A few words on harlotry, the marriage industrial complex and Steven Crowder

It has come to my attention recently that some guy named Steven Crowder got married – and, for some reason, used that as a chance to launch into a massive diatribe about sluts and harlots and what have you. It was picked up my Jezebel and much hilarity involving gifs ensued.

My initial reaction to Crowder’s piece is also best summed up with a gif:

(Sent to me by a friend who sends me great gifs – and lotsa random porn to freak me out while I’m working. I salute you, brother.)

Then I read this discussion of Crowder’s um, joyful missive from the Ever After – as well as checked out Crowder’s own Twitter – and it got me thinking. About Crowder, whom I still wish all of the happiness in the world (although, if you ask me, launching into a mocking tirade about other people’s sex lives is a funny way of showing that you’re in the throes of wedded bliss), but also about our culture’s extreme Marriage Mythology.

Truth is, I know a fair amount of people who have chosen to wait to have sex. And a fair amount of people who were virgins on their wedding night. It’s just Their Way and not something to comment on beyond that, for me. That’s not really the issue here.

The issue is – the Marriage Mythology requires your wedding to be The Happiest Day of Your Life™. And if you read between the lines, happiness actually signals a kind of unreality. It can’t be a regular human experience, it has to be something Beyond That.

And there is an entire industry built around this supposition. This is why otherwise normal people will suddenly break down when confronted with the fact that their wedding invitations, the ones that were supposed to be eggshell white, actually turned out to be more like cream white. 

And abstinence is, in many ways, a kind of niche industry. You have people writing books about it. Or those who, like Crowder, write columns about it. You have people teaching abstinence education and massive abstinence campaigns with passionate-sounding slogans such as True Love Waits, slogans that are used on official jewelry and apparel and what have you.

Abstinence is industrialized the way that sex is also industrialized. Both of these narratives are packaged like a De Beers commercial. And both need each other – one is irrelevant without the other.

So beating your chest and celebrating your own decision to remain “pure” until marriage while simultaneously blasting the sluts and whores who haven’t followed your shining example is actually a pretty awesome career move. It’s a bit like coming out with an in-your-face commercial that people will talk about long after the Super Bowl is over. You’re stumping – but no one will notice unless you take a major swipe at the competition.

But let’s get real here – and talk about the actual human beings involved in making such a decision.

While I totally understand that people in the wedding (and the abstinence!) industries need to eat, ya’ll, I don’t think that using a marriage ceremony as a chance to impress other people is healthy for your relationship. I like the notion of a public celebration as dedicated to commitment and love – and for certain, there are different ways to express that. Some are more expensive than others. Sometimes, the bride is extremely lucky to take advantage of a great aunt’s vintage jewelry and post-Christmas sales events (*cough*). Some people cannot imagine a wedding ceremony without the participation of big fucking elephants – and to them I say right on.

But people like Steven Crowder here go on to frame their wedding and their wedding night as one big “HAHA FUCK YOU” to the folks who taunted him about being abstinent and I… am a little disturbed by that, I guess? Imagine if I met and married a football player – and then wrote a gloating column addressed to all of the jocks who didn’t see fit to invite me to any of our high school dances. Take THAT, fellas!

Yep, it would make me seem like a totally cool and well-adjusted human being. And one who is certainly mature enough to embark on what is supposed to be a lifelong commitment.


P.S. What’s the deal with Crowder’s weirdly competitive insistence that the people his wife and he encountered during breakfast must have had some sort of shitty wedding – and are clearly just pathetic shits in general? Like, “MWAHAHAHA, DUDE DIDN’T COME DOWN FOR BREAKFAST, BET HE WAS A DRUNKEN ASSHOLE AT HIS OWN RECEPTION.” Yeah, ’cause that’s totally what I would assume as well – as opposed to giggling inappropriately about what a great wedding night those two probably had.

10 thoughts on “A few words on harlotry, the marriage industrial complex and Steven Crowder

  1. The issue I have, as a Christian, is the way other Christians seem to think it’s appropriate to judge non-Christians by traditional Christian values. That’s like making Canadians sing the Star Spangled Banner, and getting pissed at them when they don’t know the words.

  2. You know, I’m an Orthodox Christian. Not a traditional one, but still, I was baptized in the church. And the Orthodox Church is pretty hardcore and old-fashioned. But it also has room for… human beings, I guess? Like, in Russia, it’s normal to have a civil registry wedding, followed by a religious ceremony. It’s what most people do – and most places of worship will even ask you to produce actual documentation to prove that you’ve already had the government-sanctioned ceremony. So they already DON’T assume that most people are going into this as virgins (though the truly traditional couples will sometimes wait). And when Alexey and I had our (totally intense and beautiful, incidentally) church ceremony, I was already sporting a baby bump. Nobody freaked out. Of course, I went to confession the evening before, pointed to my belly, and said, “Well, Father, here we are – in the eyes of the church, I’ve sinned.” And spent a long time in full-on ritual confession mode. We talked for a long time. Ultimately, he didn’t try to humiliate me – he even pointed out, with a wink, that as my husband is ten years older, he’s had “much more opportunity to sin.” We were in a friendly, loving atmosphere there. It was still very much traditionalist (nothing feminist about it!), but it was also solemn and gorgeous, and, well, happy. One of the happiest evenings in my life, when all is said and done.

    And that really puts Crowder’s piece into perspective like me. According to people like him, my husband and I are “mimbo” (BAHAHA) and harlot respectively, and should have been shamed and scorned in that church. Certainly not welcomed. And that makes me sad – for him.

  3. Also, you’re right on the money wrt Canadians and the Star Spangled Banner. It really comes through when Crowder is talking about that Other Couple. The one who did their wedding The Wrong Way. Though appearances can be deceptive.

  4. Oh, and when ladies at church start clucking about that girl who got pregnant (“and sssshe’s not even MARRRRRIEEED,” they hiss) I say “well she could have had an abortion then you’d never even know. Would you prefer that?” They never like it when I say that. Uppity Christians piss me off.

  5. People like to judge to make themselves feel better. I like your example of all the boys not taking you to the dance and your saying “Take that!” I would feel worried if my fiancee would feel that way about his past rejections. ^.^

    I am loving your blog btw!

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