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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Let's Talk About Sex


*Warning there are going to be adult words/content in this post*


Recently, a male friend of mine asked, "Can I ask you a very personal question?" Because I trusted him and because I knew if I didn't want to answer that would be the end of that I said, "Yes."  He continued, "Can we have a conversation about how you deal with your sex drive as a 34 y.o single female?" That was the beginning of an incredible conversation.

About 3 weeks previous to that conversation I was sitting with a friend who had left the LDS church and we, among other things, ended up talking about sex. My friend, who was struggling with many things in the church, had "messed up" with his girlfriend and got his temple recommend taken. He talked with me about how hard he had struggled, as a guy, to not give into his sexual desires. How he tried to avoid pornography and masturbation. Sure, he struggled in those areas but he was really trying to be "a good man." He wanted to work with his Bishop and his girlfriend but he could no longer do his calling, take the sacrament, or attend the temple. He just felt like a failure and being in the church hurt more and brought on more shame than just leaving it.  So he left. The conversation broke my heart.

Rewind a few years earlier to a conversation I had with some girlfriends of mine, all of whom were divorced, previously sexually active, and now struggling with their sex drive. I remember each of them, during this open conversation, remarking how relieved they were to finally be able to talk out loud about their concerns.  They shared how difficult it was to be in their late 20's/early 30's, at their sexual prime, and not have anyone to really talk to concerning this topic. One of my friends mentioned that there seems to be really only two options to talk about this subject with: 1.  your Bishop, if you "made a mistake" or 2. A Therapist. Either way, it was as if thinking or being concerned about your sexuality, sex drive, etc. was a problem—rather than a natural occurrence.

In all these conversations I've learned a lot about myself,  my peers, how the LDS culture is viewed so differently from one person to the next. This topic has been percolating in my mind for some time but it is a sensitive topic. I have had parts of it in draft form for over a year. So here are some of my personal thoughts and I'd love to here what you think on the subject.

I made the choice to not have sex until I'm married. One thing that helps me in my situation (being a 34 y.o. virgin) is to remember that I made the choice to be as such. No one made me not have sex. the Church didn't make me choose to have self mastery. I know that if I really wanted I could most likely go out and have sex with someone somewhere. I know that sex is natural and good. I know these things and I also believe what I believe. I choose to put the responsibility and choice where it actually lies—in me.

I choose to love, listen, connect people to resources (when appropriate) instead of judge. There is too much shame, embarrassment, comparison with members of the Church about masturbation, pornography, sexual desires, etc. There is too much hyperawareness, especially in the LDS YSA/MSA scene, about lines being crossed in the law of chastity and not nearly enough focus on the power of the atonement, forgiveness, and love.

 I choose positive self talk, not shaming, when I'm struggling with my own sex drive. I choose to work out, do yoga, talk with peers that are open and willing, and to be mindful and present in my life. I choose to address the issue rather than stuff it down or not acknowledge it.

I choose to acknowledge and grieve the bad days. I strive to be active in my life, maintain healthy relationships, create, express my passions, and when I have really hard days—when I get depressed or think it's not fair—I choose to grieve, cry, and let myself feel disappointed. I don't know anybody around my age who doesn't want to be in a healthy sexual relationship. I find it very healing and cathartic to acknowledge what I lack.

Sex does not solve everything. Having sex, getting married, and having children has its own set of trials, struggles, and affect on libido. I know these things will not solve anything for me.  Really sitting in this reality for me, at times, is helpful. Having sex is not really what I want. Having sex in a meaningful relationship with someone I can trust, love, and be myself with—completely vulnerable, is what I want.

