Once upon a time a handsome knight named Sir Gawain ran afoul of a nemesis who said he would kill him unless he could answer the question, what does a woman want?
For those of you who know the answer jokes on you there’s more to the story.
I know there’s a huge movement for LGBTQIA going on and in light of that I have this to say about growing up religious.
So this post does not have to be awkward but since I’m the author and I secretly rule the world yes, yes it will be awkward.
Growing up Mormon is kind of like bottling up soda, shaking it for 17 years, then putting a ring on it and KABOOM. At least that’s how it is designed to be. You spend your young life learning to turn off sexual thoughts and feelings and that those thoughts are evil if not directed towards a spouse… that a 12 year old obviously does not have.
You can’t masturbate or watch sexual material of any kind. So where does it all go? And if you’re lesbian or gay, where does that all go? Most people except the holy religious, find ways to be sensual not sexual. For instance paintings of warm scenes with romantic candlelighting. Passion is there, but unrealized. And yet the painting will have that energy to it. Like when a woman wears a dress that drapes delicately over her contours. She isn’t naked but the imagination comes out to play.
I always assumed that I was heterosexual. That I would grow up. Get married to that perfect priesthood holder in that perfect white temple, and that I would be happy in that life. Making babies and cookies for the relief society lesson. Maybe a calling at girls camp even.
But at the same time I was still a manhater. I would get so mad in church because they would say the husband is the leader of the household. For a girl like me who had a sick mother for a long time and who had to be my own leader and protector a lot, that seemed unlikely to me. You cannot trust someone else to care for you. Not in my world. People will always fail you in some way.
Also lets be honest men and women are different for a reason. We see problems a different way and solutions in even more ways. Together, as equals, we can do what was impossible before when only one gender was in charge.
I was raised to be very ashamed of my body, my sexuality- my heterosexuality- and of many many natural things about my self and my life. When I see an attractive man I don’t want to have sex with him or anything. He’s good looking, so what? I also look at women. I greatly admire the bodies of both for being so diverse and strong. I always loved people of other skin colors, black, brown, golden. To me it used to be as someone who admires the beauty of a painting of the sea. It’s about the colors, the tones, the light and darkness and how it comes together to form a beautiful picture. No color had more value than another in my picture of the world back then. I thought together it was all beautiful.
Black women who are very dark are the color of roasted cocoa beans. The blackest women shine like embers, charcoal in the hottest fire. Now that I am trying to be employed at a Polynesian Cultural center I have realized my skin tone is fine for working in food service, but not to stand next to the island beauties and dance with them in celebration of THEIR culture. They see it as a possession that no other can have or truly be a part of because of their bloodline. I used to be so confused when black girls wanted to be lighter. Asian girls too. I admired them as they are.
Each color of skin is like the tone of a precious gem. Diamonds, though they are stereotypically “white” they come in tones of the rainbow. There are shades of white, blue, red, every color. Garnetts. Amethyst. Quartz.
Like every other person on this earth I have tried to discover what gets me. What ignites my passion and desires.
As I try to touch that deepest fire within myself my hand is slapped back by my religion. By my peers. They teach me my sexuality, my sexual availability is a determined of my deepest worth. That it defines me as sinner or saint.
Everyone is looking for a label. A sign to group under. Like great herds of dumb buffalo we trumpet our exclusivity. Only heterosexuality within bonds of marriage goes here under the cross. Anything goes, goes under Satan’s sickle.
We label it to define ourselves. By coming under a label we feel safer with our doubts and insecurities not because they are addressed but because we are not alone.
So as a young LDS woman where do I go to untangle the psychiatric emotional and spiritual damage left by rape and abuse? By LDS men no less. Because I am feeling very alone at this point. No one believes the church has the problem even though it’s worse than a holocaust of rape and child sexual abuse here. The stats are up and up.
Well I went to the church first out of faith and I soon realized that the culture of the teachings was locking in more shame and other ideas about myself that fed my mental illness. Church was like a weekly go kill yourself you worthless bitch feast for those negative thoughts. I thought if i “repented” of being raped and became perfect wife material, I would be happy. I can’t imagine what someone LGBTQIA goes through in the same environment. But here’s the thing.
I was wrong about that. I was wrong about thinking being perfect mommy would make my life somehow okay. I was wrong because that’s not what I want to be anymore. I don’t need to be fixed into that mold. That is exactly what every man who ever hit me or raped me or called me a whore wanted me to become. A submissive little Mormon housewife.
And to most men I’ve met, that makes me this lady.
Despite my virtue, my worth as a person. And indeed my incredible set of gifts and talents and successes, I remain Ragnelle to them. Unmarriageable. Unwanted. Undesirable.
What I realized is that it doesn’t matter to me what MY sexuality is. What I have truly always wanted, was a choice.
I want to choose when if and with who I have sex. I want to decide if I want to have babies or not. And if I decide I want a partner. I WANT TO STILL HAVE THE RIGHT TO DECIDE if I have sex with him or her or not.
I want the one right that those men took from me. I want the right to decide for myself now and forever.
That’s all I ever truly wanted. The choice.
Maybe someday I will get married but guess what, I can tell you that saying no to these whores who return from their missions and try to rape and dominate young LDS women feels damn good.