a few church lessons from the view of a sexual assault survivor
When I was fifteen years young, I was sexually assaulted by a guy that I thought I was friends with. I didn’t tell anyone until I came to college, especially no one in the church. I do not write this post to divulge the horrible details – instead, I write to recount the teachings often taught within the church that are painful and sometimes even degrading for those who are attacked. I do not speak for all people who have been attacked. I speak for myself and I write of a few of the teachings that I still struggle with, and especially struggled with right after I was attacked.
“Squashed Cupcake” Young Women’s Analogy
If you haven’t ever had this lesson (and be very grateful if you haven’t), let me just detail briefly what it is. The Young Women’s teacher during a chastity lesson describes a beautiful cupcake, with frosting and sprinkles (usually this happens on a Fast Sunday, of course). She talks about this cupcake and how wonderful it tastes when you finally get to eat it. But what if that precious little cupcake was ruined? What if it was run over by a car and squished? No one would want that cupcake anymore. It would be contaminated. Then, everyone is told that what is like when you ‘break the law of chastity.’ You are a squashed cupcake. No one will want to marry a squashed cupcake.
I had always hated this analogy. But of course, it became an uncomfortable feeling during this story right after the attack, versus one of hate. For a long time, I blamed myself – something I know is not uncommon. I couldn’t get that out of my head. I mean, my Young Women’s president said it. Guys wouldn’t want someone that had already been “used.” I felt like a squashed cupcake. Chastity lessons usually led to me leaving to pace in the church bathroom, scared for my eternal future.
Any guy, I learned as I got older, who had a ‘no-squashed-cupcake’ mentality, wasn’t worth my time, nor anyone else’s.
The second Bishop that knew about my experience had a little interview with me one day. I walk in, expecting that we will be talking about my calling.
“I heard what happened.” I cringed, feeling uncomfortable, since I didn’t tell him, but my previous Bishop did. I stayed quiet. He leaned over, closer, furrowed his brows, and asked me, he seriously asked me, “What were you wearing?”
What? Excuse me? Even if I had been wearing a short skirt, that doesn’t give anyone the right to violate me. The excessive modesty talks always imply that modesty would never lead to being raped and immodesty, on the contrary, is an open invitation to anyone. I was wearing jeans and a tee-shirt – so does that mean in my case I was a victim and my friend, who was wearing a minidress – isn’t? This is flawed logic. Immodesty is never a justification for someone being violated. Ever.
“Get Closer to the Lord and Forgive”
This one is still especially painful. It seems like people feel that if we’re ‘close enough’ to the Lord, our pains all disappear. This is not true, of course, but many times I’ve heard people tell me that. “If you’re still feeling bad about it, just get a little bit closer.” I find this not only rude that someone is judging my spirituality, but I can pray as much as I want and it certainly won’t ‘erase’ a traumatic incident. For me, getting closer to the Lord has helped me heal, but something like this doesn’t just go away with a few scripture readings. I can be close to the Lord and still be struggling. Everyone can, with anything.
Forgiveness doesn’t happen in a day and it still hasn’t happened for me. I don’t even feel near ready to forgive and I have established peace with that. I think often this is associated with ‘saving our souls’ but there’s no point in pushing people to forgive when they aren’t ready, since that doesn’t accomplish anything. I firmly believe that the Lord would never want us to pretend to forgive anyone.
Stay Away From Those Bad Situations
In a recent chastity lesson, my bishop brought this up. “Stay away from bad situations,” he said, after reminding us if something happened where we were violated, it wasn’t our fault. This, for me, goes along with the modesty issue and sheds blame. The girl who was attacked at a party was still attacked – but with the undertones of ‘bad situations’, it lessens the validity of what happened to her.
Also, during this lesson, there seemed to be wrongful assumptions that this happens usually if you’re a) under the influence or b) running down the street with headphones on. I stayed away from being under the influence growing up, so I wouldn’t ever get into a ‘bad’ situation and always practiced ‘safe running’. The people that I was taught to watch out for never hurt me. It should be taught that most attacks are from people the victim knows, not always some guy in the dark alley.
The second bishop I spoke to mentioned that to me too. He asked me where there were other people. He asked me if I was alone. Why does that matter? Does it matter if I was at a party or leaving mutual? Does one have a higher bearing on another? Really, anyone can classify any situation where someone gets attacked ‘bad’. No situation qualifies any rape or assault less ‘legitimate’ than another.
