I read that once in a comment on a Mormon women’s writer’s blog bemoaning explicit sex in books. If I recall correctly, it was one where a bunch of the Deseret Book-published writers gather, because it was a “name” who said it. I don’t remember if my book was the one under discussion or not. Didn’t matter.
“We all know how it works.”
What struck me then and still does is that, No, we don’t all know how it works, especially the girls who’re told not to do that. I wanted to say something, but I’m not fond of walking into lions’ dens for the hell of it. This, that no, our girls don’t know how it works, is a ginormous problem. Not only do we not teach them what it is, what they’re supposed to be abstaining from, we teach them they have to dress so as to keep the boys from wanting to make them do it.
Then there’s this: When Virgins Collide, in which the newlyweds never do quite figure out how to do it right. I wonder where they are now and if they finally figured it out by trial and error or if they scraped up the courage to research the topic or if they gave up completely after kid number three. I shed tears to think that woman may never have an orgasm.
And this: Single, Female, Mormon, Alone, in which a 32-year-old woman had to go to Planned Parenthood for a Pap smear and an IUD because, I guess, she didn’t know she could call up a gynecologist to get that done. Seriously? Thirty-two? You’ve never had an exam?
No, Big Name Important Mormon Writer Person, we don’t all know how it works. Because useful, necessary details don’t get passed along. Talk about purple words and euphemisms! And because we aren’t taught, many of us have long-lasting difficulties trying to navigate something that’s so much fun! Or should be. But no! Since we all know how it works, we’re all having fun, right?
Theric, who’s my editor when he’s available (he did Stay and Magdalene), reviewed Paso Doble. He said this:
I know her work is too explicit for many Mormon writers, but I think you should read her anyway. We need to deal with sexuality more as a people and reading her work is a great place to consider how it can be done.
Yes, we do need to deal with sexuality more as a people because we’re regressing, not progressing. Throwback Thursday on Facebook, wherein I see pictures of my (devout) cousins from the 60s, 70s, and early 80s, make the contrast between what was considered “modest” then and what’s considered “modest” now makes that clear. We would be looked at askance now for what we were wearing then, when our (still) devout mothers were dressing us. I could see XX TD sent home from activity night for wearing what we wore then.
And then Scott Hales, the creator of the comic “Garden of Enid, Adventures of a Weird Mormon Girl,” slid something into one of his comics that just floored me. (It took me about all day to see the sly wink in my direction.) (But I was busy writing sessytimes!):
But my not seeing that in-joke at first made me think how much I identified with Enid, where my sex education came from bodice rippers because in Young Women’s we were talking about “necking,” “petting,” and “self-abuse.” It’s true! Media is where we fill in the blanks and puzzle over labeling! Thank heavens for bodice rippers!
I don’t know what they teach now. They don’t let me near Young Women’s. I think they think I’m a bad influence or something. Not sure.
I answer XX’s questions straight up and give as much advice and knowledge as I believe she can understand. She’s 11. She’s very well educated on the topic. And when she hits puberty, I’m going to take her to the doctor to get her on birth control. She knows what I expect her not to do (explicitly). I operate under the premise “It’s better to have and not need, than need and not have.” I also don’t trust horndog boys who might play fast and loose with the “I love you”s and definitions of consent.
Anyway, I’ve been thinking about this since Theric’s review and Enid’s singular observation. I’m thinking that if a girl has to learn about sex from romance novels, well, at least she’ll get a good idea what goes on without all those purple words getting in the way. And I’m thinking, if she has to learn about sex from romance novels, she might as well pick mine.
Pssst, girls. Start with Paso Doble.
Or just ask your mother.