Mormon Erotica, Mormon Romance

Mormon Erotica, the new novel from Donna Banta, is a joyous page-turner that, despite the title, is far more concerned with love and romance than sex. While the book contains plenty of reflection on Mormon attitudes toward sex and marriage, the action depicted is strictly PG. As with so many romance novels, the suspense lies not in whether it will end with its hero and heroine poised to live happily ever after, but what sorts of personal discoveries and growth will make them worthy of that reward. I was always curious about and frequently surprised by the routes the characters forged to true love.

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If you don’t like romance novels, there’s a chance you won’t like Mormon Erotica. To me, this post-Mormon twist on the romance novel is a breath of fresh air, but then, I have a fondness for romance novels, having read dozens if not hundreds of them, from cheap formulaic paperbacks I checked out from the public library when I was in junior high to great classics of English literature like Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre. For that matter, as a teen I even read a few Mormon romance novels, such as those by Jack Weyland. I think Mormon courtship and marriage make great material for narrative, and I’m glad writers are tackling it in fiction for an audience beyond active Latter-day Saints. It’s especially nice to read a novel that takes you on a good-natured romp through the subject.

One of the best elements of Mormon Erotica is the main character, Jim, who is devout but not fanatical. Jim’s first marriage was disastrous and brief—but his ex-wife still plans to be married to him for time and all eternity, since they didn’t get a temple divorce to go with the civil one. Jim is comfortable in his role as a single dad too lazy and jaded to attempt another marriage—until he sees an old college girlfriend, Sadie Gordon, at a wedding reception. She’s hot, charming, and completely inactive, and she’s written a novel full of Mormons having sex. The title of Banta’s book refers to the way Sadie’s novel is characterized.

Less compelling are a couple of the supporting characters. Jim and Sadie each have a relative who seems like a caricature of the most awful Mormon you can imagine: small-minded, judgmental, and completely unable to understand boundaries. I’m certain there are Mormons like that, but they were so consistent and predictable that I was aghast at their actions without being surprised, a fact made all the more obvious given that Jim and Sadie did surprise me in interesting ways.

Occasional chapters are from the perspective of Jim’s teenage daughter, Julia. I don’t spend enough time around teenagers these days to know if Banta got twenty-first-century teen lingo and social interactions exactly right, but I thought she did a great job making the basic psychology of adolescence interesting for an audience of adults. Julia was so compelling that I’m now interested in reading The Girls from Fourth Ward, Banta’s murder mystery about four girls who hope to go to BYU.

The book is published under the imprint of the Mormon Alumni Association, and the cover art (which, you discover about halfway through the novel, makes particularly good sense) is by Chanson.

Sunday in Outer Blogness: Extreme Parenting Edition!

By now you’ve probably heard the story about the Mormon family who dumped their son in Bryce Canyon when he didn’t want to serve a mission — and about the BYUI professor who got fired for posting pro-LGBT remarks on Facebook.

By Common Consent’s new publishing house looks like it’s off to a great start! I wish them well, and hope MAA Books‘ publishing arm will be ready to roll soon. Other books discussed lately include The Burning Point, The Handmaid’s Tale, Diary of Two Mad Black Mormons, Days of Awe and Wonder, The Burning Point, and ABC’s of Science and Mormonism!

There have been some great discussions lately on apologetics and conspiracies, on gerrymandering, on what the priesthood is anyway, on how the disaffected are silenced and how to counterbalance the problem, and on garmies and porn shoulders.

Sam Young continues to shine the light on the church’s despicable practice of having untrained middle-aged me grill adolescents about masturbation in closed-door interviews. And Grouchy brings us more terrible news from Trumpland — the only worse disaster is climate change.

In life journeys, Myrtlejoy has posted a lovely story about her connection with her pioneer ancestors. Froggie is exploring mystery through photos. Uomo Nuovo has been on an epic bike tour. Kevin Barney recounted becoming a liberal-minded Mormon. And Chiroscuro recounted an adventure with black-and-white thinking:

Do you think I’m being extreme? I wish I were! President Gordon B. Hinckley said: “Each of us has to face the matter — either the Church is true, or it is a fraud. There is no middle ground. It is the church and kingdom of God, or it is nothing.” (May 2003 Ensign) And guess what? Church history is absolutely not the rosy whitewashed picture we were all taught.