In my Young Women’s, I didn’t so much as hear the word ‘attack’, much less ‘assault’ or ‘rape’. This was a silent thing, and at least in my ward, no one even danced around it. The chastity lessons were full of ‘do not do these things, insert list of things not to do’ and that was it. Were there church resources? I was fifteen and I sure as heck wasn’t going to get on the computer and google it. There needs to be conversation about it, especially as it gets more and more prevalent in the church. We cannot afford to be quiet about it. I’ve read very few talks about sexual, physical or emotional abuse, but not very many, and some even chastise the victim. Words are power. Someday, when I teach a Young Women’s lesson, I will say what no one would dare say when I was in Young Women’s.
Do I still struggle? Everyday. But I am determined to make sure that young women in the church don’t find themselves believing teachings that degrade them. The belief for me that my Savior loves me overpowers the stupid cupcake teachings, but it certainly didn’t always and I can’t say I don’t get offended or upset. I believe in change. This too can change and I’m determined to make it happen, even if it’s one ward at a time.
36 Responses to “a few church lessons from the view of a sexual assault survivor”
Thank you so, so much for posting this. I found this incredibly helpful, and I will be passing it onto my fellow YW leaders. Kudos to you for being so brave.
As a survivor myself this blog post rings so true–some of these lessons are so harmful. The bishop leaning in close to you to ask you what you were wearing sets off my creep alarm in so many ways. Thank you for being brave and addressing this issue.
Thank you for this. So many Church members, especially bishops, need to know this!
Thank you so much for posting this. Really, thank you. I am also a survivor. 33 years old. Though I have moved on from the acute pain, the memories never stop being fresh.
I almost feel sorry for that bishop and how awful he’s going to feel one day (maybe in the afterlife) when he realizes what a complete tool he was to ask you what you were wearing. I know our leaders are doing their best, and it is hard how we expect so much of our bishops but they don’t get any training or anything. But holy heck, that’s just awful.
Thank you for highlighting several ways that our community needs (NEEDS!!) to improve in our handling of sexual assault. One person who really got it on this issue is former General Relief Society Presidency member Chieko Okazaki. Read this wonderful, landmark talk she gave on the issue: http://www.the-exponent.com/chieko-okazakis-healing-from-sexual-abuse/ SIster Okazaki passed away in 2011. What a huge loss to our church community.
Thank you for posting this. I am also a survivor of sexual abuse (in my childhood) and can relate to the slut-shaming that goes on in church. God help our young women, because culture sure doesn’t.
There are two specialty ocfefis I would like to work in. My interest are in the nervous system and the endocrine system.In the 12 years I have been with my boyfriend, he has lost two sisters and a brother to different forms of lupus. He also lost his mother to the disease before 20 years before I met him. I feel working with an endocrinologist or neurologist I will be able to learn more on how these system works.The proctologist office would be at the bottom of the list. After experiencing a lower GI to rule out problems in my stomach. I refuse to go through that again.
This should be passed out on flyers at church. Thank you for writing it, and for being so direct.
This is an important message, thank you. I turned to a bishop for support in college, years after abuse, who referred me to LDS social services. My counselor there told me to confront my abuser. I couldn’t because he was deceased. She told me that was too bad because I hadn’t provided him an opportunity to repent. So messed up! My BS meter went into overdrive and I never went back. We can do better – thank you for the practical suggestions.
Thank you for posting this. I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse and lessons like these in YW made me feel like I had done something wrong and horrible before I was even old enough to know what sex was. I had dreams and flashbacks for years, and every time I would dream about the abuse I felt like I had done something wrong. I was very fortunate as a BYU student to see a counselor at the BYU counseling center who was actually not LDS herself but obviously understood the culture very well. She helped me to understand that I had been victimized and had done nothing wrong and helped me to feel like my body was my own again. I really hope that a lot of people in the church see this blog post.
Amen. I can’t say it enough. I’m really tired of this. It’s hard enough letting someone know what happened to you but then when you do they turn it around and interrogate you to find out whether or not it was your fault.
