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7/2/12

Fresh Meat



Last week, someone posted this little gem on Facebook:










Since last Friday, 1, 366 people "liked" this, and 2,772 people "shared" it with their friends. Of course, there were a few dozen people, myself included, who expressed responses ranging from disagreement to horror. But it seems like a drop in the bucket. A few people who felt strongly enough to say "No. It is not okay to compare a woman wearing a tank-top/bikini/whatever-screams-"immodest"-to you, to a pig rolling around in shit," versus the thousands of people voicing their approval, including many who advised the people dissenting to "calm down," "get a life," and most disturbingly "It's interesting. It's not unlike someone deliberately dangling fresh meat in front of a pack of starving wolves, and then getting mad at them, and condemning any of them that run up to take a bite."


At least in the original post, the women were still alive, acting/being pigs maybe, but alive. However, look how quickly the women were turned into "fresh meat." I'm most angered by the violent undertones of these kinds of comments. If you dress immodestly, you deserve to get attention from "pigs," you deserve to be "bitten" by "starving wolves." You deserve to be sexually assaulted. Many of the women who "liked" the post promised to use this in a future Young Women's lesson.


The excuse that this is just "Mormon Culture" and not "doctrine" isn't true either. In his April 2005 Conference address, Dallin H. Oaks compared immodest women to pornography."And young women, please understand that if you dress immodestly, you are magnifying this problem by becoming pornography to some of the men who see you." 


Pigs. Fresh meat. Pornography. I'm not resorting to hyperbole to say that this breaks my heart. That it makes me want to take Clara and run in the opposite direction of whatever church tells my beautiful baby that she deserves to be mistreated, to be viewed as porn, based on what she wears. If I ever have a son, it breaks my heart to think he will be taught that this is how he treats women. That he himself is a "pig" or a "starving wolf" who cannot control his own thoughts or actions. It kills me that this is the world I am raising my daughter in, and yes, it kills me that many people around me don't understand.


 I will not stop saying this: There is no such thing as "good" patriarchy. The church isn't the "exception" because once a year we tell women they are incredible. Everyone is hurt by inequality, everyone is hurt by patriarchy.


Thoughts like this will lead to violence against women. When we reduce women to objects, it is easy to hurt them. It is easy to justify hurting them, especially if they fight back. What right does pornography have to fight back? What right does the fresh meat have to refuse to be eaten?


A few weeks ago Anita Saarkeesian launched a Kickstarter campaign to make a series of videos about the way women are portrayed in video games. In response, she received threats of death, rape, and bodily harm. Her quote in response? “I have been running a web series on YouTube for a few years now that both deals with questions of sexism in the media and also has ‘feminist’ in the title, so I’m certainly no stranger to some level of harassment...I knew that delving into video games might provoke a bit of a misogynist backlash … [but] this level of organized and sustained harassment, vitriol, threats of violence and sexual assault in response to a project that hasn't even been made yet is very telling."


We live in a world where people who identify as feminist are used to being harassed for their beliefs. We live in a world where hundreds of people will threaten to kill you if you dare to question a misogynistic social norm. If they don't threaten to kill you, maybe they will threaten to excommunicate you. 


The only good news? After posting about her harassment, she received over $120,000 in financial support for her project. Her initial goal was $6,000. We have allies, but we need to be willing to talk about the problem.


This is not the post I wanted to write today. I had a happy post about ways I see the church and society changing, the way women are changing our own destiny, the way the world will be better for Clara than it was for me. I believe that. But I also believe it isn't happening fast enough. It should have been better for me. It should have been better for you. Yesterday.












Anita Saarkeesian article.



























162 comments:

The Dominos said...

Amen.

I am especially irked that it is a letter addressed to "girls" from "real men."

I have seen this floating around for a while now, and every time I see it, I just feel sick.

Ashley said...

Thanks for this. You hit the nail on the head!

Shan said...

Amen again. It is this kind of thinking that causes bishops to tell rape victims they are lying because they did something they feel guilty about or that they brought it on themselves because of something they did and THEN discourage them from going to the police.

Amy said...

I partially agree. I was one of those who liked the quote on fb this weekend. I took pigs to be synonymous for douche bag type guys. The kid of guys who enjoy girls who are flaunting everything their mama gave them aren't classy and usually more likely chauvinist pigs. But you can't dangle a worm in front of some hungry fish and not expect glances... Girls who dress immodestly have to expect there will be undesired attention as the result of how they are presenting themselves. Modesty is something that has always been VERY important to me. I think it reflects a lot about how a person presents themselves and how desperate they are to dress a certain way to fit in even when it looks ridiculous.

Katrina said...

Awomen and Awomen. Thank you for being a voice of reason and feminist kickass awesomeness. Love you.

Ru said...

I absolutely despised that post. I don't know what makes me angrier, that so many people liked and shared it, or the insulting comments that followed. The wolf/meat issue was by far the worst.

I knew it would do no good and I wanted to say, "You know what? You're partly right. When I wear a sexy dress, I know I'm wearing a sexy dress, and I don't mind ONE LITTLE BIT when men react appropriately to that dress (eg, smiling or flirting). I DO mind when awful people -- men and women -- decide that they can talk to me or treat me however they want based on a DRESS. Control yourselves. That means you don't get to sexually harass or assault me, men, or call me a whore, women, or generally disrespect me, EVERYONE."

What I really want to know is this: If I work hard, earn money, and choose to buy myself a nice car, is it then my own fault if my neighbors become envious? If they are no longer satisfied by their own cars? If they vandalize my car? If they steal my car? NO. A tank top isn't any different than a car, except that in the case of tank tops, the "offending" party are always women, and the "offended" party are always men who don't want to control themselves and women who don't want to hold men accountable for their own behavior.

I'd like, just once, someone try to make the same arguments about violence or theft or greed that they make about so-called "modesty.":

"It's not enough to tell people to not be violent, we should ban guns! Guns are just an invitation to commit murder. There's no way that sweet young man would have ever murdered anyone without guns constantly around to tempt him."

"Sorry you got robbed, you really should have installed an alarm system. What did you think was going to happen? Having a house without an alarm system is like waving red meat in front of wolves."

"You know, it's human nature to be greedy, so it's really not enough to be genuinely humble. You should never buy or wear anything nice -- actually, you should probably live in a tent and poop in a bucket, so others don't get envious. Outward humility is more important than inward humility."

Stephanie said...

@ Amy

First,I think we really need to stop comparing women to animals or objects.

I also think modesty is an incorrect way to describe what you believe in. What is modest to you is very immodest to someone living in Saudi Arabia.

So if you went to Saudi Arabia, dressed in your knee-length skirt and your shoulders covered, you would still be immodest. Would you deserve to be harassed then? Are you a bait?

I think we need to stop focusing on "modesty" and start focusing on respect. Respect for our bodies and dressing in a way we feel is respectful to ourselves, and respect to others who dress differently.

Sandy said...

This is a really important post. Too often in conversations about sexisim and feminism, people overlook the fact that sexism hurts people. Actually hurts people. Their feelings, but also their bodies. The world is literally more dangerous for women. I hear you when you say it kills you. I have a lot of unproductive anger because of this that I'm trying to figure out how to process and work with. I keep a little notebook with a list of "Ways the Position of Women in the LDS Church is Improving" that I keep so that I don't overlook the good. This post reminds me why I could never keep a corresponding list documenting the bad. It would There's just too much.

On a doctrinal note, I think it's interesting that you referenced a quote from Dallin H. Oaks as "church doctrine." I think you're right to do so, but increasingly in my own faith journey, I'm coming to view the words of the apostles and prophets less and less as doctrine and more and more as products of the culture.

Stephanie said...

@Sandy

Isn't the church culture/doctrine thing such a weird blurry line? I don't see it as "doctrine," but I think the LDS church might, as well as most of the members. All I know is that it is pretty significant if it is said over the pulpit of General Conference.

Miri said...

Oh, this is perfect. Thank you. And your last response to Amy is perfect, as well. I don't think "modesty" is even something we need to be talking about, period, because it's impossible to separate that concept from cultural expectations, and those are completely relative. The only thing you need to worry about when dressing yourself is how YOU feel about YOURSELF. Respecting yourself doesn't mean conforming to certain standards, and conforming to others' standards doesn't mean you respect yourself. "Modesty" is absolutely a patriarchal concept and it's something we just need to get away from.

Unknown said...

I think I was even more angry than you over that post and the comments and I'm still angry about it. I hate stupid women as much as I hate misogynistic men. And I won't apologise for the word "hate". Not everyone deserves my love and admiration.

This comment from Amy annoys me: "I think it reflects a lot about how a person presents themselves and how desperate they are to dress a certain way to fit in even when it looks ridiculous." I think the way a lot of Mormon women dress looks "ridiculous". White t-shirts under dresses? Capped sleeves all the time? Layers all over the place, even in July? How "desperate" they are to fit in with their conservative counterparts.

I think it says a lot about a person when they immediately assume that someone who feels comfortable enough with her body to show it publicly is "desperate". It suggests insecurity.

Is it possible that women get more upset over scantily clad women, not because modesty is some spiritual virtue that is important to them but because they're jealous and insecure, and that men don't get upset because they are actually showing love for women? I mean, even if it's just love for their bodies, that's a start anyway. There are men who will love women's bodies in a way that feels icky and there are men who will do it in a way that is respectful—the same scantily clad women. The respectful men care about what is behind the body. The same dynamic between men and "modestly" dressed women is found. We have icky men in the church who care more about how a woman appears on the outside than how she adorns herself on the inside; it's more important for her to be "modest" than to be brilliant or political.

Mama Ayla said...

I couldn't disagree more. I thought the facebook post summed thing up exactly. I am shocked and sadden when I see 8 year old girls wearing pants with the word "juicy" on the back. My stomach heaves when I see teenage girls walking around our town flaunting their breasts, their bottoms hanging out of the back of their jeans, their thong visible for everyone. It's too much when middle age relatives on facebook post pictures of themselves taken in front of the bathroom mirror in their underwear! Things have gotten out of control and someone needs to stand up and say something about it. I don't think a women dressing immodestly is inviting rape or mistreatment but they are inviting disrespect. They are painfully displaying their low self esteem and that's how people, both male and female are going to react to them. If you don't value yourself, no one else will.

Danielle said...

Thanks for posting this. I often have similar thoughts about things like this but am just not up to the task of voicing my feelings about it. I totally agree with what you said. And it wasn't until I had a daughter that things that used to irk me about modesty/sexuality within the lds church culture started to make me really question if I want her to be subjected to it.

ChristyLove said...

So. Many. Things to say. I need to start having the comment page open as I read your posts. This may be disjointed because I'm commenting while angry:

I have watermelons for boobs. Shirts that start out "modest"ly designed shirts become "trashy" by the end of the day because my basic anatomy pulls the neckline down. I'm so sorry to all the modest "girls" and "real men" I have offended by simply not considering THEM while dressing myself in the morning.

And by the way, fruitforbreasts get negative attention regardless of how you wrap them.

We also live in a world where women feel like they get to be snarky about other people's choices. It's not the pair of shorts YOU'D have chosen? Thank you for stopping the conversation to tell me that. It's not like I asked, but I'm glad you've informed me anyway.

There are "real men" in the world who know how to have a conversation with/work alongside/RESPECT a woman without referencing her sexuality, regardless of her outfit.

*Gasp*. I know. That one comes as a shock.

How dare I expect my husband (and other men), a fully grown man with a free will and power of choice all his own, to look myself and other women in the eye while we speak. On top of being responsible for myself, I now have to take responsibility for the thoughts OF EVERY SINGLE MAN I MAY ENCOUNTER TODAY?

No wonder today's women are tired. We're literally carrying the weight of the entire world.

Grr. I'll go back to shining my oven barefoot now.

Michelle Glauser said...

I was one of the first people to leave a negative reaction to that post from MMB and I was a bit scared. Then, what do you know?! Other heroines swept down and joined the cause! I was so pleased to be supported. I even had to leave a negative comment about it on my cousin's post even though my own sister and mother liked it. Blech.

Emily said...

I just saw this on my pinterest this morning and I had a similar reaction although I could have never articulated it quite as well. These types of messages are so damaging!

Suze said...

True that- I've been thinking the same thing as I see that passed around. Only by my LDS friends, interestingly.

I was insulted by the "When people ask me why I don't have any tattoos, I say why would I put a bumper sticker on a Ferarri?" with a picture of a woman next to a car. Wha....?

Though I don't think that one is a) as damaging or b) as telling as this more recent one about modesty.

And this is why my soon-to-be-born son is not going to be raised in that church.

Maggie said...

To imply that we as women can control the thought and actions of men by our wardrobe choices is both absurd and untrue. In my experience, pigs don't seem to care what I'm wearing. I have been subjected to harassment and assault while baring scarcely a clavicle.

nounduefussing.com said...

My issue with this quote, and with those steadfastly agreeing with it, is that it wholly and entirely allows "real" men to shirk any personal responsibility.

I'm not a big fan of the way a lot of late teens/ early 20's girls dress (I'm only 33...typing that sentence makes me feel old) but it's their choice and none of my business.

Conversely, a man makes a conscious choice when he decides to make a derogatory comment, grab her ass, force themselves upon her, or rape her. A woman's outfit, make-up, or stilettos don't do that. Lack of self control, a woeful disregard of women, and an overinflated sense of sexual entitlement, is the problem.

"Girls who dress immodestly have to expect there will be undesired attention as the result of how they are presenting themselves." This is exactly what I will NOT be teaching my daughter. She is not a piece of meat. She is not a "worm". She is not a sexual object simply because she possesses breasts and a vagina. She is a person and she is absolutely entitled to expect to be treated as such, regardless of how she dresses.

Were she assaulted by a pedophile (she's 7) while wearing a jean skirt and tank top, was she asking for it? The answer to that is NO.

If one of my sons were to someday grope a woman's breast because "she put it out there" am I supposed to dismiss that act of sexual assault because, well, they're boys. Boys have urges? HELL NO.

