Soliloquy: Another Alumni Recollects

I asked my friend John to share a memory for this week. What he sent me follows…

It was the pinnacle of a preacher boy’s training. No, not New Testament Greek, or even the bizarrely garish spectacle of the yearly “preaching contest.” It was Marriage and Family class – where we finally got to learn how to hold a family together amidst the constant drain of The Ministry. And also, we all secretly hoped, talk a little about sex. So far we had learned that “Men are like microwaves and women are like conventional ovens.” I finished the last scratches of my doodle. It was a three dimensional picture of a slightly rumpled box, its flaps open, with the word “Think” sitting outside of it, also rendered in three dimensions. A few minutes earlier a female student had asked a question that the teacher had apparently considered very stupid. He must have, because his response was, “No, you bimbo…” before launching off into an Approved Narrative regarding the topic. And in that moment, I caught a glimpse of a spirit that infected the entire campus like a spiritual canker, a spirit so contradictory to Galatians five that it shook me to the core. I had seen a ghost – an evil spirit that wore khakis and a blazer and a saccharine smile and called
women created in the image of God bimbos.

My mind drifted back to all the pain and suffering I had seen women go through. There were little things – like dates tearing up after being told to return to their room and change. Not because changing was so difficult, but because of the shame associated and the opportunity for gossip and to be labeled a slut. Or a bimbo. There were the separate elevators, as if two young adults couldn’t possibly ride together in an elevator in the library without spontaneously copulating. I thought about the girls who were forced to surrender their friendship because they were caught sleeping in the same bed – surely a sign of being lesbian, because even two women can’t sleep in the same bed without being filled with irrepressible sexual urge.

But there were bigger things that belied a seriously sick approach to gender and sexuality. I remembered the girl who gave birth in a stairwell at school. I hadn’t known her very well, but my heart ached for a young woman who was so afraid of admitting that she had pre-marital sex that she would risk the health of herself and her baby. I wondered how many times she had been called a bimbo. I wondered how this same fundamentalist culture could scream so loudly about the evils of abortion and then put a girl in a position where the precious gift in her womb would be better off hidden, better off delivered in a dusty, hot stairwell. Maybe better off aborted. I wondered where the love was in a system that called itself Christian and called its women bimbos. And I thought about the double standard.

When I first arrived on campus, I had a secret fear. I feared going to a “Christian” college. I feared that I would be around people who were good. I was afraid that such people would reveal the lie of my superficial morality and polished dress- code. When I met my roommates, I was filled with almost instant relief. They were upper classmen, and while they suffered from the same superiority complex as I did, they were unabashedly pagan. They joked about going out of state to purchase pornography. They joked about clogging the shower drain through frequent masturbation, and argued over whether it was polite to masturbate in the shower or not. We had a newer dorm and didn’t have to share a bathroom with anyone, so it brought a new dynamic to the conversation.

As the teacher droned on about how women were the downfall of many a minister, I thought about how so many of the men I knew in school were just as psychologically screwed up as the women – just as hurt, just as confused, just as sexually stunted and repressed. But, they weren’t called names. I thought about the serial daters on campus being humorously – and a bit adoringly – referred to as “man whores”, usually with a wistful sigh and hint of jealousy. I thought about a double standard that allowed men to think of women as sexual objects and sources of damnation and ruin. I thought about a culture that thought it was ok to call a female student bimbo, or a classmate a slut because she wore a fitted top, but would never use such shaming on men.

I sighed a little too loudly, drawing an irritated glance from the teacher and causing the dozing fellow in front of me to stir and wipe the spittle from his mouth. Then I hastily scratched four words beneath my drawing that would because the mantra for my short time left. “Not in this place.”

60 thoughts on “Soliloquy: Another Alumni Recollects”

  1. There are no words. WOW – just wow. Profound and very well written. Thank you for sharing even though it breaks my heart. 😥

  2. This is very evocative. Congratulations to whomever wrote it.

    I think it shows very well the prevailing fundy view of women. What this article catches too is the horrible view of men that is prevalent in fundystan. I have always been offended by the belief that I am a man and therefore incapable of controlling myself.

  3. My B.S. meter is humming on this one. I agree that Fundamentalists have a problem with women, but having a PCC professor call a girl a “bimbo” in class? That’s a tough one to digest.

    1. I was a little shocked by that too. I had always felt the misogyny to be largely subtle rather than that blatant.

      I’m inclined to believe it, but would also be reassured if there was some correlation by another witness.

      The baby in the stairwell – how awful. Poor child and mother. To be a poorly-taught fundy girl going through labor with no support and more than the usual fear… Horrific.

      1. I was also taken aback by that claim. Seems like a pretty good way to get fired. It’s not like it would be deniable as the whole class would have heard it.

