Allowing the Devil to Undress You: The Slut-Shaming of a Former Homeschooler

Teresa Scanlan.

Teresa Scanlan.

By R.L. Stollar, HA Community Coordinator

*****

A disgrace.

A destructive force against families.

Homeschool dropout.

A rat turd.

These are but a number of phrases used on HSLDA’s Facebook page in reference to Teresa Scanlan, a former homeschooler attending Patrick Henry College. These are not phrases used by HSLDA; in fact, HSLDA has championed Teresa as a homeschool success story. But these phrases are also not coming from anti-homeschoolers or liberal secularists.

They are coming from fans (or at least previous fans) of HSLDA.

Yesterday, HSLDA shared about Teresa’s life and homeschooling experience in light of her being crowned Miss America in 2011. It was obviously about marketing to some extent — “the secret behind the crown was homeschooling!,” HSLDA says. But it also was about celebrating a young woman with passion and drive.

But things got ugly.

Some of HSLDA’s fans were livid. In fact, if you were looking for evidence that the modesty and purity culture that exists within Christian homeschooling can lead to some truly dehumanizing and dangerous thoughts, look no further than what unfolded.

Here is HSLDA’s original post about Teresa Scanlan, and here is the link to the post on Facebook:

Screen Shot 2013-08-21 at 9.38.33 PM

The comments that some people are leaving on HSLDA’s post about Teresa are frankly alarming. They are misogynistic and dripping with body-shaming. They even are scarily reminiscent of rape culture — that women are responsible for men’s lust and are “asking for it.”

Seriously.

There is direct, no-holds-barred slut-shaming going on right on HSLDA’s Facebook page.

Check it out:

Screen Shot 2013-08-21 at 9.39.55 PM

Yes, you read that right. Someone is pulling their support from HSLDA because of HSLDA’s link — which was merely a link to their original radio series about Teresa. Because old men and young men might “fix their eyes” upon Teresa dressed in a rather conservative red dress (you can’t even see her shoulders!).

Now you might wonder: how is that picture immodest? Well, it isn’t. But fear not. People encouraged other people to google her in a bikini. (Does that sound a bit hypocritical? Because it is hypocritical, and also slightly creepy.)

Screen Shot 2013-08-21 at 9.40.12 PM

Not everyone on HSLDA’s page, however, was attacking Teresa. Some people tried to defend her – and then got promptly slut-shamed, too.

Screen Shot 2013-08-21 at 9.40.49 PM

Yes, if you participate in a pageant, you have caused men to commit adultery and you will be “held accountable of Judgement Day.”

The comments continue:

Screen Shot 2013-08-21 at 9.41.21 PM

Another defender, who is attacked:

Screen Shot 2013-08-21 at 9.41.58 PM

By the way, Teresa is a Christian.

Not just “a” Christian, but a conservative Christian. In fact, she points out in her radio interview with HSLDA that many of the young women that participate in pageants are actually conservative Christians:

Actually, the majority of contestants, believe it or not, are Christian conservatives, I found, in the competition. And then the judges, in my interview, they have my resume in front of them, and they saw a lot of church activities and things on there, so during my interviews, several of them actually asked me questions about my faith.

But that does not stop people from judging her relationship with God:

Screen Shot 2013-08-21 at 9.42.34 PM

Also:

Screen Shot 2013-08-21 at 9.44.52 PM

It really is a train wreck. They call her a “homeschool dropout,” and attack her for wanting a career:

Screen Shot 2013-08-21 at 9.43.00 PM

They compare her to a “rat turd”:

Screen Shot 2013-08-21 at 9.43.21 PM

They do not hesitate to link to her Facebook profile (which, as we all know, will probably lead to further online bullying, harassment, and slut-shaming):

Screen Shot 2013-08-21 at 9.44.38 PM

This is not to even mention the likely hypocrisy and double standard of some people in the homeschooling community when they only think of modesty and purity in terms of women. What about men?