Thanks for your patience, everyone! Sorry I’ve been doing such a terrible job of keeping up my posting here at MSP lately — the thing is that (in addition to extra stress from getting a new job) I have been desperate to finally finish drawing part 1 of my comic book. Well, I finally finished the last panel this morning — yay me!! I still have corrections to do, but I plan to be ready to print up some pre-prints in two weeks. This takes a lot of pressure off, and I’m hoping to have time to catch up on all my other projects in August.

BTW, another fun project I did IRL was to participate in an “Evening of Apostasy” panel hosted by the local freethinkers group here in Zurich. Here’s a write-up of it (warning: it’s in German).

I hope all your projects are going well too, and I hope to be back on track with my series on Mormon strategies next week — happy reading!

Check out “Upper Room Cartoon”

There’s a new Mormon-themed Youtube channel, and it looks very promsing: The Upper Room Cartoon.

Two cartoons have been posted so far. They look exactly the same: five white guys who are leaders of the church (have to admit that I don’t pay enough attention to who the leaders are, so I can only recognize Monson and Uchtdorf for sure) discuss some topic relevant to a problem in the church for under four minutes.

The first is about the horrible new policy punishing the children of gay people. Notable lines:

“But we believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression.”

“Yeah, but Adam wasn’t gay.”

and

“Utah leads the nation in gay suicide rates. You think that has anything to do with us?”

“Nope.”

The second is about women, or the “Sisters in Zion.” Notable line:

“Ordain” this, “ordain” that. We just say it didn’t mean “ordain,” and then it doesn’t mean “ordain.”

Atheists: Less Crime, Less Vengeance, Less Racism

Check out this article in the LA Times about Secular Family Values and how great they are. It’s a few months old, but worth reading and relevant to many conversations held here. The conclusion will reassure many MSP readers:

Being a secular parent and something of an expert on secular culture, I know well the angst many secular Americans experience when they can’t help but wonder: Could I possibly be making a mistake by raising my children without religion? The unequivocal answer is no. Children raised without religion have no shortage of positive traits and virtues, and they ought to be warmly welcomed as a growing American demographic.

In other “complaining about stuff on the ‘Naccle” news…

We’ve been having a lively discussion of some quotes from The Crucible of Doubt, and on the same day that that came up in my reader, some other ‘Naccler managed to link to something even worse. Take a gander at this article.

The author lists off a bunch of positive learning and growth experiences that come from parenting, but instead of framing them in a positive sense, she flips them around and states them in terms of how horrible non-parents must therefore be. Normally I would save this sort of thing for a quick mention in Sunday in Outer Blogness, but there are just too many choice quotes to highlight, and I don’t want to clutter up SiOB with them. Like this one:

Pope Francis warned married couples not to forego children in favor of having “a dog, two cats,” and offered a cautionary description of childless old age “in solitude, with the bitterness of loneliness.”

Is it me, or is that weird coming from a childless old guy? Is he saying his life is bitter and lonely, or does he think he’s the exception?

What would a society of adults skewed toward childlessness, like the perpetually barren Time magazine beach couple, look and act like without having acquired the altruism, personal growth, and wisdom that bringing up children generally bequeaths on those who undergo parenthood?

This is what the whole article is like. You can learn some great life lessons from parenting, therefore childless people must be inferior.

And with every area of interest that children pursue, parents discover, they bring along mentors and friends who alter our lives and perceptions and create alliances unlikely to form otherwise.

Yeah, but you don’t know what experiences you’d be having if you weren’t busy having kids. You also don’t know what kinds of experiences childless adults are having, and the author apparently has no interest in finding out.

Comedian Jim Gaffigan, who describes his early career as marked by a “lazy, gluttonous, selfish point of view,” now raises five kids with his wife in Manhattan and admits that “having five kids dramatically changed me,” replacing narcissism with the gift of never having the luxury of forgetting about parental responsibilities, and also giving him “an incredible skill set.”

This is the closest the author comes to proving that childless people are selfish, narcissistic, etc. The problem is that the personal life journey of one random lazy, gluttonous, selfish, narcissistic guy doesn’t prove anything about anyone else.

“I didn’t understand,” she explains, “that having a child would make all my other experiences seem hollow, frantic, and a little silly. I didn’t know that my child would become my whole experience, the standard against which I measured all other feelings and found them wanting.”

Again, you can’t prove general principles from a handful of personal anecdotes. This one in particular may well be an outlier.

