We all know how it works

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.

6 thoughts on “We all know how it works

  • August 19, 2014 at 3:19 pm

    It’s not just Mormons who are regressing or having trouble with passing straight information to young women (and young men). The SJW (Social Justice Warrior) movement is not about promotion of social justice. It is about repression of anything that disagrees with the SJW agenda….censorship and shaming and bullying are all okay.

    Re: birth control – eldest daughter’s mom tried (I’m the evil step-mother) to force her to go on the pill when she turned 12. H said “hell to the no.” At 15, when she was ready, I was the one she asked to go with her to Planned Parenthood. As long as you are honest with the kid and she knows she can be honest with you, I say Amen!

    Be prepared, though. If you are too cool it will piss your kids off because it will be hard for them to rebel.

  • August 19, 2014 at 3:25 pm

    The SJW (Social Justice Warrior) movement is not about promotion of social justice. It is about repression of anything that disagrees with the SJW agenda….censorship and shaming and bullying are all okay.

    Yes. I have a post coming up Thursday with Victoria’s rant at Emilio, with a tidge of disdainful commentary.

    If you are too cool it will piss your kids off because it will be hard for them to rebel.

    That is my master plan. XX wants makeup. I told her that if she’s going to wear makeup, I’m going to take her to the department store, have the lady teach her how to do EVERYTHING, and then I would expect her to do that every morning. She asked to streak her hair in colors. Since I don’t want to do it, I’ll take her to the salon and pay for it. ONCE. After I set her up, she is financially responsible for her frills.

    Considering her habits and what she finds valuable to spend time on, I doubt we’ll be seeing makeup and hair dye a whole lot.

    ETA: XX went for a physical and boosters before school started. Her pediatrician was very impressed with how much she knew and understood. She said we (XX and I) were an anomaly. I doubt her entire patient roster is Mormon.

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  • August 30, 2014 at 3:49 pm

    I finally made time to read this (saw the link on LITM) and am I glad that I did. It really resonates with me – although I’m not Mormon and didn’t grow up in a conservative family. But I did grow up in an extended family with a lot of abuse, and a lot of corresponding shame and secrecy surrounding sex. My mother, a survivor of CSA, didn’t know how to talk about sex with me, and I certainly didn’t know how to ask about it. Thank goodness that I was a reader.

    I remember quite vividly reading my first category romance at the age of 14 (borrowed from a friend at a church youth ministry event, of course). By today’s standards I’m sure it was quite tame, but it included the most descriptive sex scene I’d ever read, complete with thrusting hips and spreading thighs – it was the first time that I actually understood the basic mechanics of sex. I still remember feeling like I’d just cheated – I had it in my head that sex was supposed to be a surprise you figured out on your wedding night, and suddenly I knew the secret (obviously I still had many things to learn, but it felt like I’d just opened Pandora’s Box).

    Reading romance (secretly) convinced me that learning about sex might be worth while. That having sex might even be fun. I also learned useful information from non-fiction books, like Our Bodies, Our Selves. I still feel indebted to my college roommate’s aunt – she regularly sent packages of paperback books, usually sf/f. One time she slipped in the remarkably sane and helpful Sex Tips for Girls – we treated it as a joke and passed around our circle of friends, but the information stayed with me – it was the book that made me think that oral sex might be fun and not gross. I thank goodness for Aunt Janet, and for all of the books I read that encouraged me to explore my sexuality, and for romance authors everywhere who wrote and write honestly about sex and love. Thanks for posting this.

    • August 30, 2014 at 10:12 pm

      Hi, cleo, and welcome!

      You said:

      It really resonates with me – although I’m not Mormon and didn’t grow up in a conservative family

      I’ve gotten a lot of private feedback about this, almost none of whom are Mormon or conservatives. I’m beginning to think this is a more or less universal problem for various reasons. Perhaps, mostly embarrassment…? I don’t know.

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