Were all these people up in arms when Tim Tebow went shirtless for magazines?

Or were they parading Tebow around as a homeschool superhero? Kathryn brilliantly pointed out (not on HSLDA’s page) this double standard about equally harmless actions:

Screen Shot 2013-08-21 at 9.45.14 PM

Credit must be given to those people who are defending Teresa on HSLDA’s page. This goes to show that not all homeschoolers — in fact, not all Christian homeschoolers — believe in the toxic ideas behind modesty and purity culture ideology.

I commend those people for standing up against those ideas and the people that would use those ideas to shame a young woman.

We need to push back like this. We need more homeschoolers to speak up against these ideas (and not just against the modesty and purity culture ideas). Teresa’s own experience has demonstrated that this shaming is (very sadly) nothing new to her:

When I first won, I thought, of course, that I would get criticism from the public in general about being a Christian, but it was kind of surprising to me that probably the most criticism I received was actually from conservative Christians that competing in the competition like Miss America did not line up with their morals and values.

No one deserves to be abused and harassed in this manner, regardless of their way of dress, their gender, their political or religious beliefs, or anything else. In fact, I commend HSLDA for being willing to champion a conservative Christian woman who is — through her actions — bravely overturning some of the deeply held assumptions in some conservative Christian circles. She is celebrating her beauty and her body, she is going to college, and she has high career aspirations — in fact, as HSLDA mentions in their bio of her, “her highest career goals are to run for president in 2028 or to be nominated to the Supreme Court.”

She also hopes to educate people about eating disorders.

She has expressed a desire to “educate children and adults alike as to the signs and risks of eating disorders, as well as how and where to get help for themselves or a loved one.”

More power to her.

54 responses to “Allowing the Devil to Undress You: The Slut-Shaming of a Former Homeschooler

  1. Yes, you read that right. Someone is pulling their support from HSLDA because of HSLDA’s link — which was merely a link to their original radio series about Teresa. Because old men and young men might “fix their eyes” upon Teresa dressed in a rather conservative red dress (you can’t even see her shoulders!).

    Isn’t that what the burka is for?

    And the locked harems, lest men “fix their eyes upon” even a burka?

    Yes, if you participate in a pageant, you have caused men to commit adultery and you will be “held accountable of Judgement Day.”

    “Held accountable on Judgment Day” is just a more wordy way of screaming “GOD *WILL* PUNISH YOU!!!!!!”

    Does God do anything other than Punish, Punish, Punish?

    • P.S. I’ve never been a fan of beauty contests to begin with (including “el biggo” Miss America), but this is just WRONG. Don’t these slut-shamers have a life?

    • There’s always somebody trying to force THEIR Will down your throat. These just put a Christianese coat of paint on it, but it’s still an Animal Forced Dominance Display, “I’M RIGHT! YOU’RE WRONG!”

      “The most important thing in the Devil’s theology is to be absolutely right and to prove everyone else absolutely wrong.”
      — Thomas Merton, “Moral Theology of the Devil”

  2. Isn’t funny how they all slut shame her and then go on-line and search for more information about her. If they think she’s that terrible then maybe they shouldn’t be linking to her facebook feed or googling her.

    Good for her for making good use of the gifts God gave her.

  3. Now all we need to do is make sure the general public accepts the fact that homeschoolers, like the public, are made up of many beliefs. This modesty and shamefacedness is garbage that men have made up. I didn’t homeschool my boys to believe such crap.

    • Agreed, Dan. Homeschooling is diverse. Even Christian homeschooling is diverse. That’s why I made sure to point that out: “Not all homeschoolers — in fact, not all Christian homeschoolers — believe in the toxic ideas behind modesty and purity culture ideology. I commend those people for standing up against those ideas and the people that would use those ideas to shame a young woman.” The more we *as homeschoolers* speak out against these toxic ideas, the better.

