the LDS church, I did grow up in the evangelical church. And, you know, especially once you hit that, like Junior High age is really when all of those purity messages start to really come in. And for me, one of the things that was probably the most difficult is the fact that we’ve, we’ve talked about my big boobs on this podcast before. But I had big boobs really young, like I matured really young. And I had multiple, like female youth group leaders, who would like reprimand me for basically the body that I had. And you know, that I needed to be like careful, because I didn’t you know, want to you know, lead the lead the boys astray and things like that. And it wasn’t like I was dressing like super provocatively or anything like that. I was literally just dressing like a normal teenager. But I had big boobs and so like, I could have worn a burlap sack. And they still probably would have said the same thing to me. Just because when you have a full figure like you, you can’t, you can’t hide that. And so that was like a message that was just really, like, nailed in by not really not, I am lucky in that it was not a message that came from any of like my family or anything like that. But it definitely like hearing that from like female leaders that I respected was really hurtful, and made me have a really difficult relationship with my body or contributed to a difficult relationship with my body. Over the years, that it’s taken me a long time to sort of unravel from that. I also something that the author of the book that we read talks about, and her experiences was being diagnosed with Crohn’s disease as a it when she was in college, and I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, which is sort of Crohn’s is cousin, when I was also in college, and something I never really connected until I read this book was how my relationship with my body and my diagnosis was connected to this culture of like, women have to be smiley, and we have to be cheery, and we’re not allowed to, like be anything else. And we can’t really talk about our bodies, and like all of these things, that in a really, really intricate way, we’re all connected to this diagnosis and how I was was or was not able to talk about my health and how I was or was not able to express like, I don’t feel good, like I genuinely feel really shitty, I’m really sick or not are having to put on a brave face and just like go to class and like all of these things. And so that’s that’s sort of a newer revelation for me after reading this book that I’m still kind of working through and like, pondering over noodling over. But then, you know, I also, I was one of I was one of those naughty girls that ended up having sex before marriage. And like, there is still there’s this, you know, you are not allowed to have sex until you are. And then once you get married, you are supposed to be like, the most sexual being in your marriage. And so that, that that’s like, it’s, it’s not, there’s not like this switch that can be flipped, where you’re like, Okay, I did this really bad thing by having sex before marriage. And then but now that we’re married, it’s fine like that. It does work like that. And so there it is definitely, like affected how I am in my marriage sometimes. And like, again, it’s something that I’m still unpacking and figuring out. But it is, it’s just like all this is like a mind game that I you live with and have to

learn how to navigate and so that’s that’s really sort of my my experience. Megan, I know that you grew up in a, you know, pretty different, you have a pretty different, like, religious background for me. So I’m really curious to hear, you know, what your experience is, in this area? Yeah,

I think it’s really interesting, actually, because I did not grow up in the church. And yet the whole idea of like, a purity culture still, like permeated in general society. Like I remember, in high school, especially, I like I know I so I was in high school in the 90s. And it was definitely the grunge time and everyone wore flannel and everything but like, I very purposefully were extremely oversized t shirts. Always like baggy jeans. I did not want to wear anything that drew attention to myself. Because I did not want guys looking at me because you’re taught like, you don’t want that kind of attention. If you get that attention. You’re a slut. You’re a slut guys can have that kind of attention, but girls cannot have that kind of attention. Right? And that lasted, like,

through college.

Basically until, I mean, even after I had met my husband, I was still just like, No, I can’t like Dressed in a like super sexy way, because that would be too much like I think on our first date, I wear jeans and like a Henley top, which is not like a date outfit. Basically, it’s like going to the bookstore,

which would be a great date to be clear.

I mean, it’s probably that’s what I wore, because he picked me up from my job at the bookstore. But I just think it’s interesting that, that that kind of culture, even if it’s not part of your religion, it just is part of secular society in general, that women have this double standard foisted upon them from the time they are starting to hit puberty. And it’s, it’s something that I feel like every single woman that I know has had to deal with on on some level, and especially reading this book, I was like, Oh, my God, that’s a lot of these like, tiny little, I guess I would say, micro aggressions. Yeah. kind of happened to everybody that I know.

