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A Mormon Mother of Daughters Talks to a YSA Bishop About Intimacy

Mormon Mother of Daughters Talks to a YSA Bishop About Intimacy

I just read a post by Larry L. Eastland titled A YSA Bishop Talks to the Sisters About Intimacy taken from a talk he gave to young single adult women. (He says a companion piece for young single adult men is coming. Someday.) It’s been shared on Facebook about a billion times to raves and adoration and group hugs.

The title alone set me back. The article even more so. There is so much wrong with it that I am hard pressed to respond in the time I have to write. There are things I agree with and some I think are quite good and grounded in common sense. You can read and decide for yourself. For the sake of time, I’m not going to address the points I think are positive. In this post, I will simply be countering points that I find problematic or harmful.

[In the next post, Snag Yourself an Eternal Mate – But Don’t Use Your Lure, I address some of the objections that came up in this discussion.]

Status Quo Accepted

I understand that in our church men give counsel on every subject. And even though I’ve long, long been an advocate of allowing women to counsel with female leaders about sensitive subjects such as, say, sexual intimacy, I know it’s still, oddly, policy that counsel is done with the bishop. So, for the purposes of this post I’ll set aside the fact that I think it’s not just uncomfortable, but inappropriate, to require women (particularly young women) to counsel with older married men about such issues.

In addition, it has been been affirmed authoritatively again and again in our church that there are enormous distinctions between genders. If we accept that as truth, I’m hard pressed to believe that a man would be the best source for intimacy information for women, but I’ll set that aside for the purposes of this post as well.

So What If You’re Beautiful

The author starts out with scriptures about David committing adultery with Bethsheba. This, I suppose, is to show that even men of God inappropriately find women beautiful? I’m hard pressed to understand this.

Then the author segues into his first statement.


You’re beautiful. Do you know that? You’re supposed to be.

No, we’re not. Some of us are, some of the time. Most of us are just, well, normal. Having female body parts isn’t the same as being beautiful, no matter how you slice it. And having men want to touch the parts isn’t the same as being beautiful, either. So don’t equivocate here.

It’s not that I think valuing beauty is illegitimate, but let’s not lump all women into any category, even one you think is positive (and I think it objectifying). Because doing so will almost always be a lie (and harmful).


Men, on the other hand—with the exception of David by Michelangelo—are depicted for power, strength, war, dominance, intellect or virility. But, almost never for beauty.

Following this line of thinking, I hope Eastland’s parallel men’s universe talk/article includes:

  1. “Men, you’re dominant. Do you know that? You’re supposed to be.”
  2. “Men, you’re intelligent. Do you know that? You’re supposed to be.”

Obviously neither conclusion follows. Just because women have been painted and sculpted naked doesn’t mean all women are beautiful nor does it mean that’s how women should be viewed or valued.

Perhaps we should emulate Christ, instead:

But the Lord said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.

That this counsel was given regarding the same David who couldn’t keep his hands to his own wives is delicious irony. He was given his position of power in spite of his appearance and stature, and yet his sinful behavior began with poor judgement based on appearance.

Obvious Isn’t Always Good

So, it is little wonder that men look at you, admire you, and to one extent or another, lust after you. They—we–notice just about everything about you, including how you dress. We notice how much of you is showing on the outside.

I don’t understand how the dots connect here. Eastland moves from: women have always been objectified and men haven’t, to “so it’s no wonder we lust after you.”

If by that he means, “It shouldn’t be surprising that Mormon men treat you just as poorly as men in many cultures have historically treated you,” then I can get on board. And he should have followed his acknowledgement of the historical norm with condemnation of that norm.

Eastland, however, doesn’t seem to be taking that stance. He seems to simply embrace lusting after women and giving undue attention to their bodies as normal and acceptable.

Perhaps the toughest part women have when trying to be accepted as equals, as human, is to get others (perhaps particularly authoritative figures) to see that the historical norm is wrong and harmful.

So, yes, it’s obvious that men ogle women, focus on the physical, check out the skin, and lust after women. But maybe that’s the problem.

Harping on Modesty Redux

To be clear, I’m an endowed Mormon woman. I wear my garments every single day. I don’t tuck, roll, pin, or buy petite size (because I’m not petite.) I think modesty is important (I just don’t think we teach it very well). But I have a problem with this presentation.



  • You wear a dress cut low enough that they can see even a part of your breasts, the brethren (over there) cannot help but look. You’re beautiful in our eyes.
  • If your dress shows a lot of your legs, we admire them.
  • If you wear something without sleeves, some male eyes will see any movement that shows your bra.
  • If you lean over and you reveal your upper body, Beast will see whatever Beauty reveals.


  • “The brethren” can help but look. It is their duty not to look.
  • “The brethren” should be able to stop admiring things that are inappropriate, whether they are showing or not. (Heaven help us if a woman wears a (one-piece, church-approved) swimsuit. Because she’ll be showing “a lot of [her] legs” and the guys will lose control.)
  • “The brethren” — you know, the guys bestowed with the power of God — can focus on something besides flashes of bras. In fact, perhaps they can even recognize that bras are functional pieces of fabric and not incredibly interesting unless your mind is constantly seeking sexual stimulation.
  • “The brethren” can probably be described — and expected to behave — in ways unlike animals.

Am I really asking too much here? Men run on instinct and women have to control them? Sincerely, Larry L. Eastland, Ph. D., if this is where we are, can we at least admit that “the sistren” should be running the church and the men should be doing what we tell them to?

For the love of freakin’ pete.

Instead, let’s listen to Elder Holland on the topic.

I’ve heard all my life that is it the young woman who has to assume the responsibility for controlling the intimacy in courtship, because a young man cannot. Seldom have I heard any point made on this subject that makes me want to throw up more than that.

What kind of man is he, what priesthood or power or strength or self-control does this man have, that lets him develop in society, grow to the age of mature accountability — perhaps even pursue a university education — and prepare to effect the future of of colleagues and kingdoms and the course of this world, yet does not have the mental capacity or moral will to say, “I will not do that thing.” No, this sorry, drugstore psychology would have him say, “I just can’t help myself. My glands have complete control over my entire life, my mind, my will, my very future.

To say that a young woman in such a relationship has to bear her responsibility and that of his, too, is the most discriminatory doctrine I have ever heard. If there is sexual transgression, I lay the burden squarely on the shoulders of the young man — for our purposes probably a priesthood bearer — and that’s where I believe God intended responsibility to be.

Now, in saying that, I do not excuse young women who exercise no restraint and have not the character or the conviction to demand intimacy only in its rightful place and role. I’ve had enough experience in church callings to know that women, as well as men, can be predatory. But I refuse to buy some young man’s feigned innocence who wants to sin and call it psychology.

Indeed, most tragically, it is the young woman who is most often the victim, it is the young woman who most often suffers the greater pain, it is the young woman who most often feels abused, used, and terribly unclean. And for that imposed uncleanliness, a man will pay, as surely as the sun sets and rivers run to the sea. *




Because God created you to be beautiful in Adam’s sight. It’s called “attractive” because it “attracts” our eyes and more. And, it has worked for 6,000 years.

24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.

And so, you want to look beautiful, interesting, and yes, desirable. God intended it that way. When He said a man shall cleave unto his wife and they shall be one flesh, he wasn’t talking about mud wrestling. He was talking about intimacy, the most trusting relationship between a man and a woman.

Right up front I’ll admit I have no idea what he’s talking about. Someone enlighten me. Nonsensical possibilities:

  • The scriptures command a man to cleave to his wife, therefore he made her to be beautiful, therefore she is supposed to be beautiful, therefore he can’t control himself and it’s all up to her?
  • Because married couples are supposed to have sex, women must be beautiful so her husband will be turned on?
  • If something has “worked” for a long time, it’s acceptable and good?

How Men See Women


There are some differences between how you see the issue of modesty – or immodesty – and how men see it. Men and women are simply different; they process images differently.

It’s aggravating to constantly be placed in a gendered box. The assumption that women, in general, all think the same thing about modesty is obviously fallacious. Addressing us so impersonally reinforces the notion that men aren’t equipped to counsel women.

Up this point in the article, Eastland hasn’t addressed how women “see the issue of modesty” at all. To be fair, the church seems not to have figured out how women should see it. Eastland — as with most of the materials presented to women — make modestly an issue consisting almost entirely of how exposed skin impacts men.

What is typically ignored is that there are many cultures that feature both genders scantily clad (due to climate, availability of clothing, utility) and in which the men don’t spend all day ogling and/or groping and/or fantasizing.

There are, likewise, many men in our own culture who have chosen to change/manage how they respond to women and women’s bodies.


What you are marketing, the message you are sending—and the message men are receiving—when you dress immodestly to be more attractive are two very different messages. And, here rests the challenge you face when determining how to dress and how to act.

What you may see as being simply more attractive—desirable–by being less modest than you have been taught, men will see as an invitation to touch, to enjoy, to “lie with you” as David did when he saw Bathsheba.

When I read this paragraph, I audibly gasped.

This bishop doesn’t get it. And one of the things most appalling to me is that if he were my bishop, I wouldn’t feel free to tell him so directly. Because that’s not kosher or deferential. But this line of thinking is so incredibly disturbing, someone needs to tell him.

Mr. Eastland, don’t you see what you have done? You are saying that when a woman dresses in a way that — by your own admission “works” to get the attention of men — she is ipso facto giving an “invitation” to him to have sex with her, because that’s what goes through the man’s mind! You have decided that the male perception is ultimate truth. You don’t even counter it.

While some men might see immodest dress as an invitation, it would be wrong to do so. That should be the message.

I think we must also point out the false implied analogy here. Bethsheba didn’t undress to seduce David. She did it to take a bath. And he was out on the prowl. The implication that this erroneous line of thinking has anything to do with David’s adultery is wrong.

Men Like That Are Just Wrong


What men see they want to possess. So, what you show they desire. The more you show the greater the invitation to them, as they see it, to do something they should not because the message received is that it is OK with you or you wouldn’t be dressing, or undressing, that way.

Whether you intend it or not, that is the message they believe you are sending – an invitation to do much more than simply admire. An invitation to caress and possess.

“What men see they want to possess”? Seriously? Why don’t we just stop right there. Right at that sentence. Just stop. Stop addressing women. Stop lecturing women. Stop telling women what their problems are.

Instead turn around to the “other half of the room” and say this:

News flash to men. Just because you see it, doesn’t mean you can have it. It doesn’t means it’s yours. It doesn’t mean you can touch it or fondle it or keep it or do what you want with it.

That line of thinking should have been outgrown when you stopped being a toddler.

Seriously, that line about “caress and posses” was about the creepiest thing I’ve ever read under the banner of “counsel.”


When a sister tells me she doesn’t want to take out her endowments because garments restrict her wardrobe, the message I receive is much larger than garments and wardrobe. It is about where she is in committing to live her life God’s way, rather than the world’s way.

This segue, too, was bizarre. From bishop counseling men who are getting oral sex from girls they don’t love to pondering why women resist the inherent wardrobe change garments may require. What is the relevance?

In any event, I do know some women who think this way, but far more who do not. Honestly, I question the accuracy of the intel this bishop is getting, because I know a heck of a lot of women (read that: all women on earth) who are just really uncomfortable talking to an older married man they barely know about their underwear habits.

Rather than being a bunch of hussies who want to live the “world’s way” rather than “God’s way,” here are some other reasons women might have for avoiding garments, all taken from real people I personally know:

  1. She recognizes the commitment endowment entails and wants to be ready
  2. She feels uncomfortable discussing personal issues with her bishop, so doesn’t want to proceed to being endowed
  3. She has fears about participating in a ceremony she doesn’t know anything about
  4. She has friends who had a negative experience in the temple and has concerns
  5. She’s in the military and knows her only option is to wear men’s military garments
  6. She knows that modestly dressed women don’t get as much attention from guys (even “good” Mormon RMs, particulary the ones who have heard tripe like Eastland’s talk blaming their behavior on women)
  7. She can’t figure out how to manage garments with other physical issues
  8. She can’t figure out how to manage garments in various situations (performing arts or sports competitions, where dressing around others is common)
  9. She knows wearing one more layer in a hot/humid climate can be excruciating (particularly when pregnant)
  10. She can’t afford garments, which are way more expensive than panties
  11. She has been endowed but isn’t allowed to try on garments without buying them, hasn’t found any that fit properly, and even after great expense, she hasn’t found a workable solution
  12. People with particular disorders (such as sensory integration disorder) find the material and restrictiveness oppressive

[As an aside, I don’t really know what it means to “take out” endowments. Receive endowments maybe? It’s a colloquialism that has long seemed odd to me.]

Walk a Mile in My Stilettos — Not in Your Mailman Shoes


I understand the inconvenience garments are for women because of the other things you wear. I’ve lived with a woman – a very modest woman – who is as beautiful to me today as she was when I married her more than 41 years ago.

No, you don’t. Unless you have personally experienced pregnancy, nursing, periods, etc. with garments, you don’t fully understand. You do not. Unless you’ve done it in a hot, humid climate, you don’t fully understand. You do not.

And, with all due respect, if you’ve been married for 41 years, you’ve forgotten a lot of even the second-hand experience. That’s normal behavior when experiences are far in the past, but we should at least acknowledge that we really do not understand things that we haven’t experienced and that are far removed from our lives. (I’m 49. I don’t care a lot about the awful design of nursing garments anymore.)

And, sincerely, why did you throw in the thing about how beautiful you think your wife is? What does it have to do with garments? Why don’t you tell us, I don’t know, how bright she is? how accomplished she is? what a savvy budgeter she is? Just focus on something besides what a man thinks about a woman’s physical appearance!

Don’t Judge – But Do Judge


 All too often the question I am asked regarding the law of chastity is: “how close can I come to the edge of the cliff without falling over? What can I get away with and still answer “yes” to this question on the temple interview?”

I would respond by saying: let me ask you a question first before I answer that: where does the law of chastity begin?

Infidelity or impurity does not begin with the final act.

  • Does the law of chastity begin when a young woman decides just how short her skirt can be and still not be considered too immodest?
  • Does it begin when a young man decides just how far his hands can wander on a sister whom he is dating before he has entered forbidden territory?

Eastland seems to be annoyed that his congregants ask him for specifics about church standards and so he throws this back at his them as if they are slackers trying to get away with something. How many people do you think actually asked him those questions? Or did they, instead, want to know if what they had done was problematic or would require repentance?

In my experience local leaders don’t like these questions because there are few church-sanctioned answers and leaders really hate looking stupid and uninformed. The informed answer, however, is to note that general church leaders give general counsel and expect us to discern the specifics in most cases.

Members in general, often don’t feel confident in their ability to discern these answers. When I have attended Education Week at BYU, one of the most popular classes (including a packed room and multiple packed overflow rooms) is one on how to identify the Spirit. So it’s no wonder some members anguish over decisions and want more clear guidelines. But the hard lines often aren’t there. And, even though it’s challenging , it is our work to work out our own salvation. Local leaders should give up trying to look omniscient and just tell the truth.


If you have not made the decision to dress and act modestly, do so today. Be attractive. Dress attractively. As the songwriter Johnny Mercer wrote:

“You’ve got to accentuate the positive…Eliminate the negative…Latch on to the affirmative …Don’t mess with Mister In-Between.”

In other words:

Be attractive, but not so attractive that men get the wrong idea. Dress attractively, but not so attractively that it’s “an invitation to caress and possess.” Accentuate the positive, unless your positive assets include anything that will make a guy think dirty thoughts.

I have been told that my remarks today should be like your dress: long enough to cover the subject, but short enough to be interesting.

Good heavens. This was supposed to be clever, I suppose, but here we go again.

Women, take note! Your dresses should be long enough to cover the parts that are interesting, but short enough to still be…interesting.

So now we’re back to asking Eastland just how short is interesting enough without being too interesting — which will lead Eastland back to calling us slackers who are trying to get away with stuff.


So, I’m not asking you to look like the Amish or wear a burqa, I’m asking you to be conscious of the message you are sending, and to send a message of interest and intrigue, yet modestly and wonderfully attractive.

Amish and Islamist are too modest. Pasties and thongs are too immodest. Somewhere in between is the perfect “message of interest and intrigue.” But don’t ask where that is, slacker.

Sex is Natural – Don’t You Forget It 


Sex is natural. It is basic. It can be overpowering. You do not need to advertise it. We know it’s there.

The segue to this topic must have missed something in the translation to text. I have no idea what this was about.

  • Did someone dispute sex being natural?
  • Is it always “basic”?
  • “You do not need to advertise it”? I think Eastland is saying that women shouldn’t try to be overtly sexy. But it works. Maybe he should tell the men to stop rewarding women who “advertise” sexuality.

Honor Your Sisterhood and Keep The Brotherhood In Line


Help him honor his Priesthood by honoring your sisterhood.

Honor my “sisterhood”?

The funny thing about this statement (I actually burst out laughing when I read it) is that the (false) comparison is usually made between priesthood and motherhood. But since these are singles, now it’s sisterhood.

I’ll have to look up that conference talk: Honoring Your Sisterhood. And I’m sure right next to it will be: Honoring Your Brotherhood.


I’m counting on you to make him better than he thinks he can be. Good women have made men better from the beginning of time.

“Men will be punished for their own sins…”

Although I haven’t figured out the formula for when man = mankind and when it just means men, I’ll have to take the leap to assume this applies to women as well.

So, Mr. Eastland, let me explain that it’s not my job to “make” any guy better. Particularly not any guy I’m dating. Historically, I’ve had enough trouble making myself a decent person. I don’t need you to lay the character building of “the brethren” on me, too. Keep the responsibility where it belongs. What was it? “Squarely on the shoulders of the young man…”


Almost never does this lead to dating or a relationship. Guys make that decision in the first 30 seconds—well, maybe not 30 seconds—but certainly not six months later.So, don’t keep getting your heart up when in reality it is not going to happen.I decided the first time I saw my wife across a ball field at a single’s ward picnic in Rock Creek Park in Washington, D. C. that I wanted to ask her out. Guys are like that. Dating and hanging out are two different things. Don’t confuse the two.

One of my daughters is getting married next month — to a guy who was her buddy in high school. In fact, her first date on her 16th birthday was with his best friend and she thought nothing romantically of him until she was out of high school and he was home from his mission.

While I understand the problem of girls pining over guys who are past their shelf life, the idea that there is no chance on earth with a guy who didn’t jump your bones in the first “30 seconds” is bizarre. Another “guys are like that” pattern that we can debunk and change if we can move beyond inane culture and stereotypes.

Idea: Teach boys that putting a girl in either the “yes-I’d-date-this-hottie” or “not-a-chance-in-heck” box within 30 seconds of meeting them is stupid.


Can we just stop this nonsense?

*Jeffery R. Holland Reference

I’ve been asked in the comments and on Facebook for a reference to the Holland quote. Here it is.

One day, years ago, I was watching a BYU devotional on KBYU with Holland giving a speech called Of Souls, Symbols, and Sacraments. His speech was later repackaged as book/DVD Of Souls Symbols and Sacraments.

At one point I heard him refute the “counsel” I had heard all my life — and over which I despaired. I felt inadequate enough keeping myself on the straight and narrow. Being responsible for every guy within line of sight was just too much. I ran to get a piece of paper to write down every word I could remember.

Years later I found the audio of the original talk on BYU’s website. It is from that audio that I transcribed the quote. It was too big to upload here, but I just found the same talk on YoutTube (or course). Listen from 31:55 – 34:04. It’s even better live.

{ 264 comments… add one }
  • Carlie R November 17, 2013, 8:01 pm

    A friend of mine shared this on Facebook. I’m so glad I saw it. I, too, saw the original post shared on social media and was very bothered by it. Thank you for taking the time to create a detailed response.

  • jennifer rueben November 17, 2013, 8:12 pm

    I have heard this type of modest talk before both as a young women and a young women’s leader. Was most uncomfortable every time. Not a lot about healthy sexual relationship mostly about no-nos and immature male behavior. I support the concept you mentioned of an interview with mature loving sister about these intimate issues however I have heard the subject handled just as poorly by sisters. The very best public discussion of modesty and sexual issue I every attended was presented by a 35 year old male doctor who was also a bishop in a non-church setting. The audience was a both male and female He both covered normal healthy sexual urges and how to react in the Lord’s way. Mostly about respect.
    Just a side note: Endowed military sisters can place a special order on-line or at any outlet for garments in any style desired include the lacer marked. As can any sister or brother with any type of special requirement or need. Also any endowed member without the money to purchase garments can receive them at no cost. There is an answer to each problem you raised about wearing the garment so this is really no a modesty issue.

  • rah November 17, 2013, 8:17 pm


    One of the best of the many take downs to this article I have seen. The “group hugs” this has received among our fellow coreligionists underscores how widespread and totally jacked the modal discussion on modesty is within the Mormon faith. Thanks for pointing out that much of what this man says directly contradicts some of the most thoughtful counsel from our top leaders. I wish the leaders saw such horrible counsel and the forums that have been propagating it within mainstream Mormonism as a cause enough for concern for some direct loving correction. Regardless it is up to the laity to process and counter such counterproductive teachings. Let this remind those of us with daughters and sons in the church that we absolutely can not leave it to the church to teach these things for us. They are likely to do more harm than good to our children.

  • hawkgrrrl November 17, 2013, 8:25 pm

    This was a helpful response to a very creepy article.

  • jennycherie November 17, 2013, 8:47 pm

    “As can any sister or brother with any type of special requirement or need. Also any endowed member without the money to purchase garments can receive them at no cost. There is an answer to each problem you raised about wearing the garment so this is really no a modesty issue”

    How do you find out about this? I have been asked to counsel with women before their endowments and I had no idea that they would make custom garments or that there were garments available at no cost for those in need. Also, I think the point was that there are many reasons why a sister might delay receiving her endowment other than being a spiritual slacker.
    jennycherie recently posted…It’s that time of year again: NovemberMy Profile

  • Malissa November 17, 2013, 9:17 pm

    Hi- the excerpt from Pres Holland is just amazing and I really want to share it with my son and other young men. Can I get a reference? Also, I have heard all my life about the custom garments thing, but none of the others, however, I personally don’t know anyone who has ever done it! Another thing I have heard all my life is “How you wear your garments are how how you feel about your covenants” and while many would take umbrage to that statement, Most of the people I have known who hated their garments were equally “pick and choose” on the way they followed other parts of the gospel. and lastly (and I am not saying these things to be “devil’s advocate”, I just want to throw them out there and see what others think…), I remember my friend freaking out after she got endowed because she had to get rid of all her clothes. All I could think of, was were you living under a rock or in complete denial? and where was you mother who slowly helped you craft modesty? My mother “phased out Tank top as sleeveless as I matured, and slowly steered me to longer hemlines, as I have done with my daughter. maybe I am a Molly, but anyone else heard/said/done similarly??

  • Tim J November 17, 2013, 9:52 pm

    Nicely done.

    Do you have the reference for the Jeffrey R. holland quote?
    Tim J recently posted…My Dad the PaperboyMy Profile

  • E November 17, 2013, 10:37 pm

    Thanks for writing this. I also read the original post and it just makes me so worried to see that someone who thinks this way is in a position as BISHOP of young single adults! I have a 19 year-old daughter and three younger children and my heart just sinks to see this kind of thing and think my children, and other young people, could be seriously harmed by this type of person. I fully realize that church leaders are human that can and do make serious mistakes but what I really want is ideas on how to speak with my children about that fact in a way that is positive and will strengthen their relationship with God. Anyone?

  • Micah Smith November 17, 2013, 10:45 pm

    Read through about half of the article and then gave up. Not worth the time. I’m surprised at the semi-positive feedback I’m seeing. You’re assumptions of what is or is not being said to the men are baffling. You’re conclusions made from those assumptions are even more so.

  • Ben L November 17, 2013, 10:58 pm

    Can’t thank you enough. Two of my daughters were sent links to this and were beside themselves. You have addressed every issue I had. I’m passing this on with a big thumbs up!

  • Ganymede November 17, 2013, 11:23 pm

    Oh, dear. I thought the original article was a parody. It was such bad advice, it had to have been fabricated by some troll.

  • Robert Slaven November 18, 2013, 12:09 am

    Brava! Brava! Well done! As the dad of one son and five daughters, I really appreciate the masterful way in which you deconstruct the über-creepiness of this guy’s arguments. Thank you!

  • Kurt November 18, 2013, 12:39 am

    From my own perspective, “beautiful” is a word that can apply to both men and women. A man can be handsome and and a woman can be cute or pretty if they find each other attractive on the outside, but those who live each day to draw closer to God are beautiful to me regardless of gender. As a single father, I would feel it a deep compliment if someone were to say, “You are a beautiful man.” But I find the thought that beauty be associated with possessing body parts to be odd.

    And I find it demeaning to both genders that a man’s nature makes it impossible for him not to lust after a woman. I will confess that many times each day I am tempted with thoughts that aren’t appropriate for one who has made covenants with God. Yet I also put forth the effort and seek heavenly guidance and follow the counsel of the prophets to make sure these temptations don’t take hold. As an old proverb says, you can’t keep birds from flying over your head but you can keep them from making a nest in your hair. I have always viewed these temptations (as a single man) as thoughts or desires or passions that I need to control – not that I could ever allow to control me. I love the talk referenced by Elder Holland, and talk by President Hinckley about living worthy of the girl you will one day marry, and a fantastic, simple, and powerful quote by President Eyring, (God Helps the Faithful Priesthood Holder, Oct. 2007) “No priesthood holder who wants to succeed will be careless about where his eyes may go. Choosing to look at images which incite lust will cause the Spirit to withdraw.”

    For goodness sake, as a man it’s not like it’s a secret that sexual temptation is in most cases going to be a daily fact of life. Yet with those temptations come counsel that has been given for generations. Sing a hymn. Repeat a scripture in your mind. Look away. Offer a prayer. Exercise self-mastery. Rebuff lust and look upon women with love and respect. The scriptures teach that to look upon women with lustful thoughts is to lose the spirit and even to commit adultery in our hearts. Lust is terrible. It is demeaning. But it is far from being just the way it is.

    Even beyond the seemingly-endless counsel given by modern prophets, the scriptures are replete with teaching after teaching about the beauty of sexual relationships in their proper contexts, the efforts of the adversary to adulterate these beautiful relationships by successfully tempting others (of both genders) to partake of these things outside the boundaries of marriage, and the counsel for both genders on how to think about and care for their bodies and how to master every part of ourselves during our mortal period of probation.

    Lust is not an automatic part of life. As I mentioned at the beginning of my post, I am a single-father. I will get married again one day. And I would love it – and firmly believe it is possible – to meet my wife, to ask her out, to date her, to get engaged, and to kneel across from her the day we get married having never once lusted after her despite being immensely attracted to her. And furthermore, I would love it if in our life after marriage I would also be able to say I never lusted after her.

    The temptations in the world for lust are everywhere. But it is demeaning to think that because I am a man I would automatically be lustful.

    And it is demeaning to think that my daughter would one day automatically be subject to lust by virtue of her body parts – or that her body parts would define her beauty. Not only does such a perspective do harm to her, but it does harm to the virtues of the divine nature we seek to attain in their fulness, including virtues such as self-mastery, charity, selflessness, virtue & chastity – and beauty.

    I think of Nephi’s vision of the Savior’s birth and the description provided of his mother, Mary, described as being, “a virgin, most beautiful and fair above all other virgins” (1 Nephi 11:15). Surely the beauty referenced here has a far, far deeper meaning than that being discussed in this talk.

    To me, a man becomes beautiful as he fulfills the measure of his creation and does all that God asks of him. This involves certain things specific to the male gender.

    To me, a woman becomes beautiful as she fulfills the measure of her creation and does all that God asks of her. The involves certain things specific to the female gender.

    One struggle I have as a single father is teaching my daughter the definition of modesty – partly because, as has been mentioned, there are big differences between the genders, and also because I am still learning the totality of what the word means.

    Right now, when she asks me if an outfit is modest, I don’t pull out a ruler that measures in inches the length of a skirt or shorts, or whether or not her shoulders are showing – even though there is a part of me that says it would be so easy to say, “Cover your shoulders and make sure your skirt/dress/shorts/etc come down to your knees.” Instead, I ask her a question, “When you put on this outfit, do you feel like you are treating your body with respect?”

    The question has had an interesting effect. First, it seems to have empowered her a great deal. Second, it seems to have an effect on her spirit and her thoughts that last long after the outfit has been worn and discarded. The question of whether she is treating her body with respect is a question she seems to be thinking about when she does all sorts of things – not just when she gets dressed.

    Now, am I handling this question the right way? I don’t know. But I know I exercise great strength and even call upon strength from above to live a life of purity to provide me with spiritual power, and I know that I pray and ponder about the issue. And I hope that my 10-year-old daughter will grow into a woman who understands the meaning of modesty (as a side note, it is kind of a sweet and humbling experience for us to learn how to address this issue together). And I do hope that she grows into a woman who is even more beautiful than the young woman she is now – not because of her body parts, but because of the way of life she chooses to live.

    And, I hope that as she grows, I become a beautiful man as I also choose a life of consecration to God.

    I suspect that over the next 50 years both she and I will make mistakes and that we will even on occasion commit sin in our lives. We each will face negative temptations and positive opportunities that are specific to our gender – as well as those that are common to all mankind. How grateful I am that the Savior, a Man of perfect beauty, will be there to assist us if/when the time comes.

    I guess this small novella I have just written could be summed up simply by saying:

    A woman is not beautiful because of her body parts and a man is not a lustful creature because of his. Both men and women can control they desires and passions and both men and women are capable of attaining beauty, line upon line, like every other attribute of the divine nature.

  • Alison Moore Smith November 18, 2013, 12:29 am

    Thank you for the comments, everyone. 🙂 For those who asked for the Holland reference, I’ve added it to the end of the post, above.

    jenninfer reuben, you bring up an excellent point about women mishandling sensitive discussion. Absolutely true. Far too many women still feel “unladylike” talking about sex and it doesn’t help.

