Sunday, October 21, 2012


I just really hate this, and I want to post it somewhere so I can say I hate it. I've never understood the "fill my heart with you, Lord" kind of thing... So much of that evangelical language sounds like either romantic or sexual love to me, and in the context of a relationship with God that just weirds the crap out of me. But this "empty me of me" business? What the hell?

Why would you want to be emptied of yourself? Why would God want that for you? If God didn't want you to be you, then what is the entire point of your life? I ask you.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Tommy and Joe

Here's a thing that bothers me about a lot of ex-Mormons. I don't have a problem with talking about crappy church policies and practices, ways that you were hurt by Mormon beliefs, or things that you think are wrong with the system. I don't have a problem with anger, because the kind of hurt a lot of Mormons experience at the hands of the church is something to be angry about. Expressing that anger is often a part of the healing process, and that's an important thing to do.

What I hate is when people talk about "old Tommy Monson" or "old Joe Smith," because there is absolutely nothing behind that but contempt and intentional disrespect. In Joseph Smith's case, it seems like a pretty deliberate reference to the way the Missouri mobs and anti-Mormons talked about him. In Thomas Monson's case—are you seriously calling an 85 year old man Tommy? He doesn't go by Tommy, and you don't know him personally. And since you know that faithful Mormons revere him so much that they feel disrespectful even taking out his middle initial, your use of that nickname seems even more vulgar by comparison.

It's just not necessary, okay? I understand the bitterness, hurt, and anger you might be feeling toward the church. I really do. But this kind of talk doesn't help anyone. A lot of ex- and unorthodox Mormons are working really, really hard to build bridges between themselves and the mainstream church. A lot of people are working really hard to bring about change that will make the church a more healthy place to be, and get people to understand that you don't have to fit the Perfect Mormon Mold to be a good person. I'm not one of those people, but I'm friends with them, and I respect them so much for what they're doing. You and I don't have to participate. But I think the decent thing to do is at least try to avoid making their job harder.

Monday, August 13, 2012

The All-Consuming Motherhood

I wish I could travel just a little bit into the future, so I could see whether I'm safe rolling my eyes at women who get pregnant and don't say a single non-baby-related word for at least the next year, or if that's going to be me too, and then I'll just look silly.

A couple of my closest friends / favorite Facebook posters had babies recently. One of them disappeared the instant she found out she was pregnant--it's been months now since she posted anything, on Facebook or her blog or Pinterest, that wasn't about babies or decorating the nursery. The other was still pretty normal during her pregnancy, but now that she's had her baby, she's almost as bad. My issue here is purely selfish; I just miss having them around as my friends. They rarely post now, and when they do, it's about something that I can only appreciate as a spectator. It's wonderful for them, and I am happy for them. But for me it's just kind of lame.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

If it weren't for that one thing...

I think if the church could still be the church without the sexist gender roles and incredibly unhealthy attitudes toward sexuality, I might stick around even though I don't believe. I don't really care about not believing any of the other stuff—it would be just like attending any other church, where I don't expect to internalize everything that's taught. I don't think I'd have a problem going just for the experience of going to church (assuming that I end up deciding that's an experience I feel I need in my life).

But I know firsthand how damaging the church's attitude toward sexuality is. I know how destructive the gender roles are to people who grow up being taught that they are God's Intended Way. There's no way I feel okay about exposing children to that kind of garbage, and I don't care to expose myself to it either, because it makes me angry and sick to hear.

Saturday, July 21, 2012


I'm having a mid-life crisis at 27.

My depression has been flaring up lately... which is a weird way to describe depression. Life is simultaneously utter crap and really great right now, and I have days where I just love everything, but then I also have days like today where I wake up feeling inexplicably sad, do some work for an hour, and then go back to bed because my bed is really comfortable and I just would rather be in it than not.

We went and saw Rock of Ages tonight, and it became a really unlikely catalyst for all the things I've been feeling for the last couple years since I started the transition away from who I used to be. One of those things is that I feel like my life before college was a complete waste.

I have social phobia, and most of what I remember about my teen years involves agonizing awkwardness. I got picked on a lot, especially by boys making fun of my hair and calling me Chia Pet. When people talked to me, I started at the ground with my face on fire, and I didn't respond. When I was called on in class, or considered the idea of raising my hand, my stomach contorted itself so tightly that I could've thrown up, and I would have a several-minutes-long internal monologue running in which I told myself, "Any second now I'm going to speak up." I would imagine myself raising my hand, hear what I was going to say—but I almost never did it. And then it would take my heart about ten minutes to slow back down to normal afterward.

So I was weird. And I didn't get invited to do things. I had school friends, but I'm not exaggerating when I say they almost never invited me to go out with them after school. I didn't hang out at their houses; I didn't go to the mall; I didn't go to the movies until my junior and senior year when I worked there and had friends among my coworkers. (I did hang out with friends more my senior year, but before that, it was literally almost nothing.) I never had a date to a school dance, though I went because I was on Student Council, and I held everyone's cameras during the slow songs. I had one date when I was 16, and then nothing else until my first boyfriend at 18. I did a lot of stuff in high school—marching band, Literary Criticism, AP classes, being in the class presidencies in my Young Women's groups, and the last two years, working. But none of that was with friends, and none of it was anything that stayed important after high school.

I'm more than two thirds of the way through my twenties now, and when I think about what I'm going to have to show for this decade, the answer's pretty depressing. I've done three things of long-term significance so far: acquired, all told, about $75,000 of debt and no degree; got married; and had my faith transition. Two of those things are great, and one sucks eggs. But even those two great things don't feel like they should be all I have from this entire decade. (Based on the way life has gone in the past few years, I just don't have high hopes for the last three before my thirties.)

