Toward a Mormon Lesbian Theology

Family Homosexuality

Citing a Feminist Mormon Housewives conversation, Mohohawaii recently wrote about how LDS women are made responsible for LDS mens sexuality. The Mormon woman is expected not to inflame male passions by underdressing or being overly flirtatious. Female modesty he writes, affirms the existence of male sexuality only. He quotes a Mormon women who felt guilty for simply wanting an orgasm during a faithful marriage of 20 years.

At the end of Mohohawaiis post, he notes that this is one of the ways that patriarchal nature of LDS culture oppresses women and gay people. That is, it takes their sexuality away from them. It doesnt allow a gay person to be a gay person (insofar as sexuality is a determinant of a gay person) or a woman to be a woman (insofar as her sexuality is determinant of her).

However, I would argue that it is not patriarchy, per se, that does this at least, the gay part. The ancient Greeks were a very patriarchal culture, and yet they were quite gay. Mens sexuality in ancient Greece was supreme, but womens sexuality was still rather oppressed. So, I would say that the problem in the Church is actually one of heteropatriarchy, and not just patriarchy alone.

The logic of male passions in the Church actually does carry over into queer sexuality for men. Whenever Church leaders talk about same-gender attraction, they always talk about men, boys, males. Its the consideration of a son who should keep his “passions” in check (his “natural man”); occasionally, but not often, also a father or husband: whether we’re talking about pornography or adultery. There is some consideration of the mans wife: the mixed-orientation marriage, but only as she relates to the man.

For instance, in a 2006 interview, Dallin Oaks noted that Hinckleys statement in the late 1980s that marriage should not be thought about as a cure for same-gender attraction was for the purposes of not putting at risk daughters of God who would enter into such marriages under false pretenses or under a cloud unknown to them. Part of this, I would assume, had to do with Carol Lynn Pearsons 1986 book Goodbye I Love You which made clear that HIV could get into LDS marriages as a result of selfish male passions (I say “selfish” here, because that’s how it ultimately got interpreted by church leaders). I would hope that the other part had to do with Church leaders acknowledging that a heterosexual LDS woman ought to enter a marriage with a knowledge that her husband will want to have sex with her not just to reproduce, but to have passionate, orgasm-inducing heterosexual sex (for both partners). The 1990s did, if we remember, see an addition to the Handbook of Instructions that sex includes the purposes of “strengthening the bond of marriage.” But clearly, there’s still a long way to go in terms of freeing women’s passions.

Obviously in this discourse, the Mormon lesbian is absent. The Mormon lesbian (or lesbianism…however you want to think about it) continues to be subjugated under the auspices of “female modesty.” Whereas the same-sex attracted male is expected to keep his “passions” in check, the lesbian is written out of existence. Insofar as she does exist, she is made invisible, more than her heterosexual sisters. Thus I think a Mormon lesbian theology is important to unravel the problems going on here.

Let’s consider Boyd Packers idea in the 1970s that homosexuality is caused by a subtle form of selfishness. This notion might seem obsolete, but actually many, many Mormons would still argue that acting on ones attractions outside of marriage is, in fact, selfish (regardless of one’s sexuality). Packers logic thrives.

In the 1990s, however, the public began to see lesbian mothers. Lesbians as mothers who are not selfish. (I think some 35% of lesbian couples are raising kids.)

Church leaders don’t know how to talk about lesbianism, because they don’t know how to talk about female sexuality. But to simply recognize the lesbian household as a family worthy of church membership would automatically open the door to reconsiderations of the following:

(1) the relationship of an LDS woman’s sexuality to that of an LDS man’s (ie., female modesty vs. male passions),

(2) the homosex as selfish thing, and

(3) female ordination.

Or I guess the Church can continue to be heteropatriarchal — but eventually this will lead to an implosion is my guess.

 

Extra notes:

– This “female modesty” vs “male passions” thing gets used to explain promiscuity in gay men. In one of Dean Byrd’s books, he argues that gay men are promiscuous because there are no women present to tame them. He leaves out the fact that a lot of men (gay or otherwise) are monogamously-minded and that a lot of women (gay or otherwise) are promiscuous.

– A Mormon lesbian on YouTube notes that the nature of lesbianism is pretty simple to understand. During her mission she found herself at a lesbian household. On their wall, was this picture. She thought: “Oh, I’m a lesbian.” And that was that. =D

96 thoughts on “Toward a Mormon Lesbian Theology

  1. Wow.

    I think the fact that the sole and solitary direct reference to a statement about female sexuality by a woman occurs in a note at the end of your post says all it needs to about the difference between “patriarchy” and “heteropatriarchy.”

    Meaning, there isn’t much, at least not in your work. In your post, the statements about women and their sexuality that needed to be quoted and discussed are made by men. You still make men the authority on women’s sexuality, except for one brief mention so inconsequential to your main argument you tack it on as an afterthought.

    Seriously: you couldn’t even follow Mohohawaii’s lead and link directly to fMh?

  2. Holly — first off, Mohohawaii’s link is actually a broken one; otherwise I would have linked it. On the fMh website, I wasn’t able to locate the conversation. (Update: Here’s the fMh convo).

    Second, in terms of your critique of me centering men in the post, yes, and I’ll explain why. There is a dearth of Mormon lesbian voices out there, and here I’m using that absence as an analytical space in hopes to affect everyone, not just Mormon lesbians or Mormon women generally. I would hope that the ultimate goal is not to tell Mormon lesbians (and women generally) to “RUN, RUN, RUN!” from the Church (unless they would like to run), but to also affect men. Thus, I am working with absence (not presence) for a reason. In order to talk about that absence, I talk about what discourses lead to it, which, in the Church, are men’s discourses.

    Church leaders’ voices are a big part of Mormonism; unfortunately, they are “degendered” as prophets. Do I continue to give them gendered authority by putting them in the center of my post about “Mormon lesbianism”? Yes. But I would also hope that I am deconstructing them enough to work against that authority. It’s not like it’s just going to go away on its own.

    I have sought to center women’s voices about their sexuality before, such as in this other post when I invited someone to MSP. I don’t see how I am not also doing that here.

    If I said that the ultimate goal is female ordination, so that women’s voices could become paramount in the Church, would that put into a different perspective this post for you? Or do you feel this post works against that goal?

  3. There is a dearth of Mormon lesbian voices out there, and here Im using that absence as an analytical space in hopes to affect everyone, not just Mormon lesbians or Mormon women generally.

    Mormon lesbians are indeed all but invisible–unless you go looking for them. You could have googled “Mormon lesbian”–you actually get quite a few hits.

    And Mormon women in general certainly aren’t invisible. Some of them talk about female sexuality in general, including desire for other women.

    What you provide is a guy using male speech and thought to “use women’s absence to create an analytical space”–instead of a guy pointing out where women have already called attention to that absence. THAT might have been useful.

    I have sought to center womens voices about their sexuality before, such as in this other post when I invited someone to MSP. I dont see how I am not also doing that here.

    You do understand how asking women to weigh in on m/m sexuality is not the same as creating a space where they can easily discuss f/f sexuality or f/m sexuality, right?

