Mormon Discussion

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Stem-cell Research (Or Why George W. Should Get Off His High Horse and Stop Vetoing Perfectly Good Bills!)

So, I'm not going to say we Mormons are weirdos. I'm just going to say that we appear to be weirdos to mostly everyone else. Don't believe that? Try explaining to someone NOT Mormon why something as mundane as a coffee shop is the Mormon equivalent of a brothel of sin, or why we won't watch some movies that are touted as some of the best movies of all time, simply because they have an R-rating due to twenty minutes of bloody war scenes or a few too many swear words. Of course, WE can see the logic in this, but other people can't always see it. So, I'm not going to say we're weirdos. But we sure do look like it to others.

So, when Orrin Hatch gets on-board as one of the authors of the stem-cell research bill, I think it's pretty safe to say that it's a good bill. If the crazy Mormons who don't do anything are authoring stem-cell research bills, it's probably a safe bet that it's morally and ethically and religiously ok. WE ARE THE PEOPLE WHO FEAR TEA!!! TEA! WE THINK THAT TEA IS SINFUL!! So, seriously, since we give the impression to so many people that we don't "allow anything" (I've actually been asked what we can do, because "Mormons don't allow anything"), wouldn't it be a safe bet that if a super-conservative, pro-life, 115% Republican Mormon Congressman is pro-stem-cell research, then probably George Bush can be like, "Well, if Orrin's going to say yes, then it's probably good." I mean, come on.

And, I guess I fail to see Bush's religious protection of these "snowflake babies" as he likes to call them. I think that Orrin's actually got the right idea here (and that's about the only political thing I agree with him on). These embyros are going to be a) thrown in the garbage/destroyed or b) used for medical research that may someday possibly save lives and improve the health and lives of others. Seriously, Bush, WWJD? Really, if Jesus were here and He were like, "Ok, so they either get to go to the garbage can or they can be used to possibly help thousands upon thousands of people?" do you HONESTLY think that Jesus would vote for the garbage can? I really don't think so. For Bush to really stand by his religious perspective here, he'd just have to shut down all infertility clinics and make the actual process of creating these embyros a crime. No more mixing sperm and egg together in the petri dishes and then implanting them in the mom--because if she gets pregnant, then the other "snowflake babies" are tossed (or frozen indefinitely). Or, the other option Bush has is to force all families who go through this process to implant every single embyro--congrats, you now have a family of 10!!! But even if Bush went this route, there would still be embyros lost because this process requires so many extra embyros to be made because it's quite common that a lot of the embyros won't implant. So, wouldn't this STILL be problematic for George Bush, because you are creating "life" that you know has a high chance of dying because it doesn't implant? Or is that ok, because the medical definition of "pregnancy" is implantation, so then these lost embyros that don't implant are just like any other chance miscarriage, where the egg and sperm combine through normal sexual activity and for whatever reason, fail to implant and so the woman just expels it without even being aware that it was there?

See, Bush's veto doesn't make sense and actually just runs into a lot more problems that it seeks to solve. Meanwhile the Mormon Congressman who would pass out if you gave him a glass of red wine with his Italian meal is co-authoring the bill. Come on, Bush. Get with the Mormons. We'll make sure that if you ever come down with Parkinson's, you'll have some hope on the horizon. But, for the billionth time, no, you can't watch the un-edited version of Titanic!!

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Sacrifice or not?

There was a comment recently that gave me much to consider. The gist of the comment was that a religion should make you happy, not miserable.

And then I started to wonder...what makes me happy? What WOULD make me happy? Does church make me happy? Do other things make me happier?

Church makes me happy. That much is true. But church also makes me uncomfortable. Church also makes me stick out. Church also makes me feel guilty for everything from not paying a full tithe to prefering a "Real World" marathon over a church dance. Church makes me angry, church makes me feel constricted in terrible ways, church makes me second guess myself, and church makes me feel like I can never be the Mormon I'm supposed to be.

Other things makes me feel happy without all those other feelings. My wonderful, beautiful, sensational non-member boyfriend makes me incredibly happy. He makes me believe that good things do happen. He makes me cheer up. He gives me hope for the future. He makes me feel content and satisfied.

Dancing with my friends at clubs makes me feel happy. It makes me move my butt so I'm getting some exercise. It makes me smile.