I spent the first 25 years of my life completely surrounded by the LDS church, and suddenly I don't have that framework anymore. Now I'm 27, I'm married, I'm technically unemployed with no prospects, I have anxiety and depression, I'm constantly fighting with myself to stop posting things online that people judge me for, and I don't even know how much weight I've gained in the last ten years because I have been too afraid to look at a scale for the last three (but I know it's probably more than 50). I've been fighting with myself about that, too, going back and forth between determination to lose weight and determination to learn to be happy with myself no matter what I look like. Neither one of those things has happened, though I've worked hard at both for years.

So we saw Rock of Ages tonight, and I really loved it. I was so proud of myself when I realized that there'd been a scene in a strip club going for several minutes and I hadn't been watching Mike out of the corner of my eye. I had so much fun with Tom Cruise's character, who probably would've been enough to make me walk out of the movie five years ago. More than one scene made me almost cry, because I was wishing so hard that I'd had experiences like that in my life. And I loved the soundtrack (aside from the fact that movie covers are always kind of lame) so much that when we got home from the movie and Mike asked if I wanted to go to the track, I borrowed his phone and created a Guns N' Roses station on Pandora.

Going running tonight was amazing, guys. I felt awesome. Just listening to that station, hearing those songs that I hadn't heard in so long, and feeling a weird... strength, almost, that's surfacing and making me really want to just COME OUT and let everyone know where I am and who cares what they think. I wanted to run in my sports bra but sort of chickened out because Mike's parents were still around when we left, so I wore a shirt to the track. When we got there, though, the wind was blowing so beautifully and I hadn't put my hair up so it was blowing everywhere (and it's straightened right now, because I ran out of mousse two days ago and can't afford to buy mousse for a while, so it's even longer than usual and that made the wind-blowing even greater) and I was listening to Aerosmith... So I left my shirt on the bleachers and ran in my sports bra. And I ran. I usually do 95% walking and 5% running, if that, because I just haven't really gotten there yet. But I guess the last month of really good walking has prepared me better than I thought, because I ran further than I ever have at once and I still felt great, and I kept walking and then I ran some more, and then I kept walking and ran some more, and then I kept walking even longer. Mike was feeling somewhat the same way, I guess, because we kept looking at each other and saying "One more time around?" And then we finally left, but we still weren't ready to stop because I was listening to Poison and Nirvana and Metallica and Mike was listening to whatever he was listening to, so we walked the longest way possible through his neighborhood before finally going home, and I was still in my sports bra and feeling so great.

And now I'm still listening to that station, to AC/DC and Bon Jovi and Journey and Motley Crue, and my legs are really sore and even my lungs feel tired and my laptop is overheating because it does that now. I've been thinking lately that I might officially tell people soon, about my no longer believing in the church, and the thought has been fairly stressful. But tonight I'm thinking... You know what? I talk a lot. I talk way too much, sometimes, actually. And I feel like maybe this is one thing I want to just shut up about for a while.

So maybe I'll show people instead. Mike and I started experimenting with drinking several months ago, and we have fun with it, even though I haven't actually liked anything I've tried so far. So maybe I'll just let a picture of that happen, and post it on Facebook for everyone to see. For a long time now I've wanted to stop wearing Mormon-modest clothes, but haven't been able to do it because I feel super self-conscious about the way I look and haven't had money to buy any new clothes anyway. But maybe I'll find some cheap tank tops, and maybe I'll get some pictures taken in them. Maybe I'll post those pictures on Facebook. Is this passive-aggressive? I don't know. I don't care right now. I'm just so sick of explaining myself all the time. People keep calling me "negative" and "anti-Mormon", as though they don't know what "anti-Mormon" really sounds like. Honestly, if they knew a quarter of the things I think and don't say—and I'm not even anti-Mormon. I explain myself until I can barely think anymore, but it doesn't seem to have made anyone understand me even better... Probably because it feels like they're not really trying to understand, they just want to look for ammunition so they can bitch about how "negative" I am. Well, whatever. I'm tired of explaining myself for now. And also, it's killing me to keep so much back from people. On the one hand, I think it's really good for me to learn that I don't have to share my every thought with people. But on the other hand, it's also making me feel so unauthentic, so dishonest, to have all these feelings that I don't admit to having. I want to be able to be honest, if not in words, then at least just in living my life.

As for what to do about the mid-life crisis aspect of all this—the fact that I watched Rock of Ages and wanted to be at those concerts, the fact that I really want to get to know the 80s again because they feel like the youth I should have had (even though that's stupid because come on, I was born in '85, I wouldn't have had that anyway); the fact that there's a big part of me right now that wants to just do what I want and stop caring what people think about anything... Well, I don't know what to do about that. I don't know how to do anything about it. For tonight, running in my sports bra and listening to 80s rock was exactly what I needed. For tomorrow... I guess we'll see.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Temple

I think this has come up in the comments before, but I've never really written about it. I haven't written much of anything lately, partially because we just finished a big move and I've been packing since the beginning of May, and partially because I haven't had a lot of angst related to my faith transition (and yeah, I'm still calling it that, because although I know what I've left behind, I still don't know where I'm going).

But I'm in the Feminist Mormon Housewives Facebook group, and they talk a lot about the temple in there. Mostly about garments, which I've never worn and probably never will wear. And you would think that should mean I just don't care about the conversations, not that they actually bother me. But they do. I've always had a lot of trouble with the idea of the temple.

When I was a senior in high school, my seminary teacher told us that when a couple gets married, the woman tells her new name to her husband, but the man does not tell his to his wife. Ever. She was pretty excited about this, actually, because she viewed her acceptance of it as a measure of faith (and that's what the lesson was on). I felt sick to my stomach.