Comparing to my own personal experience, I found that parenting did not make all my other experiences seem hollow, frantic, and a little silly. However, if all of a person’s non-parenting experiences are “hollow, frantic, and a little silly”, I guess it stands to reason that that person’s child would become the person’s whole experience.

Interestingly, the emotional intensity of paradigms shifting and egocentric worldviews giving way are not contingent on the birth of a perfect child.

I’m not convinced that the author’s egocentric worldview has given way.

That empathy then reaches outward to others — hopefully creating an adult world less narcissistic and undoubtedly more humble

Seriously? Repeatedly implying that childless people are “narcissistic” demonstrates some impressive levels of empathy and humility.

Wisdom and self-actualization, empathy and humility are not limited to parents.

Indeed. OK, she just broke my irony meter with that one.

I think the article sheds some interesting light on Mormon culture. The idea that childless=selfish is so ingrained that someone can write an article like that one, and many Mormons perceive it as simply a positive statement about parenting.

Disjointed conversations

My parents are wonderful and very conservative, orthodox members of the church. They feel a need to bear their testimonies to me and let me know they believe. I understand totally that this comes from what they hear at church. They feel responsible for and so sad about my change in belief. It’s hard: they will send me little emails about stuff, but if I reply back and express things I never get a response.

I get that. They probably don’t know what to say but it means the exchanges are never really a discussion. They express stuff to me and then if I try to engage…silence. It’s odd. I wish we could actually TALK. I wish we could actually share what we are thinking, listen, ask questions and then express love and respect for each other’s choices. I wish this didn’t have to be the big huge fat elephant in the room that we dance around but can’t actually look at and talk about.

This was the email I received yesterday which included the link to the church video Because of Him

Dear Alison!

I realize that at this point in your life you have many doubts, but I just hope you will watch this very brief video on your computer and consider it as my Easter greeting just for you. And please know that your old dad still believes it with all his heart and one day in the not-too-distant future will find out if it is in fact true.

Love you! Dad & Mom

I didn’t want to remain silent. They want to express themselves; I’d like to do the same. If they bring it up and share something I feel like that opens the door. I don’t want to pretend. I want to be me and authentic. I want to engage and not have this weird superficial relationship where all we talk about is the weather, gardening and what’s happening with the kids.  So I sent this in response:

Dad & Mom,

I love you back. Thanks for sending me a little love note today on Easter. I watched the video and it was beautifully done and I can see how it would touch you. The message of believing that there is something after death is comforting and gives people hope that there is something after this life. I can totally appreciate that.

The messages about the atonement and repentance can also be comforting for people who believe they need to repent from sin. That’s an interesting concept to me now. The idea that God would have his son suffer and die so that everybody else could be forgiven for their sins is not so comforting to me anymore. It makes me sad to think he would set things up this way and would require that. It’s not a beautiful story to me. It seems cruel and is hard for me to understand as a parent. It’s also confusing that because his son died this would impact everybody else’s choices/sins and allow them to repent. To believe that without his suffering/dying our Heavenly parents wouldn’t forgive the rest of their children for mistakes just doesn’t fit with anything my experience has taught me about loving parents. You guys have always loved me no matter what and I do the same for my children. To set up a system where there are such strict rules and specific things you have to do in order to be together again just doesn’t make sense to me. Especially when some of those rules are unhealthy and detrimental to some people. When people are just trying to do their best and when his instructions/information is so confusing that you have people all over the place trying to figure it out…coming up with different answers and interpretations. Not only that but the information he’s given is filled with mistakes, contradictory stuff and misinformation. To set up a plan like this, and then have punishments for not figuring it out correctly, just makes no sense to me.

I believe if there is a God he will be more loving and more like the type of parent I am trying to be. Someone who understands and wants me to succeed. Someone who knows my heart and that I’m trying to figure it out. Someone that will embrace me and empathize with me when I have hard times. Someone who lets me learn and grow but doesn’t tell me exactly what that has to look like and exactly what I have to do in order to be “rewarded”. Because we are all different and have different needs and experiences. I believe he knows the person I am and the effort I’ve put into trying to understand it all. If I die and find there is something more after this life I hope and believe he will take all of that into consideration. I don’t want to believe in the God of the scriptures (especially not the Old Testament), the God of the rules and strict black/white definitions of what your life has to look like and what’s OK to do and not OK. I don’t want to believe in a God that would set up a plan like I was taught in the church.

