January
14th 2012
This feminist is down with Tim Tebow

Posted under: Gender, happy endings

Thou Shalt Not Rape

No, I haven’t renounced my longstanding ressentiment and mistrust of football at any level of play, from Pop Warner through the NFL.  It’s an appalling waste of money that pretty much sums up nearly everything that’s wrong with our culture, in universities and in the nation at large:  profligacy, the wage gap, male supremacy, obsession with inconsequential trivia, anti-intellectualism, and the abuse of women.  But, I’ve go no problem whatsoever with Tim Tebow.  I don’t care about his public religiosity (although it’s not really my style).  I’m impressed that a nice-looking, successful, and wealthy young man has taken a vow of chastity before marriage, not because I value chastity in particular, but because this is also effectively a vow not to abuse women sexually and not to rape them.

Even by comparison to most other professional or college athletes, football players have particularly poor records of abusing women, raping them, or even as we learned last year about Tebow’s teammate Perrish Cox, raping an unconscious woman, and denying it even after a DNA test of her fetus indicated that he was its father.  Seriously–this happened!  Last weekend, I was just fine with the fact Tebow and his team defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers, whose quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has been three times charged with rape.

Conservative columnist Michael Medved–whose work usually makes me throw up a little in my mouth–wrote a perceptive column recently about the mysterious hatred that Tebow inspires.  In it, he suggested that Tebow’s squeaky-clean gee-whiz perfection is what rankles other men:  “In the same sense, most males look at Mr. Tebow and see a virtuous rebuke to our own limitations and imperfections. If we were 24, single, supremely athletic, enormously wealthy and adored by millions of young women, how many could still wear Tim Tebow’s ‘purity ring?’”  It occured to me after reading Medved that Tebow offers a radically different yet clearly authentic masculinity that’s not built around “scoring” with women and treating women like consumer goods.  This is a very different notion of masculinity than most American men inhabit, including Tebow’s opponent this afternoon, Tom Brady of the New England Patriots.  (Brady isn’t a rapist, but he seems to be a serial impregnator.  Eeeww.)

So long as Tebow’s religious and moral commitments prevent him from raping or otherwise abusing women, it’s all good from my perspective.  I might even change my mind about football if substantial numbers of other players followed his example and “tebowing” also became a synonym for treating women like human beings.  Maybe Tim Tebow could make that cool.

142 Comments »

142 Responses to “This feminist is down with Tim Tebow”

  1. Comrade PhysioProf on 14 Jan 2012 at 2:23 pm #

    So long as Tebow’s religious and moral commitments prevent him from raping or otherwise abusing women, it’s all good from my perspective.

    So it’s all good that those same “religious and moral commitments” also institutionalize and valorize gross misogyny in a whole host of ways, including by defining women as fetus incubators and requiring forced childbirth even when it involves pain, suffering, grievous injury, or even death to the mother?

  2. Lady Historian on 14 Jan 2012 at 2:33 pm #

    I’m with CPP. His (and any) antichoice stance is a form of violence against women. And “at least he’s not a rapist and abuser” is a pretty low bar to set with respect to feminist standards.

  3. Charlie on 14 Jan 2012 at 2:41 pm #

    I totally agree that college and professional sports are deeply complicit in our modern rape culture. And therefore I’d be a huge fan of any professional athlete who stands up and talks about men’s responsibilities to women (and to each other) in stopping sexual violence.

    But Tim Tebow has never done this. He holds himself up as a poster boy for abstinence education, which as multiple studies have shown, leads to unplanned pregnancies and is deliberately dangerous to young people’s sexual health. He is also a vocal anti-choice advocate who appeared in an ad for Focus on the Family (an organization the the SPLC has deemed a hate group due to its deliberate scapegoating of LGBT people).

    While he’s been canny enough not to be too vocal about his beliefs on human sexuality in public, in every public position he has taken, he has sided with the anti-choice, anti-gay organizations that believe sexuality and love should be constrained to a singular narrow definition and permitted only within a single legal context.

    To quote you, Ann: Eeeww.

    http://www.moappp.org/Documents/articles/2006/SantelliAbstinenceonlyEducationReviewPaper.pdf

    http://www.feministe.us/blog/archives/2010/02/02/tim-tebow-and-the-anti-choice-superbowl-ad/

    http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/news/focus-on-the-family-goes-after-lgbt-students

  4. Wini on 14 Jan 2012 at 3:02 pm #

    I thought the issue is that he can’t throw the ball. But I think of Tebow like I think of Bieber. I don’t get it!

  5. Notorious Ph.D. on 14 Jan 2012 at 3:11 pm #

    An interesting take on this, and one that I hadn’t considered before. But it would be nice if there were some sort of middle ground between chastity and rape, in terms of our culture’s icons of masculinity.

  6. Elizabeth S. on 14 Jan 2012 at 3:16 pm #

    While I can appreciate your stance, I cannot fully stand behind Tebow after his (and his mother’s) very public and very vocal stance against abortion two years ago.

  7. Historiann on 14 Jan 2012 at 3:17 pm #

    CPP and Lady Historian: so all Christians everywhere are equally guilty of crimes or damage to others commited in the name of Christianity?

    Right-wingers love to say that about Islam, and I reject that kind of broad-brush condemnation in that case, too. Tebow is responsible only for his own behavior, not the behavior of other Christians.

  8. LadyProf on 14 Jan 2012 at 3:22 pm #

    Maybe it’s a derail but every time someone mentions Tom Brady’s knocking up one woman and then quickly marrying another, I have to bring up Citigroup bankster Peter Orszag, the former head of Obama’s budget office, who did the exact same thing. At last Brady seems to be good at what he does. Orszag gets worship from the d00dly press but I see no evidence that he knows anything, or has ever accomplished anything other than rake in the bucks.

  9. Historiann on 14 Jan 2012 at 3:22 pm #

    As for the anti-abortion stuff: I suppose he’s entitled to his opinion. He’s far from the most vocal or most powerful person with that point of view.

    Some of you seriously see Tebow as more dangerous and more personally obnoxious than Roethlisberger, Cox, and the other celebrity rapists in the NFL? Seriously?

  10. Dr. Koshary on 14 Jan 2012 at 3:25 pm #

    I’m with CPP and Lady Historian on this one. The fact that Tebow’s religious commitments imply that he is unlikely to violate a woman himself does not change the fact that those commitments also imply support for violatory, misogynistic ideas and policies. We can set a higher bar than that. (Whether that higher bar would leave a single feminist-approved football team at this time is a different matter.)

    Medved is missing the point, perhaps intentionally. I don’t think Tebow personifies perfection at all: from what I gather, he’s kind of an on-field fuck-up who gets bizarrely lucky after playing ineptly. And, more seriously, Tebow seems to suggest amid his ostentatious, look-how-motherfucking-holy-I-am displays that God is directing his professional success. I am far from a religious person, and not a Christian at all, but I feel special contempt for people who believe that any higher supernatural force could possibly give a rat’s ass who wins a goddamned football game. I daresay the notion of God directing someone’s individual professional destiny has disquieting resonances and implications in things that matter a lot more to us than sports.

  11. Lady Historian on 14 Jan 2012 at 3:35 pm #

    I don’t equate Tim Tebow with “all Christians everywhere”; I do, however, equate all anti-choice positions with violence against women. That’s what I said. And TT has gone on record, in a very expensive ad in the Super Bowl (I recall, perhaps incorrectly), against a woman’s right to choose. And sure, he’s entitled to his own point of view. But I cannot really understand why a feminist would support that person as an outspoken antifeminist.

  12. koshembos on 14 Jan 2012 at 3:48 pm #

    To take chastity as an effective vow not to abuse women sexually and not to rape them is an argument I fail to understand. In addition to being archaic, senseless, temporal and dogmatic, chastity seems an attempt to teach a religious dog to talk.

    Not watching football, or any other sport after fulfilling my life time quota, I don’t believe that every athlete or man is a potential women abuser. To imply, even without intent, that most man abuse women is abusive.

    This post is a stretch not common on this site.

  13. Charlie on 14 Jan 2012 at 3:58 pm #

    Some of you seriously see Tebow as more dangerous and more personally obnoxious than Roethlisberger, Cox, and the other celebrity rapists in the NFL? Seriously?

    No one said that, this is a false equivalency. I do find Tebow more obnoxious (and potentially dangerous if he continues to act as a mouthpiece for Focus on the Family) than the many ordinary NFL players who have consensual pre-marital sex but never bothered to tout their personal choice as the morally superior one.

    I also want to repeat that you are totally right to point at the NFL as a potent source of rape culture. Ultimately that’s the big point you care about, not Tebow. I would be delighted if Tebow ever felt compelled to speak up about that. But you can’t just align him with this position that he’s never vocalized by equating chastity with an indictment of rape culture and ignore some of the positions he has publicly aligned himself with.

  14. Comrade PhysioProf on 14 Jan 2012 at 4:18 pm #

    CPP and Lady Historian: so all Christians everywhere are equally guilty of crimes or damage to others commited in the name of Christianity?

    Who the fucke said, or even implied, anything like that? Tebow has explicitly and publicly supported the perceived requirement of his religious delusions for forced childbirth.

    And shall we discuss how the extreme evangelical notions of “chastity” and “abstinence” are all about how women are the property of men, and that women who have fucked before marriage are spoiled property?

    Historiann, you are way offe the deepe ende with this shitte.

  15. Contingent Cassandra on 14 Jan 2012 at 4:25 pm #

    I think the danger of the “purity ring” approach to sex is that it separates sex into two categories: marital (allowed) and non-marital (not allowed). That leaves no room for discussion of ethics, wise or bad practices, etc., etc. in the non-marital category (or sometimes, for that matter, in the marital category; it wasn’t all that long ago that marital rape was considered an oxymoron, though I think the evangelical community in particular has come a long way in recognizing that sexual ethics within marriage *do* exist, and that domestic abuse of all kinds is not in keeping with Christian principles). While I don’t have the citation off the top of my head, I’m pretty sure that studies have found that young people who receive abstinence-only sex education, and (probably more significant) those who make abstinence pledges are not less likely to have sex before marriage, but are less likely to use birth control during their first sexual encounter, probably because they can’t plan it; it has to “just happen,” the moment has to overwhelm them, etc., *or* — and here is where I fear rape might come in — they have to be drunk or otherwise substance-influenced enough to overcome inhibitions (if I’m remembering correctly, alcohol plays a central role in at least one of the somewhat-different accounts that Bristol Palin and the father of her baby give of their first encounters, though I don’t believe anybody is claiming rape there, just a mutual failure to live up to standards they both theoretically embraced). My instinct is that it may also be harder for a young woman to clearly say “no” in the context of a subculture where she is not supposed to say “yes,” even though premarital sex is, in fact, pretty common within that subculture, because such a subculture is fertile ground for the growth of the “no means yes” myth (and some young women in such a subculture may, in fact, even want or expect their partners to take primary responsibility for being overwhelemed/doing the overwhelming; things get awfully messy once people go down the road of having sex without anybody agreeing to have sex, and I tend to think that women end up with less power than in situations where they are fully authorized to say either “no” or “yes,” in any one situation, or in general).