I hate that we live in a world that encourages my sons to be "pigs" and reduces my daughter to little more than a means of sexual gratification. It's disgusting. My job is teaching them- all of them- to not be tools of the patriarchy. And yeah, all three of them (ages 3, 7, 9) can tell you exactly what that means and exactly why that's bad.

Jessica said...

I found your blog entry through a link on Facebook. First and foremost, what you wrote has spurred a lot of thoughts and emotions, both positive and negative. I wonder if your reaction is a little bit extreme, but it would be fair for you to accuse me of being too ambivalent, I guess. I don't know that the creator of that picture believes that rape victims bring it on themselves. At least, I really hope not because that WOULD be disgusting. But I agree that the message was given in a condescending way that isn't productive.

I'll spare you most of my thoughts, and instead ask you a question. Obviously you believe this is the wrong way to encourage women to show respect for themselves and their bodies. So, how do we as a society, as women, and mothers, start to give that message in a positive way? Because if I ever have a daughter, I want her to want more than the instant gratification that many men will give if they see her wearing clothes that leave little to the imagination. I want her to embrace modesty, not necessarily meaning that she can't ever show cleavage or wear short shorts, but just modesty in the sense that her clothes and the way she carries herself don't distract from the smart, funny, well spoken, thoughtful, kind woman that I hope she'll be. (I sure hope some of your commenters don't accuse me of being brainwashed for wanting that!)

Any ideas? I now have a better idea of how NOT to give that message. Now how DO I?

Jean said...

Natasha, you must think burqas look ridiculous too. And sheitels and kippahs, etc. etc. - how desperate religious people all are to "fit in," right?

Railing on women who wear too much clothing (in your opinion) is just fighting fire with fire. If we want progress, we need a more respectful dialogue to work with.

Matt said...

"Real Man" here, at least I think.

I am not going to edit myself here or try to say what I think everyone wants to hear...this is just straight up me:

I love when women look sexy. I work with loads of beautiful, brilliant, women, and most of them dress attractively. And it's great! I've been faithfully married for a decade, and I have the self-control to admire a woman's beauty without wanting to rape everyone.

Is there even ANY correlation to rape incidents and the victim's wardrobe??? I doubt it.

And I don't care if they don't want to look sexy either. It's just not a big deal, and I wish the rhetoric were toned way down.

I attended a dinner at a bishop's house recently where a 16 yr old boy (barely "active") brought his girlfriend, not LDS. She looked fantastic in a sleeveless dress. A YW leader actually pulled me aside and asked if she should suggest that the girl put on a sweater to cover her shoulders. I said don't be a psychopath, she looks gorgeous and you will scar her forever. Nothing was said and the kids had a great night.

Slight tangent - people are too uptight about sunday attire as well. come on, who cares? If a lady wants to wear nice pants to church, then god bless her! At least she's THERE!!!

It takes 100% of my brainpower to live my own life against my own standards...I just don't have any extra room to run everyone else's life as well.

Stephanie said...

Matt, we need more real men like you. Thanks for fighting the good fight.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Graham said...

That was awesome, Matt. Thank you. And thank you, Stephanie, for having the courage to talk about this issue. I think how the Church treats young women's sexuality is horribly unhealthy and damaging to girls, which is why my daughter will have her value reinforced constantly, independent of whether or not she chooses to dress like intermountain west Mormons think Jesus wants them to dress.

Cassandra said...

I agree with Maggie: I've walked down the street in knee-length cut off jean shorts and a baggy t-shirt and gotten cat calls. We can only be responsible for our own choices and pretending that we hold some kind of power over other people simply by how we choose to cover our bodies is just that: pretend.

I had 2 Facebook friends re-post this image and I made a comment on both of them that said "I know that this is said in a joking way, but this is basically saying that girls who dress "immodestly" are dirty and worthless. I don't think that's really what you are trying to say..." One of these comments got a response (now deleted, along with my own) that basically said that yes, women who dress this way are dirty and worthless, though that doesn't mean it's intentional. This type of judgement was conveyed so off-handed, and just hurt my soul. No one is dirty and worthless: we are all children of God and deserve to be treated as such.

The Cut Source said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
kels said...

Check out this awesome response meme on WAVE's facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=606573656200&set=a.527020561240.2041557.182900895&type=1&theater :D

Lauren Donna said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lauren Donna said...

When I saw this modesty post on a friend's Pinterest page, I bristled. For many of the same reasons you and your commentors have already discussed. Ironically, I have also bristled at women who show up to church in tank tops and barely-there skirts. So explain that one to me... For me "dressing modestly" was always more flattering simply because I didn't have a body that anyone would want to see dressed otherwise. So maybe that's why I bristle at the short skirts and tank tops. And that's really dumb.

I think there are far more important things we can emphasize in the Church. Does Mormon modesty have eternal implications? Probably not. Not that much, anyway. Fostering prejudices against others based on their wardrobe choices only makes us retreat further into what we consider safe, comfortable, and good. If I see someone dressed "inappropriately" at Church and it keeps me from approaching them as a friend, then how has the principle of modesty really helped me? We should teach respect for ourselves and our bodies (ALL bodies) without emphasizing shame as it relates to the length of one's shorts.

I also bristle at the phrase "Modest is Hottest" and the opening of store in my neighborhood called "Sexy Modest." I bristle a lot it seems.

mj said...

I appreciate this blog post very much. I have a beautiful two-year-old daughter and I don't want her to be ashamed of herself and her body for any reason. But, I am still teasing out exactly how I feel about "modesty" and how one shows respect for their own body. I think it is wonderful to educate people on the ugliness of misogynism. However, I don't think it's particularly useful to call other women stupid or brainwashed. It is likely that most are trying to do the best they can and simply need more education on the effect of language and cultural messages.

Alissa said...

Thank you for your voice! It is needed.

Karin said...

If there is objectification of women in our Mormon culture, then it is a corruption of the world. The principles of the Gospel teach that not only should we praise women "one day of the year," but that women can receive every blessing that men can. Brother Perry has said that there is no president and vice president in the home but that we are to be united as coequals--no doubt this equitable husband-wife relationship is patterned after our Heavenly parents and a foreshadowing of how we can live after this life.

Concerning patriarchy, Realizing that the Kingdom of God on earth is undeniably a patriarchy has definitely been a trial for me. In praying about this and striving to be humble, I feel that God has taught me a lot. I've learned that when I think, "wait a second! I don't feel right about patriarchy. It goes against all I have read and think..The Church must change...why is the church behind the times? Why is the Church wrong?" then I lose the spirit. I've learned the hard way that if I pray for humility and strive to align my will to the all-knowing, all-powerful God, then He gives me so much light. And I am able to understand much more and have much more peace.

For my job I research how women are treated all around the world. I know that patriarchy is seemingly-always corrupt and that men seemingly-always use their status to oppress and objectify women. I believe that patriarchy can be simply a system of order and that it does not have to be a hierarchy of status. Perhaps the atrocities in patriarchies are corrupt imitations of the real and Holy order. Whether I understand it or not, God (who is smarter and more aware than any of us) has chosen this system for His Kingdom on the Earth.

I sustain Elder Oaks in his statement--he is human, but, he's called of God to tell us hard things. I'm sure he prayed about that statement as his language is very strong.

What can we personally do in our families and wards to build up God's kingdom via His principles of charity, accountability, and equity?

Shannon Lucas said...

All I know is my wife is the most beautiful person on the planet. Man I love her so much.

I'm not perfect, but I try my hardest every to view women as God would see them - invaluabe, rare and precious.

I strive for this because I have been taught to do so by my faith and my family around me.

I hope to always treat others with the respect we all desire and greatly deserve.

- One perspective from an LDS (mormon) guy

Stephanie said...

@Lauren Donna, I bristle a lot too. A LOT.

@Shannon Lucas, what a great way to live. :)

Melissa said...

I actually was discussing this issue with my father the other day. Whom I believe to be one of those "Stereo typical" mormons (to be fair the same may be said of me, I am a "Utah" mormon just as much as he is)

I told him that we, as a religion and a culture, spend FAR too much time shaming our women into thinking our bodies are causing problems. Modesty *IS* important, but a man should be in control of his own thoughts and his actions are NOT provoked by the way I dress.

Now, Normally my Dad is a talker, But I think I cinched up the points so fast he couldn't even argue with me about it.

However on the flip side, why don't we have MORE modest clothing for our girls? Just you wait until clara hits 5-7 in sizes and you'll see, that the objectifying clothing that is available to LITTLE girls is Ridiculous. I'm not saying the little image is right, but women should dress like they have some self respect, and we should teach our daughters the same thing too.

LC said...

I'm more troubled by some of the comments here than I was by the Facebook posting.

It's interesting to me that people who demand respect for women can call them brainwashed, unintelligent, and oppressed all in one breath (At least I think those were the words I read as I browsed through here.) I believe remarks like that are equally as damaging as the jerk who claims someone who dresses "immodestly" deserves to be a victim of violence. (My husband just hollered from the next room that a guy "needs to control his stuff." See? They're out there.)

I'm an intelligent woman. I'm happy with myself. I cover my shoulders and wear capri pants that reach my knee or lower. I do believe I keep missing the Naked Confidence seminar so many others seem to have graduated from.

But I'm comfortable with myself. I'll argue with anyone who tries to tell me I'm not. (Bless my dear, loud-mouthed mother for teaching me to stand up for myself.) I simply believe, however, that because I'm married my cleavage is for my husband now. I'm not showing it to someone else.

We are sexual beings. We were made that way on purpose, and it's a big part of how we form relationships. Those attractions don't stop because we're married, but I do think we--both genders-- are responsible for what we do with them. In my marriage at least, my husband and I still acknowledge members of the opposite sex as being attractive. It doesn't create security issues for us. We're committed to one another.

I believe people are too inclined to climb all over each other in a quest to be the loudest and most right. Tolerance is easy when you find someone who agrees with you and vice versa. The real test of tolerance and respect, in my opinion, is treating the person well who you don't agree with.

Stephanie said...

@LC

I agree, I don't think you, or anyone, is brainwashed for believing in specific modesty standards. I hope that was not implied in my post. I, and I think you, would simply agree that it is wrong to objectify or degrade a person who doesn't follow those standards.

I also missed the Naked Confidence Seminar. Maybe next year....

Motion DeSmiths said...

I completely agree. I'm very concerned about raising kids in this church right now. For myself, I'm able to sort out the bad and keep the good. But kids are so literal, and the church has become SO much more draconian on some of these things. It's a big step away from Christ, and I'm glad popular blogs like yours are addressing this.

McGee said...

Yes, yes and YES.

The lick a cupcake and pass it around to show girls that if you make a bad choice you're nothing more than a cupcake that no one will ever deem worthy attitude needs to go.

I wrote a blog post as well...I couldn't agree more with you.

www.justmcgee.com

Thanks for starting the conversation here!

WordofCaution said...

I am not a "Utah Mormon." I was raised LDS in a small town where my brothers and I were the only members in my high school. I think that afforded me a unique perspective when I graduated from high school, attended college in Rexburg, and then in Provo.

There are so many extreme opinions that have been expressed, and I can't help but repeat the adage my mother repeated in my childhood, "when you exaggerate, you lose credibility."

The facebook post that has caused this incendiary response is two lines. Simply stated, it says that girls who dress immodestly will attract attention only from pig-type men. As an attractive woman in my mid-twenties, I think that this statement holds a lot of truth. Is it 100% bulletproof? No.

Modesty is not a cultural thing, at least not when it comes to the LDS faith. The expectations of modesty are very clearly spelled out by the Church. There is not a different version of modesty for each country, culture, or even climate. An LDS woman in Alaska, Africa, or Austria can find the same guidelines for modest dress and behavior.

I have a testimony of the Church, and that would not be possible without a testimony of its leaders. I do not understand when members make comments like, "That is the one thing the church believes that I don't," or "I wish that the Church would see how it is wrong about", etc. Those who make similar comments or have similar feelings, are in danger of compromising the entire foundation of their own testimonies. The Church is not designed for members to pick and choose which doctrines they like to subscribe to, while disregarding those they might see as not applicable to them, inconvenient, or old-fashioned. I do not consider myself, with a testimony of the entire gospel, to be brainwashed, but perhaps many on this thread would disagree.

I am not saying that an immodest woman deserves to be raped. Or assaulted, or sexually harassed. I am not saying that, I don't believe that the original facebook post was saying that, and I know that that sentiment has NEVER been expressed in a general conference talk. I think you would be hard-pressed to find ANYONE who said they felt that way. Every woman deserves to be treated with respect, regardless of what she is wearing. In a perfect world, that would be what we would see.

Unfortunately, we do not live in a perfect world. That's not changing, either. Because of this, I lock the doors to my house and car when I leave them. Does this make them absolutely safe from being robbed? No. Would leaving the doors unlocked be me asking to be robbed? No. Is it fair that I feel like I have to lock my doors? No. But does it make my chances of being robbed less? Yes, it does.

I am a member of the Church. I was raised by my father and my mother. Our home definitely followed a patriarchal pattern. I am married, and my husband is a patriarch in our home. In both settings and throughout my entire life, I have been valued and appreciated not only for my womanhood, but for my intelligence, my ability to reason, make decisions, and act according to my principles. I have never been debased or devalued due to my gender. I believe that the patriarchal pattern as set out by the Church is not always the patriarchal pattern practiced in homes across the country, and across the world. This is not an imperfection of the Church, but imperfection of each of those homes.

I came across this blog via a facebook post of a friend. I felt that I should express my thoughts, but I will not be returning in the future.

Sarah said...

I grew up in Utah, I heard a lot of those weird/borderline inappropriate metaphors and objects lessons growing up--like the pig one. My attitude has always been that people are imperfect and sometimes their ideas are poorly articulated and their lessons often missed the mark, but in no way did I see them as vindictive or dehumanizing. I merely saw them as my parents or teachers attempting to explain to a teenager, without a real grasp on the world,ideas that might not appeal to me, i.e. modesty.