If she says it was unwanted, it was unwanted! There is no such thing as illegitimate rape! We need to be better about this. We need to teach our YM that they are responsible for their actions and they need to and are able to control themselves. And that they can, this whole notion that men are visible people and can’t help themselves is crap! This also goes for unwanted/ inappropriate touching . Why is it that we get the chastity talk but then when report it, they either brush it off as the girls fault or (the guys were just flirting, letting you know they were interested, don’t be such a prude. Besides you want to get married right? You ‘re getting up there i’ld think you ‘ld be happy with some action…) Soooo done with this. And the whole idea that this wouldn’t happen if you were in the right place or wearing modest clothing is BS. Because women in the middle east never get raped. Because being sexually assaulted at a church never happens right?! BS! I have to say that this way of thinking needs to be changed across the board with men and women I’m tired of hearing women excuse the men and brush off the feelings of being assaulted, or treat me like I’m crazy or it didn’t really happen. It’s not a trusting environment, which I would hope of all places church would be… this idea of : if you were assaulted you provoked it is wrong!the shaming needs to stop.
Thanks for posting.
Tinesha, Thank you. Thank you for this. Thank you for reminding all if us to be strong in the face of oppressors, whether it happen before or after assault. I too was the victim of a sexual assault. It happened when I was a child, but by the time I started BYU I was a tiny, brown haired, talk back, sarcastic jaded Juno-type (but not pregnant) of a character. As I was having my first eccleciastical endorsement interview with my new bishop (I was a brand new convert), I said I would sign the “no boys in my room” policy” as long as he fully understood that the act of coitus can occur in pretty much any location. He sighed and said yes. I further lectured that since I had said I would not have sex until marriage, then he’s going to have to take my word for it, or would he like some sort of blood oath? Is there no trust on behalf of the women? And what’s going on with the men? Honestly, if he had come to me and asked me what I was wearing, I would have said, “I thought this was a safe place to come to. Obviously it isn’t.” I would have left and reported him to the stake president.
I think sexual abuse is much more prevalent among church members than many suppose, and there is an increasing need for it to be addressed. I have felt the lack of information and guidance regarding these situations. I think that many (wonderful and inspiring) gospel lessons apply differently to those who have dealt with abuse, and since it is not properly addressed, they leave even more confused and feeling guilty that they are not spiritually intune, etc, etc Abuse messes with an individual on just about every level. I believe that we will start seeing more focus on this within the church in coming years, because it is a huge problem. A well-meaning but poorly trained bishop can do more damage than good.
Thank you for posting this. It reminds me that church leaders do need to tread lightly when it comes to these sorts of issues and that any sort of blame on the part of the victim is inappropriate. I just hope and pray that we can forgive leaders for their shortcomings and not continue to blame them for their inadequacies as the years go by. I felt a lot of love for the Lord in this post, but still some sort of pent-up resentment for others (bishops, teachers etc.) who you feel have done you wrong. It’s fine to be mad at people sometimes, but remember that the members are imperfect while the Lord’s Church is perfect. The reason I write this is because I’ve seen so much of it in my family–people who get their feelings hurt over anything have that pent-up resentment. And some even fall away from the Church with resentment built upon resentment. It adds up. I don’t mean to diminish what you are saying, but just offering a voice of warning.
Matt, what are you warning us of, exactly? The bishop I spoke of was patient with me, knew of my prior pain, and gave me latitude to gripe and live my life how I wanted to live it. He mourned with me, I later cried on his shoulder, received many blessings from him, and had a wonderful relationship with him, as did Mary and Martha with Christ, found in John 11, grieving the loss of Lazarus. The bishop was truly the father of my ward, and as so allowed me to be real with him, in a real way. He respected women. There is room being respectful of women, and not condescending to them, in the gospel. We needn’t exemplify veneers of perfection and “pretending” , say, the Elder’s quorum president is a good guy even though he had a bad night of groping you, so if we could sweep this under the rug that would be super, thanks. We need to stand up and advocate for ourselves. Whether it technically broke any honor code violations, it’s the grea ter sin that matters.
Wow. Beautiful, thoughtful and perfectly put. You have touched upon key problems that I hopw will evolve and be corrected in years to come. God bless you and every woman (or man) who suffers sexual assault and the assaults that follow from uninformed church leaders/members . . . or blog commenters, for that matter.