    I still tend to think that the harm done to a teenage girl by a prudish middle-aged woman will be less traumatic than that of a middle-aged married man — particularly one who’s going to tell her she need to get the guys to think about hymns. 😉

    Good news about the military garments. Last time I checked online military fabrics were not offered in women’s styles. Now it does say they can be special ordered. Also good news about the subsidies. I don’t think my friends knew about them. I only knew about the discount for first-time temple-goers.
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…How Can You Stand to Be Around Your Kids All Day?My Profile

  • Alison Moore Smith November 18, 2013, 12:35 am

    rah, I have thought the modesty discussion was “totally jacked” since I was a kid, but I don’t have a really good model for presenting it, either. Mostly I know what I think we should stop doing.

    hawkgrrrl, creepy is right. 🙂 Thanks.

    Malissa, you know what my biggest beef with garments is? I would really love a covenantal symbol that wasn’t underwear.

    When everyone from age three on can’t help but giggle at the mere mention of “underwear” or “underpants” — including, apparently, adults — it makes holding something sacred more difficult than it needs to be. If I hear one more “magic underwear” reference…
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…Don’t Love Like ThatMy Profile

  • Oregonian November 18, 2013, 12:37 am

    great response. hated the eastland post.

  • rah November 18, 2013, 5:49 am

    Allison,As a start I recommend this classic from FMHLisa. I actually dont th’ink it is all that hard to revamp the modesty rhetoric in a reasonable way. Parents do it all the time and while we probably don’t get it perfect I can’t believe someone hasn’t come up with a better way. There are a number of really great treatments floating around the bloggernacle. For official church sources, the Holland quote you cite is a pretty good start! Then we went backward with Guardians of Virtue (which directly contradicts Elder Holland on any sort of reasonable, non-mental gymnastics required level.

    I can’t seem to get the link to paste. So anyone interested should search “FMH 13 Articles of Healthy Chastity”.

  • Matty Giles November 18, 2013, 8:18 am

    Check out this link for the garments – It doesn\’t solve the costs issue – but if you are in the military, the Church has basically decided it isn\’t worth it to try to come up with a one-size-fits-all type solution.You are able to buy your own articles of clothing, and provided that they\’re similar enough in what they cover to traditional Gs, you can send them to the address mentioned in this Church-producd PDF and they\’ll actually mark them for you, usually with silkscreen marks on the inside instead of sewn-in marks. It costs $1.50 each.

  • Bethany November 18, 2013, 9:24 am

    I LOVE this post! I agree on (almost) all your points! I couldn’t believe that he was saying immodestly “invites” men to touch women! That is disgusting, false, and is ABSOLUTELY advocating a “rape” culture. Unbelievable. Don’t get me wrong, I am also an endowed mormon woman with strong ideas about modesty. But teaching women it’s their responsibly for men? It was Bathsheba’s fault, really? If you know history, it was actually customary to bathe on the roof. It was absolutely David’s fault. And it always will be the man’s fault for looking, for lingering, and for touching. No one can every control other people. But we can ALWAYS control ourselves. Thanks so much for posting this article, very well written!

  • Michele Smith November 18, 2013, 10:17 am

    Valuable contribution to this topic. Thanks, Allison! Love this!
    My teenage son has long decried and shared his dismay at adult counsel and discussions on this subject to young people which culminate basically in the conclusion of leading young women to think all young men are basically “roving sex fantasy machines” lusting after girls at every glance. I have three teenage sons at this point and every single one of them has chosen to defer physical intimacy until post-mission life. They are talented, charming, handsome, virtuous and popular and enjoy great friendships that are real with girls who are likewise intelligent, gifted, personable and charactered. Men of all ages need to be able to see people as people–wha
    tever their physical presentation–especially as they carry out the mission of carrying Christ’s love and acceptance to all children of God throughout the world in whatever states of dress or undress they may find them!

  • Michele Smith November 18, 2013, 10:21 am

    defer physical intimacy until “post mission marriage” not just post mission

  • Sync November 18, 2013, 10:28 am

    “No, you don’t. Unless you have personally experienced pregnancy, nursing, periods, etc. with garments, you don’t fully understand. You do not. Unless you’ve done it in a hot, humid climate, you don’t fully understand. You do not.” No, he probably doesn’t. The same way you don’t understand male sexuality because you don’t have the amount of testosterone in your system that the typical male has. You’ve struck the nail on the head. Men will never be able to emphathize with women, and vice versa, so we might as well give up and stop trying to give members of the opposite sex advice at all. I will give him credit for at least trying. That’s more than I’ve ever heard or seen a RS President or YW President do.

  • Trisha November 18, 2013, 10:48 am

    Before I was a young single adult I took all of the statements that Eastland said as truth and the way things were. I was taught stuff like this all of my life and thought that this was normal and how things functioned between men and women. It wasn’t until I was sexually assaulted by a young man from my stake, while on a date, that things all changed in my eyes. After this happened I went to my bishop for support, advice and comfort. Instead I came out of his office feeling shamed, belittled and dirty.

    When I told him about the sexual assault he asked me what I did to cause the assault. Did I dress provocatively? Perhaps say something to lead him on? Do anything to make him want to touch me inappropriately?I told him that we were kissing and he respond by saying “Well you shouldn’t have been doing that. That made him think it was okay.”

    These questions/statements left me so disturbed that I was left speechless. I was so shocked that he was blaming me for this mans actions. Even if I had been a little temptress anything short of a “yes lets have sex” does not give permission for a man to force himself on a woman. For a very long time I felt like it was all my fault because of these bishops words to me. But what he said started a chain reaction in me and changed my thinking.

    This Bishop was a man that I trusted up until that point. Who when I told about one of the most terrifying experiences of my life tried to blame me for everything. I had never before actually experienced such teachings outside of a “lesson” at church. Armed with the experience of it myself I realized that it was all wrong and what a lot of people call Rape Culture. And the LDS culture is one of the main culprit’s of which I’m sure many women have suffered first hand.

  • Carlos November 18, 2013, 11:18 am

    Trisha, thank you for telling your story. My daughter had a similar experience 3 years ago and left the church because of it. We have to stop this. It hurts so many women.

    To tell the truth, sometimes WOMEN are the worst in perpetuating this!

  • Jay November 18, 2013, 11:45 am

    I love the actual reaction of the blogger. It’s raw, honest, and pointed. There is a lot that the good doctor doesn’t get and his attempt is in the same mindset that has pervaded (or rather perverted) for thousands of years.

    In another note, she should be more careful with presentation as she delves into ignorant comments that she herself does not understand. “Islamist” for instance does not equate with wearing a burqa. An Islamist is a fundamentalist, sometimes militant. An islamicist is one who studies Islam whether Muslim or not. A “Muslim” is a person who practices Islam. And the practice is wearing a burqa is nowhere required in the Quran or the Hadith, only in Cultural interpretations if modesty.

    Lastly, she may want to go over some writing and grammar books before the next post (“their” minds – not “there” minds). Sheesh!

  • Cambendy November 18, 2013, 12:05 pm

    Oh, look. The grammar police showed up. What a relief!

  • Laney November 18, 2013, 12:24 pm

    thank you! thank you! thank you! Eastland’s original article was plain outrageous & ridiculous.

  • Alison Moore Smith November 18, 2013, 12:34 pm

    E I share your concern. In a lay church, most of us are called at one time or another to teach in positions we may not be prepared for. I know I have and sometimes I cringe when I recall things I did or said in various positions.

    Still, we have to be able to discuss the inherent problems and harms and try to remedy them.

    Last spring I wrote about a similar problems with seminary material: To LDS Seminary Teachers Everywhere.

    Micah, glad I didn’t waste too much of your time. I’m surprised, however, that your complaint is in regard to my assumptions about what is taught to men. Take note that this post isn’t about what is taught to men, it’s about what is taught to women, explicitly and using quotes.
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…Another Mormon WeddingMy Profile

  • Alison Moore Smith November 18, 2013, 12:49 pm

    rah and Matty Giles, thanks for the good references! For those interesting in Matty’s info, his name is the link he’s referring to.

    Continued thanks for so many great comments and good additions.

    Michele Smith, your perspective is also one that needs to be heard. (If you’d be willing to write a guest post, I’d love to publish it here!) How does this “guys can’t control themselves” mentality impact the boys??? As the mom of two boys coming up (13, 10), I’m equally horrified to feel undermined as I try to teach them personal responsibility. Your insights into this (or from someone else) would be welcome!

    Sync, please. It’s called honesty and reality.

    Elder Maxwell gave a talk where he addressed the question of why Christ had to be crucified when he already MENTALLY understood the atonement. Maxwell said it was because that wasn’t full understanding. He had to understand it EXPERIENTIALLY.

    IMO, the atonement is what it is BECAUSE Christ actually did experience all our pain in the Garden of Gethsemane. He didn’t just ponder it or think about it or give us hugs about it. He lived through it.

    In the same way, we shouldn’t be patronizing and PRETEND to understand things we don’t. We can still sympathize and offer comfort, possible solutions, etc., but pretending we understand something we don’t is just patronizing.

    I understand giving birth. I understand having multiple miscarriages. I understand being falsely accused. I understand being bullied.

    I don’t understand being widowed. I don’t understand having an addicted spouse. I don’t understand having a child leave the church.

    Being a bishop who is called to counsel (and judge!) others, it would be the height of common sense to recognize our limitations. We are all limited by both experience and time, as I said. I stand by that.
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…Don’t Love Like ThatMy Profile

  • Moira November 18, 2013, 12:50 pm

    Sorry, but this is a phenomenally hyper-sensitive response to Eastland’s commentary about modesty and chastity.

    First, let’s get one thing straight: Men are visual. That’s not an opinion, that’s well-proven scientific fact. Women are as well, but not to the same degree as men.

    Second: WOMEN KNOW THIS. Really. There’s a reason lingerie exists, why dressing or looking “sexy” or “hot” is a thing, why we ruin our feet tottering around in stilettos, or why we wear particular styles of makeup. We use it to our advantage. It’s normal. It’s a part of the mating ritual. But for whatever reason, any time a man brings it up, there are some women that throw their arms up in outrage that any man would dare point it out. What, like it’s some kind of secret? Please.

    If you acknowledge that women know how to dress sexy, then you have to accept that it’s done to make men look and desire. You don’t get to say that women should be able to dress to attract and then condemn men for being attracted. Does that mean they get to touch? No. I disagree with that particular one of Eastland’s statements. But let’s not pretend we don’t want them to look. As a single woman I will happily admit that I DO.

    And Eastland wasn’t talking about a few inches of shoulder. He’s talking about low-cut dresses and shirts, and short skirts. And you know what? I’ve been in Eastland’s ward as a YSA and I gotta say–it’s Southern California and there are women there with nice figures and enormous breasts that don’t bother to cover up much. You say men should just automatically turn off their instinct to look? Really? I’m a straight woman and sometimes I couldn’t help but look. It’s right there in front of my face. I remember one Sunday a friend of mine–a faithful member of the church, by the way–wore a dress cut so low you could see the veins going from the center of her chest out to her DD breasts, only half of which were covered. At church. She had several dresses that did this. I’ve seen women in many SoCal YSA wards show up in skirts so short that would show the entirety of their butts if they were to simply bend over. And if I noticed–you can bet every guy noticed.

    Eastland, as a Bishop and a man, has every right to point out the fact that is a problem. And he is undeniably correct in saying it is distracting, unfair, and that women have the power to control it to some degree. You’re utterly lying to yourself if you believe that women should have no accountability over their clothing choices or that men shouldn’t be able to cry foul when we make poor choices that affect them–especially when they’re trying to focus on things like passing the sacrament. I felt so bad for that poor guy who had to pass the sacrament to my breast-baring friend.

    As for the rest of it: The entire thing was given from the perspective of a man. That was the entire point–to tell women what their behavior does to a guy. Growing up, I never liked the “chastity talks” or “modesty talks.” They were always uncomfortable. But as an adult, I am ever so happy that I was given them. But they focused primarily on sexual relations or what to wear. They never spoke about it from the boys’ perspectives. How could they? They were mostly given by WOMEN in Young Women’s and RS. It would have been great had the guys been able to talk openly about their sexuality so that we could understand. But OH–NO. That would be “creepy.”

    Eastland’s letter was perfect, in my opinion, for the younger set. As a Mormon girl just heading into YSA (and in Young Women’s, especially) I was incredibly naive about boys. I think many young Mormon women are because we’re sexually inexperienced. I didn’t know what boys were thinking–or at least I didn’t know to what degree they were thinking it.

    Oh, don’t get me wrong–when I was younger I knew that I could dress and behave a certain way and get guys to look, but I had absolutely no idea what my behavior was doing to a guy. No clue. If I had known, I would have been a great deal more sensitive to my guy friends. Now, I can only look back in embarrassment at my behavior and naivety. I should have been more respectful. I should have been kinder. I wish there had been more talks like Eastland’s to inform me what men were experiencing, why guys look, and what they were thinking when I wore those short skirts and shorts, or those low cut blouses. But no one did. I heard the chastity and modesty talks, but no one told me what guys were feeling. My mom would occasionally bring it up. And you know what my response was? “Well that’s not my problem.” How selfish. How naive. How undeniably rude.

    So how about we tone down the criticism, huh? How about we show our men a little support? Modesty is about respect–respect to one’s self, and respect to others. Those “others” are usually men. If men are feeling disrespected, they have every right to say so. And given what I’ve seen in SoCal YSA wards, I think it’s safe to say that the men in those wards are feeling disrespected by women who care more about attracting a guy than supporting him while he tries to fulfill his priesthood duties–and it’s not sexist or creepy for bringing it up.

  • Alison Moore Smith November 18, 2013, 1:05 pm

    Trisha, thank you for sharing your heartbreaking story. Have you been able to move on from this horrific experience?

    Carlos, it’s interesting that you bring up women perpetuating these problems. Spot on. I saw the original post shared about three dozen times before I finally clicked through and read it, and from my memory every single share was from a woman who LOVED it.

    Jay, you’re right. I’m not an expert on middle eastern religions. Given that this post isn’t about Islam I didn’t spend a great deal of time researching proper terminology. I did take a few minutes to look up some uses of the term and definitions — in addition to a page describing the distinctions between the two terms — and came away thinking it would be acceptable. I’m sorry it wasn’t.


    Lastly, she may want to go over some writing and grammar books before the next post (“their” minds – not “there” minds). Sheesh!

    You might notice that I did correctly use the terms “their” and “there” about 400 times, so you might have attributed a typo to being, well, a typo rather than requiring an academic slap down.

    That said, there were no incidents of “there minds” in the entire piece. There was one to “there bodies.” Perhaps that’s what you meant to refer to? You may want to go over some reading comprehension books before the next comment. Sheesh! 😉
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…Best Toys RoundupMy Profile

  • Rebecca Woolf November 18, 2013, 1:24 pm

    I’m not typically a comment leaver. But this is good stuff. That bishop, bless his heart. I believe his intents were good, but man.


    And I agree with you, though I guess i’ve never thought about this, why do men address the women about Sex? If anything, why can the bishops wife be the person to address them? Hmmm…

    I just keep reminding myself, the gospel is true and perfect. The church and its people are not. But thank you for informing so many!

  • Tyson Smith November 18, 2013, 1:39 pm

    As a guy reading this I was definitely made aware of some of the thoughts and feelings women have on the subject of modesty and chastity that I haven’t considered before. It feels good to understand, or well to try and understand the opposite sex. I did however, feel that the author could have used a more understanding tone to convey her message. I believe that some men’s behavior may warrant such anger and accusatory language, but anger and accusation were never Christs way, and as effective as those tactics may seem at the time, I don’t think they score any real points in dealing with these types of problems. Sometimes while observing this flux our culture seems to be in, it seems that if we can just fix this one little thing…say the perceived injustice one group seems to have experienced, all will be well. But we often forget that history will continue and injustice will find its way through, appearing in many forms. Please be reminded that fighting fire with fire is pointless and that there are often legitimate, well reasoned, and morally good reasons for many peoples behavior, despite what you may see from your perspective. Men and Women should work together and value each others perspectives as equally legitimate. Not to bash one another in an attempt to paint each other as “animals” or “stupid” or “objects” or whatever! We are none of those things.

  • Bryony November 18, 2013, 2:14 pm

    I’m sorry, but can we stop with the “oh these poor men” rhetoric!? (I’m looking at you, Moira.) We live in a highly sexualized culture, yes. But let’s be honest here: much of the church’s talk about modesty and chastity and responsibility, and what you can and can’t show only INCREASES that.

    To tackle your lingerie example, let’s not pretend that lingerie is a phenomenon in clothing that was solely invented and perpetuated by women who thought, “hey, those men always look at us, so let’s give them something more to look at!” And the problem here isn’t women “throwing up their arms in outrage”, as you put it, because someone has said that men are visual creatures. It’s that sexist, antiquated stereotypes have been reinforced by someone in a position of authority who is supposed to have guidance from on high. Not ALL men are stimulated primarily by visual cues. Even if they were, that does NOT make it the responsibility of women to mediate those images based on a subjective cultural standard. It makes it men’s job to remember that women are more than sexual objects. Should women (and men) take note of appropriate dress for appropriate circumstances? Yes. But that doesn’t mean that we need to be policing each other’s sex drives. I think Alison made that point very well, particularly with her quotes from several of the Apostles.

    Also, can we be adults and recognize that people can have other motives for their dress besides pleasing or attracting others? Maybe your well-endowed friend – or at least others like her – was more comfortable in low-cut tops? Maybe it’s about how SHE feels about how she looks. Maybe we could also not makes this about how big her breasts were? I don’t see why that detail was relevant unless you’re suggesting that those of us whose cups runneth o’er are somehow inherently more sexual and sinful than our A & B-cup sisters.

    I will say that I agree that how we dress can be a matter of respect. I wouldn’t wear trainers and jeans to a wedding, just like I wouldn’t wear pyjamas to a job interview, or shorts and a tank top to accompany a friend to a synagogue or mosque. But the way you’ve used the term seems to imply that “respect” is “being pretty but not so pretty that a man can’t keep his mind out of the gutter” which IS entirely his responsibility, and pretending it isn’t only leads to victim-blaming, objectification, and rape culture, as others in the comments have painfully pointed out.

    I thought this was a well-articulated critique of what was a sadly, though no doubt unintentionally, misogynistic and objectifying article. Thank you, Alison.
    Bryony recently posted…Around the WorldMy Profile

  • Tina November 18, 2013, 2:19 pm

    I love this!!! And I love the quote by Elder Holland! How could I have missed that??

  • Moira November 18, 2013, 2:47 pm

    @Bryony: It’s not “sexist” or “antiquated” to point out science. Men ARE visual creatures. You can’t get around decades of science, regardless of how much you try to twist it into a social issue. And the few men that aren’t as visual do not negate that most men are. The exception does not make the rule.

    And lingerie isn’t about attracting men? You’re joking, right? I’m not talking breast support here. I’m talking good ol’ fashioned French lingerie. It’s designed to be worn prior to sex. Or during sex. Or even after sex. That’s it’s entire purpose. Ever heard of lingerie for men? It exists on a supremely small level. And most men don’t buy it. Why? Because most women don’t like it. And that’s because MEN like lingerie. Why? Because they are VISUALLY STIMULATED. Science, science, science.

    And your notion that women aren’t responsible? I never said that they were ALWAYS responsible for men’s feelings. And I never said we were responsible for their actions. That’s called a “straw man” argument. I said that women have a measure of CONTROL over them. And we KNOW IT. And use it.

    What gets me is that some women, like yourself, absolutely refuse to acknowledge that, and absolutely refuse to take responsibility for the times we DO use our clothing and bodies to attract men. And you do it under the guise of feminism and female empowerment. And it’s a lie. It’s not feminist to claim a woman can make choices, but have no accountability. It’s not feminist to say that women can be powerful, but have no ability to influence men. It’s not feminist–or fair–to believe we can openly express our sexuality and then believe men should be closeted about theirs.

    Stop with the hyper-sensitivity. Saying that women have the ability to influence men’s sexual desire is not victim-blaming. It’s not a promotion of “rape-culture.” That’s laughable. It’s merely about recognizing the power of sex and sexuality. It’s about taking responsibility for our actions and having respect toward others.

    And why do I bring up my friend’s large breasts? Men LIKE large breasts. They’re far more likely to look at large breasts than A-cups. That’s a fact of life. My friend’s dress wasn’t about the difficulty in containing her large chest. It was purely about dressing sexy. I wouldn’t have brought it up if it wasn’t. It wasn’t cleavage. Cleavage would have been an understatement.

  • BarneyPurple November 18, 2013, 2:55 pm

    Much love for this much needed rebuttal. Good golly, Miss Molly, who are these BISHOPS???

    Moira, settle down. You’re the one being “hyper-sensitive” here. Let people express an opinion that differs from yours. Heaven know we’ve heard opinions like your for CENTURIES!

    Jay made me laugh. Reminder to never make a clerical error when pointing out a clerical error. Squashed!

  • Trisha November 18, 2013, 2:59 pm

    Alison, yes now in my life I have moved on from that experience. Not just the rape itself but the treatment I received from my bishop; and the psychological effects it had on me for many years afterwards. It took a lot of love and support from an amazing husband, who I met shortly after the whole experience, to get me back to normal and to open my eyes to how wrong that bishop was. I still have some issues trusting men outside of my husband and immediate family however.

    I’m just mainly concerned now about how my children will be affected by the same teachings that are considered norm in the church. My sons and daughters alike. This is a serious issue. And yes men and women alike feed into it, like it is just how things are. How men can/should blame women for their thoughts/actions and women ought to feel responsible and ashamed because of something they didn’t do.

    Instead of objectifying women we should perhaps see them as equals and human beings, instead of a body that will only stir up sexual feelings. That goes for men and women alike. I am a person too ya know. The author who wrote the article Men, Sex and Modesty published by By Common Consent says it best. I would strongly recommend reading it if you haven’t already.

  • Willie November 18, 2013, 5:02 pm
  • Clay Cook November 18, 2013, 5:36 pm

    Reading Eastland’s comments reminds me of some of the rhetoric put forth by middle aged conservatives abut women’s reproductive choices. We cannot walk a mile in a women’s shoes so we need to stop telling them what to do. Excellent response to a trend that needs to stop. Kids today need genuine discussions about relationships and sexuaity without any nuances or sterotypes. Thanks

  • johnny jones November 18, 2013, 6:03 pm

    I’ll bet you’ll be in the church another, I dunno, 3 years before this type of thing becomes too annoying for you and you leave. You know what really needs to stop? People getting way too into a single topic or subject. You don’t have the priesthood, you’re mad about it, we get it. Now let’s move on.

  • LM November 18, 2013, 6:21 pm

    I know things are slow to change, but this is just too slow. Let’s stop hurting women once and for all.

  • Don November 18, 2013, 7:06 pm

    That’s wonderful that you recognize that this bishop is obviously a moron. He simply doesn’t get it. And I would also be an advocate for women to be able to discuss with other women, and young women, sexual intimacy. Yep, that woman goes by the title of “Mother.” I was raised by a single mother, along with my two older brothers. My dad was the one to discuss the birds and the bees with me and I assume it was that way with my brothers as well. So far as my mom could, without making us uncomfortable, she discussed that kind of stuff with us, since my dad lived 4 hours away (though he still visited about twice a month and still spent time with us whenever he could). So yes, I understand that speaking to someone of the opposite sex about sexual intimacy can be uncomfortable. Especially someone who you will see quite often and who is older and married. And with all the horrible occurrences these days with older men committing forced disgusting acts, it sure doesn’t put someone’s mind at ease to be in a room with an older man with the door closed, even if there is another priesthood holder right outside the door. However, the Lord has things setup to be such that you confess sins to your bishop (who is a male priesthood holder). If young women’s leaders and relief society leaders would like to discuss this with young women, I see nothing wrong with that. I thought women opened up to their friends about almost everything anyway. But this does not outweigh the responsibility of the parents to discuss these things with their children long before the bishop ever has to. If young women don’t feel comfortable discussing it with their father, by all means, discuss it with your mother. If you don’t have a mother alive or whatever the case may be, you can discuss it with your sister, aunt, the mother of a close friend whom you are close with, etc. Find someone to discuss this with if you are not comfortable discussing things with your bishop! It’s pretty simple! When it comes to confession, that goes through your bishop. The bishop shouldn’t keep you there trying to pull out dirty little details of sexual sin. You tell him what sin was committed; sexual intercourse, oral, dry humping, heavy petting, light petting, gratification of the other person, self gratification, pornography (yes some women have been addicted), etc. That’s pretty much all you should have to tell the bishop. How many occurrences and when the last occurrence was will be common questions. From there, if it were me, I would simply work backwards from there. “if the two of you can’t control yourselves, it would be better to make sure you are not in a house alone. Make sure you are always in a place of common usage, ie not in each others’ bedrooms.” That’s counsel. If your bishop tries to get any dirty details, he’s doing it all wrong. Confessing sins for me has never really been a problem. Now, obviously since I’m a guy, it’s easier for me to talk with a bishop. But it sucks to have to tell anyone of the wrongs you’ve committed. But take it from a guy (since it is unlikely that the bishop would try to get dirty details out of a guy) this is how a meeting with the bishop should go. Obviously there is different disciplinary action to occur depending on the specific sin, ie: Sex, oral sex, self gratification, pornography, heavy petting, light petting, gratification of the other person, homosexuality, etc. But that is essentially as specific as it should get. Then he needs to know when the last occurrence was, how long it has been a problem and perhaps how many times it happened in the case of serious sexual sin such as intercourse, and maybe even with how many different people. That can be difficult to tell someone, I mean who wants their bishop thinking they’re a man-whore or a slut, right? And trust me, the bishop isn’t really comfortable hearing about it from you either. He is there to help and he has a lot of responsibility. Bishops work the hardest in the organization of the church. Maybe that can be motivation to not commit the sins again. I can almost guarantee that your bishop is not going to think any less of you. Give them a little more credit and believe that they are open-minded enough to understand that temptation is much greater these days than it was in theirs. Everything leading to sexual sin is incredibly accessible and it’s not getting any less accessible in our society. You can’t even turn on the television without seeing it. They know that. Our Prophets have said it many times. I can’t even count the number of times I heard Pres Hinckley say it! Your bishop, hopefully, will not think any less of you. He shouldn’t. And I don’t think most bishops will. This bishop was the exception that happened to be written about and is obviously a moron. Anyone who blames a victim’s attire as the cause of their sexual sin is wrong. However, does your attire reflect who you are on the inside? If you are dressing like miley cyrus or lady gaga, that’s definitely broadcasting a different message than if you were to dress far more modestly. And you will have a number of men, especially non-LDS men who will think that you are simply there to play with. Unfortunately this is the truth. And you’re right, those men need to control themselves, but there is no hope of brad pitt, kobe, channing tatum, the guy who played thor, jay-z, tiger woods, or any other celebrity for that matter, controlling their physical desires. Fact of the matter is, they think they can touch and do whatever they want, just like a toddler. They’re still stuck in the “it’s mine” phase. And these types of men exist within the church as well. That may be shocking to you, judging by your comments on this reading, but that’s the truth. There are LDS men out there who are “called” but not “chosen.” Just because they grew up in the church and went on a mission and attend the temple does not make them perfect. It doesn’t make any women perfect either. Everyone has their problems. “Many are called, but few are chosen. And why are they not chosen? Because their hearts are set so much upon the things of the world” Not everyone who has been endowed in the temple will make it to the celestial kingdom. If you remember Lehi’s dream and Nephi’s vision of it, there were some who fell away even after partaking of the fruit. There are men and women all over the world who have fallen to the disgusting objectification of women, even in the church, largely due to pornography and societal decay. I was taught by my mother to always respect women. I still open doors, including for my mother and any other woman for that matter, not just on dates. I continued to open doors for my wife until we got divorced and no longer saw each other. I was also taught by my dad to always respect women, especially my mom. This is something engraved in me and always will be. I have a deep appreciation for the beauty of the human body, especially the female body (yeah, I’m a man and I find the female body to be vastly more beautiful than the male body), but that doesn’t mean that women should be paraded around as sex symbols or disrespected in any way. That is their body and they choose who and when they will let someone touch them and who they will love and have relations with. All a man can do is strive to be his best, treat her as the queen she is anointed to become, and throw his name in the hat for her to pick.
    All that being said, there is no reason to write up this review on this book and the jacked up counsel from that bishop just to show a bunch of hatred towards men. Yes, it is a man’s responsibility to control himself and his urges just as it is a woman’s responsibility to control herself and her emotions. But there is no need to display your hatred for men through this book review of yours. If you have a problem with the book, take it to the heads of deseret book or wherever you got it from and ask them, respectfully, to take it off the shelves because it is despicable and degrades women.
    I don’t see the need for your male bashing and using a book that is clearly written by someone who isn’t very intelligent (regardless of his degree and tenure) to group all men together and demand action which really just sounds to me as though you want women to be given the priesthood. Were you one of those few hundred women who tried to force your way into the priesthood session of conference? You do realize that by entering and taking a seat, you are taking the opportunity for someone else, a young priesthood holder who may be just as worthy as one of Helaman’s warriors who loved their mothers, to be there and be edified by the words at the priesthood session. So I think the ignorance and stupidity is pretty apparent in both genders. You gave an example of a bishop who clearly doesn’t know what he’s doing and I just gave you a few hundred examples of women who think only of themselves and are hoping to be among the first women to sit in a priesthood session just so they can put that status on their ridiculous facebook page or their blog. Perhaps even hoping that they will be make such a difference that they will later be the first to be given a new authority called the Priestesshood and go down in the history books. Pretty selfish desires if you ask me. Completely selfish. Only thinking of themselves and not the fact that they may take the opportunity away from young men, older men, possibly even men who have saved up to travel all the way to SLC from some remote place in the world to get a chance to be in the same room as the prophet, the 12 and other GAs.
    Don’t act as though men are always the problem. There are hundreds of examples of women out there who act this way. I have met many of them throughout my life. Instead of crying about it, I just move on and remember that I have a mother who set a much better example than that. She ran our household and taught us well. She is a far better example than those women who think only of themselves and not everyone else around them. She is a great example of someone with self awareness to understand that she is not perfect and it does no good to complain about everyone else’s imperfections if you’re not going to tell them in a constructive manner so that they will understand what they are doing wrong and be able to correct it. She is an incredible example of someone who is Christlike and always loved my older brothers and me regardless of all our failures and wrongdoings.
    Rather than focus on what authority you have and what position you have in the church, why don’t you focus on being Christlike? Instead of worrying about women becoming priestesses in the church anytime soon, why don’t you focus on following Christ’s example? I don’t recall Christ calling any women to be apostles. Sorry, I hate to be blunt about it, but he never did. He showed all people a perfect example. And he showed men a perfect example of the respect that is to be shown for all women in the way he treated his mortal mother and all other women he came in contact with throughout his mortal ministry.
    All the Lord has asked anyone to do, is to serve in His kingdom honorably, magnify your callings, love your neighbor, and be even as He is. To be like Christ is a pretty daunting task. If you’re wasting your time accusing bishops and other men in the church, you’re missing out on what could be done. “Good, better, best.” Are you truly doing what is best with your time? Or are you doing what satisfies your need to place yourself above someone who has the priesthood as your argument for why you should be allowed to have it? We all have a common enemy, Satan. We all have one common goal to work toward, becoming like Christ. Since that is all we are truly asked to do in this life and that is all that matters to our salvation, I’d say that should be the only thing we should focus on in this life. One day, all worthy men and women will rule as Gods and Goddesses. If you waste this life complaining about such menial things as who has the priesthood, will you ever be able to rule anything? Or are you proving to our Father that you are not ready to rule anything because you cannot humble yourself and bridle you passion to be in a position of authority and have all your FB friends know about it, and tweet about it, and whatever other social media garbage there is in this world. Why is it that everyone in society thinks they should be famous? If you keep daydreaming about it and blogging about it, my bet is… it’ll never happen. Work, and something spectacular just might happen! You just might be able to make a difference in this world, and if you’re humble about it, the Lord WILL bless and reward you! But those who do their deeds to be seen of men [or women] already have their reward. I believe there was a “thus saith the Lord” in that quote I just paraphrased. Meaning, that’s pretty serious stuff.
    You don’t like disrespect for women, I can’t stand it either. You don’t like the fact that there are people who are ignorant in positions of authority in the church, learn to work around it. Did you ever serve a mission? “A mission wouldn’t be the mission without at least one companion who you can’t stand.” Just a little something my bishop told me. I would also say, it wouldn’t be the mission without at least one leader you can’t stand. And that’s in only 2 years! Think of an entire lifetime having one leader you can’t stand every 10 years. Life’s tough, but it’s a test. So show the Lord that you are able to pass this test with humility and class. Show the Lord that you are able to be the bigger person and make lemonade out of the lemons life gives you rather than squirting them in your eyes. Show the Lord that you are going to be worthy to rule as a Goddess after this life. Complaining is very unbecoming of someone anointed to become a Goddess.
    I realize that what I have said will likely be taken quite offensively. I only speak the truth that I have learned and come to understand. If you choose to take offense to it, that’s your choice. I’m a military man, not Willy Wonka, I don’t sugarcoat!