Yes, they used scare tactics but to tell you the truth, I use similar scare tactics and hyperbole on my own three year old. Ten minutes ago I told her if she climbed on top of the book case, she would fall off and get hurt bad. She asked, "Me die?" I replied, "Maybe." The bookcase is 3 feet tall. She will not die from the fall. But her mind cannot comprehend that if I allow her to climb on top of the bookcase, I know she will eventually jump off and probably end up with a broken bone (something else her mind cannot comprehend.)

I believe men are responsible for their own thoughts and actions. I do not think anyone who dresses immodestly is a pig or will be raped or attacked etc. I do believe I am responsible for my own image. For me that image is being modest. I now live in Bangkok, what I believe is modesty is neither convenient nor comfortable. But it is something I do. I don't think less of people who dress less modestly than me, nor do I think less of the women who dress more modestly than me (hijabs and burkas). I am only responsible for my own modesty. When my daughter is grown, I hope that she too will dress in a way that shows she respects her body and expects people to treat her for the person she is inside. She will not learn that by scare tactics nor by ignoring it but I know she will internalize the information through a few warnings and a heavy dose of education, respect and nurture.

Perhaps that is what Elder Oaks is trying to give. A warning. He expects parents and leaders and give education, respect and nurture.

Also, I will safely wager that for every comment a General Authority has given women on dressing modesty, he has given at least 50 to men to control their thoughts. I doubt the concept of responsibility is lost on them.

Sam Armener said...

Great post!

@ people with opinions such as Amy's - it is fine if you feel strongly about "modesty" but there is no need for you to force your idea of what is appropriate dress attire on everyone else. Dress the way you feel comfortable but don't expect everyone else to do the same because it makes you feel uncomfortable to have someone else in a tank top or - heaven forbid - short shorts. *Rolling eyes*.

Sam Armener said...

Great post!

@ people with opinions such as Amy's - it is fine if you feel strongly about "modesty" but there is no need for you to force your idea of what is appropriate dress attire on everyone else. Dress the way you feel comfortable but don't expect everyone else to do the same because it makes you feel uncomfortable to have someone else in a tank top, short shorts or - heaven forbid - showing some cleavage. *Rolling eyes*.

Stephanie said...

@Sarah

Sort of a crapshoot warning, though. You are right, if your kid stays away from the bookcase, she won't fall of it and get hurt.

But dressing modestly won't prevent a man from thinking about you inappropriately if that is what he wants to do. Not everyone who gets raped was wearing short shorts and a tank top.

I'm all about being safe, and dressing in a respectful way. I understand that bad things happen. I do however, believe in doing everything you can to prevent a bad thing from taking place.

I don't think telling women they are pornography prevents bad things. I think it perpetuates them.

Stephanie said...

Also, if Women=Porn, then Elder Oaks is turning Women into an object, akin to a video/magazine/photo. I don't think it is ever okay to turn a woman into an object, even as an object of"warning."

If we teach men that women who dress in a way they see as inappropriate are objects, we are not teaching them to treat them as daughters of God. Even if the men never think something sexual about them, they are still objectifying them if they are taught tot look at them as porn.

I don't like relative math either. Elder Oaks can say control your thoughts 1,000 times to every time he says women are porn. Still not okay.

MissRissa said...

Great thoughts Stephanie. I think a lt of times, people just don't think before posting or liking something like that. THINK PEOPLE! Any way, MMB posted on their website for discussion also- everyone should go comment over there too, maybe people will start to think about it differently.

The Dominos said...

I love that issues concerning LDS modesty are even being discussed, and I think that something that would help is if we change the dialogue from church lessons on modesty, to teaching about respect. I think they extreme focus given to hemlines and sleeves only perpetuates a judgmental mindset. I we teach instead true respect of self and others, then need for these harming object lessons falls away.

Something I tell my three year old constantly when she asks why others are allowed to climb up the slide at the park and she isn't, is that she doesn't need to worry about what any one else does but herself. Those kids climbing up the slide aren't bad, and she isn't any better than them for not climbing up the slide. Anyway, another silly metaohor, but this mentality (which is much easier said than done. It is hard!) causes each person to be accountable for only for their own actions and thoughts.

ChristyLove said...

I feel like since it's been a day since I responded and I've time to cool off, I should take this opportunity to apologize for being crazy and angry all over your comments section.

I didn't mean to imply that sexuality was something we needed to turn off, either; only that I tend to have more respect for the men and women who can function like human beings without thier raging baser instincts taking over every situation.

mere said...

For me the issue is training our girls to act with men in mind instead of living their life for their OWN fulfillment. That, and the fact that when we stress and stress and stress modesty and pornography and skin and cleavage and sex! guess what people think about? skin and cleavage and sex! If we stopped talking about it so damn much, I'm sure the negative attention we are trying to safeguard our daughters against, wouldn't be as prevalent. We'd be all less uptight! But seriously. Great post!!!

Life Is Good said...

I am blown away that a gospel teaching such as modesty (for both men and women in the church) is what has you up in arms. Modesty...really? This is the battle you choose to fight. You need more to do with your time. Modesty...unbelievable. And by your post we are to infer that you believe the "the church" blames victims of abuse because of what they wear...you should be ashamed because I know that you know better.

Danielle Smith said...

Thank you for this. I couldn't agree more.

kade call said...

I dont know what its like to be raised in the mormon world for women, I never could. But at least in my experience I was always taught that regardless what a women chooses to wear, revealing or not, they ALL deserve the upmost respect. My dad taught me to enjoy the figure of a women and its beauty but never cross the line into finical, shallow, belittling and degrading thoughts. The beauty and the sex drive is there to lure us in and help us horny monkeys invest the time, serve and to enjoy them as a person so that we can begin to love them beyond the lust. Maybe I had a good dad but the message that " we men have urges, and its women's fault if they get assaulted because THEY chose to wear those skimpy clothes." was NEVER once conveyed to me. Anytime I was sexually involved in any degree before I was married, bishops would always tell me it didn't matter how agressive she was, or horny, or tempting, or skimpy her clothes were, I was to know better and always utilize self control and respect regardless of the situation. Granted in those cases i want forcing myself on women so its not a perfect analogy, but my point is church culture taught me to treat women with respect and I was the sole person responsible for my actions, pointing fingers an blaming is not acceptable. One of the good things LDS culture taught me, and yes there are many bad things too, but for me this was not one. I was told far more often than "once a year" that women are far superior to men in many regards and we should treat them with respect always. I also feel that to seemingly place the entire blame on womens view of themselves on the church and its members in this case is narrow minded. Media, peers, money, genetics and many other factors attribute to the degradation of women. I understand its a big church with lots of people and a myriad of problems that need to be adressed. I just wanna say not all men that churn out of the mormon machine are the type being attacked here. And there is a plethora of social/mental/emotional reasons why women dress they way they do. Some out of their control and some not. I think the problem is that there is truth and right on both sides of the equation. This is the case for almost everything. Its a very complicated problem with a simple answer. View others with love and respect always.

Nelson said...

Should we not flip the coin and look at both sides and then consider the statements made.

Kagan & Brooklyn Eden said...

I 99% agree with this post. I agree that we should never refer to women (or men for that matter) as meat or animals, so I'll give an example that compares them to people.

I work with disabled adults, many of whom are pedophiles. I'm not a mother, but knowing what I do about these people (who I love with all my heart, don't get me wrong), I would NEVER bring my child into their homes, or even the office in which I work and leave them unsupervised.

I think this is the point with the modesty thing in the LDS church. Yes, it's your choice to be modest or not. I do my absolute best not to judge a woman (or man) for being "immodest". And I know that those men/women who are "immodest" KNOW that they're dressing the way that they are, and they're doing it at least in part because they want attention for it. But the kind of attention that you get is what the LDS church is trying to change. Do you want someone to think of you sexually? For me, the only person I want to think of me like that is my husband. Sure, some guy may see me and think of me that way, but I'm not TRYING to make him feel that way. In the same way that I would never place my child in front of a pedophile to let the pedophile think of him/her sexually, I would never place my body in a sexually suggestive way in front of someone who I didn't want to think of me in a sexual way.

Also I love your blog and the points that you bring up. I hate Mormon culture and can't wait to move out of Utah to escape the stereotypes that are so often pinned on me but that I hate more than anything. So keep doing your thing :)

Stephanie said...

@Life is good

You need more to do with your time if you have time to write mean comments. This discussion is important to me. It doesn't have to matter to you.

Obviously the gospel teaching of kindness is not important to you. There have been comments here that disagreed with me that did so kindly.

Please know that your comment hurt my feelings. Sometimes we forget that in out online interactions.

kate said...
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kate said...
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R&A Miller Family said...

To say that we as women in the LDS church dress the way we do is cultural is not exactly how I would say it. And, yes there are many different opinions as to what modest is. Most, if not all of the LDS women who cover there shoulders and wear knee length skirts do so because of a covenant we have made with God and no one else. It is out of respect of that covenant and promise that we do this. Do I like having to layer my clothes? No, but I do because they are not many options out there clothing wise to choose from that will cover my shoulders and down to my knees. I don't expect anyone else to do the same as I do but to respect the way we choose to dress and we will respect how others choose to dress. No all of us are not perfect and there will be those that judge on both sides of the fence. I don't remember which comment it was but I like the fact she said she chose now that she is married to keep her cleavage to her husband. I feel the same way. It has nothing to do with how I respect or don't respect my body or how I feel about myself, but a decision I have chosen to make. Recently there was a victorias secret angel who has decided to take a different route in modeling out of respect "in her opinion" to her husband and not let the whole world see her in her bra and panties because that is now only for her husband. Her choice. But in my opinion a good one. Has she stopped modeling all together? No, but she will choose which modeling jobs she takes a little more carefully now. Also, just my opinion, it may not neccessarily be that women are bothered by those who dress more revealing because of there own self image, but there husband, brother, dad, or someone has had a problem with addiction to pornorgraphy and it makes them worry about how it will affect them and their temptations. I wouldn't blame the woman for it, it is still the mans thoughts and actions, but I will ask you this. What do they tell alcoholics and recovering addicts to do?? Stay away from it. Will they still be exposed to it? Yes, but they have more control over how much they are exposed to it than women who dress more revealing. Can they learn to control it?? Yes! Is it hard? Yes, even more so than a drug addiction because when a person gets turned on it is their own body that makes the chemicals. How do you stay away from those chemicals? Smoking, stop puting the cigarette in your mouth, alcohol, stop drinking it, pornography stop viewing it but those chemicals are still there so it is a much harder addiction to over come. Who wouldn't want to help someone with addiction? Can an alcoholic say no to a beer you put right in front of his face? No, sometimes, and yes depending on what stage they are at? Do you purposely as a friend put a beer in front of him? Probably not. I think some of us women just want the best for the son, husband, dad whomever it is to have it a little easier on themselves without women's boobs hangin' in there face. But you do have your right to dress the way you choose and I will respect that even if it is more revealing than I would choose to wear. But, it won't make me feel differently about how it can be a temptation to a man with an addicion problem, " not saying that any disregaurd,abuse or otherwise should not be controlled by the man or is justified by anymeans." It is not. Just my thoughts.

kate said...

curious about your thoughts on this:

what IS the difference between a woman showing cleavage, thigh, etc. and a man looking at her and getting aroused and a picture of a woman showing cleavage, thigh, etc. (soft porn) and a man looking at it and getting aroused? the woman in the picture is a real woman too.

in either case i don't hold the woman responsible for the man's thoughts/arousal. but i personally wouldn't want to be either woman. (unless that guy is my handsome husband.) i wonder if that is what Elder Oaks was getting at.

as we seek to promote respect for women, and men, i agree that analogies of pigs, meat, etc. are not the right way to do it. but i also think this has been blown out of proportion a little on both sides.

kate said...

p.s. thanks for inviting progress and discussion, though, through your blog. i respect and appreciate that.

AGK said...

Dallin H. Oaks was simply stating your "daughter" would be viewed or treated like porn, NOT that she deserved it. Stop twisting the words of the prophets just so you can feel like you're being attacked by a church leader-thanks.

Maggie said...

@ Kagan - I'm trying to wrap my brain around the comparison that you posed. And I wonder if we might skip the metaphors all together as I find them all a bit troubling in one way or another.

A) To compare men to pedophiles and women to children is just as problematic as comparing them to animals.

B) Modesty isn't quite so simple - it's highly subjective. I don't think that women make the choice each morning - shall I be modest today or shall I dress like a skank. We are not always so aware that what they are wearing would be labeled as immodest by another. I find nothing wrong with showing a little leg or a bit of my ample cleavage and I don't think it is necessarily immodest - though others would likely disagree. But I do so because I feel societal and internal pressure to look attractive and we as women are encouraged to live in the thin sliver in the middle of a ven diagram - to aspire to goals of attractiveness and modesty that are at odds with one another. Sometimes I slip onto the frumpy zone or wander into the provocative zone but I try to stay there in the middle - that I think our GA's would call the feminine zone.

Yes, women should be aware of the affect of their appearance but it is disheartening to hear church leaders focus so much on the way a woman should look, while overlooking what we might aspire to internally. I was recently at a stake conference in which E.Scott spoke about respecting women, "great" I thought to myself, "this could be great" but then spent the majority of his talk exhorting us to be modest and feminine. It was all about what women should looked like.

Men will think what they choose to think. I can draw no correlation between the modesty of my dress and the inappropriate actions of men towards me. In my experience, it doesn't so much matter what I'm wearing. Though when I try to look my best (which may or may not involve a little cleavage) and project confidence, I feel like I receive greater respect.

LC said...

@Natasha Clark: Not all women are oppressed. We're just not. Some are. But many of us have the pleasure of living with, being raised by, being married to, and being taught in church by wonderful men. You'll have to get a clear consensus from the entire female population to paint everyone with such a ridiculously wide brush. I've never felt oppressed or shamed for being who I am. I'm terribly sorry for women who are.

@Stephanie: Your post wasn't rude, but your comment section for me often carries to extremes, and like another commenter mentioned, it costs credibility. You've clearly written about something important to you. I have to join the ranks of those who need to be done with this blog, however. Best wishes in your faith journey. You're an intelligent, thoughtful person, and I hope you and your husband and daughter continue crafting an insanely cute and beautiful family.