You’re right on here.
By the way, the church is not perfect. Not yet anyway. And it can’t be until the saints become willing to confront difficult, painful truths like the ones you articulate so well here. Thanks for sharing. I’m sorry for your pain and suffering and I’m glad for your strength and courage. Keep up the good work.
So many truths, thanks for articulating them so well. I’m sorry for the pain and evil you experienced.
I think the lessons on being careful where you are and what you’re doing are still important, since there are still predators who use this too, just taught alongside the other things you point out.
As a victim, I was shuffled into a very uncomfortable “interview” about an assault with my Bishop and was asked similar questions. I was told this was not my fault, but… etc. etc. Now looking back I realize that he was as uncomfortable as I was because he had no idea what he was talking about, and doing what he has been instructed to do/say by the church.
When I finally started going to a professional counselor I was told that their viewpoints on things may be skewed so I did not trust the therapist. Bishops and church counselors do not have the education and training to deal with these issues and can make the pain and psychological trauma much more difficult to deal with.
I have found peace and acceptance of myself when I learned to trust myself and not the misleading so called information and guidance of the church.
perfect doctrine. inspired church. imperfect people. So very sorry to hear that the members of our faith didn’t assist you better in your healing. I’ve never heard of the squashed cupcake but similar things to it. I’m embarassed to say that I don’t really know how they teach the young women in my ward pertaining to the cupcake analogy but I always just figured, from the strength of youth and other random quotes from the Brethren, that women who are victims of rape or incest or assault have no need for repentence and the squashed cupcake thing is irrelevant because they did no sin. I’m sorry to hear that this isn’t what they taught you. your paragraph on modesty is one I’ll have to ponder on. I can’t derive your bishop’s intent when asking you what you were wearing. I suppose I’d want to make sure that the young woman understood that perhaps her apparel tempted the man more. It surely didn’t justify his actions but a horrible experience like that would (maybe?) really drive home how a woman’s apparel can affect an undisciplined man (As thou thinkest, so are thee…). I guess I’m not sure what I would have done in the bishop’s shoes. my gut tells me that somewhere (likely more appropriate in an interview NOT the first one) modesty ought to be discussed but it’s clear that a young woman should not feel at fault through it. your section on Get Closer to the Lord and Forgive reminds me of Brad Wilcox’s book, the Continuous Atonement. the Atonement definitely isn’t a one pill cure. Very gradual. Very intense. it’s an example to me, that you kept your faith in it and used it to heal yourself.
The ‘stay away from bad situations’ segments in lessons does present a frustrating quandary: you’d have to be utterly paranoid and lock yourself in a vault to avoid every possible ‘bad situation’ (i’ve heard of men who lie underneath cars and when a woman runs next to it they slash the achilles tendon and then assault them…..rumor or more?) but then again, there’s just GOT to be situations to avoid right? (raves, death metal concerts, certain parts of town during certain parts of the day etc.) so that gray area….hmmm how to address that? do you just say, “You’ll never be in a bad spot if you’re always listening to the Spirit?” Well, technically: maybe. Jesus was once (or more, didn’t check the scriptures :P) confronted by an angry mob early in his ministry who were about to kill Him. Talk about a ‘bad situation’. you’ll remember that he just sort of exited ‘within their midst’. and as nice as it would be, we can’t train all of our daughters to be lethal in krav maga and ju jitsu. Perhaps what I’m saying is that you have to throw your bishop/teachers a bone when they’re inadequate in teaching/counseling a young woman with this topic because I feel that few really know how to address it. I guess as a bishop I’d take into account whatever situation the young woman was in but wouldn’t hold it up and say, “i told you so”, just accept what the situation was and focus on helping the young woman heal. She’s learned what she’s learned and will be better equipped for future potential dangers (needless to say?)
I’m going to finish up my blabbing and say that I agree with you 100% on “……”. our teachers are cowards when it comes to rape, incest, assault. I’ve never taught a young woman’s/priesthood class as an adult (little lessons as a deacon, teacher, and priest) so I can only imagine what it’s like for them. Do they just figure that rape, incest, and assault is such a low probably of affecting their beloved youth that it’s better to avoid the topic than offend the precious ears of the rest? (I’m thinking of the book of Jacob here). regardless. It needs to be talked about. the children need to be frightened (just a little because it is frightening) and not be coddled.
still going to have my daughters learn krav maga. I’m not saying “blah blah blah you should’ve knew the vulcan death grip….!” but knowing that these things DO happen, it’s a scary thought for your loved ones……………….