  • h pectol November 18, 2013, 7:23 pm

    This entire article was written with such angst and in such a negative tone I could not finish reading it. Who knows if the author has a good point or not? All I could interpret was how mad she was about the issues. I am all for expressing thoughts but not so much for the manner in which it is done here. I also don’t appreciate when specific quotes from other articles are taken out of their context. Makes it very difficult to interpret actual meaning of the original writer. I imagine there was good info to be found, but I could not get through the disgust.

  • barnaby November 18, 2013, 7:39 pm

    If the author was pissed off–a sentiment I do not share with h pectol–I thought it was a very measured response to a ugly offensive article–it’s because people of sound mind are sick to death of this kind of garbage being foisted on our fellow sisters in the gospel.

  • cm November 18, 2013, 7:40 pm

    Wow, Don, time to get your own blog. I hear Allison is great at setting them up. :/

  • Tariq Khan November 18, 2013, 7:44 pm

    What a great response to Eastland’s highly problematic talk. You hit the nail on the head.

  • Cyndi H November 18, 2013, 7:57 pm

    How about PARENTS teach their children intimacy? I always hated being taught (or having to teach) about intimacy at church. I get it’s normal, natural, and a part of life, so it should be a part of teaching…however, it should come from parents and as you say, not older, married men in a very uncomfortable and frankly public setting.
    I didn’t mind sex ed at school because I had a teacher who was very matter-of-fact, as if he was teaching about the digestive system, etc. but he wasn’t teaching MORALS, he was teaching the physical aspects so we understood the human body. I believe this is a parent’s job, nobody else’s.

  • sandy November 18, 2013, 8:40 pm

    Perfect response. Glad my bishop wouldn’t do this.

  • Jessica November 18, 2013, 8:47 pm

    The lengthy responses from men who more or less call the poster a ball-buster (in 5000 words or less) are amusing reminders of exactly why this sort of post is necessary. And actually, Jesus did in fact use anger (and violence) on rare occasion. Money changers in the temple, anyone? Grave errors in doctrine perpetuated in holy places justifies an outraged response, that’s the lesson I take from that scripture story.

  • carboncopy November 18, 2013, 8:54 pm

    For those “hypersensitives” who couldn’t read the whole post…I think it’s mostly the inability to comprehend sound reasoning and the cognitive dissonance it brings.

    Nice post!

  • Beth November 18, 2013, 9:08 pm

    Thanks for your response. I appreciate posts like this that help me determine how I’m going to teach my children about modesty and sex (future children, there ain’t no bun in this oven). It’s a tricky situation. Hopefully the conversations will continue to be open and honest.

    Can I also take a second to point out that not all men like big boobs? My husband being one of them. Which is good because my cups definitely do not runneth over. And I wear lingerie because it makes me feel sexy. My husband could careless about lingerie. I can’t speak for other men but I know there is at least one (maybe he’s an odd-ball) out there who prefers my moderate chest and sweat pants. Which is good because I LOVE sweatpants.

  • Moss November 18, 2013, 9:09 pm

    Perfect response to that awful article.

  • John November 18, 2013, 9:17 pm

    It’s sad that no matter how men try to go about giving counsel to females there will always be pretentious females who have to disagree with absolutely everything males say because they are so feminist that men just can’t be enough. Take the counsel how it’s meant and search for the good and maybe your negative attitude could turn to uplifting thoughts for everyone instead of trying to tear the church leadership down.

  • Alana Moore November 18, 2013, 9:52 pm

    This post makes me very sad. Unfortinulty it is going viral. I have a hard time agreeing with you. To make matters worse you are trying to put up a fight with a Bishop who was called of God. A bishop who is obviously trying to stop premarital sex from happening. All you can do is complain about women’s rights. What kind of message are you showing the YSA or youth of the church? Good thing it’s the gospel of Jesus Christ that makes the church not the people. I want you to ask yourself how many times you attend the temple a month? After reading this post I garentee you it’s not enough. Please go. Keep going. You will understand so much more.

  • Alison Moore Smith November 18, 2013, 10:01 pm

    I will be responding more in the morning, but just want to be clear that the “Alana Moore” making this comment is NOT my daughter, Alana Moore Smith.
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…A Christlike Response to Radical Mormon FeminismMy Profile

  • Guy Parker November 18, 2013, 10:15 pm

    I’m not even an active member of the Mormon church or anything.. but I’ve read both the article and your post entirely- I think a lot of your grievances here stem from your own lack of understanding what this Eastland fellow was saying.
    Either that, or you need to seriously go get laid.

  • Marnie November 18, 2013, 10:20 pm

    Alana Moore, it is specifically because of enablers like you that we have these problems. This bishop gave offensive, horrendous advice that promotes a rape culture. And you want us to believe that it’s disloyal or unrighteous to speak up about it. Then you have the gall to self-righteously tell others they need to attend the temple more?

    “Nothing makes me want to throw up more than that.”

  • carboncopy November 18, 2013, 10:28 pm

    Guy Parker, spoken like a true male chauvinist pig who hasn’t seen action (outside of paying for it) in ages and tries to talk rough to cover it up. I know your type.

  • Marci November 18, 2013, 10:35 pm

    Just wanted to thank you for taking the time to respond to this. I’ve heard this kind of thing all my life and I don’t think men understand how this impacts our lives and how we think about ourselves.

    I get why Marni is upset at Alana Moore, but I think Alana Moore is one of those women who is completely entrenched in the subservient culture of Mormonism. She thinks that to be a “good Mormon woman” she HAS to accept what every man in authority says, whether it’s her own leader or just some leader writing blog posts on the other side oft the country.

    Don’t get me wrong, I am an active Mormon, but it’s time to separate culture from doctrine. Sincerely, since when does someone have the right to post his OPINIONS on a BLOG and then demand that we all shut up and nod our heads in unison????

    The grotesque thing about all this is that there is NOT a single woman on earth who can claim the same supposed authoritative privilege. Not one.

    This is just wrong. This mindset is just wrong. It is not unrighteous nor disrespectful to speak about issues that trouble us and that hurt us. Period.

  • H November 18, 2013, 10:51 pm

    I think this is a perfect example of one of the problems the young single adults are having in regards to getting married. The men are expecting perfection, and from what Bishop Eastland said, men are only going to ask out the girls that they find attractive. So what do the single girls do? They do whatever they can to get noticed. Salt Lake has the most plastic surgeons by population ratio than any other city in the United States. It is no surprise to me that they are in such a high demand. Women within our culture relate their physical beauty to their worth. And by their worth I mean their ability to get married. And with that respect, living up to their potential of having children.

    I am an older single adult female, and by older I mean 28…. Don’t try to fool yourselves, within our culture I am considered old. I’m pretty, I have no problem stating this fact, I have done many things in my life, I am very accomplished, driven, spiritual, kind, loving, been told I will be a great mother and wife many times (most of those compliments have come from male family friends who have married women solely for their looks). I am not beautiful enough. I am not attractive enough for mormon men to have the opportunity to marry them. Because of this fact I have taken to dating non-mormons, because they treat me better than any LDS man ever has. They will actually approach a girl and ask her out on a real date, not just to “hang out” because thats free and “why would they want to spend money on a girl”. They will take me on dates, proper dates like at a restaurant, where they will pay without complaining about how much money they have to spend to take girls out out. They can carry an actual two-way conversation. They think i’m great. They are not threatened by the things I have accomplished, or by the goals I am working towards. They will actually care about me, will learn about me as the person I am on the inside, not just the person I am outside. Is there usually a physically connection? Of course! But they will not pressure me into doing physically intimate things with them, like almost every single LDS guy I have dated has tried. (I have had to bear the responsibility of where to draw the line. Men out there that think they are the only ones who are interested in sex, go get an anatomy book. Just because we don’t flaunt it doesn’t mean we don’t think about sex constantly every single day. Again, i’m a 28 year old single mormon girl in Utah, I think about the prospect of sex.) So compared to the rest of the world, I am a catch, but for mormon men, I am not perfect enough. So how am I supposed to reach the top of celestial kingdom if I am doomed to be single for the rest of my life. Is this just my test for this life, or are the standards young men are expecting in their future wife being rested solely on their vision because that is what is accepted?

    I hope I don’t come across hateful and bitter. I am not. I am preparing for the worst and praying for the best. Maybe i’m too picky because I want to marry someone that doesn’t live at home, has goals he is working towards that are in line with my own, is man enough to actually ask out a girl, and can show her respect.

    When the men in the church show respect for the women by demanding they respect themselves, instead of giving heed to those who are doing whatever they possibly can to catch that special guy’s eye, then I think we will all be better off.

  • Kristen November 18, 2013, 11:01 pm

    To Alana Moore (not the daughter!), I have to say it is the absolute height of ignorance and arrogance — not to mention unrighteousness — to pretend you can judge the worthiness (or temple attendance) of another based on the fact that they disagree with you. Appalling and unchristian.

  • Ammon Cox November 18, 2013, 11:03 pm

    I suppose the church would be perfect only if it were run by perfect beings. God is perfect, and his doctrine is pure, but his works through us-his imperfect children-and imperfect people make mistakes….

    Elder Uchtdorf

    Brothers and sisters, this is a divine work in process with the manifestation and blessings of it abounding in every direction, so don’t hyperventilate if from time to time issues arise that need to be examined, understood, and resolved.

    Elder Holland

    This guy never asked to be bishop but he he might be doing the best he can with what he has and understands. This arrogant woman went out of her way just to belittle this Bishop and I think it was more hyperventilating than passing heartfelt testimony of the gospel.

  • Shelly November 18, 2013, 11:09 pm

    I find this original writing one of the most offensive
    I’ve ever read. It’s certainly offensive to women, but feel men should also be offended as it makes them out to be some sort of human unable to make decisions for himself, use self control, etc. It rivals the ridiculous comments made by Pat Robertson when he defended a man cheating on his wife. This is yet another example of a very small and insecure man making excuses for bad behavior and poor choices. It truly frightens me that this man is in any sort of leadership position in religion or otherwise. Luckily, this man’s perspective is the minority and not majority. I hope I’m not fooling myself!

  • Alana Moore November 18, 2013, 11:15 pm

    Kristen- You are right. Allison I am sorry that tried to ask your temple attendance or judge you on that. I think I was worked up in the moment after reading your post and I’m sorry. That was very dumb of me.

  • Eric November 18, 2013, 11:16 pm

    I’m with John. All you people who have a problem blaming the women for seducing us with their bodies should just shut up and go back to your corners. And while you are there, make me a sandwich. The priesthood is in charge!

  • Pardonthenoise November 18, 2013, 11:24 pm

    H, what a great comment.

    Loved this post. Thank you for speaking up. (And I serve in the temple four days per week. I hope that’s enough to give me credibility!)

  • Moira November 18, 2013, 11:27 pm

    Yes, I am leaving yet another comment.

    Much of this is irrationality at its finest. Look: this is just the basic science of sex, sexual relations and human sexuality. Here is the rational, scientifically proven thread of logic: Men are primarily visually stimulated——->Men can be visually stimulated by clothing, or lack thereof——>Women can wear sexy or revealing clothing and effectively sexually arouse men——->Women can therefore initiate sexual desire in men, and often purposely do so to find a mate.

    Human beings respond sexually to visual stimuli. Men respond more frequently than women. It’s supposed to be this way. We are DESIGNED to be this way.

    That’s logic. That’s science. That’s rationality. It’s an inherent part of sexual relations between men and women. It’s natural. When did discussing this become a promotion of rape-culture? When did science become “victim blaming?” We’re not talking about what men do with their sexual desire after they are stimulated or aroused. We’re talking simply about the very natural ability of women to sexually arouse men through attire and behavior. If you ignore that or cast it aside, you are merely casting aside scientific fact and rationality to suit your socio-political ideology.

    Modesty wholeheartedly embraces this science. It’s not about blaming women for men’s sexual desire, it’s about understanding how our sexuality influences those around us. It’s about being self-aware. Like Eastland said–it’s not about covering up completely. But find a balance. He is saying “this is how men feel and physically react when you wear immodest clothing, and you have a measure of control over that.” Not complete control–but as we’ve already established–we have SOME control–that’s scientifically irrefutable. It’s not subjective opinion. It’s basic human sexuality.

    I don’t know why some women find the natural course of sexual relations offensive. I don’t know why some women believe they can ignore it, or that the science of human sexuality is misogynist. It’s science. It can’t be misogynist. It doesn’t bend to the will of socio-political or religious ideology. That’s what makes science awesome.

    If there was a well-built, attractive man standing next to me with his shirt off and shorts hung low on his waist, I will think about what’s below the belt. Does that make me perverted or wrong? No. It’s a natural human sexual response from a healthy adult woman. But you know what would help? If he pulled up his pants and put on a shirt. It may not keep me from noticing he’s attractive, but it might help keep my thoughts above the waist. Do you see how that works? Action = reaction. And what’s crazy is, I can say that openly and I doubt a single man would find it offensive. But the moment a man says something similar about a woman it’s suddenly promoting rape culture and “victim blaming.” How ridiculous.

  • Jordan November 18, 2013, 11:55 pm

    Great post. I had one question about the quote from Elder Holland however. How does everyone feel about following paragraph? “To say that a young woman in such a relationship has to bear her responsibility and that of his, too, is the most discriminatory doctrine I have ever heard. If there is sexual transgression, I lay the burden squarely on the shoulders of the young man — for our purposes probably a priesthood bearer — and that’s where I believe God intended responsibility to be.”

    Shouldn’t the burden of responsibility be shared equally between the two parties? If sexual sin only falls on the shoulders of the men, doesn’t that discredit the moral agency of women to make their own decisions and live with the consequences regardless of whether or not they have the priesthood? Isn’t it just as disrespectful for Elder Holland to say women don’t have the moral fortitude to be held accountable for their actions in the same way as men as it is for Bishop to say their possible immodesty is fully to blame for sexual transgression?

  • Steve November 19, 2013, 12:01 am

    Some good points are made however it feels like you are bashing/ nearly mocking an ordained servant of the Lord, a judge of Israel. I couldn’t help but think about the warnings to refrain from evil speaking of the Lords anointed…. especially online. My two cents

  • Brittany November 19, 2013, 12:29 am

    Thank you for writing this. Some people here say that your comments are all about man hating. They must not have read what you wrote. I felt horrified when I read his article for so many reasons but quite a few that you covered. The “invitation to touch” was appalling to me. People really need to understand that there is a difference between “being hatefull/angry/attention seeking” and trying to point out a serious problem that needs to change. If I bend over to pick something up that my kids have dropped, my shirt is going to fall open. Unless it is skin tight, which would also be considered problematic to many in this culture. I shouldn’t have to fear that because I’m a woman doing every day activities that this gives men the right to touch me because they can’t keep their minds out of the gutter. If I were to go to the gym and stare at a guys crotch the entire time and then say that I must have the right to touch it just because I could see the outline of it wouldn’t make me correct. Then to blame him because he wasn’t covering himself well enough…it would cause an outcry.
    Yet, when I was molested and told my parents about it, my mother told me it was my fault because I wasn’t covering my boobs (I’m a natural size C) well enough and my dad told me that he would forgive me, that I needed to forgive the perpetrator and that if I ever told anyone what happened they would dis-own me. Then they made me cut up all of my “tighter shirts,” throw them away and made me dress in over sized t-shirts after that. My shirts were modest and certainly not skin tight. They fit me fine. I never wore anything without sleeves and was always so self conscious about how white I was that I’ve never even owned a pair of shorts. Yet I was still molested. And I was still made to feel like I was the problem.
    I do not hate men. I don’t wear pants to church. I didn’t try to get into the prieshood session of conference and I certainly don’t want the priesthood. I’m not looking for attention. What I do want to do is go about my day in a normal fashion without having to worry about whether or not what I’m doing/wearing will make a man think it’s ok to molest me. To be myself without being ashamed of my body. The mentality of having it be the womans fault and it being our burden to bear if he wants to touch us inappropriately for *any* reason needs to change. The problem with talks like this Bishops is that it perpetuates the lie to many young, impressionable young woman that already struggle every day with trying to be pretty, with being told their harlots for bending over and having their shirt fall open. This needs to change. And it won’t happen if nobody says anything about it. That doesn’t make me or Allison a man hater. It makes us concerned parents.

  • carboncopy November 19, 2013, 12:36 am

    Ammon Cox, serving in voluntary positions in the church doesn’t mean you’re above reproach. Bishops-or anyone-promoting harmful ideas should be called out.

    YOU are one reason the church is so slow to correct course. You spend your time telling those without authoritative positions (ALL women) to keep quiet under th banner of being obedient.

    This is a huge reason people are leaving “in droves.” Wake up and stop harming the church!

  • Ann November 19, 2013, 4:43 am

    Verbose and witty and well said. I would be interested to see Eastland’s response to your post. It’s good sportsmanship to allow some rebuttal verbiage when being vilified.
    I have five daughters and three sons. My boys are more modest than the girls. The girls are in different stages of modesty as well. It’s directly proportionate to their ages, marital status, and number of pregnancies. It’s a fluid thing. However, modesty is more than clothing, it’s word and actions as well

  • Arisa November 19, 2013, 5:15 am

    Yes its long-also despite that I may not have been eloquent enough to get my message across but it is late.

    One of the most important lessons I have learned is to listen with the spirit- recognize what it seems like someone says versus what they were getting at. (And what I should take from it) We all make error in communication and it’s usually best to give people the benefit of the doubt. More than anything, context makes a huge impact on what is being communicated.

    I don’t doubt the feelings behind the responses on both sides- there is a lot of personal emotion and concern from the speakers. Because of this we need to remember that how we perceive something will be different than how others will perceive it. Those personal experiences shape the meaning of the words we read.

    It is undeniable that most of us need to become a bit more considerate and aware of what we say and how others might take it. Unlike conversations or debates when we are given so many visual cues and have the chance to gain clarification of what we are saying, we don’t have that option in writing. We have to do our best to address all concerns or issues and be as concise as we can be. (I am still working on these skills like everyone else)

    Basically, I want to say that I agree with both sides. Men and Women need to be aware of the agency they hold and the impact their decisions have on those around them. Period. We cannot erase the impact of our actions. I want to express right now so no one gets the wrong idea that I DO NOT support placing blame on women who are raped or otherwise abused. No one deserves that no matter what someone claims.

    I believe that whether we dress a certain way or not should be done with a deeper motive than “to avoid men thinking about me in the wrong way.” It is a good reason, but if we look at it as: treating our bodies as a temple- showing respect for the wonderful gift of a body we have been given- showing our understanding of the value our body has-understanding our divine nature etc… then what it means to be modest will become clear to that individual. (not to mention Modesty is more than just our physical appearance)

    As a youth I realized that the way I presented myself expressed how I felt about myself and what was important to me. My actions, dress, attitude and commitment I hoped would attract someone with those same values. I didn’t want to send any conflicting messages to those around me about who I was and what I was about and I realized that being careless in my modesty could do that.

    I was also blessed with a wonderful mother. She is someone who while carrying many wounds and weaknesses did everything she could to protect her children. Unfortunately for her she was sexually abused by my grandfather. Because of this she repeatedly counseled me about being safe and avoiding dangerous situations. She made me feel safe and aware by telling me to never be afraid to tell her if someone did anything inappropriate to me. She told me that “God forbid something like that should happen, don’t ever think you are to blame and don’t hesitate to speak up!”

    Girls need to be taught how to recognize all the lies that media and society try to make them believe. They need to know what is real and what isn’t. If there is someone who is perpetuating the lies about women and men it is media. We need to help them understand they are worth more than being looked at- that their value doesn’t just lie in their physical appearances. They need to expect more respect from those around them and to never accept any comments or behavior that belittles them. They need good people in their lives that exemplify the truth. (and guess what- we can try and focus on how others are failing to do this or we can step up to the plate and do what we can as individuals to make a difference!)

    Boys need to be taught how to recognize all the lies that media and society try to make them believe. They need to know what is real and what isn’t. They need to understand that there is more to men and women than what the media portrays. They need to know that women are not objects to fulfill their physical needs but humans that demand their love and respect. They need to know that “boys will be boys” is a terrible lie that excuses males for being the natural man when they have been taught to “put off the natural man and yield to the enticing’s of the Holy Spirit and become a saint.
    (Mosiah 3:19) This includes recognizing that while they will have to battle with their carnal or physical nature, they don’t need to face it alone and that they can learn to understand the deeper meaning of sexuality. (It should go without saying that this applies to the women as well) They need good role models that will always do their best to point out thoughts of error and encourage men to stump the stereotypes of being stupid, inconsiderate, incapable of understanding women, and unable to be competent.

    When I review the follies I made in dating and found myself in a bad situation with someone who didn’t treat me well and turned out to be emotionally abusive, I can recognize that I was emotionally vulnerable and weak at those times. It was when I was believing the lies about my worth and how I should be treated. If I had been emotionally stable, if I had remembered my worth, I could have avoided those pains. Was it my fault? No. Do I think that every jerk I dated was just an outright jerk? No. (some are) They were probably lost and confused and lacking the resources they needed to become emotionally stable, spiritually in tune, etc…

    So what it really comes down to is understanding people, recognizing when others need help, teaching our youth to be emotionally responsible and learning how to deal with issues they have.

    basically the world is imperfect. Thankfully the atonement makes up for the injustices we suffer because of the agency of others and because of our own choices.

    How do we go from just complaining about the problem to changing it? We quit judging those in callings who haven’t gotten the message yet. We take action and pray for them, support them and respectfully and kindly try to help them understand.

  • Ray Hansen November 19, 2013, 5:31 am

    @Moira: You are the one person that has the background associated with the ward in question to logically comment. I am a convert to the church, father of 2 girls & 5 boys, engineer, temple married 28 years, served in bishoprics, I agree with you! It sure seems like there are a great number of posters that HAVE baggage! You are about the only person that posted some common sense here. Thanks for sharing.

  • MarioAndretti November 19, 2013, 8:45 am

    Superb, clear, and logical response to a very sexist article. We need to update church counsel to meet what we know about choice and accountability. (The Young MEN need that as part of a theme more than the Young Women do. YW have always been forced to be accountable.

    As a bishop, This have me a lot to think about. And, I guess as a bishop, that means no one can argue with me. 😉 (BIG wink there!)

  • Dan November 19, 2013, 9:22 am

    I feel like the moderate in politics when I read this response. I cannot stand the original post, and find, as a guy, a lot of the things he is saying rather offensive. That being said, I just can’t handle some of the response. Some of it is pure gold, that Elder Holland quote is amazing. Then we get into some of the crap that just gets annoying in this whole modesty/intimacy/women and the priesthood, et. al. movement that has been cropping up lately. First, someone teaching something stupidly, doesn’t mean ‘the church’ doesn’t ‘know’ how something should be taught. He has access to the same quotes from the brethren, and the same scriptures that truth comes from, he has chosen to not use them and to go off of personal opinion and false tradition in his ‘lesson’. Second, the Bishop is absolutely the person that you are to counsel with, when what you need to talk about is necessary to talk to the Bishop about. Mostly that would be repentance from morality sins, and I guess, anything else you feel like you want to talk to him about. There is nothing in Church policy that says you cannot speak to any of the following people about questions you have about intimacy: a parent, a trusted friend, a R.S. president, a visiting teacher. For a woman to pretend that somehow the Church has mandated that she and every other girl must get all of their information and counsel about sensitive subjects from the ‘old married guy’ (who happens to wear a fairly important and specific and, if you buy into this whole church thing, God given mantle of authority), is ludicrous. I was bothered by the way this article made a Bishop (not this one specifically, but the idea of the Bishop ‘that old married guy’), out to be a creepy voyeur into the lives of women/young women. As a body of Saints, all of us have a responsibility to uplift, and to edify, especially when we are in a position of a teacher. Basing what we say on scripture, and sticking to doctrine will go a long way. But when someone doesn’t, this kind of response that goes way out of bounds the other direction isn’t helpful, at all.

  • Joni November 19, 2013, 9:31 am

    As women in the church, we get HUGELY mixed messages, don’t we? On the one hand, men are the holders of the priesthood, we are supposed to look up to and respect them, they are the ones who run the organization of the church, they issue callings and temple recommends, they are the ones who (it’s implied) will rule over us in the eternity. On the other hand, they are horndogs, so incapable of self control that the mere sight of our legs or “upper bodies” (And what does that leave? Is ogling butts okay?) will drive them to commit sexual sins for which they can’t possibly be held responsible.

    Do you read the description of the hypothetical man Eastland gave, and think, “THAT is who I want to be determining whether I am eligible to enter the temple”? Because I don’t. The man he describes is one with whom I am DEEPLY uncomfortable having a discussion about my underwear. Because it might make him horny and it would be my fault.

    Thankfully, I think this is an extreme position – I’ve met plenty of LDS men who aren’t terrified of the female body. (And it makes you wonder, if the sight of a woman’s “upper body” – seriously – jeopardizes an LDS man’s ability to enter the Celestial Kingdom, how can he possibly function in a world with beer ads and Olympic beach volleyball players?!) But sadly, the kind of thinking that moved Elder Holland to nausea (seriously, bless that man) is still very much being perpetuated, a quarter of a century later.

  • Mark H November 19, 2013, 9:44 am

    I’m very appreciative of this perspective and am glad there are people like you in the church. As a dad of 3 girls, I would rather my daughters not attend this kind of talk. I want them to have a positive self-image, but balanced… not overly focused on beauty. I don’t want my daughters to think they are responsible for the sins of others. That isn’t fair to put on them. And I would rather they feel empowered to dress however they please (even if a little immodestly) than to have their gender make them feel subservient to men in the gospel.

  • Brian November 19, 2013, 9:47 am

    It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness.

    Let’s assume you had the goal of minimizing the number of times the YSA men and women in your ward broke the law of chastity over their respective lifetimes. To accomplish this goal, let’s say that you decide that one important tack to take is create a message for the YSA women and another message for the YSA men. Let’s also assume you only had 30 minutes to share a message with each gender group. What would you say to the young women? What would you say to the young men? What evidence do you have that the words you choose would at the very least reduce the number of times the law of chastity is broken and at best minimize the number of times the law of chastity is broken during these young people’s lifetimes?