        1. I believe the teacher would have been John Hurst, and I have trouble envisioning him calling a girl a bimbo. I never took the class myself, thankfully.

      2. “I had always felt the misogyny to be largely subtle rather than that blatant.”

        Haven’t heard many Fundy sermons, or been to their “Ladies’ Conferences,” have you?

        Let me buy you a subscription to “Christian Womanhood” magazine and “Sword of the Lord,” and you can tell me after you’ve read a few issues whether you still think the misogyny is “subtle.”

        1. The Hyles/Schapp/Kidd wing of fundamentalism was MUCH, MUCH, MUCH more outward and straightforward with their chauvanism as compared to what I saw at PCC. It existed at PCC, but was much more subtle. I experienced the worst of the 80’s and 90’s style fundamentalism in the Midwest and also attended PCC during this time and can unequivocally say that I never saw blatant disrespect for women at PCC. Subtle overtones, yes. But nothing as blatant as calling a student a Bimbo.

        2. My apologies, Big Gary. I wasn’t clear about the perspective I was speaking from. I actually meant, “subtle for a fundy”. You’re right, out here in the real world, things I previously called “subtle” when I was a fundy are slap-in-the-face awful to a normal person. I meant the kind of “subtle” where you talk yourself out of realizing what it really is because either they don’t really mean that or that’s just the way it is and thinking otherwise is rebellion.

        1. PCC /= Jack Schaap

          I think that’s what people don’t get. The preachers at PCC generally had little or now power. The power was invested in a man who largely stayed behind the scenes (Arlin Horton).

        2. Phil Kidd spoke at churches in the Pensacola area. PCC would NOT allow students to attend his revival services, except for two unlikely exceptions: (1) they were a town student that grew up in the church hosting Phil Kidd or (2) they worked as an intern in the church hosting Phil Kidd.

          Listening to Phil Kidd was a fairly common past time at PCC when I was there, but it wasn’t because anyone agreed with him. It was the same entertainment value as listening to a train wreck.

        3. I shouldnt have watched this….now i feel nauseous…..what a complete douche.

    2. I think this is credible because I read on a webpage elsewhere of a preacher in an IFB church referring to the women and girls in the church as “heifers.” If it was me in that church, that would be the last stupidity that imbecile uttered in my ears.

      1. I heard a Phil Kidd message once where he approvingly told of a pastor who would get so mad at his people he’d “call the men bastards and the women bitches.”

        “Bimbo” wouldn’t surprise me. 🙁

      2. PCC always seemed a little different. Beka Horton wasn’t just a preacher wife, she was a senior VP. There were several prominent women who managed departments. And, Beka has been known to berate pastors for preaching something she didn’t approve of. It’s not the same kind of place that Hyles Anderson seemed to be.

        A lot of the rules on modesty came from the women in authority there. Those rules definitely hit the girls harder than the guys, but guys weren’t totally exempt from them. It was common for male students on the east athletic fields to take their shirts off, especially if they were playing basketball or football– “shirts and skins”, etc. That had to stop because, the story has it, Beka Horton learned that with a telescope girls could see the guys from the top floors of some of the dorms.

      3. I heard Phil Kidd preach “What would make a man call his wife a heifer?”

        It was from that verse where Samson says “If you had not plowed with my heifer”.

        PK used that as a springboard to vent about women being heifers.

        1. Like all of Phil Kidd’s sermons, that one tells us much about Phil Kidd, and little to nothing about the Bible or God or Jesus.

  4. I guess it may not be too much of a stretch. I remember having Dean Ohman have us look for naked women in liquor ads in magazines. Supposedly the marketing people hid them in the ice cubes and sweat drops on the glasses.

    1. Ha! Yes. Dr. Custer at BJU taught us to look for s’s and x’s in advertising because the designers put it there to make you subliminally think of sex and buy their product. Even had illustrative magazine ads that looked to be from the 1970s-80s to prove it. Several were alcohol or cigarette ads, which I always thought was a little odd…

    2. The Coke machines in the Commons circa 2000 definitely had nude figures on them. The ice cubes were shaped into breasts, and even full nudes. It didn’t require any imagination to see it.

      I figured it was just an inside joke by the artists.

    3. Actually, advertising DOES rely heavily on sexuallizing and shaming of women. See Jean Kilbourne’s _Killing Us Softly_ for a good description (with plenty of examples): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PTlmho_RovY

      I once taught a writing class that asked students to find an advertisement and discuss how the ad reinforced (or, in rarer circumstances, challenged) gender stereotypes, usually about women and sex. This was at a secular university.

      1. I wasn’t saying they didn’t. I was just saying it was a weird thing for a fundy professor to obsess over.

        1. Exactly my point. I would have expected that conversation at a state school, but not at Fundy PCC. I actually had no problem with the discussion at all. I learned more from Dean Ohman’s classes as it pertained to the business world and economics than I did in most of my business classes.

