Sunday in Outer Blogness: More Modesty Edition!

This week Ziff used his amazing statistical analysis talents to answer a question we’ve all been wondering about:

Has there been an increase in modesty rhetoric in the Church in the past few years, or are we just imagining things?

Spoiler alert: There has indeed been a big increase. (Don’t forget to take this survey about garmies and body image.) And it’s not just the Mormons! Although the lessons are overwhelmingly directed at the women, modesty teachings also harm males by teaching unhealthy attitudes about bodies and sexuality. Fortunately, men can be nurturers and can also be part of the solution to our society’s misogyny problem.

Pandora posted three lessons that illustrate the problems with what girls learn at church:

And I remember on my first trek that they called away all those boys right before a big hill, just as it was beginning to rain. There I was with my “sisters” and my “Ma” in my “pioneer family” pushing or pulling our handcart, slipping and stumbling up a big, muddy hill. And my sisters and I—we felt awesome. We did it all by ourselves! And honestly it wasn’t that much harder without the boys than it was with them, and we learned that we were capable of doing hard things when we worked together with other women and supported each other!

Except, when I answered with those words when my “Pa” asked 14-year-old me what I learned from the Women’s Pull, he only looked at me blankly, chuckled a little and said, “No, no. What you were supposed to learn was how hard and difficult things are without men and the Priesthood to help you. I’m sure it wasn’t as easy as you think it was.”

Hopefully Ordain Women will have an impact.

Back in April, I quoted a Mormon woman who wrote about how, being female, she didn’t have the privilege of ignoring women’s issues at church. This week, we see atheists making essentially the same point:

Jamila Bey, the communications director of the Secular Student Alliance, summed up the concerns of many in a recent interview: “There are people who say, ‘Why are we talking about racism? We would rather argue that Chupacabra are fake.’ And fine, that is their right. On the other hand, I don’t get to divorce my critical thinking from my blackness, from my femaleness, from my position as a mother. So when I see the only affordable child care in my community being offered at churches, that’s an issue for me that makes me say ‘Wait a minute, there’s a problem here. Why am I not being afforded the opportunity for my child not to be indoctrinated just so my kid has somewhere to play and meet other children?’ I can’t divorce my whole life from my skepticism and for anybody who says, well, talking about female issues or talking about issues that impact black people, oh, that’s taking away from skepticism, I go, well that’s really easy for you to say. This is my life. I can’t divorce the issues. You can choose to not care about them or whatever, but don’t tell me I’m diminishing skepticism because I’m talking about the reality of what my life is.”

While the Old Testament can sometimes be less sexist than church, its lessons are still largely about the importance of turning your brain off and following a bunch of arbitrary rules.

In church these days, people are using the pulpit to make passive-aggressive swipes and unjustified claims. (Was church more fun in the olden days?) Glenn Beck learned why you shouldn’t test out stuff you learned in church while you’re on live television. In fact, the leaders probably don’t want members testing the church’s claims at all, and certainly don’t want them discussing doctrine among themselves. And you remember how you’re only allowed to discuss the temple ceremonies while you’re in the temple? Well, don’t discuss them there, either.

And now for a bit of a grab-bag of interesting posts on mo-and-non-mo-related topics!

Dan Pearce discussed the problem of excluding family from temple weddings. Making inappropriate judgments about others’ lack of kids isn’t just a Mormon thing. The CoJCoL-dS is again trying to claim legal ownership of the term “Mormon”. Read some entertaining critiques of LDS movies! And there was a bit of drama in the world of the gun-lovers.

And what is going on on our lives?

For Heather, quite a bit. And Kiley has some really exciting news coming up! The post-Mormons in San Francisco had a great gathering, and I posted a recipe of a little something I prepared for the recent Switzerland post-mo gathering.

That’s it for another fabulous week in Mormon-land! Happy reading!!


C. L. Hanson is the friendly Swiss-French-American ExMormon atheist mom living in Switzerland! Follow me on mastadon at or see "letters from a broad" for further adventures!!

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13 Responses

  1. Aerin says:

    I liked runtu’s take, which I can’t post a link to bc of my own technical issues….

  2. Alan says:

    This one?

    Pretty insightful. Those Packer/Hinckley quotes get to the bottom of it. If you have qualms, take it to leaders, though if your qualms are with the leadership structure, learn to love shutting the f*** up, b/c you risk “reversing the channels of revelation.” It’s a full-proof social mechanism for never disrupting the Church’s power structure, and ensuring vilification of anyone, especially any woman, with a good idea.

