For as long as the Mormon Internet has existed, Ex-Mormon women have been expressing concerns about abusive behavior by Ex-Mormon men.

Today a panel of Ex-Mormon women come together on Mormon Stories Podcast to introduce athe following six concepts: 1) Consent, 2) Deference to Patriarchy, 3) Gender Roles, 4) Modesty, 5) Sex Shaming, and 6) Victim Blaming.

The intent of this episode is to help educate Ex-Mormon men about how to treat Ex-Mormon women, particularly online and in Ex-Mormon communities.

Participants in the panel are: Hannah Dunnigan, Sarah Hess, Margaret Frances Phillips, and Elisha Lee.

Download MP3

00:00:36 – Hannah’s introduction
00:03:18 – Sarah’s introduction
00:05:04 – Maggie’s introduction
00:07:10 – Elisha’s introduction
00:13:33 – Explanation of this panel discussion
00:28:35 – Consent
00:59:32 – Deference to the patriarchy
01:35:32 – Gender roles
01:51:51 – Modesty culture
02:13:38 – Sex shaming
02:23:22 – Victim blaming
02:41:14 – Closing remarks


  1. Zachary April 8, 2021 at 6:08 pm - Reply

    Not sure how many of my white male cis counterparts listened through all 3 hours of this podcast as did I, given that throughout this podcast I dared to hope that my “as born type” would be judged by the content of our character and not by the color of our skin or gender or inborn sexual preference. Instead I heard load and clear a prejudice, that until I prove myself different , I am seen as toxically masculine. That’s a tough place to start.

    On a different note, as ex-Mormons who presumably believe in evolution presenting with a trained psychologist there was certainly room in the 3 hour window to make reference to evolutionary psychology, neuro chemistry, and the in born difference in the genders, not all of what was discussed is a result of social conditioning.

    I hear a lot about women wanting the traditional male benefits of patriarchy, but little do I hear of the benefits women receive from their feminism, due to evolutionary psychology within the traditional patriarchy.

    Growing up I was taught I needed to work hard to get a good job in a hyper competitive environment in order to support my wife and children. My first fiancé called off the wedding saying that she loved me more than she ever imagined she would ever love a person, and that she believed she would never find anyone who would ever understand her or love her like I did, but that my economic status for her would mean having fewer children than she wanted, her staying in the working world for an additional 4 years while my career was getting established, and not having as nice of a house in the neighborhood she wanted. Men are equally looked at as property of a different form than are women. We will know feminism is complete when at least 50% of females grow up happily accepting that they will work their whole lives in a hyper competitive market, missing time with their children, while dutifully and happily turning over their paycheck to their stay at home husband to spend on the house and children, while simultaneously being told by her husband that she is not as good a provider as the woman down the street.

    For a lady on this program to advocate the appropriateness of a monogamous married women set up thrist traps and post her breasts to regain the feeling of sexual power (best understood with a discussion of evolutionary psychology and neuro chemistry – John) is to also grant the equivalent permission to her husband , allowing him to purchase gift for other women and tease other women with the prospect of his resources. Is this what you are condoning John?

    John, when you get a guest on your program that you respect you challenge them on their illogical inconsistencies, but by not challenging the logic of your guests on this podcast you played the ultimate misogynistic move. By not respecting these ladies enough to give them a fair and honestly challenging interview. You treated them with kid gloves as though you didn’t believe they were able to compete on the basis of their ideas.

    John, I would like to see you bring these ladies back and pose the obvious challenges to the consistency of their arguments, in order to help thym to be better through proper and honest discourse. A discourse that recognizes that life is very hard for both men and women under all social structures, and that the best we may ever attain is a structure that honors character above in born physical characteristics. Insulting folks outside one’s current tribe has never been an effective move forward. We need to recognize the best in our différences with empathy.