      • Just asking then, what kind of modesty should women be taught. I don’t believe women can “make” men sin but they can be a stumbling block. The scriptures say “whoa” unto those who bring offenses. I wouldn’t bring alcohol to an alcoholic’s home to drink in front of them. Porn is EXTREMELY dangerous and addicting. Maybe she is only exposing herself to those not addicted and can handle themselves with underwear clad women but it would seem to me to have been better for her not to participate. There are MANY more ways to have a platform than this.

      • Ok, Michelle, you wouldn’t go into an alcoholic’s home and drink in front of them. Do you believe the alcoholic has a right to go into a bar and demand everyone there stop drinking for their comfort? Because the latter, not the former, is what you are advocating. Everyone has the right AND ABILITY to turn off the TV or change the channel or filter their internet or not go into the bar or avert their eyes, but it is not the responsibility of others to hew to their fragile sensibilities.

        I’d also suggest you do a little research on sexual assault and other sexually aggressive offenses. Rarely do they have anything to do with “modesty” or even porn (some studies have actually shown open access to porn REDUCES the rate of sexual offenses in a society, while there is little evidence to the contrary), but rather power dynamics. Power dynamics that are closely related to belief systems that demand women behave a certain way “for the sake of men.” And consider yourself lucky if you’ve never had to suffer this first-hand while wearing your floor-scrubbing best (FTR, I have been “slut-shamed” by so-called “christians” for wearing PANTS…ring ring…hello, this is the patriarchy calling).

  4. As a christian, i am fully aware that i am flawed (a sinner) if i wasn’t i would not need a savior. The truth is the truth…. God does say those things. The problem is the judging that follows the comments, he who is without sin cast the first stone. I personally would not like to have my daughters parade around on a stage in their undies. If you choose to do so i can either watch or not … in the end she will have to discuss her decisions with God as will the folks that judged her. The decision to place a tasteful photo of the young lady and do a story about her is OK with me. I home-schooled 2 children who are in college and have 3 to go.

    • Scriptures state that if a brother offends you you are to REBUKE them. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,

      • Erm…Jesus says very clearly not to do any such thing. ‘Judge not, lest ye be judged”..can’t be any clearer than that..and let’s remember that Jesus noticed that “righteous’ people were ready to judge him, calling him a ‘glutton and a wine-bibber’ for his choice of friends. I can’t believe christians and their declarations of ‘righteousness’. How do you dare to be so sure what God wants; why do you always follow the OT and the (forged) letters of Paul and the Apostles, and why do you ignore the sublime (mostly) words of Jesus? Be tolerant, he says, remember that God loves sinners, don’t go about rebuking people, look at yourself first, let him without sin cast the first stone, be grateful, feed the hungry, help the least and lowliest people…Arent you afraid, any of you, what Jesus will be saying to you when he sees you ignored all his rules?

  5. Pingback: The One Where Jesus Loves·

  6. Christians do a really bad job representing Christ. Truly sad. My mother was in beauty pageants, and it made her the wonderful wife and mother she is today.

  7. Just wanted to quickly say thank you for your support and encouragement. I truly appreciate it! After three years of especially intense national criticism, I’d like to think that I’m getting used to it, but unfortunately I don’t think it ever gets easier.

    • Its a shame that you have to get used to being shamed and called names. I think you are a great role model for young women who want to go into public speaking and make a change in the world.
      Keep up the hard work. I would like to have you on my ballot someday.

    • Thanks for commenting, Teresa. As the saying goes… Haters gonna hate. Stay strong, though! You’ve worked hard and earned a platform and you can use it to make the world a better place. I wish you much courage, love, and peace amidst all the meanness that life brings.

  8. Pingback: the modesty purity movement and our sacrificial virgins·

  9. How could Teresa NOT have known she was acting in a very non-conservative manner. That entire movement is drenched with “modesty,” “purity,” “submission,” etc. It’s actually sad that this woman’s intelligent mind has been thwarted by homeschooling. Imagine if she wanted to become a biologist…and didn’t know anything about evolution. Or an astrophysicist and tried to fit THAT into a six-day creation. Too many more examples to cite here
    how homeschooling is failing America’s children.

