complaints, condescending twatbags, LDS, rants, slut shamers

Repost: Speaking of shameless shaming– Breastfeeding is not an act of public indecency!

Here’s a repost from July 27. 2018, inspired by the swath of people who seem to think that breastfeeding a baby is an act of public indecency and my recent post about the Duggars and “defrauding”. As you can see, the fundies aren’t the only ones who have screwy beliefs about modesty. I am posting it mostly as/is, as I consider what today’s fresh post will be. The featured image is in the public domain.

I would be remiss if I didn’t post about this news story I read last night about a Mormon woman who was shamed by her bishop and stake president for breastfeeding (link was removed because it no longer works).  According to KUTV, an unidentified LDS mom of four from northern Utah lost her temple recommend because she decided to breastfeed uncovered while she was in the foyer of her church.  Temple recommends are basically cards that identify worthy members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  One must have a valid temple recommend in order to visit the church’s temples, where “sacred” and secret religious ordinances, including many weddings, take place.  Temple recommends are very important to faithful Mormons.

A few weeks ago, the mother had gone to see her bishop about getting her temple recommend updated and signed.  The bishop told her that church members had complained about her openly breastfeeding her 18 month old baby.  LDS churches have “mothers’ rooms” where breastfeeding moms can go to privately feed their babies.  The bishop said she should either use the mothers’ room or cover up, since her decision to openly breastfeed might cause the men in the church to have “sexual thoughts”.  The bishop refused to sign the temple recommend and she had to get it signed by the first counselor instead.

Later, the mom visited her stake president so he could also sign her temple recommend.  The stake president also brought up the breastfeeding issue and quoted from a church pamphlet about the importance of modesty.  The pamphlet, “For the Strength of Youth”, is well-known to LDS church members and provides guidelines about how church members are to present themselves. 

The mother said that she got very upset during the meeting and had to leave the room several times to calm down.  The woman’s husband, who was also in attendance during the meeting, was told that he needed to “control his wife”.  The husband was also told that if he supported his wife’s decision to publicly breastfeed without a cover, he would also lose his temple recommend.

Some people may wonder why the woman didn’t simply use the mothers’ room.  Apparently, the room is off of the bathroom and this mother claims it’s too isolating for her.  Also, she says she can’t hear the service in the mothers’ room.  The mom warns that even after her child is weaned, she doesn’t plan to back down on this issue.  She correctly states that breastfeeding is not a sexual act and publicly feeding her child is not wrong.  She wants the church to be more accepting and sensitive toward mothers who choose to breastfeed in public.

As I read this story, I was, at first, very irritated on the mom’s behalf.  Fellas, if you’re turned on by a woman’s breasts, that is your problem.  It’s not up to women to protect you from your sexual thoughts.  You need to exercise more self control and realize that breasts are, first and foremost, intended to feed babies.  I realize that public breastfeeding is a somewhat new phenomenon in that, until recently, many women would feel uncomfortable exposing their breasts in public to feed their babies.  But dammit, breasts are not primarily for titillation.  They have a purpose.  A man’s sexual reactions to seeing a woman’s breasts are secondary to that very important purpose.  When it comes to embarrassment about breastfeeding, it’s the men who need to get over themselves, not the women.

Then, after reading about how this mom was treated by church leaders, I was irritated by her reaction.  I understand that the LDS church is the type of organization where membership is very important, particularly within family circles.  It’s not like it is in my family, where people attend different churches.  Most of my family members are protestants, but they aren’t all Presbyterians.  I have an aunt who is Episcopalian and a sister who is an atheist.  My mom played organ in Baptist and Methodist churches for most of my life.  Yes, many of my family members go to church, but there is no pressure to attend a specific church or practice a particular religion.  This is not necessarily true for Mormons.  To them, family participation is essential and in devout families, there is intense pressure to be Mormon and participate fully in the church.  Leaving the church can lead to a host of unpleasant consequences.

And yet… here is this nice couple doing absolutely nothing wrong, sitting there listening to church officials berate them for doing something totally natural and necessary for their baby’s health, and threatening them with eternal damnation for not conforming to their stupid rules about modesty.  I realize I’m not Mormon and never have been, but it’s inconceivable to me that these people tolerated those shameful remarks from church leaders.  They should have told both the bishop and the stake president to go fuck themselves (sorry, I’m in a mood this morning), gotten up, and walked out, vowing that their children would not grow up to be tithe payers.  I may be very cynical or even naive, but I think that’s ultimately a response that would get church leaders to listen.  Seriously, fuck those guys.  They are just regular men put into positions of leadership in a manmade religious organization.  They only have as much power as their members are willing to give them.  As long as church members allow them to talk to them in that way, the abuse will continue.

I do think it’s abusive to subject breastfeeding mothers to shame, scorn, or ridicule for daring to feed their babies in public.  If you think the church is right about this, the next time you have a meal, put a blanket over your head or go sit in the bathroom to eat.  Tell me, is that a pleasant way to dine?  Why should mothers and babies have to tolerate that?

It seems to me that this mom is very faithful to her beliefs.  She is exactly the kind of member the LDS church would not want to lose.  She cares enough about the church to want to hear what is said during meetings, even when she’s nursing her child.  While I personally think Mormonism is bullshit, she clearly doesn’t.  I don’t think she’s the kind of church member they’d want to alienate, since she has clearly had several children who will one day pay tithes… that is, if the church doesn’t one day drive them out with their outdated and anti-woman policies.