Then there are things that I think would make me happy. Or at least, more comfortable. I've never drank before, but there is a certain elegance associated with wine with dinner. I think I would like that.

I'd like (and have enjoyed on many more occassions than I'd like to admit) a two-day weekend. Sunday is spent sleeping in and then going out to have brunch with friends and family.

What would make me happy? I'd be very happy without church in my life. Not that I don't want church in my life, just that I'm not one of those people who believes that anyone without church is someone to be pitied and they must have a horribly unfulfilling life. I could be very happy without church.

And church makes me feel things other than happy. Is this a bad thing? Does this mean that church isn't the right one for me? Or is guilt, shame, anger, uncomfortableness, awkwardness, and generally feeling like you don't belong all part and parcel of the whole "sacrifice" idea? Am I supposed to be miserable at times due to a direct correlation between my church attendance and my miserable feelings?

How do you know that a religion isn't just demanding the appropriate level of sacrifice from you when you feel unhappy with it or the decision you have to make because of it? Or is sacrifice something different? Is a religion supposed to make you unhappy as well as happy? Are other things supposed to make you happier than the religion? Does that mean the religion is flawed or that you just aren't embracing it correctly?

Is it sacrifice or simply not the right fit?

Saturday, December 10, 2005

The Church of Joseph Smith??

A friend of mine had an interesting experience the other day in church. While singing "Praise to the Man" in sacrament meeting, she noted that her friend next to her was not singing. She asked him why not and he replied that the name of the church was The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and he worshipped Jesus, not a prophet.

His point wasn't that he disrespected the prophet, but that in his opinion, singing songs that praised the prophet Joseph Smith were a form of worshipping him.

This lead me to thinking about my experiences with this song and with the ideas surrounding Joseph Smith.

I looked at the words of "Praise to the Man" in depth, which I usually don't ever do. I just sing the words in the book and we're done. However, there is a particularly interesting verse in this song that seems to give validity to my friend's friend.

"Praise to his memory, he died as a martyr;
Honored and blest be his ever great name!
Long shall his blood, which was shed by assassins,
Plead unto heav’n while the earth lauds his fame."

This sounds to me like a verse that could be sung about Jesus Christ as well. Interesting.

Another verse seems weird as well, when looked at in this light...

"Sacrifice brings forth the blessings of heaven;
Earth must atone for the blood of that man.
Wake up the world for the conflict of justice.
Millions shall know "Brother Joseph" again."

Here's what I found interesting in particular. Jesus died to atone for the Earth. Now the Earth must atone for Joseph Smith's death? It sounds as if we as a human race are in more trouble, so to speak, for murdering Joseph than for murdering Jesus. At least in this verse.

The chorus also seems to echo this similar-to-Jesus vein.

"Hail to the Prophet, ascended to heaven!
Traitors and tyrants now fight him in vain.
Mingling with Gods, he can plan for his brethren;
Death cannot conquer the hero again."

Jesus was a prophet, as well as the Savior. So this verse could very easily be applied to Him. And it would seem to make more sense to my little brain that Jesus would be very able to plan for His brethren after His death. However, is Joseph Smith just chilling with everyone else until the day of the resurrection? I mean sure, he's probably got a straight ticket into the CK. But, does that mean he gets to circumvent the whole plan and get exalted and become a god before everyone else? The song seems a bit confusing on that point.

This then lead to me remember when we've sung this song in church or at church functions. Almost every single time we've sang it, we've been urged to stand by the bishopric or leaders, no matter which ward I'm in. But, I don't recall a song in specfic about Jesus Christ or Heavenly Father that is consistently sung while standing. In fact, I'm hard pressed to recall a time ever when we stand in sacrament meeting to sing a song, with the sole exception being "Praise to the Man."

I'm not necessarily siding with my friend's friend. However, his comments did get me thinking. Do we focus too much on the prophets of old and current times and forget about Jesus? If Christ leads our church and deserves our most high worship, should we sing songs about mere men (and yes, the prophets are mere men--remember, they too are falliable and can make mistakes) that mirror so closely to the Savior? No doubt Joseph, as well as other prophets, was a wonderful, sacrificing man. But does that mean he is almost up to par with Jesus? I don't know the answers to these questions, nor do I know if what we do is considered to be "worshipping" Joseph Smith. But I thought I was something interesting to mull over.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Why I'll Never Get Married (in the temple, that is).