I’m choosing to live my life without being driven by guilt/shame/fear about what if. I’m choosing to love, accept, support myself and let go of the worry/fear/guilt about rules/mistakes/perfection. I’m choosing to not live with the fear of what if I’m wrong? I’m going to go forward and try my best to be a good person, live life honestly, treat people with respect/acceptance/love, support others in their choices and attempts to live their life and I choose to believe that’s good enough. I choose to believe if God exists he will know and understand that. Whatever happens after I die is what happens and I’m OK with that. There’s really no way to know and like you said one day we will find out. I know you have lived your life doing all of these things too – trying to figure it out and live with what you’ve felt is true. I respect that and I love you tons.
I think you are pretty wonderful.

Alison

I’m not going to hold my breath for a response but it sure would be wonderful. I know I’m probably expecting too much, but hey, I like holding onto hope.(It’s one of the things I retain from Mormonism.) A girl’s gotta dream, right? After all, it could happen. I was open and honest with them. That’s all I can do right now.

The “We Won’t Tolerate Imperfection” Club

Facebook is all agog about The Not Even Once Club, a new children’s book by Wendy Watson Nelson, whose credentials include a PhD in family therapy and gerontology and 25 years as a professor of marriage and family therapy, plus being married to a general authority.  Here’s the official plot summary:

In this LDS children’s picture book, Tyler moves into his new ward and meets his new Primary class. Tyler’s new friend, Kyle, invites him to their Primary class tree house and gives Tyler the secret password: “Not Even Once.” When Tyler sees how cool the tree house is, he’s thrilled to be a member of the club. But first, Tyler will need to pass the test, and keep the club promise. This book shows, in a fun and effective way, how Tyler and his new friends are great examples about keeping the Word of Wisdom and living the other standards of the Church. • The perfect book to help reinforce LDS standards to young children. • Full-color illustrations by #1 New York Times bestselling illustrator Brandon Dorman. • Includes a link to download your own personal copy of the “Not Even Once” poster, which reads: “From this moment on, I will never break the Word of Wisdom, lie, cheat, steal, gossip, procrastinate, dress immodestly, break the law of chastity, in any way. I will never intentionally look at anything pornographic on TV, the Internet, a cell phone, a billboard, or in a magazine or a movie.”

I put procrastinate in bold because I’m not used to thinking of it as a sin or something that you must promise never to do, not. even. once.

I admit I haven’t read TNEOC, though I think I might stop by Deseret Book before too long so I can see for myself if it’s just as bad as many of my friends insist.  I read the accompanying study guide; it’s pretty awful.  It asks kids to imagine Jesus going through their closets.  I wonder if kids should imagine him poking through their underwear drawers too?

Complaints center on the rigidity of the message, that even small children have to strive for abbsolute perfection and have no room to mess up.  Of course there have been defenders, people saying that it’s a terrific book that teaches important gospel principles and arguing that it’s not nearly as rigid as it seems:

As far as promise to never break the commandments, the teaser on LDSLivings featured titles says it says promise to DO YOUR BEST to not break the commandments, not even once.

“Illustrated in beautiful color, this LDS children’s picture book tells the story of a young boy named Tyler who, after moving, makes a new friend, Kyle, at church in Primary. Tyler wants to join a tree house club with his classmates, but first must make a solemn promise: he must do his best never to break the Word of Wisdom and other Church standards. Not even once.”

But the the “Do Your Best” part isn’t emphasized; it’s not called the “Do Your Best Club.” It’s not the “we value striving club.” It’s the “We don’t tolerate imperfection club.” Given that that’s what the church really is, it’s good to have it stated explicitly. But it’s unhealthy, unkind, and unchristian.

As for the “do your best” part, I remember very clearly what the White Book I had to read over and over on my mission said about that: “Don’t say, ‘I’ll do my best.’ Say, ‘I’ll do it.'”

Doing your best isn’t considered respectable or good enough. If an action is approved by the church, you must do it always; if it’s condemned, you must never do it, not. even. once.  So what do people who want to stay in the club do when they mess up, as they inevitably will? they lie.

People have also complained about the creepy club element, that the kids have to know the password to getinto the club and that chanting and other weird stuff happens inside the club.  I don’t see how that can bug anyone who really believes that temple ordinances are necessary to salvation, but maybe that’s just me.