Yeah, for sure.

So one of the biggest issues that Klein discusses in her book is that women are made to bear the burden of responsibility for purity. Like we were just saying, men can have a women. Yeah, there’s less. But for example of being told not to dress too productive, provocatively. So you don’t lead many astray from Apparently, the wonderful path that men are on. Annaleece, can you share a bit about how you’ve seen this play out in your own experiences?

Yes. So I’ll tell you a story. As soon as I read that, this question was going to come up this like immediately popped into my mind. And I was in high school. And there was a guy his name was Brandon, Brandon, if you’re out there, screw you.

I’m giving you the middle finger brandon, and you can’t see it, but it

literally suck so much. So he had a boyfriend. And he’d been trying to get me to dump him for a while. And, um, you know, this whole High School thing, whatever. And, but at one point, like the hallway was empty, and he had he like, pushed me up against this locker. And he was trying to get me to kiss him. And I didn’t want to do it. And I was trying to push him off me. And it was like, a really scary situation for me. And there were some people that were there. But they were filming it. They weren’t like, they weren’t doing anything about it until one of my best friends came around the corner and kind of rescued me from the situation. But obviously, that really shook me up. And I went home, and I was crying to my parents about it. And I remember, like, distinctly, the response that I got from my dad, was that I needed to be careful, because if I continued to dress like I can be for the boys and things like that would keep happening to me. And I can tell you exactly what I was wearing that day, I was wearing a sweatshirt over a tank top. And it was when like brightly colored skinny jeans were a thing. So like, pretty standard, like not breaking the dress code at all. But that to him was dressing like eye candy. And I don’t remember feeling like any kind of empathy or any kind of like, we need to do something about this guy it was you need to be doing these things differently. Because you’re the one that’s ultimately responsible for what happened to you.

And to be clear, you could have been wearing a bikini.

You could have been naked and

it still would not have been okay, right?

I didn’t do that. Right, exactly. And so like what this particular guy did, like, doesn’t actually hold a candle to any of the abuse that hinder before and after this experience, but it sticks out so much to me, because at that point, I just kind of stopped telling people what was happening when I was 17. And then that bad relationship with this grown man, I didn’t tell anybody until I was pregnant. And then even when I was 20 I was assaulted again. And I didn’t tell anybody for months. Because at that point, like it was just really clear to me that like nobody would believe me and it would always be about what I had done what I was wearing what I had kind of done to bring this on myself. Yeah, I

I just I want and I want to believe that we’re coming around, like I want to believe that our culture is in general. like waking up to the fact that none of this is like none of this is okay. And it is Never, like it is not the woman’s fault for like, we should not bear the brunt of that of like, well, what were you wearing, and you need to be careful and all of these things. And, you know, admittedly, I have sort of extricated myself from the church in a lot of ways. I don’t I don’t attend church anymore. And so I don’t really know what that culture is like, currently, but there are things that made me make me think like, okay, we are, I think our society in general is, is starting to get it. But it’s just bananas to me that you can look at your 17 year old daughter, and say, like, well, you need to be not dressing like eye candy. So that they won’t do that to you. Right?