    • So, you elevate the words of atheisic men above that of God. As a scientist educated in public schools and universities, having investigated this topic thoroughly, I conclude that the biblical account of creation is correct. Scientists whose investigations originate at the wrong starting point (e.g., it all happened by chance) often reach the wrong scientific conclusions.

  10. I’m a Christian and I’ve never been a huge fan of pageants but I don’t think they’re wrong. Nor do I think it’s wrong for a conservative Christian woman to compete in them. Aren’t we as Christians supposed to put ourselves in places that need redemption anyways? Isn’t that what Paul did for his ENTIRE ministry? It is not the job of a Christian to cling to his/her brothers and sisters in little groups and judge the ones that are out and about MAKING A DIFFERENCE in the lives of others. Think about all the good Teresa is doing! She’s showing that homeschooled Christian people are capable of more than just petty judgement and aspiring only to have a God-honoring husband. We live in a broken world-trying to do good in the world is better than trying to show how good you are, if you ask me.

  11. I am glad that none of these people are actually representative of Christ. Otherwise nobody would be getting into heaven.

  12. Pingback: the modesty purity movement and our sacrificial virgins - Your The Man Jesus·

  13. After reading this article and the ensuing comments, my heart is burdened with paradoxes. I understand the article’s stance on the “legalistic” posts of the “self-righteous” homeschoolers. It IS so easy to point fingers – on both sides of the aisle, though. My heart is burdened by the fact that perhaps we more “mature” and more “secure in our freedom in Christ” Christians are falling into the same sin when we read an article like this one. Ask yourself why you read the articles on this website, why you post the comments that you do, why do you *snort* (mentally, physically, spiritually) at the “crazy, legalistic homeschoolers” that live in this world? Are our motives any purer than theirs? Do we puff ourselves up in our “maturity”? In our “openness”? Do we look down on them for their weaknesses? Is this article helping heal the rift between the “free” and the “legalistic” or is it only serving to widen the chasm? Is this micro-analyzing of posts by random people on facebook of any value? Is this building up the body of Christ or tearing it down?

    I simply ask that you prayerfully consider your heart when reading articles that demonize Christians from any angle. Pray for the Christians that posted the derogatory language about Scanlon. Pray for your heart. Let us each be concerned about our own hearts, and the working out of our own salvation, before our Lord Jesus Christ. We are each accountable to Him, and to Him alone. Peace.

    • Thanks for your comment, elliemae. This article is not a demonization of Christians, and I apologize if it came across as attacking them. This article’s purpose is to point out how the toxic ideas behind modesty and purity culture ideology (which I believe are a twisting of Christianity) can be (and are being) used to attack and hurt a young woman who is trying to do amazing things with her life. And I made sure to point out how awesome it is that some Christians and homeschoolers are actively standing up against those ideas and the people that would use those ideas to shame a young woman. We certainly ought not stand up against shaming with nothing but more shaming. Also, I do not “snort” at “crazy, legalistic homeschoolers.” I grew up with all sorts of quirky, legalistic homeschoolers. I was one. Some of my best friends were, too. Some of my good friends still are. We can point out how ideas can be damaging but do so in a respectful and loving fashion. Sometimes we fail. But we should always try to love another, and we should never stop encouraging each other to do better in our lives — whether regarding our ideas or our homeschooling environments.

      • You didn’t realize you were demonizing other Chistians? You said they compared her to a turd. I was the sin of her exposing herself NOT her that the commentor was referring to. Is beauty really shown best in a bikini? Why isn’t that in the proverbs description? Nasty comments aren’t necessary when rebuking or reproving other believers but your article didn’t really stir the pot for positiveness either.

  14. Hating on Haters only leaves more hate. Kudo’s for Teresa! Kudo’s to the HSLDA for standing by her side. And prayers, love, and patience for those who only know shame.