    If I said that the ultimate goal is female ordination, so that womens voices could become paramount in the Church, would that put into a different perspective this post for you? Or do you feel this post works against that goal?

    I wouldn’t believe you if you claimed that was your goal, since you don’t even bother to make women’s voices significant–much less paramount–in your own damn post. That is why I feel your post works against that goal.

    If you want women’s voices to be paramount, make them paramount–not merely but especially in your own work. Don’t create excuses for excluding and silencing women–especially when women’s lives and sexuality is the topic. The fact that you as a man somehow think that women’s silence and exclusion is therapeutic or beneficial doesn’t make it feel any better for ones being silenced and excluded.

    Is that hard to understand?

  4. You do understand how asking women to weigh in on m/m sexuality is not the same as creating a space where they can easily discuss f/f sexuality or f/m sexuality, right?

    A man can write an M/M novel that has no female voices. But yet the book can be enjoyed and intended for a female audience.

    Many lesbians also like and produce M/M romance, which tells me that the divider you’ve created between (M/M) and (F/F & F/M) is false.

    The divider being “the presence of a woman’s voice.”

    There’s a whole history to the development of M/M romance as a genre, and the short of it is that all of our sexualities/voices are connected.

    I don’t consider women who write same-sex romance to necessarily have to tread lightly when it comes to actual gay men’s experiences, because I recognize that there is difference between an embodied person and those who are fictional or symbolized.

    Here the “Mormon lesbian” is also not embodied. She is symbolized for reasons I’ve already explained. As I’ve explained elsewhere, sometimes unembodied politics is healthier and safer and more effective than embodied politics.

    I feel that you are not letting there be multiple ways to get at this heteropatriarchal beast and are insisting upon only one method, one in which men are silent and women speak. But I actually think that this method in many ways perpetuates a kind of “males on the one hand” “females on the other” type of thinking that has pros, but also cons.

  5. It’s so true; Lesbian women, in Mormonism, are essentially nonexistent. In fact, most Christian groups have the same problem, for the same reason. They don’t understand (they in fact deny and suppress any knowledge of) female sexuality.

  6. Many lesbians also like and produce M/M romance, which tells me that the divider youve created between (M/M) and (F/F & F/M) is false.

    If it’s false, why did you use it yourself? Why label your book as m/m instead of eschewing labels entirely?

    If it’s false, we do we need a “lesbian” theology? Why doesn’t the existing theology work just fine for lesbians?

    I feel that you are not letting there be multiple ways to get at this heteropatriarchal beast and are insisting upon only one method, one in which men are silent and women speak. But I actually think that this method in many ways perpetuates a kind of males on the one hand females on the other type of thinking that has pros, but also cons.

    Well, you’re wrong. I didn’t and don’t object to your writing a post on the topic of lesbian theology; I objected to the fact that you didn’t see fit to quote any female voices in a topic about women’s sexuality and spirituality.

    I feel that you are trying to weasel out of your own patriarchal attitudes, and excuse a bad decision.

    I feel that Mohohawaii is a great advocate for women, and I’m always interested to read what he has to say on the topic of women and feminism. But then, he does things like quote women up front and link to women’s blogs and read fMh.

  7. Quoting voices is not the only way to bring voices into a piece of writing. The voices I did quote were church leaders’ voices that were deconstructed.

  8. The voices I did quote were church leaders voices that were deconstructed.

    Oh, well, then it’s OK. ‘Cause god knows, what we really need in order to have a viable lesbian theology is for a bunch of guys to pay very close attention to what other guys say.

  9. I like the word queer, but when theory is attached I get a stupor of thought.

    I keep running into lesbians from a Mormon background. Maybe they left while the men were busy talking to themselves, so they could go about living their lives.

  10. I keep running into lesbians from a Mormon background. Maybe they left while the men were busy talking to themselves, so they could go about living their lives.

    they sound like pretty smart women, since men on all sides of the conversation mirror each other: they all claim to value women and have their best interest at heart; they all think they’re uniquely entitled to speak to and for women; and they all have all sorts of excuses for why it’s OK not to include any real women in discussions of women’s lives, sexuality and spirituality, including their invocation of some idealized or “symbolized” (to use Alan’s word) woman they’ve created to set the example the rest of us little ladies need to follow if everything is going to be all right.

  11. Holly, I liked your Sunstone article that you posted on the other thread. I appreciated learning more about your experiences.

    But I was wondering about the title “Straight Women, Gay Men, and Mormonism.” Does the category “gay men” only apply to the specific gay men you talk about in your article, or is it a symbol that also includes gay men you’ve never met or read about? If the latter, then I think you should cease and desist with your suggestions about what “gay men” should do. =p

    Have you checked out my Dialogue article, or do you worry its “patriarchy” might cause you to gag with disgust? (Edit: IOW, nothing I say ever seems to appease you or have a positive value to you. Or at least, you never say so.)

  12. Oh, well, then its OK. Cause god knows, what we really need in order to have a viable lesbian theology is for a bunch of guys to pay very close attention to what other guys say.

    btw, deconstructing does not just mean “paying close attention to.”

    it also includes the question: “why is this person talking and being listened to in the first place?”

  13. Does the category gay men only apply to the specific gay men you talk about in your article, or is it a symbol that also includes gay men youve never met or read about? If the latter, then I think you should cease and desist with your suggestions about what gay men should do. =p

    Given that those are not the only two options for how the term “gay men” can be deployed, I don’t feel obligated to take your advice.

    I am, however, consistently impressed at how when it comes right down to it and when you are left to your own devices, you rely on simple binaries, and expect everyone else to do so as well.

    Have you checked out my Dialogue article, or do you worry its patriarchy might cause you to gag with disgust?

    I admit that I have not yet read your Dialogue essay (haven’t read anything in the latest issue, actually, because I’ve been busy, on top of which I didn’t even notice your name in the table of contents), though perhaps I’ll try to get to it before too much longer.

    (Note: again with the simple binary, like the only two options are choosing to read it right away or choosing not to read it because “its ‘patriarchy’ might cause me to gag with disgust.” You could also have simply asked if I’d seen it, and not tried to predict my response. That’s one thing that drives me nuts: you seem to think you can figure out what I’m thinking and what motivates my responses, and the inferences you offer are pretty much NEVER right.)

    (Edit: IOW, nothing I say ever seems to appease you or have a positive value to you. Or at least, you never say so.)

    I admit that I have not been as impressed with your work as you are, and am sometimes baffled by your apparent expectation that I should be.

    btw, deconstructing does not just mean paying close attention to.

    it also includes the question: why is this person talking and being listened to in the first place?

    Yes. And I am asking the question, “Why are men talking to and listening to each other on the topic of women’s sexuality and spirituality, instead of talking to and listening to women?”

    Seems like an important question to me.