And for the next eight years, every single time I thought about getting married in the temple, I felt sick to my stomach. Literally sick, and painfully. It was a really big deal to me. I usually ended up in tears, freaking out because I didn't see how I could get married in the temple, freaking out even more because I thought my revulsion was a sign of how unworthy I was to do so. After all, accepting things we don't understand is a measure of our faith, right? And obviously my faith was crap.

One Christmas vacation—just two weeks after I'd gotten engaged—I was home and having a discussion with my family. Some things came up, and I learned that it was possible that my horrible feelings about the temple were related to some childhood abuse. I was so relieved. That would mean it wasn't my fault, wasn't a worthiness issue. And it would mean that I might someday be able to get over it. I went back to BYU feeling much better about things. 

But in the end, that knowledge wasn't the solution. I learned some more things about the temple and I've learned some more things about myself and the church. And those things—not whatever's left over from my childhood—are what have decided how I feel about the temple. 

The frustrating thing is that I still feel uncomfortable thinking about it. Someone took a poll in that group the other day, asking how we all felt about ordinances. My answer was a combination of two of the responses: that I think ordinances and rituals are a nice human-made construct and are not necessary for salvation, but that for some people, the preparation for the ordinances is what is important. For some people, ritual is a big part of their religious experience. I'm not sure yet how I feel about it—either it isn't a big deal for me, or just the Mormon rituals aren't; I need to have some experience with other forms of religiosity to find out what I think.

All of which is to say that since I don't believe in it, I feel like it shouldn't still bother me. But I guess I've been having those feelings for a long time, and maybe they won't go away immediately just because my brain has decided they should. 

Friday, May 18, 2012


2008 was a pretty formative year for me, apparently. In a way, that year was the end of a whole phase of my life and the beginning of a new and completely different one. Two major things happened: I got married and I became a liberal.

I discovered politics in that year, and in finding my political identity I started losing friends. The first two were L, my roommate, and D, her older brother and a dear friend of a couple years. I still thought homosexuality was a sin back then, but I told them I didn't think BYU's new Honor Code statement was "in favor of homosexuality" simply because they changed the policy to say that only homosexual behavior, not attraction itself, would get you kicked out, and that made me their enemy. They said horrible things to me, called me "baby-killer" and "immoral," questioned my standing in the church and wrote incredibly offensive things to me on my blog. (Heard of Standard of Liberty? Their family. Run by their parents, and they actively participate.)

Next was B, with whom I'd always had a really friendly relationship. All of a sudden, over the space of a couple weeks, he started commenting on my political posts on Facebook, insulted my friends, told me progressives were "the cancer of America," and then announced that I was "a bad person" for disagreeing with him on the health care bill.

I don't really miss these friends, because the way they treated me was so unbelievably bad that no amount of good memories could cover it.

No, the problem is that my other friends are still friends with them. M, my best friend and room-roommate of three years, is also liberal (ish). She and I were always together in talking to D and L, and we would always talk to each other about how awful the things they were saying were. In fact, she still sends me messages sometimes telling me about some ridiculous insanity or other. But she's still friends with them. Like, good friends. She talks to them more than she talks to me.

Our other roommate, J, was also someone I was incredibly close to (she's the one I talked about here). I was just looking at her Facebook and saw that she'd been talking to D. This, on top of the things I wrote about in that post I just linked to, suddenly has me feeling that maybe... Maybe that phase of my life is just over. J used to tell me how much she loved having political discussions with me and seeing other perspectives. Ever since she got married she's gotten more and more conservative, and I don't feel like I can say something because she doesn't frame her thoughts in the form of a discussion—just says things like "President Obama lost my vote when he came out for gay marriage" and bears her testimony about how abortion should be illegal because a woman's body isn't her own, it's a gift from God.

So the point is that I don't really know if I see these friendships continuing into the future. We all live in different states now, none of us is especially good at keeping in touch long distance, and our political and religious beliefs are growing further and further apart. In fact, though they are already "concerned" about me because they read my blog, they don't even know the half of my disaffection with the LDS church, and I really don't know how they'll respond when they do. M I think would stick around even if she does mourn for me, but J... I don't know. I get the impression that her husband has a lot to do with her move to the right wing, and I won't be competition for that.

The real thing is that it bothers me that these women are still friends with people who treated me so horribly. It hurts, even three years later. I would absolutely not still be friends with someone who'd attacked my best friend's morals and called her a bad person. Am I just a better friend than they are? Do they like D and L and B better than they like me? Or is it just easier for them to maintain a relationship with people who aren't going against the grain of everything they've ever known? I think it's probably the last thing, but it doesn't really matter—they all come out to the same place. There's a big part of me right now that just wants to cut ties and move on. I'm never going to be a good Mormon girl again. They're both mothers now and I'll probably be childless until I'm 30. M is fairly liberal politically, but pretty conservative and orthodox church-wise. They were both born in Utah and aside from reading, we don't really have any hobbies in common anymore. They're still friendly with people who consider me an enemy of God. I just don't know how to work around that... Or if I have the energy to keep doing it.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Things to Keep

Several things conspired to bring about this post. 

(1) I tend to think about how I'll raise my future children a lot.
(2) Most of my cousins and friends are LDS and have kids, so my Pinterest feed is regularly flooded with things related to children and the church (sacrament meeting quiet books, scripture-story coloring books, Mr. T Mormonads, and printables, my goodness, when did these things become so popular?).
(3) I'm trying to get back to where I can see good things about the church—just for myself, and because I don't know what my status is going to be with the church right now as far as family goes.