Jordan, I’m kind of offended by what you just said there about the effects of “immodest clothing” on “undisciplined men.”
The only person at fault is the man. Nobody else. “Modest” women get raped. “Immodest” women get raped.
You seem like a nice guy, but to put any blame on the victim of rape by saying that something they did may have led to that rape is just helping the rapist. You’re just repeating the words of so many rapists who say to their victims, “This is your fault, you dirty whore.”
You just say it a lot nicer, that’s all.
That’s like arguing that because soldiers with and without kevlar get shot and die that kevlar shouldn’t factor into the equation. What I’m saying is that just like there are men who spit at men in uniform (I’m thinking police officers now) and others who give them reverence and respect, the same is with women: your clothing can have an impact on how you’re treated but it isn’t the determinant. I argue that a woman’s attire is a part of the equation, how much it factors into the equation depends on the discipline and morality of the man.
This isn’t a battle ground, Jordan. Trying to compare aggressive rape to war is like blaming an old grandma who went outside and got shot and died for not wearing a bulletproof jacket. Should people really have to worry about that in their day to day lives? You’re creating a miserable life for women if you think that’s how it should be.
Not only that, but you’re totally missing the point of Tinesha’s story: she was sexually assaulted by what she thought was a friend. The large majority of rapes are like that. The issue here was never what was she wearing.
In fact, the majority of rape is about power, not sex.
The issue is that we live in a rape culture where men are treated like dogs and women are treated like rape-bait. What we need isn’t more talks on modesty; that will only make things worse. We’re just justifying rape! We’re sexualizing the female body by telling them that they “have to cover up them shoulders, or somebody’s going to be thinking some bad thoughts.” This is harmful.
What we need is a better understanding on what is rape, and a stronger hatred for it in every way. What a rapist does is terrible, and we should make him know that it doesn’t matter whether she’s just saying “no” because she “doesn’t know what she wants.” It doesn’t matter if he’s married to her. It doesn’t matter if she’s walking around in a bikini for heaven’s sake! He can’t force her (or anybody) to have sex! That’s wrong. Period. End of story.
Let’s not give a rapist more power than he deserves by making him control our wardrobe.
I’m not arguing it’s a battleground, I’m merely stating that it can be a barrier but not an impenetrable one (as seen by kevlar). By comparing it to kevlar I’m not arguing that it’s a battleground out there,merely that modesty isn’t “bulletproof” (like Kevlar) but that it CAN help. This was supported when I compared it to an officer’s uniform: it can INFLUENCE how you’re treated but it doesn’t DETERMINE how you’re treated. that ultimately boils down to agency and how it’s used. And it’s interesting that you bring up culture as it reminds me of a conversation I had with a woman from Norway. Apparently the people there (except for the members of the church she assured me) just strip and water the daisies when it’s warm and sunny during those few weeks of the year just because they miss the sun so much. She says that Norweigian’s are shocked by how much violence we let into television and movies and yet we balk at sexuality on the screen. Supposedly, Norweigians are just the opposite. What I’m saying is that the customs they have their own and the customs and standards we have are our own. If I were a woman traveling in the middle east I’d cover up as they do, everywhere else you just follow the Spirit on what you put on. I only partially agree with your argument that, “It doesn’t matter if she’s walking around in a bikini for heaven’s sake!”. Yes, it shouldn’t matter. As a kid who has spent his fair share of time at beaches in SOCAL, bikinis don’t register with me, I’m desensitized to them. Sure I’d appreciate it if the women dressed more modestly but that’s besides the point. The reason I only partially agree is that because there are men who DO act differently around women in bikinis (this being an extreme example, we can also argue for mini skirts, daisy dukes etc) women ought to take it into account anyways until there comes that time in the world in which men WON’T act differently around women, regardless their dress. Curtis, just because it is logically and ethically correct to not base our actions pertaining to women based on their dress, it doesn’t mean it will be followed by all in the world.