I epitomize weird Mormon, as I'm sure anyone who reads this realizes.

But it's slowly but surely come to my attention that this weirdness will very likely prevent me from getting married in the temple to a fellow Mormon.

I want to get married in the temple, don't get me wrong. I always have. I've always had that dream of the special wedding and blah, blah, blah.

But I'm weird. I like it. I think I'm cool and I'm funny. A lot of people like me in church. However, I'm not marriage material. I don't want kids, ever. And before anyone harps on me about that, I talked to my bishop long and hard about that issue, in tears, because I couldn't make myself want to be a mom no matter how hard I tried. I lack maternal instincts. I wouldn't even know how to take care of a fish, let alone a child. And everyone always tried to convince me that I could WILL myself into wanting kids. So, I prayed, I studied, and I finally made a tearful trip into my bishop's office and lamented the fact that no matter what I did, I couldn't make myself want to fill my uterus with someone's kids when my heart said to go be a lawyer and poltician and help the downtrodden of society and build community youth centers and be a philanthropist... And my bishop told me that choosing not to be a mother was a perfectly acceptable and fine decision because motherhood is the best choice for some women and for other women, such as myself, there are other better choices.

So, strike one against me: I don't want kids in a religion that stresses the importance of family. I'm not violating any religious rules, according to my bishop, but it's still a cultural thing. We're taught to want kids. I doubt I'll find a man who doesn't want kids. Most people in the world want kids, not even narrowed down to Mormons only.

Strike two: I can't marry a Republican. No offense to any Republicans, because I realize that most Mormons are Republican. I'm just so incredibly Democratic I bleed blue. I live and breathe Democratic values. Raise my taxes to ensure healthcare for all! Give kids better education! Welfare is a good thing (spoken from a former welfare child)! I can't get on board with the Republican side of things. I'm not hostile towards them (okay, okay, I'm not USUALLY hostile towards them), I just severely disagree with them. And I'm so passionate about politics that it would be very difficult for me to be married to someone who doesn't support the same political beliefs that I do. Of course, there is the option that I could marry someone and we just wouldn't talk about politics. Except if you know me, you know every other word out of my mouth is somehow related to politics. is my favorite website. I'm a politics junky. To have to never talk about it, especially with my husband, would be torture!!! So, I don't want to have a code of silence, nor do I want a heated battle. Hence, I've got to marry a Democratic Mormon.

Strike three: I support gay rights. I've previously posted about this issue as one of my very first posts. In brief, for those who don't want to read the whole big thing, I think it's a political issue, not a religious one. Religious institutions are free to do whatever they like. However, the political realm is a different place and we have to be fair to everyone. We let the KKK make horrible speeches about how awful black and jewish people are. Clearly, I don't believe what the KKK stands for, believes, preaches, or practices. However, I do believe that they should be afforded the right to say it, because it's a constitutional right. So, even if I HATE what they have to say, I have to support their right to say it. So, whether or not someone agrees with a homosexual's lifestyle, I think it's still our obligation to support their rights. Being fired for being gay is ridiculous. Being unable to claim the same tax benefits as other Americans is ridiculous. Ok, so now, try to find another Mormon that sides with me on this...yeah...

So, I've got three strikes (at least) against me. I'm not the Mormon girl that guys have dreamed of asking to marry.

I've accepted this. I'm not completely ruling out the possibility, but I am not a hopeless optimist either. I know that a Democratic Mormon man who supports gay rights and doesn't want kids is pretty friggin rare. I'm sure there is one...somewhere...but does he live in Minnesota? Uh, probably not so much.

So, what's a girl to do? I really want to be married someday. I would really like to have a husband and a family (family means all sorts of things; in my case, it means a unit of my spouse and me). I want to have someone to grow old with, to share my moments with...and I've got really, really slim chances on finding that.

So, I'm currently dating a wonderful, wonderful guy. Not a member. He's super great, a wonderful man. He's got his head on straight, treats me wonderfully, is really funny, has the same political beliefs as me, supports my future dreams and aspirations. I could be completely happy with him for the rest of my life. I would be incredibly in love.

But, I have to be married in the temple to go to the Celestial Kingdom. So, what's a girl like me to do? Do I stay single and hope, hope, hope for the unlikely to occur and wait for a Mormon man who is compatible with me? Or do I go for the non-member who makes me really happy and is incredibly compatible with me?

