Yesterday morning, before I went to sleep, I decided to finish off the last of the Fifty Shades novels. I was about 20 pages from the end when there was a perky knock at the door. My dad answered and found two members of the Relief Society First Presidency–aka the women in my ward (congregation) that are supposed to instill us with a sense of values and lead us away from acts of moral turpitude. As they came in, I had to quickly figure out a way to hide the novel under me so that they didn’t notice. This was after days of trying to hide the covers so that my parents wouldn’t query me about the novels.
My shame/fear was intensified when I had to tell these moral authorities my personal email address, which, of course, has fuzzypinkslippers.com in it. It wouldn’t have been that bad except that my mom went into a commentary about how I get a lot of sex-related traffic because of the name. The leadership folks were acting like they didn’t know what was sexual about fuzzy pink slippers, and maybe they don’t. (They are Mormon women considered worthy of leadership roles in the Church, after all.) And was worsened when the more talkative of the two said something about sex/porn being a bad thing. It was one of those moments where I didn’t know if I should hide in some kind of corner so that these women wouldn’t know my thoughts or if I should get up, while in my pajamas, and explain that sex is not bad and that such thinking is something that sucks in the world. Instead I just kept my book hidden and my mouth shut.
I’m not embarrassed by sex or sexuality. I don’t think they are bad things, but I’m embarrassed for people that I know personally to know that I look at things of a sexual nature. I guess its part of being reared in a culture and a religion that make sex out to be something dirty and wrong.
I’m 28 years old, almost 29, and I should be able to look at books like Fifty Shades without having to hide them. I shouldn’t be able to feel such fear and shame about what others might think of me reading that kind of novel. (Of course, I felt fear and shame about what some of my friends who only enjoy highbrow literature might think of me reading them.) Erotica, porn, sexuality, and other things in general that are related to sex shouldn’t be things that are naughty or taboo. It’s sad that some groups make it out to be bad. And it makes me feel bad that I’ve allowed that sort of mentality to make me ashamed of reading something that I am legally able to read.
Reading those novels didn’t make me a bad person. They didn’t make me lose some level of morality. Admittedly, reading them does diminish the likelihood that I would ever be considered worthy of a temple recommend. Not that that matters since I don’t think that I will ever find a Mormon dude who is willing to marry a woman who believes in equality across the board (including within the church) and who openly speaks out about the immorality that is the church condemnation of LGBTQ relationships. My quest for magical underwear is probably no more diminished by my reading the Fifty Shades novels, my lack of shame over my collection of R rated movies, or my past membership on the Suicide Girls website than it was when I openly declared my liberalness back in 2008, about four months after officially joining the church.
Yeah, so I shouldn’t be embarrassed or have hidden the novels. I still did. I guess I still have to learn to have a sexuality backbone.