    • Hey Jon! Thanks for the comment.

      “Hating on Haters only leaves more hate.” So very true. Reminds me of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s saying:

      “Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

      Hope you are well!

  15. I’m not a big fan of beauty contests but this is unconscionable. This is a talented, intelligent young woman trying to do her best and getting dumped on by a lot of small minded puritans (of which I, God forgive me, was once one). I am so sick of the no-way-to-win game the christian conservatives put women through. To Miss Scanlan, Hold your head high and continue to do your best. Despite what the RRR idiots might say, you are a daughter of God and He loves all his children.

  16. Pingback: Allowing the Devil To Undress You: The Slut-Shaming of a Former Homeschooler·

  17. Tommy Vise III, one of the commenters, said: “Would you drink water with just one little rat turd in it??? Thought not. HSLDA needs to pull their support.”

    When I read that, I wanted to ask him if he is perfect. And supposing he is not, would he regard his imperfection as a “rat turd” that means nobody
    > not his family
    >not his friends
    >not his spouse
    >not his co-workers
    … should ever support him?
    If we supported only perfect people, this world would have been a truly unsupportive place.

  18. Wow, I was pleased to see a young woman giving glory to God as she went through the Miss America contest. That people would blast her is just wrong! Are they without sin that they can cast the first stone? There is not greater or lesser sin and we ALL have room to grow and mature in our walk with God. I pray that the Lord blesses her for standing strong in her faith and not allowing people to discourage her from what she feels called to do.

  19. Thank you so much for this article! I read the original HSLDA post, and was absolutely disgusted by these hateful comments. I myself know firsthand the intense judgementalism and body shame promoted by homeschool culture in general. I hope this lovely young woman ignores these haters, and goes on to follow her dreams no matter what. She is an inspiration! Thank you again.

  20. Pingback: “Farris Logic:” An Extra Snarky Response to The WaPo Homeschool Story | Becoming Worldly·

  21. IRONY. Someone who is a successful homeschooler – who aspires to be President or Supreme Court judge (isn’t that their most fervent hope, to raise up armies for Christ to go into government and change it from inside out?) – is practically excommunicated from the Church for not being CHRISTIAN enough. The Pharisees are alive and well.

    • Oh, they want all that, all right: they just don’t want to hear it coming from a =woman=. Jesus understood the value in listening to women, but the patriarchy doesn’t like Jesus as much as they do the authoritarian contingents of the Bible.

  22. Pingback: “Farris Logic:” An Extra Snarky Response to The WaPo Homeschool Story·

  23. I’m a Christian homeschooling mother who is firmly ashamed of a few fellow Christian homeschooling parents. This is reason number one that I no longer attend an organized church or homeschool support groups. My mamma use to say that in the last days the devil will be sitting on the front row in church. The last church I attended tried to tell my son it was evil to celebrate April Fools Day because it’s ‘lying’. Give me a break! The last homeschooling group I joined was headed by someone devoid of ettiquette and all forms of social mannerisms. People were afraid of her and followed her lead because they were afraid of confrontation. Those assholes on the HDLA site are exactly the people I’m trying to avoid. The young beauty queen is our sister in Christ and she should be treated with the utmost dignity and respect from the Christian community. The commenters on facebook are heathens. They should be told they are heathens to they can repent from their prude self-righteous attack on this young lady. Furthermore if my heathen husband looked upon a teenage lady in an improper way I would use my American made cast iron skillet to put him in his place.

  24. Reblogged this on PPB's LC and commented:
    I will be reblogging from particular home-schooling blogs–current and former–to gain a (hopefully) fresh perspective from others who just might actually be reading my blogs. Feel free to reblog this yourself.