  14. My comments @12 were an attempt at humor. I painted a binary for you because that’s what I feel you’ve given me this entire thread. Either (A) I needed to have quoted women’s voices in the post, or (B) The post is part of a nasty patriarchal “man mirror.” You don’t seem to allow for a third or fourth or fifth option in which
    – a quotation of women’s voices is not entirely instrumental to anti-patriarchal work,
    – where not quoting them could be outside the bounds of a “man mirror,” or
    – where “lesbianism” can be used as an analytic (i.e, unembodied female same-sex desire) without the actual presence of gay women.

    To expand on the lattermost point, what happens in the Church is that because discussions of homosexuality are usually about men, Mormon men and women assume that Mormon same-sex attracted women are doing a better job at keeping their “passions” in check. This just reinstates the male passions / female modesty binary. If, under these circumstances, you bring forward a lesbian-identified woman in the Church, or women attracted to other women — if you “quote” them, their voices will be dismissed by the overarching rubric. The presence of women for sake of the presence of women has no political value here, because women themselves are also judging other women. But if focus on the rubric itself, by focusing on the value of lesbian desire on its own, then you might get somewhere.

    This might seem counterproductive, because without the “voices,” one is re-engaging in patriarchy. But not necessarily so. An example might be that instead of writing a memoir (where “real” people are quoted), you might write a novel or offer theoretical propositions (which I do here). You might take a look at my Sunstone presentation about my novel versus Jonathan Langford’s in which I talk about the conflicting ways in which nonfiction gets read versus fiction, how both engage in different facets of necessary political work.

  15. – a quotation of womens voices is not entirely instrumental to anti-patriarchal work,
    – where not quoting them could be outside the bounds of a man mirror, or
    – where lesbianism can be used as an analytic (i.e, unembodied female same-sex desire) without the actual presence of gay women.

    Alan — It’s not about quoting “voices” to back up your points, it’s about being interested in taking actual women’s perspectives into account when discussing female sexuality.

    I really, really don’t want to look like as a “gang up on Alan” person, but do yourself a favor: in hole, stop digging.

    Just acknowledge that Holly has a valid point, try to make an effort to take women’s perspectives into account when forming your ideas about feminist issues in the future, and move on, so we can talk about the actual issues and points you’ve brought up in your post.

  16. its about being interested in taking actual womens perspectives into account when discussing female sexuality. […]
    try to make an effort to take womens perspectives into account when forming your ideas about feminist issues in the future

    Because only men’s perspectives informed the writing of this post? C’mon…are you serious?

  17. The presence of women for sake of the presence of women has no political value here

    bullshit.

    But if it makes you feel better about excluding women, keep telling yourself that.

    An example might be that instead of writing a memoir (where real people are quoted), you might write a novel or offer theoretical propositions (which I do here). You might take a look at my Sunstone presentation about my novel versus Jonathan Langfords in which I talk about the conflicting ways in which nonfiction gets read versus fiction, how both engage in different facets of necessary political work.

    I might do that…. or I might just tell you that as part of getting a PhD in nonfiction, I explored the way it gets read quite thoroughly. I have every confidence I understand the topic better than you do.

  18. Alan — I’m just saying it looks like you’ve written a whole post “towards a lesbian theology” without caring what lesbians might have already written on the subject. And when it’s pointed out to you, instead of taking that point into consideration, you argue that that’s OK because maybe you were talking about unembodied female same-sex desire, thereby rendering actual lesbians irrelevant [as the men are busy hammering out a lesbian theology amongst themselves]. I’m willing to believe I’ve misunderstood this discussion, though, because I’m just trying not to injure myself from all the head-desking…

  19. Darn, this whole conversation confused me.
    So it’s about disemboweled or unembodied fictional lesbians, something like that.
    That makes sense since we all know that real Mormon lesbians don’t exist.(not that it matters)

    What’s next, a discussion on Martian Mormon converts? I don’t know if they’re unembodied, but since I saw “Ghosts of Mars”, I inclined to agree..
    But the one thing we can safely say is that they are male.
    Don’t know if they are straight, but since they’re from Mars, they’re definitely queer.

  20. You dont seem to allow for a third or fourth or fifth option in which
    – a quotation of womens voices is not entirely instrumental to anti-patriarchal work,
    – where not quoting them could be outside the bounds of a man mirror, or
    – where lesbianism can be used as an analytic (i.e, unembodied female same-sex desire) without the actual presence of gay women.

    Given the infinite possibilities that exist in the world, I suppose these third and fourth and fifth options are indeed possible, and might actually be useful, if done by someone adequately sophisticated. That doesn’t change the fact that your post failed in several crucial ways. And until you have the maturity and wisdom and insight to handle a more challenging rhetorical task such as creating a lesbian theology without reference to actual women, you might make your life easier and your work more successful by doing simple things such as considering what actual lesbians have to say on the topic of lesbian theology.

    From your original post:

    Church leaders dont know how to talk about lesbianism, because they dont know how to talk about female sexuality.

    What you have proven, over and over and over, Alan, is that YOU don’t know how to talk about female sexuality, and that you don’t know how to listen about female sexuality, either–unless female sexuality provides readers for your novel about gay men. Only men’s perspectives informed the writing of your post, and you actively reject any suggestion that you should take women’s perspectives seriously.

    Seriously, Alan: you’ve done your best to “make women’s voices paramount” and “create a lesbian theology” and you’ve modeled for the big boys with the offices on South Temple how to talk about female sexuality (which is the model they already use, relying on an analytic concept of unembodied female desire instead of considering what women who have been working on the topic for a good long time have to say about it) and that takes care of your little obligatory attempt to show that you sorta care about the woman thing. You’ve done your duty, and now you can stop. In fact, PLEASE stop, and go do something else. Because what you’re doing now isn’t helping.

  21. without caring what lesbians might have already written on the subject.

    Okay, for a moment, can you suspend this notion that I don’t care or have not read what lesbians have written on the subject of queer theology, or have not read what queer females have written on female same-sex desire, or further that I have not read what females have written on the ways in which female same-sex desire gets rearticulated back into hetero white men’s formulations of the world.

    I remember getting quite annoyed at both of you in an earlier thread where you insisted and insisted upon queer politics keeping identitarianism central. I don’t want to rehash that discussion here.

    The reason I bring it up, though, is because the exact same thing is happening.

    I’m going to quote a passage from Gayatri Gopinath’s Impossible Desires. She is a South Asian queer scholar who centralizes queer diasporic femaleness in her work:

    Because the figure of “woman” as a pure and unsullied sexual being is so central to dominant articulations of nation and diaspora, the radical disruption of “home” that queer diasporic texts enact is particularly apparent in their representation of queer female subjectivity. I use the notion of “impossibility” as a way of signaling the unthinkability of a queer female subject position within various mappings of nation and diaspora.

    My foregrounding of queer female diasporic subjectivity…is not simply an attempt to merely bring into visibility or recognition a heretofore invisible subject. Indeed … many of the texts that I consider run counter to standard “lesbian” and “gay” narratives of the closet and coming out that are organized exclusively around a logic of recognition and visibility. Instead, I scrutinize the deep investment of dominant diasporic and nationalist ideologies in producing this particular subject position as impossible and unimaginable. …Revealing the mechanisms by which a queer female diasporic positionality is rendered impossible strikes at the foundation of these ideological structures.