Yeah. And I was I was actually like, 1514, or 15. At that time worse. Yeah. So, um, the thing is, so that it’s kind of, it’s not even just the way that other people are acting towards women, at least for me, it was something that was kind of ingrained into me as well, like this guilt, whenever something would happen to me, like, what could I have done differently? and things like that. And like, to be clear, it wasn’t even necessarily just my parents, I have a really hard time with a lot of things that they’ve done. And it’s something that I have to remind myself, like, over and over that it’s not, it’s that they were also raised in this culture, by people who are raised in the culture by people who were raised, and it just kind of compounded on top of each other. And it just becomes like, just part of, of who we are as Christians is like a general group. Um,

guys, just something that’s, that’s hard for people to break free from,


Yeah, it? Yeah, it is. Because, you know, like you said, Annaleece, it’s, it’s not just the external messages, but they become internal messages, you internalize it to the point where everything is like, Oh, well, I shouldn’t have been wearing that, or I did something wrong, or, you know, whatever it is. I, you know, I think there there are a lot of stories in this in the book that we read that the women who have been through so many instances of different types of abuse, and assault, and, and the, and the, and the messages that they’ve received their whole lives have led them to say like, well, it was probably my fault. So, um, so while you were reading this book, at least, you texted me about two things. The first is the fact that using birth control, while having sex means that you plan to have sex, which is somehow worse, in general. We cannot have sex, but we really cannot have premeditated sex. It’s second, the book made you realize the ways that your own therapist has been talking to you has been really shaming. So I’d love to talk more about the language of shame and how it infiltrates purity culture in ways that sometimes we aren’t even aware of.

Yeah, so that former, no former therapist kind of talked to me about my past sex life as if it was the series of really horrible mistakes that I’ve made that I, you know, could have hope and come back from. But really what it was, was a very natural response to what I had been through and it wasn’t really about sex, it was about power. And one of the things that are really like, in that book is that I don’t remember the exact quote, but she talks about how we misconstrue misconstrue sexual assault to be about sex rather than violence. And so, for me kind of talking about it as if they were mistakes that I had made. That’s not what was happening. It was a reaction to the violence that I had experienced. And it took me a really long time to kind of get to that point and not feel so guilty about it. And then even just like other people who like aren’t even related, anywhere near to any kind of church will kind of be here that kind of the same thing. Like for example, I had like a hairdresser. At one point who was talking to me about how I just had such a sexual or about me, she said that super weird. Thank you and How, you know how she was sure that the guys just couldn’t help themselves around me. And so kind of what that did that messaging that you just get over and over and over again, was that I saw myself like, I was sex, and sex was bad, therefore, I was bad. Yeah.

Yeah, you know, I

think it’s interesting, because I’m sitting here and thinking about the fact that, you know, we get these messages that sex is bad, and it’s such a sin, and that, and they’re all these sort of metaphors that you hear. So I think, especially as a girl, growing up in the churches, you know, oh, you’re like a used if you have sex, and you’re like, a used Kleenex, no one wants a used Kleenex or, you know, whatever. Like, legitimately, these are real metaphors that people hear. And so, if you are a, you know, totally normal teenager, totally normal college student, totally normal, 20 something, and you, you know, even if you don’t actually have sexual intercourse, but you just are, you know, having any sort of, you know, relationship or fooling around or whatever, with someone, like, I just makes me think about how I was, I was, like, I was sure people could tell, like, she can tell that I was at a party last night, and that I was fooling around with a guy, or, you know, they could tell that my boyfriend and like, my grandparents are gonna be able to tell by looking at me that I had sex and oh, my God,

moving. It’s just,

they’re just going to, like, be able to see it. And they’ll just know that it’s just this like, tattooed on my forehead. And, like, spoiler, that’s not how it works. But this idea that what you’ve done is so shameful, and no one’s gonna want you. And it’s gonna be like, visible to everyone that now you are that used Kleenex just like walking around in the world. It’s, it’s, so again, it’s just, it’s such a mind game.

Right? It’s almost like, there’s like a limited amount of sex that you can offer. And it has to be to one person, there’s a limited amount of times that you can connect with somebody. And it’s, it’s like, at least for me, I was given this, this message over and over that, like, if I had sex with somebody else, then I would not be able to emotionally connect with my husband in the same way. And when you’re told that so many times over and over, then it becomes like a self fulfilling prophecy. And that’s definitely something that I am unpacking at this point. It’s like, because I’ve heard that it was going to be so difficult for me now it’s become difficult. Right? Right.