    So I guess I’m disagreeing with your underlying premise, Historiann: that young men who wear purity rings won’t sexually abuse women. They’ll probably do so at a lower rate than young men who aren’t striving to be abstinent, but once they cross the line into sexual activity, I’m not sure they’ve been provided with much of a moral compass to chart those waters, which might actually make them more dangerous to potential partners (especially those who see that purity ring as some sort of guarantee that otherwise-unsafe situations will be safe).

    I also wonder whether the vow of chastity has much to do at all with the treatment of others, as opposed to the vow-taker’s personal relationship with a God he (or she) believes requires chastity. With that, we probably come full circle back to the narcissism of the idea that God is paying that much attention to a football game.

    But then I, too, strongly distrust football culture, and our culture’s fascination with football.

  16. Comrade PhysioProf on 14 Jan 2012 at 4:33 pm #

    They’ll probably do so at a lower rate than young men who aren’t striving to be abstinent, but once they cross the line into sexual activity, I’m not sure they’ve been provided with much of a moral compass to chart those waters, which might actually make them more dangerous to potential partners (especially those who see that purity ring as some sort of guarantee that otherwise-unsafe situations will be safe).

    They’ve been provided with a moral compass that tells them that women are men’s property, and that the value of a woman as a man’s property depends on whether she is “pure” or not.

  17. truffula on 14 Jan 2012 at 4:39 pm #

    I’m with koshembos and Contingent Cassandra on this one. I don’t see any reason to equate a chastity vow with any other particular behavior or attitude about other people. The vow may simply be a prophylactic. CC’s point that rape can happen inside marriage is also important.

  18. Jason Thibeault on 14 Jan 2012 at 4:45 pm #

    You might like to see what else the Bible says about women, knowing full well that Tim Tebow very likely agrees dogmatically with every single one of these.

    http://skepticsannotatedbible.com/says_about/womens_rights.html

  19. human on 14 Jan 2012 at 4:52 pm #

    And shall we discuss how the extreme evangelical notions of “chastity” and “abstinence” are all about how women are the property of men, and that women who have fucked before marriage are spoiled property?

    Historiann, you are way offe the deepe ende with this shitte.

    I was gonna say, btu then CPP did it for me. For someone so smart, this is an incredibly dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb post. And that is all I got to say about that.

  20. Charlie on 14 Jan 2012 at 5:13 pm #

    You might like to see what else the Bible says about women, knowing full well that Tim Tebow very likely agrees dogmatically with every single one of these.

    Um last time I checked, Historiann’s a historian of gender in the early modern period with a keen interest in English Puritan and French Catholic theology regarding gender. I don’t think she needs a website to refresh her on patriarchy in the Bible. I also think you are making the exact error she pointed out above of conflating Tebow’s beliefs with every last argument ever made by a Christian.

  21. Lady Historian on 14 Jan 2012 at 5:31 pm #

    Who said Historiann “conflat[ed] Tebow’s beliefs with every last argument ever made by a Christian”? It was she who wrote, “CPP and Lady Historian: so all Christians everywhere are equally guilty of crimes or damage to others commited in the name of Christianity?”

    Again, I never made this argument. I would never suggest that all Christians are guilty of crimes committed in the name of Christianity. On the issue of reproductive freedom, I know WAY TOO MANY Christians who support reproductive freedom. Nuns, ministers, pastors, lay clergy, lay vicars, and plain ol’ church folk — I’ve worked with all of them at women’s clinics, Planned Parenthood, SisterSong-sponsored meetings, mothers’ rights events, welfare rights as women’s rights meetings, Roe v. Wade commemoration/candlelight vigils, marches on Washington, and more. There is no single Christian point of view on, well, just about anything, including reproductive choice. As a historian, feminist, and activist, I would never, ever conflate Christianity with anti-choice, or even anti-woman positions. And for some analytical support of my own perspective, I credit H’Ann. Talk about Srsly? Read her work.

    So please, don’t get me wrong; I love me some Historiann, and I love this space in Free Blogistan to speak more openly than other progressive, feminist blogs. So go on with your bad self, H’ann (and others), to get your feminist stance on. But, let me be clear, we as feminists NEVER had a monolithic agenda, perspective, or point of view. I will never support TT as someone a feminist should admire. And I’ll push back against any support for him by a feminist. Tebow is decidely antifeminist, and to me, it is a travesty to set him up as the yardstick by which male professional athletes (and perhaps by extension, men) are measured. We. Can. Do. Better.

  22. Lady Historian on 14 Jan 2012 at 5:32 pm #

    unrelated: not sure what’s up with the italics. Blogger wants me to make a point, I suppose. :)

  23. Indyanna on 14 Jan 2012 at 5:38 pm #

    Putting too much symbolic/philosophical weight on any public figures in the popular culture realm may be a precarious matter. But I think the order in which I’d want to see any of these guys around my proverbial (or actual) sisters would be: Tebow, Brady, Roethlisberger. On a more stereotyped “Xs-and-Os” level, as to how they resonate in American cubicle-culture, all three of them, together with Tony Romo for that matter, came to the professional ranks with questions from technical experts about whether they really “belonged” at that so-called “level.” Either because of the schools they came from (Romo, Roethlisberger), how they compared with their yearly competitive cohorts (Brady), or as measured by the arcane technical criteria of the personnel evaluators (Tebow). So each one, when they defied the gravitational odds of talent analysis, took on a certain aura in the sports bars and fantasy leagues of America. When that happened they became–or would have been perceived to become from the dood perspective–”babe-magnets,” and that by definition generates all sorts of multi-valent dynamics on the male talk-radio circuit.

    But mayors of serious American cities “tebowing” in public parks in place of the old custom of betting crates of Oklahoma buffalo burgers against jugs of Vermont hard cider? As Wini says, I just don’t get it. I’d still go with the Broncs tonight, though.

  24. Emma on 14 Jan 2012 at 5:48 pm #

    Well, once Tebow makes the jump to politics, we’ll see how this “chastity means he doesn’t abuse women” plays out. Not at all well, I predict.

  25. Comrade PhysioProf on 14 Jan 2012 at 5:49 pm #

    CLOSE THE ITALICS TAGGE!

  26. thefrogprincess on 14 Jan 2012 at 6:24 pm #

    [hopefully the italics situation is fixed]

    Historiann, I get where you’re coming from, the Roethlisberger situation being especially problematic. (Without trying to open a can of worms, it’s always struck me that the way the media/public have treated him vs. their treatment of Vick made it clear where women fall on the totem pole–below animals.)

    But Tebow’s religious beliefs about choice weren’t private. That Super Bowl ad was very clear: doctors told his mother she was going to die, she refused to have an abortion, and now we have Tebow. It’s a clear statement that places him on the farthest fringes of anti-choice: even in the case of the potential death of the mother, it’s a risk worth taking or else you might kill the next great quarterback. Surely that puts a damper on things, no?

  27. thefrogprincess on 14 Jan 2012 at 6:24 pm #

    and no, the italics aren’t fixed.

  28. Digger on 14 Jan 2012 at 6:28 pm #

  29. Digger on 14 Jan 2012 at 6:50 pm #

    The Focus on the Family representation and deeply anti-feminist stuff behind Tebow’s stance is icky; but I don’t think it’s therefore wrong to give him props for publicly taking a stance against the rape culture of sports. We’ll never get anywhere if the only acceptable way of being is completely in line with the feminist agenda (which, as Lady Historian points out, is not at all a single, monolithic entity). I see it as a process: reward positive behavior, work to change the negative behavior, and don’t expect miracles.

  30. thefrogprincess on 14 Jan 2012 at 7:02 pm #

    Is he publicly taking a stand against rape culture? I can’t speak to his personal feelings about women, but I spent too much time in evangelical circles to think that a chastity stance equals respect for women. A not insignificant portion of the abstinence crowd hold some fairly appalling views about wives’ obligation to put out. See Mark Driscoll, for example.

  31. Spanish Prof on 14 Jan 2012 at 7:36 pm #

    a) What CPP and others have said… As a feminist, I can’t believe you do not have a problem with all the misogynist stands Tebow has taken.
    b) Only if virginity= intercourse may I believe his claim. And that would get as in another set of issues.

  32. AGR on 14 Jan 2012 at 9:14 pm #

    But, he really can’t throw a football…

  33. Historiann on 14 Jan 2012 at 9:28 pm #

    Wow.

    Why are you all so angry about Tebow? Tebow is not a politician. He is not, so far as we know, a hypocrite. Unlike some hypocritical politicians I could name, he’s not in fact in a position to make abortion either more or less available. He has not been accused of any violence or sexual impropriety, so I just don’t get the vitriol, let alone the patronizing lectures.

    I’m surprised at how provincial and isolated most of you sound. You really don’t have any Christian friends or neighbors? You’re really sure that no institution you’re a part of has a problematic record of misogyny and/or sexual abuse? Because if any of you are affiliated with a university, then you *know* that you are in fact affiliated with an institution that has a very problematic record w/r/t gender, sexuality, and race.

    This thread is so over the top that it’s like a parody of what secular academics really think about Christianity. You’re really making all of us look pretty bad.

  34. Emma on 14 Jan 2012 at 9:36 pm #

    That Tim Tebow, he’s such a *nice* young man! I just don’t understand what is wrong with you people.

  35. thefrogprincess on 14 Jan 2012 at 9:51 pm #

    Historiann, from my perspective, the issue is less Tebow, who really doesn’t bother me that much, but your championing of him. You hate football, and view it as symbolic of everything that’s wrong with this country’s approach to women. By those guidelines, your championing of him seems strange, b/c it’s not clear how he exactly fits into your criteria.

    If you liked football and didn’t constantly rail against its toxic gender environment, your support of him would be much less surprising. But your judgment of him is based upon your feminist stance, and so it makes little sense. Personally, he doesn’t bother me, but I also like sports, including college sports, and have little problem with their role in our society.

    But as a feminist, I think his Super Bowl commercial changes the conversation. That wasn’t a blog post, a facebook status update, or a YouTube video. It was played during the most-watched television event of the year, which does in fact shift him more into the realm of debate-shaping, at the very least.

  36. thefrogprincess on 14 Jan 2012 at 9:57 pm #

    Oh and also, I think people are challenging your reading of chastity as a pledge to not abuse and rape women. I think that’s a simplistic reading–the chastity school often has very retrograde opinions about women, including a tendency to victim blame. “She wouldn’t have been raped if she hadn’t been doing…” (Direct quotes from my evangelical, pro-chastity mother.) Tebow may in fact be a strong champion for women’s safety, but his chastity stance isn’t proof of that.