    • Gary April 10, 2021 at 2:21 pm - Reply

      Well said Zach. I can easily come up with a long list of things women do to use or abuse men. I’ve experienced it in marriage and now in dating post marriage. There were things said in this interview that just left me shaking my head. We live in a culture today where men are viewed as the root of all evil, especially white men. As a white male I feel like I can’t even push back on some of the things said in this interview even though I completely disagree with them because I would immediately be labeled a misogynistic a-hole. The panel had good points for sure but I really don’t agree with everything they said and wish John had pushed back more on some of it. I feel like many women today want to have their cake and eat it to.

  2. Anne April 9, 2021 at 12:17 pm - Reply

    Patriarchy hurts both men and women. Zachary’s article articulates this well. The reality, however, that Patriarchy also hurts men does not invalidate or negate the truth that it hurts women. Whenever a marginalized group speaks up about inequity, the go-to response is to ask the marginalized to recognize, honor, and empathize with the ways that the group in power also suffers. What is often negated is the following:

    1) The suffering of those in power has been empathized with for eons. Men making sacrifices and feeling exhausted and defined by their full-time jobs that financially support the family has always been highly honored and reverenced. Women are asked to cook and clean and handle the crux of childcare with a smile on their faces and a positive can-do attitude BECAUSE the man deserves it for working so hard for her. Women are to do everything within their means to sustain this man that presides over them and to make his home a heaven when he gets in from his hard day of work. To tell women who are lobbying for mutual respect and growth opportunities that they need to have empathy for his sacrifices, is exactly what these women have been asked to do their entire lives—have empathy for and support man’s work. What else can be inferred when her primary role is “to nurture”? She is expected to honor all that he is doing for her, to never want for more herself, and to be his emotion bearer, to hold all his uncomfortable emotions for him so he doesn’t have to feel uncomfortable and can therefore lead her effectively. This “women need to see my sacrifices, honor my neurochemical drives, and empathize with my different challenges” rhetoric is part of the Patriarchal system the women on this podcast are working to deconstruct in the exmormon community. Before my shelf broke, I went to a Church addiction recovery spouse-support meeting where a woman talked about how violent her husband got sometimes. She was holding a newborn child in her arms. The group moderator told her that she needed to be careful because Satan could turn us against our spouses. And, one of the lessons was on “In Everything Give Thanks” where she was asked that “despite the difficult situations we are in, we can make the choice to be grateful for the good characteristics and deeds of our loved ones.” I wrote a member of the Quorum of the Seventy and expressed my concern for her safety—as well as the Church’s were a lawsuit ever to be filed against them if the woman or her children ended up dead—and I encouraged him to take this lesson out of the manual and instead include a phone number for a domestic violence hotline. That was over three years ago. The lesson is still in the Church-developed spouse-support manual: Principle 7 ( . What needs to be understood is that women within the Church paradigm are asked to empathize with and sustain and see the good in men even at the expense of their own safety. Once we leave that paradigm, we want men who can empathize with and help us heal from that trauma, not men who ask more of the same from us.

    2) Helping the marginalized feel equal isn’t just about empathizing with their suffering, though that is helpful. It’s about an equal distribution of power and opportunity. When men are given authority to govern women AND when men make all the money in the home AND when men are innately physically stronger, women are powerless. And, asking a woman to empathize with a man’s “in born characteristics” aka the physical strength to overpower her physically and sexually, heightens rather than resolves this inequitable power structure.

    All this brings up a point that I wish had been addressed in the podcast on gender roles. When we segregate roles and say men preside and provide and women nurture, we not only preclude women from equal leadership, we abdicate men from being nurturing. Essentially, we are saying that those who preside need not nurture when, ironically, leaders devoid of nurture are the antithesis of Christlike love. In essence, the Church has created a system where men are emotionally dependent on women and women are financially and spiritually dependent on men. This is the paradigm that needs to be revamped in the exmormon community. As an exmormon woman, I yearn for a system where women are equally empowered and men are equally nurturing. If these are the benefits derived from feminism, then feminism is working. I hope this is the endgame of human psychological evolution, and I believe it can happen irrespective of current biochemical and neurochemical differences between the genders.