Stephanie said...

@AGK

I think when Elder Oaks stated that women who dress immodestly are "magnifying the problem" he implied that by creating/magnifying the problem, they are responsible for it, and thus deserve to be treated as porn.

This is my interpretation. I am not twisting the words, I just interpret the statement differently than you.

Your comment hurt, not because of what you said, particularly, but because of the tone. I can tell you are angry at me, and that is surprising. I am just a person who has a different opinion than you. But I'm still a person with feelings.

I hope you are able to find peace in another corner of the internet. Best wishes from me and my "daughter."


As an aside, is there a reason you typed "daughter" this way? I promises she is a real daughter, and not just one of those creepy life-like doll "daughters" you can buy online. Sheeesh, maybe I should post more photos of her.

Stephanie said...

@LC I have always debated about how to handle comments online. If I start deleting some comments, where do I draw the line? Should I delete all comments I disagree with, and thus eliminate any discourse? What if what is offensive to me is not offensive to someone else.

For the time being, I have decided to let all comments be published. (Unless someone is seriously threatening bodily harm, etc.) I am sorry that this means you will no longer be reading, I always appreciate your comments.

camille said...

I agree with a lot of this.

I do think it is a little harsh to say that whoever wrote this (what i'm sure was meant to be a well meaning quote) was actually saying that immodest girls deserve to be raped. No rational being thinks this. I think they were more saying hey, there are creepy guys out there that want to take advantage of you and are, unfortunately, extra turned on by the amount of skin you're showing, sorry about that, wish it was different.

It's sad that us girls have to worry more about their safety than guys, but that is the reality right now.

On a side note, the idea that men cannot control their thoughts and that women dressing immodestly is an EXCUSE for RAPE and other DISGUSTING and CONDESCENDING BEHAVIOR is offensive to both men and women.

camille said...

That being said, was not a big fan of that quote and it Was offensive and I certainly did not like it on facebook. but I don't think they meant to sound so offensive and ignorant.

Stephanie said...

@ Camille, you are probably right about that.

camille said...

Enjoyed the post. Keep it up.

Emilie said...

I like this post. But even if I didn't, it doesn't mean you shouldn't write it. I'm not sure what threatens people so much about hearing another point of view. But there sure is a lot of anger in some of these comments. That's too bad.

Michael Paul Bailey said...

Me = agree!

Aaron Fyffe said...

I disagree. I believe the blog writer is seeing things a certain way and not from a neutral standpoint. The item in question that she criticizes is actually a good piece of advice because our SOCIETY, MEDIA, and CULTURE objectify these things, the CHURCH states that they should avoid it.
Also it should be noted that I am a male raised in the LDS church and I don't remember a single instance that I was told that I cannot control my thoughts or actions, indeed I remember hearing the opposite. That I am the ONLY person that can. And the quote that women dressed that way become pornography for young men I believe was meant to be that it illicits sexual thoughts and desires, which every single young man that hits puberty has a ton of. Young men truly do not need any encouragement. Elder Oaks was certainly not saying that women are porn when they are not dressed modestly. Heck, when I was a teenager just seeing a gal in ANY manner that wasn't the status quo got me excited. Whether that be tight pants, downblouse, alittle cleavage, crack, whatever. It was a hundred times worse when they were dressed in a manner that flaunted their assets.

Fig said...

I have a dozen issues with the pig quote, the porn quote, and many of the other things being discussed on this thread, but the one currently bothering me the most is this: Why do so many of us assume that every person's actions are motivated only by the attention of others?

I believe this perception, this idea that women are always dressing with men's reactions in mind, contributes heavily to the problems of objectification and sexism in the modesty discussion.

Why can no one imagine that maybe some women like the look of their own legs, shoulders, or even - GASP - cleavage? That they are selecting clothing based on what looks and feels good TO THEM?

Sometimes I feel like we all need to walk around wearing signs that say: "It's not about you." Because we seem to be bad at remembering that.

Daedree said...

Thanks for your post. Thanks for having such an amazing grasp of the English language to express what many of us are still trying to reach in our minds, despite being in our hearts for so long. And thank you for thinking outside of the box, as many of these commenters cannot recognize that people may think differently-and that it's okay to think differently.

I realize that many of these comments are hurtful and discouraging. Please know, though, that for me (and I assume many others) it's extremely hopeful to know someone else understands my mind. My whole life I've felt like only a few girls in this world were ever "soul" friends.With this amazing internet thing though I'm encouraged by your blog and will most definitely return.

alex said...

I'm so sick over this whole modesty thing. It's been unreal the past few weeks. (You know, now that it's summer and all the girls are polluting their bodies and poor men's minds with tank tops and short shorts because it's hotter than hell outside.)

I told my husband that it makes me want to get tattoos, piercings, and pose nude for artwork. I want to take back my body from misogynists. Ugh.

Chris said...

(I got so wordy that I may have to break this up into a couple of comments... sorry about that...)

I'm not even sure how I got here...I saw, in passing, this morning, that a friend on Facebook had posted, or liked (or whatever it is you do on Facebook), a link to this post. I read what you had to say, and I've been (to my surprise, honestly) thinking about it all day.

I apologize, this will likely get wordy.

I've had a very long, and evolving conversation in my head, about what I'd like to say to you. But, before, commenting, I decided to look a little bit deeper into what makes you, you (i.e. I read another blog post :). I read your most recent post, and I feel I have a better grasp on where you're coming from, and I hope that you'll understand where I'm coming from as well.

I understand the message that someone was trying to convey in the Facebook post, but I'm repulsed by the vehicle they chose to deliver this message -- maybe for reasons different than yours, maybe not.

I think the intent is clear -- if you dress in a provoking manner, you'll get attention -- wanted or not -- from people (not just men) who are hung up on appearances, who are over sexed, who are primed to see you as a piece of meat. And that real, upstanding, decent men would not stoop to such behavior.

I think that was the intent, now let me tell you what I think is wrong with the way that was chosen to present it:

First of all, I think the whole thing is a product of the glib world we find ourselves living in today. We're snarky. We're sarcastic. We're ironic. We think we're very clever. We speak in one liners and soundbites. We think we are immensely quotable. There is no longer room for discussion, or nuance, or grey area, we deal only in absolutes...at least when we decide to judge one another. The Facebook post clearly equates women who dress immodestly as pigs, and indicates that not only does she deserve the company she attracts, but that she is unworthy of the notice of "real men."

The idea is so sickening to me, that "real men" would have such contempt for another human being of any sort (or dress code), that he would never condescend to associate with such a person.

Let me tell you a little of my own thoughts regarding "real men." This also runs into my own thoughts on the LDS Church, and Christianity in general. I am a true, and unapologetic believer. I love the church. I love what it has brought into my life -- most importantly a beautiful wife, and three imperfect, but perfect children (two daughters and a son). I love what the church has helped me to become. Most of the time, I like the man that I am. But, when it comes to Christianity, I am a fundamentalist, and let me tell you what that means to me -- it means that Jesus is my example. And when you boil the teachings of Christ down to their most basic, you get this: Treat others as you would want to be treated, and love and care for the needs of others more than you do for your own. That's the simplest Christianity -- if I love you, more than I love myself, and vice versa, everything else takes care of itself. Everything is better. I realize we live in an imperfect world, full of imperfect people, but it is an ideal worth striving for. That was a bit of a tangent, but I said that in order to say this: I think that Christ was the ultimate example of real, true manhood. And the Christ I know, the Christ I try to emulate, would never have made such a statement as the one posted on Facebook...that women are pigs (or worthy only of the company of pigs) or that they are beneath the notice of real men. If anything, I think that if Christ felt you were in danger, he would be down in the mud with you, helping you to stand, cleaning you off, standing beside you.

Chris said...

I differentiate between men and guys. Guys are pigs. Guys are obsessed with sports and sex and whatever they think separates them from women. They glory in their bodily noises and smells, they embrace the most disgusting parts of their nature. A "guy" is the most deplorable of creatures. Irredeemable in his "guy" state.

But a man, a man should be something else. A man should try to see the best in everyone. A man should be the example of true nobility to his sons. He should show his love through his actions. He should teach his sons that women are to be respected -- that all people are to be respected. I've never bought the idea that respect has to be earned -- I think respect should be a free gift (until that person willfully gives that gift away). You have my respect, until you choose to no longer value it. My trust, on the other hand, you have to earn (but that's a whole other topic).

A man should be the first defender of his wife, his daughter, his mother. He should be the ideal of a husband and father. I hope, with all that is in me, that I have behaved in such a way, that my daughters would hope to find qualities they see in me, in a future husband, and father of their own children. There is no higher honor that I can think of in this life than to know that my daughters find me to be worthy of their admiration. I hold their opinion highest of all, second only to that of my wife and my God.

Chris said...

Now, having said all that, and if you haven't stopped reading... ;) please let me try and respond thoughtfully to your blog post:

I think there is a culture of immorality in the world today. The notion that whatever I want to do is right, and no one had better say otherwise. It's a very selfish culture, and it has little, or nothing, to do with dress code. I think it's absolutely without merit to suggest that a man is not responsible for his own thoughts and actions. Thoughts and feelings are interesting things -- you can't always control what walks on to the stage of your mind, but what you can control is how much attention you give it.

But I also think it's disingenuous to suggest that a person bares no responsibility for the effect they have on others, when they know that what they are doing, or saying, or wearing is designed to elicit a certain reaction. A scantily clad woman will attract the attention of ALL men -- the good, the bad, the ugly, the stupid and the geniuses. Frankly, we're all wired that way -- the unusual catches our attention. It's not just the horny pig men.

Please do not infer from that statement, that I, in any way, am suggesting that a woman, a child or any other person, is responsible for an assault of any kind perpetrated on them. There is no such thing as a rape-able offense.

And this is where I take some exception to your pulling Elder Oaks into the argument, as an antagonist. I feel completely confident that he was not telling young women, who dress immodestly (in his assessment) that they are porn. I believe with all my heart, that he was asking them to consider the effect that they have on those around them (particularly young men), and how that effect can help contribute to impure thoughts and how our thoughts can become our actions. I see what Elder Oaks said more as a cry for help, than a condemnation.

As the father of a thirteen year old son, I am acutely aware of all that is out there to tempt and entice my son into behavior that can lead to irreversible actions and consequences, of a horrible nature. My son, is a very good young man. He is respectful and kind and honest. I have the highest hopes for him, but he is coming of age in a frightening world. There are portals everywhere, that bring things to his attention and into his life, that I would never want him to have to deal with, but I cannot keep up with all the defenses, all the time. I need help, and so does he, so my plea would be to women -- young, old and anything in between -- to please be kind to my son. He's trying to be a good young man. He wants to respect you. He has been taught to respect you, and to honor you. With all that he has bearing down on him daily, with all that he is tempted by, with all that demands that he prove that he is a "real man" -- please be the example of virtue that he desperately needs to see. Please help my son to be the man that you would want him to become.

Well, that was a novel of sorts, wasn't it? I didn't realize I had quite THAT much to say. But I hope you take it in the spirit I intended it, which is I respect the journey you've found yourself on spiritually, and I think we all benefit from thoughtful and honest dialog.

You stay thoughtful and honest, and I'll try to do the same :)

Stephanie said...

Chris


Thank you for your comment. I agree that we have a responsibility to be respectful to each other, even the 13 year old boys in our lives. :) I just wish the discussion was more on how to be respectful, and less "if you wear knee-length shorts a boy won't think sexy thoughts about you."

We could all do with a little more respect in this world. Thank you for a kind, respectful comment. You make the other "unapologetic believers" who were not so kind look good.

Best wishes, thank you for taking the time to get to know me better.

Chris said...

No problem -- I find you quite fascinating. :)

If it helps, young men come in for their fair share of talking to, regarding exactly how high (or low, as the case may be) they should be wearing their pants. :)

I agree, the conversation should be about respect above all else -- respect for ourselves, our God and those around us. Dogmatic beliefs are dangerous, and if we're unwilling to take someone at their best -- whether it's up to our "standards" or not -- we have no right to expect that consideration in return.

You really lit a fire under me tonight :)

Brooke said...

Sigh. I've been thinking about this post all week after I went to a concert that was partly comprised of junior high school and high school musicians with my mother-in-law. Her first comment after we got out was "Can you believe how short those skirts were on those girls? Where were their mothers?!" I didn't know how to respond. Because on the one hand, these were young girls (not women) ages 14 and 16, and the dresses were a bit "mature." The skirts were quite short -- short enough you could just almost the bottom of their underpants. It was distracting for me as an audience member to wonder if the next move across the stage was going to reveal their underwear. But on the other hand, the dresses were classy in every other way, the girls looked confident and moved carefully, the dresses stayed in place. And so instead of agreeing with her comment even though if I had been the costume designer I probably would have put the girls in something a little longer, I cringed and muttered something awkward about how I didn't think they were "immodest" just because they didn't meet the standards the Church has set. I cringed at the tone my mother-in-law used, and the judgment she was passing on the girls, and on their mothers, because it just reeked of body shaming and I wanted to scream "Those girls were BEAUTIFUL!! And kudos to their mothers for NOT teaching their daughters that it's all their fault if someone has inappropriate thoughts about them because of what they're wearing and that they have EVERY right to get on stage in a performing outfit they felt was appropriate no matter how nice their legs are or how short their skirts are."

Anyway, that experience might seem tangential from the real point of your post that comparing women to animals, to meat, is NEVER OK and that patriarchy hurts all of us. But for me the experience was so related. Because it was a reminder (as have been some of the above comments) that the effects of patriarchy aren't always men hurting women ... as women we hurt each OTHER all the time, too, in the way we judge each other, talk about each other, objectify each other. It can get disheartening, but your post was so encouraging to me because it means there is one less person that is willing to tolerate the craziness.

Thank you for the wonderful post and I will DEFINITELY be back for more.

Jay said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Stephanie said...