  37. rustonite on 14 Jan 2012 at 10:23 pm #

    Anne, I’ve not read any of the other comments, so I dunno if anyone else has said this, but when your standards have dropped so low that you’re willing to approve anyone who doesn’t rape…the bar is too bar. Next you’ll be voting for Obama.

  38. rustonite on 14 Jan 2012 at 10:23 pm #

    low, I meant the bar is too low.

  39. Spanish Prof on 14 Jan 2012 at 11:15 pm #

    Historiann, you seem to be the one for whom all Christians are the same: I work at a Catholic University, I have a lot of Christian friends and colleagues, and I would not be friends anymore with any of them who would consider doing a Super Bowl Ad for Focus on the Family. Because that’s a mysoginist, anti-gay, anti-women organization. So Tebow might not be a politician, but he chose to lend his public persona to a hate filled organization. If that makes me a parody of the secular academic, so be it. I have no problem there.

  40. Grad Student on 14 Jan 2012 at 11:41 pm #

    In addition to the many well-thought and well-written comments above questioning your seemingly inconsistent championing of Tebow, I must say I’m fairly surprised to see you endorse such a reductive stance in re chastity and the abuse of women. Beyond the fairly obvious ways (pointed out above) that a chaste individual could still be a party to abuse, the idea that someone who has sworn chastity could not rape or sexually abuse someone seems to ignore the pretty basic anti-rape-culture notion that rape is not, in fact, about sex, but about power, dominance, and control. It seems entirely plausible that someone sworn to chastity could still commit rape.

  41. Susan on 15 Jan 2012 at 12:36 am #

    I would put the concerns others have expressed a bit differently. I get – and like – your point about abstinence offering a different version of masculinity than the regular rape culture of sports. But not having sex before marriage is only one dimension of the gender politics of the abstinence movement. There are certainly a variety of views in the movement, but most of the have a very hierarchical understanding of appropriate gender relations. I don’t care about Tebow one way or another, but this is a place where we need some nuance between good and revolting…

  42. Profane on 15 Jan 2012 at 6:19 am #

    “You might like to see what else the Bible says about women, knowing full well that Tim Tebow very likely agrees dogmatically with every single one of these.

    http://skepticsannotatedbible.com/says_about/womens_rights.html

    Funny how extremists amongst Evangelicals, Islamists, and critics of both Christianity and Islam have adopted the same approach towards scriptural criticism; selective quoting absent context.

  43. Historiann on 15 Jan 2012 at 6:25 am #

    Thanks, Susan. I agree. But because feminism is currently not very influential in football at any level, my point was that anything that might lead men to question the normative place of women in current football culture was a good thing. Evangelical Christianity is currently somewhat influential in some strains of football culture. Although it’s not my cup of tea, there might be something beneficial to its influence.

    Spanish Prof: I am not someone who sees all Christianity as undifferentiated. I’ve written about that extensively on this blog, in particular the evangelical protestant tendency to deploy the term “Christian” in a way that appears to deny the label to Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, etc. I apologize for using the reductionist term Christian, but I was responding quickly to what I was reading as similarly reductionist attempts to make Tebow responsible for all of the (perceived) political crimes of Christianity.

    Spanish Prof’s evocation of Catholicism brings something else to mind: the discourse in this thread strikes me as having a lot in common with 18th C anti-Catholic propaganda, of which I’ve read a great deal over the past fifteen years or so. Not only were 18th C protestant English and Anglo-Americans hostile to Catholicism on theological grounds. Most writers also identify Catholic religious vows of celibacy as something that is (in their view) obviously a sham meant to cover for shocking promiscuity among priests and nuns and/or the sexual abuse of children, and is portrayed as something twisted, unnatural, and part of the fundamental corruption of the Catholic Church. I think this is an attitude that persists into the twenty-first century, and it seems like some commenters here share that traditional Anglo-American suspicion of celibacy.

    thefrogprincess: I fully understand that pledges for premarital chastity guarantee nothing, and I take your point that they don’t exclude clearly nonfeminist views of women. But so far, no one has shown Tebow to be a hypocrite.

    BTW, I am not “championing” him. I’m writing against the grain of all of the hating on him, which truly mystifies me when it seems like there’s less to object to about his behavior than there is about so many other football players. I get that his political activity bothers most of you–but he’s not the Pope. He’s not in a position of power in any church. He’s not a U.S. Senator, or running for president, or anyone in any position of real power, so I don’t understand the deeply personal animosity directed at him by some commenters because of his religious beliefs.

    Finally, this conversation made me think about the right-wingers 9 years ago who used to pile on to hate Jeanine Garofalo because she, a comedian and actress, was one of the only people who was willing to go on TV and the radio to denounce George W. Bush’s march to war. She pointed out the absurdity of it all–that anyone cared what one comedian/actress thought, when she had no actual power or influence–but she was being continuously put on as the only spokesperson for the “alternative” view. Many of you seem to ascribe some magical (divine? diabolical?) power to his opinions and his advocacy thereof, when really, he’s just a 24-year old football player. And for those of you who object to the evangelical protestant world view, there are so many, much worthier targets of your ire.

  44. Historiann on 15 Jan 2012 at 6:33 am #

    and, p.s., as AGR and others have said: he can’t throw! The headline in the Denver Post this morning is “OVER AND OUCH! Brady’s 6 TD passes end Denver’s remarkable season with a rout.”

  45. Comrade PhysioProf on 15 Jan 2012 at 6:48 am #

    “But because feminism is currently not very influential in football at any level, my point was that anything that might lead men to question the normative place of women in current football culture was a good thing. Evangelical Christianity is currently somewhat influential in some strains of football culture. Although it’s not my cup of tea, there might be something beneficial to its influence.”

    There is something beneficial in giving men yet another moral basis for viewing women as property that belongs to men and that loses its value if it has been fucked by another dude? Do you really not get that right-wing christian “chastity” and “abstinence” has nothing to do with protecting women per se, and is 100 percent about protecting men’s property rights in women?

    And about your whole “Why are you all so focused on Tim Tebow? It’s not like he’s the pope or a politician.” What a load of concern-trolling bullshitte. *You* are the one that posted about Tebow and what a great influence he is, and your commenters are reacting to it.

  46. Western Dave on 15 Jan 2012 at 10:00 am #

    BTW’s I TA’ed Tom Brady before he was “Tom Brady.” He was a sophomore in 400 level junior-senior history elective, appeared to have done all his own work, and earned an above the median B. He showed no signs of doucheness. I only became aware that he was on the football team when he notified me that he was going to miss section to get his championship ring (on a team quarterbacked by fellow History major Brian Griese, who got accepted to Yale Forestry for graduate school but chose the NFL instead.) Unlike Tebow or later Brady, nobody ever commented on Griese’s personal life, his marriage (to a woman with more degrees than he has), or his political views. There are plenty of alternatives out there between God and the Devil. But none of them are celebrated.

    The strongest bit of Historiann’s piece, I thought, was why Tebow prompts such hatred even from some who are inclined to agree with his politics, is because of his presentation of masculinity (or is it manliness?).

  47. Grad Student on 15 Jan 2012 at 10:58 am #

    Western Dave–Speaking only for myself (though I’ve noticed the trend occurring as more is written about him), my dislike of Tebow has nothing to do with his displays of masculinity or how he may be challenging the alleged status quo of football culture. It’s because he’s bad at his job. He is, at best, a mediocre quarterback and yet receives all sorts of praise for his skill and ability to lead his team to wins. That sort of discrepancy bothers me from people at all levels, no matter their job, politics, or religion.

  48. mandor on 15 Jan 2012 at 11:13 am #

    I’m not sure if this is what Historiann means, but what I took away from this was not that the evangelical christianity mindset is such great shakes for women, but that when held up with the dominant model employed by male professional athletes, that maybe it causes less harm. I’m guessing we all agree that both models are shitty and view women as property. I’ve never hung out with professional athletes, but I have friends who have done so (or attempted to do so) in clubs and the way they describe the experience is that if you are a woman then you pretty much have to give up on the idea of bodily autonomy if you want to be around those men.* Your consent is assumed simply by being there. So if the choice is between those dudes or ones with purity rings, I’ll take the purity rings for my own immediate safety.

    *not saying this is unique to professional athletes, obviously

  49. John S. on 15 Jan 2012 at 11:26 am #

    I think that it’s a bit of a red herring to point out that Tebow’s not the Pope, nor a US politician, etc. No, he’s not in a position of political power. But he *is* a celebrity–named, in fact, the most popular athlete in America, according to a recent poll ESPN. So as a *cultural* figure (not a political one), he has influence.

    In fact, in so far as I can tell, Tebow’s relative influence is a major point of the entire post. (I’m going from the ending of the post, the hope that “Maybe Tim Tebow can make [chastity] cool.”) The notion that he can change anyone’s mind about the place of women in football culture is predicated on him having cultural authority, at least. So he doesn’t need to be the Pope–just a star in what is by far the most popular sport in America.

    And here’s where I can’t get over the Super Bowl commercial. Here was an instance where Tebow elected to thrust himself into the spotlight–I can’t imagine another rookie quarterback who started only three games that season getting onto a Super Bowl commercial. But Tebow allied himself with a political lobbying organization that bought time during the most watched TV event of the year. And he chose–again, during the most watched TV event of the year–to advocate an anti-choice agenda. 111 million people watched the Super Bowl, making it the most watched TV program ever.

    No, he did not come out and explicitly say that he would like the law changed so that women should be forced to give birth even if it kills them, even though that is his personal belief. (I’m not exaggerating–he is on record as believing that, using his own birth as an example.) But he choose to ally himself with a political lobbying organization that wants to implement anti-choice laws. In other words, he used his celebrity not to make chastity cool, but in order to sway people into adopting an anti-choice stance.

    Tim Tebow is a celebrity. He knows it. He knows that culture matters and that peoples’ minds can be changed as they listen to and observe celebrities. And as soon as he got into the NFL he elected to use this celebrity to advocate for violence against women–which I firmly believe forced birth is.

    I cannot, and will not, ever believe that someone who advocates forced-birth even when it puts women’s lives at risk is not also an advocate for violence against women, even if he takes a vow of chastity.

  50. Emma on 15 Jan 2012 at 1:33 pm #

    How does a purity ring keep a man from sexually harassing women?

  51. Teaspoon on 15 Jan 2012 at 2:09 pm #

    Tebow personally believes that because his mother survived an abrupted placenta and was able to survive having him despite that very dangeous condition and against the advice of her physicians, that no other women should be allowed to make that choice for themselves. He would condemn nine out of ten women with abrupted placentas to death rather than give them the same right to choose that his mother exercised in having him.

