Real Empowerment

Alma 32.27Lately I’ve been trying to let things that usually bother me, not bother me. It’s hard work to not be offended, but as you go along with it, and practice it, it becomes easier. Not perfect, but easier.

Today I saw something, that didn’t necessarily “offend me,” but it bothered me to no end because it’s not a solution to anything. I saw the headline for the same story written several ways, here are some examples:

“F-bombs For Feminism: Potty Mouthed Princess Use Bad Word for Good Cause”

“Little Girls Unleash a Torrent of Profanity in ‘F-bombs for Feminism”

“F-bomb Princes video isn’t offensive – it’s exploitative” (Really? You don’t say!)

“Feminists make video with little girls, prove once and for all how insane they are”

I’m not going to link to any of the stories, if you want to find the video, it won’t be hard. This thing will be viral in the next day, I’m sure.

From what I’ve read, this video features little girls – like, little, 5 and 6 years old, by their appearance, swearing (over 25 uses of the “F-word”, by someone’s count), flipping the bird and talking about their bodies in crude ways. I would hope that no 5 or 6 year old understood what feminist empowerment was, but apparently some do now.

Oh people, people, people, I am shaking my head. As a mother I am upset. And as woman I am mad.

First, the world is already a crude and mean place. Why oh why, would any parent allow their kids to participate in such trash? Why? Unless they value their “cause” more than they value their daughters and their innocence. And those people, sadly, do exist. I think they made this video.

Videos and rhetoric like this promotes the misguided notion that for a woman to rise higher than a man, or for a woman to be empowered she must somehow step down into the gutter to raise herself up. Tell me how that makes sense? Oh that’s right, because it doesn’t.

Modern feminism tells us that we are empowered, but victims all at the same time. I’m tired of that line. So, so tired of it. Because you cannot be an empowered victim. You are either one or the other.

Modern feminism tells us that Latter-day Saint women, and really all women of faith, are oppressed and disenfranchised, because we are not priesthood holders. And yet we are taught time and time again by prophets and apostles that we are equal in the sight of God and important to him, and that we do have power given to us via ALL of the covenants we make.

Modern feminism tells us that we, as women, have zero responsibility in our modesty. That men have all of the responsibility to control themselves, and to never ever be tempted by a woman, and if they are, then it’s their problem, and that they contribute to “the rape culture”. The modern day “rape culture” is as common as the air we breath these days, which sadly devalues and lessens the response when someone is actually the victim of sexual violence.

Here is the truth. Some people are jerks. Some of them happen to be men, a lot of them are also women. Get a thick skin and learn how to deal with them and become a stronger person. That is empowering! And as an aside … I am the mother of sons, and only sons. You bet we are teaching them about what their responsibilities are, but at the same time, why do others make it harder for them? Tell, me how does it empower a little girl or a woman to wear a pair of pants with writing across the buttocks? How does it empower a young girl to look like a sexy anything for Halloween? It doesn’t. Let’s use some common sense here and all take responsibility for our choices, and think about how our choices might affect others before we make them. Elder Ballard taught, “[Girls] need to understand that when they wear clothing that is too tight, too short, or too low cut, they not only can send the wrong message to young men with whom they associate, but they also perpetuate in their own minds the fallacy that a woman’s value is dependent solely upon her sensual appeal. This never has been nor will it ever be within the righteous definition of a faithful daughter of God.”

