Mormonism & Sexuality: A personal Experience
I recently had the pleasure of interviewing a friend of mine (who wishes to stay anonymous) on her discovery of sexuality. Being raised as LDS or Mormon in Utah, sexuality and pleasure is something that is usually swept under the rug, promoting a culture of shame and secrecy. My own interest in sexuality came about partly because I became my school's self proclaimed local sex educator, many of the people seeking advice being from the LDS faith.
The biggest trend I saw was the instilled shame of sexuality, especially in women. This was followed by intense lack of education, with my worse encounter being a female who classified her vagina as her urethra. As uneducated teens do, they found every which way to try and explore sexuality without breaking penetrative chastity for the sake of God, which we all clearly know sex is performed in many ways.
I hope that more of you submit your stories to me, or are willing to be interviewed! Discovering your sexuality post religious suppression can be scary. What helps is education, a good support system, and learning about others experiences- nothing is off the table!
I hope you enjoy.
When we met a few years ago, I would have never thought we would be discussing the topic of healthy sexuality. Coming from a very religious upbringing, you have told me about all the trials you have faced coming to terms with yourself as a sexual being.
In a nutshell, how was your childhood growing up in terms of talking about sexuality?
Talking about sexuality among my family was almost nonexistent. When my school did the maturation program in 5th grade, my mom kept me home and had “the talk” with me herself. Prime example of Mormons’ belief in abstinence only sex education in school- they believe sex should be taught in the home, which doesn’t always happen. My mom basically explained the physiology of sex and stopped there. She didn’t explain orgasms, pleasure, etc. I think the goal was that I would believe that sex was to make babies and that was its sole purpose.
My parents were super strict and conservative. We weren’t allowed to watch PG-13 movies, and they would fast forward ANY scene of any movie that portrayed sex, without saying a word about why. SO AWKWARD. I learned to assume that we didn’t talk about sex and just pretended that it didn’t exist.
Not all religions see sexuality the same, but the LDS seem to have one of the strictest views on sexuality- what were some ideologies you were taught that you remember most?
No sex before marriage. That’s the hard, fast rule. There were some guidelines, like no necking or petting (how the heck was I supposed to know what that meant as a 14 year old?!) And no prolonged kissing, or laying on top of each other while kissing.
We were also taught no dating until 16, and my parents had a rule of no exclusive boyfriend/girlfriend relationships until we were allowed to pursue marriage (18 for girls, after a mission for boys at age 21).
The church tries to be very modest in how they direct members about sex, I think to prevent teens from learning about things they don’t already know about. For example, I didn’t know if hand jobs, oral sex, fingering, dry humping etc. were explicitly forbidden. There’s a lot of gray area. Those things aren’t actually sex, I thought, so I wasn’t breaking any rules, right? But I knew I was still breaking rules. So I felt pretty lost. It’s pretty confusing
When growing up with these rules, do you recall a moment in your earlier life where you were curious about your sexuality but couldn’t act on it?
After the maturation program in 5th grade, I was super curious about sex. I remember being at the library with my mom and I found a book for teens about sex. I learned more from that book than any other source. I hid in the aisle and made sure my mom didn’t see me reading it. It was pretty light, with cartoon drawings of couples having sex and question bubbles above their heads. Good read. And I also stood and sat in front of mirrors and explored my genitalia, but felt like it was super wrong to do that.
Did you ever explore masturbation, or experiment with a partner even if it was frowned upon?
Oh heck yes! I started masturbating at 12! I had no idea what I was doing or why or if it was wrong (it is, according to the LDS church). Masturbating became a pretty regular activity for me. The best thing happened when I discovered that our family vibrating back massager would give me an awesome orgasms! I proceeded to steal it to masturbate and then secretly put it back where I found it. Eventually I started keeping it in my room by my bed. My dad asked me about it once and I said something about my legs being sore from track practice. I