  • Lori Hart November 19, 2013, 9:54 am

    Love this! I’m non Mormon, but I see parallels in the Christian church (minus the garments). Well done Allison
    Lori Hart recently posted…Grilled Flank Steak #MIBloggerShowcaseMy Profile

  • Lisa Loo November 19, 2013, 10:12 am

    There is a reason why this message resonates with many women in the church/raised in the church so strongly. Please consider that before getting too defensive. Hint: it’s not because we want to change the dress code. I urge you to consider that point the author is trying to make in her rebuttal is not about attacking men for being attracted to women. It is also not encouraging women to be immodest or promiscuous either (how this conflagration always seems to come up on this topic, I simply do not understand). It is simply stating that women, especially in the Church who are doing their best to be “virtuous and lovely”, should not be taught that they are as responsible or more responsible for the wandering hands and thoughts of the young men they date than the young man himself. It’s also about changing the tone of the dialogue so that it’s not so acceptable for those who do slip up in areas of chastity/sexuality to blame the other person for their thoughts and actions. Recently this blame has shifted to acknowledge that women too, have sexual drives and sexual urges (shock!) and may act upon them to influence a virtuous young man, but traditionally it’s been a very one-sided discussion. Growing up I was never taught that if I felt a sexual attraction to a male, it was because he has invited this attraction by dressing or acting a certain way. Why is it okay to tell young men the reverse? We resonate with the above rebuttal because we have been hearing that one-sided version all our lives. We may have been shamed for wearing something our parents thought was fine to church, but some one else felt was an inch too short or a bit too tight. We may have heard this rationalization from a date who’s inappropriate advances we refused. We may heard it echoed by priesthood holders who we’ve confessed struggles to or heard it casually brushed off in church hallways “It’s biology, men just have stronger sex drives, it’s not their fault”. Yes, this happens. I would hope you would be concerned about the prevalence of women who’ve had direct experience with this kind of thing. If you have not engaged in this kind of damaging rationalization yourself, you should not have any reason to feel threatened by the topic. I would hope it would inspire some concern about your Sisters in the faith, how they experience these kinds of talks about female modesty and sexuality, and especially be concerned about the men who would use this line of logic to excuse their own responsibility for acting virtuously in the presence their female friends, regardless of how attractive they find them. Again it is not an argument against modesty or chastity. It is exposes a harmful line of thinking secondary to those laws that can be, and has been, used by those who struggle with those laws to shift blame to females for being “attractive” to them.

  • Roger November 19, 2013, 10:20 am

    It has been very interesting reading all the articles and comments here. I can, and do, appreciate all of the varying thoughts on the topic. This Bishop seems to have touched many a nerve in this room…..understandably. Yet, the vitriol and anger are disappointing to see. Honest and respectful discourse is the only way we become closer together. Some will not want to do that and that is fine. The question I think many are asking is, “who is right?” I think that is the wrong question to ask. As someone who has been in a calling with the YM for a decade I stick to the materials given from the church and the General Authorities. There is plenty written on the topic of personal purity and revelation so that we don’t have to wing it at all. I have been asked many times by the YM what to do and not to do, what are the lines in the sand so to speak. I tell them to think on their last temple recommend interview and how they felt as they answer the questions and then act on those promptings/feelings/thoughts when and if they come. I have also been hounded by parents of YM asking why I do or don’t teach about sexual purity and all the loaded questions that come with that topic. I could easily give my thoughts on the topics and feel very justified in it, but that is not my role and that is not part of my calling. It is never easy telling a parent where my responsibilities end and theirs begin without pissing off a few in the process. I have had many youth come up to me and ask me all types of questions about sexuality, dating, purity, etc. I am flattered cause this kid trusts me to ask such a thing, but it places me in a precarious position of how do I respond with just the doctrine of the church in a loving way while not disappointing them? They always look kind of disappointed I did not give them the gospel of sexual matters according to the book of me. At the end of the day…truly respect each other. Conversations like this always bring me back to that. Now you know why they call me Bro. Switzerland.

  • Roger November 19, 2013, 10:22 am

    Lisa Loo: Personal accountability!!! That is not allowed in today’s society at all 🙂

  • Brandi November 19, 2013, 11:52 am

    YES. YES YES YES. Thank you so much for this. I left the church a long time ago but this has me rethinking some things. Thank you for breaking the cycle. YOU GO GIRL!!

  • Alison Moore Smith November 19, 2013, 11:18 am

    Thanks for all the comments and sharing. I am so grateful for the general response.

    A couple of points as we move forward:

    1. If you have to personally attack me to make your point, you don’t have a point.
    2. If your only point is “how dare you engage in ‘evil speaking of the Lord’s annointed'” — meaning how dare you disagree with the statements of anyone who holds the priesthood and/or anyone who serves in a leadership capacity anywhere in the world — you still don’t have a point.

    I welcome disagreement as long as it’s over content and issues. Otherwise, not so much.

    P.S. If you want to question my level of personal sexual activity/enjoyment, don’t bother. I’ll stomp you.
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…Argumentum Ad Hominem – Logical FallacyMy Profile

  • Justa Notherpagehit November 19, 2013, 11:31 am

    Typical of what we see going viral today. Someone rebuts someone else and the pagehits rack up. Oh my look at all the umbrage and indignation, right in line with our culture of victimhood. Maybe the author will get a book deal. Hopefully not.

  • Michael Carr November 19, 2013, 11:41 am

    Great blog post. The sort of attitude in the original article is damaging to both men and women.

    I’m grateful for the internet that allows discussions like this to take place. When I was first married, the stake patriarch opined in gospel doctrine class one day that blacks had been less valiant in the pre-existence, and everyone had to sit uncomfortably and listen to it, because in a church setting the most conservative voice carries the day.

    Twenty years ago we would not be able to have this discussion, for similar reasons.

  • Richard B November 19, 2013, 11:44 am

    Men are responsible for their thoughts and actions to the same extent as women. Growing up in a male dominated home I came to realize the “natural man” way of thinking in regards to women and my father was an example of how not to talk about women. I was disgusted and embarrassed when he would look at an attractive women a little longer than was justified. I felt it was disrespectful to my mother as well as the woman he was objectifying.

    We are here to learn how to “put off the natural man”. Why can’t we approach immodesty as an opportunity for men to strengthen themselves instead of demonizing women who wear a short skirt or low cut blouse. If a young woman shows up to church wearing something highly inappropriate it should be an issue between her and her parents and if the parents refuse to talk to their daughter maybe the young women’s leaders should get involved (leave the men out of it).

    Are men visual creatures. Yes, at least I know that I am. But when a woman wears something immodest the law of free agency isn’t magically suspended while I am forcefully compelled to undress her with my eyes. I, like every other man in the world has the option and obligation of looking away. Any argument that forces and guilt’s one party into something due to the lack of will by the other is ridiculous and counterproductive.

  • Jeremy November 19, 2013, 11:49 am

    First, I agree that men need to take responsibility for their own thoughts and actions. Does that mean women don’t need to respect themselves and be modest? For at some of us men if not all, immodest women are not respectful of themselves and I often see men be disrespectful to them or treat them like an object because they are immodest/disrespectful to themselves.
    Second, beautiful/handsomeness and sexual attractiveness are two different things. One is for everyone and one is just for a spouse. As one gets deeper in marriage, there are things that make a person attractive to their spouse that no one else would be attracted to and isn’t necessarily sexual.
    Third, I have a good friend that a major problem with porn. He got over it, was endowed and sealed to his wife. I asked him about immodesty and immodest pictures of women posted on Facebook. He said that whenever he sees those things he hast to run from it. He doesn’t want anything to trigger a relapse in that addiction. Even though I never had that issue, I can understand it. I go to work out, I am amazed at how differently women dress than men. I rarely see men with sleeveless shirts. Women often wear even less immodest than sleeveless. Men often wear shorts down to their knees. Women often wear short shorts. Men need to be modest and respectful of their body as well as women.
    In addition, I find that girls that I know and know respect themselves and desire an equal respect from all people male or female, are modest. Women who like attention from guys are immodest. Modestly is really a sign of respect and security. It is not an issue of blame men or blame women. It is an issue of take responsibility for yourself and respect yourself and others. I haven’t read that bishops message. But I can’t help but feel modesty he shares with women and staying away from porn and things that induce sexual thoughts and actions. From his perspective, I am sure he has dealt with many men that had issues with porn and they told how they were trying to overcome it and that the immodesty of women made it hard.

  • anonymous November 19, 2013, 12:32 pm

    When I was about twelve years old, I was told I needed to meet privately with the Bishop, along with a long line of other young women in the ward. We were all waiting in the lobby for our turn to have this private meeting. I believe this was at the end of a fireside about morality, but it’s hard to remember exactly. I think we watched a film about morality and they ended the night with us meeting with a member of the bishopric. I guess it was a way to encourage a relationship with the bishopric and foster open communication? I’m not sure why this was being done. But what I haven’t forgotten in all these years is what took place in that meeting. I sat down with a member of the bishopric in a closed, private room. Alone. In that meeting, the counselor proceeded to ask me if I was morally clean, then specifically asked me whether I had ever kissed a boy, etc. Then he asked if I had…well, for the sake of modesty I will say “stimulated myself,” but he used the actual “M” word. When he saw my blank look, he asked me if I knew what that word meant. I told him I didn’t think so. He then went on to describe to me in detail what it meant. When I say detail, I mean he used the actual names of female body parts and described the motion I would need to use to make it happen. It was horrifying. I was a twelve-year-old girl. I told him I had never done such a thing and left. The event scarred me forever. Looking back now as a grown adult, I am aghast at the thought this could happen to one of my daughters. I agree that it is NOT appropriate for grown, married men in any capacity in the church to meet with young women and discuss sexual acts or listen to their private concerns about morality. This must change. It is not a priesthood holder’s duty to educate young teenage girls about sexual acts in some pathetic attempt to make sure they aren’t doing them. I am flabbergasted that I learned the method of sexual self-gratification from a member of my bishopric, but that’s exactly what happened. This kind of thing is inviting all kinds of problems. I think Young Women leaders should take the role of counselor in these matters. If it’s absolutely necessary they can pass along basic, general information to the Bishop when further guidance or counsel is needed. I know there are many sensitive, caring Bishopric members out there but they are also human beings. I have heard of Bishops having affairs and leaving the church… they aren’t perfect. They make mistakes. So how can we risk putting our daughters in such compromising situations? And really, shouldn’t Bishopric members also be concerned that THEY could be accused of inappropriate conduct when they are meeting with young women alone in their offices? Why would they ever want to be in a situation where they might be accused of something that could ruin their lives? There needs to be checks and balances and a way to protect both the young women and their priesthood leaders. Private meetings with Bishops and young women are not appropriate. Now, one could argue the same problems exist with young men and Bishops. I don’t know the answers, but something needs to change.

    [I intend for this post to be entirely anonymous…if any personal information or my email appears, Alison, will you please delete it? Thanks.]

  • Misty November 19, 2013, 12:44 pm

    I didn’t read the original but from your quotes, it sounds appalling and completely removed from reality. However….I also firmly disagree with this statement about women being beautiful.

    “No, we’re not. Some of us are, some of the time. Most of us are just, well, normal. …
    It’s not that I think valuing beauty is illegitimate, but let’s not lump all women into any category, even one you think is positive (and I think it objectifying). Because doing so will almost always be a lie (or harmful).”

    It sounds to me that both the bishop and you equate beauty with sex and/or the white american view of beauty and that’s the furthest thing from the truth. As an artist, I actually do think all women, all people, even, are beautiful and it has nothing to do with magazine covers or sex and everything to do with lines and colors and shapes and personality.
    Misty recently posted…Women of Courage – such a fun YW activity!My Profile

  • Heidi November 19, 2013, 12:55 pm

    I applaud your posts…my daughter just showed me Bro Eastlands talk, and I am appalled, THANK You for writing this…ANd Elder Hollads talk was beautiful! I ljust listened to it. I wrote a blog a while back about how I felt being interviewed by a Bishop…This is how I feel about Bishops talking to young women about sexual things…I believe they should be talking to women, not men…(As the woman above goes into it…thought I would comment on it…) From my blog…

    Years back before I was married, I made out a little bit, and though I was incredibly uncomfortable, I went to my bishop and started to talk to him a little bit about it because it is a required thing.

    He started to majorly grill me for the actual, specific details about it, and as I was talking to him something told me to STOP TALKING….

    I had this horrible, sinking feeling that my bishop was getting off on it, and actually getting turned on, and at that moment it felt confirmed to me that I needed to get out of there QUICK and stop talking.
    I believe that even in that moment, the spirit was talking to me, even then telling me to get out of there.
    I told the Bishop I would not give him any more details and got the hell outa dodge…

    Honestly, I believe that there should NEVER be a middle aged, older man, no matter how good or holy they are, sitting in a room alone with a young girl talking to her about sexual things. I think women should be talking to women, and men to men.

    I think women understand women’s issues better, and men understand men’s issues better. (As in have the men go to men, women to women) I don’t know if that would mean women bishops or not, or if a Bishop and his wife would be partners in it and share responsibilities, but even having a wife outside, I believe,(as I have heard some do) is not enough.

    There are good men out there, but there is also temptation, and bad things HAVE happened before. (There have been things that have happened where teens have been taken advantage of, not just what teens share, but actual, physical acts where women have been taken advantage of. It DOES happen in our church.) I don’t know if its taboo to talk about but I’m saying it, because I believe it needs to be considered. I have NEVER felt comfortable talking to a bishop about that, and I think that no man, Bishop or not should be exposed to that kind of temptation. I believe, ABSOLUTELY that men are to be held responsible, as they ARE in charge of their own hormones but I admit, when I was talking to that Bishop I was terrified of what might happen if I didn’t get out of there! Quite unfair.

  • Erin K. November 19, 2013, 1:06 pm

    I agree with you in principle, though I don’t necessarily think everything he said was as confusing as you made it out to be, though the parts where it’s contradictory is definitely confusing. A lot of it was clearly very WRONG, so I definitely am on board with that.

    I’d like to present a case and point that totally destroys this man’s entire argument about “the way men are.” My husband is a wonderful man, but he doesn’t fit this image of a reactive man. For him the physical image of a woman just ISN’T something that “turns him on” (I don’t really like that phrase but I can’t come up with a better one). He finds other things much more attractive and alluring. Also, my husband did not want to ask me out when we first met. Far from it–I had to ask him out on our first date (which I can go on a whole rant about-women CAN ask guys out). This didn’t mean he wasn’t an option for me; we got married after all and are living quite happily together.

    So, Yeah I agree with you. This bishop just doesn’t get it. What scares me the most is the fact that I his argument is incredibly similar to the argument that a woman who is scantily clad deserves to be raped or is asking for it because she is “leading men on” and “implicitly inviting men to have sex with her” through the clothes she wears. That is totally wrong. No one ever asks to be raped–it wouldn’t be rape if they asked for it. I am rather disturbed by the fact that this bishop is using an argument for modesty that parallels much of that argument.

    That’s my two cents.

  • Sarah November 19, 2013, 1:22 pm

    Get a life..

  • A November 19, 2013, 1:24 pm

    >”Let’s assume you had the goal of minimizing the number of times the YSA men and women in your ward broke the law of chastity over their respective lifetimes.”

    …Satan’s plan is 100% effective on that count, but it doesn’t exactly teach a whole lot of personal responsibility, does it?

    I think the law of chastity is being taught from the wrong motivation sometimes; we lose sight of the fact that we not only want people to keep it in practice, but we want them to do so because of their understanding of their eternal identity and out of an abiding love for God, others, and self. Practice is almost worthless without conversion.

  • R November 19, 2013, 1:25 pm

    I love the response. When I read the article, it was outrageous, I honestly thought “this must be a joke.” Heaven help the Bishop and congregation if this is in fact a real address given to a real congregation!

  • Sync November 19, 2013, 1:50 pm

    The post, as well as most of the comments, are eerily similar to the fMh post a year or so where the author was “appalled” by a bishop’s efforts to explain male sexuality to women in RS, complete with the prooftexting approach of the OP. Will coincidences never cease.

  • April (Larsen) Gibb November 19, 2013, 1:52 pm

    I happened upon this post from a friend on Facebook, not expecting to recognize a name. Larry Eastland was my bishop while serving as a missionary in that ward, and then while living in L.A. afterward. He’s a brilliant person and a skillful leader. I learned valuable things from him. I believe he was doing the best he knew to kindly address the issues of wardrobe in that ward.. It is Los Angeles, after all. Mini skirts and stilettos are practically standard (no pun intended) in that ward. I can honestly say from plenty personal experience that that particular YSA ward, which is within his ecclesiastical stewardship, could find place for his thoughts if humbly received.. and it sounds like many people did so. Kudos, too, to the woman sharing her thoughts of response. It’s always good to hear perspectives. I enjoyed the excerpts from the scriptures and LDS General Authorities. Possibly, she has compiled part of Bishop Eastland’s intended forthcoming talk for the men. About halfway through this article, I felt as if she was really just picking a fight, and using his words against him. (i.e. “Did anyone dispute that sex is natural?” Obviously not. Calm down.)
    Overall, I find this response to be unnecessarily defensive.

  • April (Larsen) Gibb November 19, 2013, 2:08 pm

    I want to thank Moira for her comments.
    Her words very thoroughly reflect my voice, as well.

  • Melissa November 19, 2013, 2:16 pm

    Love that Holland quote and that talk is my husbands absolute favorite… he tries to share parts of it where ever he goes. I’m so glad you shared too 🙂
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  • Lauren November 19, 2013, 2:40 pm

    Can I just say that I absolutely love what you as an endowed woman said here? THANK YOU. Its about time somone said it! I have been tired my whole life of the warnings that us women are responsible for a man’s wandering mind. No we are not! Men are responsible for their own thoughts. Jeez.

  • Lily Darais November 19, 2013, 3:15 pm

    Well done. I agree with you one hundred percent. As for the way modesty SHOULD be taught, how about reframing the discussion so the focus is less on hemlines and more on conspicuous consumption. As disciples of Christ and students of the scriptures, we should be the first to note a correlation between our purchasing power and the way we care for the poor. Modesty in our consumer habits, especially in terms of clothing, seems to have a lot more scriptural foundation than direction on where our skirts should hit. As someone who has recently moved to Utah, I am profoundly uncomfortable by how much (some, not all) Mormons put on appearance. I have met moms who refuse to leave the house several days a week because they can’t get
    “put together” enough to feel comfortable in public. These are faithful, good women! In my personal opinion, how much time and money we spend on our appearance is a much bigger problem than how we actually dress. (Please note that I am not an advocate of slobbiness; I’ve been through the slob phase several times, and that doesn’t boost my self-esteem or make me a better person. But I am an advocate of limiting our wardrobes and keeping the poor in mind when we make purchases.)

  • Emily Jensen November 19, 2013, 3:19 pm

    I’ve never seen this blog before but a friend shared a link to this article and I have to say, “Bravo.”

  • Laura November 19, 2013, 3:35 pm

    I’m a 34 year old never been married, kidless single adult. The issue that is most concerning to me is the underlying fact that this “counsel” would never have been given in the first place if the leaders and members of the church actually accepted the fact that Young Single Adults are, well, ADULTS despite the fact that they aren’t married. Being the ADULTS that they are, why are they being counseled as if they were kids about modesty and chastity? As ADULTS, presumably they’ve already been counseled by their parents about modesty and chastity, and are now able to choose for themselves how they would like to behave and present themselves. YSA’s and older Single Adults should be able to do as they please without being chastised or “counseled” by those who “think” they have the authority to do so. If any adult in the “outside world” decides they want help or counsel they will seek out that help usually from a licensed counselor that is actually equipped with the knowledge to counsel and help. Most wouldn’t go to their neighbor to ask for professional counseling, which is essentially what a Bishop is… they aren’t licensed professionals. They shouldn’t be giving counsel or advice to adults that can be completely accountable for themselves. Why the church doesn’t see unmarried adults as actual adults is beyond me. We ARE adults and can govern ourselves. We shouldn’t be made to feel like we are children needing lectures on how to behave because we aren’t married… yet. The rest of the world sees us as adults and expects us to govern ourselves. Why can’t the leaders of the church? We’ve been taught as children FROM OUR PARENTS how to behave, and now it is our responsibility to choose what we will do with that knowledge.

    Bottom line, leaders and members of the church should treat unmarried adults as adults, not like children that they think need a scolding. Oh, and leave the counseling to the professionals.

  • Heidi November 19, 2013, 4:07 pm

    Thank you for this post, I am SO tired of sexism out of and especially IN the church. I will NEVER teach my children the ridiculous double standards taught by that bishop and that are obnoxiously and wrongly touted in the church as doctrine. Doctrine is what is taught over the pulpit, by prophets acting in their prophetic calling, and is repeated. Most of the sexist crap we hear doesn’t fit the bill so… please don’t spread it.
    “In the first 30 seconds of meeting a guy”…. I can assess if he is a sexist idiot or a good guy…. Fortunately, most young men in the church are the second. The first certainly get no attention from me.

  • L. L. November 19, 2013, 5:36 pm

    As a bishop, I have to say I appreciate both articles…in different ways. I don’t have time to share all of my thoughts on the topic, or multiple experiences with genuinely trying to help both men and women, young and not-so young, understand the importance of modesty and the law of chastity (nor would it be appropriate for me to do so…confidentiality is a big deal to me). What I do want to say is this: please don’t group all bishops together and assume we are all handling the sensitive topic the exact same way. We are all individuals, with imperfections and our own life experiences that have led us to fulfill our calling as bishop to the best of our “imperfect” ability. Just like women don’t want a topic like this to be addressed in a, (to use your word in your article) “impersonal” way, bishops don’t like to be grouped all together. I respect this bishop, and trust he is doing the best he can. I also highly respect your rebuttal in this article. There is no doubt it will change what and how I help someone the next time the opportunity arises. That opportunity may be tonight at mutual….who knows.
    One last thought, when an issue arises with a young women or women in my ward concerning the law of chastity, I will often encourage them to counsel with a YW leader, RS leader, or other trusted female acquaintance. Of course, confidentiality is always the question. Many women of all different ages have come to my office, and left grateful knowing only me and the Lord know about what is going on. It is moments like that, that I am grateful they have somewhere to go…even if it is male bishop who is very imperfect. What we have to remember is that a bishop represents the Savior. We as bishops must do our best to make all members of our wards feel like we are responding the same way He would….with love. I don’t know it all, and will never pretend to know it all…especially with female specific issues, and especially when someone’s salvation, eternal happiness, and/or ability to access the powers of the Atonement, are at stake.
    Last thought, the Church is true. 🙂

  • Paul Gwilliam November 19, 2013, 5:46 pm

    I’m a married 31 year old man. I am convinced that women in general (and even most men) do not know how the male brain is wired when it comes to sex and attraction. This is exactly the point that this bishop is trying to make.

    I do not mean any offence when I say this, but I believe that the author of this article is criticizing the Bishop without understanding his point. The fact that you are a mother of mormon daughters does not automatically mean that you understand the way men think. While you are right that not all women are beautiful (in one sense) the female body is beautiful to a man. Men are attracted to women. the 1-10 rating of a particular woman on the beauty scale is not relevant to his point.

    I think this Bishop is doing a wonderful job in helping women to understand the effect of their actions(dressing immodestly) on men. Men are wired to be sexually attracted to women. If a woman pushes that button and encourages (by her actions or attire, not her intention) sexual advances, she will get a result she will often regret. Crossing the modesty line to be more “attractive” again, will send a message you don’t want to send.

    Again, God made men and women different. Many of the comments to this article are from people who seem also to not understand the point of the Bishop’s article and express pointless anger against him. From the male point of view. The Bishop is right on, and women need to understand this. Slamming his article because you don’t understand it doesn’t make sense to me.

  • Kayla November 19, 2013, 6:09 pm

    I have SO many things I would love to say right now, but for the sake of keeping things “short and sweet” I will simply say that whether you are correct or not (although you certainly SEEM to have ALL the answers) or whether he is correct or not, your blog creed that you “welcome civil discussion from a variety of viewpoints,” has been completely ignored in this post as you obviously are not interested in hearing anyone’s viewpoint but your own.

  • Michelle Glauser November 19, 2013, 6:45 pm

    Way to pick things apart. I\’m glad that people like you exist. Anyone who thinks you could have used a nicer tone should google “tone argument.”
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  • EM November 19, 2013, 8:34 pm

    I’m delighted to see women within the LDS church take a stand on the victim blaming horrible tropes that are so often served up to the youth. I would say to Paul above me that she understands all too well that the message boys are receiving is the one you are propagating. I too was raised to believe that women had to be gatekeepers because men were wired That Way and just couldn’t control themselves. Problem is, it’s not a complete picture, nor does it ever excuse men’s bad behaviour towards women.

    For one thing, the LDS church doctrines as I was taught perpetuated a really strong false dichotomy: boys got the don’t masturbate lesson along with a dose of “We know you’re made this way” while girls got the “be modest so the boys don’t have bad thoughts” lessons. Everything was ALWAYS framed in how it affected the boys, but never how it affected the girls. Nobody seemed concerned with boys being modest or how their allowed levels of dress would affect girls. If it came up, once again, we were tasked with being the gatekeepers. I believe it’s incredibly irresponsible to keep putting all the onus for self-control on women.

    I’ve often had issues with the modesty talks as well, because again they frame the fallout from what you wear as Your Actions Causing Something To Happen In Somebody Else’s Mind. Think how damaging that sort of rhetoric is to rape victims or victims of incest. I can not be held responsible for the thoughts in anyone’s mind. Only they can.

    Anyways, thanks for tackling the subject.

  • Bill November 19, 2013, 8:54 pm

    The real problem here is not just what the bishop is saying… But rather the entire church itself. I love that you are standing up to this man and his terrible article! But what you’ve failed to see, or perhaps overlooked… is that the church itself is run by hundreds of rich, white, successful MALE businessmen. Talk about inequality. It’s a feminist’s, or even just a woman’s nightmare. Women are barely allowed any rights at all. And the church wants to have control over what people WEAR and how they LOOK? It eliminates individuality and freedom of expression. If the church was really true, some higher being surely wouldn’t allow a church to be THAT unequal, and completely run by men, would he? This bishop is clearly mistaken, in MANY ways. That is obvious. I think it’s ridiculous that he honestly said what he did, and he’s practically blaming women for men’s actions and deeds. But the real problem here is that both men and women in the church are massively oppressed. They are taught to try and control their NATURAL HEALTHY sexual tendencies and urges, and this suppresses them into porn addiction, self hatred, and many other mental issues. Trust me, being raised in the church I know all about that feeling, and have talked to many others who have felt the same way. I could talk for hours about the issues with this church though. I’m glad you pointed out the severe concerns about garments and the temple practices and rituals too. Because those are ALL valid concerns.

  • Alison Moore Smith November 19, 2013, 9:02 pm

    Thanks again for all the comments and support, publicly and privately. 🙂

    A few notes to address some of the comments:

    My response to Moira became unwieldy, so it will be a new post. It will go live once the server upgrade is complete. Moira, I will say here, however, that I think you have a tendency to equivocate. (Your outrage at Bryony, for example.)

    Tyson, over the years I’ve found that people tend to interpret tone based on how much they agree or disagree with particular content. For example, I’m not actually angry about this issue, I’m exhausted. I’m 49 years old and I’ve been hearing it since I was 12. 37 years is a long time to hear the same fallacious stuff.

    Am I accusatory? Of course, by definition. If I didn’t believe the many of the things Eastland said were wrong, there wouldn’t be a post.

    Men and Women should work together and value each others perspectives as equally legitimate.


    Trisha, thank you for responding. I’m so glad to hear that you were able to get beyond that horrific experience.

    Clay Cook, thank you for your comment — but I am a middle-aged conservative! :0

    johnny jones:

    I’ll bet you’ll be in the church another, I dunno, 3 years before this type of thing becomes too annoying for you and you leave.

    johnny, I’ve been bugged about this stuff since I was 4. I guess you’ll have to deal with me a few years longer.


    And I would also be an advocate for women to be able to discuss with other women, and young women, sexual intimacy. Yep, that woman goes by the title of “Mother.”

    Don, I don’t know where to start because I don’t think you read either my post or the one it’s referring to. I’ll just give a few bits of feedback.

    • I know how confession works
    • I don’t think I’ve personally met a bishop who held grudges against congregants for confessing
    • This isn’t a book review
    • I disagree that the bishop is a “moron,” I just disagree with some of his counsel
    • No, I don’t remotely hate men. I tend to like them more than women.
    • Disagreeing with a man isn’t “male bashing”
    • The bishop in question has a PhD, probably more educated than either of us
    • No, I did not try to go to priesthood session, nor have anything to do with it
    • No, the women who tried to enter would not have been stealing seat from one of Helaman’s warriors, because the venue wasn’t full
    • Your assumptions about the women who were involved is nauseating (oh, and wrong)
    • Discussing a particular issue is not the same as claiming it’s the only issue
    • This post is not discussing my authority or position
    • This post isn’t about priestesses
    • Do you notice that you spent excessive time telling me I need to use my time better, without seeming to realize the you’re spending your time responding to someone who isn’t, in your view, spending their time wisely?

    Hah, cm. Yes, I do set up blogs!

    Tone fallacy, tone fallacy, tone fallacy. 😉

    Jessica, amen, sister! 🙂
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  • Alison Moore Smith November 19, 2013, 9:10 pm

    Alana Moore (not my daughter!), I accept your apology. But I’ll answer your question. Do I attend the temple enough? Probably not. Then again, I’m not sure I’d answer that differently no matter how often I went.

    Marci, I think you hit the nail on the head in more ways than one.

    It’s an interesting dichotomy to be “equals” with huge gender distinctions, not the least of which is always deferring to a particular gender. In fact, in order to be “good” we have to be deferential, which carries its own baggage.