Ballard lead the womenModern feminism tells us that to be sexually empowered we must sleep around and not learn to control our desires and urges, and that there are never any consequences for sexual recklessness. Things like abortion is a choice, and that marriage does not matter. But we do know there is power in chastity and learning to control ourselves. And that when we choose to take control our lives and our bodies and choose to follow the Lord’s standards we are better and stronger people, and society is a better and stronger place. Here is where the empowered-victim dichotomy usually rears it’s ugly head again. If you are an empowered women, making her own decisions about how you use your sexuality then you should be empowered enough to accept the consequences of those decisions, no matter what they are, and deal with them. Nothing is more empowering than saying, “I will be responsible for my life and my choices, all of the time.” Elder Ballard taught in recent General Conference, “It is not for you to be led by the women of the world; it is for you to lead the … women of the world, in everything that is praise-worthy, everything that is God-like, everything that is uplifting and … purifying to the children of men.” Did we hear that sisters? We have been given a task, by an Apostle of the Lord to lead, to teach and be uplifting in this world. That is empowering!

A few weeks back I wrote about the “pain narrative” that is very prevalent in many LDS circles. It frustrates me to see my brothers and sisters continue on in misery when the answer is right in front of all of us. The Atonement of Jesus Christ is the ultimate tool for empowerment and the total solution for all of life’s circumstances. That is not to say that the atonement is a magic spell that makes it all better, right away, but it does give us a way to seek and find solutions and to be healed. And there is the key. We have to choose to accept the Atonement. We have to choose to walk with the Lord. We must choose to let go of the pain and hurt and to find our new selves as sons and daughters of God. We have to choose to work at being healed. All of these positive choices will help us find true and lasting empowerment.

So here is the challenge. I’m sure I’ve ticked people off with this blog post, because I’ve been bluntly honest. But before you leave an angry comment or go and tweet your fury, ask yourself, is seeing a video of little girls swearing empowering? How is modern feminism empowering? Or is empowerment found in trusting the Lord, relying on His grace and choosing to accept His Atonement the real key? And if so, what are you wiling to do about it? The Prophet Alma teaches us in Alma 32: 27, how to start, and how to try to apply the Atonement, “But behold, if ye will awake and arouse your faculties, even to an experiment upon my words, and exercise a particle of faith, yea, even if ye can no more than desire to believe, let this desire work in you, even until ye believe in a manner that ye can give place for a portion of my words.” We have to make the leap of faith and try. We have to be willing to work, and the Lord will come and help us with the rest. That is empowering! That is true, eternal empowerment. That is what will help us, heal us, and make us stronger, that will lift us up.

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About Joyce Anderson

Joyce is a mother, wife, sister, school teacher, Bulgarian speaker, conservative, lover of good music, social media junky and a two time culinary arts Grand Champion bread baker. She and the family reside in a remote mountain community where great discoveries have been made. When not changing the world, she enjoys the occasional bowl of chips and salsa. She can be found at: http://pinterest.com/TheAtomicMom

39 thoughts on “Real Empowerment

  1. The term “modern feminism” really bugs me, but so does every bad connotation of the word feminism. I consider myself to be a feminist in the “pure sense of the word”: empowering women. If chauvinism meant empowering men, then I would gladly claim the title of chauvinist, as well. 🙂 It’s not like I think either one should dominate or control the other, though. We definitely shouldn’t be getting lost in thinking that teaching children to use words that certain people find offensive is empowering all women. This stuff bugs me because it’s not “modern feminism”, it’s not “radical feminism”, and it’s not even “feminism”. I’d love it if we could all find a new term for it, and one that didn’t have to bring with it any insult. Feminism, empowering women, is a good thing. Let’s not demean it by changing its definition when others claim the word with a different meaning. Mormonism is a good thing, but if somebody claimed that making little girls say the F-bomb on video was Mormonism, we would recognize the fraud immediately. This is feminist fraud.

  2. I think the word “feminist” and “feminism” has been coopted and totally ruined. I have abandoned the terms completely and I think there is no way to ever reclaim them. I’d much prefer to be called “a covenant daughter of God”.