    Reproductive violence is still violence against women. Fuck Tebow.

  52. Z on 15 Jan 2012 at 4:19 pm #

    I wasn’t aware of Tebow before this post so I don’t think it can be said I’m focused on him. Celibacy as protection against rape – antichoice as feminism – hunh? I guess yes, it’s better than support for *both* rape and lack of reproductive choice, but I guess I’m a bit more demanding!

  53. Contingent Cassandra on 15 Jan 2012 at 4:32 pm #

    I don’t know whether I was included in the “most of you” above, but, for whatever it’s worth, I’m a very active member of/ordained lay leader in a mainstream Protestant denomination. In other words, I not only know a lot of Christians pretty well, I’m very much a self-identified Christian myself, though probably one that some evangelical Christians would not, as you allude to above, consider a “real” Christian, since I can speak to a steadily-evolving (and waxing and waning) sense of my own faith, but not to any particular moment of “accepting Christ.” So to the extent I disagree with Tebow’s actions and/or beliefs, or even stereotype/make assumptions about him, it’s from within that very complicated, fractious and very broad Christian community you describe.

    I may also be a bit over-sensitive to the concepts of “chastity” and “purity” in particular, since they were the cornerstone of a rule in my denomination, only recently repealed, that prohibited gays and lesbians from being ordained (the same rule also theoretically prevented sexually active unmarried people of any sexual preference from being ordained, but that part was rarely if ever enforced, and the primary intent, and primary targets, were clear from the beginning). Maybe that heightens my sense that one can embrace chastity and purity and also treat some of one’s fellow human beings rather badly. I’m also a strong believer that Christians *should* discuss sexual ethics, and that’s hard to do within the sort of black/white system that rules out both sex before marriage and same-sex sexual activity. I’d far rather that churches were providing a place for young people to think and talk deeply about the responsibilities — to themselves, each other, and any potential children — involved in deciding to have sex, and helping them make decisions about sexual activity in that context. I’m also convinced that, while no institution or community is immune to sexual abuse or rape (and my own congregation has had one case of a hitherto well-liked staff member sexually abusing a minor member of the congregation, so I have no illusions about the difficulty of guarding against that problem), an atmosphere where sexual ethics are discussed openly and in all their complexity is safer for everyone, and especially young women, than one that embraces concepts such as “chastity” and “purity.” Even in churches which have gotten beyond the “women as property” concept (and I think many, though not all, have), and even when the concepts at least theoretically are applied equally to men and women (and I think many evangelical churches genuinely strive to do that), I still think they carry the potential for some of the dangers to young women I’ve mentioned above, not to mention the dangers of self-loathing by GLBT youth that the “It Gets Better” campaign and similar efforts address. And, though I’m willing to concede that feminism, like Christianity, is a diverse and sometimes fractious movement, I’m not sure I’m willing to label an approach to sexuality that poses those dangers “feminist.”

  54. Mariella on 15 Jan 2012 at 5:54 pm #

    Historiann, I think you’re making some really interesting points. I agree that Tebow is defying a certain masculine expectation by being openly a virgin and not seeing impregnating/abusing/using women outside a committed relationship as an option. I think you’re right that this a step in the right direction in terms of the reconstruction of American masculinity these days…

    My only qualification is that *I think* one can respect women’s bodies without really respecting them in their entirety. Isn’t that what the nineteenth century cult of true womanhood was about–the respect for women as people, but as people who were so “different” and “complementary” that they weren’t really valued as equal? I’m still sorting this out, and would love to hear what you think. Thanks for putting up this really interesting discussion piece.

  55. Emma on 15 Jan 2012 at 6:45 pm #

    So impregnating/using/abusing women inside a committed relationship is preferable?

  56. Z on 15 Jan 2012 at 7:50 pm #

    “not seeing impregnating/abusing/using women outside a committed relationship as an option.”

    What Emma asked. Actually, if I’m to be used or abused, I’d rather it *not* be in a committed relationship with legal strings attached, because I’d want to be able to walk away as easily as possible.

  57. Z on 15 Jan 2012 at 8:47 pm #

    –or, more complicatedly: in a narrow sense yes, deciding to be celibate while a NFL player is a refusal of a certain performance of gender and so on. But more fundamentally, what disturbs me is the idea that the only way not to be a user/abuser etc. is to steer clear of sex entirely. (That’s not a criticism of Teebow’s choice, which is fine by me.)

  58. quixote on 15 Jan 2012 at 10:26 pm #

    Interesting thread. I know next to nothing about Tebow, but the little I’ve heard sounds like pious baloney, to use the Newter’s accurate phrase. I know that made me reflexively dislike him. I think maybe it’s the same with some others here. We’ve had it up to our eyebrows with people shoving their blithering beliefs at us. I realize my allergies aren’t Tebow’s fault, but he is doing his best to contribute to them.

    And then, given that those beliefs sound like the Madonna side of the Madonna-whore coin, I know I’m not terribly impressed, even now that I do know a bit more based on this post. A world of rapists and victims wouldn’t last. It’s too horrible for sustainability. There has to be a good goal for people to hang on to, for some value of the word “good.” And the Madonna stuff provides that. It may sound good, but it enables the rape culture.

    Actual respect for real human beings can only be found outside that whole frame. I think it’s that sense that we don’t want any part of that whole benighted world view that makes so many of us feel there’s nothing very heartening about Tebow.

  59. Perpetua on 16 Jan 2012 at 7:09 am #

    I have no dogs in this fight, but I just wanted to add one point. I think H’ann is spot-on about the role chastity can play, and has played, in creating an alternate masculinity, within the normative Christian framework of course. I work on Ye Olden Days before anyone even knew an America existed, and there’s a lot of interesting work by scholars on the role of the promotion of chastity and alternate visions of masculinity – chaste, obedient, nonviolent – at a time when such a vision provided an important alternative. (There’s an essay, by Murray maybe? called One Body, Two Sexes, Three Genders that talks about some of these issues – I think the idea of exploring the historicity of a third gender in the West is not only important from a scholarly perspective but from the modern.) Of course in the medieval case chastity meant not just the absence of having sex but implied a more spiritual way of being in the world that freed the believer from traditional gender binaries/constraints, rather than just a public promise to have not-sex (I phrase it like this because these so-called purity promises can lead the promisers to all kinds of, um, non-procreative activities).

  60. Alice on 16 Jan 2012 at 7:34 am #

    I agree with most of what Tebow’s critics have said here, but I wanted to add that, as a Christian myself, I do think he is a hypocrite as Jesus expressly condemned the kind of public prayer for show (and profit!) which he likes to engage in. But then again, I find most of the modern evangelical movement he participates in to be pretty hypocritical…

    Also, there are plenty of players in the NFL who don’t fall onto the Roethlisberger-Tebow dichotomy and who would perhaps better illustrate issues of feminism in male professional sports. What about Scott Fujita, linebacker for the Cleveland Browns? He has come out publicly in support of lgbt rights, women’s rights, and criticized the government roll back of civil liberties in the past decade or so- and he does it with a level of humility and grace that seems utterly lacking in Tebow. Here’s an article on his views: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/03/sports/football/03fujita.html?hp

    (p.s. long time reader, first time commenter here!)

  61. Historiann on 16 Jan 2012 at 7:55 am #

    Thanks for the thoughtful comments left here yesterday. I was skiing & so could not participate in the conversation.

    Alice–you make a really good point about the public prayer aspect, one that has occured to me too. (I don’t think I’m as bothered by it as you are, though.) Jesus said that when we pray, we should pray in a closet, right? But that contradicts the whole concept of evangelicalism & the requirement to testify, and clearly modern evangelicals have chosen to go the public route rather than into the closet, as it were.

    Please note: I never said that Tebow is a feminist! I am saying that compared to his peers, *I as a feminist* am OK with him. Mandor explains my point very succinctly: “[W]hat I took away from this was not that the evangelical christianity mindset is such great shakes for women, but that when held up with the dominant model employed by male professional athletes, that maybe it causes less harm.”

    I thought I made my point clear, but Tebow Derangement Syndrome has led some of you to read things into this post that aren’t there. I agree that Tebow is a celebrity with some amount of cultural influence, but to hold him to the standard of actual lawmakers or religious authorities is just ridiculous. It’s Janine Garofalo all over again.

  62. Historiann on 16 Jan 2012 at 8:01 am #

    Perpetua: yes, exactly. And you are right that the modern U.S. evangelical chastity movement is not the same at all as older, Catholic models of celibacy. That is an important difference.

    I read an article–must find the cite–in Medieval Feminism recently about how celibacy is the queerest sexuality of all. I think that Tebow Derangement Syndrome might be an interesting data point that speaks to this in our modern world.

  63. Alice on 16 Jan 2012 at 8:22 am #

    Historiann- I didn’t mean that I thought you were claiming Tebow was a feminist. I realized that sentence was awkwardly phrased after I posted it. I meant something more along the lines of “regarding the intersections of feminism and football as it pertains to Tebow…” or something like that. Yikes, I still can’t figure a way to phrase it effectively! ;)

  64. Shelley on 16 Jan 2012 at 9:24 am #

    Interesting post!

    He ought to kneel after either team makes a goal. Unless he thinks God is on his side. (Always a dangerous basis for thought: see Iraq.)

  65. Z on 16 Jan 2012 at 9:54 am #

    I don’t know – I think Perpetua is too optimistic about this. I come from a really conservative, religious area so maybe I am just overexposed. But I get a lot of freshman essays on precisely this topic, how abstinence makes for a different kind of masculinity, etc. – it’s one of the things taught in church and at camp and so on – and I’m just not convinced how different it is when the attitudes toward women and sex are still fundamentally the same. I’ve also slept with a couple of men raised this way and I think the idea that the only way not to use/abuse is not to have sex does people permanent damage.

  66. Historiann on 16 Jan 2012 at 9:54 am #

    Alice–the comment reminding readers that I never claimed he was a feminist was not intended for you. It was intended for other commenters upthread, who continue to argue that Tebow is bad bad superbad and I’m an idiot for saying that I don’t see him as all that bad, esp. compared to his peers.

    Feminists can and will disagree with my point here about Tebow. That’s fine. What I didn’t like about the earlier comments on this post were the interpretive leaps that many made, and the disparagement of one Abrahamic religion as though it’s a monolith and as though all Christians are somehow responsible for everything feminists might object to about some (many?most?) strands of Christianity.

    Dr. Martin Luther King was after all a Baptist minister, and the Black church was a stronghold of support for the Civil Rights movement through the twentieth century. Christianity has and will again be used to challenge traditional authority as well as to uphold it.