So I saw the Mormonad and I laughed, because... Mr. T. But then I rolled my eyes at "choose the right" and was about to move on. And then I had a minor epiphany. If my kids are going to be involved with the church, I'm going to need to figure out which Mormon things I'm okay with and which I'm not. Modesty doctrine (the way Mormons do it)—not okay. Attitudes about homosexuality—not okay. "Follow the prophet", no; attitude toward politics (especially things like Prop 8 and the ERA), no.

But CTR—that's one I think I can use. It's a Mormon thing, yes, but the meaning isn't Mormon. My aversion to it is only because of my problems with the church right now, and I will of course teach my children to choose to do the right thing. What I teach them the right thing is will be different from the typical CTR definitions, but that's okay. They can wear the rings if they want, and that will be at least one thing they can have in common with the other kids. It will be at least one Mormon thing I don't hate, and it's the first to surface in my quest to remember the good things about the church.

This is progress for me, I think. This is encouraging.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Guys! I Kind of Suck at Life.

Have you noticed? I keep wanting to take breaks, because I am something of an emotional basket case and I get really tired of feeling anxious and/or furious all the time. And then I keep cheating on my breaks, because... I don't know why. I really don't, I just have this thing in me that wants to be reading and posting things all the time. What is the deal? I said one week ago that I needed to stop reading anything political or controversial in any way, and all week long I've been cheating but then not letting myself post things so people wouldn't know I'd been cheating. It's kind of absurd.

The internet breaks are great, I'll be honest, because I read a ton and feel awesome for not sitting in front of a computer all day. But I just don't feel like that's... sustainable. I mean, am I really going to not use the internet for the rest of my life? So then I say I can use the internet but skip the controversial things, and I'm pretty sure that's even worse, because then I spend time online and it isn't even meaningful and I find myself doing that zoning out thing where I keep clicking around and then suddenly realize I've been online for an hour and haven't done anything.

Blech. You know what? We're moving to Salt Lake City. (I haven't really announced this anywhere, but I might as well since it's a month and a half away.) And I'm really excited for that, because I really hate Texas. It sucks out here, and we've had to live with my parents for the last year, and that sucks even more. I have two friends, one who lives 20 minutes away and one who lives 45 minutes away, and I don't see them very often, but when we do get together we don't really talk about things anyway so basically I don't have a real-life outlet, and that's why I'm excited to move to Salt Lake. I didn't want to move back to Utah, you know, but Mike really does, and I've decided that this is a really good compromise. I can live in a city, which I really want to do, and I will have a lot of like-minded friends nearby. I'll be able to go to things like Sunstone if I want to, and lectures and conferences and book clubs and feminist get-togethers. I won't be totally isolated in Rural Conservative Town, like I am now. And I think that's going to be really good.

I don't know if this post has a point. Hurray!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Dwindling in Unbelief

I almost feel like this should be the new name of my blog, except that I noticed there already is a blog with that name, and I don't want to change mine anyway.

Ahem. What I mean to say is... I have finally come to the conclusion that I don't believe anymore. I don't believe the things that make Mormons Mormon.

I don't think Thomas Monson is in contact with God. I believe that the General Authorities are good men—I don't suspect them of deliberate deceit or having conscious ulterior motives—but I don't believe that God is talking to them any more than s/he talks to anyone else. I just can't not believe that if God really were directing a church to the extent that the LDS church claims to be directed, that church would be the first to recognize and denounce oppression and inequality in every form, instead of defending it tooth and nail (*cough*ERA*cough*). The LDS church is not exactly on top of things in this department, by which I mean that they are completely backward and even further behind than some other churches.

I don't have a testimony of the Book of Mormon, either—but then again, this is one thing I don't think I ever had, even when I was fully active and orthodox. And while I infinitely prefer the Bible to that book, I am also now very aware that the Bible was written by men, and therefore approach it with a significant amount of skepticism.

I've had this post—everything before this sentence—sitting in my drafts since the end of February, and I hadn't read it since I took a break from the internet at the beginning of March. Today I did, and it still fits, so I guess it's really true. I'll admit, I did a bit of backpedaling after first reading through it; not that I don't still feel that way, just that the words sounded a little stronger than I want them to. It's like... rather than believing actively that it's not true, I just lack the belief that it is. Which I'm pretty sure is just a copout response that tries to soften the blow but essentially says the same thing.

A couple days ago I was on my Goodreads profile and the section with my favorite quotes came up. I saw one from Brigham Young—and I realized that I no longer felt that sense of ownership I used to feel when I came across someone or something related to Mormons. Funnily enough, I still think the words of the quote are great in spite of the irony that goes with them:

Remove this quote from your collectionBrigham Young
“I am more afraid that this people have so much confidence in their leaders that they will not inquire for themselves of God whether they are led by him. I am fearful they settle down in a state of blind self security. Let every man and woman know, by the whispering of the Spirit of God to themselves, whether their leaders are walking in the path the Lord dictates, or not.” 
 Brigham Young

I guess I used to feel some kind of... something, you know? when I read the name of one of the prophets somewhere in the secular world. Especially that one, because my university was the one bearing his name. But this time, I didn't.

Anyway. The great thing is that, thanks to this internet break, I've spent an entire month developing a kind of apathy toward the church. Apathy doesn't sound like a great thing, but since it's replacing anger and hurt and the manic frustration that comes with helplessness, it is indeed pretty great for me. The real triumph will be when I can maintain this apathy—at least to a certain extent—without the crutch of avoidance (which is what I've been doing for the last month). When I can read Feminist Mormon Housewives and the news without freaking out about the patriarchal shit being consistently shoved down everyone's throats, I'll know I'm good. Right now I'm shooting for medium-level avoidance, trying to break myself back in slowly and painlessly. We'll see how it goes.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Concern Trolls are the Best

This made me laugh out loud today, from the public Feminist Mormon Housewives group.