Don't give me the crap that God will provide someone for me. That's BS. Yes, most Mormons get married. However, there are some who never do. They have a spouse waiting in the next life. They get to be single and lonely and alone for all their life on Earth. And I think I have a high probability of being that single girl for the rest of my life if I stick to only Mormons.

What's a woman to do? Do I take happiness now (and by now I mean this life, not NOW as in tomorrow...oh heavens no!!), or do I live a miserable, lonely life in hopes of a big pay off in the next life?

And I know that it says in D&C that people who choose not to be married in the temple give up their place in the CK, but does this apply to girls as well? I've heard stuff about it not applying. I don't think that this would be fair to guys, but it appears that there is more of an onus for men to be married in the temple rather than women. What's the actual doctrine on this??

Sunday, November 20, 2005

This post contains the word "SEX." Viewer discretion is advised!

I'm confused by Mormon dating. I'm not going to lie.

Before boys go on missions, they are encouraged to date many girls. This apparently lets them find out what they like in the opposite sex. Girls are encouraged to do the same thing.

Fast forward--boy goes on mission, comes home man.

Man is then encouraged to get married ASAP!!! Girls are encouraged to do the same thing. Snap up the RM like he's plated in gold and poop diamonds, ladies! POKE OUT YOUR FELLOW RELIEF SOCIETY COLLEGUE IF YOU MUST but marry that RM.

Except was the "sustain a relationship with someone so you know how a relationship functions" stage?? It seems pathetically lacking...

I think that this is all about sex.

Don't steady date anyone before a mission, because you might make-out (which inevitably leads to sex. All the time. So never make out. And no kissing with tongues, or as one bishop described it, "No porno kissing."). If you have sex before marriage you jeopardize your chances of going on a mission.

Ok, noble goal. I like it. 16 year olds don't need to be having sex anyway. So, I'm cool with this.

Next, after's like "MARRY MARRY MARRY!" flashing like a crappy neon sign in singles wards. RIGHT NOW. Do it! Just met her?? Doesn't matter! Buy her a ring! Marry her!!

What? You didn't know that she has a gimp leg?? Too bad! Marry her!

What? You don't know how to communicate your feelings effectively in a relationship?? Um, oh well. Marry him!!

Why this pressure? Because you are 20. You want to have sex. Really bad. And ALL your nonmember friends around you are like, "Dude, you're 20. Why are you not having sex?" So the church is all, "Go for it! Have sex! WITH YOUR WIFE!!!" Which, again, is a noble goal. Don't have sex before marriage. I think that's cool too.

So, you find someone and you marry them right away because you both really just want to do it.

And you don't take the time to have a working relationship because you're too busy imagining them naked.

That's what I think.

Because why else would there be this HUGE noticeable gap in the relationship stages? It's first--date everyone and have no serious relationships and then next--date someone for like 4 weeks and then propose. Get married the next day.

The church says that you shouldn't wait once you "know" that this is the person you want to be with.

Um, fine, that's noble too.

BUT HELLO?! Hasn't anyone heard of the "honeymoon stage" in the relationship? Where, if someone asks you what irritates you about the other person, you sigh lovingly and bat your eyes and imagine their beautiful face and say, "Nothing..."

Give it like 6-8 months. Then you notice things. Like he picks his teeth at the dinner table and then SUCKS the food out.

Or she has a habit of leaving her dirty underwear all over the house.

Or he has a secret stash of Bobblehead dolls.

Or she really, REALLY freaks out when someone dies on "Days of Our Lives."

Then when someone asks, "What drives you nuts about your boy/girl friend?" you'll have a whole laundry list of crap.


Because when you have no idea that he belches every morning and she has a neurotic need to have all the soup cans with their labels out, you don't know the person. So how can you commit to spending eternity with them? Ok, to be fair, they probably won't have all that irritating crap in eternity, so I'll say spending the rest of your mortal life with that person?

When you are really in love with someone, you can say, "Ok, my love of my life blows his nose into the cloth napkins at fine restarurants, has the dirtiest and grossest bathroom I've ever had the unfortunate chance of peeing in, eats everything with his hand, refers to my mother as 'The Skunk,' and sort of smells really terrible after he plays sports. But, I love him, in spite of all these things that drive me nuts, so I can honestly say I could commit to being with him forever."