  67. Z on 16 Jan 2012 at 10:21 am #

    Again, I don’t know – those Christian religions have a lot in common and they also share a lot with Judaism and Islam. I am glad not to be part of any of them, for feminist reasons, and more broadly I am not at all convinced religion is good for the health.

  68. Z on 16 Jan 2012 at 10:24 am #

    …and as far as King is concerned, one uses the institutions one has and the poetry one has, and so on. I realize it’s pious and p.c. to be tolerant of Christianity and religion and to point out that they are not monoliths and that some members of them are good people and everything but look at the ideology – it’s pernicious!

  69. Comrade PhysioProf on 16 Jan 2012 at 10:36 am #

    I am not a historian, so I am sure I will be corrected if I am wrong about this: My impression is that, on balance and along the entire arc of human existence, religion has led to a lot more pain, misery, suffering, and death than it has prevented, and that religion should be ranked up there with war, genocide, rape, and murder as one of the worst impulses of humanity.

  70. Historiann on 16 Jan 2012 at 10:37 am #

    I don’t see viewing Christianity or even all religion writ large as not monolithic and as complicated human institutions as PC. I see it as being historically accurate and intellectually honest.

    There is no question that all of the Abrahamic religions have been in the business of systematically oppressing women, exploiting their labor, and denying them the authority that they’ve earned within religious institutions at several points in their histories (if not also today). But I don’t think it’s either fair or reasonable to declare that all adherents worldwide to one particular denomination or another are merely suffering from false consciousness if they don’t all see it my way.

  71. Historiann on 16 Jan 2012 at 10:45 am #

    CPP, I think the history of religion is a lot more complicated. For one thing, we have faith on the one hand, and the human institutions that grew up around particular faiths on the other. On balance, I think you may be right about the human-invented institutions that have used their claims to divine knowledge and/or authority to extract wealth and power from the masses, although I think it’s too far to say that they’re on a par with genocide, rape, murder, etc.

    After all, Catholic monks preserved books and the light of learning from the barbarian invaders in the antique period, and in the nineteenth century the notion of human rights as natural rights divinely betowed is directly traceable to the birth of feminism and antislavery. Natural rights ideology was important, but it was the language of nineteenth-century Christianity that propelled the America and English abolition movements and finally made them effective.

  72. Anonymous on 16 Jan 2012 at 11:02 am #

    I think dudes hating on Tebow (including but not limited to losing their shit over women liking Tebow) is very interesting from a feminist point of view.

    Macho men slam him as showy/girly/virginal/pretty-faced/incompetent.

    Liberal men talk like he’s the boogeyman come to steal our rights away in the night.

    I don’t think the evangelical view of women as relationship property is in any way preferable to the liberal view of women as public property. I guess I’m relieved he’s not raping women, too, but that’s a damned shame.

    However, like Historiann, I do think the ire directed toward Tebow is weird and disproportionate.

  73. Anonymous on 16 Jan 2012 at 11:33 am #

    Also: Tebow’s parents’ beliefs and actions are so over-the-top (and in my opinion odious) that, by comparison, Tim seems fairly well-adjusted, all things considered. It seems obvious to me that football is the reason he is as well-adjusted as he is and not more of an extreme separatist.

    When feminists consider football to be a positive socializing force, you probably have a lot stacked against you. Just saying.

  74. Anonymous on 16 Jan 2012 at 11:54 am #

    And for those of you who object to the evangelical protestant world view, there are so many, much worthier targets of your ire.

    Tebow’s not the biggest offender among evangelicals, he’s far from the biggest offender among Tebows.

    http://www.btea.org/aboutus.asp

  75. Z on 16 Jan 2012 at 11:56 am #

    I don’t think anyone doubts there is variety in religion / in Christianity, that some people have drawn inspiration to do good works from Christian doctrine, etc. I would say though that the idea of what “God” is, what “man” is, the relationship between “man” and God, etc., that you get in these Bible based religions is all too unquestioned and all too naturalized. Neither am I convinced about certain assumptions about gender and nature that would seem to justify the civilizing impact of Christianity – alpha males are brutes that need religion and marriage to restrain them, etc. I really think we can do better.

    Anon. got me morbidly curious on Tebow’s parents so I looked them up. Dayum. Yes, he sure does seem well adjusted, considering. Also notice materialism in said family – so proud the second daughter lives in Buckhead, etc.

  76. Anonymous on 16 Jan 2012 at 12:04 pm #

    Pam Tebow talks life after ‘the ad’

    http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/pam-tebow-talks-life-after-the-ad-1281697.html?printArticle=y

    “In the year after she starred in a controversial pro-life Super Bowl commercial, Pam Tebow is starting to get as much recognition as her superstar son Tim, the former University of Florida quarterback.

    How much?

    She booked 60 speaking engagements last year alone as her son became a first-round draft pick of the NFL’s Denver Broncos.”

    “Q: How much did things change for you and Tim after that commercial?

    A: I got more speaking engagements at pro-life events and he had some sponsors drop him. …”

    “Q: Your son has always said he wants to use the platform of living a public life to espouse his faith. Do you find that Tim’s success has created a larger platform for you?

    A: There’s no doubt about it. All of us have a larger platform because of his name recognition.

    Q: How has life changed for you as you became the mother of this shooting star, Tim Tebow?

    A: It’s changed in good ways. It gives us an opportunity to have a platform, to be more influential than we have been in the past. So that’s a blessing. I guess there are negatives. You’re stalked a lot … in stores, airports. But I actually don’t think of the negatives because there are so many more positives.”

  77. John S. on 16 Jan 2012 at 12:07 pm #

    Historiann: I think calling these comments “Tebow Derangement Syndrome” does them a bit of a disservice. I say this because while I think that you are correct that it’s wrong to lump all Abrahamic faiths together, I’m not sure that’s what all of the comments were doing (or even most of them). Yes, much of your post dealt with Tebow as putting forth a “different yet clearly authentic masculinity” by taking a vow of chastity. But there’s other stuff in there as well that I think people reacted to (or, at least, I can say that I did). I think it’s quite easy to disagree with what you wrote without lumping everyone together.

    At the risk of being repetitive, I guess I am still hung up on a couple of points. First: how do Tebow’s “religious commitments prevent him from raping or otherwise abusing women,” and would emulating him prevent other men from doing so? As Emma and others have pointed out,
    all Tebow has vowed is not to have sex before marriage. With respect to after marriage, we don’t actually know his stance on something like marital rape. Perhaps it’s unfair to lump him in with other Christians who disregard that category and preach that wives “owe” sex to their husbands and that husbands are allowed to “take” it, but I think it’s naive to just assume that we know that Tebow’s views on how sex in marriage should operate reject that, given the contested history of that category, especially among evangelicals.

    Second–and here’s were maybe I’m making an interpretive leap–I’m not sure that I see that men who emulate Tebow by taking a vow of chastity before marriage have actually committed to “treating women like human beings.” Whether or not one has sex before marriage does not represent the entirety of male-female interactions.

    And yes, here I am still stuck on the forced-birth question. Tebow himself–not all other Abrahamic faiths, but the man himself–is on record as saying that women should not have bodily autonomy in matters of reproduction, even at the risk of their own life. His faith has led him to believe that. As I score this at home, that’s a huge check mark against “treating women like human beings.”

    If you want to argue whether his public vow of chastity before marriage outweighs his even more public endorsement of forced-birth policies in all cases, then we can have that debate. But that part of the post still sits with me very uncomfortably.

    In fact, if you take the two positions–chastity before marriage and forced-birth–together it is entirely possible that they suggest a somewhat limited view of what femininity should be. We know sex should only be in marriage. How should sex in marriage work? Only for reproduction? Women committed to reproducing, even when their life is in danger? We know he supports this. This suggests an endorsement of the worldview where women’s primary role as people and partners is as mothers, which is a somewhat circumscribed view of womanhood. It does not suggest a commitment to treating women as fully autonomous human beings or as equals to me, but YMMV.

    (I’m leaving out the question of heteronormativity, left unaddressed in the post. We don’t know Tebow’s views on homosexuality or same-sex marriage, just that he has refused to answer questions on this in the past and that his publicist has barred interviewers from asking them. I would question if Tebow supports treating gay women like equals, but I might be reading too much into his pointed silence.)

    I’ll freely admit, though, that I might have gotten off on the wrong foot in the post when I saw you write “I’ve go no problem whatsoever with Tim Tebow” I was stunned to read that. Just stunned. Some might think this means I do have Tebow Derangement Syndrome, but I find his very public embrace of forced-birth policies appalling. I would challenge anyone who says they have “no problem whatsoever with Tim Tebow” to explain why they don’t have a problem with his very public advocacy of that stance.

  78. Z on 16 Jan 2012 at 12:32 pm #

    Actually, the more I find out about this Tebow character, the more there is to dislike. It seems he performs circumcisions as part of his mission at the orphanage in the Philippines. Great.

    But John S., I think the origin of the post is this: Historiann’s husband watches football, so football commentary is a topic of casual conversation in the house. On football shows, one sees jeering (or something) at Tebow by serial rapists and / or supporters of such. One gets tired of it and writes a post.

  79. Dr. Crazy on 16 Jan 2012 at 12:38 pm #

    FWIW, I haven’t seen people in the comments as suffering from “Tebow Derangement Syndrome” so much as they have been vehemently disagreeing with H’Ann. I don’t think that 99% of the people commenting here really care all that much about Tebow at the end of the day, and certainly not to the point of derangement. It seems to me that what the commenters care about is H’Ann’s assertions about him, and then the fact that H’Ann doesn’t really respond to their comments but rather accuses her readers of being “deranged” for disagreeing with her.

  80. Historiann on 16 Jan 2012 at 12:47 pm #

    No, my husband doesn’t watch football. I read the local paper in which Tebow is a regular ongoing topic since he plays for the local NFL team.

    And, Dr. Crazy: are you kidding me? That seems extremely ungenerous of you. I don’t care that people don’t agree with me, but I think it’s clear that people have read stuff into my post that I never said, so I fail to see how I can be responsible for responding to those sorts of comments.

  81. Z on 16 Jan 2012 at 12:59 pm #

    Aha, hadn’t figured out where he played yet. As I say, I totally see reacting against criticism of him from people who favor or participate in worse, etc.

    But back to CPP’s very first comment: it’s on stances Tebow himself has actually taken.

  82. Anonymous on 16 Jan 2012 at 1:04 pm #

    The circumcision thing is ridiculous, but again, the facts about it are interesting.

    http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/2008-05-05/sports/tebow05_1_tim-tebow-philippines-general-santos-city

    1. It was not done at an orphanage (presumption: on orphans) but at a mobile care unit on a community health clinic day
    2. This was as a 20yo
    3. During a spring break visit to his father’s mission
    4. His assigned job was to preach to hundreds of people who were waiting for medical assistance for hours. After a while, he chose to help the clinical staff instead.