    In my post, my point is not to make the “Mormon lesbian” visible. It’s not even about making women visible. It’s not about visibility at all and it’s not about any particular subject at all. It’s about getting at structures that position everyone in certain ways, visible/invisible.

    This might be a different way of doing feminist politics than you’re used to, and you might hate it. But it was born from the clash of second-wave feminisms that focused on “visibility and empowerment” with third-wave, third-world feminisms that often focus more on humility (and I’m thinking here particularly of Asian Buddhist feminists).

    In terms of what Holly says @21, of course I’m willing to admit that I’m not the most sophisticated person at employing the methodology as noted above. But just because I’m not employing female sexuality the way you are used to seeing it employed doesn’t give you a right to say that I’ve proven “I don’t know how to listen…unless female sexuality provides readers for your novel about gay men.” What the f*** does my novel have to do with anything? The only thing that’s been proven, so far as I can see, is your quickness to psychoanalyze, mock and pigeonhole people in awful ways — to shut them down as if you have a monopoly on feminist methodologies and formulations.

    which is the model they already use, relying on an analytic concept of unembodied female desire instead of considering what women who have been working on the topic for a good long time have to say about it

    You’ve twisted “unembodied” in this discussion into something I haven’t.

  22. Suzanne @ 20

    That makes sense since we all know that real Mormon lesbians dont exist.

    The Church makes it difficult to identify as lesbian. This we know. But to insist and talk about women in the Church who are primarily attracted to other women as necessarily being “lesbian” who need “visibility” is just as troubling. This is why it is important to privilege queer female desire as a concept for political work, the value and existence of the desire over the subject (and there are cases in which the opposite should be what happens). But like I explain @22 and other comments, visibility in and of itself is not everything it’s cracked up to be. Visibility often amounts to that which is placed upon you no matter how much you write and write and talk and scream about your own subjectivity. This has always been the problem of identity/visibility politics.

    Holly, there’s more I want to say to you. =p This whole time you’ve basically been saying that I’m engaging in a male tendency to theorize what is already practiced. But in making this claim, you are inadvertently re-affirming the binary that men theorize and that women practice — limiting the ways in which women who have and are theorizing have influenced my practice (and theorizing). And it seems to be that the rubric you use to make a judgment about how to gender a man’s practice of theorizing about women is whether he quotes women…in what? Every post? Or that I meet some Holly-inspired, or Holly-plus-X-number-of-other-people standard of how to talk about things? Maybe you should look through my posts again to see how most of what I say comes from women theorists who have influenced me. Perhaps theorists you don’t like and disagree with who are poststructuralists, but that doesn’t mean they and I particulate in uber-patriarchy.

    My “little obligatory attempt to show that [I] sorta care about the woman thing” is not just some expectation that feminism bow to the whims of any minority who picks it up, such as myself as a gay male. Gayatri Spivak hated the fact that young college students who picked up her phrase “strategic essentialism” used it to start over on any topic because of some notion that everyone is “special.” Well, everyone is special but of course there is also the matter of respecting that which came before you. Here I’m talking about work done by women on female sexuality, lesbian theology, etc, that must be respected. But I must insist that you went into this post from the get-go with a lot of assumptions about the way the topic has to be approached, the ways in which I was and/or am somehow not respecting work already done, assumptions about what I have and have not read, and so on. When I try to share things with you (such as my Sunstone presentation), you seem to take it as me comparing myself to you or trying to show off, but really what I’m trying to do is reach some understanding, to give more information, so that you stop degrading me.

    If its false, why do we need a lesbian theology?

    I just assume that people think “queer” means “LGBT,” so I used “lesbian,” but I realize now that I can’t work with that assumption because “lesbian” is not what I was aiming for in the post… I’m saying “queer female desire.”

  23. But just because I’m not employing female sexuality the way you are used to seeing it employed doesn’t give you a right to say that I’ve proven “I don’t know how to listen….”

    What!? Oh my goddess! You mean there are things one does and does not have the right to say?

    If I had said, “Just because you’re trying to, uh, ’employ’ female sexuality to accomplish your own agenda doesn’t mean you have the right to say ‘The presence of women for sake of the presence of women has no political value here’ to the very people you’re excluding,” would it have been something you could understand?

    What the f*** does my novel have to do with anything?

    That is an excellent question, Alan, one I had myself. So let me ask: why did YOU bring your novel up three times–in comments #3, #5 and #15?

    In my post, my point is not to make the “Mormon lesbian” visible. It’s not even about making women visible. It’s not about visibility at all and it’s not about any particular subject at all. It’s about getting at structures that position everyone in certain ways, visible/invisible.

    That’s pretty much my point. Your post entitled “Toward a Mormon Lesbian Theology,” nothing that “the Mormon lesbian is absent,” is not really about making “the Mormon Lesbian” or even women visible. You use a particular title and claim a certain topic, but it’s obvious that you’re not really interested in Mormon lesbians–or women. Your interest is something else. And you fail to do either what the title implies, or what you say, in the sentence I just quote, you really wanted to do.

    This might be a different way of doing feminist politics than you’re used to, and you might hate it. But it was born from the clash of second-wave feminisms that focused on “visibility and empowerment” with third-wave, third-world feminisms that often focus more on humility (and I’m thinking here particularly of Asian Buddhist feminists).

    And maybe you’re just not doing a very effective job at it.

    This whole time you’ve basically been saying that I’m engaging in a male tendency to theorize what is already practiced. But in making this claim, you are inadvertently re-affirming the binary that men theorize and that women practice

    Mother of pearl. You’re too consistently earnest for me to imagine that you’re not serious here. But it’s just so damn ridiculous. Dude: FYI. I read theory. I write it. I publish it.

    assumptions about what I have and have not read

    I’ve made very few assumptions about what you have and have not read. I’ve only used your posts as evidence of what you think it’s important to include in your discussions of ideas about women (which, you have acknowledged, are not really about women–not that we had any doubt about that). Nor have I given you advice about what you should or might read, like I’m your teacher and can give you assignments and you have nothing better to do than run out and read the texts I mention. You’re the one who keeps making assumptions about what others have and have not read, and what they should read.

    Sorry you’ve got these uppity women who are just too contrary to appreciate all the really, uh, great work you’re doing for us here, but if you keep writing this sort of stuff here, you can most likely expect A) that most women will stop reading anything you write that touches even tangentially on women (which is something several have told me they’ve already done) or B) pushback.

    I just assume that people think “queer” means “LGBT,” so I used “lesbian,” but I realize now that I can’t work with that assumption because “lesbian” is not what I was aiming for in the post… I’m saying “queer female desire.”

    Halle-j-lulah! You finally admit to doing one thing wrong! Maybe there’s a tiny smidgen of hope.

    (p.s. You did know from the get-go, right, that “queer,” a large term often used to discuss any sexuality outside of heterosexuality and sometimes used to discuss any sexuality outside of heteronormativity, has a far less specific meaning than “lesbian”? And that if you thought that “queer” might not work for your purposes because “people would think it means ‘LGBT,'” a superior option is not to get more specific and go with only oneof the letters from that list of four, thus limiting further rather than expanding at all what people might reasonably think you were trying to get at?)