 Dr. Jennifer Finlayson-Fife, in her blog post "Let's Talk About Sex" wrote:
 Most of the women in my research were undermined in their relationship to their own sexuality as they had internalized a message that eroticism and desire are unfeminine and risky to their desirability—a trait essential to femininity...That is to say, women are taught that they are naturally less sexual than men—inherently lacking hedonistic desire, and even morally superior to the supposed depravity of male sexuality. While superficially approving of women’s nature, this cultural prescription leaves women little room to legitimately experience, express or integrate their own eroticism. To be feminine is to suppress or disconnect from sexual desire, or feel ashamed of its presence...In my experience, many if not most LDS women struggle pre-maritally and in marriage to integrate a sense of legitimate sexuality and desire.
On so many levels I think this is true. I have had many conversations, as a therapist & as a friend, with lots of  female friends/peers/clients who literally are afraid of their sexuality, their hormones, their desires. There is some kind of internal/external/Mormon Culture voice that tells them it is bad to get aroused or to have sexual desires. This is so damaging!

I choose to love my body.  I choose to accept my desires/passions. I think it is very important to be free to express myself sexually in the right times & places, and with the appropriate boundaries. I not only want to feel equally yoked in my relationships socially, spiritually, mentally, but also sexually.

So, what do you think? I would love to hear if others agree, disagree, or what other thoughts you have on the topic? 




9 comments:

  1. Kylee, this is truly a fabulous post. I, as a convert to the LDS church, totally agree that it's too often a shushed topic. I think it should be discussed in a healthy and clear way...it seems so much more honest and accountable that way. LOVE what you have to say!

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  2. As you said we have to accept that desire is part of who we are. We have to choose to place limits on how we express that desire. This is true no matter the desire. Weather it is eating, playing games, browsing the internet, or even sexual in nature. These self imposed limits help us to grow as a person. To gain empathy for others. that may struggle with the same issues. To grow closer to Christ. As in all things there are consequences for every action we take. IF we over eat we get fat, if we spend to much time playing games or browsing the internet we loss focus on the important things. There is a time and a place for all thing, including sexuality. I have a saying I use every so often. There is no such thing as evil knowledge only the evil use of knowledge. Same is true with sexuality in and of itself it is not evil, and has many good aspects. It is only when we place it above other priorities or allow it to run are lives that it leads to unwanted consequences. Before I joined the church I was much more liberal in my views of the world. It was through learning of what Christ did for me that I learned to scarifies my own desires and seek his forgiveness. When we have to suffer for our choices or even the choices of those around us we can either grow from that and gain a better understanding of what Christ did for us. Those trial can then become a good thing allowing us to help other through the same issues.

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  3. i visit teach Dr. Finlayson-Fife. She's the nicest more down to earth human you'll meet.

    Great thoughts Kylee.

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  4. I don't normally like to generalize, but Mormons, in general, just need to talk about sex more. It's fine, don't worry about it. Talking about sex, is not having sex. I feel like to many members just hear the word SEX and they cringe or back off, when they should step forward and have something to say about it. I feel like it can be viewed as something bad, when in reality, it is not. It is awesome and enjoyable with the right person at the right time.
    Let's just all talk about sex more within the church and make everyone a little more comfortable, deal!? Good post. Keep 'em coming cousin!

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  5. I like that you addressed there is too much hyperawareness about crossing the lines of the law of chastity and not enough focus on the power of the atonement. My husband works with the Young Men in our ward. He prepared a Law of Chastity lesson and asked several of the boys to teach a principle about it. A parent called and said it was inappropriate for his boys to talk about it. I do understand it is sometimes hard for youth to discuss these topics and can make them uneasy. Those feelings are valid. But I was sad for the parent because they missed a beautiful opportunity to sit down with their child and talk. Instead of treating this topic as taboo, they could have discussed about how special it is between the bonds of an eternal marriage and how the power of the atonement can help get him there. In this day and age we are so exposed to the worlds views that is healthy to be able to learn and talk about it with our youth. Especially that there is a Savior who can help us when we make mistakes or help us to have self mastery.

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  6. For myself as a reactive member miss the passionate times but now I search deeply for that someone who I can really focus and share my heart for celestial glory! Its very hard when you change your ways of thinking,and physical desires that I've experienced while being inactive but the joy it'll be when you do find that special someone !

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  7. Kylee do you know any good resources for young women who are struggling with an addiction?

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    Replies
    1. I absolutely support and love Fight The New Drug (www.fightthenewdrug.org) and their FORTIFY Program!

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