    Your next point is spot on. I don’t care who you are or what position you hold, if you post his thoughts on a blog, they are up for discussion.
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…Don’t Love Like ThatMy Profile

  • DanaDoo November 19, 2013, 9:18 pm

    You have so many good points and responses (to be fair, his talk made it pretty easy for you lol). The quote from Elder Holland is so relieving and comforting–and it’s from a relatively long time ago, too. Thank you for that.

    One of the only problems I have with this post is where you (and Elder Holland) seem to say that the responsibility lies solely with the man. I think it’s sometimes easy to respond like that to such drastic statements in the opposite direction, but the responsibility is on both people in a relationship.

    I think we just need to treat each other as people–men aren’t animals, and women aren’t temptresses (or angels). I once heard that there are two ways to dehumanize someone–by dismissing them, and by idolizing them. Ironically, this bishop’s statements (and the thoughts of many people) somehow both dismiss and idolize women at the same time. It gives us the worst of both extremes: we are idolized in the sense that we are supposedly so morally superior to men that we must guard the morality of the both of us, but we are also dismissed because all of our actions are supposed to revolve around men’s potential reactions. We’re hypersensitive to our own actions but only because of their effect on other people.

    In this line of thinking, women lose their own personality, or their humanity. Also, men become simple beasts–this bishop even says so himself.

  • Alison Moore Smith November 19, 2013, 9:22 pm


    The men are expecting perfection, and from what Bishop Eastland said, men are only going to ask out the girls that they find attractive. So what do the single girls do? They do whatever they can to get noticed.

    So well said. Your comment did make me sad. I did come across more than my share of jerky RMs back in the day. Just like you said, ones that took no responsibility and were always trying to get stuff. (And, yes, I was not one of these supposed women who never thought about sex. I’m still not.)

    I have no answers for you, but I do hope you can find a great LDS guy. There are some! (And, no, I don’t think you’re asking too much!)

    Ammon Cox, this wasn’t intended to be a testimony. You apparently missed that. No one asks for their callings and I agree he has good intentions. But I’ll suggest to you that there will were and are many women who hear his words and are harmed in spite of his intentions. Sometimes there just has to be another voice to counter that. If you read just some of the supportive comments, you might be able to see another viewpoint.
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  • Allie November 19, 2013, 9:51 pm

    I agree with most of what you said. I think a lot of leaders think that the way to motivate women to be modest is to scare them into thinking men can’t control themselves. It’s definitely motivation to dress modestly if you are told you are walking pornography to them if you dress bad (which I have been told before at a youth fireside). And while this motivated me for a while to be modest and probably motivated a lot of other girls, it’s the wrong way to go about it. We’re asked to dress modestly to show the Lord we respect our bodies. It’s not to prevent men acting a certain way. I think when things like this are taught it sends a completely wrong message to women about WHY we follow this counsel to dress modest. It’s frustrating… And btw I loved the part about the swimming suit – just one instance where you can still be modest but be showing more skin. It’s something to think about for sure!
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  • Alison Moore Smith November 19, 2013, 10:12 pm


    Shouldn’t the burden of responsibility be shared equally between the two parties?

    Thanks for bringing this up. Both you and someone later (sorry, I couldn’t find it on a cursory glance) brought up this point.

    My read of this is that Holland is (1) making something of a reparation for past gimmes and (2) taking the “where much is given, much is expected” stand, meaning that when men still typically dominate culturally and, in the church, have been given priesthood, they are expected to have a higher bar.

    As a general point, I think both women and men are, simply put, responsible for their own choices and what they do. Whatever sin is committed, the sinner is responsible for their own participation.

    That said, I don’t think his point about moral fortitude can be logically flipped to say he implies women don’t have any. The assumption is that we do and he’s merely refuting the male corollary.

    I’d love to hear other thoughts on this.


    People really need to understand that there is a difference between “being hatefull/angry/attention seeking” and trying to point out a serious problem that needs to change.

    Thank you. And I’m so sorry and horrified about what you went through. Not as uncommon as we’d like to think, but horrifying nonetheless. Thank you for sharing your experience.
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  • Alison Moore Smith November 19, 2013, 10:41 pm

    Ann, thank you.

    I would be interested to see Eastland’s response to your post.

    I sent Eastland a link to the post through the Meridian email author link. I’d post his response just as I’ve posted all the others. I welcome it.

    MarioAndretti, love it. Thank you for the authoritative compliment. 😉


    First, someone teaching something stupidly, doesn’t mean ‘the church’ doesn’t ‘know’ how something should be taught.

    Dan, please note that I didn’t say the church doesn’t know how to teach modesty BECAUSE Eastland taught “stupidly.” Quite the opposite. Rather, I gave Eastland a pass for not knowing how women were supposed to “see the issue of modesty” BECAUSE the church doesn’t have a coherent message.

    I realize that you can talk to anyone you want about sex or other person issues, but women (young and old) are required to talk to bishops about very personal issues and I think that is rife with problems.

    I was bothered by the way this article made a Bishop (not this one specifically, but the idea of the Bishop ‘that old married guy’), out to be a creepy voyeur into the lives of women/young women.

    Dan, I can honestly say that I’ve never had a terrible, creepy, voyeuristic bishop in my life. They’ve all been imperfect people, but people who served with their whole hearts. I would not want to give the impression that I think any of them are that way (and I’m not blowing smoke about that).

    The point is that no matter how good a man is, it’s hard for a teenage girl NOT to think it’s creepy to have a middle-aged married man (which is just a factual, accurate description most of the time) ask about her moral cleanliness or lack thereof. It just is.

    Joni, preach sister! 🙂
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  • Kyle Brown November 19, 2013, 11:32 pm

    I dislike reading the comments about using a past example of what an imperfect person did, to justify my argument. (i.e. An old bishop did this, so my argument against this bishop must be correct). @Moira, you are the only one that I would like to take seriously, because you know this bishop and know how that particular ward is, and what counsel might have been needed at that exact moment. We, imperfect people in the church like to hear things taken out of context and rail on them, or take them as truth. Even Elder Holland’s talk can’t be taken as total truth, (as much as I love it) because we weren’t there to feel the spirit when it was given. It was given by the spirit to the exact people in attendance. Even Bishop Eastland’s talk might have resonated with those exact people in attendance, and the spirit was probably felt there. I liked the light-hearted nature of Mrs. Alison Moore Smith’s post, because yes, Dr. Eastland’s words out of context do seem absurd. But would anyone deny his words, if all the kids in attendance told you they felt the spirit in one way or another? (It could be they felt the spirit tell them not to believe some of his words, and the spirit might have told them, to believe some of them). We can’t keep looking at these imperfect people trying their best to help, by criticizing.
    My concise thoughts:

    Men are attracted to women no matter what they wear.
    Women like to attract men by what they wear.
    Women are responsible for dressing immodestly.
    Men are responsible for their bad thoughts. (even if women dressed like the amish, men would still find a way to have bad thoughts).

    The gospel teaches us how to take responsibility for our actions and how to control them better than anything else on this earth. (I will test anyone to find something better.)
    The church is here to help us better live the Gospel. (two different things, after 200 or so years of the church being around, the culture of the church in Utah has moved far from what the gospel teaches us. It’s our responsibility to distinguish between the two and live accordingly.) It breaks my heart when people leave the True Gospel because of this imperfect culture.
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  • Jennifer November 19, 2013, 11:43 pm

    Thank you, thank you, a hundred times thank you! Great rebuttal. When I was a teenager at youth conference some years back, there was a male speaker who said pretty much the same as this guy.. I remember how furious I felt-at him and at the other leaders letting him blab on such nonsense! I regret to this day not standing up and making it known in some way that he was wrong, that is is wrong to think that a girl/woman should be responsible for how some guy is affected by her appearance. Thanks for this.

  • Eric November 19, 2013, 11:49 pm

    A lot of interesting points in your response, many of which I agree with. Trying to preach that we should accept that status quo of how the world works today never feels right to me. Men and women are responsible for their own actions, regardless of how the other gender interacts with you. I do however, have two points of concern:

    1. Even though you explicitly state your intentional focus on the harmful aspects of this talk/article, the resulting consequence is conveying the perception of a fanatical feminist. It gives the appearance that you are not trying to understand the author’s point of view.

    2. Some aspects of the critique appear to be a myopic misinterpretation of vocabulary, i.e. when he comments on his wife’s beauty after 41 years of marriage, you seem to assume he is speaking about physical beauty instead of metaphorical beauty. Of course, that might just point to a poor choice of words on his part, and there is definitely a debate to be had in how our vocabulary we use subliminally impacts our perceptions in terms of relationships and the other gender, but the critique seemed to focus on strictly on view of the content rather than ways the principle could have been communicated better.
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  • KW November 20, 2013, 12:03 am

    Thank you for this. It needed to be said.

  • Lorelai November 20, 2013, 12:21 am

    Love your article. This needs to be said. No, it needs to be shouted from the rooftops. YES SHOUTED. We’ve been using our dainty little girl voices and begging for kindness and consideration for decades. When even “good decent well-intentioned” lds men STILL perpetuate this hateful tripe, it’s far past time to keep “being sweet.”

    johnny jones, at first your comment disgusted me. Then I realized it’s far more likely that you’re an anti-Mormon troll than a real LDS man. At least I hope to God that’s the case.

  • Meredith November 20, 2013, 12:26 am

    I saw this link on fb and after about 20 times I finally clicked over. Glad I did. I see why you have almost 4,000 likes on this article. This needed to be said and it took someone bold enough to speak the truth!

    Thank you, sister, for blessing and supporting all of us.

  • Jamie November 20, 2013, 12:33 am

    Thank you for your rebuttal to this article. The argument that men are attracted to and aroused by the female body because it’s “biology” is somewhat true, but doesn’t consider the fact that what is deemed beautiful and sexy is based on the particular culture. There’s a wonderful documentary called ‘Busting Out’ that, in my opinion, eliminates the argument that men can’t control themselves because they’re visual.
    I think the idea to be taken from this article is personal accountability. We are all responsible for our thoughts and actions, and while it’s nice when other people help, say by dressing modestly, it is still our own responsibility if those around us choose not to dress modestly to focus our thoughts elsewhere, or even leave if that becomes too difficult.

  • Nathan Scoll November 20, 2013, 12:50 am

    Thanks for writing this. It’s been great to see so many great rebuttal articles–with WAY more commentary than the initial article of Eastland’s, mind you– that have had so many great instances of support and progressive encouragement for each other. As in, men AND women of the church. These are HUMAN issues. Men are visual, just like women. Men are sexual, just like women. Men and women are imperfect, etc. It’s nice to see them addressed as such.

  • RT November 20, 2013, 12:51 am

    Just thank you from the bottom of my heart. I so needed to hear this. Just some validation after years of feeling responsible and overwhelmed and unworthy.

    It now seems so obvious that God doesn’t hold me responsible for what men have done. But I have never felt I could challenge what my priesthood leaders said and what my young women leaders said when they repeated it. Maybe the yw leaders didn’t think they could challenge the bishop and the stake prsident either.

    Just look at some of the comments on this article that say the same thing. “Oh, how dare you say something against what a LEADER said!!!”

    But now I know that my gut was right. This leader is wrong. My leaders were wrong about this, too. And I can say that and can move on and can be responsible for MY choices and MY salvation.

    Oh, thank you dear Sister Alison! It’s like a new sun is shining in my life!

  • Anna November 20, 2013, 12:59 am

    As someone who has been taken advantage of by a man in the past (and felt dirty, used, and abused after) I can say that i really appreciate your view on this subject and article.

    I was just a 17 year old girl, never been kissed, and I’d only gone on maybe 4 or 5 dates total when a 22 girl old man noticed me. I was a t-shirt and jeans kind of gal. I didn’t necessarily try to show off my body, but being larger chested (DD) with a petite frame, most t-shirts looked tight on me anyways.

    I’m not going to say I was completely blameless, but as a very naive girl, I really didn’t think that all he wanted sex from me. I was just amazed that a guy was paying attention to me at all. I thought he was my ‘friend’. Then one day he decided he wanted to touch my breasts. It didn’t seem to matter to him that I pushed his hands away at the very least 10 times. Like I said, I’m not going to say I’m blameless, because I didn’t exactly speak up, but eventually I got tired of pushing him away and I ‘let’ him touch me (a.k.a. I gave up on pushing him away). He kissed me after that, which was exciting, but I still felt upset about being touched like that. It was very confusing. A few days later he took my virginity much in the same way.

    He told me I was a seductress.

    It took me a whole year to be able to take the sacrament again.

    5 years later I still feel guilty about it.

    Now I’m 23 myself and I can’t imagine what he, a 22 year old man, was thinking hanging out with a 17 year old girl. But of course in his eyes it was all me. What a twisted world.

  • Nathan Scoll November 20, 2013, 1:04 am

    now for a less diplomatic comment: I attended Bishop Eastland’s (now former; he was released a few months ago as bishop) ward a few times when I lived in LA. One time was hearing him give an address that was equal opportunity potential offender to both men and women in his congregation. Like practically ANY leader in the church, there will be fans and detractors, those for whom the message resonates and others for whom the message, no matter how well intended, opens up old wounds or ruffles feathers. All I can speak to is that I was at the ward that day with a recently reactivated friend and her investigator friend. I had tried to get another inactive female friend to attend with us that day who didn’t join. And I ended up being incredibly relieved by that last part b/c the two women I was with fled in the middle of his talk in tears. It’s an odd position to be attending a sacrament meeting and thanking God your inactive friend did NOT come with you. I mentioned this to the bishop afterwards and he was nonplussed, as he was when my friend resumed crying in talking to him trying to get him to see why his remarks could be so needlessly devastating to some of his listeners. He was somewhat sympathetic but also quite defensive saying something to the effect of “well, this is my ward and it’s my stewardship.” While, in our orthodoxy, he makes some points that would find justification, is it too much to ask of leaders to consider their potential for psychic and spiritual damage? I’ve seen plenty of people leave the church or have really unfortunate trials staying in it happily because of careless or even abusive rhetoric or behavior from membership and leaders. Alternately, I’ve never heard anyone say, “man, I was gonna leave the church but then heard a great talk which made me feel absolutely worthless and objectifying!!! It was a real testimony booster!!” Such will always be the case but is it so wrong to point out that there are alternatives and that we, especially those of us in leadership positions, should be mindful of our actions and words? Eastland said some good stuff in his article and a lot of his Ward loved him as bishop, mind you. There’s a lot of great stuff in this riposte, even though some would tune it out. So it goes but I’m glad the discussions are had. Also: @ Alana Moore, your apology made me feel more wonderful than your initial post made me irate. Thank you for the latter and maybe even the former. H: you’re not alone and as I said in my previous post, these are human issues. A lot of men AND women in the church are inadvertently encouraged to have incredibly superficial and unrealistic standards. Last, I find it incredibly demeaning as a human to have women reduced to x and men reduced to y, in matters of sexual attraction or otherwise. I hope we can all move past whatever we need to move past in healthy and good ways and God bless us all.

  • K November 20, 2013, 1:14 am

    Spot on! My experience growing up as a non-believer in the land of salt was that the problem with this “he can’t control his sexual urges” thing was that those little boys bought into it. I had a few encounters with mormon boys, where after we committed whatever deed we agreed to commit (generally a few months into a relationship) the boy would say, “we shouldn’t have done that”. But when I didn’t agree, when I refused to feel guilty, those boys were surprised. They wanted me to say I was sorry. They wanted me to take responsibility for “tempting” them. Nope. We made a concious decision, and I never had a reason to feel guilty or sorry.

    The fact was, that we talked about it, we agreed to it, there was full consent, and there was plenty of time for those boys to say, “I shouldn’t do this”. They used the idea that they couldn’t resist their sexual urges as a justification for their actions. I was in full control of my sexuality, and it was pretty frustrating to hear that “we” shouldn’t have done something that I knew we both fully inended to do, and we both thouroughly enjoyed doing…..right up until we were finished, and their guilt set in.

    None of that was my fault. I never pretended to be modest and chaste and innocent. I also never purposely dressed or acted a certain way to get any sort of attention. I was just me, and they were just….not sure who they were I suppose. I usually just rolled my eyes and said “then don’t do it”.

    That all stopped when I reached an age where male members wore garments. Can you believe that they acutally had the guts to begin undressing with garmnets on!?!? I mean it was like Bridget Jones with her granny panties to try to make sure she didn’t get down and dirty, but then she was just embarrassed. As soon as I saw those, it was over. (to be clear, this happened twice, both a month or so into our relationship in which they never disclosed that they were active members, or wore garments)

    I think the problem is that instead of teaching them, to OWN thier decisions and actions, they are being taught that they literally cant control their thoughts, or how they act upon them. The need to be taught that it is their responsibility to control their acrions. Better yet, they need to be empowered to follow their convictions and learn to hold themselves accountable when they stumble, without blaming others.

    And going on a mission 3 months or so after our last “transgression” is not holding yourself accountable for failing to follow your convictions.

  • Sandra H November 20, 2013, 1:23 am

    I don’t understand…I read the article & didn’t find anything all that offensive. it was addressed to the the young single women of the church, not to the young women AND men. He didn’t excuse the men in any way, and he WASN’T simply blaming the young women for causing problems. He finally answered a lot of questions i had about boundaries & perceptions that i wondered about when I was single & dating. Kind of wish this article had come out earlier! maybe i missed something within this article that was offensive?*
    *There are so many talks that call out the young men for not keeping the law of chastity. Why not allow one that calls out the young women? I especially like his advice about moving on if the guy won’t commit and not having “friends with benefits.” I knew a lot of girls that would come to me with stories, bragging about those kinds of damaging relationships. ones they’d had in the past and current situations they were in. thinking they were ok because no one specifically addressed those situations in talks-so they found a justified loophole to mess around. The only thing I don’t like about this talk is how much he talks about men lusting after women. yes men need to keep their thoughts clean, but women aren’t going to make that easier for them by trying to get their attention through immodesty.*
    The bishop writing this article does not state in any way that men are ruthless animals or that women are just tools. Nor does he claim women are at fault for any man’s actions(or vise versa). He simply wants women to understand what an impact they have(men have just as much impact, but AGAIN, this particular article was specifically addressed to the young women). Help a man out, put on clothes! U don’t need to be a nun, but there is no need to be a slut. you will only get the jerks that way. That’s all the bishop was saying as far as I was concerned. You can be gorgeous and modest! I’ve seen it done. That’s how women receive respect. If men walked around without shirts or in short shorts I doubt we would see them with as much respect. We’d be distracted by their physique. Yes men need to look away when something inappropriate is in view, but at the rate of the world, that means he needs to stare at the floor nonstop. he can’t see where he’s going, or the girl he will eventually fall in love with if he must constantly stare at the floor and not at her! The message is simple: Women dress modestly, but attractively. men, keep your thoughts clean and be respectful.
    Its like putting fresh baked cookies on the table surrounded by carrots…yes I know carrots are good for me, but eventually the cookies will win me over. If you cover up the cookies until time for desert (marriage) you will be a lot more happy and healthy.

    Thanks you so much MOIRA and RAY HANSEN!! You guys are the people trying to live the gospel, not over-thinking an article & nitpicking over things that are of no consequence.

  • jabba November 20, 2013, 3:31 am

    If we just kept the 10 commandments there would be no issue here. If you have a problem pray about it, let the holy spirit guide you.

  • J.A. November 20, 2013, 8:56 am

    Men: you are responsible for your own actions. Period, no ifs and or buts about it. Regardless of what you encounter, you still have your agency, and will be held accountable for those actions.

    Women: No, we are not responsible, we cannot be to blame, we should not suffer punishment if what we do or wear triggers a man to choose to give into temptation. But I feel like the males of the church are admitting that they have a problem, and are asking for our help. Is it really so wrong of them to ask for help? Again we are not to blame. But, we don’t have to contribute to their temptation either. They are going to encounter SO many images that trigger temptation and that won’t change. They will have to accept responsibility and train their brains to deal with it. But it don’t feel that it is wrong for them to ask for help from women who know it is an issue.

    And back to the men: you want girls to help you overcome these temptations by dressing more modestly? Make girls WANT to dress more modestly by not paying so much attention to the ones who don’t. Again, you ARE in control of your own actions. Choose better.

  • Steve November 20, 2013, 8:57 am

    He’s a bishop. He has stewardship over a particular geography. Taking his counsel outside of that ward is also taking it out of context. For all we know, his specific counsel was inspired for a very specific individual within his jurisdiction. It is foolish to take a bishop’s words as general counsel for the church. There’s a reason Elder Holland’s counsel hits harder. Because, as an apostle, his counsel is directed to the world. Not a single ward. While I personally found a lot of the bishop’s quotes to be quite off, he’s not my bishop. He’s an imperfect man with a calling to serve a specific group of saints. I am not one of those. Nor my wife. Nor my daughter. So until the heavenly-inspired organization of the church changes, I’ll leave this bishop’s remarks where they belong and harken unto the counsel of my own bishop, stake president and leaders of which receive revelation specifically for my behalf. I believe the author of this incredibly long article would be better served to do the same.

  • carboncopy November 20, 2013, 8:58 am

    Sandra H when I read blogs, which isn’t very often, there are always people like you who leave comments that go on and on and on when you obviously didn’t even read the post you’re responding to. Makes me want to crack my head on the computer screen.

    Why can’t people either bother to read or just shut it?

  • Barnaby November 20, 2013, 9:01 am

    Why do people comment on posts only to say, “if we just follow the spirit there is nothing to discuss”? Did the spirit lead you here to enlighten us?

  • karat November 20, 2013, 9:06 am

    Kayla, I just read your very nasty comment. I think that the fact that your (very nasty) comment was allowed to post is proof that a variety of viewpoints (even very nasty ones) –are– welcome here.

    The owners of the site are far more tolerant than you are.

    But for the few of you who have a tone problem, I want to say that the tone is coming from your own head. The Eastman post was very hurtful (not from tone, but from content). This post reasoned through the problems with it with very little emotion and mostly just logic.

    It is so good to hear a woman reason through issues and I really needed this post.

  • SM November 20, 2013, 9:06 am

    Fantastic Allison. (I’m not sure if I’m actually allowed to agree with you since I’m a) not a man-hater and actually adore my husband and my brothers and sons, b) “get laid” frequently – both things some of the neandrathals in your comments seem to feel would disqualify me from having such an opinion. (/eyeroll – sometimes the comment sections make me lose faith in humanity, quite frankly)

    As the mom to four kids who attend the church, the original article made me literally sick to my stomach. Knowing that my kids are being taught garbage like that in the original article makes me want to never let them go again. (I no longer attend because I no longer believe. My children attend with my husband. This kind of stuff makes me want to put an end to that.) We are teaching them objectification and rape culture. The counsel from that bishop is so far away from anything Christ would teach, and so completely pharisaical that it makes me want to cry. Stuff like this makes mormons seem completely and utterly chauvinist and crazy.

  • SM November 20, 2013, 9:09 am

    Anna, that’s actually statutory rape in most states. I’m so sorry that happened to you.

  • carboncopy November 20, 2013, 9:11 am

    —Taking his counsel outside of that ward is also taking it out of context.—

    Steve I think you need to go to Meridian and chastise the infallible bishop then. (But I KNOW you’d never speak evil of the Lor’s annointed!) Because Eastland is the one who took himself out of context when he posted his counsel on a blog outside of that ward. HE didn’t leave it there, did he?

    He posted it for the world to read and discuss, so we are. Frankly it was mostly awful advice and NOTHING that would be fit for ANY ward.

  • Meredith November 20, 2013, 9:18 am

    I tried to come back this morning, but couldn’t get on the site??? Too many people coming? 🙂

    I have been reading the rest of the comments. Some of them are very hurtful. But I want to thank Nathan Scoll for sharing his experience with Eastland. Since commenting yesterday I learned that a good friend of mine was actually in Eastland’s ward. I don’t know if she heard the exact talk this is about, but she was in a similar one and her experience was much like Nathan’s friend. It was awful and she was completely overwhelmed – – – and she doesn’t even have any morality problems!

    So the experience you share is not just yours.

    My hope is to get this rebuttal shared at least as much as the original, at least so that people can get another point of view.

  • Meredith November 20, 2013, 9:20 am

    Oh, sorry to post again, but want to say that when people say things like, “Oh, since you agree with me you are obviously trying to live the gospel, unlike those other sinners who don’t agree with me” – – – like Sandra H and Alana Moore – – – it really makes me sick to my stomach. Don’t they the Pharisee?

  • Amy November 20, 2013, 5:16 pm

    Hi I don’t normally take the time to comment on things like this but I feel what I have to say at least needs to be put out there. Grazing through some of those comments I noticed almost nobody was a YSA female so I am going to put my two cents in. As a 19 year old girl in the church, I think everyone should read the original article because it brought me to tears. It is an article I wish someone had read to me years ago. The problem is no one is blunt about modesty and immorality. Your article justifies not talking to your bishop because he is a married man. As a person who personally had to go to her bishop to clear up serious sin; that makes me sick. I could barley finish reading your article because I don’t know, you must have never had a need to talk to your bishop. They don’t ask for the details. Really? You think they want to hear a “play by play”. It breaks my heart to think some girl out there (much like me a few months ago) doesn’t want to talk to a called man of God. The Lord calls our bishops and also gives them the ability to forget what anyone tells them. The same way the Lord “remembers our sins no more.” I agree one hundred precent on the fact that as women we need to cover up, because fact is any decent guy would want his future wife to not be flaunting what she has. I am sorry for ranting but all I want to say is the first article is not evil. Your comments on garments were head on there are women who are don’t understand. However, that is another issue that should be talked about with the proper authority not paraded about on the internet. It is a scared matter keep it that way.

  • Bob November 20, 2013, 5:22 pm

    Odd that you don’t have the time to talk about the positive but you obviously have the time to focus on pages of commentary on the negative. Lopsided much?

  • britt November 20, 2013, 5:29 pm

    thank you! Thank you! I SO wanted to reply to him. I have 8 daughters. I pray they will find husband who respect and value women..whether or not their skirts happen to fit in the one centimeter window that is just the right level of attractive. sigh.

    he knows how garments are for women…BWHAHAHAHA.

    Best line? You have decided that the male perception is ultimate truth —this pretty much covers it.

  • Charlie November 20, 2013, 5:30 pm

    I’ve been trying to read this all day, my friend said I HAD to read this, but your site hasn’t been here. What happened? At least I can read it now.

  • carboncopy November 20, 2013, 5:34 pm

    Bob, you only made a negative comment. Lopsided much?

  • Marnie November 20, 2013, 6:10 pm

    Charlie, I heard on facebook that the server crashed. It wasn’t just MM it was also a lot of sites like on HostGator and other services.

    Marci, I have a hard time giving women a pass when they trash other women in the name of being righteous. Allison is a better woman than I am to forgive so easily.

    I’ve share this with about 10 family members. It was the subject at dinner last night! Quite a rousing debate, but no one really disagreed with the points, just on how to really teach modesty better.

  • wassupwas November 20, 2013, 6:12 pm

    This kind of thing has always bothered me but I never dared bring it up. Now I see lots and lots of people have a problem. I’ll stop hiding about it. Thanks much.

  • Laura November 20, 2013, 6:14 pm

    I think this subject is two sided- we need to do everything we can to dress modestly so that men and boys won’t be ogling us and the men and boys need to control their thoughts and look away when they see something they shouldn’t. If he is addressing the sisters only, then why would he need to talk about men’s responsibilities? Not all men are going to do what they are supposed to, so we need to be sure we do everything we can to keep ourselves modest and not add to their temptation- just like they need to keep their shirts on (ex. Taylor Lautner -ewww- and all the middle aged women who ogle him) so we won’t look at them like objects and think bad thoughts.

  • Andy Bee November 20, 2013, 6:15 pm

    You’re absolutely right. Since your site was down, I had time to read the other Bishops talk. I am male and of the YSA age, and I couldn’t help but cringe through most of his words. It was basically the summation of all bad ways to teach modesty and chastity, and similar to the lessons I had growing up. Although I wouldn’t agree all married males are bad at teaching these principles, I agree that many leaders (including women) don’t teach them the right way. They need to call younger leaders to teach it better. Thanks for your post!

  • JoLee November 20, 2013, 8:43 pm

    A loud round of applause. Thank you for some sanity.

  • |2ebecca November 20, 2013, 10:15 pm

    I find it interesting how most of the comments that disagree with this post seem to be from a male prospective; and the comments praising this article seem to be from either a female prospective, or from a very understanding and empathetic male perspective.

    I was an active Mormon when I was a teenager, but am not active at all now. Whenever I read or hear about things like this, it just reaffirms my position against attending church. It doesn’t mean I disagree with the gospel itself, but too many people cannot set aside their personal lives and opinions in order to teach pure gospel, and end up preaching crap about male sexuality and dominance being naturally high, and therefore the women’s jobs to lower it to a tolerable level. Utter crap.

    Just because I don’t follow the modesty codes the church sets up doesn’t mean I’m being immodest. Just because my shirt is tight or my tank top dress is low-cut doesn’t mean men are invited to touch me. That is a rapist’s mentality: that they are entitled to think that a woman’s “immodesty” is their own personal invitation to “caress and possess”. (Oh my hell, how that statement gives me the creeps!) No! Wrong! If you have a problem controlling your “natural man” (which the Bible references as something you need to overcome) and your lust after women, then you need counseling, or therapy, or something! You cannot say, “This is how I am; this is how God made me,” and expect everyone to change around you. If that is your argument, then women should be able to do whatever comes natural to them too; maybe just walk around naked, and proclaim, “This is me; I am God’s creation, and I’m not going to change for you!” That’s just ridiculous. It is not a woman’s responsibility to keep a man’s thoughts pure. That is his own responsibility.

