Beware of making a Quality woman your substitute for a ONEitis idealization.
Here we have a purile Amy Grant-as-sex-object; only that object fits an idealization so she becomes the mythical Quality goal for moralistic men. She fit the bill perfectly; hot, virtuous, talented, etc. She offered the perfect fantasy in that she (or other women like her) would be patiently waiting for her husband-to-be (i.e. them) to share her virginity on their marriage night, be the best sexual experience conceivable in this reality, PLUS the best virtuous experience by definition.
All that comes crashing to the ground when Amy gets off on the pre-marital sex, “she enjoyed it”, and falls from grace. She becomes human, the idealization shatters and the vitriol ensues. Now she’s secular, an insincere charlatan that led them to believe something false. She’s suddenly “low quality” and they hate her more passionately than had she not fit their idealization to begin with, and all the girls who modeled themselves after her are now suspect of her sins by association.
People are going to be people. What this essay doesn’t elaborate upon is that eventually Amy Grant cheated on her husband with Vince Gill (also cheating on his first wife) and they got married and are all fat, rich and happy.
Sex, Amy Grant and the Quest for the Righteous Fox
By Mark Olsen
Almost a decade ago, riding a church bus back from the obligatory summer choir trip, a friend turned to me and I heard these words for the first time. “Hey, check out Amy Grant.”
I slid the earphones off my head and wrinkled my nose. “Yeah, I know. That folksy singer, the sincere one.”
I’d heard about her, read some gracious reviews of her first few releases, but my curiosity had never ignited. Her image seemed kind of limpid. And then my friend handed me a copy of a Christian mag. There lay a full-color picture of Amy, beckoning from the page.
“No. I mean, check her out. She’s all right.”
So I checked out Amy’s picture. All of a sudden, my interest knew no bounds.
You have to understand. Back then, in the waning years of high school, my church friends and I were the epitome of Contemporary Christian Youth. We
were the paradigm. We would pray for our back-slidden acquaintances and then go watch them perform at keg parties. We would scrutinize Pat Benatar and Styx albums for signs of latent Christianity. We would agonize over the dearth of hot guitar licks in so-called Christian rock. Then, having gratefully discovered Phil Keaggy, we would play him to our unsaved friends, bending towards the speakers with satisfied grins, watching eagerly for their silent nods of approval.
All this is relevant. It’s relevant because high atop this slightly marginal, oddly acclimated Christian teenage-male subculture, towered the seductive Myth of the Righteous Fox.
Hovering languidly at the end of our frustratingly virtuous dating rainbow, this beautiful and unsullied babe of legend had rejected the lure of football jocks and fast cars and saved her beauty for an earnest Bible-studier and choir-attender (who also happened to be cool, hip, and into rock’n’roll) – someone, of course, remarkably like us. The Righteous Fox would be God’s reward for having survived, for having endured. He knew how many youth group videos on sexual purity, and the saccharine, fifties-laced condescension of countless off-the-cuff pastors’ talks we endured. She was our revenge on those unsaved guys who’d nearly convinced us we’d missed the action.
Reduced to its bare Quixotic core, the Quest for the Righteous Fox consisted of a never-ending search for that really cool, deeply spiritual chick who’d hung out with the guys just long enough to make every last one – except for ourselves – overlook her blinding-yet-unobtrusive beauty (Pointing out once again the Quest’s most delusional side-effect: The Fallacy of Original Attraction).
Only one problem though: true Righteous Foxes were (and still are) incredibly hard to find. And nearly impossible to find before another hard-scamming Christian dude discovered her first. Yet the fantasy persisted. It invariably followed these exacting parameters:
We and The Fox would spot each other someday, eyeing each other soulfully over the pages of our Bible study guides, knowing, with that mutual instinct borne of fate, that we had found The One. We would ply her with a typically Christian courtship, spent in the festive embrace of a youth or college church group. Then finally, mere hours after a ceremony of Contemporary Christian music interspersed with wedding vows, she would reward our years of grudging virginity with the pure abandon of sanctified lust. (The best kind of sex there is – we ‘just knew’ it.)
“She’s out there,” we’d say. “Just waiting for me.”
But for a while, we weren’t so sure. The girls in our youth group … well, we didn’t think they qualified, on account of the babe criterion. Familiarity breeds … well, you know. We caught fleeting glimpses of The Righteous Fox at youth rallies, desperately scanning the crowds, pining for another glance like Richard Dreyfuss in “American Graffiti”. We spoke longingly of the babe-laden youth group in the neighboring town. But she never seemed to find her way into our lives.
That is, until Amy.
Amy made our blood boil; she burrowed into our imaginations and oppressed our dreams. She made us gape shamelessly, as I did when I first saw in person Amy’s big doe-eyed sincerity, cascading brown hair and crooked smile, and was smitten with the knowledge that God had finally epitomized the Righteous Fox in human form. Amazing thing though: along with the knowledge came the blazingly idiotic notion that I alone had apprehended this miraculous insight.
But the idiocy didn’t last long. Midway through my first Amy concert, I looked down from the sight of her wafting one more song for Him and over at my best friend Ted. I realized it was all over. Our eyes met and we both knew, fresh from the eyes of our private fantasy, that this was no bolt-from-a-blue-sky occurrence. The affliction was well-nigh universal, shot through the heart of every glazed-over, slack-jawed Christian male in the concert hall that night.