  3. Good stuff. “Daughter of God” should suffice.

    I’d have to agree. Feminist is an adulterated word. There are far too many who still claim the word, for whom I care, so I have to make the distinction and implore the need to defend the use of the original word. I didn’t know this until I grabbed the dictionary just now, but masculinist is a word. It’s the opposite-gender equivalent of feminist. When I was first introduced to the word feminism, it was as the gender-opposite of chauvinism. We have two words for men: Masculinist, which is basically “empowering men” and Chauvinist, which is the prejudiced, male superiority. So if feminist means “empowering women”, what’s the word for prejudiced, female superiority?

  4. The push-back on modesty from some women really bothers me and seems like a great illustration of how some members take their political ideals more seriously than their religious ideals, and harm their children in the process. Sure, boys should monitor their thoughts, nobody disagrees with that. But what harm is there in asking women and girls, who ostensibly honor and sustain the Prophet and the Church, to refrain from dressing immodestly, if only as an outward expression of that faith? What value is there in wearing a bikini, or a prom dress that leaves little to the imagination, that outweighs following the counsel of of God as delivered by the men we sustain as prophets, seers and revelators? The only explanation that makes sense, to me, is that their politics are trumping their faith. Great lesson for the kiddos.

  5. “Unless they value their “cause” more than they value their daughters and their innocence.”

    Nail, meet hammer.

    It distresses me to see conversations, even among otherwise devout LDS, where the notion of modest dress creates a furor. The suggestion that it is polite and kind for a woman to refrain from dressing provocatively around men provokes something close to white-hot fury.

    Yes, I can control myself; immodest dress is not going to provoke me to rape, proposition, or even flirt with a woman. But I have a reptile brain that responds to the erotic whether I mean it to or not, and this is uncomfortable, even if I am unquestionably capable of ignoring the reptile response.

    You’d think asking that the women around me to have a little consideration for my discomfort would be reasonable, but no; if I can’t handle it, it’s my problem and I have absolutely no business suggesting a woman can’t wear anything she damn well pleases.

  6. I grew up in an LDS household with three brothers and one sister. It was definitely a boys world where my sister had some struggles being the only girl.

    Now I have four daughters and I’m married to a wonderful woman who is very conscious of gender issues. It has been an eye-opening experience to see the world from a feminist perspective.

    Joyce, let me start out by saying that I really like this article. You are correct and you articulated your points very well, however I do want to add a few comments regarding things that my girls sometimes struggle with.

    You said that “I am the mother of sons, and only sons. You bet we are teaching them about what their responsibilities are, but at the same time, why do others make it harder for them? Tell, me how does it empower a little girl or a woman to wear a pair of pants with writing across the buttocks? How does it empower a young girl to look like a sexy anything for Halloween? It doesn’t. Let’s use some common sense here and all take responsibility for our choices, and think about how our choices might affect others before we make them. Elder Ballard taught, “[Girls] need to understand that when they wear clothing that is too tight, too short, or too low cut, they not only can send the wrong message to young men with whom they associate, but they also perpetuate in their own minds the fallacy that a woman’s value is dependent solely upon her sensual appeal. This never has been nor will it ever be within the righteous definition of a faithful daughter of God.””

    ^Your statement and the quote is correct^

    …but…my daughters have often complained that the focus of modesty is always on them and that people seem to think that girls are tempted to look at guys too. While it’s completely true that we should teach our girls to dress modestly, we should deliver that message with an “everybody needs to practice modesty” theme rather than a theme that focuses mostly on girls.

    Our girls are growing up in a world that has gender issues. During my daughter’s very first job interview was at a car wash and she was asked in the interview if she would be able to handle the “boys environment” that they had there. That same daughter has had to literally fight boys off who have tried to make physical advances with her in school hallways. Most of those problems stopped when she elbowed one of those guys really hard in public, leaving him on the floor in pain. I was quite proud of her, but her defensiveness about gender issues also makes it hard for guys to find her approachable.