    I’m not saying all men are “natural men”. I’m not saying all women have good intentions in the way they dress. I’m saying that youth should to be taught to take responsibility for their own thoughts and actions, but keep in mind that other people might misinterpret their dress as something other than what it is, and the youth must be able to handle and accept those consequences. We cannot give our children a one-track mindset that all Mormons are decent human beings (I’ve known some seriously screwed up “saints”) and that all other “worldly” people are bad. We cannot give them the idea that men are better than women, or that women have to go to great lengths to avoid men becoming rampant rapists (or lusters, if you prefer… (women can rape too; men don’t have to rape)).

    Ahh, enough with the soap box. I could really go on and on about this. I’ve had issues with the little things in the church for as long as I could remember. I wish there was a way I could attend church in peace and still be involved, but every time I try, it takes everything I have to not slap people who preach about things like this. So I have traveled a different path, and am quite happy being myself, making my own standards, and determining what is good, bad, and the gray in between.

    “Live and let live” I always say.

  • Derek Owen November 20, 2013, 10:39 pm

    I’m sorry for your loss in personal testimony. Hate when that happens to good people

  • Tiffany November 20, 2013, 10:54 pm

    Thank you!!! Seriously an amazing rebuttal and wonderful to hear women in the church standing up for each other. Women have a responsibility to dress modestly, but the conversation definitely needs to change and I think this is a great way to start. So much of what the bishop said puts blame and shame and objectifies women. Women have a responsibility to be in control of themselves, just as men do. They are not animals. Great post, as a newly married, endowed woman in the church I really appreciated it.

  • karat November 20, 2013, 11:20 pm

    Ah, Derek Owens. Another troll trying to make Mormons look bad. Funny boy.

  • Enough November 21, 2013, 12:56 am

    Thanks for writing this, and thank you for actually practicing what the church preaches. The LDS church is constantly preaching about individual agency and standing up for what’s right and following our conscious (etc), but the vast majority of church members are so afraid of having any opinion that doesn’t follow the status quo. They are especially afraid of having any opinion that goes against even the lowest level church leaders. I really appreciate that you are not afraid to express your opinion. Church members need to know that there is plenty of space in the church for individual opinions and faithful membership.

  • anon November 21, 2013, 7:57 am

    I think this is evidence again of the fact that the Gospel is true but the people in it aren’t. I wouldn’t apply everything this bishop said as being representative to the whole Church or “all brethren”. An interesting take on garments, how do you prepare your own daughters for the temple covenant? How would you counsel them if they chose not to wear them after being endowed, or do you think it acceptable if it’s for one of those 12 reasons you listed?

  • Keighty November 21, 2013, 8:49 am

    I can’t. I just… I can’t. I can’t even put into words how awful and horrible I feel that there is a bishop who said all of these things. Thank you for taking the time to write out everything that is inaccurate about what he’s saying. And also– thank you for confirming my deep love for Elder Holland.

    Let’s all keep speaking up about this. Good grief.

  • S November 21, 2013, 8:51 am

    Moira, your comments-spot on from my perspective. Thanks for reinforcing the idea that each of us is responsible for how we behave and what we contribute to our social environment, in religious settings or otherwise.

  • linds November 21, 2013, 9:06 am

    After reading your blog and the article by the YSA Bishop, I would have to say you both have valid points. As a member of a YSA Ward and having served in the R.S Presidency for said ward I see both sides of each argument. While the Bishop’s comments are odd and off point I think what he is trying to say is- yes you are beautiful BUT seriously COVER IT UP. As an endowed YSA, I understand, clothes are hard to find that are fashionable yet modest, however, it is possible it may take some modifying/adding layers of the clothes you buy, but it is possible. Also, having served an LDS Mission in Northern Argentina where the weather reaches 100+ degrees with humidity I get it, an extra layer of clothing can be harsh. However, it’s possible and eventually you get used to it, your body acclimatizes to it.

    I agree with you on the point it is awkward to talk to a married middle aged man about sexual intimacy however suffice it to say, if you mess up it’s your Priesthood leader you need to talk to. In all honesty, any “education purposes,” should be done by parents long before youth enter a YSA Ward at age 18. If parents don’t know how to talk about it- research it. There are countless books, church articles, resources of fellow parents and leaders, both male and female in the church, that you can ask before talking to your kid about it. I loved your reference from Elder Holland, I agree both parties are responsible for what happens and both parties are equally 100% responsible for their own thoughts and actions. I do think the Priesthood brethren should hold themselves to a higher standard for morality as they are Priesthood bearers, but I also think women need to hold themselves to a high standard and dress appropriately.

  • Carrie November 21, 2013, 9:30 am

    Thank you!!!!! Thank you for not only recognizing the err of his ways and bringing it to his and everyone else’s attention but for giving so many of us a voice. Especially the part about wearing garments. Sensory integration disorder is a real thing in our family, no one understands, and makes daily life difficult let alone something as “simple” as wearing garments. Thank you!!!! Also it is STILL creepy as a married woman talking one on one to another married man about underwear.

  • Jacob November 21, 2013, 10:08 am

    I feel like this response went to the absolute opposite extreme of the original article.
    Jacob recently posted…Christ’s Suffering, and God’s LoveMy Profile

  • Mike November 21, 2013, 12:08 pm

    I disagree with this article, but I won’t go into why, I think other commentators have summed up my opinions.

    For the women who think that they can wear what they like and that it’s not their fault if men get turned on, I have a question.

    What if all women walked around naked all the time? Would it still be the male’s problem if he gets turned on? Should the man just be able to turn off his sexuality? At
    which point does the effect of undressing become a woman’s problem too?

    I think women need to be respectful visually toward men just as women like to be respected by men.

  • Joni November 21, 2013, 12:22 pm

    I’m particularly bothered by the assertion that we mustn’t wear sleeveless tops because then a man might see our bras. Gasp! A bra! Never mind that you see dozens of bras on display anytime you walk through the mall.

    Dear men,
    We HAVE to wear bras. See, we have these things on our chests that require support. It’s actually not all about you. In fact, unless you are my husband and it’s sexy time, it’s not about you at all.

  • SilverRain November 21, 2013, 1:36 pm

    Thanks, Alison, for this post. That speech by the bishop was the final straw for me, and I posted a reaction to it and the whole culture of women-as-decoration.

    The bottom line is that it doesn’t matter if men are naturally visual and get turned on by pretty women. Men of God are called to be more than that, to learn to see past their physical urges, to see the women as daughters of God, and not just as objects of passion. Continuing to perpetuate the “we are attracted to you, so you need to act THIS way” culture breaks my heart. I would like to believe that men could learn to own their own physical urges, realize that their sexual reaction to women does not define women’s worth, and see us as people.
    SilverRain recently posted…Dear Men: You’re Breaking Our HeartsMy Profile

  • Mary Quantz November 21, 2013, 1:48 pm

    I love this. All of your response. I HATED that article. Can I just define what I believe the discussion about modesty should consist of? Teaching EVERYONE, male and female, the appropriate way to dress for different contexts. I teach school, and the dress code is an issue because the boys really have no rules other than no hats. The girls get very limited. I talk to them about how being a student is kind of like a job. You want to dress appropriately for your job. I don’t get into how much skin to show and not show. That’s up to the parents and the individual. You should dress in a way that YOU feel good about. It shouldn’t be about anyone else. If that’s showing a little more skin, well that’s your business. “Lustful” men will just have to control themselves.

  • Susan November 21, 2013, 2:06 pm

    This is more a response to some comments then to the article. You do a great job in the article of making this about the man and not the position and I agree that some of the things he said are wierd. I see a few too many wondering why such men would be put in such positions of authority over young adults. The answer is because that is where they were called by God. Not because they are perfect or because they have the perfect answers. I am a YSA and have been to many of these talks. There are awkward and not my favorite lesson to go to but they are just as awkward for the Bishop. I had one Bishop whose hands literally shook through the entire thing, when normally he was rock solid in addressing us. The lesson are awkward but necessary. Too many of the bright intelligent people who surround me, and me included, need to hear what is being said. Not because what they hear is perfect but because what their heart hears from the Spirit is what they need to hear. The Church is about learning and growing, becoming the best person that we can see, that God sees. That includes the Bishops. Yeah, they fumble, mess up and sometimes straight up fail. But, the things is, these Bishops see these same young bright people in their office, trying to repent and get their life back in order. I had one Bishop who had 40 hours of interviews a week, and this was at BYU. If they can help just one person realize that something they have done was not right or give someone advice that will help them make the right decision in the future, then all that awkwardness is worth it. The Bishops aren’t perfect, but they do their best to lead the people who God has put them over to Eternal Life.

  • Yvonne November 21, 2013, 2:53 pm

    Arisa. Thank you.

    I can see that Eastland’s talk was given to his ward. I assume he attempted to follow the spirit. However, regardless of how inspired he felt, that talk was ONLY for the ward to which he had a stewardship. Do I think some of his examples were bizarre and out of line? I certainly do. However, HE will be the one held accountable for his words. The members of his congregation will be held accountable for what the Spirit taught THEM and if they followed those impressions or not.

    However, I do NOT think it was wise for Meridian Magazine to publish this talk. For example: President Packer’s talk to a specific stake in Utah County on preparedness a few years ago was published online/in blogs/etc. Now when apostles come to stake conferences they will say something to the effect that what they say is NOT for the entire church, it is for THAT specific stake. The same definitely applies in Eastland’s talk. It should not have been published as the counsel he gave his ward was for his ward only (as Moira has stated the attitudes/beliefs of people in her ward).

  • Rebecca November 21, 2013, 2:55 pm

    I liked the original article. I think both men and women need to take responsibility and help each other. I look forward to reading the Bishop’s remarks addressed to the men of his ward.

  • Joni November 21, 2013, 2:59 pm

    If women walked around naked all the time, actually, men would get pretty desensitized to it and within a short period of time it probably wouldn’t turn them on at all. There are still cultures where toplessness for women is the norm and they don’t seem to have a huge problem with rape. You get used to it, it doesn’t affect you. It’s more when women’s bodies are treated as “forbidden fruit” that they have the power to titillate and excite. Outside the church, for example, most men don’t regard a woman’s shoulders or kneecaps as unbearably sexy.

    And I think it’s perfectly fair to criticize Bishop Eastland’s remarks when they are published for public consumption on a magazine blog.

  • Mike November 21, 2013, 4:08 pm

    @Joni, actually if you look at African tribes where they don’t wear much clothing, there is a lot of problems with rape and incest. I can’t say that the two are related, but it sure is coincidental.

  • Mary Quantz November 21, 2013, 5:17 pm

    @Mike-are you saying it’s the women’s fault because, culturally, they don’t cover up the way we do? Modesty is defined by culture. Regardless of clothing or lack thereof, women are raped because there are rapists that rape them. End of story. I understand men get raped too, and I would say the same of their abusers.

    What about the rapes and abuses of women in middle eastern countries where women are often covered from head to toe? What causes those rapes? Rapists. There is no reason a woman gets herself raped. Disgusting human beings who think they can take whatever they want are the reason women get raped.

  • Erin November 21, 2013, 5:21 pm

    I very much agree with what you have said. I have one issue, and I think it may not actually be an issue, but rather a choice of words. I personally think all women are beautiful. I believe all people were born with a desire to look good, and more so women than men. I think this is God given, and I also think it is very misunderstood and misused. I do not think it is worldly to care about your appearance and make efforts to look your best (so you can feel your best). I think one reason so many people stop caring is because they don’t know how to take care of themselves, they are really confused about modesty (from articles like the one you critiqued), and the idea that somehow if you try to look nice, you are trying to look ‘sexy.’ I personally have learned over the past few years that although we have general guidelines, there are no hard and fast rules about modesty, because each person’s way to be modest will be different. Tell a large breasted women she can’t wear tight shirts or anything too low… what is she supposed to wear? Baggy turtlenecks? I digress… I don’t think saying that all women are beautiful is degrading if you are meaning it in the right way, that is your beauty is coming from who you are and literally shows on your physical countenance. If you are simply talking about physical appearance alone (or even ‘spiritual beauty’ alone), you are missing the bigger picture. It is both together. I do think the way this bishop talked about female beauty was degrading though. 100% in agreement there. I just don’t think it has to be.

  • Cyndi November 21, 2013, 5:23 pm

    Thank you SO much for this rebuttal! What he said (and put on a blog) needs to be addressed, but he is so OFF on what truly constitutes modesty and virtue! According to what he is saying-and what has been taught time and again in church- modesty ONLY refers to what the young women/women are WEARING and the possible reaction of the men to it. So it goes along that, if there are only females present, they can wear whatever they want? THAT is “being modest” because there are no males around to corrupt? Hmmmm….
    TRUE modesty and virture is MORE about how one thinks and acts than what one wears. I have known girls who are very modest in what they would wear but never minded a dirty joke/dancing/movie and called those who would not agree with them “prudes” or “Molly mormons” (always considered a derogatory name!). These were also girls that thought nothing of french kissing a boy as long as her shirt stayed buttoned and his hands behind her back. On the other hand, I have known women that might wear a shirt button undone or a neck line a bit low that were totally modest in how they acted and what they did and how they treated others.
    The idea that it is up to the girls to enforce good behavior on the boys is so repugnant and misleading.
    In the 70’s and early 80’s when I was a young woman, shirts were made to fit small busted girls. I was a….well, let’s just say that I had a hard time finding anything that did not fit tightly. It was always more than a bit embarassing. Because of this, most men (and women, too I might add) seemed to think that I was 1) tryng to get attention and 2) that I grew them expressly for them to ogle and comment on. One night, at a bi-stake YSA dance, I was asked to dance by the handsomest RM in the room. Well, HE thought he was! I was twenty. One of the frequently taught lessons in YW at the time was that we needed to make a list of all that we wanted in a husband, with the most important being that he was a Returned Missionary (…angelic choir sings!). So, I was suitably impressed and flattered that I was asked. It wasn’t until we were dancing that I realized…ugh, I can hardly stand to write this….that he was rubbing himself against me, obviously with an erection, in front of and amidst the others! I was so mortified that I was paralyzed! I had not ever experienced anything like this before! Later, when I said something to one of the women who had been there as a chaperone, she told me that it was over and not to mention it again, and that I must have pressed my breasts against him!?! Since then, it has been a self-esteem issue that I have fought for most of my life. That I was only good for what I could do for a man.
    I don’t care if this man is a Bishop or not, what he is telling the young women and young men IS WRONG! It should be the men who are protecting the virtue of the women around them by watching how THEY think and act around them. Not vice versa.

  • Liesa Swejkoski November 21, 2013, 6:41 pm

    This poor man just can’t win. I know his thoughts and phrases come from another era, but what he says is true: men process images differently. Additionally, you are right. So is Elder Holland. The responsibility is with the brethren to keep their thoughts in check. It truly is sad, but where I live in Utah, many of the boys pick their girls out before their missions. These sweet children wait for the men to return. They are high maintenance cuties in high school and are high maintenance when they get married. then the men complain about how much money it costs them to keep their ladies in clothes, jewelry, make up and hair appointments. Believe me, I’ve heard it. Then a modest girl, a bit of a tom-boy like my youngest who is naturally pretty gets passed over by the men who want trophy wives. Face it, every Barbie starts to look like a cabbage patch kid and every man’s six-pack becomes a keg. Sadly, the men are left wondering where Barbie went and don’t care that they themselves become barrel chested. I have to say, I love my husband just the way he is. I sure hope he still is attracted to me as I near fifty. I am not so sure he does. I love the man inside. I cannot help but get wrinkles and will never get lip injections, a breast lift or an eye lift. Yes, adult men process things differently. Let’s take the higher road and love them anyway.

  • Girl November 21, 2013, 10:16 pm

    Okay first of all with all do respect I understand your opinions but let me tell you straight you shouldn’t ever question our leaders and secondly stop tryna make this sound like our church men are sexist because their not. And thirdly heavenly father our God is male as well so please keep all your disagreements in your own head and stop giving our church a bad name. Its all about obdience and if you have problems and issues you want to address let your leaders know or visiting teacher this is not the way to lay them out. Not all women of the church are for this. Things ‘ll ike this lead to personal apostasy. Prayers are with us all.

  • Mike November 21, 2013, 10:32 pm

    @Mary Quantz, I’m not debating whether or not rapists exist. I think we can all agree that they do, and I’m not justifying their actions to any degree. They will have to answer for their sins when they meet their Maker.

    You are right, there is a lot of problems with rape in middle-eastern countries as well, which is very sad. I don’t know that we can for sure say that it happens in one place for the same reasons it happens in another place just by looking at the outcomes.

    Back to the point, here is the best analogy I can think of to explain my view.
    If you have two women, and one walks around soliciting herself vocally and the other doesn’t, which do you think will be inviting to the carnal man? I feel that what you wear also makes a statement whether it is your intention or not (or whether you think it should or not). It is naive thinking that says, I can go around and do and wear what I like and think it should have no affect on others (men). You will not change all men nor the way they think. But even if your not intending to, what you wear might be broadcasting a different message than how you feel.

  • Mary November 21, 2013, 11:31 pm

    @Mike- of course men and women will have thoughts and feelings that come almost as a reflex when seeing someone attractive to them. I’m not arguing that. It’s HUMAN nature, not just men’s nature. Trust me, women are sexual too. I’m contesting the idea that scantily dressed women = more rape/incest. Actions are not reflexes. Actions are choices. I think your analogy compares “immodest” clothing (a word that is troublesome because of many interpretations) with prostitution, which is not only ludicrous, but continues to put the responsibility for a “carnal man’s” actions on a woman.

    Rapists will rape. Clothing has nothing to do with it.

  • Mary November 21, 2013, 11:36 pm

    @girl-He’s not my bishop. He’s human and makes mistakes. My testimony is of the true doctrines of the gospel, not Mormon culture, which is what this bishop was preaching.

  • Rick November 22, 2013, 12:43 am

    My first inclination is to say “thou dost profess too much.” That wouldn’t really be fair. But there is an issue. I’ll get to that in a minute. What the real problem I see with this is that you have judged this Bishop just as surely as you accuse him of doing. Whenever a man discusses female modesty, the hackles come up – “You are accusing women of being responsible for men’s behavior” “You’re saying that women are responsible for being raped” etc etc. Except that’s not what he’s saying. He’s not really saying that women are responsible for men’s behavior. He’s not saying that Bathsheeba was responsible for David’s lusting after her. He’s merely telling women how men think – not whose fault – it is obviously the man’s fault is his mind goes to the gutter or he can’t keep his hands to himself. He’s letting them know what the consequences of their behavior are. He’s not excusing men in this article at all – he’s not addressing them.
    As a natural man, catching a glimpse of areas that have been sexualized will create a reaction (I really don’t think the specific area is the issue – what areas are more of a cultural thing – some cultures don’t see breasts as anything special – in the US, we do – from marketing, as well as women’s behavior themselves – let’s face it, haw many US women’s fashions are specifically designed to call attention to the breast). Yet, the educated spiritual man in me recognizes that and ignores it generally with some degree of success. That’s my problem.
    On the other hand, we are responsible for our own behaviors. If I walk through a rough part of town waving a wad of cash – it’s not my fault if someone robs me. But I do have some responsibility. If I had behaved differently, I would not have been robbed. The difference in the two scenarios is my action – so I have some responsibility. This example is a bit extreme, but the principle holds. The Bishop is really trying to address intentions. Maybe a better way to put it – a woman should be able to walk down the street naked safely with no harm. Yet, purposely walking down the street naked so as to call attention to yourself is inviting trouble. There is a specific difference. An accidental glimpse of a bra strap or a glimpse of the chest while picking something else is one thing, wearing camisoles and extremely short skirts so a man can’t miss it is totally another.
    Your shoulder chip was a bit evident in your response to the Bishop’s comment “When a sister tells me she doesn’t want to take out her endowments because garments restrict her wardrobe.” He gives us the specific reason, but you go off on completely different reasons to justify your attack on him. For example “recognizes the commitment endowment entails and wants to be ready” is not the same as restricting her wardrobe.
    In the end, you are being every bit as judgmental as you accuse him if being. The same guidelines apply to young men, except that in the opposite case, women will cringe in seeing a man’s inappropriate parts unless he is the perfect specimen. Men are just less particular.
    Oh, and I have to make one specific disagreement with you – vehemently. In talking about beauty, you say “No, we’re not. Some of us are, some of the time. Most of us are just, well, normal.” I disagree. You are beautiful. I have seen few women that aren’t. And that’s virtually always because of their actions and attitudes – not their appearance.

  • Marco November 22, 2013, 3:29 am

    As a Bishop of a singles ward, I have to chime in. Alison seems to have a knack for stimulating discussion, and I admire her fearlessness.

    I was at BYU when Elder Holland gave that talk, and love it. I give out printed copies to ward members who are having challenges with the law of chastity (read: virtually everyone who comes to see me). The entire talk is celestial education.

    But here is my ‘advice,’ for better or worse. It’s the same for guys and girls. Every day is Halloween. Every day, we wear a costume. Halloween wasn’t too long ago. Every year there are older kids who go trick-or-treating dressed as ‘gangsters’ or the like, but look no different than they look every other day. And then they are surprised they don’t get treated with respect? Or that people are hesitant to answer the door when they come seeking candy?

    A ward member, a returned missionary guy, complained about having a hard time dating girls. But he came to church every Sunday wearing a wrinkled colored shirt, loose tie, unshaven, and slippers (flip-flops) instead of shoes. He said somberly, “why don’t girls take me seriously?”

    The same is true for girls. Look at television shows. When a female character is portrayed as a responsible professional, the wardrobe has to match, or the viewer is confused. Why is that so hard to learn?
    Perception is reality, as the adage says. A girl can dictate to some extent how she wishes to be perceived. That can go a long way.
    As to responsibility, each person is 100% responsible for their own actions. But a priesthood holder or returned missionary has more accountability due to his covenants.

    I often think of what a perfect weapon an irresponsible returned missionary guy can be in the hands of the Adversary. Sisters are raised in the church seeking the returned missionary as the iconic perfect mate; the Paragon who will take her into Eternity. When she meets and dates a returned missionary, there can be an understandable relaxing of a normal cautionary attitude. So the guy can be the perfect stealth predator, taking advantage of all that a girl is raised to seek. Most guys don’t intend to become predators, but it happens. When a guy drops his guard and ignores the promptings of the Spirit, he can become a deadly weapon.

    When a 15-year old girl came trick-or-treating to our house Halloween night, alone, dressed as a sexy French Maid, we were horrified. We worried she would be attacked.
    I worry that way about our ward members. I worry about how they dress, not as to standards, but as to perception. Guys and girls. Same problem, different manifestations.

  • Joni November 22, 2013, 5:53 am

    On another note, I’m a little curious about the circumstances of this talk. It was a talk, but given only to women, so it wasn’t given in sacrament meeting but must have transpired in Relief Society instead. When was the last time your bishop came into a RS meeting and gave a talk – not a lesson, with questions and answers, but a lecture-style sermon? I can’t recall a single instance of that happening and I’ve been in RS half my life. I’d certainly think it was odd. And didn’t someone mention this took place in California, not Utah? CA is fairly liberal; did any of the young women present react? Did they get up and leave or sit in stunned silence? And at what point did Eastland look over what he had written and think “This is awesome, I need to have this printed in a magazine”? And who at Meridian Magazine thought it was a good idea?

    Like I said, I’m really curious, as it’s a pretty unusual set of circumstances. usually it’s only GAs who merit having their talks reproduced in whole.

  • Chase November 22, 2013, 9:01 am

    Thank you so much! I am a priesthood holder and cringe at the fact that he says “what a man sees, he wants to posses” That is a horrible generalization, you think for one minute when one of the apostles is walking through the mall and sees a victoria secret poster he wants her? That is ridiculous! In fact i remember a story of an apostle walking through a city and after they passed some posters for a strip club the man with the apostle asked “what do you think when you see pictures like that?” To which the response was “I dont even see them, my brain doesnt even process the picture” Please for the love of men and women stop the barrage of attacks on how women need to change, and focus more on how to access the atonement and control or as Alma says it, “Bridle your passions” is it said the immodesty among women? Yes, but even more sad is the fact that men have been trained to look for it, to seek after it. I feel bad for the sisters who had to sit through this uncomfortable talk, i certainly would have stepped out!

  • Alison Moore Smith November 22, 2013, 9:19 am

    Thanks again for the great comments. I hope to continue to address your points as time allows. Keep them coming, pro or con.

    When I first read Eastland’s talk, I despaired at how much reach it had. He had something over 4,000 facebook likes on that post — fairly obvious given the number of glowing links I had seen myself. I knew that this little blog could never reach that many people.

    Yet, as I write, this page has been viewed about 35,000 times and “liked” over 5,300 times. I am so grateful to those who helped present an alternate point of view. If nothing else, it sends a message that we need to think carefully before we present the same tired ideas again and again.

    Thank you for your help. Carry on!
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…Easy Bake Oven RecipesMy Profile

  • Cyndi November 22, 2013, 9:38 am

    @ Girl This isn’t an issue of questioning our leaders–Bishop Eastland is not MY bishop. When he decided to make his remarks available in a public forum, he became just a man who felt that his opinion was valid enough for publication. Which is fine…..and arrogant. No one is going “down the road to apostasy” by questioning a fellow being. If you really read the article, you would also note that the talk by Elder Holland was quoted as a good source, from our leaders, on this topic. Eastland’s was not faith building or inspiring (read Elder Holland in whole), but rather degrading and misleading, no matter what the intent.

    @Joni I would love to hear those questions answered myself! And where is Eastlands modesty? Surely it isn’t “modest” to talk to a group of young women, using the examples (Bathsheba, “posess and caress”, etc) and tone (it is your responsibility therefore, your fault) that were used. Nor is it modest to think that what one has said is important enough to be published for others to learn from.

  • Sam Carmack November 22, 2013, 1:59 pm

    I think it is important to be careful with things like this. As in, articles that criticize what a leader is or is not doing on a personal level. This Bishop is making a point that is worth making. Complaining that that he isn’t covering everything else isn’t really worth saying because the church does a good job on educating the youth on a basic level. Some good points were made in rebutting what the Bishop may or may not have done wrong, but overall I noticed a lot of assumptions, generalizations, and opinionated statements. I feel sad that this woman has had such bad experiences with church leaders, but in my experience, when the leader and the individual are both in touch with the spirit, the leaders of the church become or source of heavenly help. One example that I noticed was when this woman seemed obviously annoyed that he explained the principle of where the law of chastity begins, rather than where it ends. In my opinion, YES there are youth who have that question, “How far is too far?” That may be why the church made a mormon message “Understanding the Law of Chastity.” The video uses the same analogy as the cliff. I think it is a good and important principle; but, it seems that this woman spring boarded from the bishops explaining of this principle straight to criticizing him for being “lazy” and not wanting to give specific answers. Please, let the bishops do their job. They are trying to uplift and educate by the spirit. It feels enormously un edifying when their counsel is received in this way.

  • Mungagungadin November 22, 2013, 2:52 pm

    Thanks for writing this response. Someone had to muster the will to combat the creepy and I’m glad it was done so well. The Eastland article was so awful it made me despair.

  • R November 22, 2013, 3:01 pm

    Regarding the endowment, the correct phrase is, “receive one’s endowment.” I don’t know where the phrase “take out one’s endowment” came from, but it’s as bad as saying “ATM machine” or “PIN number.”

    Do you take birthday presents from people if they’re not willing to give you presents? Same principle. G‑d is willing to give you the blessings of the endowment, but you must be willing to receive it.

  • Mike November 22, 2013, 3:24 pm

    @Mary, I find it interesting you think clothes will have absolutely nothing to do with rape. As you said, what a woman wears gets her male attention (or sexual attraction), so unless rapists don’t have sex drives or aren’t driven by sex at all, I would say it (at least sometimes) is a factor.

  • carboncopy November 22, 2013, 4:12 pm

    Sam Carmack, this guy posted on a blog. We’re not defying authority to discuss it. (He’s not even a bishop anymore and he’s sure not mine and never was.)

    R, I agree about “take out” vs. “receive” but you know the article ^^ says that, right?

  • nathan scoll November 22, 2013, 4:23 pm

    Mike and others who think rape has ANYTHING to do with dress and grooming, how ’bout looking at all the research and data on it? Rape has everything to do with anger and entitlement, next to nothing to do with physical attraction or “immodest” dress, something entirely subjective to begin with as many of these comments show. Its the reason “possess and caress” sounds so rapey to so many who read Eastland’s article. Maybe consider heeding the science on this and on commensurate female sexuality and sexual response, female scoptophila etc. Some of you are so eager to “amen!” people like Moira bringing up the most superficial and reductive “men are visual, people!!!” but science and actual facts cut both ways. Consider expanding your frames of factual reference, especially since you’re probably all in agreement with Moira and others that men process images differently (to which i give a resounding “yeah, and?” as pertains to the tone of Eastland’s remarks. It’s not like he was addressing a room of strippers; i am hard pressed to think most of his Audience–people I’ve met and lived among mind you– were prone to a standard that would be deemed “immodest” in most of the western world and, before you start thinking “but we shouldn’t be of the world!” think about what you’re really saying) @”Girl” your spelling and logic are so atrocious I can only assume that your post was in jest/trolling.

  • Maren November 22, 2013, 5:03 pm

    Thank you. Just thank you.

  • Kristy November 22, 2013, 5:18 pm

    I found this disturbing on so many levels, I am only going to address what is to me, the most painful. Did I agree with the bishop’s comments? No. Not at all. Do I agree with Elder Holland? Absolutely. BUT—
    I have served in leadership positions in the church. Not because I wanted to, but because I was asked to. I have given talks and lessons—maybe too many to even count—not because I thought I was wiser, more enlightened or knowledgeable, but because it was asked of me. Occasionally, I have been asked to talk or teach on subjects that seemed beyond me. I tried to do my best. Sometimes, I still struggle in my callings. And when I do, I pray. I study my scriptures. I attend the temple. I TRY to do my best.
    And I still fall short. I will possibly say things that I may later regret. I expect that of myself. Because I’m sometimes stupid, and misguided, and I’m often tired. And cranky. I’m not saying Bishop Eastman was any of those things, but I know that sometimes—too many times—I am.
    I don’t know Bishop Eastman, but right now my heart aches for him. Wouldn’t it have been kinder to have written him a personal note stating your objections to his message rather than posting on social media for the world to see? Maybe you were trying to correct false doctrine—and I’m not criticizing you for doing that—I’m just cringing because I know that next time I am asked to speak or teach from the pulpit, I’m going to remember this post and wonder if the flaying given to Bishop Eastman could also come my way.