So shouldn't we have a sustain a relationship stage? So young people can get to know better what they like and don't like in a relationship?

Not to mention, in a relationship, you have to learn commitment, sacrifice, and communication skills. You have to learn how to work out problems and have discussions, to give and take, to have friends and a life outside of your dating partner. You essentially learn what it entails to be an effective partner.

I wouldn't marry anyone who hadn't had a serious, long-term relationship before me because I'd have to spend all my time teaching him to do the things you learn in long-term relationships.

So why does the church skip over what seems to be a rather important developmental stage??

Because they are so focused on keeping us away from pre-marital sex. Which, again, is a lofty goal, but marriage is so much more than sex. In all honesty, I would much prefer to marry a non-virgin who had cleaned up his act and had a past history of serious, long-term relationship than a virgin whose longest relationship was 2 weeks.

Unless the virgin was an RM plated in gold who pooped diamons. Then someone in RS would lose an eye, if needed. I love me some diamonds!

Monday, October 31, 2005

If a floral print dress were the ticket into the Celestial Kingdom, I'd really have to decide if it was worth it...

Why are we our harshest critics?

I've been mulling a lot over my lack of church attendance recently. And why it is that I am not going anymore. And I've been reading other blogs of lapsed churchgoers (isn't lapsed such a cool word to say. Just say it out loud once...lapzzzzzd...ahhh!) and non-lapsed churchgoers.

We are tough on other Mormons. Tough, tough, tough.

I didn't stop going because I was insulted. I think what really happened was I was sick one weekend and then didn't go. And then I was like, "Hey! There are TWO days to the weekend?! Well, WHERE HAVE I BEEN?!" and then just haven't been back in awhile because it's hard to go back to the one-day weekend.

However, I am thicker-skinned than a lot of people. I'm fairly comfortable in my own skin, even though I stick out like a sore thumb at every Church meeting. I mean, really, who else is wearing black leg warmers with hot pink stilettos? No one.

I'd argue that we are a rather judgmental lot, despite all our lip-service otherwise. We like to talk a lot about being welcoming, but are we really? Do we really like those Mormons who aren't quite the same as everyone else? I'd argue that we've got a rather black and white view on what Mormons are and what they are not.

As does the world, really. I hear a million times a day, "YOU'RE a mormon?'re so...normal..." and I shock people all the time. Because I'm not the stereotype. So, true, we are constantly pigeon-holed by outsiders. In turn, you woud expect us to then shun this practice within our own church, but we don't.

We are quick to judge. We are quick to stamp out a cookie-cutter ideal of Mormons. Think about what a Mormon woman wants/does/is--quick, off the top of your head. Is she weaing a floral print dress? A stay-at-home mom? Married? Striving to be married? Pregnant? Waiting with bated breath until she is? A frequent Talbot's shopper? Driver of a mini-van?

Of course she is. It's the stereotypical Mormon woman. And even those of us who shun the floral print dress don't accept everyone who fails to meet all the requirements of the stereotype. I'll speak from my experiences, because that's what I know.

I'm practically a man. Really. I am. I am loud, blunt, and aggressive. I don't have that lovely nuturing side to me. I'm the girl in the ward with the nice outfit on (because I do not DRESS like a man...just act like one) and the coordinating pink handbag who's picking her wedgie and complaining about how much I hate relief society.

I do not view marriage as a goal in my life. Clarification on this point. A "goal" is something that you set up steps to get closer to it, you work towards it. As in, I want to pay off my credit card debt, so thus, I will pay $50 extra dollars on my card each month and then at the end of X amount of months, it will be paid off. Marriage, however, is completely not like this at all, although wouldn't it be nice? I can't say, "I shall go to this YSA dance and meet a tall, handsome, dark-eyed man who is interested in law and politics and then he shall ask me out. This will be within the month. Then, in the following months, he will court me in this manner and I will marry him by this date." Since you cannot set up steps to advance your goal, marriage is not a goal. Marriage is something that happens, based on what HF has for you. It's not a goal.

Try telling that to anyone in church. Shocked looks abound. Is this girl really saying this? How can any Mormon girl not view marriage as the END ALL BE ALL of her life?!?! Of course it's a goal! IT'S A NECESSITY! I shrug. Still not a goal. And I never hear the end of this.