    I can see why some Mormon feminists want to take the second-wave feminism route, cuz the structure is so infuriatingly restrictive. I hope Kelly is right that this movement is much bigger than she is, and the Church’s goal of cutting the head off a snake will only result in a hydra. The Church’s PR wing is probably hard at work trying to figure out whether that’ll be the case.

  3. Suzanne Neilsen says:

    It seems that those who have authenticity and integrity are always surprised by those who don’t.
    This whole dog and pony show wouldn’t be possible without the worship of conformity and loyalty to an institution that lacks self reflection.(And not just lacks, but outlaws.)
    The Mormon church, by it’s very nature is corrupt. But the funny thing is, the salvation they’re offering is entirely non-existent. All the institutional church is left with is obedience.

  4. Alan says:

    the salvation they’re offering is entirely non-existent. All the institutional church is left with is obedience.

    Well, one would hope that the obedience wouldn’t exist if people felt the salvation was non-existent. But when you’re obedient for years and years, it just ends up becoming second-nature. And that’s what the Church requires…. not necessarily belief, but obedience.

    From Kelly’s probation letter:

    It is important that you understand that you are not required to change your thinking or the question you may have in your own mind regarding the ordination of women, but you need to make it a private matter.

    This reminds me of the passage in 2007 pamphlet God Loveth His Children, that,

    It is not helpful to flaunt homosexual tendencies or make them the subject of unnecessary observation or discussion.

    Now, according to, there’s a “new” openness about talking about gayness, but only after the leadership felt they had dominion over the matter.

    The thing with this issue is, the leadership can’t have dominion over it — because it questions the very logic of the dominion — so the policy of “shut up” is nonnegotiable.

  5. Alan says:

    Theory: They’re going after Dehlin now instead of before to make it appear a co-ed situation, so it doesn’t just look like a huge male church attacking one woman.

  6. chanson says:

    @7 Maybe, but it ruins their claim that it was some random, isolated, local thing. When there are three people on the chopping block coincidentally at the same time, it looks like a crackdown, which is that much more likely to make the news.

  7. Suzanne Neilsen says:

    Of course the Church requires obedience. Those at the top of the corporate hierarchy had to have noticed that Jesus never attends board meetings.
    It seems to my juvenile mind that while many members at the bottom of the hierarchy believe in fairies, those at the top know that the magic pixie dust is nothing but dirt.
    The Church is long past the truth cannot harm us. The dust must remain unexamained. And no asking to share in the pixie dust. So the choice becomes limited to obey, obey, obey and believe in fairies, or Die, Tinkerbell, Die.

  8. Alan says:

    No, no, I think the top believes in the magic pixie dust, too, but in a different way. Especially since the pixie dust is what gives them the power they have. If they stopped believing in the pixie dust, then they’d have to take a long hard look at the nature of their power. For example, I think we’re at a point where the “benevolent patriarchy” of the Church is so obviously patriarchy from even the patriarchs’ POV, that the only way it’s held together is the pixie dust belief. But this could just be me assuming humans are naturally good.

  9. Suzanne Neilsen says:

    I have much more cynical assumptions.
    The freakout over being asked to ask God, tells me they don’t actually believe they communicate with deity in any meaningful institutional way.
    The corporate hierarchy needs to stop people from asking them about asking God, so the wider body of the Church can avoid taking a long hard look.
    Instead of examining the imaginary pixie dust, they manage the dirt.

  10. Alan says:

    The freakout over being asked to ask God, tells me they don’t actually believe they communicate with deity in any meaningful institutional way.

    That’s a good point. One wonders how much the Quorum actually felt the Lord was at work in 1978, when worldly explanations could fully explain the need for the change. Plus, putting the Church’s racism on the Lord’s shoulders doesn’t speak very highly of the deity. Unlike other Christian groups, human error (dirt) is allowed to engulf history’s mistakes, but for those that uphold the “prophetic voice” (Mormons/Catholics/etc), the dirt has be conceived as pixie dust to an extent….and the result is a misplaced focus on dirt as pixie dust. It’s this huge focus on the “as” that makes me think they actually believe in what they’re doing…considering most Church leaders started out as children of the system.

  11. Suzanne Neilsen says:

    ” that makes me think they actually believe in what they’re doing”
    Now that I’ve considered it, I believe they believe in what they are doing. As children of system they learned the cardinal virtue of loyalty to the Church.
    Now they are at the top. They are believers.

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