    Youth have a hard time compartmentalizing things in general. It’s not easy to be constantly on guard against unwanted advances while still trying to attract proper attention from boys. Some girls find it easier to keep boys at a distance by avoiding casual flirting and being blunt with them. Other girls find it easier to ignore the wrong impressions that boys get and the unwanted advances that boys make when the girl dresses immodestly or engages in crude conversations. This does make girls “feel” empowered, even though they are just making bad problems worse.

    These issues would be much simpler for our girls if boys were taught to behave better. A girl should not have to dress inappropriately to get boys’ attention and she should not have to be afraid of being shunned by boys who see her standing up for herself. If we do not teach this message to our boys as loudly as we teach about modesty to our girls, then we are exacerbating the problem rather than helping to fix it.

    On several occasions my girls have come home from youth activities and told me that they had a combined talk with the young men and the young women where 90% of the time was devoted to teaching the girls about all the problems they cause the boys if they immodestly. We can’t make all the boys in the world behave right, but we can do our part to teach these subjects to our youth in a balanced way that makes the topics much easier for them to accept and follow.

    This comment probably sounds more critical than I meant it to be. I honestly do like your article very much. I only mean to add a little to the conversation, not to detract from what you said.

  7. …oops…I meant to say that:

    “…but…my daughters have often complained that the focus of modesty is always on them and that people seem to think that girls are NOT tempted to look at guys too. ”

    …what a difference one missing word can make :S

  8. Beau, I agree with your points.

    I understand how it can seem unfair that the girls always get the modesty talk, and the boys get to go do “fun” stuff, and seemingly don’t have the serious conversations. The thing is, most of what we observe in popular culture, in fashion magazines, fashion trends, are women’s modesty issues. You’re never going to see a man making a “come hither” look on the cover of Cosmo. So, while I do think they probably need to step up modesty education with the boys, I think it’s a bigger problem with girls and women.

    And the difference of how men and women think and react to things, I think also is a big contributing factor why girls get the modesty talks more. Men are digital, women are analog. What might never occur to a woman to be immodest, might cause a man to really struggle. My husband shared with me after we were married that when I would wear a certain sweater, it was very hard for him to keep his thoughts in check. It was not an immodest sweater, but it showed off the right things for him. I was mortified that I had caused him to struggle, absolutely mortified. Obviously we won’t ever be perfect for all people, and that’s ok. My point is that women absolutely need to take charge of their decisions and act responsibly. And if you can always address the disparity with your bishop. Many times, I find that the leadership does not realize they might need to shift their focus. They don’t read minds, so we have to speak up when we feel it’s right.

  9. I agree. The problem is lop-sided, causing more modesty issues for girls than for boys. I just think that when our response is also lop-sided that we are unnecessarily exacerbating the feeling of unfairness that naturally accompanies the modesty problem. We should not take anything away from the modesty message that you mentioned for girls, we should simply balance the delivery so that our youth can understand the burdens on both sides of the issue. It’s not a conflict of boys vs. girls where one side needs to make up for the faults of society.

    The more that our youth feel like the boys and girls that are their peers are equally yoked and working together to solve the problems, the easier it will be for them to accept the solutions that we present to them.

  10. And Beau you’ve mentioned a good point. In my observations with the Aaronic Priesthood’s activities at church, at least in the wards I’ve been in, — it is a lot of fun and light hearted things, and a disproportionate amount of time spent on scouting stuff, instead of focusing on their duties as holders of the priesthood, and what that means as they grow older. Not that we should be all buttoned up and serious all the time. But yes there are some lop sides….so I guess the challenge is how do we work with our leaders to rectify that? I think as parents we have the obligation to give the youth leaders feedback about the activities our children participate in, and I think it is important to hold them accountable for the time they spend with our kids. Make it count, make sure the things they’re doing matter in the long run, not just for short term fun.

  11. Beau, I thought your last comment was really interesting, and I hope you don’t mind me being a bit contrary (to just one point – you brought up a number of fantastic ones that are very worthy of further discussion).