    4. The “Hidden Sex” trope comes mostly from “Subliminal Seduction,” a book by Wilson Bryan Key, first published in 1974. He claimed there are countless hidden dirty pictures and dirty words in everyday ads.

      The book and its theories were very popular in the 70s (nobody can deny that looking for the hidden pictures was fun), but Key’s findings are very controversial, with probably far more scholars thinking that he was wrong than that he was right. I read the book, and I couldn’t see much in most of the examples he reproduced in the book. His theory works if you accept that anything sort of linear is a penis, anything sort of round is a breast, any curvy line near two intersecting lines is the word “sex,” etc., but if you accept all that, then any random pile of trash or bunch of tree branches is full of subliminal sexual messages, too.

      Here’s one take on the book:
      http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/556/are-subliminal-messages-secretly-embedded-in-advertisements

      More broadly, experiments in “subliminal” advertising, such as whispering sub-audible messages in the sound tracks of movies, or hiding words in billboard illustrations, have been unsuccessful, despite all the urban legends to the contrary. There’s no proof that words or pictures that people can’t hear or see have an influence on them.

      That’s not to say that sex isn’t used in advertising, and used in ways that objectify sexuality and especially women’s bodies. Of course it is. But it’s done in ways that are, for the most part, quite obvious– the opposite of subliminal.

      1. PCC has sometimes been accused of using sex to sell the college. The argument goes that their Enschlemble singers and college reps are usually attractive women.

        My rebuttal would be: says who? A drunk 60 year old hard up pervert?

        Ok, they’re not that bad but PCC clearly (to me, at least) prefers “winsome and wholesome” over “babe.”

    5. There really was a Coca-Cola ad with a sexual image in an ice cube. Snopes has an article on it complete with picture. Of course, it’s just the kind of story that Fundies blow out of proportion.

  5. The girls who slept together were called lesbians? What about traveling choirs and summer ensembles? The guys, and I’m sure the girls, too, always slept together when we traveled with college musical groups. (kind of wonder what the athletes did. You know, they were more many than we were.) I’ve wondered what these colleges do now with homosexuality so out in the open. Kind of strange that I slept with several guys during my fundy college days!

  6. This whole story is so evocative. I was an older student when I went to FundyU. I had gone to a state school and graduated, and was not a Christian at the time, so I saw rampant sex, alcohol abuse and violence against women in the dorms and in the frats. The sexual abuse of women in frats was so well known and so accepted that I think it warped my thinking about women. There were huge 4 foot wide and 24 foot long banners that hung from the fronts of the frats that said “Party tonight, Guys $5 with written invite, all girls free-no invite needed.” And it was assumed that the girls who came to these parties were going to put out. The parties were Wed, Thur, Fri, Sat and sometimes Sunday. I saw things that were definitely illegal and very, very immoral. So, to say that going to a christian college was a cultural shock is an understatement. I expected godly Christian young men and women. I expected people who wanted to serve God but understood their sexuality and had developed some kind of self control. Boy was I in for a surprise. Remember I was a full blown Fundy. The guys talked endlessly about how a girl’s ass filled out her skirt. They would sit in the back of chapel as they walked past and grade them. They would endlessly guess a girl’s bra size, and the really brazen ones guessed panty sizes. Most of the guys came in as virgins, but were just as acquainted with porn as I was, and I had been brought up in a home where it was on the coffee table. Back then, they didn’t openly talk about masturbation, but I know it was very common. And the girls were about the same when it came to being well acquainted with sex. I don’t know how many girls were virgins, but I have a good sense of a rough percentage who were not virgins when they left. Guys talked pretty openly among themselves of who they had had. However, almost without fail, these guys and girls all were involved in some kind of ministry. Many of the guys were preacher boys. Several of the girls were regularly known to ahve sex with guys in the offices they worked in on campus. I have posted this as anonymous because I do not want to be pigeonholed, since several people here know me personally. My point in all this is that it does not make for happy young people to just open the flood gates of sexual promiscuity. But it makes them worse as Christians, I think, to make them pretend that they are perfect, self controlled, pure white virgins. It makes for the worst hypocrites, and it demeans women just as badly as the frat boys do. *end of rant*

    1. Oh, and for the record, the rules at my FundyU were so heavy when it came to dating, you would have thought that it was the only thing that students ever thought about. No physical contact. Never allowed in a car. Never allowed to visit other sex’ home without a note from both sets of parents and a chaperone on the trip home, and on and on, ad naseum.

    2. “It makes for the worst hypocrites, and it demeans women just as badly as the frat boys do.”

