If garments don’t feel oppressive, are they?

I recently read the fantastic opinion piece by Mette Harrison via The Huffington Post entitled “If We Don’t Feel Oppressed, Are We?” and it really hit home with me. When discussing matters that bothered me in the church, in particular the inequality of women and men in leadership, the argument I received (and echoed in Mette’s article) was: “Well, I don’t feel that way.” In fact, a PR representative from the church in response to women asking for church leaders to pray about the role of women in the order of the priesthood said, “Women in the church, by a very large majority, do not share your advocacy for priesthood ordination for women and consider that position to be extreme.” To pass it all off as kosher we tell women how wonderful they are. And somehow by saying this the masses are placated. Women, when told how innately motherly they are, suddenly forget how much they rocked their business law class because they now feel like becoming a working professional is a role that is less important. We tell women how righteous and spiritual they are and how special it is that they have all these special divine roles that men don’t. Because women have a uterus. Because babies. I’m not arguing that women don’t or shouldn’t posses these qualities. Many women do. BUT, so do many men. And many women posses strong leadership and spiritual qualities often attributed to men. It’s frustrating to me as a woman in the church to see women reduced to their body and what it produces. That because they can give birth they are somehow equal to men and God. Because they’re so special they don’t need anything other than motherhood. Children are enough. Being a mother is enough. I’ve written a few times about modesty in the church and the problem I feel it holds when we focus on lines. I have talked about how it teaches members to focus on the body of the person and...

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Noah, Same-Sex Marriage, and Citizenship

The church offers materials in 105 languages on its website. At least portions of the website are available to be viewed in at least 73 languages. The Gospel Topics section, which has gotten a lot of attention for its essays on controversial topics, is available in 10 languages. Some of these are recent additions. I wanted to look at the Gospel Topics pages in each of the 10 languages to see if they all have the same pages available across languages. Here is the summary:   Pages which are only available in English Addiction Technically there is an addiction page in the other languages, but it only suggests that they look at “Gambling”, “Pornography” (also only in English), or “Word of Wisdom”. Citizenship While you might think that this should be a universal topic, the Gospel Topics page on Citizenship is very American centric. If you look at the footnotes you’ll see that 3 of the US founding fathers are cited. Daughters in my Kingdom I guess this book hasn’t been translated? I don’t know. The page links to a different page with “faith-promoting principles patterns, and practices contained in the history”. Maybe just that page of resources isn’t translated. Employment This surprisingly isn’t explicitly American centric in content. It basically says that you need to work and that according to the Family Proc, fathers are supposed to preside and provide. Maybe it’s not translated because of the awareness that in many economies internationally both parents have to work. However, if that was actually the reasoning then you’d think that it would easily apply in the US as well (because very few people have jobs capable of providing for a family on one income). Environmental Stewardship and Conservation I’m not sure why this isn’t available in other languages because it is a fantastic page. It even directly addresses likely rebuttals that you would hear from your average member, such as “If the earth will be changed at the Second Coming of Jesus, why does it...

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BYU-I: All Aboard the Crazy Train

Sep 18, 14 BYU-I: All Aboard the Crazy Train

Posted by in Featured, Gospel Topics, Modesty, Obedience

This little gem came across my Facebook feed this afternoon. It has already gotten a lot of buzz so I thought I would throw in my two cents, since I am alumni. President Clark is the president of BYU-Idaho located in Rexburg, Idaho. This is what he wrote on his Facebook page:       Go ahead and read it again, I’ll wait here for you. All ready? So let’s just go through this bit by bit. BYU-Idaho does have a dress and grooming standards that ALL students have agreed upon before entering the school. It is a requirement to sign this agreement or “Honor Code” to attend this school. That being said, this is all wrong – along with this dress and grooming standards. His statement is terrible because it lacks understanding and compassion. He doesn’t know these students and he doesn’t know why they are dressed this way. Was the non-clean shaven man up late the night before taking care of a sick roommate? We don’t know and neither does President Clark. All he knows is that these men are not obedient. Since they can’t be obedient with something so trivial, something so small, who knows what is happening when he goes home! He is probably touching pink parts with his girlfriend!!!!! SINNERS! ALL OF THEM! This is the culture of obedience. This is the culture of the Pharisees. It’s time to revisit the archaic “standards” so we can get rid of this culture and get some hair where God himself put it and also where He wears it very well. If Jesus can’t even obey these “standards” it might be time to reconsider them. It’s time to get off this train! “The worst sinners, according to Jesus, are not the harlots and publicans, but the religious leaders with their insistence on proper dress and grooming, their careful observance of all the rules, their precious concern for status symbols, their strict legality, their pious patriotism. Longhairs, beards, necklaces, LSD and rock, Big...