    You mentioned that when we have lop-sided discussions, “we are unnecessarily exacerbating the feeling of unfairness.” I don’t disagree that this may be absolutely true, but I wonder if our *primary* objective should be to discuss the issue in such a way as to avoid any feeling of unfairness whatsoever.

    (I may be emphasizing your suggestion more than you intended to make my point, and I hope you’ll forgive me.)

    I imagine that the YM get more talks on pure thoughts than the YW do. If that’s not the case, then surely they get talked to about *something* more than the young women do. And this is okay, because the YM face different problems than the YW do (or at least face them in a different way), and vice versa. Were we to alter the focus of the discussion in order to enhance the equity between the messages the YW and YM got, one group would miss out on something.

    Do the YW hear about dressing modestly more than the YM? Absolutely! But, like it’s been suggested, modest dress is not an issue in the same way for YM, and that makes the lop-sidedness appropriate. YM get their lop-sided issues, too (you mention teaching boys to behave better – that’s a pretty good example, I think).

    Rather than worrying about fairness, I think it’s great to look carefully at the needs of the group you’re talking to, and crafting a message that fits. Hopefully you also take into account tact and fairness and those things, but those concerns should be secondary.

    (As a side note, because of the different needs between the YM and YW, I think there is very little to gain from having modesty discussions all together like the meetings you mentioned.)

  12. AlohaLarsen, I like your thoughts on this. We can agree that the subjects of modesty and impure thoughts need to be stressed differently to one group compared to the other. It’s the presentation of the messages that I’m referring to, not the importance of one message over the other.

    The fact is that we often hold combined activities where the topic seems to be “girls modesty” versus “boys impure thoughts”.

    Dressing modestly seems so easy. All it requires of a young woman is that she makes a good choice once or twice per day. After that she’s dressed. It sounds so simple. On the other hand, the boys know that they can’t just choose to not have impure thoughts once or twice a day. The pressure to let impure thoughts into his mind is always present.

    The lopsidedness of this paradigm tends to make the focus of our lessons more about the burdens required of our boys and about how the girls need to always be thinking about how their actions will affect their male peers. That’s not a bad lesson to teach. The problem is that we teach it in a vacuum.

    We teach the boys to worry a lot about the problems of being a boy and we teach the girls to worry a lot about the problems of being a boy. Ask yourself how often you hear a lesson telling boys to consider why a girl might choose to dress immodestly and about ways they can react that will help a girl understand that she can make a better choice and still get his attention. If we don’t help our young men understand the decision-making process that a girl goes through when she chooses how to dress, we are sending the message that boys don’t need to worry about the problems of being a girl.

    The fact is that when a girl dresses immodestly, it’s rarely by accident. She is asking for attention from boys. She will get attention from boys by doing this, and not just from boys outside the church. How a girl dresses is interpreted by our culture to be a statement about how she might respond to attention from boys. It’s not just a decision about trying to make life easier or harder for boys. It’s a decision about making things easier or harder for girls too. If a girl dresses modestly, she is consciously deciding to send a message that is probably inaccurate. She is deciding that she will not attract as much attention from boys.

    We expect our girls to worry about how their dress will affect our boys, but we rarely emphasize with our boys the need to look beyond social norms and realize that girls who dress modestly probably still desire their attention.

    We don’t need to throw away our thoughtful lessons about immodesty and impure thoughts, we just need to ad a new facet to the conversation. We need to spend as much time teaching our boys to think about things from a girl’s perspective as we spend teaching our girls to think about things from a boy’s perspective. When we don’t, we’re sending a message of inequality to both our boys and our girls.

  13. Beau, if you read the link on modesty, that I’ve provided in this post, you’ll see that modesty is much more than what you are wearing. It’s how you carry yourself, how you present yourself, what you say, how you act. I think this definition transcends the usual debate about clothing. I can say as a woman that it is totally possible to be appropriately clothed and immodest.