The book is being panned on both Amazon and Deseret Book.  Here’s a review on Amazon I liked, and here’s the best on the Deseret Book site:

I love this book! My children and I have read it over and over together. Sister Nelson has written a perfect allegory for Satan’s plan in the premortal life. The primary teacher that bribes the children with creature comforts, banishment for failure, utter lack of grace, and obedience-for-reward ethic all fall perfectly into the plan proposed by the Evil One. The critics may complain, but they clearly don’t understand the author’s intent. With its cute illustrations and foreboding message this book is destined to become an LDS classic for generations! Perhaps in her next book Sister Nelson can write about the Atonement.

 

 

The Inconvenient Truths about Mormon Lactivism

Recently there has been much talk surrounding a YW leader who is unfortunately threatened of having her temple recommend withdrawn if she does not leave the room or cover herself while breastfeeding at church meetings. (Call to Action – Lactivism)

There are many things wrong with this scenario.  The LDS church is all about the Family, and one would think they would consider the most beneficial options surrounding parenting in their policies and practices to reinforce the “family” way.  We are certainly too uptight about breastfeeding in general in our western society, much less a Mormon one.  The church really doesn’t like being forced, however.  It is a patriarchal authoritarian one and if they feel they are being coerced,  will pull that authoritarian trigger to assert power where they might not normally.  Apparently mitigating factors were omitted from the original petition that would help us determine whether or not this is just a rogue ecclesiastical authority, or if something degraded in the communication between this gal and her ecclesiastical leader that he felt compelled to pull the authoritarian trigger.

Before I explore the nuts and bolts of the topic which has spread like spilt milk across the Mormon social media channels,  I will disclose I rarely breastfed my children in church and when I did, I did it in the nursing room.  I didn’t feel inconvenienced in doing so, in fact I often fled to the nursing room as the perfect excuse to get out of a predicted mundane, repetitive lesson or talk.  I have since left the church for reasons more ancillary to the mundane brain dead aspect and nothing related to feeding my children in a nursing room.  As someone who does not feel the church is ultimately a healthy or authentic belief system, I would be the first to encourage any woman to take her nursing baby and permanently exit the church if she feels strongly enough about the matter.

That said, I have had frustrations trying to engage in a reasonable dialogue about openly breastfeeding in church.  I am a mother of four.  I gave birth to my children naturally and am generally a proponent of all things nature-based.   There are a few main arguments being made in this discussion, however, that must be considered and addressed if the overall point is to be taken seriously.  It is clear there is a bias from lactivists for ignoring certain inconvenient truths about both the biology of the breast and breastfeeding, as well as dismissing clear cultural ramifications along the way.  Ignoring is counterproductive and easily allows anyone with basic knowledge of anatomy to dismiss the argument in its entirety.

Lactivist Assertion One:  Breasts are designed solely to feed the young and any man who looks upon an exposed breast as anything but a pure maternal act is either a pervert or culturally misguided.

Fact one:  Humans are part of the hominid family.  We are the only hominid where the breasts remain swollen at all times.  All other hominids have flat chests, except when lactating.  Furthermore, human hominids walk upright at all times.  As a result of us always being upright and frequently front facing (as opposed to other hominids), humans evolved the permanently swollen breasts as an alternate sexual attractor.  All other hominids use the buttocks as their sexual attractor.  In Desmond Morris’ “The Naked Ape”, he points out the evolutionary design switch of the general shape of the human breasts mirroring the buttocks; rounded with cleavage between them.  The larger the breast, the more closely they resemble the shape of buttocks.  From an evolutionary standpoint, this is the reason why larger breasts tend to be more attractive.  The breasts tend to swell when a woman is ovulating, suggesting fertility.  Additionally, the subconscious part of the male heterosexual mind messages that the larger the breast, the more milk it can produce, thus increasing the survival chance of offspring.

With regards to larger breasts, evolutionary psychology has recently contended men prefer women with larger breasts as it makes it easier for him to judge a woman’s age (and her reproductive value) according to the level of gravitational sag that comes with age (Marlowe,  1998)

INCONVENIENT TRUTH:  Males are designed by nature to find breasts attractive.  To insist they don’t is akin to asking a homosexual to not be attracted to his own gender.  Lactivists may not like this answer, but it is a fact.