Nor do I sit idly by when someone tells me that an excruitiatingly painful time in my life is because I'm a "strong spirit." Bite your tongue if you ever are about to say that to someone. How condescending! It marginalizes the pain that someone is going through. Believe me, there have been times in my life when I would have preferred to be the weaker spirit and not have my whole world crumble apart. But if you don't swallow whole the canned answers that are provided by well-intentioned but ill-advised fellow members, you are somehow wrong and raising eyebrows. Do not ask what that means. Do not inquire as to what other answers there are for your pain. You'll raise eyebrows.

We expect Mormons to be "Mormons" even if we ourselves are not. We do not comprehend the range of people that we are stifling because of our binding expectations. I found out that my YWs leader cleaned the house while listening to Black Sabbath because she was an enormous Ozzy fan. Would not have had a clue. Because I expected her to be "Mormon" rather than a real person. I think we are harser critics than the outside world, because we give the idea of love and acceptance and welcome in one hand and in the other, slap the face of the person with the bitter realization that there is a role that "Mormons" are.

People cease to go for issues like this. Is it their problem? In a sense, yes. They shouldn't let a person keep them away from the Lord. But is it our problem as well? Certainly. As an old VT told me when she found out I've not been going, "You are depriving the congregation of who you are. They are missing out on what you have to offer, specifically because you don't fit in and you'll be the one to make people think." Who are we missing out on when we create an ideal and hold people to it? Who doesn't come? Who comes, but refuses to reveal who they are inside?

Why do we impose the strictest judgments on those that we are supposed to welcome into the fold?

Saturday, October 29, 2005

I'm a mind-controller!

A recent post on feminist mormon housewives about breastfeeding got me thinking about the whole women's dress and actions and men's thoughts connection.

I remember, as a girl in YW, being told that I how I dressed and acted would make the boys think certain things (although these "things" were not specifically outlined--just spoken of in ominous tones) and that I would be responsible for these "things." At first, I was very confused and didn't quite understand what the heck the leaders were talking about.

And then I hit puberty. Or rather, puberty hit me like a ton of bricks. I went from having no breasts to being a size D in a month and a half. Puberty was a cruel, wicked, horrible joke on me. Nothing fit, ever. I looked ridiculous--if I hadn't been 16, I'm sure everyone would have thought I was one of those girls who'd gotten enormous brast implants, because the rest of my body hadn't grown in yet--no hips, no butt, just skinny girl with a big chest.

I hated every minute of it. I felt like everyone was staring at me, no matter what I wore or what I did. And then I would come to church and inevitably get the speech about dressing modestly. Although, what I was wearing was modest. My chest was just so big I couldn't do much about the cleaveage that inevitably showed or the shirt that was stretched too tightly across it. Since I was still small everywhere else, I was struggling to find shirts that fit over my rebellious chest and still fit around the rest of me. I ended up looking like I was wearing a table cloth, since it hug down just like one over the rest of me. I was so unhappy for a long time. And I kept getting reprimanded all the time.

It was the same reprimand. My "lack of modesty" was going to make the boys think inappropriate things and I needed to make sure that I wasn't making them think that. This is a huge pressure for a girl. How am I supposed to know what a boy is thinking? All the time? Not to mention, the entire YMs? All of them? I have to keep track of all their thoughts??

The worst part about it was that I would be yelled at for things my mother and I would pick out together. Given my awkward frame, swimsuit shopping was the worst thing I've ever encountered. I could deal with a tablecloth shirt--how on EARTH do you find an XXL chest swinsuit with a M body? You don't. You have the XXL swimsuit which sags in the butt terribly and is too loose.

But we had a YW pool party to go to and I wanted to go. So, my mom and I searched and searched for a suit. We found one. It was significantly cleaveage-y, for sure. But, realistically, I was significantly cleavage-y all the time. The suit was a rather modest one-piece, all black, with a simple gather on the side. The chest was the bra-type, since any woman who is larger chested knows that a bra type is the ONLY type there is for us. Since it was bra type, it had the appearance of a bra--lower cut in the front, like any normal bra, and underwires. It was a fuller cup than most bras, but it was bra-like. It was a little tight, because it had to fit over the rest of me and Lycra is one constricting material. But, my mom and I looked through many a suit and decided that this one was a good one. It was pretty, it was the most modest one we could find, and it fit fairly decently given the extreme weirdness that was my body.

