Monday, October 22, 2007

Could I really love a man who could do something like this?

Today's installment is the one that most requires the caution / disclaimer.



I stopped in front of the doors to the bathrooms.

"The surprise is here?" asked Walter.

"Not precisely here," I said. "Go into the men's room and wait by the door in the back."

He laughed. "You have the key to the baptismal font?"

Read the rest of the story ->

9 comments:

aerin said...

Hey chanson - just wanted to let you know I think you're incredibly brave and I'm so glad your my cousin! (Brave as an author to post your novel on the internet, that is).

C. L. Hanson said...

Thanks Aerin!!!

matt thurston said...

Well done. Change the venue and a phrase or two here and there and you might as well be describing a dozen or more sexual experiences I had in my formative (especially pre-mission) years. I imagine the emotional response to sexual experiences for Mormon teens is fairly ubiquitous -- a highly charged cocktail of angst, shame, excitement, and lust.

You've accurately described the disparate response of Mormon girls and boys to post-sexual shame. In the "gentile" world I'd guess that girls generally feel more post-sexual shame than boys, the social stigma of being a "slut" or "easy" being more severe for females.

But in the "Mormon" world I think the roles are somewhat reversed. It's not that Mormon girls feel less shame than Gentile girls (no, they feel far more shame), but that oh-so-important milestone of serving a Mission, (and the psychological need to feel "worthy" for such), acts as a kind of "shame enhancer" for Mormon boys, to the point that they may feel even worse than girls following sexual indiscretions.

In other words, the downside of repentance for Mormon boys and girls is fairly equal (with some consideration given to girls for the enhanced cultural/social importance of being a "virgin") and largely private (with the exception of sacrament privileges), but the very public humiliation of not serving a mission trumps all.

Interestingly enough, this Mormon male vs. female shame disparity continues at BYU post-mission, as the built-in penalties for sexual sin for an endowed, garment-wearing, Melchezidek Priesthood Holding man (which describes most of the age 21+ male BYU population) far exceeds the built-in penalties for sexual sin for non-endowed, non-garment-wearing, non-priesthood holding women (which describes most of the age 18-22 female BYU population).

In other words, the shame dynamics of the scene you've so accurately painted continue to play out past adolescence and into young adulthood until marriage, (or the realization that the shame/lust cocktail is largely a cultural concoction and probably not the most healthy response to normal human sexual experimentation).

What a fabulous, bizarre, messed up, crazy experience it is to grow up Mormon with a healthy libido and curiosity?!? I look back at those years and both smile and shudder.


You've accurately described the disparate response of Mormon girls and boys to post-sexual shame. In the "gentile" world I'd guess that girls generally feel more post-sexual shame than boys, the social stigma of being a "slut" or "easy" being more severe for females.

But in the "Mormon" world I think the roles are somewhat reversed. It's not that Mormon girls feel less shame than Gentile girls (no, they feel far more shame), but that oh-so-important milestone of serving a Mission, (and the psychological need to feel "worthy" for such), acts as a kind of "shame enhancer" for Mormon boys, to the point that they may feel even worse than girls following sexual indiscretions.

In other words, the downside of repentance for Mormon boys and girls is fairly equal (with some consideration given to girls for the enhanced cultural/social importance of being a "virgin") and largely private (with the exception of sacrament privledges), but the very public humiliation of not serving a mission trumps all.

Interstingly enough, this Mormon male vs. female shame disparity continues at BYU post-mission, as the built-in penalties for sexual sin for an endowed, garment-wearing, Melchezidek Priesthood Holding man (which describes most of the age 21+ male BYU population) far exceeds the built-in penalties for sexual sin for non-endowed, non-garment-wearing, non-priesthood holding women (which describes most of the age 18-22 female BYU population).

In other words, the shame dynamics of the scene you've so accurately painted continue to play out past adolescence and into young adulthood until marriage, (or the realization that the shame/lust cocktail is largely a cultural concoction and probably not the most healthy response to normal human sexual experimentation).

What a fabulous, bizarre, messed up, crazy experience it is to grow up Mormon with a healthy libido and curiosity?!? I look back at those years and both smile and shudder.

matt thurston said...

sorry about double-posting my comment. please fix it for me. :)

C. L. Hanson said...

Hey Matt!!!

Wow, thanks for the compliment!!!

I always worry about this chapter a bit because it's probably the most questionable part of the whole novel: I'm portraying a face of Mormonism that most of the faithful would prefer not to see. So I'm glad when people who grew up Mormon confirm that it's accurate.

That's an interesting observation about the way the guilt is different for boys and girls within Mormonism, and the way the lifetime consequences are different. The one point I'd add is that the consequences (short and long term) can be as harsh for girls (or worse) in they case where they get preganant and choose to raise the baby, as Sister Mary Lisa described here.

p.s. I'm sorry I can't fix the comment -- blogger is really a blunt tool, so I can delete whole comments, but I can't edit comments. I should probably switch to Wordpress, but I'm too lazy. Anyway, your comment is clear, and everybody makes that kind of commenting errors...

An Enlightened Fairy said...

You are a fabulous writer! I look forward to reading more!
I just had a giggle over Matt's comment, "Change the venue and a phrase or two here and there and you might as well be describing a dozen or more sexual experiences I had in my formative (especially pre-mission) years."
We've certainly all been here, no doubt about it. You did a great job, no worries about it being offensive.

C. L. Hanson said...

Thanks Enlightened Fairy!!!

Paul said...

It's fascinating to read how cluttered with religion sex is for this couple. I suspect Walter is exploiting her but somehow manages not to see himself for what he is because of his religious take on his actions.

C. L. Hanson said...

Hey Paul!!!

Well, religion can certainly affect people's perception of sexuality and of their own actions.