Damaged Goods by Dianna E. Anderson is my latest read.
You need to read this now. All of you. Stop what you’re doing and hop over to Amazon and get a copy. Then come back to finish reading this, please.
This is the book I wish I’d read before I started dating. This is also the book I’m so glad I read before I had children because there are so many things in here I want to teach any child I have. Anderson does an amazing job of addressing purity culture and the conservative evangelical views on premarital sex (and sex in general).
Anderson begins her book by showing, in detail, the cultural events that led to the modern day evangelical views on sexuality. And then immediately tackles the Scriptures used by the church to enforce a very narrow ethic of sexuality. She goes into the historical context of each passage and examines them to see if they are, in fact, teaching what the church says they are.
She talks about abstinence only sex ed, and how it’s failing kids in multiple ways. She talks about consent, and how poorly understood it is within conservatism. She talks about how people within the evangelical community, particularly women, are woefully uneducated about their own bodies – which leads to big problems when sex finally enters the picture.
Anderson goes beyond all of the nitty gritty of the actual physical side of entering into a sexual relationship, and explores the idea that it is important to give oneself permission to explore their own sexuality in order to determine their own sexual ethics.
The book also addresses how emotional intelligence is absolutely essential to understanding one’s own sexuality; in order to understand your own desires more fully you must also understand your emotions and where they spring from.
Finally, Anderson does not simply leave the discussion at the harm inflicted upon straight white folks. The book also focuses on how people of color have been impacted by the purity culture. Damaged Goods also devotes space to discuss the erasure of LGBT experiences within the evangelical church and in the entire purity topic.
Anderson’s overriding message in this book is not to give her readers a whole new rule book on sexuality to replace purity culture. Instead, Anderson encourages her audience to question and to push back. She wants to see people developing their own personal ethics based on their own study and understanding of what Scripture says, rather than toe the line because that is what the culture demands of us. The reader is encouraged to wait for marriage, if that is one’s conviction, or to explore safe and consensual sex however they choose. Anderson encourages her readers to trust their own minds and their own feelings as they wrestle with these ideas.
If you are dating (or about to start dating): buy this book. If you are waiting for marriage: buy this book. If you are sexually active: buy this book. If you are married: buy this book. If you have, or hope to have, children and you want to empower them to have agency over their own minds and bodies: you got it! Buy this book.
I simply cannot recommend it enough.