And then I showed up to the pool party. And I took off my clothes to join the other girls. And my YW leader pulled me aside and told me that my swimsuit wasn't very appropriate or modest. It showed too much cleavage. Didn't I remember the lessons about being appropriate and what the boys would think?

There weren't any boys at this pool party, anyway.

I was upset. I was angry. I looked her straight in the eye and being the mouthy 16 year old I was, I retorted, "Well, God gave me really big boobs and God gave me a lot of cleavage. He has to take some responsibility for not making the rest of me work out so I can be as modest as I'm supposed to be. And my mom helped me pick out this suit, so she thinks it's appropriate."

And then I went swimming.

This attitude that girls and women are responsible for the thoughts of men and boys is troubling at best. It's scary at worst. It's similar to the mentality that a woman deserves to be sexually assaulted if she's in a certain area, engaging in certain behavior, or wearing certain clothes. We go down a slippery path when we place blame on people for other people's thoughts and actions.

Shouldn't the thoughts of the boys be the responsibility of the boys? Now, don't get me wrong. I don't advocate for complete immodesty. Sure, there are boundaries. A mini-skirt, midrift top, etc are all clearly worn for the express purpose of being seen as a sexual object. But, there are also things, which in my opinion, aren't immodest. That if the men think "things" when they are worn, that it's the men's problem.

For example, I'm still a very chesty young woman. It's not going to change. And women's fashions aren't made for chesty women. So, regardless of what I'm wearing, with the exception of a T-shirt, I'm always showing cleavage. Every Sunday, I put on a nice skirt, a tank top, and a button-up shirt. The problem is, the button-up won't button-up. I've still got the same problem--if if fits on top, it doesn't fit anywhere else. If it fits everywhere else, it doesn't fit on top. So, I put on the tank top underneath. It is a modest tank top on ANY OTHER WOMAN IN THE WORLD except me. Because try as I might, I can't hide the cleavage. I try. I really do. But, the clothing industry hates me and thus has decided to make my life horrible. So, in this instance, I think that my cleavage (and we're not taking MASSIVE amounts here...we're talking just a tiny bit) is fine. And if the young man across the chapel is staring at it, thinking "things," then I think it's his responsibility to keep those thoughts in check.

Should a girl with CRAZY nice legs be forced to wear a floor length skirt, while the rest of us with mediocre legs can wear the church-approved knee-length ones? No, of course not. But her legs might make men think "things." And then what? She's responsible for their thoughts about her? Hardly. I don't think that's a fair analysis at all.

But the church leaders seem to push this on women so frequently. We are responsible not only for our own thoughts and actions, but the thoughts of the boys as well. Well, here's a shocking idea that the church leaders may not have ever contemplated--I love a guy in a suit. Most women do. Men in suits are HOT. SUPER HOT! Really, who doesn't like a well-dressed man in a suit? Yum! However, if I'm sitting there in Sacrament meeting, lusting away at all the men in suits, is that their problem? Not hardly. Would anyone say it is? Not at all.

Men are hot in a lot of different contexts. And women like to look at them in these contexts. But, the same lessons do not seem to be drilled so much into young boys's heads. I was never told as a young woman that boys might dress in such a way as to make me think "things." But you know what? The way men dress DOES make women think things. Whether it's discussed or not, women like to look at men just as much as men like to look at women. So why is there such a responsibility placed on women to control men's thoughts? If I'm lusting away after some guy in a fanstastic pair of jeans and a slim fitting T-shirt (drool), that's MY problem. I've got to check my own thoughts, don't I? Isn't it my responsibility to control my mind? Why is this not the case with men and men's thoughts?

We make young girls feel even more self-conscious and awful about their bodies at a time when they are already at war with them. I hated my body. I hated, hated, hated my chest. In fact, I still do, precisely because of all the problems I had with it as a youth. So why such a wicked backlash against the girls?

As I pointed out before, it's a slippery slope in my mind, leading to the eventual, "Well, she was asking for it" about rape victims. Because she was wearing a mini-skirt and a tank top, she deserves to be raped? Because she somehow was controlling the thoughts of the rapist? It seems like a ridiculous argument. And I think that this is where we are heading if we continue to force young girls to somehow take on the responsibility of controlling the boys' thoughts.