  14. And those are fantastic points. Totally on board.

    Also, I don’t think it’d be a terrible thing to divorce the “dress modestly” lessons from the “because it helps the boys…” angle a little bit. Certainly we can start off better than that.

  15. I liked this article, Joyce. Making little children strut around in slutty clothes spewing foul language isn’t something I’d like to see with either young boys or young girls.

    I think part of the dynamic here is that actors yearn to play roles that demonstrate their range. Playing a nice person isn’t considered to be hard. Actors who become knights or dames of the British Empire, for example, rarely achieve that designation by playing nice people. One usually has play someone like Medea or King Lear.

    As actors (male and female) are the celebrities of our day, it is understandable that others think that “not being nice” is to show increased breadth of expression. “Look,” they might say, “these little girls are no longer forced to be merely innocent and sweet. They are free to be raw, bravely challenge conventional expectations, and express sexuality.”

    The thing is that these little girls aren’t acting on their own initiative. There is some adult (or set of adults) exploiting these children. I have no idea what the agenda might be for these individuals, but it resembles an attempt to normalize behavior that appeals to pedophiles. They are making this little girls behave in a manner one might expect from mature sluts. I can only think of one demographic that would truly “enjoy” such behavior in small children.

  16. I agree Joyce, it’s definitely about more than just the clothing itself. All I’m really saying is that a girl’s choice to be modest has real effects on other parts of her life and that we should spend as much time making our young men aware of things from a girl’s perspective as we do making our young women aware of things from a boy’s perspective.

  17. “we should spend as much time making our young men aware of things from a girl’s perspective as we do making our young women aware of things from a boy’s perspective.”

    I believe the word you are looking for is chivalry.

  18. Joyce, you just knocked it out of the ballpark. Brilliant and well-articulated. I hope this can go viral.

  19. And Beau, I think if we really start making an effort to help boys see things from a girl’s perspective, that would solve a lot of the “gender issues” that exist in the church. I know many of those will die off with the generations, but we can start now.

  20. Agreed Joyce.

    For example, we expect girls to be conscious of the struggles that many boys have with sexual tendencies, but we don’t expect maturity of thought from boys regarding things like PMS. Most boys (and many of their leaders) commonly make light of real issues in girls’ lives while demanding maturity and careful consideration from those same girls when it comes to issues that are common stressors and problems for boys.

    When a girl is sitting in Sunday school stressing out about something in her own life, it can be very difficult for her to sit through a lesson that is all about being thoughtful of people that are not taught to be similarly thoughtful in return.

  21. I think Beau has set up a straw-man argument with the following portion of his first comment:

    “These issues would be much simpler for our girls if boys were taught to behave better. A girl should not have to dress inappropriately to get boys’ attention and she should not have to be afraid of being shunned by boys who see her standing up for herself. If we do not teach this message to our boys as loudly as we teach about modesty to our girls, then we are exacerbating the problem rather than helping to fix it.

    “On several occasions my girls have come home from youth activities and told me that they had a combined talk with the young men and the young women where 90% of the time was devoted to teaching the girls about all the problems they cause the boys if they immodestly. We can’t make all the boys in the world behave right, but we can do our part to teach these subjects to our youth in a balanced way that makes the topics much easier for them to accept and follow.”

    I think AlohaLarsen addressed this also, but the idea that we are constantly preaching modesty to the YW, while not requiring much of the YM, isn’t exactly accurate.

    While modesty lessons in YM aren’t as common as they are in YW, the YM get plenty of instruction regarding sexual purity. Pornography, purity of thought, treating girls/women with respect, following the church’s dating standards, and similar topics are frequently discussed with the YM.

  22. ChrisJ: I never said otherwise. In fact, if you read my comments, you’ll see that I’ve already agreed with the points that you mention. I never said that we’re not requiring much of the young men.

    I agree with your comment that YM get “plenty of instruction regarding sexual purity. Pornography, purity of thought, treating girls/women with respect, following the church’s dating standards, and similar topics are frequently discussed with the YM.”