Folks, there are some comments that are just so wackadoo that to respond to them would just clog up the discussion. I know some of you are itching for a takedown, but maybe let's just let some of the wackadoos die out silently, ok?

Okay.

Stephanie said...

@kate, sorry I didn't get to your question sooner, things have gotten a little nuts.

I don't think the question is really about if someone has feelings/gets aroused, I think it is how he/she deals with those feelings.

If you get aroused and think "Oh wow, That woman is forcing me to have bad thoughts, I can't engage with them anymore, they are walking pornography," that is an inappropriate response.

If you get aroused and think "Oh wow, that woman is aksing for it. I am allowed to take advantage of her because she dressed a certain way" that is an inappropriate response.

For me it doesn't really matter about the feelings of arousal in response to visual stimulus, it is what you do AFTER the feelings that matters.

For the record, the response to porn should be "It is sad that we live in a world that objectifies women. Even if I find this sexy, the production of this material suggests deeper problems within society that I do not want to encourage."

The response to a pretty girl in a short skirt? "That girl looks sexy, but she is a person, so while my feelings aren't bad, I can control them and remember she is a human being."

Now I get why the "Modest is Hottest" thing is so popular. None of my statements look good on a t-shirt.

TheSoberPoet said...

While I agree with the sentiment of promoting modesty (like I agree with the sentiment of having friends who are a good influence, etc), in real world situations it is only ourselves who can control and stop our thoughts from running wild when confronted with the immodest or immoral. *breath* Those who are completely cloistered often find themselves without real thought control, if only for lack of practice.
Their intentions are good, MCB. I hate to even insinuate the shiny-happy-people are innocent in their misogyny, but to quote someone you seem to know very well, "Forgive them, for they know not what they do."
However, the willingly ignorant remainder can all snack on a baseball bat.

This post was my introduction to you. I'm more than a little glad to have been referred on such a day.

As seems to be your way...
Proceed Boldly,
This Guy

kade call said...

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kade call said...

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Mary Ann Miller said...

There are "icky" men out there, as you described them, struggling everyday with their addiction to pornography. Pornography is a disease that is very serious. This was cited in a paper by Donald L Hilton1 & Clark Watts2 Pornography addiction: A neuroscience perspective from the Department of Neurosurgery, University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, San Antonio, TX, USA:
"Even more pertinent are recent papers published in 2010 describing the effect of sexuality on neuroplasticity. In one study, sexual experience has been shown to induce alterations in medium spiny neurons in the nucleus accumbens similar to those seen with drugs of abuse."

In The Effects of Pornography on Individuals, Marriage, Family and Community By Patrick F. Fagan, Ph.D he states under :THE INDIVIDUAL AND PORNOGRAPHY

*Pornography is addictive, and neuroscientists are beginning to map the biological substrate of this addiction.
*Users tend to become desensitized to the type of pornorgraphy they use, become bored with it, and then seek more perverse forms of pornography.
*Men who view pornography regularly have a higher tolerance for abnormal sexuality, including rape, sexual aggression, and sexual promiscuity.
*Prolonged consumption of pornography by men produces stronger notions of women as commodities or as "sex objects."
*Pornography engenders greater sexual permissiveness, which in turn leads to a greater risk of out-of-wedlock births and STDs. These, in turn, lead to still more weaknesses and debilities.
*Child-sex offenders are more likely to view pornography regularly or to be involved in its distribution.

Go check out his article about what happens to the family and society as well. Scary!

I have seen good, hardworking, honest young men, caught up in this trap, trying to break this habit (that has been quoted in many papers as being harder to break that a cocaine habit), only to be accosted by silly women who think so highly of themselves as to imagine that we want to see their boobs hanging out, or see their butt when they bend over. Sorry, I'm not impressed. And it is something people with these addictions can't get away from. There are many men out there who are turned on by your display. There are also many who would love NOT to look at you and get aroused to the extent that they fall back into their habit.You can tell an alcoholic to stay out of the bar, the druggie to stay away from people with drugs,....where to you tell a person addicted to pornography to stay away from? The mall, the t.v., School, Church....! Did you ever think that a wise Heavenly Father knew our times and has made this commandment (yes, commandment :D & C 121: 5 For his aword ye shall receive, as if from mine own mouth, in all patience and faith) to be for the benefit of our society, not for the benefit of the "mormonchildbride" or Mama Ayla, or Sandy or Natasha C....... I am saddened to think someone out there is keeping score to see how the church is improving towards it's women. Where is your faith? Have you prayed and thought about it for yourselves. All I hear here is Me, Me, Me! Of course men of the church care about the inside woman, as well as men outside the church. We have men inside the church as well as outside the church who are perverts. We should be listening to what is right, because it is right. I work in a predominately LDS high school and most of you sound like a lot of the teenagers I deal with there. Exactly their rational. Jesus said LOVE EVERYONE, He would also want us to support and help everyone along the way.

Karin said...

@wordofcaution, Thank you for your faith-promoting and sensible comment! I loved it!!

jen said...

I get really irked when I see things like this... so often what is touted as "modesty" sexualizes and makes women into nothing more than an object to be acted upon.

In other cultures women walk around completely naked... or topless... and men don't seem to have any more trouble being respectful there than they do here. (EVERY culture has violent, stupid, selfish men and women. The way a person dresses.)

The thing about teaching "modesty" the way the LDS church teaches is it, is it teaches men and boys that a woman is saying she wants sex if she wears a tanktop. They then ignore what she SAYS, because they have been taught to see her only was the clothing she wears.

I get pretty fired up over this topic... so... I'm going to be done now.

Jonathan Rowland said...

Intereting that you chose that one quote from Oaks, but decided to omit the volumes that the church has talk from the pulpit about individual respondiblity of one's own thoughts and actions. It is obvious to me that your aganda prevents you from any kind of objective view of the church's teachings on modesty and individual responsibility. As for me, its clear that Oaks was providing one possible prospective on the matter, that probably had a positive impact on some young women and helped them make the decision to be a modest person -- which is the ultimate goal -- be modest, it doesn't really matter in the long run WHY you decided to be modest. Just be modest.

MamaBear said...

Hello Darling,

I ran out of patience before I ran out of comments to read. But I had to say I LOVE YOU!

My princess is 5 now, and her personal style dictates that she wears shorts or pants under sun dresses. I have never been a mother who fought battles over this kind of thing. So you will see her in this kind of attire. But I'm never going to make her wear something under those sundress straps so her SHOULDERS don't show. *shudder*

Your post made me think, how will I teach modesty to my DD? And I think RESPECT for our bodies is the first and most important part. Our bodies are not something to be ashamed of, nor are they something for public consumption. There is a lot of room for different styles in that definition.

But just as our forefathers said, "a decent respect for the opinions of mankind requires", in my mind, that we don't wear halter tops and short skirts to church, and we don't bare our muffin tops. We can be flirty and flattering and sexy, each in its own place and time.

I always love your posts. I love your journey. I wish I was your friend in real life; we would rant about this stuff until the menfolks went mad! <3

Adam Meyers said...

What gets me is the false dichotomy. Either A. women have no responsibility to the men who view them and men should just be strong enough to walk among naked women without bad thoughts, or B. it is entirely women's job to control men, and it's their own fault if a man does anything. Answer b is not the message of the facebook image, and yet this blog is acting like it is, and seems to be suggesting A. I hope that's not what is trying to be promoted, but by setting up that false dichotomy, it sounds like you are. That form of turning everything into a dichotomy is what stops actual dialogue and the ability to learn from each other.

Roger said...

Okay, this is clearly an overreaction on many peoples' part.

We don't need voice of feminism today. Feminism is alive and well, and 90% of the guys I interact with actually worship women. This is NOT how it should either.

It's not about men vs. pigs. You are oversimplifying things.

The truth is an attractive woman who dresses in a more scantily clad fashion (immodestly) does attract attention, and does create sexual thoughts.

Is it the guys fault for having those thoughts? Yes, but only in the same way it's a woman's fault for getting their period.

Attractive women have traditionally struggled with creating an identity separate from their looks. With today's woman gradually taking over the male role in many aspects, men are having a harder time adjusting and finding a place and purpose.

The funny thing about women in the church, and women in general, is that they need constant, I mean CONSTANT reassurance that they are valuable. You might think that men are the ones that reinforce the 'value' of an attractive woman, but the truth is the opposite. Women are so concerned with their appearance and associate so much of their ego to their appearance and the control it has over women.

So many women find their value from getting the attention of men. I personally don't have a problem with this, but those women who dress scantily thinking that a guy would not have sexual thoughts is fooling herself. I personally LOVE an attractive woman who has the restraint, integrity, confidence, and respect to dress modestly. To me this does NOT mean not showing skin. This just means not showing cleavage, not showing upper thigh, that kind of thing.

I also love looking at and dating a girl that dresses more immodestly, but do you think I am going to consider taking that girl home to meet the folks, or even marrying that girl? Not likely.

Stephanie said...

@Adam Meyers

I feel like no one read the post. I am not suggesting that men cannot have thoughts about a woman he finds attractive, or that he is a bad person for doing so. I am not saying women should walk around in G strings.

I am saying we shouldn't turn women into objects, meat, bait, porn, pigs, no matter how they dress.

That is all. If you see women as objects, you are more likely to be okay hurting them.

Stephanie said...

@Adam Meyers, just to clarify, the whole post was about the false dichotomy, THE WHOLE DAMN POST.

I was saying that the modesty rhetoric is stupid because it says you either dress according to what a Utah Mormon thinks is "modest," or you are "porn." There is a big difference between a woman's shoulder and porn.

Adam Meyers said...

No, she's establishing the false dichotomy. Every other dang week in Priesthood we were taught how important it was for us to control our thoughts. And now, according to this post, if we as much as ask young women to help us in our quest, we're apparently suggesting that they have ALL the control and are pieces of meat and the patriarchy is trying to control their lives. She said she would run away from a church that taught such things to its young men. But no one ever taught that to any young man I've ever seen. To extend a request to help young men in their quest to control their thoughts is somehow teaching women they are pieces of meat is a false extension of the doctrine. No one said you are either 'modest' or 'porn,' and no one said you deserve to be raped if you dress that way, except the author here, because she created that dichotomy.

It hurts for me to go through 26 our of 52 lessons a year telling me to respect women, treat them as equals, or even as better, and be told in every Priesthood session that women are better than men (Yes they say that, I am not exaggerating) and we all need to grow up and treat others with respect, and then have someone come in and tell me that asking them to help me in that quest is turning them into pieces of meat.

I remember that talk by Elder Oaks. He went on for 5 minutes about how men need to step it up and fight pornography addictions, and at the end gave that one soundbite to women. Suggesting that that one sound bite is somehow undermining the entire rest of the talk and objectifies women doesn't help the gender dialogue, it hurts it. A lot.

Rachel Meyers said...

I'm shocked and confused by this blog post. There is "no such thing as a good patriarchy"? Do you realize this means all men are wrong, all men are evil, no man can honestly love, support, and respect women? REALLY? And women are just better. . . ? Women would never say something to objectify, simplify, or misrepresent men?

I have no idea what social problems or discrimination you are referring to. I used to be an angry feminist too, until I realized there is nothing to rage against. Society is not perfect, but I've found it lies much more in misguided individuals (of which there are a lot) than "society teaching men to hate and abuse women" or whatever. I have never had an opportunity closed to me because I am a women. I have never been told I could not do something because I am a woman. I have been loved and supported by so many men as I have sought to live my dreams. Dreams that would have been closed to a women a few generations ago. Yeah, I've encountered sexism, but I know I am and I have the opportunity to prove I am the equal to any man. So I left my feminist rage in the dust. It didn't do anything.

And in direct response to this post, women are often unfairly objectified. But let's not jump on the man-hating band wagon about it. Some women literally create pornography, literally objectivity themselves for financial gain. This allows men to create a greater category of "slutty" women that they objectify. If we as women want to stop this: empower women and stop the creation of pornography. Stop giving men an easy avenue of creating inappropriate fantasies that distort their minds. In the mean time, if you don't want to be associated with the women who do make pornography, don't dress like them. It's not that complicated. That's all Elder Oaks or that facebook picture were getting at.

Stephanie said...

@Adam Meyers

First,you realize that I, Stephanie, am the author of the post. So no need to tell me what "she" is saying.

Secondly, find me the line where I say this: "women have no responsibility to the men who view them and men should just be strong enough to walk among naked women without bad thoughts."

I did not. In fact, that isn't even what my post is about.

I intend to teach my kids, and my young women, (should I ever be called to that position again,) that they should respect themselves and others. I do think that includes dressing in a way that does not objectify themselves.

While wanting to look attractive or desirable is great, (depending on the circumstances,) I don't want girls waking up every morning thinking "What should I put on today to get the most attention from men?" I want them to dress appropriately for the occasion, and for themselves. There is a reason I didn't wear a swim suit to my job interview.

What I do have a problem with is comparing women to objects. Even if they dress immodestly, they are not an object (meat, bait, a pig, etc.)

I also don't agree that women who dress skimpily are automatically pornography.I think they are usually probably just cold, frankly. (Joke, joke.)

I will say it again: When teaching about modesty in the church, I think we should focus on respecting ourselves and others. Mormons are smart people, we should be able to find a way to do so without de-humanizing people, even people who believe differently than we do. I just can't see Jesus telling the woman at the well "Hey, you are like a pig rolling around in mud. You deserve to get negative treatment from men."


Because when we tell women they aren't human for not following the standards of modesty we believe in, we indirectly say they aren't worthy to be treated like a human, and that is wrong.

I'm a straight woman, but I work with teens, and yes, it is sometimes uncomfortable when a teenage girl walks in with her g-string poking out her two-inch skirt. I find it uncomfortable, and as I mentioned, I'm a straight woman. But I would never tell that girl that she is a piece of meat, and that a boy should be allowed to treat her disrespectfully. I think there are better, and kinder ways to interact with another human being.

I also wouldn't tell a boy who sees said girl that he is a pig or a wolf for finding her sexually attractive.

It is normal and healthy to find a girl attractive. It is not normal or healthy to think that an attractive girl is "asking for it."