  24. but its obvious that youre not really interested in Mormon lesbiansor women. Your interest is something else

    And what exactly is this something else, Holly? To get people to read my novel? That would be laughable if it weren’t so hurtful. The only reason I bring up my novel when I bring it up in whatever context I bring it up is because it is something that I’ve done and I like to keep its memory alive.

    Sorry youve got these uppity women who are just too contrary to appreciate all the really, uh, great work youre doing for us here

    I don’t mind pushback. What I mind is you constantly dumping red paint over my head and saying I don’t have any idea what I’m talking about when I know you know at this point that I do.

    And that if you thought that queer might not work for your purposes because people would think it means LGBT, a superior option is not to get more specific and go with only one of the letters from that list of four, thus limiting further rather than expanding at all what people might reasonably think you were trying to get at?

    And so this justifies all of your rudeness and disparaging comments? I think not. So whereas I might have offered you some hope, you still have offered me none whatsoever. Meaning, I find it nearly impossible to talk to you.

    The problem was never that I “exclude women.” I don’t think it’s unreasonable for someone to think I was talking about queer female desire rather than lesbian subjectivity. FYI, “queer” isn’t exactly a term that is used often in Mormon circles, so there’s a question of audience here. But since for 20+ comments I’ve had to constantly defend myself from your attacks, it’s unfortunate it took this long to get to the difference and the reasons why romancing the “lesbian Mormon” can actually be detrimental rather than something one “does not have the right to say” upfront. Next time you might step back for a moment and see if there is a disagreement on terminology rather than chastise someone as using “male language” and then keep saying that over and over, getting meaner and nastier. If people have stopped reading what I say, I have no doubts that you’re much of the reason for that.

  25. FYI, queer isnt exactly a term that is used often in Mormon circles, so theres a question of audience here.

    I could swear that you’ve discussed the nuances of gay vs. queer here at MSP before. Are you just assuming that people here don’t read your posts and comments?

    But since for 20+ comments Ive had to constantly defend myself from your attacks,

    See, that’s just the thing. You didn’t have to defend your omission of lesbians for 20+ comments. You could have said, “Hmm, you’re right. I didn’t cite any lesbians. I’ll think about that.” And it would have been over and done with 20+ comments ago.

  26. And what exactly is this something else, Holly?

    You tell me, Alan. The fact that I could tell you weren’t really interested in Mormon lesbians or women doesn’t mean it was at all clear what you really were interested in.

    The only reason I bring up my novel when I bring it up in whatever context I bring it up is because it is something that Ive done and I like to keep its memory alive.

    I’ve done lots of work in lots of areas that I’m proud of, Alan. Many of us have. It doesn’t mean you take any opportunity to remind people of that work.

    What I mind is you constantly dumping red paint over my head and saying I dont have any idea what Im talking about when I know you know at this point that I do.

    How on earth would you know that?

    I find it nearly impossible to talk to you.

    I have indeed noticed that you resist any suggestion from any woman for how you might communicate more effectively with the women here.

    The problem was never that I exclude women.

    Yes, it was.

    for 20+ comments Ive had to constantly defend myself from your attacks

    for 20+ comments I and others have tried to make you see that there are many problems with the way you’re framing this issue in this venue.

    You claim to be all sensitive to audience–“FYI, ‘queer’ isnt exactly a term that is used often in Mormon circles”–but that sensitivity doesn’t extend to reframing your statements about women in response to explicit feedback you’re getting here from women? You don’t want to use “queer” because it isn’t “often used in Mormon circles,” but your particular way of employing gender theory, feminism and lesbian desire is something we’re all supposed to accept immediately–just ’cause you say so?

    And, fyi: instead of defending yourself for 20+ comments, you had another option: You could have said, “Yeah, that’s a choice I made deliberately/without even thinking [I have a feeling it was the latter, but if you insist it was the former, I guess I’ll accept it]; next time I might make a different choice.”

    Next time you might step back for a moment and see if there is a disagreement on terminology rather than chastise someone as using male language and then keep saying that over and over, getting meaner and nastier.

    and next time you might step back for a moment and see if there is a disagreement in terminology rather than insist that anyone who doesn’t approve of your use of it just doesn’t have the right political agenda or hasn’t read enough theory, instead of getting more and more obstinate, condescending and arrogant.

    If people have stopped reading what I say, I have no doubts that youre much of the reason for that.

    If you’re not willing to reconsider how you talk to and about women here, I guess I’ll have take any credit you’re willing to give me for getting people to ignore it.

  27. Alan,

    My mostly uneducated point of view is that no matter who theorises or practices, no man (queer or otherwise) will ever fully understand what it is like to be born female into a . For instance, I thought Sean Penn was fabulous in ‘Milk’, but he’ll never really know what it’s like to occupy the shoes of a gay man no matter how many gay pride marches he attended to research his role. I doubt that Sean would disagree with my statement. Personally, I would have liked to have seen Gus Van Sant cast a queer man as the lead in that film, but that wouldn’t have made any money at the box office.
    I think that your piece on Mormon queer women might have had more punch if you had mentioned someone like Sonia Johnson in it. She’s not a pretty baby dyke sitting on a bed, softly bearing her queer testimony – not that there’s anything wrong with that. Sonia Johnson stood up in the General Conference and yelled and wasn’t very pretty or quiet about her politics. There is still a need to let people know what Sonia Johnson did and does and believes.
    Also, (on another topic) I would suggest that lesbian interest in gay male ‘romance’ has political motivation AND I will be completely happy to have Sean Penn play any number of gay/queer roles the day that there is true equality for LBGTQ people.

  28. – I hate it when I forget to finish a sentence!

    That first one should read: “no man (queer or otherwise) will ever fully understand what it is like to be born female into a male-dominated world”.

  29. Alan
    I’m a working class dyke and the only reason I graduated from high school is they gave me a diploma. I don’t do theory. Never had much relevance to my life.
    Even though I’m not yellow, I’m a bit jaundiced. I think the sex wars did a number on my liver.
    Had all these writings from circular ivory towers, but actual desire and real sex seemed to be invisible. I think it might of been helpful to maybe talk to someone who had experienced the desire.
    But I did like “Boots of leather, Slippers of Gold”. I’m inclined to think that some lesbians, dykes, queers, whoever become visible to , um, others because they’re living their lives their way and they would be living that way even if some overlord wasn’t around to place it on them.
    And if I ever got all academic and into queer theory, I write a paper. Maybe it would be–Transformative Queer: How Mormonism informs Patrick Califia.
    I don’t know much about queer theory or Patrick Califia, so I can’t say whether the paper would be long or way short. But hopefully I got the Mormonism down.

  30. chanson @26:

    Are you just assuming that people here dont read your posts and comments?

    I assume new people come to MSP everyday and don’t necessarily go back and read everything a person has written.

    You could have said, Hmm, youre right. I didnt cite any lesbians. Ill think about that. And it would have been over and done with 20+ comments ago.

