It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends. The easiest thing to do when you disagree with ideas promoted by LDS Church members and by the church itself is to leave. It’s what I did. There were a lot of reasons that I went inactive within the church, but one was that I found myself feeling more and more uncomfortable with what was being promoted. I admire Kate Kelly and John Dehlin for feeling able to stand up to the church and continue to go there while being threatened with disciplinary actions, including excommunication. I don’t think I will be going back any time soon. There are certain things that happened while I was active that I never felt comfortable with, as well as things that happened before I was a member that made me feel funny. Right after my mom joined, some members tried to pressure her into getting me to join. Because she didn’t, she faced some ostracism. When Stephanie was baptized, I wore a dress that may have been a little low-cut. I was 16 and a non-member. It didn’t show anything off, but there were comments about it. When I was doing my interview with a missionary and had to answer questions to determine my readiness, some of the questions included my chastity and if I’d had an abortion or helped someone else to get one. I hadn’t had sex and I decided that being adamantly pro-choice didn’t count toward helping someone get an abortion, but the questions made me feel funny. I was told within weeks of joining that I was basically bastard-born because my parents weren’t sealed in the temple. They were married. My mom converted to the church when I was about 10. My dad never did. According to the church, my birth is illegitimate. At an Institute lesson, within weeks of my joining, we were taught that any person who questions the church’s teachings in any way is like gangrene. They’re a gangrenous limb that can be cut off. It made me feel like I had no way of learning about the church. This man also said people who watch horror films are more touched by “the Adversary”, aka Satan; he also said that women’s positions as mothers made them equal to men in their roles as Priesthood holders. Another of his fun teachings, that is actually church doctrine, is that if you have to choose between paying for your medicine or groceries and paying your monthly tithing, you should always pick tithing because Heavenly Father will always provide for you if you do this. Technically, if you pay the tithing, the Church is supposed to help you get by with aid programs. They don’t always do that. And if they do help, it isn’t without even more strings. On the way to a regional (though not our region) YSA conference, shortly after crossing into Tennessee, the co-rep for the Stake’s YSA started calling Barack Obama “Korihor”–aka a Mormon anti-christ.1 The other people in the car agreed with her. Because of her position of power and my tendency in non-internet social situations to be extremely quiet, I just sat and listened to them. I was told that if I really believed in God and in the Church that my mental and physical health problems would be miraculously cured. When friends were talking about homosexuality being unnatural, I said that they were wrong. I brought up that I had 1 guinea pig that had been gay and 1 that had been bisexual, so I knew that homosexual behavior was a natural thing. I was told that was inappropriate to talk about. It seemed odd that it was okay to talk about it being unnatural, but it was horrifying for me to say it was normal. At that same conversation, these two friends were talking about the upcoming election. This was at Halloween 2008. They were talking about how one’s sister had told her class that she supported McCain and had heard little support for Obama. They were talking about how it was nice that so many people in the area were Republicans. They didn’t even know any Democrats. This was when I told them that I was actually a Democrat. They said that wasn’t popular in the church and I should consider changing parties. At the dance, the same member2 who had called Obama “Korihor” was in a costume that seemed to include blackface. She said it wasn’t, but it was pretty clear that she had blackened her face and taken on a costume of an underprivileged person so she could promote some pretty anti-black feelings. I contemplated talking to someone about her doing this at a church dance, but I knew that with the conservative leanings of local Mormons that I might be the one who would be disciplined for not respecting the leader of the group I was under.3 At 2 Break the Fast meals for the Ward’s YSA, there was some political discussion going on. Yet again when I just mentioned supporting another party, the discussion was shifted without any acknowledgement that I said anything. At a combined session of Relief Society and Priesthood, which rarely happens, the wife of the then First Counselor of the Church went on a little rant about how we needed to be especially good about building up our Food Storage because Obama had been elected. After giving a lesson on tolerance during FHE for the group’s YSA, I was unfriended by blackface girl. I also saw that she (and other YSA people) had “Facebook flair” that said gingers had no souls. Though I knew the reference was a South Park one, it felt a little personal. On Internet postings by Ward and Stake members in 2008 and 2012, people threatened to leave the country or suggested that the world was going to end because Obama was elected. Anytime he’s […]

