Saturday, August 26, 2006

When No Means Yes

This post by over on Letters From a Broad reminded me of something. She noted the following,
I agree with most feminists that getting out the message that "No means no" is of vital importance for preventing sexual assault. And that's is why it's critical that both options exist -- yes as well as no -- in a meaningful way.

In a repressive society, some women want sex. Yet no women are allowed to want sex. So you get a situation where the women who really mean no say no and the women who don't mean no also say no.
The problem of not being able to say yes when you want to leads to other problems. For example, Utah has a high rate of teen pregnancies. This isn't terribly surprising to me. The urge to have sex is just too strong to resist for some people. But in a religious culture where extra-marital sex is a sin only slightly less severe than murder it isn't really an option to consciously prepare to have sex. For example, why would a good Mormon boy go out and buy condoms? That would be admitting that you are not only willing to fall, but you're also prepared. How's that going to look to your Bishop, Stake President, and General Authority that are going to have to interview you before you go out on your mission? The very fact that you had condoms is an admission that it wasn't just that things got out of hand and you slipped; it's an admission that you started making out with the premeditated intention of going all the way. It's the Mormon equivalent to the difference between premeditated, first-degree murder and manslaughter. The same thing would apply, I guess, to a good Mormon girl who went on the pill. In the end, safe sex winds up being dangerous to your soul if you are a Mormon because it's the moral equivalent to being a cold-blooded killer instead of just a reckless youth. So, even though good Mormon kids really, really want to have sex, they have to say that they don't and act accordingly right up to the moment when they do. Then they have to deal with the shameful consequences and humiliation and guilt that their culture inflicts on them.

Note, I still think no means no and should be respected. I'm just pointing out why in some cultures people may say no when they really mean yes or at least wouldn't mind saying yes.


Sideon said...

The Mormon culture is a perfect setup for social and moral failure.

-Drug addiction (Valium and Prozac)
-Sexual abuse (the Morg hasn't learned anything from the Catholic priest lessons)
-Higher Teenage pregnancy rates
-Road Rage (the only control members can demonstrate is through agressive driving)

La said...

Really good points, Bull. I haven't ever heard it articulated quite like that, but I can completely see the equivalence to the degrees of intention of murder.

I'm nearly 30 and only now have I even given any thought to safe sex. Weird. I guess I'm one of the lucky ones who didn't mess their life up as a teenager...

Bull said...

What are the odds that YM or YW at church will ever have a lesson on safe sex? Same problem as above: to teach such a lesson would be to admit the possibility of people failing to live the law of chastity. The church would never be able to tolerate such a thing. Heap on this the fact that most Mormon parents utterly fail to teach their children anything about sex (other than don't do it) and you have a recipe for disaster.

C.L. Hanson said...

This is a good point, and one that bothered me a lot when I was a teen (still LDS).

I remember hearing lessons in church where they would give stern warning against "petting" since these sorts of "slip-ups" occur.

It actually kind of pissed me off even at the time that they were aware that these things happen -- and that the girl would likely end up with a big problem -- yet it was impossible for a Mormon kid to be prepared because that would mean planning to commit the next-worst sin to murder.

Sister Mary Lisa said...

I know this too well. I was at BYU when my curiosity got the best of me and I began "sinning" for real....I got pregnant and had to come home. Niiiice.

In my own defense, my parents had the "talk" with us when I was quite young, (best home evening ever!) and I practiced safe sex with condoms. But that didn't prevent me from having the biggest consequence from happening to me. Typical.

Bull said...

Sex is never really safe and condoms are better for disease prevention than for contraception.