    Even @24 and 25, Holly is still saying things like that I’ve “acknowledged that [my ideas] about women are not really about women” and “I could tell you werent really interested in Mormon lesbians or women…” Apparently talking about queer femaleness isn’t “really” about women, and apparently Holly just “knew” after reading the post what my interests are. Well, she’s dead wrong. I don’t consider addressing her here worth my time any more.

    The notion that I’m not reconsidering and reframing due to “explicit feedback from women” makes no sense 30 comments into a conversation. If what Holly is alluding to is stubbornness against her rudeness and assumptions about the way things must be talked about, then that’s something else. She has expected me to address her concerns through her rudeness, and to be honest, her rudeness speaks to me louder than her concerns. That’s what happens when you don’t meet people halfway in a conversation and constantly barrage them with incendiary remarks.

  31. leftofcentre @ 28

    no man (queer or otherwise) will ever fully understand what it is like to be born female into a male-dominated world

    True. But it is also the case that gay male and lesbian interests sometimes overlap more than lesbian and hetero female interests. And in sharing interests and community spaces, there can often be more understanding between queer men and women, than between just women. I’m not claiming anything here about my own understanding; I’m just pointing out that the male/female divide is not always the most pertinent divide by which to judge differing experiences. Often, sexual, racial, cultural, socioeconomic, ability, age, etc, are more pertinent. Part of the problem of second-wave feminists has been then their insistence on “freeing” all women from a “man’s world” (when some other difference might be more important).

  32. Oh, and trust me, lesbian interest in male same-sex romance is not just political. =D I know a lot of lesbians who watch gay male porn for erotic purposes.

  33. Apparently talking about queer femaleness isnt really about women

    Apparently. Imagine my surprise in learning this from you–that talking about queer femaleness doesn’t really require attention to real queer females, because queer females are just “symbolized” and “an analytic concept.”

    In all of this, Alan, I’ve only been following your lead.

    Admittedly, it’s been tough, since you obviously don’t really know where you’re going–you just know that wherever you started from, it had to be OK.

    Thats what happens when you dont meet people halfway in a conversation

    Indeed, Alan, we have all learned so much from you about what it looks like when someone doesn’t meet others halfway in a conversation.

    The fact that there are now FOUR women trying to get you to see the problems in your approach and that you still bend as little as possible speaks far louder than your theory.

  34. Are you just assuming that people here dont read your posts and comments?

    I assume new people come to MSP everyday and dont necessarily go back and read everything a person has written.

    A little tip here handed out to freshmen in beginning comp classes: you can use less familiar terms, including “queer,” provided you define them first.

  35. Suzanne @ 30

    I agree that a lot gets lost when desire gets turned to theory. I’m pretty sure that when desire first gets theorized, it’s by those who experience it or whose lives are influenced by it. But everyone’s desires are connected, and the social justice element of theorizing desire is by talking about how certain desires are made invisible, we can begin to see the ways in which overarching discourses structure our lives.

  36. Alan,

    I would never consider porn to be romance. It’s my belief that the act of sex is political. I am bisexual in my preferences but lesbian by choice. I choose to have sex with women as a political act. I watch gay male porn to see men in non-traditional roles of power – that is erotic to me, not romantic. I am sexually attracted to effeminate males – again, non-traditional sex and gender roles. It’s political.

  37. Leftofcentre,

    Cool. I guess I was thinking of the “M/M romance” genre, which tends to be both romantic and erotic, and is enjoyed primarily by straight and lesbian women. That’s why I conflated the romantic and erotic in that comment.

    I’m prone to being attracted to both masculine and effeminate males (and in between and trans), although I continue to come to terms with my own assumptions about how sex acts themselves get gendered. For example, when an effeminate male tops a masculine male, is the one still “effeminate” and the other “masculine” in that moment, or afterwards, and from whose perspective? I totally agree that sex is political.

  38. Alan,

    I have no ideas about how male sex roles affect other males. I’ll never know what it means to a male to view this, to be this, to want this and, so, I’ll have to let you speak as an expert on this. I can only speak from a female perspective and what watching any porn means to me, politically.
    As regards to the overlap of gay male and lesbian interest, I have to argue that up until the early 1990s and the involvement of queer women in the AIDS crisis, there was very little involvement by gay men in women’s issues and, especially, lesbian issues. Without wanting to generalise too much, I think it is safe to say that the politics of the L and G camps were quite divided and gay men probably enjoyed enough patriarchal privilege to fall on the line of men who upheld oppression of women. There are exceptions, I know, but the entire system was built to keep women in a certain place and it would be very difficult for a man to emancipate a woman in the way and manner in which she needs and wants to be emancipated. Only women know how to do this and only women know how to speak to this. Your interest in women’s emancipation is laudable, but Holly and chanson know the very reasons WHY this ‘particular’ piece you wrote has flaws. I can get the essence of it – however, my lack of formal education sometimes holds me back.
    The very day that women and lesbians are fully equal – in law, in men’s private beliefs about women, in women’s ideas about themselves – then it will be okay for you to publicly speculate about what comprises lesbian voices. Until then, a critical piece should rely upon the body of work that women have created. That’s why I suggested that you look at Sonia Johnson as an example of female/lesbian voice that the church tried to suppress.
    I think that Holly’s only critique of your piece, initially, was that there were no other lesbian Mormon voices in your piece save the video blog at the very end. Perhaps the way she wrote it to you was not how you believed that someone should offer constructive criticism. She lost you with one word, probably, the word ‘Wow.’ May I suggest that if a man called ‘Harry’ gave you the same critique you might view it differently?
    See, it’s not about shutting men up from commenting about women’s affairs, but about getting men to actually include women’s voices in the first place. The reason I mentioned sex as a political act before, was that while I don’t know of a lot of people who actually have made a political choice to identify as a lesbian, to me it is the ultimate ‘fuck you’ to the men in suits who deny me a voice, deny me priesthood, deny me the authority to lead them. That may sound grandiose to you, but I would suggest that it falls in the same line of reasoning as men who do drag. The ability to put on oneself the armour of the very thing that scares the power is liberating.

  39. I think that Hollys only critique of your piece, initially, was that there were no other lesbian Mormon voices in your piece save the video blog at the very end. Perhaps the way she wrote it to you was not how you believed that someone should offer constructive criticism. She lost you with one word, probably, the word Wow.

    leftofcentre:

    you’re absolutely right that I could and probably should have approached my critique of Alan’s piece differently.

    The problem is that chanson, Alan and I have been involved in conversations before, and Alan has made it pretty clear that he has no interest in what women have to say, no curiosity about their lives and experience. He got all over me for the way I discussed feminism here because my statements would upset his mommy if she ever read them–I am not kidding–even though his mom doesn’t read Main Street Plaza. He doesn’t respect what women have to say, he considers himself a greater authority on feminism and gender than any woman here, and he values the reading of theory over experience–no doubt in part because, as his writing makes clear, he has so little experience. But what’s most shocking is that he doesn’t seem at all interested in acquiring more.