Again, I don't think teaching girls to respect themselves via their clothing is necessarily wrong. I simply take issue with telling them that if they don't, they are less human/porn. That. Is. All.

I guess that is why I don't know why Elder Oaks had to compare women who dress immodestly as something as horrible as porn. Imagine a girl listening to that talk, and then being told that she IS the horrible thing that was being discussed. Pornography and a girl in a bikini are not the same. Even if the rest of the talk was fantastic, that line is still damaging.

I double dog dare you to find where I said anything like this "women have no responsibility to the men who view them and men should just be strong enough to walk among naked women without bad thoughts."

Stephanie said...

@Rachel Meyers. I believe patriarchy is wrong,not that men are bad. I did a quick google search to define patriarchy: A system of society or government in which men hold the power and women are largely excluded from it.


That doesn't mean that men are bad, and I find it offensive and misleading for you to suggest that is what I believe.

I do not believe that "this means all men are wrong, all men are evil, no man can honestly love, support, and respect women."

I simply believe that the system of government or organization via patriarchy is wrong. I also believe the world, not just the church, is patriarchal, and is something we must overcome if we want to truly live as equals in the sight of God. I think the church leaders may be starting to believe this too, which is why there is a very big emphasis right now on men and women acting as equal partners.

I don't think you know what patriarchy means, but it certainly doesn't mean I think all men are evil. It also doesn't mean I think women are better than men. I think the rhetoric that says women are better/more spiritual than men is equally harmful.

Furthermore, just because you feel a certain way, doesn't mean I have to. We may disagree, but we both have a right to our own reality.

There is no man-bashing here, simply a request to treat women AND men as human. Not as pigs, meat, wolf, fish, or bait. Just as humans. We may be flawed, but our humanity is our greatest gift. No need to degrade it by comparing women and men to objects or animals.

libbyace said...

When you compare any individual(read: MAN OR WOMAN) to an object of any kind, you are denying them their right to be viewed as human. Their value goes from being a human individual into an object. That is called OBJECTIFYING and that is disgusting, unintelligent, and immature. We are better than that! That is what Stephanie's post is about!

When you compare a woman to a piece of meat, you are objectifying her.

When you compare a man to a hungry wolf, you are objectifying him.


When you imply that a woman is a pig, you are objectifying her.

When you call men pigs, you are objectifying them.

When you call women porn, you are objectifying them.

To everyone who is getting offended by Stephanie's post, THIS is what she is saying! She is expressing her distaste for objectifying individuals.

Additionally, I know a lot of people like to get worked up at the idea of feminism. Women hating men! Women wanting to take over the world! Women wanting the world to think they are better than men! (Hint: that's not feminism!)

When Stephanie says patriarchy is bad, she is saying that because any system where one group of individuals is placed above another group of individuals based on something as uncontrollable as gender (appearance, heritage, ancestry, etc.) is harmful. It's easy, it's convenient, but I agree that it is harmful.

Yearning for EQUALITY between the genders is feminism.

Ru said...

Oh my, so many comments! Sorry I'm adding yet another.

To all the guys who are told they were "never" told that it's ok to be disrespectful toward women who are wearing clothes they personally deem immodest: that's great.

But you don't speak for the entire Mormon experience.

I can remember Sunday School lessons (boys and girls) where the implication was STRONGLY in the opposite direction. Statements like, "Women who dress like that don't respect themselves" said to a bunch of 14 year olds EASILY translates to, "And you don't have to respect them either."

I sat in 9th grade seminary classes (again, with boys and girls in the class) where my teacher said that women who were immodest and caused bad thoughts would be burned at the last day. He elicited comments from all the boys about how immodestly dressed girls made them feel. Comments ranged from "I lose the spirit" to "I lose respect for the girl" to "I just can't stop myself from thinking bad thoughts" to "I wish the girls would just be more considerate of us." None of the girls were asked to comment.

Do I think that's a NORMAL LDS experience? No, I don't. I think that teacher was a wacko, actually, for more reasons that this one story. But I know that now, as an adult. I didn't know that as a 15 year old. At 15, he seemed like the consummate authority on spirituality.

I sat in another seminary class where the teacher asked everyone how prom was the weekend before, and nod sympathetically as a girl complained that girls dressed like "streetwalkers" had ruined the prom for everyone. She described the particular "streetwalker" for everyone and I knew exactly who she meant -- a very pretty, very tall girl who had been asked to prom that morning by a mentally handicapped kid. She didn't have time to shop for a dress so she just wore a halter sundress she already owned (gasp! shoulders! gasp! knees!) and for that she got called a streetwalker in an LDS church building.

And the girl obviously thought it was okay to call a girl a whore because of shoulders and a slightly-above-the-knee skirt, and the seminary teacher didn't object to that name, and none of the boys in the class came to that girl's defense, for all this rhetoric about "respecting women," and you know what? Neither did I. Because when you're a teenager, you take your cues from everyone around you, and the cue I got from the only adult in the room seemed to be, "You're right, how dare a girl not spend $100 on a princess dress with cap sleeves?"

The point is not what we, as adults, tell each other. The point is what do kids hear. And when you tell boys and girls that women who dress immodestly are covered in manure and they only deserve attention from "pigs," they are not yet mature enough to realize, "Oh, that's just an imperfect way to describe a principle. Surely no one means any harm by that."

McGee said...

Wow. Heck of a response.

@Jonathan-it DOES matter why a woman decides to dress modestly in the big picture. It has to do with respect, self confidence, the ability to make decisions and carry oneself well in public. It's important to me to NOT teach my daughters that the reason we dress appropriately is to help men control their thoughts @Adam. They why IS exactly the problem in the LDS church.

I was born and raised in the church and taught by fear and bullying. If I didn't uphold this value, that would happen to me, if I made a mistake I would be less than and that would happen to me, etc. The way we teach our children in our home is by empowerment and acknowledgement. We help our sons and daughters understand what standards we live by as a family and WHY we live them, not in fear of a consequence but to live healthy happy lives.

@Roger...women are in need of constant reassuring that we are valuable. Have you ever stopped to think about WHY you see this in your experience? What happens in our lives to need that? Food for thought.

Stephanie...you rock. Your posts always provoke thought and THAT is an important even vital piece of the mormon puzzle that is lacking right now.

Kimberly Wilson said...

I know this is separate from the current post, but just wanted to tell you I haven't been following blogs for a LOOOONG time, and just caught up on yours. Wrote a lengthy comment under your post about men creating their gods.

Adam Meyers said...

What I object to is "If you do this, you deserve to get negative treatment from men." being added onto every statement you quote. Young men in church are taught to not objectify women, and women are taught to not objectify themselves, and only you are adding "But you deserve to be treated that way if you dress that way" onto everywhere it was not said. Such is not what anyone teaches, and yet you act as if it is. That's what I object to.

What I'm objecting to is you finding fights where there are none. I'm a big believer in not falling into false equivalency, but in this case I can find no difference in telling a woman she's a 'pig' if she dresses revealingly, and telling a man he's a 'pig' if he treats woman poorly, and yet you're attacking the first one as if it were the end of the world, and pretending the second doesn't exist. Feminism has had more battles to fight, but it does comes off sexist to make such a huge deal out of the use of metaphor in one case, but not objecting to its use in any other form.

Here's an example of the anti-sexist battles I believe are worth fighting: http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/173227/Opinion_Video_games_and_Male_Gaze__are_we_men_or_boys.php

But I believe what you are doing is undermining the gender discussion more than helping it, and making enemies out of the very people in the Church that are trying to champion your cause. Arguing that the apostles are anti-woman just because they are a male body, and arguing modesty debates are objectifying women because they engage in metaphor, is not an actual constructive battle.

It's like the woman who yelled at me for holding the door open for her (because I was obviously doing it out of a belief she was weak,) completely ignoring the fact I was also holding the door open for the men as well.

Adam Meyers said...

@libbyance

That's what I mean. If that's what she meant, than I agree with her. But it wasn't what she said, and that is what I argue against.

Adam Meyers said...

Though perhaps the problem simply stems from the fact that I don't believe all metaphor is objectification. It is making a comparison with something else to provide enlightenment to the human experience. I believe the facebook image engaged in metaphor, and only here is that metaphor being extended to dangerous objectification, and such I feel is an unfair coloring of the issue.

Stephanie said...

@Adam

The most disturbing thing I see in your comments is your refusal to address ME the author of the post, in your comments. You keep talking to others about me, telling people what I meant, but never talking to me. You want to know what I meant in a post, well I am telling you what I meant. I'm pretty much the expert here on what I meant.

I see you didn't take me up on my dare, either. I also see that you continually put words in my mouth. When did I say any apostle was anti-woman? Quote me.

Instead of telling me what I think, how about you listen to me. And unless you can back up statements from my post to prove your interpretations, you are simply misrepresenting my post to suit your own opinions.

I think the Elder Oak's quote is damaging and inappropriate. I don't think it makes Oak's entirely anti-woman.

I could assume all sorts of things about you based on your behavior here. I could assume you are anti-woman because you refuse to directly talk to me, choosing to refer to me as "she" instead. I could assume that you have a raging porn addiction because you seem very concerned with women covering up. I could also assume that you are gay and have a crush on Elder Oaks because you seem really determined to defend him at all costs.

But that would be a horrible misrepresentation of your thoughts, and I have no evidence to support my claims. And I'm a decent human being. But you (and your wife,) have no problem coming here and telling me I hate men, that I find Elder Oak's anti-woman, and that I think women should be able to walk around naked without consequence.

Even though you can't prove it with anything I've said.

If you comment again about me, and what I think, address me. No more comments telling us what "she" thinks.

Stephanie said...

@Adam Meyers

Here is a great post explaining what you are doing here. You are Mansplaining.

http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Mansplain

In case you didn't click on the link:

To explain in a patronizing manner, assuming total ignorance on the part of those listening. The mansplainer is often shocked and hurt when their mansplanation is not taken as absolute fact, criticized or even rejected altogether.

Named for a behavior commonly exhibited by male newbies on internet forums frequented primarily by women. Often leads to a flounce. Either sex can be guilty of mansplaining.


So you have a choice now. You can either say "Hey, I'm sorry I didn't address you in comments about your post, and I'm sorry I put words in your mouth that I couldn't prove. We many disagree, but I shouldn't have done that."

Or you can continue to tell me I believe things based on no evidence, and continue to put words in my mouth, and continue to refuse to address me as a human being.

Your choice, but one will make you look like a jerk in a very public forum.

mandorama said...

Excellent discussion, Stephanie. THIS quote should be the newest Facebook meme:

There is no such thing as "good" patriarchy. The church isn't the "exception" because once a year we tell women they are incredible. Everyone is hurt by inequality, everyone is hurt by patriarchy.

Zurmely family said...

i'm grateful to hear from the LDS males that they are encouraged to not objectify women and to be responsible for their own thoughts and actions.

That, however, is NOT the message that are sent to the YW. They are taught that if they aren't "modest", then the boys they are with can't help themselves. That if they aren't "modest" they will not attract worthy priesthood holders. That if they aren't "modest", they are responsible for any unwanted advances from a boy. I even had a YW leader say, recently, that a girl in a bikini is basically the same as having sex.
(Personally, i think her sex life must be awful)
Women, and men, have different levels of comfort, style and opinion on what is modest. We shouldn't get to pick that for another person. We should teach our girls to respect and love their bodies, to put good things in them and on them and not solicit them for sex. I think you can feel that way about your body in a tank top and shorts. Our bodies are not sinful, ugly creations. They are beautiful works of art that we should not deface with our prejudices and cultural biases. Covering them with yards of fabric or skimpy dresses doesn't change or hide what's underneath. We all have the same parts - some are just shaped a little bit differently. And everyone knows it.

j anderson said...

You claim these quotes somehow say an immodestly dressed woman “deserves to be mistreated”. But this was not stated nor implied. You are adding extra meaning based on personal insecurities, rather than logic. The speakers of the quotes never said that an immodest women deserve to be pornography or meat. But rather, they accurately warn that certain troubled men will inevitably choose to view her as such when she exposes herself, that she is choosing to take that image upon herself in the eyes of those men. It’s an obvious distinction.
You accuse the speakers of saying that a man cannot control “his own thoughts or actions”. This idea is totally false, but again, it was never stated or implied by the church speakers. In truth, the initial process of arousal is biologically involuntary. The neural pathway literally circumvents the thinking parts of the brain, allowing electric impulses to travel directly from eyes to penis, if you will. Often the erection is the first conscious indicator of sexual arousal. Good men, like my husband, feel violated by these most private effects of unwanted arousal from strangers. Women, I suspect, have no clue what a burden it is for men to constantly have to bridle these automatic impulses. Nevertheless, the church STRICTLY demands they do! The law of chastity forbids men from even thinking about the arousal much less acting upon it. The church also strictly demands that ALL women (including those who choose immodesty) are treated with all courtesy, respect, and gentle feeling. It would be impossible for anyone to deny this. It is reiterated frequently by our leadership, and I see our men abiding by it constantly.
It is a sad truth that some men have conditioned themselves (through their choices of stimuli) to see an immodestly dressed woman as nothing but a fleshy object to satisfy their appetite, thus opening the door to abuse of women. Neither of these quotes implied this perspective is acceptable for men. Everyone knows the church’s views are quite the opposite. Participation in church has the opposite effect of promoting empathy and reverence for women, in my experience as a formerly abused wife.
You say “everyone is hurt by patriarchy” but nobody was ever hurt by patriarchy, as the church understands its meaning. It is not dominion. It’s a responsibility to serve and administer comfort and light to others. It is the perfect and equal complement to matriarchy. This concept is plainly stated by church leadership, not once, but twice a year at least. I’m curious, what individual in your life misused the concept of patriarchy? Don’t project that image on everybody else. If anything, I see many more examples of wives exercising unrighteous dominion on husbands, verbally treating them like foolish children, controlling every aspect of their existence, and never accepting any effort as good enough, etc.

TheOneTrueSue said...