      I think it demeans them even more. At least when girls go to certain frat parties, they know they’re going as sex objects (and probably often have just as good a time as the frat guys do). At FundyU, demeaning girls is covert, hidden, and then the girls are shamed for it in ways frat boys would never dream of shaming them–mental, emotional, and spiritual shame: the last one being far the worst.

    3. >Back then, they didn’t openly talk about
      >masturbation, but I know it was very common.

      I am totally stunned to hear this. Just amazed.

      1. A scientific study was done on this very subject. They found that 85% percent of men admit to doing it and 15% are liars.

    4. I was more surprised by what happened with a lot of students *after* PCC. It seemed like a lot of them snapped the first time they truly had freedom.

      As I’ve gotten older I’ve realized that sexual sin is very common any place there are human beings

      1. Oppressive environments definitely tend to lead to a certain amount snapping later on. I’ve witnessed the very same thing in pretty high percentages with kids who did Bill Gothard’s super-Fundy ATI curriculum/lifestyle rules.

    5. If that had been me, I would have been totally astounded at the rampant sexual situations; I was always told that this was the case at “Satan U”, but the Christian colleges were different.

  7. My friend and I were accused of being Lesbians because she was giving me a back rub. Nothing shocks me anymore about that place. Since we would not admit to being lesbians, they had to settle for making our lives miserable.

    Yet other girls would be “studying” under the same covers of one bed and no one thought it odd.

  8. Well written indeed. It’s interesting to me that this guy had roommates like that. The worst we had at OBC was a guy that listened to rock on his headphones. 😕

  9. So ironic that institutions that pride themselves on their stellar “standards” of spirituality have such voluminous and arduous rules heavily imposed on others. The rules actually speak not as much to spirituality as they do carnality. So the very presence of these rules actually confirm the students in their carnality. They also confirm the students in the wonderful adornment of their outward appearance, which is valued more at Pharisee University (PU) than inward integrity. The post is refreshingly candid, and i have more respect for the admissions made here than I do the weighty, hefty rules and regs of most Fundy Universities.

  10. “Boy was I in for a surprise. Remember I was a full blown Fundy. The guys talked endlessly about how a girl’s ass filled out her skirt. They would sit in the back of chapel as they walked past and grade them. They would endlessly guess a girl’s bra size, and the really brazen ones guessed panty sizes.”

    There were *some* students at PCC that talked like that. I’ve rarely encountered guys that crude.

    I occasionally heard stories of off-campus activities that were inappropriate. I mean credible stories I heard directly from the people involved, not urban legends about people having sex under solar panels and such.

    I always wondered why such kids didn’t just go to state university. And I wondered if maybe they acted that way to “get even” with their parents or church. Because there was a certain number of them who just seemed way out of control.

    1. What I encountered is that probably 25% of the guys were there because that is the only place that their parents would help them pay for.

  11. I can definitely think of a teacher there–a Marriage and Family teacher, too, if I’m not mistaken–who could have said “bimbo” in class, and I would not have been shocked by it. He was that kind of cheerful, gregarious, thoroughly misogynist guy.

  12. My US History teacher loved to say that once women were granted suffrage, men have been suffering ever since. He also said that women should never have been allowed to vote, but if they do now, it should be the same way their husband/father/spiritual leader does.

  13. I can tell you for a fact that the rare book room in the old library was a favorite trysting place. I lost count of how many time I opened the door at closing to see a couple in there. I would just say, we’re closing and leave. The room was rift with carpet fleas.

    1. I heard from my brothers and their wives that the new Planetarium is a favorite place to hang out now, since it’s dark. Apparently there has been an influx of students interested in astronomy.

  14. That photo of the “administration building” gives me shivers. It somehow reminds me of every dystopian science fiction movie I’ve ever seen.

    1. It looks like an outsized version of a medical clinic hallway or a galleria mall that had been converted into office space.

      1. Huh. The medical clinic comment really resonates with me. I think that describes most of the buildings at PCC. They are very similar to a hospital in style.

        I was going to say that they’re just very pragmatic buildings but I think that the “medical clinic” comment captures more of the essence.

        1. That’s a pretty apt description. Though I would say that medical clinics probably art pieces on the wall that are far less horrible and tacky. haha

  15. When I got out of the ‘Christian bubble’ and went to a thoroughly secular university (Simon Fraser University, whooo!), I lived in a dorm. And I was amazed how much BETTER this group of largely non-Christian people treated women. In fact, I witnessed exactly one misogynistic moment: a fellow who was a vague friend-of-a-friend got very drunk, and consoled a fellow drunk student who had failed to attract a romantic partner, stating “I wouldn’t f*** that sh**”. Everyone was disgusted with him. That he would talk about a woman that way was considered reprehensile, by guys and girls alike.
    I think ‘sexual immorality’ is far preferable to the misogyny and obsession and objectification found in fundie circles.

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