    • Mark April 10, 2021 at 6:27 am - Reply

      Well said! Thank you for expressing this so perfectly.

    • Zachary April 13, 2021 at 2:36 pm - Reply

      I enjoyed you reply, thank you.

      I don’t give the church much credit for what you noted as, “the church creating a system where men are emotionally dependent on women and women are financially and spiritually dependent on men”. The church is simply is a purveyor of a traditional family life ideal that when it works well, works well, and it looks appealing to those who want that ideal for themselves.

      The church doesn’t have a lot of effective answers for those who can’t made the ideal work by their own power. In my opinion, the church would quietly prefer those for whom the base message doesn’t work to quietly disappear and let the church be a type of natural selection machine retaining those for whom the base message was effective, as living testimonies of the effectiveness of the message, while those for whom the message did not work fade away.

      Regarding your central message that those in power tend to turn tables by seeking empathy from those out of power who dare to express their grievances. I think to the podcast example mentioned about the bishop who nixed the unorthodox baptism agenda created by the clever female. The bishop’s “nope” was attributed the idea that she was a female. I have been in similar situations nixed in my proposals by bishops. I don’t have to wonder if it’s because I am a female given that I am a man, but what I see in most bishops is that they don’t even see themselves as leaders free to move outside a narrow script. I see them as functionaries who are rather non leading. A female outsider may miss how weak so many of these men are, and in granting them more credit for their freedom to act, inadvertently take a sexist offense when they do not adopt a female proposed idea. Fundamentally, at the ward and even stake level the functionaries of the church never do anything novel.

      Where one might see a little variety based on the individual leader is are the mission president level where the leader is much more free to operate with has a cloistered , youthful, and nonchallenging followers. Which is to say at the upper levels of the “dominance hierarchy”.

      The discussion of male and female advantages get blurred with those with power and those without power. How I would love to possess the feminine power to enchant a man to give me the family and lifestyle I want without having to work but spend my time in what the aristocracy calls, “leisure with dignity.

      Your reply touched on some ideas of the neuro chemistry of men, but not of women. There’s a reason the #1 quality females seek in male partners is confidence, and a reason you will be hard pressed to find a female willing to date a man shorter than herself.

      The fiancé who called off the wedding with me for my insufficient economic status, also criticized my wiry build even though I am a full 7 inches taller than her at my height of the US male average of 5’9”, and told me that marrying me would break her #1 marriage rule, “to not marry a man with smaller hips than her”, which she admitted measurably were larger than hers, but optically did not look larger than hers when we were together.

      Today more women are graduating with both bachelors and masters degrees, and they are having great challenges finding and accepting men to marry because females more then men strive to marry up the dominance hierarchy. I colloquially say 80% of women are chasing the same 20% of men.

      Your statement of males in power really is about the upper end of males. Mid pack males and below are largely ignored and ignorable. I would more more prefer the social benefits of a low to mid level status female in modern society than a low to mid level male. Just look at all the involuntarily celebrate low status men in the church’s single adult wards.

      I agree with you, but it’s about power more than gender. And power is not given, it is taken. Read Robert Green’s book. 48 Law’s of Power.

      You can’t complain that listeners don’t chose female podcasters. Females must compete in the hard taught ways men have to get there. And suffer the sad consequences of sacrifices of competition too.

      We heard in the podcast women are ”people pleasers”. I am not and I don’t get the benefits of being a people pleaser. Women will have to sacrifice the benefits of the current system as there go up in power.

      Hilary Clinton is a good example.

  3. Nancy Melendez April 9, 2021 at 8:00 pm - Reply

    Appreciated this conversation very much. Agreed with much and could add my own experiences as examples in most of the discussed topics. I found the wrap up a bit confusing and experienced a bit of whiplash. #1 believe women when they are sharing their experiences or stories of experienced racism without asking follow up questions #2 as the owner of a company who deals with employee complaints, you mentioned holding off on judging a situation until you gather all of the information. Sooo…. how do we as humans balance those 2 things? Unquestionably believe people AND don’t land with certainty until all information is known. It’s complicated and tricky.

