September 2005 Archives

Call It Intimacy

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I am suspicious of individuals and institutions who refer to a whole range of sexual activities with the bland, modest, careful euphemism, "intimacy."

Mormons in particular do this. For Sunstone this past year Laura L. Bush and I planned to do a presentation on Mormon sex manuals, and the first thing you notice about them is that pretty much none of them (not a one that we found) mention sex explicitly in the title; instead, they have titles like Sacred Intimacy or Becoming One: Intimacy in Marriage or Purity and Passion: Spiritual Truths about Intimacy That Will Strengthen Your Marriage.

If you don't believe me, go to Deseret Books (a publisher of LDS books) and search Intimacy. Then go to and search books on Intimacy. You'll see how differently the words are used: at Deseret Books, "intimacy" is shorthand referring almost entirely to sexual intimacy; on Amazon, the titles that come up cover a range of topics, and if the focus is sexual intimacy, that's usually made clear in the title. In fact, after doing just some basic research, I've learned that in the non-Mormon world, there are FOUR types of intimacy: intellectual, experiential, emotional and sexual.

Anyway, at first this project aroused in me the restrained but palpable anticipation a bevy of 15-year-old Mormon mall goths would feel pawing with feigned nonchalance through a new shipment of Evanescence t-shirts at Hot Topic. Laura and I both thought it would be a good follow-up to the presentation we did about Mormon women's sexual training, but then Laura sent me one of the books she found in the BYU bookstore. I sat down, flipped through it, read some of the saccharin prose and doctrinaire pronouncements and thought, "Omigod, to write this paper, I will actually have to READ this book and many more like it," and that excited me as much as the prospect of wearing an Evanescence t-shirt myself.

Making Tea

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See Part I

As for what I think of the rest of the discussion, well, it's complicated. As I've made clear, I think the church sucks. And I figured out before I was 20 that it sucked, for reasons having to do with gender and bigotry in general (I was 14 when the church finally let black men hold the priesthood, and the generosity in extending it wasn't as striking as the perverseness of withholding it) as well as the wacky doctrine.

But I didn't work up the courage to leave until I was almost 26, and leaving was one of the hardest things I ever did in my life. I did it entirely on my own, without the benefit of a spouse or a friend to go with and support me; I did it in the face of great resistance and sorrow from my family; I did it because I had a been a feminist since I was 17 or 18 (I say in response to Luke's argument that you can't be both a feminist and an active member of the Mormon church). While I respect those who left in solidarity with and mourning for the intellectuals persecuted by the Church in 1993, I left in 1989 because the hierarchy made it clear to me, a desperately unhappy 25-year-old woman with no virtually authority, that it would not allow me to dissent even on the local level--I couldn't even talk about polygamy in my Relief Society lesson!

People leave the church if and when they're ready, and someone like Luke, who was its staunch, unquestioning defender for many years, should know that. I don't see much point in "destroying" the church because until people are ready to live without it, something else will just appear to take its place. This doesn't mean that I don't work to advance the institutions and ideologies I support and believe in. I'd just rather focus my energy on building something rather than tearing something else down. After all, Martin Luther and Galileo Galilei, two men who arguably did more damage to Catholic hegemony than just about anyone else, did not have its destruction as their goal; Luther wanted to heal and save the church from its sins and errors, and Galileo just wanted to figure out how the universe worked.

The Sunstone panel on "Advancing Feminist Sensibilities among Mormon Men" occupied the final time slot of the afternoon, which meant it ran until 6:15 p.m. I was starving by the time it ended, and would have headed out the door to get dinner, except for two things: One, I'd posed this ambiguous question about sex no one could understand, and people kept asking me for clarification; and two, in attendance at the panel was a man I barely knew who had caught me off guard earlier by telling I was one of his very favorite writers and asking me to have dinner with him, and I kind of wanted to see where things could go. It was only later that I realized I should have learned something from the fact that however great the interest he professed in me, when push came to shove, he would rather stand around arguing about the church than talk specifically with me or fulfill the offers he made me.... But that's another story.

So I ended up as part of this prolonged discussion about the panel and its implications, whether change in the church was possible, and what we should or shouldn't do to encourage change.

I Love Netflix


The first movie I ever got from Netflix was Intolerable Cruelty, the romantic comedy from the Coen brothers, the geniuses who also brought us Raising Arizona and Fargo. It was mailed to me on February 10, 2004, and received back February 23, 2004. I know this because I recently had Netflix email me a record of my entire rental history.