    It’s imperialistic. But also surprisingly humane (considering) and fairly underwhelming.

  83. Anonymous on 16 Jan 2012 at 1:05 pm #

    Personally, he reminds me of Lindsay Lohan.

  84. Historiann on 16 Jan 2012 at 1:07 pm #

    I assume we’re talking MALE circumcision here?

  85. Z on 16 Jan 2012 at 1:17 pm #

    Lindsay Lohan, how?

  86. Z on 16 Jan 2012 at 1:18 pm #

    P.S. Yes, facts on circumcision are interesting / he seems nice in that story.

  87. Anonymous on 16 Jan 2012 at 1:24 pm #

    Indeed.

    I guess I’d find more of the Tebow angst over religion believable if the people claiming that his beliefs are so harmful were interested in whether he had in fact been harmed by them.

    I mean, to recap yet again, he is a homeschooled missionary kid, presumably circumcised in the Philippines, who seems to have been told from birth that he should be grateful to his mother for not killing him and that in exchange for his and his mother’s lives, his father made a bargain with God that if he was born a boy he would be raised a preacher. And then his parents used his success in athletics to promote their extreme political agendas, including letting homeschoolers participate in expensive public school athletics like football (a very unpopular idea many would say is also racist).

    So, all of this is what people don’t like about TIM Tebow? I don’t get it.

  88. Anonymous on 16 Jan 2012 at 1:25 pm #

    Lindsay Lohan in the sense that from a very young age his parents have been using his talents for their own profit. And he seems kind of messed up but also surprisingly sane considering his roots.

  89. Anonymous on 16 Jan 2012 at 1:27 pm #

    I mean, he’s 24 now and a grown and wealthy white man. He makes his own choices (no matter that his brother’s full time employment is overseeing all of his off-field activities). He is no longer some blameless lamb. But many of the Tebow legends people despise have to do with a high school or college student or his parents. It’s odd.

  90. Profane on 16 Jan 2012 at 1:44 pm #

    “Perhaps it’s unfair to lump him in with other Christians who disregard that category and preach that wives “owe” sex to their husbands and that husbands are allowed to “take” it”

    Ironically, the scriptural basis (I Corinthians 7:3-4, within a much more extensive discussion of marriage and lack thereof) holds that the obligation is mutual:

    ‘The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.’

    It is fun to watch the reactions when students of various faiths and non-faiths wrestle with this.

  91. Z on 16 Jan 2012 at 1:48 pm #

    “I guess I’d find more of the Tebow angst over religion believable if the people claiming that his beliefs are so harmful were interested in whether he had in fact been harmed by them.”

    Yes.

  92. Lady Historian on 16 Jan 2012 at 1:57 pm #

    “I don’t care that people don’t agree with me, but I think it’s clear that people have read stuff into my post that I never said, so I fail to see how I can be responsible for responding to those sorts of comments.”

    H’Ann: I have been following this thread (and blog) diligently and think it is very interesting. I and a few others read exactly for things you never said — his stance on abortion and reproductive freedom is reprehensible. Sure, he is a God-loving (notice, I did NOT say Christian and never would lump him in with all Christians!) football player who doesn’t rape women. And yeah, in a football-obsessed culture, that’s actually outstanding, even surprising. At the end of the day, though: His version of masculinity is still incredibly paternalistic and antifeminist. Let’s be real here: this feminist drum-beating for Tebow is bizarre. I swear, we don’t have to agree, but I will (and do!) argue every day (like it’s my job, because it is) to point out that a foundational tenet of feminism is pro-choice. Antichoice is violence against women. Period. In all honesty, and based solely on my reading of your blog, I don’t think you disagree with me. But perhaps we’ll meet in real time and have a serious conversation about it! History conferences lend themselves to a drink or three, right??

  93. Historiann on 16 Jan 2012 at 2:08 pm #

    For realz, Lady Historian. You are on!

    I too believe that pro-choice is foundational to my feminism, and I’m skeptical of “pro-life” feminism big time. But please: I am not engaged in “feminist drum-beating for Tebow.” I am not claiming that he is a feminist, and I am not arguing that any of you should or must or might understand him to be a feminist! I never claimed that he is a feminist. I merely said that he is OK with *me* because his chastity might lead him not to rape women like his peers, and wondered if this stance might offer an alternative masculinity for young men not premised on sexual conquest. (Raping someone would be a pretty obvious breakage of a promise to chastity, and being against rape is a pretty basic feminist stand.)

    FWIW, I can’t possibly respond to each and every comment in a comment thread this long. Besides, I was away for most of Saturday after posting and all of Sunday. As deserving as each of you darlings are of my full attention and unpaid labor, please remember that I have a RL job, house, and creatures in the house who also deserve my attention.

  94. Jon on 16 Jan 2012 at 2:19 pm #

    I don’t normally comment, but one thing that seems to me to be missing from the analyses above is that a chastity pledge *cannot* be construed as a pledge not to rape or abuse women. At best, it is a pledge not to rape or abuse women *who are not your wife*. Once Tebow is married, the chastity pledge is off, and he’s said or done nothing to indicate that he views women as people. Marital rape and domestic violence are huge problems (not to mention among the most common kinds of violence against women), and pretending that a vow against premarital sex has anything to do with rape or abuse in general completely erases these things.

  95. Jon on 16 Jan 2012 at 2:21 pm #

    Sorry, I have to take back what I said about these issues not being addressed. Not all the comments had loaded for some reason when I posted.

  96. Z on 16 Jan 2012 at 2:25 pm #

    “…if this stance might offer an alternative masculinity for young men not premised on sexual conquest.”

    Yes, and the answer given by several was that it’s the flip side of the coin, and imbricated in many of the same presuppositions.

  97. Lady Historian on 16 Jan 2012 at 2:28 pm #

    I dig that you actually have a nonblog life, but that you actually respond to me…swoon!

    I hear you completely. You did not call him a feminist, did not champion him as a feminist. I think it would be interesting to suss out and think about men who neither rape nor pledge to abstain — there have to be other options, right? (And I’m not throwing the blame-flame because you didn’t.) It’s just bizarre to consider a feminist approach to Tebow. I’m not sold, like AT ALL, but I’m way digging the thread. You have some very smart blog followers. So thanks for offering a space for all of us to convene around these ideas.

  98. Z on 16 Jan 2012 at 2:28 pm #

    “…a chastity pledge *cannot* be construed as a pledge not to rape or abuse women. At best, it is a pledge not to rape or abuse women *who are not your wife*.”

    This was worth repeating, though.

  99. Anonymous on 16 Jan 2012 at 2:41 pm #

    http://timtebowbill.com/

  100. Z on 16 Jan 2012 at 2:59 pm #

    Thanks for that link too, Anon.

  101. thefrogprincess on 16 Jan 2012 at 3:33 pm #

    Jon’s point echoes some of my earlier comments, and it especially links up with Contingent Cassandra’s point way upthread. I think a chastity pledge only represents a significant improvement on stances towards women when it’s coupled with a discussion about sexual ethics. But too often, the evangelical abstinence stance isn’t about sexual ethics but is an active refusal to discuss sexuality at all. Sex is only within marriage, so it need never be discussed, either what happens before or after marriage. Chastity is frequently discussed by using scare tactics: sex brings disease and pregnancy, etc. Moreover, much (though not all) of this chastity rhetoric places a lot of the purity onus onto women. Tebow is perhaps unique in that he’s a man publicly trumpeting this ideal and not a woman, but in general, the rhetoric is largely aimed at women, who are defiled if they have sex in ways that men aren’t. Similarly, these chastity doctrines often load most of the blame for straying on women, which is why women are supposed to dress modestly etc., since men can’t control themselves.

  102. Historiann on 16 Jan 2012 at 3:51 pm #

    Yes, I think he discovered that after he posted!

    The point about the burden of chastity/purity being on women is true not just in the modern evangelical protestant case, but is I think relevant when we look globally at Abrahamic religions (Catholicism, orthodox Jewry, and Islam included.)

  103. Emma on 16 Jan 2012 at 6:12 pm #

    “a chastity pledge *cannot* be construed as a pledge not to rape or abuse women. At best, it is a pledge not to rape or abuse women *who are not your wife*.”

    Aaaaaaaand, again.

    Tebow’s “purity pledge” — assuming he’s kept it — may present an “alternative” masculinity. There’s just *zero* evidence that it’s a masculinity that’s good for women. And *lots* of evidence that in general it’s a bad masculinity for women.

    Moreover, I see nothing in the “purity pledge” that would prohibit Tim Tebow from, for example, getting a blow job, fondling a woman against her will, paying a woman (or a man) for a blow job, getting, or paying for, a hand job, making derogatory sexual comments to or about women, sexually harassing women who work for his professional organization, making unwanted sexual advances on women, using pornography, forcing pornography on women. And so on. “Intercourse” is not the totality of sexuality and rape is not the totality of sexually offensive behavior or even sexual assault. Maybe Tebow does none of that. But assuming he does none of that *because* he pledged not to fuck before marriage is a ginormous leap.

    So, there’s a *HUGE* question about just how “alternative” Tebow’s “purity pledge masculinity” really is. But pointing that out gets us the mommy-feminist lectures about how we’re “deranged” and giving feminism a bad name by refusing to be credulous about extremist religious doctrine and its effect on women. Woot!

  104. Emma on 16 Jan 2012 at 6:13 pm #

    At the end of the day, it’s plenty possible to abuse women, even women who aren’t your wife, while keeping to the dictates of the purity pledge.

  105. Western Dave on 16 Jan 2012 at 7:05 pm #

    @grad student, clearly you don’t remember Shaun King, Tampa Bay Bucs flash-in-the-pan underskilled QB who “just won.” See also, Kyle Orton, Bears. Neither of these guys got neither the hatred of Tebow despite their lesser skills.

    More generally, if the public backlash against Tebow isn’t tied to Tebow’s alternative construction of masculinity I’m a monkey’s uncle.

    Let’s compare Tebow to another famous football Christian, Reggie White “aka the Minister of Defense.” Now, White was a much better football player than Tebow so some folks cut him some slack. And as a married man, there weren’t questions about his sexuality (as there is with some of the Tebow hatred – I’m assuming most people here don’t read ESPN message boards but Tebow is regularly denounced as a “faggot” by haters – and most importantly White played defense. He delivered the punishment. He “hit” people (primarily quarterbacks like Tebow). And he was a big (and there’s a racial aspect too, White being African-American). Yet White was widely celebrated here in Philly, later in Green Bay and eventually, nationally. Unlike White, I don’t expect Tebow to have a long NFL career. His type of flash in the pan qb-ing is pretty typical. And maybe like White, he might change his mind and seek forgiveness before he dies.