One of the things that really struck me in the book actually was this section that she had talked with the person who had married her husband, they basically got married really quickly, because they wanted to have sex, but then they realized they did not know anything about sex because of how they were raised. And they basically had horrible, horrible experiences with sex for about 15 years. And I know, people that I’m friends with have had that same experience where they waited until marriage, but because of the way that the church talked about sex to them, and the culture that they were raised in, they didn’t, they didn’t know anything about it, what they were actually supposed to expect. They were just, they just knew that they were not supposed to do it until they’re married. And then when you’re married, you’re just supposed to magically be able to do it,

and it’s gonna be beautiful and wonderful, beautiful and amazing. I don’t think anyone’s first time this beautiful and amazing. No, but if you know what’s going on. That’s not

a thing. But yeah, I was I, that section. Well, that’s a section for me. Like my mom and I used to kind of joke about like, when I started to get towards like, end of high school and like, into college, and seeing people in our church that were close to my age getting engaged. If my mom would be like, Well, you know, they’re gonna get married because they want to bone each other. Like, hearing your mother say that. It’s really interesting.

I mean, I’m sure there’s lots of people who that would die. That’s why they got married at such a young age because they, that’s all they knew to do. Absolutely. And, and my mom would always be like, wonder how long that marriage is gonna last like,

I mean, spoiler like, some of them have lasted, but some of them did not. Right. Cuz Yeah. You know, pro tip, guys don’t get married just to have sex. It’s not really a great basis for like, why you should get married? It might work out for you, but it also might not so, you know, maybe maybe they have some other reasons.

So Emily’s Can you share about how purity culture affected your dating life after giving birth to your daughter?

Um, yeah. So, yeah, like, they’re, in general. As far as reactions of the guys that I was dating, I live in Utah right now. So everybody around me was pretty much either Mormon or, or still, it was it’s just a really conservative conservative area in general, regardless of religion. And so that was really awkward, because I would usually tell people on the first date, because, like, She’s such a big part of my life. And because I’m so public about it, like, I figured I might as well tell them before, they want to stalk me on Instagram and found out awkward stuff about me. So I would tell them, and the kind of one of two things would happen, the guy would get, like, super uncomfortable and kind of like duck out as soon as I could. And that really kind of bothers me, because I feel like the reaction might have been different if it was just that I had had sex. And I could go on, like for hours about how it makes me mad that people think that because you happen to get pregnant, like somehow you’re more promiscuous than somebody who doesn’t happen to get pregnant. And Bushido is failed, luckier. Yeah. So I definitely had a hard time with that. But I mean, it was a good way to weed people out. Because if somebody was thinking that I obviously didn’t want to have anything to do with them. But the second reaction that I would get from a lot of people would that was that again, they would assume that I was just going to be easy. And so they would try and hook up with me. And so that was really frustrating. And it really wasn’t until I met my husband, who had like, an actual decent human being reaction to that, then I realized that like, people can be nice. But I feel like the bigger problem, though, wasn’t necessarily the way that other people were treating me, I think it was the way that I saw myself, because of all these messages that I had ingrained in me it was kind of like, Well, I mean, I’ve already had sex, and they tell you, if you have sex, you’re gonna get pregnant, I already got pregnant. So what is their loose now. And so I ended up like getting myself into a lot of really sticky situations, and being with people that I now like, seriously regret. And because that was like, the source of power that I had was I could use sex to keep people interested, I could use sex to feel good about myself. Because like, fun fact, when you’re postpartum, you don’t feel good about yourself. That’s true. Yeah. And a great, great space there. And so I needed that validation. And so I would end up being with people regardless of whether I actually wanted it or not. And I kind of stopped listening to myself there and stopped respecting my own wants and boundaries. And me because I kind of felt like, you know, like, What is there to lose, I’ve already lost all of these horrible things that they said would happen to me if I had sex have already happened. So, you know, it doesn’t matter. And I don’t matter. It’s how that felt.