As I've already discussed in Going to the Movies, I love movies and used to see two or three on the big screen each week. But as Norma Desmond noted in Sunset Boulevard, at some point the pictures got small, and while part of me feels I should grieve that development, another part of me absolutely LOVES having dvd's delivered to my house on a regular basis.

An article entitled Czech Exhibit Shows Ads That Degrade Women discusses an exhibit "intended to draw attention to the degradation suffered by everyone--men, women and children--when they must constantly confront advertising that views the human body as a sexual tool for advertisers," said Suzanne Formanek, one of the exhibition's organizers. "These ads are all over Prague, but they are not tolerated in many other developed cities in the world."

Ads displayed include one "for a racy tabloid that showed a woman's bare behind with several cuts in it. 'Everyone likes a good spanking,' read the tagline."

Another depicts a 2001 Nokia ad "promoting a hands-free device to Czechs that featured a cartoon illustration of a man in a car attacking the breasts of a woman with both hands as she screamed. The phone was cradled on the dashboard. 'Free Hands!' read the caption."

You can view some of the photographs here:

Die, Women, Die!

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For a clear statement on why feminism is SO MUCH MORE than merely a political movement, check out this article in the Washington Post entitled "Female Characters, Made to Suffer for our 'Art.'"

The article makes the point that gruesome shows such CSI--or rather, imitating CSI--almost always feature crimes in which the victims are young white women, who are often not only murdered but tortured and raped. These shows are made to appeal to an audience of 18 to 34-year-old men, who don't watch much television, but the shows they do like are Desperate Housewives and CSI--as the article puts it, "we conclude, young men like their older women in teddies having sex with teenagers who cut their grass (or, in the case of Teri Hatcher, naked and in the bushes), but they like their younger women -- well, dead."

In case you're skeptical about real-life crimes against women, check out this story about hundreds of murders of Mexican women in Juarez and along the border, or this story about the systematic rape of women by the Burmese army as part of a military strategy.

Or, Why I Am Not a Swinger

For the introduction to this post, read Bad Coffee in Bed, September 22, 2005

Wayne drank bad coffee just because it was coffee and he believed that he liked coffee; I had bad sex just because it was sex and I believed that I liked sex.

But I decided at some point that I'd had enough bad sex to last a lifetime, and that I'd like to limit its occurrence in the future. This has pretty much resulted in celibacy, which I'm fairly OK with. The fact of the matter is, if celibacy is the price I have to pay for not having sex I regret later, I will pay it.

What happened is this: I had one too many one-night stands with someone who A) had no investment in my life and B) was a bad lay to boot. This last guy couldn't muster enough courtesy or decency to call me even ONCE after having two orgasms in my bed while I went thoroughly unfulfilled. There had been a moment, when, in a drunken haze, I thought getting naked with this guy was a FABULOUS idea, but many hours later when he was gone and I was left with my hangover, I realized that all I got out of the experience was some very troubled sleep and a few weeks of wondering if my contraceptives had really worked.

So I figured I needed some rules to have sex by. These are the rules I came up with.

Parody Never Faileth

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This website offers very funny song parodies. Some are political, some deal with entertainment, a whole bunch deal with Mormon stuff. My favorite so far (haven't listened to them all) is "Give a Talk at the Fireside," which includes the line, "And the CTR's go 'Do, to do, to do, singing a song is fun to do....'"

Bad Coffee in Bed


Monday afternoon I called Wayne, because a conversation with Wayne was what my Monday afternoon needed. At one point he said, without a segue, "So, I've decided I need to be more of a snob." I figured there was a good reason for this pronouncement, so I waited to hear it. "I started drinking tea a while ago," he said, "mostly chais, because they seemed healthier than coffee. Green chais, herbal chais--there was a vanilla chai I really loved and couldn't get enough of for a while. Lately I've been drinking black tea and I really like it, and I realized it's not really that different from coffee. But I just like it better than coffee. And then I realized that part of the problem was that I drank so much bad coffee."

He was on a roll and it was interesting, so I didn't interrupt him.

"You know how for a long time I was all about coffee?" I made some noise of acquiescence. "Well, good coffee is really good. But bad coffee is really bad. And I realized today that I needed to be more of a diva when it comes to coffee. Not once, when I was presented with a cup of really awful coffee, did I taste it, then spit it out and say, ‘How can you expect me to drink this shit?! This is vile! This is beyond vile! I will not pollute my mouth or any other part of me with a substance so thoroughly foul!"

"Does this mean you're going to start drinking coffee again?" I asked.


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This page is an archive of entries from September 2005 listed from newest to oldest.

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