I recognize that this argument is completely off base with this article and I don’t want to pursue it any further. All I’m arguing is that somewhere in the equation (because there are men in the world who will be fiends no matter what logic and ethics you teach them) modesty should be examined. When talking to a victim, their clothing shouldn’t be questioned: if they believe they were immodest and that it led to them being attacked then as an intelligent human being they’ll change that for themselves. Rather, they just need comfort and love and the knowledge that they don’t need to repent. The other thing I take away from the article is that we need to have those difficult discussions with the young women in the church. They need to be warned about the usual: strangers, dark places, parties with alcohol, being alone with another man. They also need to be warned that anyone can disrespect them: family members, close friends etc.
I want to add on top of what I said that the moment we start trying to define “modest” and “immodest” clothing, we start to find a lot of problems (all based under men being overly-sexual and women being overly-sexualized).
Look at Islamic countries where the ankle is considered so scandalous, that she’s “tempting” other men.
I say that a woman’s attire is only part of the equation if we make it so.
Jordan, the whole notion that what a girl is wearing somehow altered how a situation played out is the problem. Church lessons and self-defense talks about staying out of ‘bad’ situations, of never being anywhere alone, and of not running with both headphones in implies that women are solely responsible (and, therefore, solely to blame if something happens) for their safety in society AND that men are so weak as to be unable to control themselves. It implies that all the responsibility for men’s behavior is also on women’s shoulders. This may not be the intended message, but believe me, women and girls get the message and internalize it. It is a socially accepted norm both in and out of the church. Men should be just as offended by this norm as women are – it implies that they are weak and lack the capacity for self-control and that women have to enact external controls because they can’t control themselves.
I’m with Scully on this one. (Also, hi Scully!) A woman’s attire is not part of the equation. It might be part of the EXCUSE, later, but that’s all it is–an excuse and a really messed-up effort to turn the blame back around on the victim. It also send the highly inaccurate message that there is some secret uniform that will protect women from sexual violence, when there absolutely is not. The only way to protect women from assault is for men to, you know, stop assaulting them.
Jordan, sometime way before you got into your lengthy explanation and justification for your comments here, you should have simply said, “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. I was so wrong.”
You don’t seem to get it, which is somewhat sad and a little confusing in this day and age when public awareness is so great about issues like sexual assault. . . hopefully a light will come on for you at some time in your life.
Rapists are rapists. Fiends are fiends. That is who assaulted this innocent woman when she was fifteen. So, whether they are strangers or friends — perpetrators will assault 80-year-old women in nightrobes; 13-year-old girls in winter clothes; college students in sweats — what a victim is wearing at the time of assault is NOT relevant to the issue of sexual assault. It is COMPLETELY irrelevant. Completely.
Jordan, if you want to teach rape prevention, it starts with the dudes. We need to teach dudes not to rape people!
I’ve talked a little with girls who’ve been raped and guys who’ve raped girls, and from what I’ve seen, the dudes don’t have a CLUE that they even raped a chick. They push and push the girl to get sex out of her, thinking that’s alright.
The best thing we can tell girls out there is that it’s not their fault, that there’s nothing they could’ve done to avoid being raped, because they couldn’t avoid it. Like I said, this isn’t a battleground.
And the best thing we can do for dudes is teach them what rape is and help them understand why it’s wrong to do. Teaching them that men are animals and women need to cover up themselves so as to not tempt us, well, that’s not helping. That just helps dudes justify pushing a girl to have sex with them A.K.A. rape.
I was really glad to read this piece. I was sexually assaulted as a child by a member of my church. This issue was rarely addressed in church, and not until I was probably 16 or 17. I understand that it is an uncomfortable topic for most teachers, but it needs to be done. When I say done, I don’t mean glossed over. I mean really discussed with a plan of action discussed. And not put off until we are “old enough”.
I remember as a young beehive feeling intensely uncomfortable during temple recommend interviews and that feeling of doubt as to whether I needed to talk to anyone about it. The first time I felt any definitive answers was when I read For the Strength of the Youth where it states that victims of rape or incest are not at fault. I felt such enormous relief. I just wish I had been told that earlier.