"Good men, like my husband, feel violated by these most private effects of unwanted arousal from strangers."

J - how on earth does your husband function out in the real world? You realize that most of the women he probably encounters out in the world are not mormon, right? And don't conform to our standards of modesty? It must be tough to constantly feel violated by bare shoulders.

So if your husband gets aroused by seeing shoulders, you are saying that it is my daughter's responsibility to avoid wearing a sundress or else she is guilty of violating him?

You realize, I'm sure, that in other cultures the ankle is considered incredibly sexy, and that women are forced to wear burquas in order to avoid violating the delicate feelings of men. Are you on board with that?

TheOneTrueSue said...

And the idea that matriarchy is equal to patriarchy in the church is absolutely laughable. It doesn't matter how kind or nice the men in charge are. They're still in charge of the women. Women have no areas within the church where they are not subject to the authority of the men.

Stephanie said...

@J Have you ever heard the phrase "if you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen?"

If your husband feels ooohhh so violated by some shoulders, maybe he should stay home. I assume there are no sexy thighs (or much else,) there.

(Also, don't project your own experiences on me. I have been personally hurt by patriarchy, no matter how many times you tell me I haven't.)

LC said...

@Natasha: I should probably resist, but I'm not going to.

I have somehow implied that I'm unaware of the realities around me. That's untrue. I won't argue with you on some points. Statistically, women do make less than men for performing the same work. Girls don't often fare as well in school as men.

I'm opposed to "everybody" and "nobody" language, and anything similar to it. Too often, it's incorrect. Me? I graduated at the top of my high school and college classes (which, incidentally, included both males and females). Before I became an at-home mother, I was among the highest-paid members of my workplace (over men who did the same tasks as myself). There are exceptions everywhere. I don't care to have people howling in my name for a group I don't belong in.

I also don't care to have the government paying for my healthcare and childcare, as you suggested it ought to. For me, independence does not include someone paying my way. I think of oppressed women as those in the Middle East for whom the burqua is not something they support. It's the women who are viciously raped in the Congo and lack education or other appropriate means to escape. It's the wife in a domestic violence situation who desperately needs courage and support to break free. There are countless other examples. I'm not oppressed, but I thank you for your Internet diagnosis, just the same.

@Stephanie...do you like how I couldn't stay away? I think sometimes we're apt to assume that our truths are universal. That leads to the extremes I mentioned awhile ago, and many of us then only hear our own emotions. That's why I appreciate that you so often emphasize respect and listening. It's a good message.

Fallon William said...

I don't think J stated that her husband can't handle bare shoulders. Others stated that as an example, I think to mock her opinion that men are visual beings, etc.

This thread is thought provoking and I firmly believe that putting the responsibility of mens' thoughts or actions on womens' shoulders (no pun intended) to be WRONG. That kind of thinking eventually leads to veiled women if men believe anything about a women is seductive and therefore insidious so of course the women's fault. I believe under the taliban, eyes couldn't even be shown because they were considered seductive to men. Grrrr!
I would teach my children about respect for themselves (both boys and girls) and that they are not responsible for others opinions.)

I also wanted to comment that it seems because of some differences of opinion, people feel justified in sarcastic and mocking comments. People who feel that they have the corner of being correct,enlightened etc also feel that they have the right to disparage or mock others. I don't think that's right either. I am heartened by most of the resepctful comments and exchanges but I have read unkind and somewhat superior sounding statements from both sides of the discussion.

Sorry if this is a little incoherent. My two cents. :)

Matt said...

Let's get back on point here. I think the post can be summarized by the line:

"Thoughts like this will lead to violence against women."

It is a true statement, however well-intentioned the clever metaphor might be. I might rephrase Stephanie to say "Thoughts like this will lead to abuse against women." Whether physical or emotional.

There are women who dress "immodestly." Now that they have been WARNED by this public service announcement, anything that results from now on is their fault.

If you do not believe this to be the message of the metaphor, then you do not understand it.

j anderson said...

Too much black/white, all-or-nothing thought here. Just because a person/religion is for reasonable amounts of modesty based on your local customs, doesn't mean they're against male self-control. I preach both to my kids, like everyone else I know. Yes, I think women should be discreet with boobage because a. it's considerate to nice guys who might feel uncomfortable (like hubby) and b. to avoid attracting real jerks who never learned self-control. I (and my husband) fully echo Fallon's statment "that putting the responsibility of mens' thoughts or actions on womens' shoulders (no pun intended) to be WRONG." But that doesn't mean she has zero accountability for her image though. BOTH sexes have accountability! And yes, young teen girls who by nature thrive off male attention, but are very naive about the darker side of male sexuality should be warned! I only wish someone had warned me to be more guarded at that age.

Stephanie said...

@J Anderson

What frustrates me about your comment about black and white statements is that you have made several.

"Patriarchy never hurt anybody in the church context."

Um, I have personal experiences, and I'm sure many commenters have experiences that would disagree.

I'm also really annoyed because people keep talking about modesty in this post like this is a debate between wearing G strings to work and wearing a burka.

All I said is that we shouldn't compare people to animals or objects, even if they dress in a way that makes you uncomfortable.

A woman shows too much boob and your husband is uncomfortable? She still isn't a pig rolling around in mud, or a piece of meat. Your husband feels uncomfortable? He is not a wolf or a pig. Both people are still people.

I think it is dangerous to objectify either gender, because when we start seeing people as objects, we justify abuse. That's just history.


So yeah, teach your daughters to be safe and responsible, and teach your sons the same thing.I never made a statement (black or white) against that. Just don't objectify them.


Something to think about.

Stephanie said...

Also, universe, I keep saying that, over and over, that this is just about not objectifying people, because you know, it is a dick move, and people KEEP COMING ON HERE TO TELL ME THAT BOOBS ARE BAD AND WE CAN'T JUST WALK AROUND NAKED AND MEN CAN'T HELP THINKING ABOUT SEX.

And I want to hang myself from my knee-length shorts.


You know what thoughts you can and should control? The thoughts that tell you women and men are objects.

Baahahahahaa. Death. Stab. Grumble.

I'm going to go eat my feelings now and then parade naked down the street or something.

Miri said...

All this talk of arousal like it's an evil thing.

Arousal is a GOOD thing. It's a sign of a healthy body. A man who is aroused is not a pig. A woman who is aroused is not a pig. God has given us arousal, it's part of biology.

It's what we DO with that arousal. If we sexually harass, or assault, THEN we might be a pig.

Luke&Megz said...

I'm just really confused about why this conversation is being had. That original quote was probably written by a teenage girl who didn't make the cheer-leading squad and is just jealous she doesn't get to wear the short skirts too.

This feels blown WAY out of proportion...in fact, I don't understand why The Church was even dragged into this. Does anyone have proof that the quote was written by an LDS person?

Are we more frustrated by the comments made on that specific post or by the post itself? The post is dumb and immature and I feel like getting caught up in it is a little silly.

I think it's a little unfair to pair a quote from Elder Oaks (whom I believe with all my heart to be an apostle of the Lord and his words to be inspired from the Lord) with this high school drama quote from fb. They are not related. No they are not.

That being said, I don't disagree with your post. I admire your writing abilities and your courage to state what you believe in such a public manner, especially when you think your views don't coincide with that status-quo. I just can't allow myself to get revved up about something so menial, whether I agree or not.

mere said...

okay, for all the people worried about porn addiction. Want to know what cures porn addiction? Nudity. Nudist colonies. Seeing the human body as a body and not an object, not a sexual "thing" its been proven. Guess what doesn't help? STOP THINKING ABOUT PORN!!! (did you stop thinking about porn when I said that? nope? oh you thought about porn? hmmmm...)

jen said...

Mere - YES! Completely agree.

Stephanie said...

@Mere

Seriously. If we all just walked around nude, no one would have the opportunity to fantasize about what is under our tank tops. AND we would show men what real female bodies look like.

Nudity now!

(Now watch all the horrified Molly Mormons and Peter Priesthoods come on and copy and paste everything that was ever said about porn ever from LDS.org.)

LDS.org. Helping people write awesome talks and win internet battles since 199-never.

phancymama said...

Agree, and thank you for writing this. And Mere, right on!

Adam Meyers said...

@ Stephanie

I apologize if not addressing you directly was seen as degrading, but I've always found internet discussions tend to be more polite when the discussion is, as often as possible, not directed at a specific person. If that offended you, then I apologize, it was how I've always tried to show respect in a discussion.

And perhaps that difference in the way we show respect is why you take such offense to my statements and seek to dismiss them outright as being something they aren't. I am not, in fact, mansplaining, according to any definition of the word except yours.

I once had a discussion with a friend about race that was very, very not productive, and it really stemmed from his false dichotomy. He was arguing the moral reasons behind affirmative action, while I was arguing that it can just lead to more practical racism (such as the fact that Asian students need to score over 100 points higher on standardized tests to get into colleges, as the racial 'quotas' means they have a cap they cannot exceed in accepting Asian students. This means less-qualified students get accepted to college over higher-scoring students because of their race, which is arguably the definition of racism.) What could have been a productive discussion, however, couldn't get off the ground because he had always divided the world into two groups: racists and anti-racists, with him being the anti-racist and anyone who disagreed with him being shoved into the 'racist' category. There were several times he had to stop me and ask "Wait, what are you arguing again?" To which I'd reply "That everyone be treated equally and not receive better treatment based on race," which would only make him madder, because that's what he was arguing too!

That is what happens when you brush off my comments as 'mansplaning.' You'll find none of that in my posts, I just disagree with you on your philosophical premise and your demonizing of metaphor. I take offense at your declaration that the church is evil 'patriarchy,' not because I disagree that patriarchy is bad, but because the church isn't based upon being male, it's based upon holding the priesthood, which in your eyes I assume are the same thing, but in mine are completely different both in theory and in practice, both anciently and modernly. I'm arguing with you because I believe that by demonizing and dragging the church through this, you are in fact attacking the people who have been the most vocal in agreeing with your points. And by declaring the Relief Society to be some token gesture, you undermine everything it is, stands for, and the role it plays in church leadership, all since the day it was founded.

I take offense at the idea that just because a leader is male, he must be antagonistic towards women (which is the logical extension of what you are saying, whether you realize it or not.) You are arguing leadership theory in a place where leadership theory doesn't apply, and finding sexism in a place where it doesn't exist. Demonizing leaders because of their gender is not helping the gender discussion, it is undermining it by engaging in the same sort of sexism you are trying to fight.

That's what I disagree with.

Adam Meyers said...

@ Stephanie and Mere

and not to disagree with another point, but as someone with nudist friends, I have to say nudity would not stop the fantasizing. Acknowledging the difference between an artistic nude and an erotic nude would certainly help people become more educated and less-likely to engage in the basest form of eroticism, but is wouldn't stop the problem as well as you might think. :)

@Mere, that's called the "Don't think of an Elephant" paradox, or at least that's how I've heard it labeled in the Neurophysiology world.

Truthinessality said...

Dear Female Species,
I don't give a rat's crap what you wear, or don't wear. What someone may or may not do to you, or say about you, has nothing to do with you. You can make up your own minds, and don't need someone else to tell you what that is. It is not my place to judge you or say that what I am doing or feeling is your fault. Don't even listen to what I am telling you now; I have no say in your business. What you decide to do is what you decide to do, and nothing more.

Sincerely, Real Men.

Truthinessality said...

Dear Female Species,
I don't give a rat's crap what you wear, or don't wear. What someone may or may not do to you, or say about you, has nothing to do with you. You can make up your own minds, and don't need someone else to tell you what that is. It is not my place to judge you or say that what I am doing or feeling is your fault. Don't even listen to what I am telling you now; I have no say in your business. What you decide to do is what you decide to do, and nothing more.

Sincerely, Real Men.

Truthinessality said...

And another thing...
The entire concept of patriarchal superiority is mind-boggling. The foundation is created by men, obviously, that made up ideals as they went along. The more resistance they got from women, the more strong the idea of patriarchal importance became. It is so refreshing to see women catching on more, and realizing the falsities behind the myth. A woman does not need a man. A man does not need a woman. There truly is not a need for a patriarch. Life, happiness, fulfillment and all other great things can occur without it.

Michael Johnson said...

GREAT post, Stephanie! I've seen it passed around quite a bit to the consternation of benevolent sexists the everywhere.

@ Adam, HOW ON EARTH IS THERE A DISTINCTION BETWEEN HOLDING THE PRIESTHOOD AND BEING MALE? Even in the Church we conflate these concepts (for the moment, I don't think this is incorrect). I can't tell you how many times, when referring to the men in the Church, I've heard them addresed as "the Priesthood" over the pulpit. Try to think of the last time they said, "will the men please..." . In fact, go over to lds.org and search "men of the Church". You get about 30 hits. On a whim, I decided to look at each one, and found that the VAST majority refer to the young men, and only 3 referred to the men without mentioning priesthood in the same sentence. Now search "women in the Church". Over 500 hits! Why do you think that is? Because we have a synonym for "men in the Church". It's called priesthood. In fact, it's the first related topic that pops up when you search for "men in the Church" too.

"I take offense at the idea that just because a leader is male, he must be antagonistic towards women (which is the logical extension of what you are saying, whether you realize it or not.)"

This is mansplaining at its best. Great job telling us what Stephanie's saying "whether [she] realize[s] it or not".

Of course leadership theory applies in the Church! It's an organization run by mortal men. Sure, there's inspiration, but as Paul said, we see through a glass, darkly. The leadership is fallible. Each of us, including those in callings, is limited by our life experiences and prejudices in our decision making and capacity for revelation. To claim otherwise would be incredibly naive and non-doctrinal.

mere said...

https://www.sunstonemagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/sbi/articles/150-44-47.pdf, here's some reading about mormon nudism.

Adam, I'm sorry I was flippant about the not thinking about pornography thing. I know that fallacy. But really, I do believe that by telling boys so often to be careful about their thoughts, we are inadvertently putting more emphasis on those thoughts and creating an environment where the guilt and shame about those thoughts causes more thoughts and more neurosis about the human body and about immodesty and just makes it more of a big deal then it needs to be.