  4. Laura April 10, 2021 at 2:36 pm - Reply

    Yes, well said, Anne! I certainly don’t want to ignore anyone’s pain, Zachary, and it is hard when you feel like you are being attacked. I think it’s important, though, to respect the context under which John asked these women to hold their panel discussion. They weren’t asked to share neuropsychological studies, nor were they asked to provide substantive proof of what they were sharing. One of the things that patriarchy has really screwed up is acknowledging feelings and allowing emotions. As an attorney, I am certainly capable of making an evidence-based argument about a subject, but I have always found it frustrating that my emotions have less validity than my evidence-based argument. They both reveal truth.

    These women shared their feelings, and much of what they said resonated with me, a woman in her 50s who just recently left the church. To the extent that people are bothered that John didn’t poke harder at the women’s assertions, I would simply ask, what is at the root of your disagreement with the way this discussion was handled? My guess would be that it was some kind of emotional discomfort with some of the topics. I certainly felt a little of that myself, but I recognized it as emotion. If anything, I think that the argument that John didn’t challenge the women’s opinions enough is proof again of how patriarchy hurts both men and women, because men are not taught in the patriarchy to acknowledge or accept emotion. Consequently, it can make it harder for a man to recognize when he is experiencing emotions, which I do think is at the root of Zachary’s reaction. And those emotions are just as real as the women’s emotions.

    Since we all have our little tweaks to make to the discussion, I just want to add that I was uncomfortable with the failure to point out that some sex work is sex-trafficking of minors and vulnerable women and men. It’s a complicated topic, but I think a clear definition of “sex work” is warranted.

  5. Laura April 10, 2021 at 4:29 pm - Reply

    Yes, well said Anne! I do want to acknowledge, though, Zachary’s feeling of being attacked because he is a cisgender white man. As far as the way this panel discussion was handled, though, I think it is important to recognize the context in which this panel discussion came together. These women were not asked to share the latest neuropsychological studies on differences between males and females, nor were they asked to bring substantive proof that their opinions were more likely than not the truth about all things male and female. These women were expressing their feelings and sharing the negative emotional effect that patriarchy has had and was still having on their lives.

    I also think it’s important to ask what is at the root of Zachary’s argument that John should have pushed back more at what these women were saying. The root of it was a feeling of discomfort, and thereafter, he came up with the reason for his discomfort. As a women in her 50s, who just recently left the church, I felt some discomfort, too, at some of the things shared. Most of what they said really resonated with me, though. I have felt similar emotions. It has always bothered me how the patriarchal culture discounts emotion as less valuable than evidence-based proof. As an attorney, I am certainly capable of making an evidence-based argument about an issue, but my emotions are just as real to me as any fact-based argument. Both reveal truth. And that’s the point of the women’s discussion wasn’t it? Feelings are real, and you can either choose to acknowledge them or not, but it doesn’t make them any less real.

    For what it’s worth, Zachary, I do acknowledge your feeling of discomfort as just as real as the discomfort and distress expressed by the women in this discussion. I would suggest sitting with the feeling a bit longer, though. It’s a good practice in general.

    And since we are all suggesting how we would have tweaked the discussion, I do want to point out that some sex work is sex-trafficking of minors and vulnerable men and women, and their plight is not simply a job. I think a clear definition of “sex work” was warranted.

  6. Holly April 13, 2021 at 1:11 pm - Reply

    A panel of women having more of a group discussion is a great way of going about this topic. This was different than I was expecting but not in a bad way. They discussed a lot of the spill-over problems of misogyny which is good to hear. They also hit on some of the “meat” of the issue as well. Mormonism is behind in modern world views (but will keep adapting according to pressure) but this is largely a universal societal problem.