My main issue with the Young Women’s leaders however is their discussion on modesty. I find that many leaders (but most disturbing- this viewpoint seems to come primarily from the girls) cite the main reason to be modest is to “keep the boys from being tempted”. Wait a second. Let’s be modest for us. Let’s do it to respect our bodies, our mothers, our God. I think that keeping men from sin or bad thought is frankly one of the most disturbing false doctrines I have heard in the church. My comments to this effect have been met with choruses of “But it’s so much harder for boys.”
I have several responses to this. Firstly, we have equal responsibility to be chaste. Women do not have the responsibility of restraining men’s sexual impulses. Additionally, the idea that we should be modest for the men is bull crap. Men can find “immodesty” (I really don’t even like this word and the connotation of shame that goes along with it) anywhere and in fact WILL encounter it in their daily lives (something Utah Mormons sometimes seem oblivious to). They can and should “control their thoughts”. Our dressing modestly will not change that one iota. Either they will or they won’t. Do you think being Lds factors into the whole equation. I don’t.
Lastly, give men some credit. They aren’t animals. We shouldn’t demean them by insisting that we become the guardians of their virtue. That’s taking “I am my brother’s keeper” to a whole ‘nother level. Let’s cut the insulting rationales.
I agree with many of your viewpoints. I think that we are our brothers’ keepers, but we cannot allow our girls to think that our boys are not responsible for their own morality. Tying one’s modesty to someone else’s sins is not appropriate.
I think that some of what Jordan Smith said is right too. I think that we should teach our kids (boys can be sexually assaulted too) that certain activities are dangerous (becoming intoxicated, being alone in dangerous neighborhoods), and while the victim is not responsible for their assault, and not all assaults follow the stereotypical pattern, every assault prevented is a good thing.
[…] There was even a particularly frightening incident that was described here. […]
[…] last week and has been taught all throughout Young Women’s that she is now damaged goods. Her bishop asked her what she was wearing. We are the schoolteacher who adores the opportunity to expound on the gospel of Jesus Christ, but […]
[…] more on how church lessons about chastity can impact sexual violence survivors, read Tinesha’s account of these lessons affected her after she was assaulted. You can also read another Mormon perspective on Elizabeth Smart’s statements […]
I have a question for any Mormons out here. Are their any “cupcake” like teachings for guys? Are they stigmatized as women are if they engage is pre-marital sex? Are they held accountable for raping women? If not, then what we have here is a horribly unfair standard of perfection for women to attain while the guys get off with a slap on the wrist. Guys need to be accountable for their behavior towards women. It is never ok for a guy to violate a woman and she is NEVER asking for it. Guys can exercise self control over their bodies. Jesus Christ did for He lived a life without sinning by the power of the Holy Spirit.
The issue doesn’t lie in what a woman is wearing or where she is. It lies in what guys decide to do to a woman. It’s his fault. It is his responsibility to respect the female sex that God Himself created. And if he can’t respect her, then he needs to have his life examined through the lens of God’s word.
As a male LDS, i cant honestly say that I remember getting specific lessons about chastity, except dont have sex till you’re married. Violating this particular commandment came at the cost of our souls, and severe repentance, possibly excommunication would be derived. Most of the lessons about chastity I received were one-on-one talks with the bishop or my parents, because I too am a sexual abuse survivor. Strangely enough, men and women aren’t actually put under covenant to obey the law of chastity until they receive their endowments, which entails harsher consequences for breaking said law. The squashed cupcake story is horrid. I’ve never heard of this teaching, and none of the young women in any of my wards have ever talked about it. I realize that midwestern LDS culture is a bit different than Northwestern and Northeastern LDS culture, but I never realized how much different. All sorts of tactics are being used that are not in the Churches Manuals. I feel bad for the young women growing up with such weird and horrifying lectures.
[…] been said before, but I’ll say it again, a thousand times: my story matters, and so does yours. Tinesha, Hannah, Grace, Dani, Amber, Dinah and many others have written beautifully here about their own […]
I am a radKIDS instructor and an LDS woman. I know the chastity lessons. I’ve heard of many others. They are terrible. I volunteer at the local school and teach kids self defense and context. 1.No one has the right to hurt me. 2. I don’t have the right to hurt anyone else unless they are trying to hurt me and then I can stop them. 3. If I do get hurt, it’s not my fault so I can tell. I’ve been able to help two children tell. One was my own son. My heart breaks every time I think about such things happening, especially to children.