 

Lactivist Assertion Two:  The breast is not a sex organ. There is nothing sexual about a mother feeding her baby!(see prolactin’s maternal-inducing traits)

Fact One: Or is it?  They are well connected. If not blatantly sexual,  breasts most assuredly should be viewed as an erogenous zone.   After birth, estrogen and progesterone levels decrease while prolactin and oxytocin levels increase.  Prolactin, which is secreted by the anterior pituitary, stimulates the breasts to produce milk. The prolactin level is very high in the early postpartum period in order to stimulate initial milk production.  Prolactin induces maternal behavior: a lactating mother experiences a form of psychological tension, which can best be described as a feeling or need of always wanting to see and hold her baby (Brewster, 1979).

Oxytocin is the primary connector between the breast and sexual response.  It is secreted by the posterior pituitary, has two major functions in relation to breastfeeding: a) a new mother feels her uterus contract during breastfeeding, and b) it is responsible for the milk ejection reflex during breastfeeding and orgasm. Oxytocin has the opposite psychological impact as prolactin does: It calms the physiological tension induced by prolactin. Consequently, while breastfeeding, the mother will experience a sense of well-being and contentment. The consequences of these hormones are that each time a woman breastfeeds, she derives great pleasure from the experience and contact with her baby. As a result, all or a very great part of her needs for affection are met through breastfeeding even if she is only partially breastfeeding.  This is obviously healthy and normal. However, one result is that the breastfeeding woman will likely have a decreased need to seek out her partner for pleasure and affection (Also referred to as affection anesthesia).

Oxytocin produces striking parallel effects between breastfeeding and coital orgasm:

  • Both stimulate uterine contractions
  • Both cause nipple erection
  • Breast stroking and nipple stimulation occur during both breastfeeding and sexual foreplay
  • Hormonal emotions are aroused by both types of contact in the form of skin changes
  • Milk let-down or milk ejection reflex can be triggered during both

 

According to some researchers, anywhere of 24% – 29% of women can experience orgasm solely as a result from oxytocin released during nipple stimulation. The percentage may increase if the woman has her legs crossed, as the uterine contractions released by the oxytocin can trigger a physiological sexual response.  This is otherwise known as a breast orgasm. Nipple stimulation activates the same region of the brain as clitoral, vaginal and cervical stimulation. (Journal of Sexual Medicine, Volume 8, 2011)

Another clear biological lactation/genital connection is the lack of vaginal lubrication when the breastfeeding mother becomes sexually excited.

INCONVENIENT TRUTH:  The breast is connected to sexuality.  It is simply unreasonable to expect all of humanity to treat it otherwise.

 

Lactivist Assertion Three:  Our culture is uptight and just needs to get over it.  Especially Mormon Culture.

Fact One:  There are three uphill challenges in overcoming breast issues in the church.

1.  Modesty in dress, particularly for females is pervasive in Mormon culture.  A quick search for modesty related information on LDS.org yields 451 results.  This should be a self explanatory challenge for those who are LDS.  Modesty is tied to cleanliness, chastity and purity.  For a cultural environment who emphasizes coverage of shoulders and knees, as well as garments, it should not be surprising they would be less relaxed about having exposed breasts at church.  Regardless of the wholesome reason that may be behind it, exposing a breast for ANY reason is going to fall outside of normal range and the tribe will react as such.

2.  Recent research from University of Westminster, Archives of Sexual Behavior just last month revealed interesting information about the type of man who favors larger breasts.  Researcher’s found that the largest percentage of participants (32.7 percent) rated medium-sized breasts as “most attractive,” followed by large (24.4 percent), very large (19.1 percent), small (15.5 percent) and very small (8.3 percent). However, a preference for large and very large breasts was significantly correlated with overt sexism, benevolent sexism, female objectification and hostile attitudes toward women. This connection was strongest when it came to benevolent sexism [emphasis by Froggie]. In other words, men who tend to idealize “traditional” femininity and perceive women as meek and weak, are also the most likely to prefer big breasts. “It is arguable that benevolently sexist men perceived larger female breasts as attractive because larger breast size on a woman is associated with perceived femininity.”

3. Western culture has made progress regarding breastfeeding.  It does, however, have secondary side effects of pornography, even maternal breast-targeted pornography such as pregnancy or nursing fetishes, that provide a less conducive climate to just simply “understanding and getting over it.”