    Your argument is not incorrect, it’s incomplete. The thing that you’re missing is that YW also get “plenty of instruction regarding sexual purity. Pornography, purity of thought, treating boys/men with respect, following the church’s dating standards, and similar topics”, etc..

    The difference is in the way these teachings are commonly delivered to the YM compared to the YW. The YM are commonly taught that these things are important because of particular problems that boys have regarding them. The YW are also taught that these things are important because of particular problems that boys have regarding them. There’s nothing wrong with teaching YM and YW these things this way, in fact, there’s a lot of things right about making sure they understand the struggles that boys go through.

    What I’m saying is that girls who accept this message and choose to dress modestly have to choose to also accept the fact that YM will probably not give them as much attention as a result. It is every bit as important to teach our YM to see modesty from a YW’s point of view as it is to teach the YW to see modesty from a YM’s point of view.

  23. I think statements that imply that certain things are “not taught” to the YM or “always taught” to the YW are meaningless because such discussions are always fluid, and in fact many of the concerns that supposedly not addressed almost always ARE addressed. When I was in YM every single discussion tried to show things form the YW’s point of view because it made the message more powerful. But there is also a need for YM to take responsibility for their OWN behavior rather than spending all of their time thinking about what somebody else should or should not do. So, in short, I find these discussions frustrating because so many straw men are created based on various arguments that people approach from ideological viewpoints. The standard “liberal Mormon” argument is that the Church always tries to blame young women and shame them into modesty, and it is a complete crock (based on my experiences in several different wards). So I guess my point is: stop generalizing. Many of the things you think should be taught almost certainly are being taught.

  24. I’m afraid that the only places where “blame” or “shame” are found on this page are in your comments, geoff B.. I never mentioned or even implied anything to that effect.

    You’ve presented a straw-man argument in the same breath as your argument against straw-men.

    You then used your argument against your straw-main to imply that what we’re saying is “a complete croc” and generalizing us into your definition of a “liberal Mormon”

    Are we really supposed to agree with you or something?

  25. Nice article, Joyce. We need to retrain our adults on how to manage issues of feminism, modesty, etc. For too long, we’ve allowed tradition, whether worldly tradition or SLC tradition dictate what we should think, how we should act, etc. And it often comes up with very poor (and wrong) analogies for us to use (losing chastity is like a chewed piece of gum).
    It seems we live on the extremes: cussing child feminists on one side and over focus on wrong things regarding clothing, modesty, on the other side. Perhaps a little more pondering on real issues, rather than solely looking for the statement or act that will emotionally grab attention is what we should look for?
    My stake is planning its first Laurels’ High Adventure for this coming summer. Bravo! Why such activities should only be for boys is beyond me. Scouting helps boys learn to be men. Well, girls also need opportunities to learn to be self confident, well adjusted women.

  26. Beau, my comment was not really aimed specifically at you, but in retrospect I can understand why you thought it was. Your comments have been mostly reasonable. I am mostly just lamenting 11 years of Bloggernacle battles on this issue. As I say, I wasn’t referring to your comments (although I should have been clearer about this in my comment).

  27. The young men in my ward don’t need a talk about dressing modestly — they already do it. The idea that equal time must be given to messages to young men as to young women is ridiculous. Tell the young men what they need to hear, and tell the young women what they need to hear. If the messages are different, that’s okay.

  28. Hi ji,

    We’ve been speaking in generalities but you’re talking about your specific ward. Perhaps our comments don’t apply. Perhaps the boys in your ward don’t recognize girls’ immodesty as a signal about how they will respond to attention. Perhaps they see modestly-dressed girls and say to themselves “She’s just as approachable as the immodestly-dressed girls…I should interpret her choice of dress differently than I would interpret it if I saw a girl at school wearing the same thing”. Perhaps your boys buck the trend.