    My personal view is that misogyny wasn’t necessarily created by organized religion but supported and sustained by it. Every historical scripture in every religion in misogynistic and we still follow these antiquated writings today. Also, why do we give more authority and clout to men over women in general society? One of the reasons is because they have been the majority of our professionals throughout time. The way to change this is to raise our daughters to become professionals across all disciplines, to become equal voices. It was more acceptable and encouraged in my Mormon family for the girls to get an education in “helping” and service related careers such as nurse, counselor, teacher, while the boys were pushed to be engineers, businessmen, attorneys, etc. All of these careers are great and commendable but you see where I’m going with this. These ideals were passed down from generation to generation in my family.

    Also, we need to teach our sons that their roles vary as well. Being assigned gender roles is misogynistic. A man’s, or anyone’s, worth should not be attached to their title in a home or at work.

    Teaching gender specific traits is also misogynistic. My husband is naturally more nurturing than me. I would never consider that a feminine trait. It is a human trait that some have more than others, just like all characteristics and traits, regardless of born gender. John, I thought you did an excellent job in listening, adding to the conversation and being empathetic.

  7. Zachary April 14, 2021 at 8:45 am - Reply

    This has been my first comment in 7 years of listening to Mormon Stories, and I have to say I am impressed by the quality of your comment chain. Thank you for making it a joy for me to read your thoughtful comments; Anne, Gary, Nancy, Mark, Laura, and Holly.

    Laura, you’re a right! It is emotion and a discomfort that evoked in me a desire to comment. The words and presentation of logic follow after an internal feeling. And Holly and Nancy and Anne, you are right too, the scope of an individual podcast needs to have a focus, and all the world’s gender inequalities can’t be addressed in 3 hours. The ladies spoke their feelings and their truth, and that is a helpful start that precipitated feelings and thoughts in me.

    I am jealous that they had the opportunity to share their feelings. I am jealous of what I perceive to be many outlets for women to speak their gender injustices. The frequency and tenor in which I hear their representative message incites in my heart an enduring feeling that I will forever be seen by half the population as a suspect misogynist, in addition to the other anti masculine tropes. It give me it is an ever present sense in my soul of what a black man may feel in the wrong community where he is suspect of many wrong things prejudicially. These are some of my feelings and emotions, Laura, that leave me sometimes sad and lonely and wishing I were somehow able to shake the bonds of the my male identity, that somehow I could preempt being prejudicially dismissed or vilified.

    I grew up with 7 sisters, and have been married to my first and only wife for 21 years, and have 3 daughters, the oldest of which will be entering university in the fall. Other than my father I have never had a male relative of any type. No grand father, brother, uncle, cousin, of any type. Which has resulted for me, a good deal of exposure to the female psyche, and feelings and I have benefitted in many ways with my interactions with females, but my discussions with females on the topic at point are often one sided. I feel their gender role pain, but I don’s sense they feel mine.

    In commenting to this podcast, I wanted to throw my drop of water out there into the ether, and maybe directly to the female ear, that the idea that both genders both benefit and suffer in the social system that is. And that my sense is that has become vogue for females to vent and to pit the downsides of being a woman versus the benefits of being a man without equally acknowledging the upsides of being a woman and the downsides of being a man. And these downsides and benefits are variable up and down the social hierarchy so it is necessary to get specific where on the dominance hierarchy we are speaking when we refer to men vs women. I was born lower class and with my mind and work ethic I now live in the upper class which has been a genuine trip in experiencing how the rules of the game vary with power.

    John could do a great podcast on this subject, and I would be willing to do it with him.

    Laura, I would be willing to share my feelings, and I must tell you, because I have conducted the social experiment personally so many times. A man who shares his emotions, and feelings, and vulnerabilities, in anything less than a highly skilled manner, looses both status and the respect of men and women in an animalistic way. Women can bond through the mutual sharing of vulnerabilities in a way that is quite impossible for men even if a man is willing to go there.

    To put it cutely… alpha lion’s don’t have the freedom to cry without social repercussions.