All the responses are great, but Natalie's (such elegant simplicity) and Jennifer's (such clever use of Harry Potter quoteage!) make me particularly happy. And happy things need to be shared.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

A Surprising First

Prayer has always been a sore spot for me. The thirteen or fourteen years from middle school through college were often agonizing; without going into detail, I'll just say that the number of desperate prayers I've offered in my life, accompanied by hysterical sobbing and pleading and delivered while curled up in a ball on my bed or wandering the streets of Provo in the middle of the night, is not a small one. I never got the comfort I was begging for, never felt like I was being guided in any direction, never felt like anyone was listening much less trying to say anything back. My prayers were as sincere as they could be, and yet I always felt that if I wasn't getting answers, it was because I wasn't faithful enough; because deep down I knew I could never pray on my knees all night long like Enos, and that must mean my heart wasn't really in it. I didn't know how I could be better, but it was obvious that I needed to be.

Anyway, I finally got tired of trying. I don't remember when I stopped, but I can say for sure that it's been at least three years since I made any kind of concerted effort.

I don't know why it occurred to me last night, but I got in bed and just had the thought that I sort of wanted to say something to whoever was up there. I started the way I always have, by addressing Heavenly Father. Then I stopped, because it occurred to me to try addressing Heavenly Mother. I've thought about her recently, and I've talked about her plenty with my fMh and Exponent friends. But I've never thought of including her in a prayer before. (I think I may have been influenced by reading Sonia Johnson last week.)

So I started over. I said both of their names that time—Heavenly Mother first.

"Heavenly Mother. Heavenly Father. I'm going to try this out."

That was all I said. It was all I could think of to say, and the thought just kept repeating in my head for a few minutes afterward—I'm going to try this out—over and over. I realized I was smiling, and my eyes had filled with tears. And I just lay there for several minutes, smiling in the dark, feeling kind of silly but mostly just feeling happy.

Having just read what I've written here, I'm hating that it sounds like one of those stories in the New Era that always made me roll my eyes as a teenager. It sounds so cheesy, and it also sounds a lot more dramatic than it was when it happened. But you know what? There's a lot about my life that just really sucks right now, and it's been a long time since I had a pleasant experience with something religious. I need this. I need to not care that it's cheesy. I just had a good experience with prayer, for the first time in I literally do not even know how long. That's kind of a big thing for me, and I'm going to take it.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

I Might Have to Take a Break Soon

The internet is hard on my head lately. I'm usually pretty good at participating in online discussions, but more often than not right now I seem to be too angry or bewildered to form constructive responses. I haven't been able to figure out how to talk to someone who is defending Rush Limbaugh's most recent assault on humanity, for example, because I was under the impression that anyone with a shred of decency and respect for women understood that it was an abomination. (The general argument seems to be that yes, he shouldn't have said it, but the real problem here is that everyone's making a big deal out of the words as an excuse to ignore his message. Well, (1) his "message" was inaccurate garbage, and (2) do people really not know that when you speak to the public for a living, your delivery actually does kind of matter? His choice of words makes a statement, and his use of offensive misogynistic words is absolutely deserving of attention.)

I just can't even count anymore the times I've read a comment, tried to respond, and ended up deleting everything I wrote. Am I losing my ability to analyze a statement? Is it just that these comments are based on such faulty "logic" that analysis isn't useful anyway? I really think it's some of both. In any case, I'm getting tired of feeling like an idiot because I can't put a decent response together.

I was considering another internet fast anyway, or at least an internet diet of some sort. I think I'm going to have to impose some kind of no-reading-the-comments kind of rule if I want to be able to keep up on the blogs... And I'll probably have to just avoid Facebook entirely (since there isn't really a way to avoid the comments there). It'll be nice to focus on things like book reviews again for a while, which I think is what I ended up doing the last time I did an internet fast. Pinterest and Goodreads okay... Feminist websites not. Blogging okay, Facebook not. Reading blogs okay, reading comments not.

Yeah, actually, this is sounding really good. I think I'll start tomorrow.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Being Small for the Sacrament

I just remembered, while reading this post at Doves & Serpents, how my Young Women leaders used to tell us that we should never make eye contact with the boys who were passing the sacrament because we didn't want to distract them from their priesthood duty. I remembered how vigilant I was about that, how I'd try to be unobtrusive in my seat... How I'd always make sure my leg wasn't sticking out into the aisle when I was sitting at the end of the pew, that my hand didn't brush the hand of the boy handing me the tray.

I felt very sad just now when I remembered. I felt sad thinking about how my leaders thought it was impossible for the boys to see their female peers and have anything but a distracting, sexual thought. In fact, now that I'm thinking about it even more, I'm remembering that there was something in my mind that whole time—whether it was put there by a leader or one of the other girls, I don't know (I'm praying it was one of the girls)—about how embarrassing it would be for the boys if they got an erection while they were walking around with everyone's eyes pretty much at their crotch level.

And now I am absolutely mortified that such a thing was on my mind. That I, the most naive and sexually un-experienced Mia Maid in the world, was not only aware of this but felt responsible for it, thought there were actual steps I needed to take to prevent it from happening—without the boys' knowledge, even! That we were supposed to do all this on their behalf, as a way of showing support for the priesthood... It's making me actually feel the tiniest bit sick to my stomach.