    So, yeah. I could have started off with something other than the “Wow.” But I don’t think any beginning at all would have worked with Alan. Who knows if he’ll respond to you, but if he does, I’ll be absolutely shocked if he agrees at all with your assertion that “The very day that women and lesbians are fully equal in law, in mens private beliefs about women, in womens ideas about themselves then it will be okay for you to publicly speculate about what comprises lesbian voices. Until then, a critical piece should rely upon the body of work that women have created.” I would bet every Q-Tip I’ve ever owned that he’ll have reasons why you’re absolutely wrong, why he doesn’t need to take that comment seriously.

    And, since I somehow missed it in all the other craziness he produced, can I just call attention to this sentence from comment #3:

    Church leaders voices are a big part of Mormonism; unfortunately, they are degendered as prophets.

    That has got to be one of the stupidest things anyone has ever said about the leaders of the Mormon church.

    No church leader, from Joseph Smith to Monson, has been “degendered” by his role as prophet–or apostle, or member of the Quorum of the 70, etc. By the time they turn 80, perhaps, they’re somewhat less masculine through age. But up until then, they are hyper-masculinized by their power and position, in just the same why that men with political power are hyper-masculinized by it. Power, after all, is the ultimate aphrodisiac, as that well-known sex symbol Henry Kissinger once remarked, and that is one reason for all the LDS women with crushes on Dieter Uchtdorf, even though the guy is 70 years old.

    If you think any church leader is degendered by HIS role as a church leader, you’ve never been a 14-year-old girl shut up alone in a room during a bishop’s interview, or a 20-something missionary shut up alone in a room during an interview with a mission president, or a woman of any age shut up in a room during an interview with a member of the quorum of the 70.

    And yes, Alan, that’s an appeal to experience, which is rooted in subjectivity.

    Experience is part of what makes up a writer’s ethos, to put it in the terms of classical rhetoric.

    Your writing fails to begin with because your ethos as a writer lacks credibility.

    Your logic is also seriously flawed. As I just said, you’re dead wrong on the point of church leaders being degendered. You’re also not very good at logic. It is simply not true that “to simply recognize the lesbian household as a family worthy of church membership would automatically open the door to reconsiderations of… female ordination.” There are already families headed by women–divorced families, the families of widows–and lesbian families would be grouped with those. There would be no reconsideration of female ordination simply because families are headed by two women instead of one.

    And the fact that you are so busy throwing out this flawed logic on topics you haven’t thought through and without paying attention to people who live with these ideas more deeply than you are able, either intellectually or imaginatively, is yet one more reason your writerly ethos on said topics is next to nil.

  40. p.s. Alan couldn’t make the connection between lesbian families and the families of divorced or widowed women because divorced or widowed women “don’t occupy an interesting theoretical space”–or, in other words, are invisible–to him. He doesn’t yet have the capacity to see women unless they written about in particular ways. The simple fact of their existence doesn’t do the trick.

  41. I know from where Alan cometh. I get a bit tetschy over critique. I ignored an entire module’s worth of feedback from one of my teachers because his very first message on my very first paper was, “I’m sure you are expecting a much better mark than what I’ve given you.” After that, I tuned right the hell out. Probably to my detriment…he was a smart guy but I was just too pissed off to re-engage with him. I didn’t get a very good overall mark in that module. Quelle surprise!

    However, to me this conversation is interesting enough to continue with or without Alan. Holly, I get what you mean about the widowed and divorced women occupying a lesser space in LDS culture. An Aaronic priesthood holder (12 year-old boy) is called to have authority over the women who are raising him – with pre-adolescent power like that, who needs to be a macho prophet? Nevermind that men in the church say otherwise, it’s what is not said that is also important – I do agree with Alan on that. I don’t agree with Alan’s position that the lack of lesbian voice can be fitted under the church’s category of female modesty. I honestly think it might have more to do with the LACK of lesbians who attend church, full stop. Gay men have a reason to want to go back, but what’s in it for women?
    Also, lack of acknowledgement on the part of the GAs might have something to do with the feminist position that Mormonism (and most religions entrenched in sexist practice) often show itself as the great and terrible Oz when engaging with women’s ideas of themselves.
    My question for any practicing lesbian Mormons is why would lesbian parents want to send their children to a church where the boys get named priests and the girls are named insect houses (Beehives), a Mia Maid and a Laurel (wreath, tree, shrub…take your pick)? How limiting. How utterly dreadful, in my opinion.

    BTW, what might a Mormon Lesbian theology entail?

  42. BTW, what might a Mormon Lesbian theology entail?

    I don’t know much about theology, but this (online) book about the homosexuality in Mormon history contains some interesting lesbian examples from early church history. It may be relevant.

  43. This post and the threads that followed turned out to be a “hot” one. I am not very well versed in the theories mentioned above but I do get the gist of the concepts that are being talked about.

    First off, I think that Alan’s initial intention is valid. There are a lot of ways in tackling a problem. One of them is being able to talk about those “different ways.” In reading Alan’s main post, I did get what he was trying to do. He wasn’t excluding Mormon women by not quoting them. He’s going about it a different way. He did explained why he’s using this approach and it made sense to me.

    From what I can tell by Holly’s and Alan’s posts, they are both extremely intellectual. I think that all in all, this thread is a good read for everyone. With that said, I also think that being mean to someone is not considered “constructive criticism.”

    So, I am going to follow suit and give out my not-so-constructive criticism. You are all warned beforehand so if you don’t want to read what I have to say, you can ignore it.

    @Alan: I think for a guy (a gay guy for that matter), to talk about “lesbianism” can be very insulting to some women or lesbians. Not because what you have to say is insulting or doesn’t hold ground or doesn’t make sense. It’s because people (intellectuals, generally) tend to view this kind of space (referring to a gay guy talking about lesbianism) as a challenge to those who actually “wear the shoes.” And for not quoting a lesbian woman/en in your main post is adding salt to injury. I know you’ve explained your purpose of why you did that, but a person’s ego is hard to please…just sayin’. Like I said earlier, I get where you are coming from.

    @Holly: Your first response, I felt, was very demeaning. Right off the bat, “Wow” gives off the impression that you know what you are talking about, more than the other person, which in this case is Alan. I get that you want lesbians to be quoted because essentially, this post is about Mormon lesbians. But, no matter how Alan explained his point of view, I felt like you have already shut it down because he’s not a lesbian. I know you’re smart and that you’ve written and published your works and studies, but that doesn’t mean that there’s no room for another space in your methods. Throughout the thread, you just got meaner and meaner. I particularly hate the post where you mentioned Alan’s mom. That’s taking it way too far…seriously. It’s not constructive and it makes you look insensitive (but then again, most intellectuals can be or are insensitive). Still, that was uncalled for. I think it’s safe to say that you don’t know Alan personally and therefore, don’t know his mom or his relationship with his mom. I don’t recall Alan taking a shot at you and making fun of you, personally. I think that’s when this thread stopped being constructive. When you took it personally.