INCONVENIENT TRUTH:  When you add the aspect of “benevolent sexism” along with the already existing Mormon-centric  puritanical, patriarchal, rigid gender role defined environment, layered with a coating of broader Western culture, this is no small uphill battle.  To quote Sun Tzu, “Know your enemy.”  Trying to leverage the breast as a tool when the tool itself has an enormous amount of already existing stigma may not be the best strategy.  It isn’t a situation that one just wakes up and “gets over.”

Conclusion:  If productive dialogue is to occur with the church on the matter of transitioning the cultural climate to allow for ease of breastfeeding at church,  one must acknowledge the above-listed inconvenient truths and be prepared to include them as part of the discussion.  Not ignore them or be blissifully ignorant of their impact.   A special nod of acknowledgement must be given to the current cultural norms within Mormonism  as well if one wants to effect change on this front.

References:

Komisaruk, Barry R., and Beverly Whipple. “Functional MRI of the brain during orgasm in women.” Annual Review of Sex Research 16 (2005): 62.

Levin, R. J. (2006). The breast/nipple/areola complex and human sexuality. Sexual & Relationship Therapy, 21, 237-249.

Marlowe, Frank. “The Nubility Hypothesis.” Human Nature 9.3 (1998): 263-271.

Sex and Breastfeeding:  An Educational Perspective. J Perinat Educ. 1999 Winter; 8(1): 30–40.doi:  10.1624/105812499X86962

Sholty, M. J., Ephross, P. H., Plaut, S. M., Fischman, S. H., Charnas, J. F., & Cody, C. A. (1984). Female orgasmic experience: A subjective study. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 13, 155-164.

The Journal of Sexual  Medicine. doi:10.1111/j.1743-6109.2011.02388.x. Surprise finding in response to nipple stimulation Lay summary – CBSnews.com (5 August 2011).

http://LDS.org

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/01/sexist-men-big-boobs-breast-size-study_n_2792287.html?utm_hp_ref=mostpopular

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jill-di-donato/breast-orgasm_b_1871581.html

 

(edited to fix list marker)

NoCoolNameTom’s 25 new scripture mastery verses

For the first three months of this year, NoCoolNameTom has been translating scriptures into Greek, and giving context around the 25 scripture mastery verses.  Beyond just being awesome to actually see the options for translation, and getting a good feel for which ones are twisted out of context, and which are fairly accurate, he has explored the ideas of “Why this verse” compared to others.

This week, he posted his own suggested list of 25 New Testament scripture mastery scriptures for teenagers struggling to go through Junior High/High school without specific Mormon rhetoric.  I think this list touches the TBM, the NOM, the agnostic and the atheist in illustrating what teenagers need to hear as well as illustrating how much damage the current seminary program does to teenagers already struggling.

Regardless it is thought provoking and worth reading.

Full list here: http://blog.nocoolnametom.com/2013/03/07/scripture-mastery-nt-end/

Earthly father, invisible mother, sort of like our Heavenly Parents?

There’s a new video on the YouTube Mormon Channel comparing earthly fatherhood to Heavenly Fatherhood, and I generally agree with the sentiments about the importance of fathers, but a few things really bother me. First, there’s the implication that fatherhood is primarily about providing materially. Second, the wife of the father featured in this video is barely portrayed at all. Yes, I know this video is about glorifying fatherhood, but as my brother commented, “I wonder when we can expect the sequel about Heavenly Mother.” The mother, who is doing the bulk of actually being with and raising the kids (as is expected) is reduced to an unstated assumption. (“Of course she’s important! Why do we have to say she’s important?”) But this actually closely parallels the way Heavenly Parents are represented in Mormonism. Yes, we have a Heavenly Mother, but let’s not talk about her or to her. (Though other faiths eschew feminine representations of deity, too. I’m not sure which is a more harmful message: that there’s a female deity, but she has to stay sequestered in some back room, or that there’s none at all.)

The Mormon model of Heavenly Parenthood is actually the opposite of what Mormon parents are expected to do. Heavenly Father is the one we talk to and build relationship with; Heavenly Mother(s) is there, but we are not to get involved with Her, and if She’s involved with us, it’s solely by stealth. Whereas the earthly parent paragon is the father who goes off and provides, while the mother is the one in the trenches, kissing scraped knees, helping with school projects, comforting, encouraging, building relationship. Ironic and interesting to me.

Leah blogs at Via Media.