    Holly gets it right… that is why I am an engineer. And that is partly why I attracted the great wife that I did, whom I was able to fund to be stay at home mom when our kids were young. And I got a great wife who was also valedictorian of her high school, and who had drive and gifts that drove her to study and develop her talents concurrently during those stay at home years. Though there were many other lower paying, and more desirable to me, feeling careers, that I would have preferred, I did not pursue them, as they would have not allowed these other aspects of life to click in a way I was able to envision.

    In closing my ask it that we Nate not the players, but hate the game. Biology is real, and it is at play. It’s not just cultural. Culture has not existed over the eons as has biology, even though my enlightened egalitarian heart desires so… that it were not so.

    John, if you ever want to do a podcast contemplating how ”evolutionary psychology” intersects with membership in the Mormon church or gender relations, I offer you both my personal experience, my stories, and my nonprofessional autodidactic understanding of the subject.

    Thank you all once again for your intellectually stimulating feedback to my first Mormon Stories comment!

    • Anne April 17, 2021 at 8:14 am - Reply

      Zachary, I also appreciate how respectful your dialogue has been. My sons and I have discussed and debated similar bullet points as we navigate the challenges of gender equality. I have wrestled with—as a woman and mother—how to teach them to treat women as equals while at the same time not stereotyping or denigrating them as white male monsters. I hear you when you say you were hurt by rejection. And having my small breast size and high academic achievement often being dating deterrents, I understand that pain and understand how Darwinian principles all too often are applied to mate-finding. And while I agree that sometimes gender inequity can be erroneously perceived, there are times where it is real. In those cases, telling women that they are imagining it or making mountains out of molehills or negating the man’s needs by speaking up, is gaslighting. I disagree that women have space to air their grievances while men do not. Yes, women have been speaking up about inequity for years, but I have yet to see a time where they weren’t interrogated or minimized in some way after doing so. I once overheard a 13-year-old boy say, “Feminists are the worst people out there.” And I also therefore disagree that women can’t take the heat like men. We are put down regularly when we speak up. We expect it. I was stunned when Mark responded to my comment, “Well said.” Do you know how rarely that occurs? But mostly I disagree with the concept that stay-at-home moms get a free ride off their feminine charms. I remember saying to my husband “I work as hard as you do, but I do it primarily alone, I get almost no recognition—aside from the cliched gratitude from the Priesthood over the pulpit—and I earn zero dollars and zero in retirement.” I am completely dependent on my husband for everything related to money. I’m stressed sometimes if I buy a pair of shoes from Ross. The one day, before my daughter’s wedding, that I went to the spa, he was upset because we were then running late. So I’m not sure what feee ride you feel women have because to a non-employed woman, she doesn’t feel free. Although I have a Master’s degree, if I got a job now, I’d earn 1/5 of what he’s earning. I just learned that a paper I submitted to a medical journal is being peer reviewed, and I felt both proud and deeply sad. I can’t help but wonder what books I could have published or what medical breakthroughs I could have been a part of if my spouse and I had more equally shared both employment and childcare. When my spouse and I went to a marriage counselor. One of the first things he asked me to do was to write down everything I did to support my husband—not only so that my husband could see it, but so I could. Four pages later, I was in tears with the realization of just how much I gave. So please, stop presenting women who don’t get paid for the work they do as lazy, mooching, complainers who weigh down or take advantage of their hard-working husbands. If you want us to see how the social system isn’t working for men. then please give us the same courtesy.

      • Emily Anderegg April 23, 2021 at 11:40 am - Reply

        Oh thank you Anne! I feel this keenly. So much waste. What a tragedy to disappear the way we do in order to prop up our men only to have them dismiss us at some point. I don’t blame any person, but I blame a hierarchical system that transforms an educated woman into an accessory. When we let ourselves disappear for the sake of the celestial ideals that drive us, there really is no one left to love. I was a National Merit Scholar and a Sterling Scholar in high school, but after two years of premed at BYU I just fizzled out for some reason. I couldn’t see a path forward to follow in my father’s footsteps and I’m still trying to deconstruct that. I find a clue as I watch the male-oriented Blaze on Nick Jr. with my 4 year old son. I switched to humanities, served a mission, dabbled in anorexia, and got married. Six kids later, after deliberately choosing to go without so I could position my husband professionally above me and somehow position myself aligned with the Family proclamation, my husband was done with me. I was done with myself to be honest. Happily I am admitted to the University and will be pursuing a masters in Human Development and Social Policy before too long. I am excited to work outside of the home as well as within it. Never too late to reject the rigid gender slots we were prescribed. I ache that I didn’t have permission to co-work and co-parent with my husband. We could have helped each other immensely. Instead we both suffered in lonely and burdensome ways and couldn’t see a way to change it.