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Unattainable Male Standard of Beauty- A Conversation With My Daughter

I overheard my oldest daughter Sammie the other day say she wanted fake eyelashes. She’s only 15. What follows is my best recollection of the conversation that followed. Some of what I said I wish I could change. There are a few statements I wish were more nuanced and sensitive. I recognize the irony of a man having this discussion with a female but there is no one else in my daughter’s life to do it. Let me say upfront that my purpose in sharing this conversation is to draw attention to certain issues and not to judge those who get caught up in the tyranny of modern beauty standards. —— Sammie talking to my wife-  I think I want to get eyelash extensions. Mine are too short. Me– What the hell are you talking about? Who told you your eyelashes are too short? (I’m angry and frustrated because we’ve discussed male established standards of beauty many times before.) Sammie- My eyelashes are short Dad. Lydia (sister) has long eyelashes but mine are short and ugly and mascara doesn’t help. Me – That wasn’t my question. Who told you long eyelashes are better than short ones? S- I don’t know. Me- What do you mean you don’t know. We’ve talked about this a million times. You’re ignoring the question because you know the answer. S- Men! All right Dad. Men set the standard. Sometimes women reinforce it but it’s mostly men who make it. You’ve told me this before. Me- Exactly. You know what? I think it’s a good idea to go top to bottom and identify some of the insane lengths women go to in chasing this unattainable standard of beauty. Me- Who told women they should color their hair? Some blond women want caramel highlights. Brown haired women want blond highlights. Some women want straight black hair. Women with black hair break their necks trying to die their hair platinum. Why? The issue isn’t dying your hair it’s that no one is ever satisfied. It’s never ending. Me- Men say long eyelashes...

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Mar 15, 14 #doublestandard

Posted by in Featured, Modesty, Mormon Humor, Mormonism

  BYU recently held it’s Pro Day where NFL scouts come to watch players. It looks like things started out well, but eventually all hell broke loose and we had football players in underwear. I mean sports attire. I’m not sure what they were thinking posting those pictures. They know that women and kids would see these pictures of men in form fitting and almost no clothing.  And these aren’t just any men, but very attractive men. We women didn’t even stand a chance when these images assulted us in our Facebook feeds. These images may stay with us for years and could even lead to bigger problems like pornography addiction. Seeing extremely attractive and fit men leaving nothing to the imagination is a mere stepping stone into that dark and dangerous world. These men need to try harder for us because we just cannot control how we feel when we see them dressed like this. #impurethoughtsabound    #leavingeverythingtotheimagination #mormonpornforthemodest #livingrightonthefield #ryangoslingtomodestmormongirls #allmenaresupposedtobebeautiful #lustingafterhim #womencanthelpit #nomatterwhatyouwear   #wearingashirtisnotunreasonableforparticipation #orshorts #strippingimeanstriplingwarrior #askingforit #hairlust #mormonporn   #wearingashirtIStotallyunreasonable #shortstoo #mengetthewomentheydressfor #makingmesin #noselfrespect #avertthineeyes #hemakesittoohardtostrivetobepure #cannotunsee #entertainingthethought #thoughtsareseedsforactions #notjustaskingforit #demandingit #garmentfriendly #couldtakemetothetemple #leavinglittletotheimaginationthough #formfitting #thebodyismeanttobeattractive #thankyouforhighlightingthatwithyourpants #totallyleavinghimanoteinthelibrary #notestingcenteruntilhechanges #exercisepantsmustbeloosefitting #wanttotouchthehiney #modestishottest #itakethatback #thisishotter #runningporn #toosexyformyshirt #tryingtoseehimasachildofgod #singingassistersinzion #singingmakesthebadthoughtsgoaway #notouchdownsplz #dressingforthekindofwomanhewants #Idontknowwheretolook #bareshoulders #sexualshoulders #havemercy #largeinstature #toeingtheline #byunipples #pleasedontchafeandruinthisforme #Icantcontrolmythoughtsaroundhim #noticingeverythingabouthim #totallynormalforwomentodo #protectingmyvirtue #tacklingmodesty #eldercallistershomeboy #proofthatyoucanreasonablydothisactivitywithmodestclothing #iwouldtackle #imsurehehasbeautifuleyes #andasweetspirit #imagininghisthighsimeaneyes #tryingtokeepmepure #baremidriff #helloabs #whereiseldercallister #byufootballmademegay #thankgoodnesshehasgloveson #priesthoodpower #BYUfootballmakescougarsroar #meow #winkface #riseandshoutthecougarsareout #greatandspaciousbuild #toobeautiful #freegame #bromance #byumendosportsinunderwear #halfwaymodest #soclose #icantbelieveheworethat #noshortsnoproblem #notheyaresportsattire #mayaswellbewearingunderwear All pictures  used were found on BYU’s Football Facebook...