    From what I have gathered from reading the posts here, is that all is Alan doing is creating a different space to talk about Mormon lesbians. His way is different but I still find it valid and can be effective in some areas. But its effectiveness is lost here since there are too many women who viewed his way as a challenge to their own existence. I mean, as a Mormon lesbian myself, I could have viewed Alan’s point as a backward approach that perpetuates the suppression of Mormon lesbians. A backward approach can sometimes unravel the very foundations that some of try to protect and fight for. However, a backward approach, also has the power to unravel issues the size of a behemoth and sometimes, the only way to tackle a complicated issue is to unravel it so that you can look at it piece by piece.

  44. From what I have gathered from reading the posts here, is that all is Alan doing is creating a different space to talk about Mormon lesbians. His way is different but I still find it valid and can be effective in some areas. But its effectiveness is lost here since there are too many women who viewed his way as a challenge to their own existence.

    Excuse me but Alan did not “create” this platform or community. He is an invited contributor whom I personally invited. And a whole lot of women helped build this community, and they have as much right to critique his post as he has to justify his original decisions ad infinitum.

  45. You’re excused because I didn’t say he created this platform. I was referring solely to his post.

    Well, it makes sense now. Really does. Since Alan is “invited” and that you “personally invited” him, he’s only allowed to post ideas that meets your personal taste.

    It’s great that there are a lot of contributions from women to this platform and they do have a right to critique a post AND, like you say, one also does have a right to justify their post. But what happens when one’s idea/s are doesn’t fit your mold? Criticizing and critiquing are different things.

    There seems to be a lot of assumptions coming from the the women here.

  46. Since Alan is invited and that you personally invited him, hes only allowed to post ideas that meets your personal taste.

    Actually, this whole post is a tribute to the fact that exactly the opposite is true. My number #1 goal for MSP has always been to include a variety of viewpoints, including ones I personally disagree with.

  47. Pinay@44

    but that doesnt mean that theres no room for another space in your methods.

    I’ve never said otherwise.

    I particularly hate the post where you mentioned Alans mom. Thats taking it way too farseriously

    Hate it all you want. I’ll consider apologizing for it if Alan will apologize for A) the initial comment where he invoked his mother and B) the post and comments here.

    leftofcentre@42:

    Gay men have a reason to want to go back, but whats in it for women?

    no kidding. And so often, because men won’t let go of basic patriarchal structures and approaches,it’s very hard for women to participate in LDS offshoots, like MSP (as this thread so thoroughly demonstrates) or Affirmation, the organization for LGBT LDS (what a load of initials!). One of my friends told me she quit Affirmation after a good friend of ours called her up and said, “Sister Smith, we’ve decided to give you calling in Affirmation.” He was completely unable to understand why she was insulted and annoyed by that. It was joke, he kept saying! But not a funny one, she replied, since it still involved him exercising power and using the discourse of male ecclesiastical power.

    BTW, what might a Mormon Lesbian theology entail?

    Darn good question….

    I know it would have nothing to do with Heavenly Mother. I personally find her worse than useless. It makes me crazy that although talking often of Heavenly Father and seeking to know him as thoroughly as possible denotes love and respect, it is remaining silent and incurious about Heavenly Mother that denotes love and respect for her, and that feminists think it’s somehow empowering to pray to this giant blank space that is essentially Mrs. God. I don’t think she can be rehabilitated; I think we have to replace her.

    I would start with this completely great painting called “Self-Portrait as God” by Cynthia Mailman. You can see a teeny tiny reproduction of it here. The original is 9 feet tall. I like how challenging and powerful it is, though some critics dismiss it as too patriarchal in its pose and its relationship to the viewer. Maybe… I’m not sure it’s where I’d like to end up in lesbian theology, but I do think it would be a good place to start.

    Once we have an idea of a god as a woman, not just a goddess, not just the female counterpart to some male god (which is what a goddess always is, I think), then we can move on to something more carefully articulated.

  48. For a minute there I was actually worried that I will get banned from here because of my response.

    So, chanson, why even mentioned that you personally invited Alan?

    I was telling my partner about this thread and she is baffled as to why it got to the point where someone has to bring someone’s mom. I don’t see how that’s related to the issues that were brought up in the original post.

    I agree with all of you that lesbians, in the Church, are largely ignored. I went through all of that. Still does. I can talk about my struggles and my friends’ struggles, our fight for recognition, our contributions to the community (and by community I mean Mormon lesbians in my area) and all of that good stuff. Alan could have quoted me and my friends if he knew us personally. I don’t doubt that Alan has some lesbians friends, if not a lot. So he could’ve have quoted them too. But that’s not really what the point was. Why is that Americans are so fixated on filling the void with noise? As if to get your point across, you have to carry an extra large megaphone to be “heard.” Yes, there are a lot of Mormon lesbians out there that have done the work and deeds. Yes, there are publications about their work and deeds. Yes, there are ways that you can find resources to get to their work and their deeds. But this have been done before–telling people about our struggle and the silencing of our voices. People know about that. My brother actually read the original post too and you know what he said after reading the post by Alan? “Male prominence still pervades the Church, even in areas where females is the issue.” He’s not naive to the point that he doesn’t think females have done their lot. But the Alan’s post did affect him to the point where he is questioning those males who have done their studies in lesbianism and the Church. Point is, Alan’s point got across…to someone other than me. Other than a lesbian but to a straight male.

    I think we all fall prey to filling space with a presence to say that that presence DOES exist. It works most of the time, but not always. There’s an old saying in the Philippines that I would like to share: “Ti to nga mannarta, awn ti ania nga magapunanna.” It basically means that a person who talks too much accomplishes little. That proverb isn’t always true, but sometimes there are instances when it does hold meaning and truth.

    To go back to the point, I think that you don’t always have to quote Mormon lesbians to talk about Mormon lesbians. I quote my councilor sometimes (he’s a not-so-traditional councilor in Mormon standards) when I am talking about works done by Mormons within the lesbian community. He’s done a lot for our community (Mormon lesbians) but I have no problem in quoting him to give out the opposite effect. I am not by any way idolizing him. My point of quoting him is a reminder that the heterosexual males of our Church still covers more ground when they are talking about the issues like lesbian Mormons than us lesbians. We do have our voice. I can quote other prominent lesbians in the Church or in my community, but that’s already known. Those lesbians are already there. They are in my circle. They are in all of my conversations. They are the essence of why I am having the conversation in the first place. It just doesn’t make sense to always tell them about their own work. They know what their contributions are. But if you talk about those “big guys up there” who talk about OUR work, it has a different affect and it does work.

  49. To go back to the point, I think that you dont always have to quote Mormon lesbians to talk about Mormon lesbians.

    Duh. That’s obvious. People talk about Mormon lesbians without quoting them all the time.

    To quote the Ministry song currently playing on my itunes: So what?

    The fact that it’s possible is absolutely beside the point. The point is that if someone is claiming, as Alan does @3, that he wants to make women’s voices paramount, he ought to walk his own walk, and not focus primarily on what men say, particularly on a topic like female sexuality.

    Why is that Americans are so fixated on filling the void with noise?

    Interesting question from someone who has produced, in a very short time, quite a few rambling paragraphs some of which she acknowledges others would do just as well to ignore.

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