  106. thefrogprincess on 16 Jan 2012 at 7:11 pm #

    To add to Emma’s point, there’s also been increasing evidence that some chastity pledgers have a very constrained view of what sex they can’t have and a very capacious view of what isn’t sex. I can’t find it now, but I’ve read a few times how rates of anal sex are surprisingly high among non-married evangelicals b/c it somehow doesn’t fit into the definition of losing virginity. Again, nobody knows what Tebow or anybody else is doing in private, but it’s because of that privacy that chastity seems to be such an empty descriptor of actual behavior. Spiritually, it may be very important, and perhaps for some, it does offer a different model of masculinity, but I don’t think we can draw any conclusions about actual behavior.

  107. Z on 16 Jan 2012 at 7:33 pm #

    Frogprincess: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/21606.php

  108. Z on 16 Jan 2012 at 7:44 pm #

    Frogprincess: more – this is truly silly (and the writer is such a poor reader of prose) but it’s the kind of instruction a lot of these purity pledgers get: http://www.sexinchrist.com/

  109. thefrogprincess on 16 Jan 2012 at 7:55 pm #

    Thanks for the links, Z. On the first, those numbers are worse than I thought, although the really interesting statistic is that the higher rates are among virgins who took pledges rather than virgins who didn’t. In my experience as an evangelical and observing how my religious friends negotiate this, those who view chastity before marriage as part of their devotion to God or who view sex as something they wish to experience only with their spouses have a healthier view of sexuality than those whose approach to sex is wholly negative. There’s a subtle but important difference between “I want to wait” and “I can’t have sex b/c I took this pledge.”

    As for the second link, that’s horrifying, a major change from my days as an evangelical, and gets into the word games that I truly despise. The parsing between what’s pure and what’s not, what pleasure’s okay and what isn’t, is so arbitrary as to be meaningless.

  110. Z on 16 Jan 2012 at 8:21 pm #

    Second link is real fringe but these are the kinds of debates some of these purity folks get into.

    Just because some futbolistas are mean about purity doesn’t mean both sides – purity folks and futbolistas – aren’t antifeminist.

  111. John S. on 16 Jan 2012 at 8:24 pm #

    Z: that second link is the most astonishing thing I have read in days. If it is real, it is horrifying. If it is satire, it’s even more amazing.

  112. Z on 16 Jan 2012 at 8:35 pm #

    John – it’s real and realistic. It’s some sort of Christian patriarchal twist on mild to medium D/S kink, low class version, that’s all. Distasteful but this is the kind of thing you get closer to when you live near the purity crowd. It’s why I’m a little less optimistic about “purity” than I might be, and also a little less patient with fundamentalist and conservative religion.

  113. thefrogprincess on 16 Jan 2012 at 8:37 pm #

    Z, that website is fringe, but since we know no pastor and few Sunday School teachers are bringing up these topics—somehow I managed to get a Sunday School teacher who did walk us through most of it and while I don’t agree with his conclusions, I have always appreciated his insistence on getting real about what abstinence actually meant—teenagers struggling with the pledges they’ve made are probably trawling the internet searching for scripturally-based workarounds. I’m assuming it didn’t take you all that long to find that.

  114. Feminist Avatar on 16 Jan 2012 at 9:02 pm #

    Because I know that you all really want to think about this more. Some reading:

    Sandra Cavallo, ‘Bachelorhood and Masculinity in Renaissance and Early Modern Italy’, European History Quarterly, 38 (2008), pp. 375-397, and her book,Artisans of the Body in Early Modern Italy: Identities, Families, and Masculinties, (Manchester, Manchester UP, 2007).

    Manuel Buttigieg, ‘Chastity, Bachelorhood and Masculinity in Early Modern Europe: the Case of the Hospitaller Knights of St John (c.1520-c.1650)’ in Carla Salvaterra and Berteke Waaldijk eds, Paths to Gender European Historical Perspectives on Women and Men.

    They are both talking about celibacy as positive forms of masculinities in those times and places. There is also some stuff on Ireland on non-religous men and celibacy, but it doesn’t explicitly engage with the masculinity theory.

  115. Z on 16 Jan 2012 at 9:05 pm #

    FP – no, it came right up. You can be “pure,” “Biblical” and icky all at once.

  116. Z on 16 Jan 2012 at 9:37 pm #

    FA – Aren’t all the hair shirts and other sufferings of the celibate seen as signs of masculinity … also wasn’t difficulty keeping the celibacy vow a sign of masculinity as well (since a regular man would procreate, etc.)? Saints, Christian knights, etc. those guys weren’t effeminate -.

  117. Feminist Avatar on 17 Jan 2012 at 12:29 am #

    No definitely not effeminate. There is quite a lot of stuff on saintly masculinity, which isn’t so much my field as it’s too early. But off the top of my head:

    Callum and Lewis (eds), Holiness and Masculinity in the Middle Ages (2005)

    K. Smith, ‘Saints in shining armour: martial asceticism and masculine models of sanctity’, Speculum, (2008).

    Emma Campbell, ‘Separating the saints from the boys’, French Studies (2003).

    There is also stuff on saints as exemplars to Catholic boys in the 19thC, but the literature I can think of is about St Joseph, who wasn’t celibate, so isn’t the best example in this discussion.

  118. Tenured Radical on 17 Jan 2012 at 5:14 am #

    Wow, Historiann — you went out on a limb with this one. Two comments:

    I’m always impressed by the connections between verbal/cultural/symbolic danger and actual danger. For example, what Tebow stands for really has nothing to do with the actual reasons people work politically, legally and sometimes as terrorist to end women’s right to choose an abortion. Sure, he puts a shiny face on it, and I have always disliked the “I was almost aborted, but look how fabulous I am!” thing. It’s usually men who have fantasies that they might have been aborted, and the vast majority of people who aren’t aborted end up poor and exploited. Nevertheless, what Tebow thinks — or does not think — about abortion makes no fukkinnnn difference. What Orrin Hatch thinks does.

    But second — did anyone but me read the New Yorker article about the massively successful high school football team where, as the team is fainting and puking from helmet to helmet drills, their paragon of a coach snarls at them that they are “girls”? Models for masculinity in football are so *awful* and so mysogynistic that if Tebow is modeling some level of respect for women, I think we can keep our political creds and still say he isn’t a half bad guy.

    Who seems to have a lot of trouble throwing a football.

  119. Z on 17 Jan 2012 at 6:02 am #

    TR, I think that is what football coaches do – not just that coach. Football, the military, etc. I’m sure Tebow’s fine and that it’s hard to take the flak he takes, but the more interesting comment in the thread is about him as wounded by all the Christianite dogma he’s been surrounded with all his life.

    The larger point being made by most in the thread is that these purity pledges are not respectful of women, and I’d go further to say I don’t know that they are alternative models of masculinity in the way some of these medieval celibacies were.

    Public figures of all sorts advertising stances on things, of course what they say matters.

    Sure, one gets that Historiann is just reacting to unreasonable Tebow bashing by people who are surely much less than paragons of virtue. From there to supporting Christian Right purity pledges as respectful of women or as alternative masculinities is just a bit of a stretch – even for pomo lit critics playing fast and loose with theoretical twirls.

  120. Z on 17 Jan 2012 at 6:12 am #

    FA — also on saints. Sergio Ramirez, Adios Muchachos, on the Sandinista revolution. Points out that the revolutionaries, raised on saints’ lives, were prepared to be clandestine soldiers, sleeping in secret cots, going from place to place without Stuff, undergoing privations, then getting tortured for beliefs and standing up to it. Chapter is called “Como los santos.”

    So yes – much in the ascetic life is about alternative masculinity etc. Still, still, still, I’d want to do some serious research before making a claim on the extent to which these projects, or the purity pledge, even when alternative in some way, were or are actually about respect for women…

  121. Tenured Radical on 17 Jan 2012 at 7:00 am #

    Z: I get it — but why can’t we say that a purity pledge would be respectful of *some* women, women for whom it has meaning? I have known some young Christian people — one a Marine — whose pledge to marry as virgins signified the possibilities for a unique intimacy between two people. Why is this different from any other kind of romance that “women” are into?

    I don’t think we all have to believe that — and I would be a feminist whose principles find the ownership of other people’s bodies especially problematic — to not deride people who do. I mean, I think marriage is utter patriarchal crap, and I would never do it: and yet, there are lots of people on this thread who married for reasons that were meaningful to them, and I don’t think that means they have capitulated to the patriarchy.

    I just don’t dig it that all evangelical Christians are bad no matter what. And seriously, is being an advertisement for Jesus really worse than being an advertisement for beer?

  122. Historiann on 17 Jan 2012 at 9:13 am #

    Thanks, TR.

    I’m getting creeped out by the sexual speculation that’s developed in this thread. Yes, I wrote a post on someone who has taken a chastity pledge, and yes we know that “chastity” among evangelical Christians doesn’t necessarily mean the same thing as celibacy in medieval Europe, but some of the commentary & speculation about what people who take chastity pledges *might* be doing with each other and/or to harm other people makes me uncomfortable.

    I don’t like it when right-wingers and anti-abortion activists craft narratives about why women seek abortions (“They’re sluts! They’re using it as birth control! They’re shallow and just want to fit into their prom dress!”). So too, I’m uncomfortable making assumptions about how chastity pledges work just because they’re not my style.

  123. Emma on 17 Jan 2012 at 9:29 am #

    “but some of the commentary & speculation about what people who take chastity pledges *might* be doing with each other and/or to harm other people makes me uncomfortable.”

    As opposed to the rank speculation about what Tim Tebow definitely is *not* doing, or will not do, just because he took a chastity pledge. Or the rank speculation that, because Tim Tebow took a chastity pledge, he also believes “Thou Shalt Not Rape”.

    “So too, I’m uncomfortable making assumptions about how chastity pledges work just because they’re not my style.”

    You seem perfectly comfortable with your own assumptions.

    Nobody’s calling out Tim Tebow. I, personally, don’t give a f*ck about Tebow or his juvenile “purity ring”. (As if sex is the problem.) They/we are calling out you.

  124. Grad Student on 17 Jan 2012 at 9:40 am #

    H’Ann, I agree with your discomfort about speculation about other’s sexual lives.

    However, it’s not speculation (and it’s certainly not equivalent to anti-choicers “crafting narratives”) when we have high-quality, peer-reviewed, quantitative and qualitative data from purity-pledgers themselves about their sexual experiences and beliefs and that data is used in the aggregate to talk about patterns within communities or cultures.

    Further, I agree with Emma that your speculation of what Tebow is *not* doing is simply the other side of the coin of anyone who is speculating about what he (or other footballers) *might* be doing in their private lives.