  • Natalia November 22, 2013, 5:56 pm

    I’m so glad you wrote this. I was completely baffled by all of the females on Facebook posting Bishop Eastlands talk. I still remember to this day having WAY too many lessons to count about, “We as woman need to make men better.” and why a young girl who wore “T shaped underwear caused a young man to look at porn. Which transpired to addiction.” GIVE ME A BREAK! When will this “I’m a man who holds the priesthood, therefor in my household it is God, me then my wife.” I’m lucky enough to have a husband who believes we are COMPLETELY equal. *Sigh* Apparently this is a touchy subject.

  • John November 22, 2013, 6:13 pm

    Honestly I feel like a lot of these ideas in this article are over critical of a man who’s trying to do his best. Alot of the times you took his comments and blew them out of proportion, or took ideas from them that I feel like weren’t his intention. I agree that the way he phrased many things is odd. But we’re not in the interviews with him. We dont see the young men that are fighting the addiction of pornography. Or the heartbreaking interviews with those who have made mistakes. And so as a Bishop I’m sure his only intention is to help young men and women from making mistakes.

    I feel this article is extreme.

    @Sam Carmack I think you said that perfectly. Thats exactly what I was thinking.

  • Susan November 22, 2013, 8:54 pm

    This has gone on for too long. I think this discussion is great. Hopefully, with newer generations, a better understanding that is less stereotypical will arise. Men and Women have an equal responsibility to respect themselves and each other. Modesty is about respecting the body that Heavenly Father gave us.

  • Mary Quantz November 22, 2013, 9:23 pm

    @Mike, please stop justifying rape. You don’t think you are. Rapists rape to control someone. It’s not about “sexual attraction.” Do some reading on a site other than Meridian magazine. You bet I’m snarky right now. Ignorant comments like yours are the reason victims blame themselves and hate themselves for another’s sick actions.

    @Nathan: AMEN.

  • Anastasia November 22, 2013, 9:27 pm

    So I get the backlash of the talk by the Bishop. Was it totally awful…No…wasnt great either. As I read the response the talk by the blogger…I had to remind myself that this is about LDS people…men and women. Many people are converts. My husband is one. He grew up in a very different home than Mormons…No God and it was normal for teens to watch porn and smoke weed together (this was the 80s too) Yes Men are responsible for their thoughts getting carried away…Just as when we go to church…we women should feel “safe” that the women at church aren’t dressed like they are at a provocative fashion show or party in LA . I admit It I dress Sexy when I am out sometimes…Sexy with my garments….Its a different way to dress than I would at church though (and I dress nice for church) MY husband explained that it is sometimes hard to get the image of a woman out of your head when she looks especially attractive…be it her tight top or skirt, showing more than usual. Usually he says its at the beach or if we go to dinner and some woman is dressed in not much. He doesn’t lust after her and I completely trust him in every aspect of our marriage. The nice thing about church…I usually know I wont see that nor will he…we can all focus on well…church and the message. I have been distracted when a new person and convert moved into our ward…and well frankly she looked like a stripper “trying to be Conservative”….she was trying…but even I was uncomfortable…I am sure she will get the hang of being a little more subtle eventually. But my point is we are all not equal…in our raising in our thoughts and the way be learn and teach. So ya….maybe the approach and wording can be different…and then some of yours could too. I liked most of your writings…and I didn’t like some. So as they Say in AA after a meeting “take what you want and leave the rest” . It is really up to the Parents to guide the kids in this way…do teens really listen much to the Bishop when he talks? They will listen to a parent over a Bishop. Thanks, love and Peace.

  • Angie Gardner November 23, 2013, 3:06 am

    Kristy, I am sure you realize that the reason for the response by Alison in a public forum was that this was an article in a public forum. She is not critiquing private counsel she was given or even a talk she heard in her ward or stake. This was something on the internet shared with thousands of people. When Eastland published his thoughts, he opened himself up for better or worse. Obviously, many liked what he had to say as evidenced by thousands of likes and shares. Others felt the opposite and their voice is just as valid. As for Eastland, he’s not a stupid person who just let something slip in a Sacrament meeting and got criticized for it. He is intelligent and educated and likely spent hours and days carefully selecting his words to put ON THE INTERNET. While I personally feel badly for the backlash he is getting, please understand that none of us would be discussing this at all had he not published it for the world to see.

  • Kevin November 23, 2013, 2:50 pm

    This is a pretty good post, but it has to be read charitably for it not to be mostly nonsense. Here’s an example. The post takes the position that it’s “not just uncomfortable, but inappropriate, to require women (particularly young women) to counsel with older married men about such issues.” Fair enough, and it’s a good point. However, an uncharitable reading of that statement is that it’s just a stupid, odd, bizarre non-sequitur considering that the church does not and literally cannot require women to do anything, and it reveals a truly twisted understanding of what the church does and is. A person with just the right axe to grind can find “errors” like this throughout this lengthy post.

    I bring this up not because I think the post is wrong or bad (I don’t), but because this entire post comes from exactly that sort of reading of Eastland’s piece. If you’re going to carelessly throw language around because your audience knows what you mean, that’s fine, but kindly grant the possibility that the people you criticize might be doing the same thing you are.

  • Liesa Swejkoski November 23, 2013, 4:18 pm

    Just a thought that I wanted to add: Not all men who see us Mormon women are LDS. Many of those might have been raised in a culture that encourages female domination and possession. Many of them might be addicted to porn. They could care less what Bishop Eastland said or what comments Allison M. Smith made in rebuttal. They don’t care if deep inside you have morals and standards. What they are likely to do is to touch, assault and rape you if they see cleavage and thighs. I didn’t even think about that until today. It is wrong, but this behaviour exists just as sure as weather, mountains and mosquitoes in the Summertime.

  • Michelle G November 23, 2013, 5:55 pm

    Thanks for your thoughtful comments–very well put.

    Just wanted to say, I have always custom ordered my garments. I don’t have any “special needs”–I’m just very tall and slender as are my parents who have always had to custom order theirs, too. The ladies at the distribution center have always been super helpful with this, but once you have your custom pattern set, reordering is a breeze. Anywho…

  • Alex November 23, 2013, 6:21 pm

    Wow…reading this makes me think Bishop Eastland has some things he needs to talk to HIS Bishop about, regarding his personal views and behaviors towards sex and women. His comments are artificially intimate and the tone is forced and smacks of overcompensation.

  • Alison Moore Smith November 23, 2013, 9:22 pm


    However, an uncharitable reading of that statement is that it’s just a stupid, odd, bizarre non-sequitur considering that the church does not and literally cannot require women to do anything, and it reveals a truly twisted understanding of what the church does and is.

    You use the word “require,” but I do not think it means what you think it means. 😉

    1. need for a particular purpose
    2. cause to be necessary
    3. specify as compulsory
    4. instruct or expect (someone) to do something
    5. regard an action, ability, or quality as due from (someone) by virtue of their position

    Yes, the church requires many things of members…and women. Including counseling and confessing about very personal issues with men.
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  • James November 24, 2013, 12:28 am

    If you would have attended any other young singles ward you would be able to recognize that this bishop did an excellent job on addressing a very difficult topic. I have experienced excruciating talks on chastity which are uncomfortable and weird, but this bishop made it simple and understandable. I feel that you have some other factor that is causing all this rage and hatred toward someone you don’t even know. Now we all know this bishop is not perfect, but he is doing his best. Please lay off the hatred and start spreading positive and uplifting material like your Heavenly Father would like.

  • Mary November 24, 2013, 10:45 am

    @James: I attended a single’s ward until I was thirty. The talk is creepy. The talk is highly sexist. The talk is NOT plain and simple because it is wrong. Modesty, however you define it, should never be about someone else. Only yourself and how you respect yourself. Whether or not a person stays chaste is his or her own responsibility. If men feel they can “posess and caress” a woman because of her clothing, the problem is with the men. Of course we are all going to look at someone we find attractive. We may even have an inappropriate thought or two, but if we leer, if we fantasize, if we physically act on those things, it is our own responsibility. Nobody else’s. If we expect to succeed in the plan of salvation, but can’t handle immodest clothing without having sex, then we have failed at bridling our passions. Nobody has failed us. We failed ourselves.

  • TJ November 24, 2013, 1:20 pm

    Thank you! I was severely creeped out by this talk as well. I’m so glad I’m not the only one that felt that way. I, and probably a lot of us, have seen first-hand how harmful this mentality can be (referring to the Eastlan male-psychology mentality). It is disturbing, and I’m so glad to find a blog post advocating against it. And so clearly and logically. Well done.

  • TJ November 24, 2013, 1:31 pm

    @Liesa Swejkoski
    I see what you’re saying, but actually, I’ve found in my own personal experience, as well from what others have said/posted that non-LDS men are often times more respectful to women who are scantily clad. LDS men are constantly told that they can’t control themselves, while men outside the church are taught to respect people. Period. You’re right, not everyone thinks that way, and there are people out there who do terrible things, but I just wanted to say that even though most of the men out there that you see are not LDS, this does not mean that you will get treated badly because of how you dress. In fact, I feel like the opposite is true right now because of the current mentality on modesty, and how we teach it.

  • wassupwas November 24, 2013, 4:33 pm

    James, why are you posting here, just spreading hate?

  • Jeff November 24, 2013, 5:09 pm

    I couldn’t agree more with the need for young women to counsel with someone of their own gender about this type of thing. A “common judge in Israel” does have a duty to sit in counsel with members but certainly not to navigate the waters of female sexuality.

    There were a lot valid points I appreciated about the original article by Bishop Eastman …but there were many others that needed further examination. You’ve produced a great complement to the original article which gives us the whole picture.

  • Margie Ron November 24, 2013, 11:19 pm

    Smack down on Kevin. Beautiful.

  • Richard November 25, 2013, 9:16 am

    I am interested to know how you came to the conclusion that the church approves of Bishops counseling with Women on matters of sexual intimacy. Bishops are called as spiritual counselors and common judges. Bishops are trained to refer all other matters to appropriate resources. Any church leader, male or female, who takes it upon himself to do more than this is acting outside any authority granted by virtue of his calling.

  • LJ November 25, 2013, 10:25 am

    You know what I REALLY love about this post? And I say this as a totally, fully active Priesthood holding male who has made plenty of his own mistakes when it comes to virtue, lust, and anything related: That Bishop Eastland, bless his heart, is getting is proverbial a&% handed to him. THANK YOU Allison! As a recovering porn/sex addict I desperately believe in the power of the Atonement, as well as the fact that we don’t need women to control our desires, we need MEN – US MEN, along with God, to control ourselves!

    And how about the fact that I both POSTED the following comment on the Meridian site, as well as emailed it to Eastland direclty. Meridian didn’t approve it and Eastland didn’t reply. Go figure. Here it was:

    Bishop Eastland, this took courage. And I know you MEANT WELL…most Bishops and Stake Presidents do…..but sadly you missed the mark. As a recovering sex/porn addict who created a living hell for his wife over nearly 20 years, I cannot tell you how much this type of attitude from Priesthood leaders continues to enable and minimize the behavior of the (sadly) single fastest growing segment of the church. NO, it’s not new or foreign members…it’s porn/sex addicts.

    I love that you were brave enough to spell out some clear cut standards. You got that part right. But telling women to cover up so men won’t misbehave is absurd. If your son came to you after wrecking your sports car would you sue the manufacturer? No, you’d love your son but hold him accountable for his reckless behavior.

    I’m a strong, active, life-long member of the church who has lived the hell of addiction and objectification and seen the unbelievable trauma it causes the beautiful sisters of this church. If you’d like to know exactly how it makes them feel kindly read Jacob Chapter 2, specifically verse 35 about their hearts dying. As in DEAD.

    PLEASE: No more Priesthood enabling of other Priesthood holders. No more “Boys will be boys”, No more “a zebra can’t change its’ stripes.” I fully agree, and can attest to the fact, that men are indeed wire more visually, but this is not a justification for lust, objectification, and much, much worse.

    Sisters, yes – follow his counsel and be modest, but I’m here to tell you something: Do it because it’s the right thing, the thing your Heavenly Father designed you to do as your body was given to house your spirit. NOT to protect us men from ourselves. We will work with God on doing that part ourselves.

  • nathan scoll November 25, 2013, 1:27 pm

    @ LJ: they didn’t print my (totally innocuous) comment in Meridian either and, from my experience w/ him and his ilk as it were, they are far more interested in issuing content than engaging in dialogue. Don’t hold your breath on a reply but keep fighting the good fight!

  • Ammon November 26, 2013, 10:08 am

    The treatment of women needs to change in the church, it is one of the many reasons why I don’t go anymore. But I will say this- Larry Eastland is THE most open minded leader I have met during my 30 years of attendance. It makes me sad to see a feminist attack one of the few men who are headed in the right direction. The woman who wrote this post made a couple good points, but those points were drowned out by the rest of her illogical adolescent shouting. I found her post to be bitter and in poor taste- and the very reason why so many mormons are scared of, or have ill feelings toward feminism. If you want to have a well thought our provocative discussion on how women should be viewed there are much more mature and productive ways to do so. She should be ashamed of what she wrote no matter if she made a couple good points. It’s hateful blog posts like this that slow down the church from making positive changes.

  • Jae Markham November 26, 2013, 10:48 am

    As a former Bishopric member, I ALWAYS felt is was SO WRONG to council Young Women on such Subjects. I wished that my spouse could have been there to Support Me as I felt that it was NOT my place to be discussing these issues. And when I served on Discipline Matters, I always stressed to others, that we were to do so with a Christ Like Love, or WE would be held accountable for the same sins. That didn’t always go over so well with the others Bishopric members.

    Thank you for a wonderful article that I will be sharing with my Children and Grandchildren when I have them.

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  • Alison Moore Smith November 26, 2013, 11:11 am

    I am so grateful — and surprised — by the response to this post. Thank you. I’ll try to respond some more today.

    Brian, it’s a circular argument, isn’t it? You “curse the darkness” so you can tell me not to “curse the darkness.”

    Let’s assume you had the goal of minimizing the number of times the YSA men and women in your ward broke the law of chastity over their respective lifetimes.

    If that was my goal I would lock everyone up in individual, padded cells. Mission accomplished.

    Perhaps that is the problem, Brian. Perhaps Eastland’s intended goals are wrong.

    We teach CORRECT principles — not false “doctrine,” not scare tactics, not inappropriate assignment of blame. Then we hope and pray that people will govern themselves according to God’s teachings. And if they don’t, we look to that atonement thing to get back on the right track.

    What would I say? I’d tell them what God actually said about chastity. I’d talk about the blessings of keeping related commandments and the problems that can occur if they aren’t followed. (My birth parents weren’t married. My birth was indicative of the kind of problems people deal with.) I’d try to help them gain a testimony of Christ being who he said he was and believing that the commandments are for the benefit of each person.

    Why would we go much beyond that?

    Lori Hart, thank you. Any culture or subgroup that teaches modesty/abstinence/chastity probably deals with similar issues. We need to be grounded in doctrine and common sense when we do. Thanks for reading!

    Lisa Loo, thank you for getting it! Great additions!

    Growing up I was never taught that if I felt a sexual attraction to a male, it was because he has invited this attraction by dressing or acting a certain way. Why is it okay to tell young men the reverse?

    Yes, yes, yes!

    I have to add that there was almost zero discussion about women being attracted or aroused at all in my day! Sometimes I thought I was the only crazy girl who actually had to try to keep it clean!

    Lisa Loo, also thank you for addressing an important point. When people jump to defensiveness in spite of ongoing evidence that real people have been harmed by these attitudes, it makes one wonder why the defenders don’t care about this harm.
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  • Alison Moore Smith November 26, 2013, 11:53 am

    Justa Notherpagehit, so you prove the worthlessness of rebuttals by rebutting my rebuttal?

    Michael Carr, I agree, but we still can’t have this kind of discussion. 🙂 There is no way on earth I could have said this in Eastland’s meeting and, you’ll note, even saying it here compels a lot of kickback. The only reason I can discuss it at all is that I own this blog and “they” can’t stop me. :/

    Why is that?

    Richard B:

    Why can’t we approach immodesty as an opportunity for men to strengthen themselves instead of demonizing women who wear a short skirt or low cut blouse.

    Abso-bloomin-lutely. Perfect.
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  • Alison Moore Smith November 26, 2013, 4:37 pm

    Jeremy, the response to your post became a post in itself.

    When Decent Mormon Men Don’t Get It

    Brandi, thank you for your comment. I hope you do rethink things! The church — like any institution — has problems, deals with cultural issues, etc. But Christ is your Savior. I truly hope you can reconnect and if you ever want to contact me, I’d be honored to talk to you.
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  • Barkleee November 26, 2013, 6:32 pm

    I haven’t read through all the comments yet and probably won’t have time to given all the cooking yet to be done. But I stopped for a few minutes to check in and want to thank you for answering some questions I’ve had for years. I just couldn’t understand being responsible for what boys do but it never occurred to me that it was wrong. I’m embarrassed to admit that all these years I’ve gone along with this and even taught my children this, but I never thought I could say a bishop was wrong.

    I’m not stupid. I have an advanced degree in science. But this is just a compartmentalized part of my thinking. The thing that bothers me most is that I taught this to my son as well as my daughters. I hope I have time to undo this!

  • Alison Moore Smith November 27, 2013, 9:15 am

    anonymous, thank you for sharing your experience. You appear anonymously on the site. 🙂

    I don’t know how common your experience is in it’s specificity, but if you’re an adult male asking questions about sexuality any more explicit than “do you keep the law of chastity,” I think the boundary has moved to a place that is likely inappropriate.

    Don’t misunderstand, I’m not blaming the bishopric for this, necessarily — although I know myriad bishopric members who’ve gone well “above and beyond” the requirements of their positions — but that the very nature of “getting to the bottom” of sexual behavior is just hugely problematic.

    In the case anonymous outlines for example, I personally know more than one kid from my YW leadership days who was masturbating without knowing that was the name for it. If this is really a need-to-know item, can’t we come up with a booklet or something that the kids can read privately or with their parents so that they know what’s acceptable and what’s not and so that the very general questions are clear without the questioner getting specific and graphic?

    Of course, that leads to the problem of confession. What if the child HAS engaged in sinful behavior? How much detail must they go into with their leader? Once again, you get into this problem with teenage girls being required (yes, required) to talk to middle-aged married men about their sexual behavior. Just. Not. Right.

    Misty, I don’t “equate beauty with sex and/or the white american view of beauty.” I’m simply using Eastland’s words as he did. Of course there are varying definitions of “beauty” and to change his definition to another would be the fallacy of equivocation.

    That said, you also use a particular definition of “beauty” and most likely it’s NOT all-inclusive. If it is, it’s really meaningless in the sense that without a contrast it’s very hard to define.
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  • sharkboards November 27, 2013, 11:14 am

    This opens another sensitive subject: that of repentance, the Law of Chastity, and the role of Bishop. This perhaps should be its own discussion. But given all the references to the role of Bishop and the appropriateness of their questions regarding the law of chastity, I must weigh in.
    As a common judge in Israel, the Bishop holds keys and is accountable for every soul in the ward. When a young person comes to a bishop seeking the Lord’s forgiveness, the bishop has the charge to assess the severity of the sin and help to encourage a ‘mighty change of heart.’ He is charged to help truly purge the sin and gain the Lord’s forgiveness through the Atonement of the Savior. There is only the Spirit to dictate the specifics, and it does mean that some bishops can seem overly harsh or seem too…whatever. That is one of the great challenges of asking regular people to take on the responsibility of being a Bishop. As a student at BYU, I recall a bishop telling us over the pulpit that “I will be hard on you” and joining the murmurs from ward members to the effect of “I’d rather die than speak to that guy.”
    Many ward members have already had that change of heart, but many have not and just seek a pass so they can go on a mission or absolve their feelings of guilt. I have personally felt the sorrow and regret that comes from having been too hasty to assure a ward member that the process of repentance was complete. It can result in more sin and what’s worse, no real testimony of the power of the Atonement. It’s a fine line. I worry about that with every ward member that comes into my office.
    Part of that responsibility is asking for some details of the sin. I am never comfortable asking about details, but that confession is an integral part of repentance. I have heard many things that have given me pause, amazed when a certain sexual practice is deemed by the member as “OK’ to do, as it is ‘not really sex per se.’ I find myself in the role as teacher, when the education on specifics of the law of chastity was not either sufficiently driven home or was not paid attention to. Or it can be simple rationalization. Regardless, a careful and spiritually uplifting discussion about chastity is often needed. Using the words of Prophets and Apostles (like that of Elder Holland discussed earlier) really helps.
    This is where the Spirit is essential.
    Further, youth today have a very different experience in their sex ‘education,’ which comes mostly from the media, regardless of parents’ best efforts. I applaud parents who are successful in teaching their children and helping them insulate themselves from our society’s terrible assault on morals and understanding. When a ward member shows his or her determination to keep the law of chastity, I rejoice, and I feel a spiritual witness every time. But many more ward members have problems now than even four years ago when I was first called. I would say about a third of my ward has been in to see me since September regarding the Law of Chastity.
    I held a special combined Fifth Sunday priesthood and Relief Society meeting for our YSA ward last year regarding the Law of Chastity. Even after several years as a Bishop, I was amazed at the things we discussed and the attitudes inculcated in our young people not by their parents, but by their friends and our ever-helpful media. Bill Clinton’s famous redefinition of ‘sex’ is only the tip of the iceberg. Much has transpired since then. In fact, an exchange regarding pregnancy and out-of-wedlock birth was amazing: among our ward members who hail primarily from the US (about two-thirds), there was no reference made to adoption as an option! In fact, the question was posed as to whether abortion is really a ‘bad sin;’ there appeared to be genuine interest in the answer! And yes, we sadly have had to deal with abortion among our precious young ward members.
    We have been asked as Bishops to augment the Temple Recommend interview with an inquiry as to a ward member’s understanding of the Law of Chastity. I am becoming converted to the need for this. Pre-missionaries also require a searching interview, as an ineffective or incomplete repentance can result in a weak understanding of the Atonement and worse, a crippling of spiritual power so fundamental to a missionary. This can result in a higher propensity to sin and a thin testimony.
    Our ward sent out over 30 missionaries in the first half of this year. In every interview, a searching discussion of the Law of Chastity was necessary and has been fruitful. We (Bishops and Stake President) ask about their understanding of the Law of Chastity and allow them to explain in a way that is comfortable for them.
    Bottom line: many of our good church teachers and leaders are doing a splendid job of education, but the problem is so pervasive and destructive that we must always seek to do things better. The Adversary is tireless in adjusting and refining his attacks on us. Our media affects our children from a very young age. We must be equally creative and empower our youth to be warriors at a younger age than we.
    And we bishops will continue to do our best, guided by the Spirit and motivated by love, dealing with our weaknesses, constantly trying to repent, feeling insufficient to our calling, and rejoicing in our ward members’ successes.

  • Alison Moore Smith November 27, 2013, 11:24 am

    Thanks for sharing your experience, Heidi.

    I think women understand women’s issues better, and men understand men’s issues better.

    If we follow the church’s published oft-repeated logic about eternal gender differences, I do not know how we can say otherwise. How, how, how do we assert that men and women are so incredibly different and then also insist that men can effectively administer the church and counsel women in such personal issues?

    There are good men out there, but there is also temptation, and bad things HAVE happened before.

    I personally know a man who was the bishop of a married student ward. He was “counseling” a newlywed woman in his ward and ended up having an affair with her. He was exed and soon thereafter his wife ASKED to have her name removed from the church rolls. She was an adult, of course, but the intimacy of the counseling was said to have been what lead down the path to this disaster.


    I don’t necessarily think everything he said was as confusing as you made it out to be…

    I didn’t think it was confusing, per se. I just thought it was wrong. 🙂 Thanks for giving a counter-example to the generalizations.

    I’ve been blogging for nearly 11 years and been using the prooftexting method since the early 90s. You can probably find a billion examples just by googling.

    I don’t know what post you’re referring to, but if you’re implying that I copied the FMH post, you’d probably be better to recognize that the same issues come up (with religion, with education, with homemaking, with performing, with heath, with EVERYTHING) all the time. And that FMH didn’t invent prooftexting. Duh on both counts.
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  • Bob December 19, 2013, 12:09 am

    Alison Smith….You are one stupid lady. Your logic has no merrit and will never understand anything that is important in life because you think you are wise. We know what happens in the scriptures about those kinds of people

  • Chagrined January 30, 2014, 9:41 pm

    I’m embarrassed to be the same gender as Bob, above. He and Eastland should marry and move to a deserted island together.

  • Brett March 5, 2014, 12:25 am

    You seem fairly entrenched in gender warfare. You accuse this Bishop of playing to old stereotypes. However, you do the same thing in your critique. You assume that every Bishop (or male church member for that matter) is incapable of discussing intimacy with women. You’ve take one (extremely) poor example of a Bishops counsel to women and made a broad generalization to Bishops throughout the church. You therefore assume that every woman is more capable simply due to her gender. As a former Bishop I have seen examples of young women leaders leading horrendous discussions with young women on the subject of sexual purity. Lets face it, this is a tough subject to address with young people if you’re not a professional blogger. I agree with your distaste for this Bishops approach. I found it brash and arrogant, and I thought the quotes from Elder Holland offered the perfect rebuttal. Your comments on the other hand were equally brash and arrogant. You went so far as to criticize the man for saying how beautiful he thinks his wife is. Get off your feminist high horse! I’m sorry but I simply will not begin telling my wife how intelligent I think she is simply because If I tell her she’s beautiful someone might mistakenly think I’m too sexually charged to notice anything else! Good grief, that has to be as poorly a formulated idea as anything Bishop Eastland had to say. Remember what the Savior said about casting stones? Oh dear, and here I am with a fistful of them. I’d better be done…

  • Alison Moore Smith March 5, 2014, 7:36 am

    Brett, the straw men are so numerous as to be amusing. If you dare, reread what I actually said and then make corrections.
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  • Brett March 5, 2014, 9:34 am

    “I’m hard pressed to believe that a man would be the best source for intimacy information for women”

    “Why don’t you tell us, I don’t know, how bright she is? how accomplished she is? what a savvy budgeter she is? Just focus on something besides what a man thinks about a woman’s physical appearance!”

    “… “It shouldn’t be surprising that Mormon men treat you just as poorly as men in many cultures have historically treated you,” then I can get on board. And he should have followed his acknowledgement of the historical norm with condemnation of that norm.”

    Alison – this is me rereading. Help me understand how I have presented a straw man argument? Is it not relevant for your readers to understand your view of men as we read a post addressing the way men view women? Please don’t get me wrong, I agree with you on almost every point made against this Bishops approach on the subject. One of the biggest problems I have with Bishop Eastland is that he makes the assumption that all Mormon men believe as he does – and that he is speaking on our behalf. For all of your arguments, you seem willing to agree with him on this point. That, to me, feels very “anti-men”. Please, help me see it differently. I think I am a reasonable person and I will change my view if my concerns are addressed rather than being asked to reread as though my comprehension skills are inferior.

  • jennycherie March 5, 2014, 10:29 am

    Brett- you posted three quotes with no individual commentary which makes it a little difficult to see your point clearly. I don’t get the same ‘anti-men’ vibe from this that you do.

    For example, you said, ” You assume that every Bishop (or male church member for that matter) is incapable of discussing intimacy with women. You’ve take one (extremely) poor example of a Bishops counsel to women and made a broad generalization to Bishops throughout the church. You therefore assume that every woman is more capable simply due to her gender. ”

    I can’t see anywhere where it said that every woman is more capable to discuss intimacy due to her gender. The point was, if a woman has a sexual problem to discuss, her ONLY option is to talk to her bishop – a married man. It would be great if she had another option (such as the bishop’s wife or the RS president). Can you imagine what it would be like if men has to discuss problems of this nature with a female ecclesiastical leader?
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  • Brett March 5, 2014, 11:06 am

    Hi Jenny- I totally agree with you about the difficulty women face discussing intimacy issues with a Bishop. While a Bishop may be the only option for confession – he certainly isn’t the only option to discuss sexual “problems”. Women are free to discuss intimacy problems with whomever they please. Make no mistake, talking to another man – not of my choosing – about any sexual issue is not comfortable for me either. Just because my Bishop happens to be of the same gender does not mean he is someone that I feel particularly comfortable discussing those things with. Now, I appreciate that the level of discomfort is increased for women due to the gender issue – but aren’t we all dealing with the fact that we don’t get to choose who we can confess to?

    I think we are on the same page with this point, so I will move on. Please help me understand how the statement, “I’m hard pressed to believe that a man would be the best source for intimacy information for women” does not insinuate a blanket disregard for a mans ability to address this issue better than a woman. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that the opposite is true. I simply think it is destructive to apply the idea with such a broad brush. Would it be great if women could confess to other women? Sure. Is the church headed that direction? In my opinion, I don’t see it. So, why sow the seeds of distrust in women toward their Bishops – many of whom are very capable and loving in counseling women in matters of sexual intimacy?
    Thanks for the comment.