Churches are definitely losing members lately.  Nowadays, many people are abandoning religion or attending churches that offer more in the way of personal enrichment or entertainment.  I have never attended a Mormon church service, but Bill has.  He tells me they are extremely boring, except perhaps on fast and testimony days, when members get up to testify that the church is true.  I have heard that a number of colorful testimonies have been offered on those Sundays, although in order to enjoy them, you have to be fasting…  I’m not sure that’s a good tradeoff.

I’m sure the church is very important to this mother and her husband.  It’s a pity she didn’t just tell her leaders that she’d find a church where breastfeeding mothers are more respected and men are taught that they need to control their lust.  The onus should not be on women to protect men from “falling”.  The men should be taught to self-regulate.

And… for the last time, breastfeeding babies isn’t sexual.  If you think it is, you’re the one with a problem.

condescending twatbags, slut shamers

Catholic mom begs girls and women to stop wearing leggings…

Ah… modesty. It’s a topic that has graced my blogs many times in the past. Now I have a new blog, and I haven’t yet written about modesty on this one. So here goes…

Many people are of the opinion that leggings are not pants. Some people think leggings are indecent and immodest. Some people think people with certain body types have no business wearing skin tight, stretchy fabric that shows every crease and roll. And some people are hyper-religious and sexually repressed and they worry that the sight of a pretty young woman in leggings will cause moral decay.

Catholic mom, Maryann White, recently wrote a letter to the editor of The Observer, a student run newspaper that serves The University of Notre-Dame and other local colleges. White’s letter has caused a stir which caused so much commotion that the story was featured on White, who is the mother of four sons, writes:

“I’ve thought about writing this letter for a long time. I waited, hoping that fashions would change and such a letter would be unnecessary — but that doesn’t seem to be happening. I’m not trying to insult anyone or infringe upon anyone’s rights. I’m just a Catholic mother of four sons with a problem that only girls can solve: leggings.”

White goes on to explain that in the Star Wars movie franchise, Princess Leia was forced by Jabba the Hutt to wear a revealing slave girl outfit that “steals her personhood”. She explained to her sons that the slave girl outfit is demeaning, especially since it’s forced upon Princess Leia. Then, she writes that no one forces women and girls to wear leggings, except maybe the “fashion industry”, which has created these damnable garments that allow women to display their “nether regions” in such a way that males can’t look away from them.

I’ve actually never seen this movie… but I have seen the bikini. I don’t think Princess Leia’s bikini is the same as leggings…

White is very distressed about this. She’s so distressed that she writes:

I’m fretting both because of unsavory guys who are looking at you creepily and nice guys who are doing everything to avoid looking at you. For the Catholic mothers who want to find a blanket to lovingly cover your nakedness and protect you — and to find scarves to tie over the eyes of their sons to protect them from you!

She then goes on to suggest that girls and women “choose jeans” instead. She admits that we have the right to wear leggings if we want to, but choosing to wear leggings is, in her opinion, indecent and disrespectful on many levels. And oh, can’t we please think of the males who will be either tempted or disgusted by the sight of female bodies and their long suffering Catholic mothers?

I haven’t worn leggings in many years. There was a brief time in the early 90s when they were popular. I wore them then because they were more comfortable than jeans. I’m short and curvy– okay fat– and it’s hard to find jeans that fit properly without actually going to a store and trying on a whole lot of them. I also find jeans uncomfortable. The heavy seams and stiff fabric are not pleasant to me, so it’s not so often you’ll catch me wearing them these days. I particularly dislike how jeans have that low rise fly, which just accentuates my beer gut. Leggings can just be pulled on and stretch to accommodate everything. I don’t wear them today, but I can see why some women like them. I do think it’s wise to use good judgment and discernment when dressing. I wouldn’t wear them to church, which is one scenario White complains about in her letter. But then, I don’t often go to church anymore. I’m sure a lot of ministers/priests/holy people are less concerned about what a person wears to church and more concerned that they have butts in the pews and money in the offering plates.

I do understand Ms. White’s angst about leggings. They aren’t always a good fashion choice for everyone, at least in terms of aesthetics. However, that’s the kind of thing that is in the eye of the beholder. What may be offensive to one set of eyes is pleasurable to another. And it’s very difficult for people to please everyone. I run into that concept a lot as a blogger. I get snippy comments from people who don’t like what I write and complain, while others continue to read and even praise me. Women and girls can certainly eliminate leggings from their wardrobes, but then still offend people by wearing jeans or short skirts.

I think that it’s up to the “Catholic moms” (and all the other parents) to teach their children that people are worthy of basic respect no matter what they’re wearing. Maryann White says it’s hard to teach her sons that all women are someone’s wives, mothers, daughters, etc. What she doesn’t seem to grasp is the fact that women are not merely “someone’s anything”. Women are “someones” in and of themselves.

Chances are excellent that male hormones will surge regardless of what women choose to wear. Furthermore, it’s exhausting for females to keep trying to figure out which rules they should follow in order to be “respectable” in the eyes of people like Maryann White. It’s not up to girls and women to protect boys and men from their “lustful” thoughts. It’s up to everyone to exercise self-control of their own thoughts and actions.

I don’t think Maryann White’s letter has done much to convince anyone not to wear leggings anymore. People have become so up in arms about White’s comments that she’s inspired people to host “Leggings Pride Days”. They’re posting pictures of themselves in leggings all over social media. So, instead of shaming women back into long skirts and jeans, White has probably made the situation more acute.

The point is– what a person wears doesn’t define his or her worth. The human body is beautiful and complex and absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. So, Maryann White, don’t “slut shame” girls and women for wearing leggings. Teach your sons that women and girls are people worthy of respect and self-determination. I’m sure that such a caring “Catholic mother” such as yourself is up to the challenge.