Friday, February 24, 2012


My old friend has a blog, and lately it's been getting more and more depressing to read. A mutual friend and I were always kind of liberal, even before we were actually liberal, and this other friend used to tell us how much she loved being friends with us because we helped her to broaden her thinking and consider points of view she never would have before.

She got married and moved to Missouri for her husband's med school just before her first baby was born, and I feel like she's just gotten more and more conservative since then. The thing is that I know I should just talk to her—she's the sweetest, kindest, most loving and wonderful person in the entire world, and I've never met anyone who's better at listening to (and actually considering) opposing arguments. But I don't want to open that can of worms. I post things on Facebook and on my regular blog, and when people comment on them, I respond. But almost every time a conversation has gone personal instead of public, I've ended up burned and the relationship has soured. And the problem is that I feel so strongly about these things that I'm sure I would offend her, which I couldn't bear to do.

Nearly every post she writes now includes something that's hard for me to read. The other day it was a random entry about how grateful she is for the temple (which is a particularly sore spot for me). One day it was about how, at the age of 24, she retired and withdrew her entire retirement savings. A couple weeks ago it was a post about abortion, which contained several points that were painful for me: how she knows that a baby is a human literally from the instant of conception, how she's always been bugged by some women thinking they have the right to "take another's life simply because it's inconvenient to her own body" (oh, the simplification and judgment), how "no matter how a baby is conceived" (I really wish I knew if she was consciously including rape in this statement) it is a sacred gift from God and only God has the right to take that life, and how touched she was that her husband recently had the opportunity to bear his testimony to other med school students about how the argument that "a woman's body is her own" is an "absolute misconception" because a woman's body is a gift from God in the first place. (Yeah... The fact that it's a gift from God doesn't give other humans the right to control it. When people say "a woman's body is her own" they just mean as opposed to belonging to other humans.)

Then there's what I read the other day, about how she's been feeling like she needs to do something. She mentioned that she hears other moms talking about taking online courses or reading books, but then she was thinking about the Proclamation on the Family (grr) and realized that although she has great potential to do things in the world, she has even more potential within the walls of her home, and she knows that what she's doing there is the best thing she could be doing. 

Oh, that made my heart hurt. I just don't understand why one great thing has to rule out all other great things. I don't understand why, when she feels the desire to do something for herself, she needs to talk herself out of it by reminding herself that she's already doing the most important thing she will ever do in her life. It doesn't have to be mutually exclusive

Sigh. I've just been so depressed the last couple days, reading about the ways that women's equality still does not exist—and how the LDS church has actively, aggressively opposed it; how very very active Gordon Hinckley, the man who became the prophet I loved so much in my adolescence, was in organizing church members against it. (Reading From Housewife to Heretic, Sonia Johnson's account of her excommunication over supporting the ERA.)
"The Mormons say they don't want the ERA because it would release men from having to pay alimony... yet they helped defeat a bill which would have made it possible for officials of Virginia to cross state lines to apprehend those men who were dodging alimony and child support and make them pay. Mormons say they don't want the ERA because it would remove 'protections' from housewives. Yet they lobbied against a bill that would have given the housewife's work in the home monetary value at the time of property settlement in divorce."

"I gradually began to discover that the Mormon women of Virginia, with those 'Equality Yes, ERA No' buttons on their breasts, were lobbying against [not just the ERA, but] every single women's bill before the legislature that year, bills that had been in the making for years and were considered so good that surrounding states were plagiarizing them... All four of our women's bills in Virginia, as well as the ERA, were killed that year."

"Another reporter not long ago interviewed a Mormon woman in Illinois who was involved in the church's coalition there. [That woman said,] 'Do you know what we're most afraid of? Do you know what we're all fasting and praying about in the church here? We're praying that Carter won't appoint a female to the Supreme Court!' She is, of course, for equal rights and for women; she's just not for the Equal Rights Amendment."

"I remember what author John Fowles said in the February 19, 1978, Saturday Review: 'I do believe that almost all human evils in our world come from betrayal of the word at a very humble level.' ...If you say you believe in equality but fight against all bills that would give women real protection under the law—such as men have—what have you done to the meaning of the word 'equality'?"
It just really hurts to see women I love being suppressed and not knowing it. Why should you be told that you can only do one thing in life? How can anyone really feel that that's why God wanted us here on earth? How can we still have a culture in which women must feel guilty for wanting to do anything else—not instead of motherhood, just in addition to it!

Patriarchy, you are a smothering, overpowering drug.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

It's a Generational Curse

I don't want to post this on Facebook because I can't help feeling like it sounds as though I can't wait for people to start dying.

But I think real change in this country is going to take another couple of decades yet, because I don't think it can happen while the current generation of politicians is still around. Have you seen the news this past week from Rick Santorum and Darrell Issa? Have you been listening to Tea Partiers talk about abortion the last few years? To Foster Friess talk about "contraception"? To this crap about modesty at the Conservative Political Action Conference?

As long as these people are still around, still teaching the people who grow up to be pathetic little creepers like these guys, still telling boys that they have the right to judge women on their clothing, still telling girls that they are responsible for making sure they don't tempt males, still using garbage phrases like "guardians of virtue", we are going to have a sexually abusive and repressive society.

As long as church leaders (both Mormon and otherwise) are teaching that women need to go through men to reach God, that men should "preside" in their homes, that women should be submissive to their husbands, that motherhood is synonymous with womanhood and is the only important thing a woman can do, that it is mothers who are responsible for raising children, that it is selfish to "delay" having children or to work outside your home, that "gender" is equivalent to gender roles and is more important than humanity, that being a Christian means judging and actively persecuting everyone who doesn't conform to your beliefs, we will have a society in which everyone is oppressed except Christian heterosexual white males.