  8. Emily Anderegg April 23, 2021 at 10:25 am - Reply

    Just listening to these women describe their experiences. I am both curious and compassionate. I would also like to speak to the “thirst traps”. I was really saddened by this development. I am also on a journey to extricate myself from the harmful effects of patriarchy. It’s quite traumatic to discover an invisible game in which you have been a pawn with a set of rules that you had no say in and you can’t even articulate, but affect every aspect and minute of your life. I assume my post-Mormon brothers feel equally traumatized. I know my husband struggled to share his faith transition with me for 3 years and made some choices that were very destabilizing to our family because of his conditioning. I simply didn’t matter in our old paradigm because I was a woman and he was a man. The wounds are deep, but I am beginning to be able to separate my husband from the game that Zachary is referring to. My husband’s doing the same and finding his personal morality.
    Back to thirst traps. I wrote a personal critique of the movie Cuties last year and one of the main things that struck me was that the girls are the ones that end up perpetrating harm on themselves as they strive for identity and attachment. They take their own pictures, they post them, they market themselves. I watch my young nieces doing this. I see Kim Kardashian doing this. At first glance you think, empowerment. But as I feel deeper and pay attention to the yuck in my gut, I realize that this posing and posting is actually just gaining currency in the same old patriarchal system, wanting to ultimately be chosen because that’s your only hope for survival. We are still pawns in the same old game, but now we are just doing it to ourselves. I would like to see women everywhere start refusing to play the game at all, stop vying for currency, and choose to change the rules or just leave the game all together. Stop publicly posting sexuality and start experiencing it. Start living life from the inside out and not the other way around. Stop functioning from a place of desirability and start operating from a place of desire. Start moving the discourse beyond the discourse of the body and shift to the internal working of the heart and the mind. To be sexual when and how you want, but not feel compelled to compete sexually in the public arena.
    I also wanted to speak to the emotionality that Zachary talks about. As I get further along in this journey, I am convinced that the most fundamental piece of my marriage that has been lacking is the deep emotional connection that I seek with my husband. As we get beyond patriarchy and it’s characteristic denial of male emotion, this is also what my husband seeks. We have wanted to love each other deeply, but have had no tools to do so. I believe love and connection are accessible to us when we develop emotional awareness and attunement (Please see Running on Empty No More by Jonice Webb, overcoming childhood emotional neglect.) It sounds simple and obvious, but the actual dynamics of emotional intimacy are more demanding and conscious. The emotions are always there, always have been, but locked up so to speak, indecipherable. As members of the Church we sat right next to each other on the pew, but we were facing forward and experiencing all of our Holy Ghost moments (aka emotional experiences that produce attachment and bonding) via a proxy at the pulpit. Leaving the church we are now able to turn away from that proxy and for the first time face each other and develop true love and connection with our chosen human directly. It takes a lot more work and emotional development. I hope that we all can explore this realm of post Mormon sexuality and male/female, even non-binary, relations and can go way beyond the discourse of objectifying, packaged, or performance sexuality and claim the whole package of “spiritual” sexuality that includes our whole brain and body experience, physical (amygdala), emotional (limbic), intellectual (prefrontal cortex), both solo experiences or in relation.
    One of the conditions and desires I have determined needs to develop in order for my marriage to survive is that both my husband and I are striving to develop emotional intimacy, the real deal, which you really don’t know until you experience it in an embodied way for the first time. We have had glimpses of it after leaving the church after 19 years of marriage and having 6 children together. This gives us hope. Admittedly we are coming to love and intimacy from a backwards direction. We should have chosen to marry based on this foundation rather than discover it to be the missing link only after many years of toil and heartache. We actually couldn’t access it within the constructs of patriarchy and Mormonism where certain emotions are pathologized (sadness) and demonized (anger) and one half of the marriage is always subordinate to the other. You can’t show up fully until you are both equal and free and authentic, which our emotions enhance, along with our desire-based sexuality and our intellect and voice. We don’t belong to each other. We choose each other. We don’t need each other to fit in or be completed or progress, we just want each other. Detachment is the real tragedy of both constructs patriarchy and Mormonism. I hope as a mother to be able to pass a sexual and relational knowing to my daughters and sons that simply didn’t exist for my mother or my father. They simply couldn’t offer me what they didn’t have. I feel my husband comes from the same lack and has the same desire. If there is ever any doubt or justification that men simply can’t or shouldn’t feel resonant emotions that will allow us to overcome our barriers and find true connection with each other, I would direct you to the Netflix film My Octopus Teacher. If an octopus can live a completely emotional life and a man can fall in love with an octopus, there is hope for us all. We all have a right to feel and live a life directed from this internal navigation system.