  125. quixote on 17 Jan 2012 at 11:09 am #

    Alice’s comment upthread gets to the heart of the issue: “Also, there are plenty of players in the NFL who don’t fall onto the Roethlisberger-Tebow dichotomy and who would perhaps better illustrate issues of feminism in male professional sports. What about Scott Fujita, linebacker for the Cleveland Browns? He has come out publicly in support of lgbt rights, women’s rights, and criticized the government roll back of civil liberties in the past decade or so- and he does it with a level of humility and grace that seems utterly lacking in Tebow. Here’s an article on his views: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/03/sports/football/03fujita.html?hp

    I’ve never heard of Fujita (I haven’t heard of most football players, so that’s not saying much), but there’s someone showing real respect for women. (Assuming his actions match his words.) What I find interesting is that fans and sports coverage give him much less air than Tebow.

    To me that means it’s not women they’re concerned about. At all. It’s Tebow’s confirmation of particular story they’d like to believe.

    (None of which changes Historiann’s point that not-raping people is better than raping. We’re all on the same page on that.)

  126. Historiann on 17 Jan 2012 at 11:11 am #

    This is just tiresome.

    I fully realize that a promise is no guarantee of anything, but I expect that a high-profile celebrity who publicly announces his chastity pledge will be found out in short order if he breaks it. There have been no allegations of hypocrisy or abuse of women by anyone against Tebow.

    Once again, you remind me of 18th C English-speaking anti-Catholics. Celibacy truly is the queerest sexual identity in the modern era. No one believes anyone is actually celibate, and everyone loves to speculate on what’s really going on under the robes.

  127. Historiann on 17 Jan 2012 at 11:18 am #

    My last comment was not in response to quixote.

    One more point: this conversation reminds me of the ridiculous conversations we had about Sarah Palin 3-1/2 years ago, in which I was accused of “defending” or “championing” her because I wrote about the disgusting way she was treated by many so-called “progressives,” and the sexist and demeaning things that so-called lefties said about her. I was accused of offering support for her political agenda, accused of setting back women, etc., so it’s all been said and done before.

    I’m against mindless ressentiment, whoever it’s coming from.

  128. Emma on 17 Jan 2012 at 11:44 am #

    Nobody here said a damn thing about Tebow until you decided that he was a feminist hero. Then we’re insulted and lectured to about how we’re ruining feminism because we don’t buy your central point — that Tebow, by “promising” to not fuck until marriage, is somehow “anti-rape” and offers a “new vision” of masculinity.

    You’re right. It is tiresome.

  129. Historiann on 17 Jan 2012 at 11:52 am #

    Emma, please show me where I said Tebow was a “feminist hero.”

    This is the assy, incomplete reading that I’m talking about.

  130. Historiann on 17 Jan 2012 at 11:53 am #

    And good luck with your TDS. Really, the opinions of a 24-year old football player aren’t worth doing damage to your blood pressure.

  131. Emma on 17 Jan 2012 at 1:39 pm #

    Right, it’s TDS. That must be it.

    Or maybe it’s reactions to this:

    “So long as Tebow’s religious and moral commitments prevent him from raping or otherwise abusing women, it’s all good from my perspective. I might even change my mind about football if substantial numbers of other players followed his example.”

    Be like Tebow! He doesn’t abuse women! He’s cool!

    Or this:

    “Tebow offers a radically different yet clearly authentic masculinity.”

    Masculinity can be *authentic*! Ask Tim Tebow! Masculinity is real! Just look to Tim to how to do it *right*!

    “I’m impressed that a nice-looking, successful, and wealthy young man has taken a vow of chastity before marriage…because this is also effectively a vow not to abuse women sexually and not to rape them.”

    Oh that cute Tim Tebow! He says he’s not going to fuck before marriage! Let me leapfrog to assert — with no evidence whatsoever — that Tim Tebow is against rape! And abusing women! And urge every man in the NFL to Be Like Tim!

    And this:

    “I’m surprised at how provincial and isolated most of you sound.”

    You don’t like the cute christian boy? What provincial hacks and hayseeds you are!

    “This thread is so over the top that it’s like a parody of what secular academics really think about Christianity. You’re really making all of us look pretty bad.”

    What is wrong with you people?! Leave Tim Tebow alooooooooonnnnne.

    Right. It’s TDS — but it’s yours, not mine.

  132. Emma on 17 Jan 2012 at 1:42 pm #

    You’ve been a one-woman cheering section for Tim Tebow’s “authentic” and “radically different” “masculinity” — embodied in a junior high-level “purity ring” of all things.

    And you get pissy and personal and lecturing when people point out that a) you’re making a buttload of assumptions and b) that we don’t like being lectured to and talked down to when we legitimately disagree with you.

  133. Jon on 17 Jan 2012 at 3:27 pm #

    Not to beat a dead horse, but I’d like to revisit te point I made yesterday. As far as I know, Tebow has taken no monastic or clerical vows and fully intends to engage in te sexy-time once he finds himself in a church-sanctioned union. There are two possibilities once that occurs:

    1) Tebow is a loving and respectful husband who should be celebrated.
    2) Tebow acts like far too many powerful, patriarchal men and should be condemned for his mistreatment of his wife.

    In neither case is his purity pledge relevant. If he’s a loving and respectful husband, there’s no reason to suspect he wouldn’t have been a loving and respectful boyfriend. If he isn’t, I fail to see how his pre-marital virginity mitigates potential spousal abuse.

  134. wombat on 18 Jan 2012 at 12:00 pm #

    I know I’m late to the discussion but I might be able to offer a new perspective.

    I know A LOT of people who were “chaste” before marriage. My husband and I are two of them. I agree with Historiann’s stance on not judging people who do this. We’re not monolithic – you can’t make assumptions.

    We are older now, and have done a lot of changing, but are still the same basic people. We are pro-choice, liberal, gay-loving feminists, who happen to live their personal lives rather conservatively. My husband decided when he was 12 that he would not consume pornography etc. He has stuck to that, and I give him major props. His version of purity and chastity is absolutely feminist. It was before we were married and remains so in our 12th year of marriage. It is completely focused around his respect for me, and by extension, all women. By learning not to be controlled by his dick from a young age, he is STILL not controlled by his dick. I have never felt pressure from him to do anything I didn’t want to do sexually, nor have I ever felt a single negative vibe from him about my body, etc. He is not perfect, but I do think he is a real example of the “alternative” version of masculinity that is “pure” yet still pro-woman. I appreciate that I do not live with a d00d. He came to this spot from a different approach than most men who get there, but it doesn’t matter.

    I do not like Tebow. Not because of his purity pledge or his faith. I dislike his public showboating and his anti-choice stance. I view him like the loudly praying Pharisees.

    But please, don’t assume that people who are “chaste” before marriage are all idiots or hypocrites or whatever else ya’ll are assuming. Chastity was a very good thing for us, but I don’t generally recommend it to other people. I certainly won’t expect it of my children. I really think that Tebow probably walks the talk when it comes to the chasisty thing. I doubt he’s a hypocrite in that respect. It’s hard if you don’t understand what might be motivating him, but I think I do understand that part.

    God, it’s like some people think it’s freaking IMPOSSIBLE to be a man and not be a perv.

  135. Historiann on 18 Jan 2012 at 12:32 pm #

    Thanks, wombat.

    You know, when I originally wrote this post I thought that I might be accused of being too pessimistic about men by effectively arguing that promising *not* to rape is something for which they should be recognized and congratulated. When you think about it, that’s a pretty backhanded compliment–nothing that can be construed as valorizing Tebow or calling him a feminist, I don’t think.

    But clearly, that wasn’t the focus of the critical comments. Instead, people thought I was naive and too willing to see the good in men who claim to be chaste outside of marriage!

    Foucault was right: we moderns are much less imaginative and much more eager to impose sexual categories on people than premodern people.

  136. Z on 18 Jan 2012 at 12:42 pm #

    Not really – I think a lot of this commentary comes from those of us who have a lot of dealings IRL with fundamentalist purity pledge types and their children / grandchildren, pastors, etc.

  137. thefrogprincess on 18 Jan 2012 at 12:58 pm #

    But in fairness, wombat, you’d have to admit that chastity means lots of things to lots of people. Many of my closest friends are chaste (I grew up Southern Baptist) and for each one of them, it means something different. I know “no kissing before marriage” folks as well as “everything but” folks; folks who embrace chastity and others who struggle against it but feel condemned if they step outside God’s dictates; women who find feminist men who love them and don’t run for the hills and women who have been shamed (for going to college, no joke) by their purity-pledging boyfriends. My whole point is “chastity” is so personal as to not be generalizable in either direction: it is neither a guarantee of respect towards women or the safety of a woman around the man in question nor is it inevitably a hypocritical front. I think the comments came down more towards the latter conclusion in part because of Historiann’s original comments leaned more in the direction of the former but also because the blog and most commentators skew left.

    [And for what it's worth, I've continued to follow and contribute to the conversation, Historiann, because I find the topic fascinating, not because I'm haranguing you.]

  138. Historiann on 18 Jan 2012 at 1:22 pm #

    I know, thefrogprincess–we are good, I hope.

  139. Anonymous on 18 Jan 2012 at 1:27 pm #

    I completely agree with thefrogprincess’ comment about the wide, wide range of chasteness.

    I also agreed when Historiann said (paraphrasing) that these days coming out as celibate is revolutionary (at least, outside of Christian circles) and for that reason appreciate wombat’s comment very much too.

  140. wombat on 18 Jan 2012 at 2:18 pm #

    I agree with thefrogprincess and Historiann.

    As I said, I know A LOT of people who were chaste or pledged chastity (then caved). It can be really messed up. But my point is that it’s not always messed up. Sometimes it’s good. As I also said, I don’t generally recommend it. It takes a special situation for it to work well, I think. I happened to be one of those.

    It’s weird to me that our culture is such that people are immediately suspicious of any man (or woman, even) who decides it’s important to him to be very sexually restrained for whatever reason. People are usually shocked if they find out we were chaste. It doesn’t jive with our liberalness and foul-mouthedness and all the sex jokes we make.

    As H’Ann speculated, there DOES exist the alternate masculinity, the one where a man is “sexually pure” yet pro-woman. It doesn’t happen very often, but it does happen. I don’t know about Tebow’s insides; he might turn out to be a pretty great partner, (as much as that is possible with the despicable association with Focus on the Family), or he could be just another flavor of dickhead. I get it, as an uber-liberal who has spent tons of time both as a participant of religious groups and observing religious groups.

    The Mormons are a whole other fascinating variation of this that we haven’t even discussed :)

  141. Historiann on 18 Jan 2012 at 3:13 pm #

    Good points, wombat. It’s not like every “lefty” d00d (straight or gay) is terrific on gender or sexuality issues.

  142. dwayne on 25 Apr 2012 at 3:07 pm #

    Let’s wait until he gets married and then give it a few years. There’s still a little thing called ‘domestic violence’.