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The Modesty Conundrum

I feel like sometimes we are painting ourselves into a corner with all this modesty stuff. We’re at a point where women’s underwear and bathing suit ads are considered pornography by some (because that is apparently where many men’s problems with pornography start? Nevermind that it could actually start because a woman’s body, self abuse masturbation,  and all things sexual are forbidden and secret sacred). Are we really at a point where we have to worry about our husbands and sons seeing women in underwear or a bikini? Where we shame and un-friend teenage girls for not upholding to your standards of dress; for wearing bikinis and towels without a bra? And now we paint clothing on Barbies so that our children don’t ever have to see a naked plastic toy body, let alone actually play with a Barbie while it is naked.   Our primary aged daughters are gossiping about how immodestly dressed their peers are, creating an idea of “we’re good because we make good choices and they aren’t as good because they aren’t making good choices” in their minds which they then reinforce in their peer groups in a classic mean girl scenario. I am so tired of it all. It kills me whenever I see modesty lauded and taught to young girls in the name of “starting early” or ensuring that such “standards” have always been the standard so there is never any question of modest dress standards when they are teenagers. It’s creating hypersexuality and awareness of a child’s body that they should not and do not need to have. It is of my own opinion (of which many others would agree), that we are doing this to ourselves. A few weeks ago a friend told me about her four year old playing Barbies. She decided they all needed to go swimming, but there were not enough swimming suits, or she just didn’t think to look for them, or they were hard to put on. All this four year...

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An Open Letter to Mormon Women: A Modesty Proposal

Dec 23, 13 An Open Letter to Mormon Women:  A Modesty Proposal

Posted by in Featured, Modesty

An Open Letter to Mormon Women: A Modesty Proposal Dear Mormon Women, you are the greatest. Thank you so much for all you do in the Church. Some of my best friends in the world are women. But I wanted to draw attention to something. My comments might not be politically correct, but they address an issue that really matters: personal purity. I’m speaking specifically of the kind of purity that is based on the Word of Wisdom. Culinary modesty, you might call it. I’m not going to speak for all men here, but just for myself and some of the men I know. We ask you to please, please, do your duty when it comes to the Word of Wisdom. God has commanded us to avoid the very appearance of evil. And whenever a man sees a woman drink a Coke, all he sees is an aluminum can of delicious brown liquid. And then he has no choice but to break the Word of Wisdom. If the man hadn’t seen you drinking that Coke he wouldn’t have bought that beer, so therefore the blame falls at least mostly on your shoulders, even as appropriately clothed as they are. My modesty proposal is simple: women, please be a little more considerate of the men in your life. It’s not that difficult. For example, just don’t pick up that Coke. And don’t even get me started about carbonated beverages in glass bottles, particularly the ones that look like alcoholic beverages (i.e. all of them). When a man sees something like that, what inevitably garnishes his thoughts is not virtue. Do you women really want to trade your purity for a Virgil’s Root Beer? Let me give you another example: I saw a woman with a toothpick in her mouth the other day. Seriously? Seeing her do that was the proverbial straw that broke the very literal seal on my pack of Camels. It is important to be clear here, dear LDS women, that even though we love you we can’t love the sin: a...