  9. Emily Anderegg April 23, 2021 at 10:30 am - Reply

    Just a follow up. I am also looking forward to reading Sacred Pleasure: Sex, Myth, and the Politics of the Body–New Paths to Power and Love by Riane Eisler which claims to provide an ethos and ethic on this topic.

  10. Emily April 23, 2021 at 7:10 pm - Reply

    An interesting resource on sex work comes from Ilan Stephani in Skin and Games: What Sex Work Taught Me about Love. Available on Amazon Kindle. She explores sub cultures and double standards.

  11. Emily April 26, 2021 at 9:49 am - Reply

    This topic has got my gears moving and I have even more to add. I guess I’m commenting on myself !

    I have a sense that female sexuality and sovereignty has much to do with sex work, private or public as you choose. The work of discovering and developing abilities and skills. Striptease, the right to dress, or be undressed. To have total dominion over the space of the body, to have total say in who can come in and who has to stay away. Who, when, where, how. Sexuality is currency in patriarchy, bought, sold, marketed, commodified, consumed, exploited. But also it is power in feminism. The body is commodity in patriarchy but domain in feminism. A question of context, rules, rights, privileges. I guess the ultimate sign of women’s liberation would be to be able to walk down the street naked and fear no harm and fear no say and then to enter a bedroom and be able to create or co-create an experience of her choosing.

    • Mw. Adriana de Jong, The Netherlands May 2, 2021 at 2:48 pm - Reply

      WOW ! Emily ! I just read what you wrote and I want to comment on it later !

      There is some good stuff you shared !

      For thousands of years we, women, have chosen to follow men and their theories. We have become enimies from our own sexe in trying to submit ourselves to the nonsens of patriarchy. For years now I’m taking distance from this patriarchy mindset and just look closely at it to see where it comes from, how it works and where it fails and is harmfull. Instead of us women talking about each other how the dress in not nice or the nails are not polished neatly, we should use this incredible talent, to comment on each other for the smallest things, to make comments on patriarchy and this frame of thinking.

      Thanks to Mormon Stories and John Dehlin I learned to see that I shouldn’t blame men, cos they are hurt by patriarchy themselves. And it gave me great pleasure to stop faultfinding in the other sexe, the male, and start finding faults in a system, patriarchy. A system is not a living thing, it’s not natural, although some men claim it is, but that is just how the view is limited by patriarchy. While looking from an other angle patriarchy is nothing more but a mentall ill frame of thoughts, and instead of natural, opposite to all that is healthy.

      I would like to come back and share my thoughts here with you !

      I read ‘The chalice and the blade’ from Rianne Eisler and am sure curious for the book you mention !

      You truly made some great comments, thank you so much !


      Adriana de Jong, The Netherlands.

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