Her beauty wasn’t – quite – what you’d call striking. It was different than striking. Amy’s appeal went much deeper than mere physical perfection. And the sincere, profound beauty Amy manifested, she seemed – no surprise to us – unaware of. (She might cultivate her looks, but she’d also – somehow – remain completely oblivious to them.)
If you were to go out with Amy, you could count on her not to cake on the make-up. You could just tell. And a girl like her probably wouldn’t kiss you on the first date – although she wouldn’t make you wait much longer either. (No gratuitous prudery in Amy’s life.) And she’d never complain about the flaking paint job on your car. You’d never innocently trust in her character, then hear the guys report with leering tones on Monday morning that she’d been spotted sneaking beers in the Dairy Queen parking lot. No, you’d known where Amy’d been – on a Youth Council retreat with a gaggle of lesser companions, plotting hayrides and witnessing strategies. And as for the premarital thing … don’t even think about it.
Man, did Gary Chapman ever shatter that pipe dream.
First, I heard she was engaged. Through my grief and dismay, I discerned only a slight tarnish on my luminous Amy image. But some time later, I heard the worst.
She’d gotten married. Worse yet, by the time I’d heard, the wedding had actually taken place weeks before, meaning that – barring some unlikely scenario – the union had most certainly been consummated. That hurt. Gary had compelled Amy (through some unfair form of coercion, no doubt), to say, “I do,” to someone other than ourselves. The simultaneous dream of a million young evangelical men vanished in one night. And the ever-so-subtle sexual backlash began the very next day.
Amy didn’t help, of course. Not only did she fail to keep the subject of sex a secret, but she actually started intimating that she rather … well… enjoyed it. Stories started circulating of unsettling, injudicious comments made to magazines and concert audiences. (Did she actually mention “…getting our rocks off…” to Rolling Stone?Certainly not something “Jesus would say.”)
I noticed the backlash myself beginning with Amy’s first video. Ted could hardly contain his indignation over one salacious sequence in which Amy shed her jacket and the camera followed the garment – apparently not briskly enough – down over the inflammatory regions of her body and to the floor. “It’s almost pornographic,” he said. I watched it with him, and saw nothing remotely lewd in the move. (Just the same, our eyes never left the screen. We never blinked.)
Soon I started to notice a pattern. The guys were grumbling. The girls were growing catty. I noticed, within my own dreams, a growing dissatisfaction with my cherished mental-Amy-scenarios. My short-reel romantic visions were falling off the sprocket before I could even begin the date that inevitably followed our accidental back-stage, love-at-first-sight meeting. All because of the interloper husband, whose presence had transformed those visions from highly unlikely into now empty
fantasy. And also, quite frankly, because Amy was no longer a virgin. The script had lost its appeal. The Righteous Fox had tumbled off our rainbow.
Then it got worse. Amy mutated from the soft-focus Vermeer-lit goddess of the ‘Age to Age’ album cover into the leopard-skinned temptress of the ‘Unguarded’ album jacket. The guitars started coming out of the shadows. The drummer started using drumsticks. Finally, Amy seemed to have done what everyone had feared so long: “Gone secular.” And Amy “going secular” gave our collective discomfort a channel for expression. We turned on her with a vengeance.
It’s been years, of course, since all this took place. And in that time, many culturally plugged-in Christians have become aware of a fairly pervasive, surprisingly virulent anti-Amy backlash. Most intelligently assume that it stems from the dilemma surrounding whether a Christian performer should dilute or reduce their religiosity to broaden a potential audience. Again, the old debate over “going secular.” In light of her recent mega-stardom, it sounds logical.
Naah. It’s about sex.
It’s about this: she used to be ours, and now she isn’t. She used to be Contemporary Christian subculture’s fresh, untouched, pretty young secret. Then she gave herself away. First to a man, then to the unwashed masses over in Adult Contemporary. And now years later, many of us still haven’t forgiven her. We haven’t forgiven Amy for getting married, for daring to admit that she is a sexual being, for bearing children (lest we forget, the most glaring result of carnal relations). Most of all, we’ve never forgiven her for not choosing us.
Among the women, many of whom appear to be the most strident Amy critics of later years, I detect the venting of some long-repressed frustrations. They’re the “other girls” of our youth groups. The ones who saw the best guys hold out for a dream; causing them to attend Valentine’s banquets with their little brothers. They’re the ones the Quest left behind. The girls who, somewhere between graduation and first summer back from college, mysteriously acquired the mystery and allure we thought they’d lacked.
They’re the women we married.
They don’t make love every time with the ardor of twenty pent-up years, and they don’t “submit” quite as well as Marabel Morgan would recommend. They don’t spout spiritual wisdom every time they open their mouth. But they’re the ones who took us in after the Righteous Fox fell from grace.
Meanwhile, Amy seems to opt for surprisingly mundane activities back down on the farm. Conceiving children. Bearing children. Raising children. Hosting Bible studies. Mending a marriage. Keeping in touch with friends. Sound familiar? Maybe a few years off that rainbow, the archetype turned into — gasp — a real-life woman after all.
I didn’t repost this story as some indictment of Christian culture, but rather as an example of how plugged-in men develop idealization of their “Quality Woman.” Neither am I trying to convince anyone that “all women are sluts, never trust them.” Both of those characterizations are binary extremes, women lie somewhere in between. It’s a much healthier starting point for men to understand women from the perspective of coming to terms with their pre-conditioned idealization. Your sweet little virgin wants to fuck, and your whore still wants to be a soccer mom.