    I’m not being completely sarcastic about this, I’m sure there are boys these days that are taught properly by their parents and leaders to actually look for signs of intentional modesty and know that it’s not a message from the girl that she doesn’t want as much attention. On the other hand, are you really sure that none of the boys in your ward could still use these types of lessons?

    Generally speaking, our YM don’t see the world from a YW perspective very well, but we go to great lengths to lecture our YW about the difficulties of being a YM. Do the YM in your ward realize that roughly 1 out of every 4 interactions that they have with girls happen when the girl is having monthly hormonal issues? Do you yourself consider that when you interact with our YW?

    I find it admirable that we are actively discussing YM’s sexual issues with our YW. It’s a good thing, but the lessons are better when we also teach the YM to see the world from a YW perspective.

    A lot of people will think that I’m saying this because of my perception that things are unfair for our YW. While that is one reason I’m saying this, it also goes beyond this. In large measure the law of Moses was a list of strict guidelines geared around managing human behavior while the Gospel of Christ does much more than tell us how to behave, it teaches us that it’s important to care about how others feel. It teaches us to bear each others’ burdens. It teaches us to be less judgmental and more thoughtful while being patient and forgiving.

    The better that any of us learn to see the world through others’ eyes, the more charity we will feel for others. We should not think that we are helping YM with their sexual issues when we teach them that YW are taking away their agency. On the other hand, we will be doing our YM worlds of good if we can help them to see the world through the eyes of a YW. It will help them temper desires for control, it will help them see the harm caused by pornography, it will help them replace strong desires for unrighteousness with string desires for charity.

    As we teach our YM to avoid seeking for emotional fulfillment from the wrong sources, we can teach them to seek emotional fulfillment from the right sources. The better that our YM can see the world from a YW perspective, the easier it will be for them to adjust their emotions in healthy ways.

    I’ve got more to say on this, but need to run an errand…more later.

  29. ji, please just plug your ears and close your eyes and all pretend like all of this stuff doesn’t matter. You’ll feel much better.

  30. I like the article and enjoyed reading all the comments about modesty. I hope no one will mind if I share some thoughts I’ve been having over the past year about the topic of dressing modestly.
    I started thinking about it because there were a few YW leaders in my stake who seemed to be obsessed with dressing modestly – especially because they were concerned with the girls tempting the boys. While this is a legitimate reason, I felt it unfair to girls and not giving the guys credit, to put the majority of the responsibility for the guys’ thoughts onto the way girls dress. Yes. This has been thoroughly discussed in the comments above. But, I am not finished. I also think it is unfair to say that girls can dress however they want with absolutely no responsibility. Isn’t the way we dress part of the way we communicate about ourselves? We pretty much live in a society where we can choose what we wear, it is not only to cover our nakedness. We have responsibility for those choices. We don’t have to take full responsibility for other’s thoughts when we dress certain ways, but we also shouldn’t be surprised if people base some of their opinions about who we are on how we CHOOSE to dress (you mean, be judged by our choices?!)
    But, as I have continued to think about the subject, I felt that it isn’t enough for us to dress a certain way to help influence the way others think of us. For good or for bad. I thought about how growing up dressing modestly helped prepare me to go to the temple and to be ready to wear the garment all the time- which helps remind me of covenants I have made with my Father-in-Heaven. While dressing modestly without the garment does not entail the same seriousness and depth of promise that is made in the temple, I feel that being willing to dress modestly shows my Heavenly Father my willingness to be obedient to Him and my consciousness of that choice to dress modestly is a reminder of my commitment to Him- in a sort of preparatory way that the garment is a reminder to endowed members. I think if I were taught about modesty in my youth in that way, it would have had more meaning to me. More emphasis about my relationship with my Heavenly Father than what others think.

  31. AmyE, your comment and thoughts perfectly encapsulate what the Church teaches about modesty … the Church, mind you, not people’s interpretations of the subject.

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