I just finished reading Moving Beyond Words by Gloria Steinem, and got the impression that the age of feminist activists goes down with every wave. In the time of suffrage, of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony and Sojourner Truth, the majority of activists were above fifty. In the 70s, in Gloria Steinem's time, most of them were above thirty. Now we don't have feminist activism in the same way we did then, but what I see in Feminist Mormon Housewives tells me that the age has dropped even lower to include women in our twenties.

Maybe soon we will be active in the way those other women were--and maybe in twenty years the average age will include teenagers, girls who can finally learn these things before they become adults and are already started down paths in the patriarchy.  And in combination with that, as callous as it sounds... Twenty years from now a lot of the current "rulers" are going to be dead. We'll have some new Supreme Court justices and Congresspeople. We'll have some new voters. When people are crazy sexist like Rick Santorum, or downright misogynistic like that despicable excuse for a human being Liz Trotta, maybe we'll finally have a constituency that will stand up and say "Hell no, we will not take that shit."

*Sigh.* This isn't the first time I've wished I could have been born about twenty (or fifty) years later than I was. It's so hard to be in this stage, where we know we should be past this already, and we've already made some progress, but it's just enough that the opposition is freaking out and holding on even tighter and more desperately. It's selfish of me, but God I wish I could have skipped this agony and come in when we're just a little more evolved.

Monday, February 13, 2012

I've Just Had an Apostrophe.

I just read this (here):
First off, I believe in God. Why? Because I choose to. I have no proof one way or the other, but I find comfort in the concept of God, and therefore choose to believe. 
 and am sad to say that it sparked something of an epiphany for me. Sad, because this was not a natural line of thinking.

I decided I don't need to worry about the nature of God, because I can believe in whatever I want to believe. I don't need to accept someone else's vision of him, not even that of the church I've spent my entire life in. If it doesn't feel right to me, then I don't need it. God is not prove-able, and I believe that I have my own authority to know her/him in my own way (yes, I wrote "him/her" first and then deliberately switched it). At the beginning I sort of knew that this was the point I needed to reach--being able to feel comfortable with my own vision of God regardless of what the church said about it--but that isn't something you can force. I had to wait for it come, and I think it finally did. Mostly.

At this moment I don't know exactly what I believe God is. I do know what God isn't, though, so I will start with that.
  • I believe that God is not a man who would hide his wife from view and prevent their children from knowing and communicating with her. 
  • I believe that God does not endorse the patriarchal order, does not want women to be "guided" or "led" by men, does not want women to do nothing in life except raise children and keep house. 
  • I believe that God is non-violent. I do not like analogies of Christianity as war, and I don't think God wants to be "crusaded" for.
  • I believe that God doesn't care what religion you are, doesn't care about missionary work, doesn't require us to parade our religious beliefs in front of everyone else. I don't think that she/he necessarily dislikes people sharing their faith, if their personality is inclined to do that (as mine is not); I just don't think it's a universal requirement. 

As far as what God looks like, for now I think I may as well continue picturing him/her as a man and a woman, as heavenly parents, though I'll confess that I no longer feel very confident about the idea of that being literal, and us being literally their children (because what does that even mean? God sex? Actual pregnancy and delivery of billions of spirits? Seems unlikely). But right now this doesn't seem very important to me. I needed to know that the God I believe in is not sexist. I needed to prune some of those unhealthy beliefs I've been carrying around since childhood. With those gone, maybe it doesn't really matter what God looks like or how we came into being. For the moment, at least, I have much more pressing questions to answer, so I'm happy leaving this where it is.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Martyr's Prayer

Dear God,
I would not turn
From the test of fire.
No flame burns
So hot that
I would leave Thee.

But often,
At weary bedtime,
I cannot hold
My knees to the floor--
So cold,
So very cold.

Weirdly enough, some of the poems from Beginnings have kind of a true-blue feel to them (aka, would have appealed to Molly me, but to this version of me seem either inaccessible or representative of things I don't like about Mormonism), so I don't know what Carol Lynn Pearson's intent was with this. But it's a pretty perfect description of how it is for me.

Friday, January 20, 2012


Today I'm in the hurt phase of the cycle. Actually, most of the day was fine, as I hung out with my mom and brother and the house is sparkly clean and there is literally almost nothing else that makes me feel quite as peaceful (it's sad because it's totally neurotic).

In the evening I started feeling kind of stressed for no particular reason. Mike and I went to Auto Zone to get a new battery for the car, which helped in that the engine now at least turns over, but not in the sense of getting the car to actually start, so that was disappointing. Mike made a reference to Bridesmaids and that made me want to watch it, so we stopped at Redbox. I freakin' love that movie (remind me to tell you about how we saw it four times in the theater because we loved it so much, but also because I identified so closely with Kristen Wiig's character and everything that was happening to her, how her entire life was going to hell, so watching it was kind of therapeutic for me).

Usually the Bloggernacle is really helpful for me, because talking to my like-minded friends is comforting. Tonight everyone seems to be posting things about how unbelievably sexist the world still is without even realizing it, though, and it's making me feel really crappy. These are the times when I know exactly why some people just leave organized religion altogether, rather than trying to stick around and help other people see why it sucks so much so maybe it will someday change. It hurts a lot and sometimes you just don't feel like making that sacrifice for the "greater good" or whatever.

So I'm avoiding Facebook and the fMh group, avoiding my blog and the current post which is about how stupid sexist Julie Beck's stupid "Mothers Who Know" talk was, plus the draft I was working on earlier in which I'm going to try and explain to some of my regular blog readers why women should actually just be allowed to be whatever they want instead of being crammed into a stupid little box with an apron on it; heading for Goodreads to look at books and take my mind off things, but stopping by here first to complain about feeling really lame.