As a as an aside, you and john, your husband did I think it was a I think you did a YouTube video, maybe talking about, like, how you guys met in your relationship with, you know, dating and stuff like that. And I just remember like you talking about his reaction when you told him and like, I just I kind of fell in love with him a little bit. Like it was so sweet and wonderful. And I was like, Oh my God, we need more jobs in the world. So so true.


he’s a he’s a he’s a sweetie. So So, as I was prepping for this episode, I really started to think about how the places I find God the Most are no longer within the walls of the church. As I said, I no longer attend to church. And the honestly, maybe that never really was where I found God the Most. Like, I think, for me, I find him most in the smaller moments of life, like in hugs for my daughter, and in moments spent in deep conversation with my really good friends. And so, I would love to hear, you know, how has your face changed, as you have navigated and started to unpack this religious trauma and shaming that you experienced growing up? Mm hmm.

So, I’m kind of in a place where I’m sitting in a room realizing that I’m surrounded by baggage, and that at some point, I’m gonna have to deal with that. Because it really has been pretty recently that I’ve realized, like the impact that purity culture has had on my life. And so I’m, I’m not really sure where I’m going from here, something that’s been really helpful for me, is that I started to see my relationship with Christianity and with my church, as a relationship instead of an identity. And for me, there’s a really important line there, because if I identify purely as a member of the LDS church where or purely as a Christian, and that is who I am, that means that I need to agree with and abide by all of those rules. And that doesn’t work. For me, I have, you know, really strong opinions about a number of things that I disagree with. with Christianity, in general, I’m very, like, pro LGBT rights and things like that, that are not that don’t really mesh well, with conservative Christianity. And it’s, it’s kind of like, my relationship with a person, I don’t have to agree with that, to have a relationship with this person. And I can draw boundaries and say, no, this is not okay. And this is what I’m gonna do. And if you don’t like it, then that’s your problem. And so it’s very much like that with my relationship with church right now is that I’m going to do what I feel like is, is right for me, because I feel like, you know, we’re taught over and over that we’re God’s children. And I personally want my daughter to grow up and make her own choices and do what feels right to her rather than just blindly following what somebody else is telling her regardless of whether or not that feels good for her. So I’m kind of in this place where, where I think that that’s what God would want for me, as well. And so I’m kind of just trying to figure out like, what actually feels good. And write to me, and what am I doing? Because I’ve been told to?

Yeah, I think that that’s a I think that that’s a really good sort of piece of advice, or a starting point for anyone who might be listening, who is realizing what purity culture has done to them what effect it has had on their life. I really like that, that, you know, viewing viewing it as a relationship instead of an identity. I think that that’s,

I think that

that could stem out into a lot of areas of our life. But I like that a lot. And I think that that could be that kind of mindset shift, I think is could be a really good starting point for a lot of people to kind of extricate you know, what you truly believe from what you’ve been told to believe. Right? Yeah, for sure.


What’s bringing us joy?

Well, thank you so much for joining us. I know that that I know that this was there was a lot to unpack in this episode. I feel like we just sort of it was sort of tip of the iceberg really. But you know, I know we really appreciate you sharing your story with us trusting our listeners with your story and you know, sharing how you’ve been affected by purity culture in your life. So before we go, let’s end on a little bit happier of a note. What is bringing you joy this week Annaleece.

I’m so like I said before, we’re moving to San Antonio in a couple of months. And I’m really thrilled about that because the high end Logan, Utah today is 23 degrees. Hi there, it’s 77. And so I’ve been like, whenever I get sad about how cold it is, I’ve just been thinking about that lately and having that warm to look forward to and that spark joy in my soul

are gonna be so much different. Megan just did the opposite, basically, and I really missed the warm weather.

Oh, man, yeah,

you’re gonna, you’re gonna enjoy that nice warm weather next winter, you’re gonna be like, what is this?