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Young Women – Please Help My Sons Stay Clean & Pure

Oct 23, 13 Young Women – Please Help My Sons Stay Clean & Pure

Posted by in Featured, Modesty

I want to take a moment on behalf of all men to personally thank the virtuous women who dress modestly so that we can keep our thoughts pure and clean. I am so grateful for the virtuous women throughout my life that dressed modestly so I wouldn’t have bad thoughts. Those righteous girls I dated in high school and college helped me stay worthy and pure so that I could serve a mission. In fact, my wife would like to personally “thank you for helping me remain worthy to fulfill my priesthood duty to serve an honorable mission, marry in the temple and be a worthy father” (Elaine Dalton, “Be Not Moved!”, General Conference, April 2013 – italics added by me). Now, to all those women that helped me become the person I am today, and to all other virtuous, modest women everywhere, I have just a couple of favors to ask: First, I am now a father of four boys and I’m really going to need your help again. I need you to raise your daughters to help my boys be worthy priesthood holders so one day they can serve missions and marry in the temple. Please teach your daughters to cover their shoulders, wear long shorts, and please tell them to avoid tight-fitting clothing (as instructed in the “For the Strength of Youth” pamphlet). Thank you so much! I know by doing this you will help my boys stay pure, clean and on the right path. Apparently BYU did not get the modesty memo about helping young men like my sons keep their thoughts clean and pure. I thought BYU was the Church’s school! What happened to the honor code? Didn’t our Prophet and the Quorum of the Twelve write the honor code? My second favor is actually not exclusive to the virtuous and modest women, but is a call to action for everyone. I would like to start a letter-writing campaign to BYU to stop immodesty! What will my boys think when they see the...

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How to Swim in a Burqa

Oct 07, 13 How to Swim in a Burqa

Posted by in Featured, Feminism, Modesty

How to Swim in a Burqa 1. Update your will. 2. Don said burqa. 3. Proceed to the deep end of the pool. 4. Say farewell to family and friends. 5. Dive in! 6. Enjoy your last, surreal moments as you helplessly sink straight to the bottom – the billowing black cloth transformed into your funeral shroud. This was the image that came to my mind as I sat in Mutual one Wednesday night. As a matter of business we were discussing the upcoming Young Women’s Camp, and some rules and guidelines were being reviewed. The one that set off my flight of imagination was this one: “All young women are to wear one-piece bathing suits while at camp. No two-piece suits or bikinis allowed. You are also required to wear knee-length shorts and a t-shirt over your swimming suit at all times – even while in the pool.” Say what!? These are girls. Attending girls camp. Girls – get it! Not boys. Not co-ed. Girls!! My BS-ometer instantly pegged over into the red zone! Were the Young Men given the same sort of requirements for Boy Scout Camp? No! As a Scout Leader and veteran of numerous Scout encampments and Jamborees, I can say unequivocably and from personal experience that the boys have no such standards of modesty. This is a double-standard. Again. I have no idea where this directive came from, but at this point I shouldn’t be surprised. For the past few yeas I’ve become more and more aware of the negative and injurious policies we frequently perpetuate against women – and especially Young Women – in the Church. But women are starting to speaking out, and some men are evidently beginning to listen. One account I read that really hit me where it counts was about a Stake Priesthood Meeting. The Stake President invited Bishops to come forward and report on what they had done to prepare the Young Men for Priesthood and Missionary service. The Bishops were eager to share....

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Art, Nudity, and Modesty

Sep 09, 13 Art, Nudity, and Modesty

Posted by in Featured, Modesty, Sexuality

One of my former wards met in an old prayer house in downtown Provo – it was incredibly unique. I have very fond memories of both the building and the people. The foyer was located in the center of the building and the hallways shot out from it. In that small foyer in the middle of the building other people’s conversations were easily (and mostly unintentionally) overheard. For a brief time an artist from Chile, whose works were featured in many church publications, was attending our ward. I overheard a conversation this man was having regarding his son who was also an artist. He was worried because his son was painting nudes and so he was encouraging his son to paint other things. I flashed back to memories of studying many nude paintings and sculptures while at Ricks and at BYU. Even though I left the conversation before it was over, it lingered in my mind. What would you do if you were the father? What would you tell your son if he wanted to paint nudes? I came across a wonderful blog post by J. Kirk Richards that addresses this issue from an artist’s perspective. He has graciously agreed to let us repost his essay here. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!  (The original post is linked here. You can view his artwork here.) WHY ARE YOU PAINTING THOSE NAKED LADIES? Or, What makes me think I can go to a nude drawing session on Saturday and then go to church on Sunday? Michelango’s Creation of Adam, modest-ified. I received this message this morning: “Brother Richards, 
I just love most all of your marvelous work.
 But if I might ask, why in blazes do you paint nude women? Are you perhaps trying to get attention from the secular world? Where is your head at?”   Here’s another similar message from a few months back, after I posted a photo of what I felt was an innocuous figure painting: “Hey,...

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