Different Types of Courage

No, it isn’t “okay” to suggest that a woman is actually a man if she wants to be a CEO or the President or any other traditionally male position. There is nothing wrong with a woman wanting to hold a position of power. This doesn’t make her less of a woman. It has nothing to do with her gender or her sex. No, it isn’t “okay” to suggest that a woman must be a lesbian if she wants these things. Being a lesbian is about a woman liking other women sexually. It is not a personality trait or a character flaw. A woman choosing to run for office or run a company doesn’t mean that she finds women sexually attractive. No, it isn’t “okay” to suggest that a woman must be intersex if she wants these things. Being intersex means that a person is born with sexual anatomy that does not fit the standard male-female anatomy definitions. It is the way a person’s body develops, not a personality trait or a character flaw. If a person doesn’t fit the norm socially, it doesn’t mean that they are intersex. No, it isn’t “okay” to teach girls and young women that there is something wrong with them if they are ambitious and it isn’t “okay” to demean women who’ve acted on their ambitions. Ambition is not a solely-male trait. It is not a character flaw for a woman to be ambitious. If a woman wants to be in charge of a country or a company or her household, don’t judge her for that. No, it isn’t “okay” to say that only men can hold certain jobs, have certain hobbies, etc. It limits all people to say that gender roles have to be strictly defined. It demeans every person when one person is told that they are less worthy of respect because of their gender, sexual orientation, etc. Basically, get the fuck over your stupid, petty biases. Women and men should be treated with the same level of respect and decency. Stop the demeaning and degrading talk. Stop suggesting that women only belong in the kitchen and never belong in the boardroom. Stop trying to make being of a different sexual orientation or being born with certain parts into an insult. Stop telling little girls that they have to behave certain ways to be loved or to be worthy of respect and start teaching them that they have the same amount of dignity as their male peers. Stop teaching boys that girls have to act a certain way to earn their respect and to be treated like actual human beings. Stop promoting or encouraging or justifying ignorance. via Tumblr

Sexism Sucks

In his recent post A Letter to Women, Brendan Rhatican has managed to piss off just about anyone woman who read his words. He may have meant it as a simple opinion piece, one that wouldn’t be noticed or responded to by any person. He may have meant it to begin a debate. Whatever his intention, the letter has sparked a lot of anger from those who have read it. His first two paragraphs alone are worrisome, but are not the only problem with his “letter”: You may respond by saying that men cannot speak on women’s clothing, but I assure you that it has become as much an issue for me as it is for you. I’m asking that you wear more clothes. It is becoming increasingly difficult for me to look at you as a woman. I want to tell you that the less you wear, the more of an object you become, and the more conservatively you dress, the more of a woman you are. You may reply: “What, then, are you asking for? Do you want me to veil myself as the ancients did? Can I not be presentable? Do you want me to just stay inside?” There are still men who cherish a chaste woman before a “presentable” woman, a virgin before a diva and a commitment before instant gratification. A woman used to be honored for her virginity; now she hates herself for it. A woman’s chastity used to be her attractiveness, her security, her character and her virginity, her beauty. You ask why men are no longer chivalrous. When was the last time your actions demanded chivalry? You ask why you are treated like an object. Why wouldn’t you be objectified? I find it odd that somehow a woman becomes less of a woman and more of an object by simply wearing less clothing. Do men also become objects when they remove their shirts or when they wear shorts? Do men need to dress conservatively in order to be valued for more than just utter sex appeal. Yes, women dress in a more sexually charged manner nowadays, but this does not mean that this change in style is the fault of the women. Most women are buying clothing that has been chosen from the latest in fashion by persons working in department stores. Fashion designers and major retail outlets determine what women will wear. Women buy the clothing, but that doesn’t mean that they truly influence the trend. If a woman dresses in a more trendy, less conservative manner, then it doesn’t mean that she wants someone to treat her like an object. It means that she wants to do what is fashionable. It means that she wants to do what is comfortable for her. Her clothing choices do not force men to treat her as some kind of sex object. If a man treats a woman as an object, then that is his choice. Despite what some men think, they are more than just a penis. Men can make decisions to not treat women in such a manner. If they choose to treat women poorly, then that is their choice. It reflects on them and not on the women that they are judging. Another point that I find a bit disturbing is that Brendan felt the need to talk about how women should be more chaste in their actions as well. Women have sex for a few reasons. For one, it is something that they enjoy. Women should not be forced to stay virgins simply to attract a nice guy. If they want to have sex, then they should be able to have sex. Another reason that this is a disturbing statement is that for years men have been allowed to determine when women do and do not have sex. It has been legal for them to rape their spouses, when in a marriage. It has been acceptable for them to do virginity tests on potential brides. It has been legal for them to even go so far as to disfigure a woman or mutilate her to keep her from having sex before marriage and to keep her from enjoying it. Sex and sexuality have been things that men have used to control women consistently throughout history. And who says that women want chivalry? Wanting or demanding respect doesn’t mean that a person wants a chivalrous relationship. I am taking chivalry to mean things like opening doors, holding chairs, paying every single time, etc. These are not things that all women want. In fact, there are many women who see these as yet another way to attempt to control her. These are ways that men keep women from doing for themselves, and that can be frustrating for a woman. It is increasingly difficult for me to look at you without disrespecting you with my eyes. What else do you want me to think of when you wear skin-tight clothing? You have stripped yourself of everything that made you beautiful. You have offered yourself to many men and wonder why I do not treat you like the only woman in the world. You chose the “bad boy” and wonder why you never have any “luck” with real men. You make men into animals and ask why they cannot tame their appetite. You feel empowered when you live with no strings attached and ask why you are so lonely. Wearing tight clothing does not take away from any person’s beauty. I hate to sound like some Hallmark card, but beauty is more than just appearance. If you are looking at a woman and you are judging her beauty based on her sartorial choices or based on her willingness to have sex, then you are not truly ready for a relationship with that woman. Until you are willing to look beneath that and find the person, then you are not being chivalrous, you are being a dick. Women do not make men do anything.  As […]

A Letter to Men Who Feel the Need to Write ...