  25. Pingback: Allowing the Devil to Undress You: The Slut-Shaming of a Former Homeschooler·

  26. Pingback: Ms. America and Slut Shaming | No News is New·

  27. This website is made up of ex-homeschoolers,am I correct? Their is a funny thing about walking around in someone else’s shoes….You see,I homeschool my children because of my experiences in the public and Christian private schools.It was so devastating to me,that I dropped out my senior year.I attempted suicide twice within a year after leaving school.I couldn’t handle ‘life’.Where I wear one shoe,you ,who hated being homeschooled and see it as stifling,dangerous and abusive,wear the other shoe.You will have children who you will place in public schools and some may love it as others will abhor it.You see,our human nature is this…we always think we have it the worse when we see what others have.I really believe,looking back on my tender teen years in school that no matter from what walk of life we come from,whether it be homeschool,private or public school,God is using everything to get us closer to Him…Will we forfeit that opportunity because we weren’t able to ‘wear both shoes’?

    • I am so sorry to hear about your experiences in public and private schools, Tammy. School — any school, of any sorts — should be a safe, fun environment for kids and young people.

      I’m not sure, though, what your comment had to do with this post. This post is about supporting and standing up for a fellow homeschool student who was being verbally attacked and slut-shamed publicly for being in beauty pageants. This post has nothing to do loving or hating homeschooling.

  28. “I am a Christian, therefore I can judge the heart of any human as to their Christianity. I can also judge their actions, their deeds and their very thoughts. I have the right, I’m a Christian!”

    I don’t remember Jesus every saying anything even remotely close to the above statement.

    I think it was more like, “he who is without sin, cast the first stone” or “judge not lest ye be judged”.

    Is it possible that one wack job got his whole wack job community to post on FB or is this a real sampling of the Christian homeschoolers?

    I don’t agree with beauty pageants for me or mine, but to each their own. And what is with female modesty? I don’t hear anyone complaining about the way wrestlers dress.

  29. God this…Devil that….. I’m a product of public school and I was raised Catholic but I no longer practice any religion publicly. Not because of my lack of faith or higher power but because of this type of behavior from these sort of people. I due so in fact believe, but I wish to believe on my own and without the judgment of others. I was taught RIGHT and WRONG and I even learned about some GREY AREA on certain topics and discussions. Sometimes thinking outside the box is required in life.
    I’ve learned in my lifetime to keep an open mind to everything. In fact, I’ve even opened my mind to other religious practices including the belief of no religion at all. At one time, a lot of people thought the world was flat and you could sail off the edge of it. They would have laughed at you said anything differently. Who’s laughing now? Not only could they only say that the world is in fact round, but they could prove it as well. They could take a ship and sail in one direction while returning right back where they started. In fact, nobody EVER fell off the edge of the world, because it’s not true, even though it was believed by so many to be true.
    I was taught to keep my mouth shut if I didn’t have anything nice to say. I was taught not to judge others on their beliefs and feelings. We are all entitled to our own opinions. That doesn’t mean you should display your opinions of others by attacking them emotionally and verbally. In no way does this ever make your wrong, right.
    You say we all face our judgment and can only be saved by one. If you truly believe this, why preach it to others and demand they follow what you believe or be damned otherwise? Do you face judgment for the belief’s of others and their doings as well as your own? Will you be rewarded by your higher power if you demoralize the one’s whom don’t believe the same as you? Have you ever wondered how come so many read the same book but interoperate it in so many different ways?

    All I’m really trying to say is if you don’t like what you see…look the other way. Nobody but yourself can force you to participate in anything. Allow others to their own opinions just as you’re entitled to yours.

  30. Oh man this made me mad. That one person who said that she’ll be working for the rest of her life to get rid of the blonde bombshell stigma??? She’ll have to deal with that stigma simply for being beautiful. A beautiful woman is quickly judged to be shallow, slutty, stupid, and a host of other negative things, and this is if she dresses in a manner that is tasteful and modest, never mind showing a little skin and figure! I am proud of Teresa Scanlan for who she is and her ambitions in life, and praise God that He also endowed her with beauty!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s