Yeah, might not enjoy it in August.


we’ll deal with that when it comes.

Right. That is why that’s why God made air conditioning. It’s fine.

Stephie What is bringing you joy this week?

I alluded to it in our intro, but you helped me clean out and organize several spaces in my house. Last week. I took off Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, last week, and you came over and we just like attacked multiple rooms in my house, we clean off my desk, which was a complete disaster zone beforehand. And now it is so clear and empty and wonderful. And we reorganized my pantry and my closet. We got rid of like two thirds of my closet. It was we had your entire back of your Subaru filled with donation stuff. And it is bringing me so much joy.

And many bags of trash

menu a

lot of steak bags of trash. We threw away so much stuff. I was like, Where has this stuff even been? And that was only like three and a half rooms in my house like three mostly like three and a half like spaces in my house. There’s still more that we could do. And I’m like,

Oh my god, let’s just do it. Let’s do it. Let’s do it.

It’s addictive. Yeah, that’s why like, I whenever I do it to my house, I’m like, I’m just gonna do it. Like I came home from doing it at your house on Friday. And I was like, I’m gonna go through my closet now. Through all this stuff in the next day, I made my kids go through all their stuff, and pick out all their old board games that they are too big for and yeah, I set like a whole back of the car. Not as quite as much as you but a bunch of stuff to Goodwill.

Yeah. And like I if I had just been doing it by myself. First of all, Megan actually made me do the thing, where you pull everything out of the closet or like everything off the desk and like start from scratch, which I would absolutely would not have done on my own. And also, I have like I had several moments where my brain just completely broke. And I would just stare at her with this like blink scared expression. She’d be like, Okay, so the next thing we’re going to do is this, like I literally would not have gotten anywhere without somebody there being like, okay, okay, I think maybe we need to get an extra shelf for this closet. Let’s go to Lowe’s and find a shelf Stephie Here we go. Like I was like a toddler. So it was it’s fantastic. I I feel so much lighter. It’s so

apparent. Apparently my special skill is coaching people through organization.

Hey, you know what? People make a lot of money for that shit.

So that is true, but like I was really proud of you because like, I was really just there for moral support. I feel like like you did most of the stuff.

I didn’t do a lot of it. But you definitely. You definitely did like you You coached me coaching is a good coaching is a good word to use. You’re like you can do it. here’s here’s here’s a hint for the next thing you need to do. It will be a word rhymes with.

Oh, yeah. Okay.

Megan, what about you?


I was just gonna tag on to that because that was pretty awesome. Um, one thing that has definitely been giving me joy even though it was like it was played out within like 36 hours but it is still bringing me joy is mittens Bernie.

Oh my god, I love him so much.

Still bringing me so much joy every time I see one. I can’t help it. I don’t know what it is about it.

I’m not even like

particular hardcore Bernie fan or anything. I just really love the internet sometimes.

Sometimes the internet is terrible and sometimes it is a true gift. I absolutely purchased the pattern to make little crochet mittens Bernie, or her daughter’s birth dad. Last year for Father’s Day. I crocheted him a little baby Yoda and So I’m going to make him he like he actually was like he sent it to Taylor and once I show this to Stephie Oh, I’m buying that I’m gonna make that for him like he’s gonna have a whole little like crochet fan club on his desk with a little baby Yoda and mittens Bernie like that’s what we’re gonna do. So it’s Yeah, the the content on the internet with mittens Bernie has been Primo this week. It has been Yeah, lots of joy.

Next week’s episode

So next week, we are gonna take you know, a little bit of a pivot as we do. And we’re gonna talk about tattoos. If you know me in real life or have ever seen photos of my arms. You know, I have a lot to say on this topic.

Join us back here as we talk about why we love tattoos tips for getting your first and more. Until then be sure to leave us a review on Apple podcasts and listen to us on your favorite platform. You can also follow us on social media at irsipodcast or send us an email at We’d love to hear from our listeners.

Talk to you soon.

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