  • marco too March 5, 2014, 12:13 pm

    I noticed this blog is reawakening. Great! I love this discussion. It’s timeless and will always be current and relevant. Preface: I’m a Bishop of a YSA ward, and have been for five years.
    I want to give an update on how I have changed. Since reading this last Fall, I have more fully realized that:
    1. I have not spent enough time speaking with the brethren in my ward about this subject. We men do notice everything about women, and we will always be immensely attracted to them. We live in a beach community, and are surrounded by women in bikinis in public. Not noticing is not possible. But there is no excuse for men to behave badly or linger on impure thoughts.
    We men have absolute responsibility to adjust our behavior. That means, we must learn to control where our eyes go when talking with a girl or when we are near one. It means consciously controlling our thoughts.
    2. We men cannot dictate what is the “ideal level” of modest dress. BYU policy tries to do this with mixed success. We understand extremes, yes, but in between, well, it all goes back to self-control. I still occasionally must consciously force myself to look directly in the eyes of a sister who is wearing a low-cut shirt. That is my problem, not hers.
    3. The sisters know most of this stuff anyway. What they really need is to know that they are truly beautiful in the best way: by having the Spirit present. That is the greatest attractor of all. I have seen truly amazing women who are physically far from ideal receiving attention from many more guys than one would think. I will focus more on that.
    4. I am even more conscious in my counseling of young women.
    5. I am truly grateful to see a more focused emphasis on the true equality of women to men in the Church. It is gratifying to see more in practice that Priesthood authority does not equal dominance. Inspired Church leaders have always understood this, but it’s finally being made more manifest. This prevents misunderstanding.
    And I want to point out one fundamental issue about being a Bishop: When the Lord says “he who repents of their sins, the same is forgiven, and I the Lord, remember their sins no more.” It is true. I amend that to say that I, your Bishop, remember your sins no more as well. I remember having good visits and the accompanying spiritual growth, but for nearly every case, I FORGET when the repentance is complete. In fact, I regularly visit with ward members who come in and make reference to a sin they had discussed with me earlier. But I cannot remember the sin, and end up talking about principles, which is the real point, after all.
    Thanks, again, Alison, for tackling this.

  • Alison Moore Smith March 5, 2014, 5:18 pm

    You seem fairly entrenched in gender warfare.

    This is nothing more than ad hominem.

    1. Being “entrenched in gender warfare,” has no bearing on the validity of my position.
    2. If I’m “entrenched in gender warfare,” it will be interesting to hear you say women lobbed the first grenade.

    You accuse this Bishop of playing to old stereotypes.

    Actually, I just quote him. He’s pretty good at segregating himself all on his own. 🙂

    You assume that every Bishop (or male church member for that matter) is incapable of discussing intimacy with women.

    Could you point out where I do this? Since I don’t actually think that’s true (my husband is really good at discussing intimacy with me — among other things) it would be odd for me to make that claim. If I did make that claim, it was utterly unintentional, so please let me know where I make such a claim so I can correct it.

    You’ve take one (extremely) poor example of a Bishops counsel to women and made a broad generalization to Bishops throughout the church.

    You therefore assume that every woman is more capable simply due to her gender.

    For these two claims, please see above. Please point out where I (1) generalized to all men (something? I’m not sure what?) and (2) where I claimed all women are more capable. I’ll be fascinated to discover it!

    Lets face it, this is a tough subject to address with young people if you’re not a professional blogger.

    Weird, I don’t think it’s a tough subject. And I didn’t think so even before I was a professional blogger. But, hey, I like talking about sex, so there’s that.

    As a former bishop, though, I’m sure you don’t like uppity women who like to talk about sex. Or who dare challenge former bishops.

    I agree with your distaste for this Bishops approach. I found it brash and arrogant, and I thought the quotes from Elder Holland offered the perfect rebuttal. Your comments on the other hand were equally brash and arrogant.

    Could you point me to your comment on Meridian where you took Eastland to task for hie “brash and arrogant” post? I assume you’re being even-handed about this.

    You went so far as to criticize the man for saying how beautiful he thinks his wife is.

    Yes, I did. In context. (That matters, you know.) I criticized him for bringing up her beauty (you know, that most important of all female qualities on earth) when it was utterly irrelevant to the topic he was discussing (inconvenience of garments).

    You may find this shocking, but there is more to women than their physicality. No, really!

    Get off your feminist high horse!

    I will as soon as you get off your I’m-a-former-bishop high horse. Deal?

    I’m sorry but I simply will not begin telling my wife how intelligent I think she is simply because If I tell her she’s beautiful someone might mistakenly think I’m too sexually charged to notice anything else!

    You might, however, want to begin telling her she’s intelligent because she IS intelligent. (I know, I know, I’m making assumptions here…) Just a thought.

    Remember what the Savior said about casting stones? Oh dear, and here I am with a fistful of them. I’d better be done…

    Brett, please be clear on this. The stones aren’t in your fist. You let fly a long time ago. I don’t have a problem with you judging my post. But when you couch it in terms of scolding me for casting stones, it’s kind of a pretty irony.
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…Career Inequality No More – Obama Will Pay You to Be a Super Model!!!My Profile

  • Alison Moore Smith March 5, 2014, 5:58 pm

    Make no mistake, talking to another man – not of my choosing – about any sexual issue is not comfortable for me either.

    Is this how you discussed problems with your kids? your parishioners? “Well, it’s JUST as hard for ME!!!” Do you not see the dismissal of concerns so many women (yes, sooooo many) have?

    Now, I appreciate that the level of discomfort is increased for women due to the gender issue – but aren’t we all dealing with the fact that we don’t get to choose who we can confess to?

    Actually, no, I don’t think you really appreciate it. Sorry. Why? Because you so readily and easily dismiss it and put it back into the “It’s just as bad for ME.” court.

    So, no, it’s not the same generally for men as for women. PARTICULARLY given the way women are acculturated (PARTICULARLY in the church) they are asked to do something that in any other circumstances would be utterly in appropriate. Not just talking about personal things, not just talking about personal things with people they’d rather not talk to them about, but talking about intimate, personal things with a married man. YES, it’s different.

    And when you take this down to teenage girls, get serious. It’s another step on the totally inappropriate to creepy spectrum.

    I think we are on the same page with this point, so I will move on.

    THIS is what’s wrong in the church structure. This right here. You said something, jennycherie disagreed, you restated your position with some additions and then unilaterally concluded you were “on the same page.” Time to move on. Discussion over. “The priesthood” has spoken.


    This is a discussion. Your former position doesn’t give you authority here. Talk to women like they are equals.

    Please help me understand how the statement, “I’m hard pressed to believe that a man would be the best source for intimacy information for women” does not insinuate a blanket disregard for a mans ability to address this issue better than a woman.

    Brett, you have decided to read well beyond the words. (Probably because you’ve decided I need to be called to repentance for being on a “high horse.”) Look at the ACTUAL words.

    For example, read the entire (two-sentence) paragraph. What I actually in real life said was:

    In addition, it has been been affirmed authoritatively again and again in our church that there are enormous distinctions between genders. If we accept that as truth, I’m hard pressed to believe that a man would be the best source for intimacy information for women, but I’ll set that aside for the purposes of this post as well.

    IF WE ACCEPT (as the church affirms again and again) that men and women are SO vastly different that it has far reaching consequences, then I am “hard pressed” to think that men would be the “best source for intimacy” — one of the things MOST gender dependent things of all.

    I that brush is too broad for you, then it’s the church’s brush you are arguing with.

    So, why sow the seeds of distrust in women toward their Bishops – many of whom are very capable and loving in counseling women in matters of sexual intimacy?

    Brett, I’m unsure where distrust enters the picture. It’s simply a matter of physiology and acculturation. And I didn’t sow the seeds. They’ve been mature plants for years. You just haven’t been paying attention.
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…The Ethics of Business on Thanksgiving (and/or Other Holidays You Like)My Profile

  • Alison Moore Smith March 5, 2014, 7:29 pm

    marco too, where are you?!!! If you weren’t, you know, a married man and all ;), I’d give you such a hug.

    Your comment is the most precious thing from this whole exercise. I cannot even begin to tell you how wonderful it was to read it. Thank you for listening. Thank you for seeing a new paradigm. Bless you, brother, most sincerely.
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…70% Off Entertainment Coupon Book + Free ShippingMy Profile

  • Brett March 5, 2014, 10:06 pm


    Thanks for the response. It sheds far more light than your original reply and I appreciate it…truly. One of the difficulties inherent in communicating via a blog post is that no matter how eloquent, it is difficult to determine a persons voice and feeling behind certain statements. I admit that I misjudged you on a number of issues. For that, I apologize. I fear that you have also misjudged me and I’d like to clarify…

    “Weird, I don’t think it’s a tough subject. And I didn’t think so even before I was a professional blogger. But, hey, I like talking about sex, so there’s that.

    As a former bishop, though, I’m sure you don’t like uppity women who like to talk about sex. Or who dare challenge former bishops.”

    – I like to think that I am not the type of person you depict here. At least I hope not. I don’t hold myself in such high regard as to think that I am not one to be disagreed with. That is the reason I took issue with your first reply. I do appreciate a healthy debate.

    “You may find this shocking, but there is more to women than their physicality. No, really!…You might, however, want to begin telling her she’s intelligent because she IS intelligent. (I know, I know, I’m making assumptions here…) Just a thought.”

    -We’ve both made incorrect assumptions. Please know that this is one.

    “I will as soon as you get off your I’m-a-former-bishop high horse. Deal?”

    -Touche! I had that coming. That comment wasn’t my finest moment, sorry.

    “Brett, please be clear on this. The stones aren’t in your fist. You let fly a long time ago. I don’t have a problem with you judging my post. But when you couch it in terms of scolding me for casting stones, it’s kind of a pretty irony.”

    – This was me trying to tell you that I already appreciate the irony of my post. But, thanks for throwing that back in my face.

    “THIS is what’s wrong in the church structure. This right here. You said something, jennycherie disagreed, you restated your position with some additions and then unilaterally concluded you were “on the same page.” Time to move on. Discussion over. “The priesthood” has spoken.


    This is a discussion. Your former position doesn’t give you authority here. Talk to women like they are equals.”

    – You are way off base here. The statement “I THINK we are on the same page” was a simple assumption that we both agree that the person we have to confess to isn’t always who we’d like it to be. I was honestly trying to find common ground – it never crossed my mind to come across in the way you’ve insinuated. Also, I think we may just have to agree to disagree on this point. I do believe that a man can completely understand the discomfort associated with confessing to someone that they don’t feel comfortable with. How is it any less “creepy” for a young teenage boy to discuss intimacy with a married man that he barely knows and does not feel connected to? There are many (yes sooo very many) women who do not struggle with this issue at all. Yet there are also many men who have had horrible experiences in a Bishops office. Furthermore, I can honestly say that as I consider the situation, I would not feel any less comfortable confessing to a married woman. Gender would make little difference to me so long as the response to my confession was appropriate. That was my point. No assertion of authority whatsoever and I’m sorry if I came off that way.

    One last thing. You failed to address one statement:

    “If by that he means, “It shouldn’t be surprising that Mormon men treat you just as poorly as men in many cultures have historically treated you,” then I can get on board. And he should have followed his acknowledgement of the historical norm with condemnation of that norm.”

    – This is perhaps the statement I struggled the most with. Please, help me see how this is not a blanket slap in the face to Mormon men everywhere?

    Alison, please know that I am not your enemy. We are on the same side. I really meant what I said about the truth in your post. I didn’t take Bishop Eastland to task because you had already done a fine job of it. You say I haven’t been paying attention. I don’t believe I’d be reading this blog if that were true. However, I think I will forever treat this topic with a different perspective as a result. Thanks for that.

  • Cambendy March 5, 2014, 11:44 pm

    Brett I haven’t commented on this in months, but I’ve followed all the stuff. I want to respond to what you say.

    ***Thanks for the response. It sheds far more light than your original reply***

    All I can think is that you didn’t really read the “original reply” but just got right up into the business of telling her what up.

    *** it is difficult to determine a persons voice and feeling behind certain statements***

    I’ve been reading here for, I think, over ten years. It’s not at all hard to determine the voice if you take the time to get aquainted with people before you start screaming. Don’t blame it on blogging, blame it on you thinking your opinion is more important thean just taking a few minutes to get familiar with what is here so you can hear the voice instead of just calling names.

    ***But, thanks for throwing that back in my face.***

    You can try to make yourself the victim, but it’s pretty lame. You let lose with criticism and then describe yourself as someone who is ABOUT TO criticize. My high school english teacher called that understatement and I call it trying to make yourself look good.

    ***it never crossed my mind to come across in the way you’ve insinuated.***

    Maybe it should have.

    And last, it’s easy to say that gender makes no difference to you when you know you’ll never have to actually deal with it.

  • Bev C March 6, 2014, 12:24 am

    Brett, I am a 62-year-old, third generation Mormon lady who is a current Relief Society president. (Does that give me clout? Probably not, but thought I’d throw it in anyway!) This is my first time on this site. (My daughter-in-law just sent me a link to the bullying post.)

    As much as I love the men of the church and think they are some of the finest human beings anywhere, I truly think they have a ghastly blind spot.

    In the comments you are very belligerent, arrogant, and downright rude. You come in here to authoritatively set the record straight. You even throw your title around as if that’s supposed to mean something on a blog. But when a woman (and very objectively, this happens almost exclusively with women) points out your behavior, you claim to be misunderstood and not really anything like you are.

    I’m pretty traditional. I don’t want the priesthood and I’m not vying for power. But I deal with the power structure in the church (yes it IS power) every day. And if there is just ONE BIG thing that would help things work better, it would be for men to just admit that patriarchy causes problems and requires men to do all sorts of things they wouldn’t normally do just to make things tolerable.

  • jennycherie March 6, 2014, 5:16 am

    “While a Bishop may be the only option for confession – he certainly isn’t the only option to discuss sexual “problems”. ”

    I should have been more direct. I meant sexual sin. Of course I can talk about problems with anyone I care to, but in dealing with sexual sin, I have no options.

    ” Now, I appreciate that the level of discomfort is increased for women due to the gender issue – but aren’t we all dealing with the fact that we don’t get to choose who we can confess to? ”

    In a church where we focus on the difference between genders, I don’t think this can just be brushed off as “we don’t get to choose who we can confess to.” The different roles of men and women are so vital to our doctrine and we go WAY over the top with our cultural rules about men and women even being alone together with someone other than their spouse. We preach tirelessly about avoiding even the appearance of impropriety, yet if I need to confess a sin that is sexual in nature, all of those rules and cultural norms go out the window. Doesn’t that seem a little wrong? Or at least worth a meaningful discussion?

    “Please help me understand how the statement, “I’m hard pressed to believe that a man would be the best source for intimacy information for women” does not insinuate a blanket disregard for a mans ability to address this issue better than a woman.”
    Brett – it’s not about who can address it better. It’s about what is more appropriate. Again I ask, how would our church be if men had to confess to women? Personally, I think that is a HORRIBLE idea. I don’t think a woman can understand a man’s desires or what it feels like to be a man anymore than a man can truly understand a woman’s desires or what it feels like to be a woman. We can learn a lot, we can empathize and work to understand each other, but it is not the same as having the same parts and the same hormones working on you.

    Seeing a problem with the status quo is ok and can help us change and improve the culture in our church. It is not an attack on men or on bishops.
    jennycherie recently posted…Fear 101My Profile

  • Brett March 6, 2014, 10:07 am


    Thanks again for your reply, and for the light you shed on the subject. I honestly hadn’t considered the church’s stance on gender roles and the nature of confessions as a double standard. But I see your point, I really do. And, I appreciate you pointing it out without berating me.

    I guess my experience in confessions with women and girls has been so overwhelmingly positive (and while I can’t speak for certain, I feel safe saying that those I was working with felt the same) that I had never considered what you are saying. My view of confession is not a detailed discussion about sex. It is simply a statement of “here is where I messed up” and the remainder of the meeting is usually spent discussing Christ and the Atonement. It never had a “creepy” feel to me.

  • Brett March 6, 2014, 11:15 am

    Hi Bev,

    I’m not a bully. You think my comments were arrogant and rude? Outside of me telling Allison to get off her feminist high horse – where did I engage in bullying? I apologized for the feminist comment, and I meant that apology. I’m truly sorry. Whether you choose to accept that apology is your problem, not mine.

    The rest of my comments were based on legitimate concern. I hope you’ll realize that. I don’t have a problem with feminism as long as it is approached with the intent to empower women, not to simply tear down men. I felt some of the latter in the blog post and shared my frustration. Alison addressed my concerns and I feel fine about it. It was a good discussion. Please, don’t view me as a bully for sharing my opinion.

    As for the priesthood side of the argument. You think that I mentioned my former calling as an effort to provide clout? If I had mentioned that I was a former bishop in an argument that only involved gender I could see your point. But this discussion is very much about bishops. Mentioning that I am a former bishop is as relevant as mentioning that you are a woman in a discussion about gender. Is it not relevant? In almost every reply I have invited discussion. I’ve asked for others to help me understand, to help me see it differently. Some, like Jenny and Alison, have really helped in that regard.

    Like I told Alison, we are not enemies. We are on the same side. I am very much a proponent for improving the role of women in the church. Please, don’t be upset with me.

  • Brett March 6, 2014, 12:05 pm

    Hello Cam,

    Thanks for your thoughts. I’d like to address a few.

    ***All I can think is that you didn’t really read the “original reply” but just got right up into the business of telling her what up.***

    – I was referring to Alison’s original reply to my comment. Not the original blog post. Alison’s original reply didn’t address my concerns. I read the original article many times before posting my comment.

    ***I’ve been reading here for, I think, over ten years. It’s not at all hard to determine the voice if you take the time to get aquainted with people before you start screaming. Don’t blame it on blogging, blame it on you thinking your opinion is more important thean just taking a few minutes to get familiar with what is here so you can hear the voice instead of just calling names.***

    -First, other than calling Alison a feminist, there was no name calling. Secondly, your reply proves my point. You know nothing about me except for what I wrote in reply to this post. I can tell that you have formed opinions about my character and my intentions without having met me. I have done the same to you. Is it fair? No, But we all do it. Furthermore, using your logic, can you tell me how long Alison spent getting acquainted with Bishop Eastland before tearing his article apart? I’m not saying I think she should have to, I’m simply saying that this would have to work both ways.

    ***You can try to make yourself the victim, but it’s pretty lame. You let lose with criticism and then describe yourself as someone who is ABOUT TO criticize. My high school english teacher called that understatement and I call it trying to make yourself look good***

    -If by saying I was trying to make myself look good by being literary, then I’ll confess that I’m guilty. I didn’t say the stones were in my fist because I thought that I hadn’t yet begun to throw them. I said it because it sounded better, from a literary standpoint. That’s all. I was trying to be fun about it by stating the irony. You do realize that you are now part of the stone throwing melee, right?

    ***And last, it’s easy to say that gender makes no difference to you when you know you’ll never have to actually deal with it***

    -I have a real problem with this logic. You’re assuming that every woman on this blog who is taking a stance on this issue has had to discuss matters of intimacy with a bishop. Do you think that is true? I don’t. Many of them have a problem with just the thought of having to do so. Is their stance any less valid? Why is it so different for me to say that I can imagine having to confess to a woman? And if you’re response is that men will never have to deal with that as a reality – then why have this discussion in the first place?

    Thanks for your reply. I also hope you’re not upset with me. I really think that we would all be friends if we could talk face to face. Also, thanks for the asterisk idea. It looks a lot better than quotes.

  • Jessica March 6, 2014, 6:14 pm

    I also have a problem with the way modesty is taught on all levels in the LDS faith, from a YW lesson to statements in general conference.

    My comment is more directed at the intro to your post. I think a lot of men are open to women teaching about sex. I taught a blunt, gospel based lesson at girls camp and was later invited to teach the young men of our ward. I taught them during priesthood on sunday. I moved to another state and taught the sex lesson again to our new ward encouraged by the bishop, who set up another gig for me teaching the sex lesson in his son’s ward. The stake is having me teach it to our whole youth and their parents. I guess my experience has been all the priesthood leaders I’ve interacted with are thrilled to have me teach, and supported it and found me more opportunities to teach beyond the lesson. BUT.. I had to have the courage to approach all these priesthood holders and propose the idea and every time they have responded in a positive way. It’s hard to begin the conversation, but I never thought I’d ever teach a Young Men’s lesson, let alone on sex on a Sunday and it happened. They may not ask women to teach the subject because they have no idea we want to. SO I’d say if you think you have something to offer the youth on sex, ask to teach it!

  • jennycherie March 6, 2014, 8:20 pm

    “I guess my experience in confessions with women and girls has been so overwhelmingly positive (and while I can’t speak for certain, I feel safe saying that those I was working with felt the same) that ”
    Thank goodness for that! In a perfect world, with perfect people, that is how it would be always. Unfortunately, I have heard just as many who were asked to describe their sin in detail. That is SO uncomfortable and dangerous when there is a male-female dynamic. I think what makes the topic so hard is that we all hear it from our own point of view. I can imagine that those who read this and are a bishop (or former bishop/man / priesthood leader of some sort) might feel it as a bit of an attack, especially if they had positive experiences in this regard. I don’t think it is an attack as much as it is an opportunity to increase awareness for those who have the power to change it but might not realize it is a problem.

    Not long ago, I started pointing out to my husband something that was bugging me. It wasn’t his fault, but he was the one who had the power to fix it so I started mentioning it, assuming that he would never be motivated to fix a problem that he did not know existed. Unfortunately, he felt attacked. I’m not sure why since he didn’t create the problem, but nonetheless he felt attacked. I think a lot of men feel attacked whenever women point out a problem with the patriarchal order of our church. It isn’t an attack, just pointing out a problem that doesn’t have to be.
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  • Alison Moore Smith March 6, 2014, 9:07 pm

    jennycherie, I would LOVE it if you’d write a whole post on that last paragraph. Great insight!
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…Sex is Bad – Then You Get Married and My Profile

  • jennycherie March 8, 2014, 5:43 am

    Perhaps I will . . . .maybe during spring break 😉
    jennycherie recently posted…RHS Band Marches at UCM HomecomingMy Profile

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  • Catherine August 19, 2014, 8:14 am

    I actually was as offended by your article as you were of the bishop’s article. You were so busy picking at words, becoming inflamed with the minutia, that you weren’t seeing his desire to help. First, all woman are beautiful no matter how normal they are….And men tend to have much stronger sexual urges than women….And although it is never the woman’s fault if there are unwanted sexual advances, we, as woman, also don’t want to be a reason for making it more difficult for righteous men to control those urges. Modesty for me is to dress in such a way that men say “How nice she looks” instead of “Boy she is HOT”. I felt this article was written by a concerned bishop, having seen a lot of young woman wearing very tight, revealing clothes, and being concerned about the people they were attracting and the reason they were attracting them. Mother’s have one perspective, but men have another, and this bishop had his perspective that was truth for him to share. Just because he teaches his thoughts, does not mean that he takes the place of a mother’s teaching. If from this talk he stimulates positive discussion, then that is a benefit.

  • Alison Moore Smith August 19, 2014, 8:12 pm

    Catherine, I’ve spent 50 years listening to people with a “desire to help” that have bungled the issue to the point of causing excruciatingly painful issues for thousands of women. Enough is enough.

    To be clear, I didn’t impugn Eastland’s motives, I impugned his content. If you have an actual disagreement with my content analysis, bring it. If you just want to continue to promote the idea that immodest women make it harder for men to control their urges, you must at least acknowledge that men who give attention to immodest women make it harder for women to dress modestly.

    How about both sides take responsibility for their own behavior rather than pointing fingers?
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…Argumentum Ad Hominem – Logical FallacyMy Profile

  • Brook August 23, 2014, 10:37 am

    As of late, I have been hearing statements along the lines of, “women are not responsible for men’s thoughts.” And I absolutely agree (although immodest dress could involuntarily spark a bad thought, it is ultimately up to the male to choose whether or not to go down that road – my opinion as a former pre-med major and current psychologist). I would also like to mention to Catherine that (again, in my opinion) I am not certain that we can accurately make the statement that “Men tend to have far stronger sexual urges.” Really? I am not sure if science supports that. No one person is able to truly experience the average of both genders’ sexual urges in order to tell humanity, once and for all, that men are more susceptible to sexual urges than are women. Sure, they have more testosterone but my belief is that society has made this ascertation for so long that we have given men a free pass to tell themselves “Well, I cannot control myself because I am a man so I’m not going to try to do so and if women show me some skin and my mind enters the gutter, it is their fault and not mine.” I believe that good men are better than this and I feel that we should stop thinking so little of them. On the other hand, the sexuality of women has been demonized throughout history. If a man sleeps around, his friends give him high-fives and congratulate him on his success. If a woman does the same, she is called terrible names and is seen as filthy and disgusting. Of course, I do not believe in encouraging this behavior for either gender (or sex, if you prefer to be technical) but my point is that I believe social expectations and labels, rather than physiology, are stronger driving forces as to whether or not we feel men are more sexually tempted than women.

    Thank you, Alison, for bringing up another good point. Men who give attention to immodestly dressed women make it difficult for women to dress modestly. YES! They really do!

    I recently attended a missionary homecoming (I guess we do not formally call it that anymore, but it was the case) when a group of very scantily clad young ladies walked in the door. One was wearing a dress that was so short, I could see the cellulite right below her behind. There is no way she would have been able to conceal her underwear if she would have had to bend even the slightest bit.

    Admittedly (and shamefully) the first thing I did when I saw this group of girls was to turn to my husband to see if he had noticed. Thankfully, he didn’t care to pay attention but honestly, it made my swollen pregnant self feel pretty terrible inside. It was so wrong that the way another “woman” or “women” were dressing made such an impact on how I felt about myself. I guess we could make the argument here that the way other people dress should not influence my thoughts… right? I guess I do not really practice what I preach. Certainly I do not desire to parade myself around town leaving little to the imagination but these dresses still made me feel self-conscious and uncomfortable because they had the potential of grabbing the attention of my husband as I sat there, gestating and enormous.

    Thankfully I am married to a pro-women’s rights man who is educated, open-minded and claims to be as offended as I am when it comes to the degradation of women and lack of women’s equality in society. While he does not give attention to women who dress in this manner, it still (if I am honest with myself) makes me feel like, while I DO take care of myself, I need to somehow compete with others to maintain my husband’s full attention. Again, this is ridiculous because he is not this kind of man but I am trying to explain why your point is so valid.

    Once again, I have probably gone off on a tangent in your comment section and am probably making no sense at all, but those are my two cents!

    Thanks, Alison!

  • Don-U August 23, 2014, 11:44 am

    I have to agree with Brook. And Allison for that matter. You are both thinking on the right track in my opinion. It’s not a woman’s responsibility to regulate what a man is thinking. And I would agree, seeing the attention that is given to women who leave so little to the imagination can cause women to dress the same way.
    This is a dangerous cycle. One woman gets attention from men for dressing immodestly and the rest begin to follow because women pay attention to what guys are most attracted to. This happens with guys too. Fashion fads hit men just as much as they hit women. And what predicates all of this? What started the cycle? Was it a woman who dressed immodestly on purpose, or did she simply not notice she was dressed immodestly when she went outside to get the mail, or while playing soccer with friends. I don’t think it’s important where it started or who’s to blame for guys wanting the immodestly dressed women or women dressing immodestly because it’s what so many guys want these days. What’s important is where it stops! Women have the choice to not dress immodestly and men have the choice to not pay attention to scantily clad women.
    I gotta tell ya ladies, out of all my friends, the guys who only go after the scantily clad women are jerks and they want nothing more than a quick hookup. They may keep your number in their phone for future hookups when they want what you gave them again, but they aren’t going to give you what real women want. Trust me, you’ll notice far more happiness in dating when you get the attention you deserve for who you are inside supplemented with attention for being beautiful on the outside as well. It’s far better than just getting attention for what you look like on the outside and maybe supplemented with some attention for being beautiful on the inside as well.
    And guys, I gotta tell ya, going for the girls who dress immodestly is not going to make you happy. Speaking from my own experience, I’ve gone out with girls who are nothing but an incredible body. Behind that, however, was a girl who didn’t further her education or expand her horizons. She worked part time to pay the bills but didn’t seek to better herself. I find that as women become smarter they begin to dress more modestly. My theory is this, they have become more confident in who they are inside and that confidence has superseded the confidence they have in their beauty. Look around you, the women who are intelligent and sexy dress modestly. The girls who are sexy but don’t have so much intelligence dress immodestly. Their confidence lies solely on their physical appearance. That’s the only way they know how to attract the opposite sex. Intelligent women know that they have so much more to offer than just a sexy appearance. Just by looking at them, you can tell they know they are sexy, but their main source of confidence is in their intelligence and personality. Personally, those are the only women I go for. And yes, that makes it very difficult to date. But I’d rather find a woman worth dating than a hookup.
    Sorry, I make such long posts. I always have a lot to say on many of these subjects.

  • Camber April 23, 2016, 5:56 pm

    A great,*great* response.

    Also, I know this isn’t central to your point, but as my own side note, “Don’t be Amish”? So an Amish woman can’t be beautiful? All these women who have committed themselves to their own community’s teachings of modesty are automatically unattractive? And yet, let me urge you to follow the principle in the way *I* describe it.

    Let’s please not add *another* category of people to perpetuate misunderstandings about here.

  • Ai August 9, 2017, 5:58 pm

    A thought that went through my mind was that if it is women’s fault how men think and feel about them, then it’s also ugly or pretty peoples fault when others think/talk/act badly or meanly towards them (for example bully or jelousy) or different colored people, overweight or skinny, sick people or homeless people or whatever really. Is it their fault if someone thinks meanly about them? Any judgements, bad thoughts and feelings that are built upon outer appearance are not what Christ was teaching. He taught us to love EVERYONE despite their looks and that it is our responsibility what we’re thinking and feeling about other people and that should not be negative in any way, which would include seeing women as sexual objects.

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