Stephanie said...

@Adam Meyers


Thank you for addressing me personally, especially when talking about what I said and/or meant.

Yes, as someone else mentioned, every time you say that I mean something, "whether I realize it or not." You are mansplaining. I don't brush of your disagreements, lots of people have disagree with me on this post, and you don't see me harping on them. You mansplain when you try and tell me what I think.

READ THIS CAREFULLY: You are mansplaining when you tell me, or anyone else, what they really meant, without proof.

You have yet to prove any of your assertions about my writing/ideas with statements I have made.

I have repeatedly asked you to use a quote from my writing, or my comments to back up your idea.

Now I know your a music/theater guy, (might want to make that FB profile private, my friend,) but here's how it goes down for us History teachers.

If I have a student who writes a brilliantly written paper analyzing the writings of John Adams, but he cannot prove his thesis with evidence, his paper gets an F. Proving your ideas, or backing up assertions requires you to quote the person you are talking about, or provide sufficient historical context.

Every time you tell me I am creating a dichotomy between two things, you cannot prove it with a statement. Every time you tell me I think Elder Oak's hates women, but can't prove it, you are
Mansplaining.

Also, criticizing an idea made by a church leader isn't dragging the church through the mud. I wish people would stop talking about the church like it is a helpless little kid.

If the church is true, it can withstand criticisms. The church itself just published the Joseph Smith papers, which are very critical of some of Smith's behaviors. (Especially his business endeavors with the church.)I doubt anyone would say the church is dragging itself through the mud.

I never said any church leader was evil. I never said this was a fight between women and men, or that Elder Oaks was trying to be misogynistic or antagonistic towards women.

I also teach English: you do know there is a difference between misogynistic and antagonistic, right? In the context of your comments, I think misogynistic is the word you are looking for. (Misogyny is when a person or institution distrusts or hates women.)

Me disagreeing with ONE of Oak's statements does not mean I think he hates or mistrusts women. In fact, you yourself have set up a false dichotomy by saying so.

You seem to be implying that if I disagree with a statement by a church leader, I must find that church leader to be a misogynist. Not so my friend.

You've given me a good rough draft. You addressed me as a person while talking about me, good work. Next time, if you say I mean something, prove it with something I have said.

Laaaastly, I was joking about the nudity. Sometimes, it is fun to blow off steam.

Stephanie said...

@Adam

Seriously, I just re-read your comment to make sure I covered all the nonsense, and now I need to get back on and say that I never, ever, said anything remotely like this:

"I take offense at the idea that just because a leader is male, he must be antagonistic towards women (which is the logical extension of what you are saying, whether you realize it or not.) You are arguing leadership theory in a place where leadership theory doesn't apply, and finding sexism in a place where it doesn't exist. Demonizing leaders because of their gender is not helping the gender discussion, it is undermining it by engaging in the same sort of sexism you are trying to fight."


I never, ever said that just because someone is male, they must be sexist. Or, just because someone is a leader, they must be sexist.

You can't say I did, because I never, ever did. For anyone playing along in this saga, I'm not having private conversations with Adam either.

You are forcing your views on me and my post, and thought I have repeatedly asked you to back up your criticisms, you won't. Because you can't.

If you can't make a statement based on what I have said, don't comment.

Mel said...

Comment comment, who's got the comment?!? Holy moly granola, people get all bent out of shape about modesty and what it means in the LDS culture.

Anyway, slight new twist here- and this comment is for Stephanie. Have you ever read "The Pornography of Meat"?

http://www.amazon.com/Pornography-Meat-Carol-J-Adams/dp/0826416462

It's an interesting viewpoint to advertising and objectification of both food, women's bodies, and animals to make a buck.

Stephanie said...

@Mel

That sounds fascinating. I will have to look into that immediately.

maladjustedmormon said...

Aaaamen, Stephanie! I think dressing "modestly" needs to be completely divorced from the notion of protecting men from themselves or the amount of skin you're covering up. Modesty isn't just how you dress, it's how you behave, it's how you interact with the rest of the world. I've seen perfectly "modest" women wearing a tank-top and short-shorts. I've also seen "immodest" women wearing clothes that would be completely acceptable on a BYU campus. But I also don't our personal notions of what is modest and what immodest should make it okay for us to judge and shame other women.

And really, sometimes this LDS notion of modesty is just objectification coming from the other angle. It's not objectification because of how little a woman is wearing, but by how much--i.e., Oh, her knees or shoulders are visible--I guess she's a whore and has no respect for herself. Remember that incident at BYU a while ago, where a male student left a female student a note informing her she was dressing immodestly and distracting everyone? This is objectification. When you judge someone's worth as a human being by how they are dressing.

Look, I wear shorts that end above my mid-thigh and sometimes I even wear tanks tops. Because it's the summer and it's 90 degrees out and I look cute. I don't think I deserved to be judged, or any other woman for that matter, for this choice.

The Berry Family said...

I agree with your post. I was pretty sad to see the original meme circulating on facebook. My response: Real men would treat a woman respectfully no matter what she's wearing and not participate in modesty shaming.

I never felt more objectified and sexualized than when my LDS parents insisted that if I didn't keep my shoulders to my knees covered (often at the expense of my own comfort or preference) that I was inviting boys to treat me inappropriately. As a teenager I couldn't articulate why that made me feel so degraded and objectified, but I can now. By teaching me modesty in this way, my parents were perpetuating the idea that my body is indeed a sex object that needs to be disguised by my clothes if I hope to be thought of as anything more. They were perpetuating the idea (to my within earshot brothers) that a show of legs or shoulders on a girl meant the girl wanted them to treat her inappropriately. They were also teaching me that my own comfort and preference came secondary to the comfort and preference of the men and boys around me. The result was that I was ashamed to appear attractive even if I was dressed to a standard my parents considered modest. Because I got attention either way, I ended up feeling inherently dirty. As a teenager I felt my father owned my sexuality because he controlled what I wore. When I was married I was still so conditioned to be ashamed of appearing attractive that I couldn't open up to my husband for a long time and wondered if my sexuality was not there for me to enjoy at all, but for my father to control until my husband could enjoy it.

Thank heaven I now have a healthier idea of modesty and sexuality.

I can now acknowledge that one of the things my body (including my face, hands, arms, feet, and shoulders) was designed to do is to appear sexually attractive to men, but it was also designed to do a great many other important things, including physical labor, bare and nurse children, house an analytical mind, and just as importantly serve as a vessel for my own joyful experience. How sad to teach our youth that if a woman is not dressed to LDS standards of modesty then she must be asking exclusively for sexual attention. How sad to instill a sense of modesty in our youth that promotes so much shame for the wonderful creation that is their bodies. Lets educate our youth about possible dangers, but not in a way that degrades them as much as the media and mindsets that we're trying to protect them from.

When men can acknowledge that women's attractive/sexy nature is just one of many important characteristics about them, that they are whole people even if they may not adhere to the man's standard of modesty, then I will consider them real men.

Stephanie said...

@The Berry Family

What a fantastic comment. Hit the nail on the head, and all other positive cliches I can think of. Thank you for commenting.

Tiffany said...

@The Berry Family~It took me two days to read through all the comments and I am so glad I did. I have copied and pasted your comment for anytime my husband (raised lds) and I (convert of 10 years) second guess our reasons for raising our two daughters outside the church.

@Stephanie~I heard your podcast on Mormon Expression Voices and looked you up to see what you were about. I was thrilled to see this post as I had been on facebook having lively discussions with lds males (with ivy league graduate degrees) who saw nothing wrong with posting this on their walls. Thank you for taking a stand when it's not easy, I appreciate your words.

Shane and Tiffany Barker said...

I absolutely agree with you. You said everything I wanted to say, but in a kinder way. Thanks for that. I also will not be returning to this blog in the future.

Shane and Tiffany Barker said...

He never said women are porn. Please stop demonizing our Apostles.

Shane and Tiffany Barker said...

Agreed!

Shane and Tiffany Barker said...

My thoughts exactly. Thank you.

Stephanie said...

Wow. Multiple personalities much? Looks like you are having a conversation with yourselves.

There is a big difference between demonizing and disagreeing. If you can't tell the difference, there is nothing I can do for you.

Shane and Tiffany Barker said...

Love this. Thanks

Stephanie said...

Seriously? This is getting surreal.

Shane and Tiffany Barker said...

Love this. I completely agree.

Spencer said...
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Spencer said...
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Spencer said...

@Stephanie
I enjoyed reading the post--I think it's great that you're willing to voice your opinion on a matter that's so important. I agreed with much of what you wrote and disagreed with some. I wrote a post on my own blog about this issue and would welcome your comments.

http://ringoutwildbell.blogspot.com/

Thanks again.

Katherine Of It All said...

We don't have to demonize the LDS apostles. They kindly do it for us themselves when they talk about women like they know what they're talking about. HILARITY always ensues.

I also like the ladies primly informing us that they won't be returning to this blog. Thanks, ladies. Good to know.

Jessie said...

Hi Stephanie,

I'm a longtime reader, but first time commenter and I just had to come on here and tell you how much this post meant to me. I am a teenage girl so I guess this message from Facebook was directed at me. It's so refreshing to read a perspective from a younger female teacher who actually knows what issues we girls face. I just don't feel like the old men giving us modesty lectures have any real idea of what we are going through. Thank you for this.

Stephanie said...

@Jessie

Hi! Thanks for reading here, and leaving a comment. Girls like you are my people. Stay strong.

Claire McKinnis said...

Stephanie, I definitely agree with your reaction to the facebook post. To me, it implies that men are less responsible for their actions when a woman is dressed immodestly. However, I would hope that, as modesty is somewhat more of a cultural concept than one of doctrine, that this would not be something to keep you from the Church.

P.S. I want to see more pictures of Clara :)

Sarah W. said...

oh how I wish I had your post a few years ago.I would have handed it to my bishop. I was a YW leader and was constantly at odds with my scarily over conservative bishop. He was trying to implement ward rules where the YW couldn't wear flip flops, or shorts for activities, whether we were doing a girly pedicure night, or playing volleyball. If we went swimming, we had to wear t shirts and shorts over, the already modest swim suits. The boys however, didn't have any such rules... they could wear shorts... even take off their shirts while playing basketball, and didn't have to wear a shirt while swimming. It was extremely chauvinistic in my (and the other YW leaders) opinions. He spouted reasons about not feeding evil thoughts to the boys because if the men, or boys saw their girls body parts, they might fall into temptation of porn, or objectifying the girls. I am not one to hold my tongue, and I called him out on it. So, he just made the boys wear shirt while they swam... and my girls wore shorts and flip flops to activities bc we never told the girls about ruling. Now, I am not advocating, necessarily, to argue and ignore guidance from the leaders. But I never understood how boys would react, if they never were around a modestly dressed girl in a swimsuit... just how would they respond to the rest of the world in string bikinis. How are they boys going to learn to control those NORMAL thoughts?

I have 3 boys, ages 10, 8 and 5. we use real body part terms in our house. No terms like "firehose" or "wee wee" or even "private parts". I don't want my boys to be insecure about their body parts... and that can start if we are too embarrassed to say "penis" or "vagina". How are girls supposed to be "comfortable" with their bodies if they are constantly being judged (by themselves bc of culture, or prudish people) if they are told they are horrible people because of the length of their skirts, or if their shirt sleeves are too short.

Sarah W. said...

Cont ...I've had my fair share of ridiculous bishops in my time. As a youth, a bishop, in front of everyone while they were leaving the chapel, asked my sister if she thought her clothes were appropriate, and then called her a tramp. When a 16 year old girl got pregnant, he made a spectacle of the situation telling us, in YW what a tramp she was, and how she seduced her boyfriend. (last I checked, it takes 2 to have sex and make a baby, but he sure made it become completely her fault)

From my perspective, this a a HUGE church issue. Mormon culture is a huge struggle for my testimony because in MOST cases it takes away from the true spiritual aspect of the Gospel and its doctrine.

Sexuality is an amazing gift that we have. It is so suppressed in the church. I've had LDS roommates not know WHY they have their period. They always were embarrassed and ashamed each month. They thought they'd lose their virginity if a tampon was used, and the word Condom was a taboo word! What the hell?? I've known a lot of newlyweds, male and female be too embarrassed about sex that their honeymoon was uncomfortable because we are too afraid to talk about sex being ok, now that they had a little piece of paper deeming it so... its always presented as bad.

My least favorite "object lesson" at church was in a teacher improvement class. And we were instructed to take the peice of gum that the instructor had licked and chewed it. Of course, no one wanted to take it... but then she made the point that if you have premarital sex, you are just old gum that no one would want. UGH! I can not tell you how horrible i felt and would not teach that to my YW. The Gospel is about the Atonement, and forgiveness is a central part of that. So what if someone has pre-martial sex. Life is about choices and the Gospel is about LOVE

That being said, I wear what I am comfortable with. usually jeans and a t shirt. I don't care what people think... if I'm frumpy, or whatever. I absolutely wish I could wear some sexier clothes, but I won't be comfortable until I am a bit thinner. I think some sleeveless things are gorgeous... and modest and classy. (not that I'm an Obama fan, but Michelle was scrutinized for wearing sleeveless clothes in the WHITE HOUSE! the Nerve! and she did not look slutty doing it!)

Mormon culture is probably the most judgmental culture I have ever been involved in. Don't you think its about time we start worrying about ourselves instead of worrying about what men are thinking, or what girls are wearing? Men need to control thoughts, just as much as women do. Woman enjoy "eye candy" just as much as men do. Middle Eastern men still have those same thoughts about women in their burquas, and Men in Africa have thoughts about their half naked women.They are NORMAL thoughts. Its not about what someone wears that puts the thoughts there.

Simple Citizen said...
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Mamá said...

so how do you feel about pedophilia? churchs, malls, etc. are full of kids, how do we help that poor -trying-hard-to-be-right men? i'm sorry but all your reasons are just ridiculous.....girls should not be accountable for wathever a man chooses to think, and if he has problem, then find help,real help, but don't throw guilt over kids or girls