I used to go look at webcomics and post silly ones on my blog when I was in a bad mood, and since they're all back up after the SOPA protest yesterday, I think I'll do that. Ready to see how nerdy I am?

Sunday, January 15, 2012


Well. I seem to have gotten through one of the phases of anger (I'm not naive enough to believe that there won't be more), and I'm in a stage of... resigned displeasure, I suppose. Something like that. I expect to hear things that are total crap, but I'm not angered by them. I express (generally through fMh) what I don't like about them, what I would like us to change, etc. I think about them, and about how they affect me personally.

I'm still not sure where I'd like to end up with the church. I've talked to a few family members who've left, and that's been immensely helpful to me--I have a very large, very TBM family, and I needed to know that there would at least be a little bit of support for me somewhere. Still not ready to share with the TBMs, though, although I have let a lot more slip on my personal blog than I'd originally intended. Oh well, I decided, they might as well start getting an idea.

I'm up in the air about Joseph Smith. Do I think he was just a liar? Not really... Nor do I think he was insane. Don't know if I think he was "struck down" for leading the church astray, the way I've heard mentioned... Although I have to admit my brain hasn't dismissed the idea. (The theory is that he was killed because of what he was doing with polygamy.) It had never occurred to me before, and I certainly don't know that I believe it. But I'm willing to consider it a possibility. I read the stories of those women--the firsthand stories--and I often feel physically ill. I don't know what it is exactly, but something isn't right there.

I talked to a friend the other night about the temple ceremonies--she's part of fMh, but also a pretty faithful member, so her perspective was interesting to me. She told me that she'd had a lot of trouble with the temple, too, and came to the conclusion that, essentially, it's still just out of date. The church manuals have changed drastically throughout the years, and the garments have changed so much they'd probably make the original members of the church pass out from the scandal. I think she's probably right. I think the crippling, wrenching hurt and nausea I felt when I first learned about these things is... well, maybe because I was taking them too seriously. Which, to be fair, is exactly how Mormons are taught to take them--case in point, imagine the reaction if I told people that I thought the temple ceremonies were just written by sexist men and will someday be changed. And I obviously don't mean to diminish that pain I felt, or the similar pain that so many others have felt about the same issue. Maybe I'm just being naive right now in thinking that I'm past that stage; maybe it would take actually going through the temple to find out whether or not I really am. (For the record: I don't actually see this in my future. But I suppose anything could happen.)

Anyway. I haven't written here in a little while so I just figured I'd catch you up. I think maybe the pseudo-"coming out" to my TBM friends has helped me acquire at least a little bit of peace about this; they certainly don't know the extent of things, but they know that I'm no longer the Molly Mormon they knew, and the process of explaining myself and justifying my position to them has really helped me feel a little more solid about things.

Logistical question: Do you think it's a bad idea to post links to my personal blog here? Could that somehow make it easier for people to find there way here? Again, I'm not working too hard to keep this a secret... But I don't want to just lead them straight here, either. I was going to link to that conversation on my blog so you could see how the coming out is going. (Then again, most of you already know my personal blog and have already seen it. Let me know if you haven't, and need the link.)

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Sometimes, Just SHUT UP.

I am so sick of having my feelings and experiences dismissed because a man doesn't understand them.

It isn't just men who do this, and it isn't just about experiences with religion. The same thing happened several times when Occupy Wall Street was newer in the news--pretty much any time I'd talk about it, people would chime in with responses essentially saying that because their experience didn't support the theory behind Occupy, it was therefore an invalid theory.

But I think that no people on earth have this experience more than women do, especially women who are members of patriarchal religions. And I can tell you that one of the worst things I've felt in my life is living in a culture that wants women to be ruled by men, and being told that that is God's will.

I started this post several days ago and then left it to sit because I was pretty upset at the time, and wanted to chill out first. If you want to know why I was angry, read this post at The Exponent, and pay attention to the contributions of Ryan and dwg in the comments.

I would like to ask men to do something (Mormon men, because this blog has a Mormon audience, but really just men; all men). When you hear a woman talking about ways she's felt discriminated against, slighted, or demeaned, keep your mouth shut for a minute. Whatever your instinct is, do not let the first thing out of your mouth be something skeptical. Try to focus on what she's attempting to communicate--her feelings, her hurt--and respond to that.

Try to remember that you are not a woman, which means that the discrimination she's talking about has never been directed toward you. Try to realize that the fact that you've never seen it doesn't mean she was imagining it; it just means that you didn't notice. You're not alone in that... Most men don't.

But you can notice it now. And you can start by listening, absorbing, and deciding that you will no longer dismiss someone else's experience just because you have not had that same experience yourself.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Meanwhile the World Goes On...

You do not have to be good.  
You do not have to walk on your knees 
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting. 
You only have to let the soft animal of your body 
love what it loves. 
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine. 
Meanwhile the world goes on. 
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain 
are moving across the landscapes, 
over the prairies and the deep trees, 
the mountains and the rivers. 
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air, 
are heading home again. 
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely, 
the world offers itself to your imagination, 
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting 
over and over announcing your place 
in the family of things.

from Dream Work by Mary Oliver 
published by Atlantic Monthly Press
© Mary Oliver

I really love this. I love the image of the geese that was paired with it on Faith-Promoting Rumor, where I found it. I love the permission to get off your knees and out of the desert. I love the reminder that the world goes on, even if you fail at being "good" every single day of your life. The world goes on. Your life goes on. And you will be okay--you can be happy and peaceful and kind and enlightened--even if your entire focus, your every thought, is not devoted to following rules.