Yet again we see a story where young women are held accountable for the sexual arousal of their male peers due to their clothing.
This seems a silly story to report on, if it wasn’t so prevalent in our culture. I have overheard women in my own congregational settings talk to young women about being careful about protecting their sons’ minds from their arousing presence – and I hear of this happening in many LDS settings. This mindset is so ridiculous on so many levels…
- Whether LDS young women wear something “arousing” or not, LDS young men still need to figure out how to live in a world where they will see a certain amount of female (and male) flesh on a regular basis.
- Bodies can be arousing regardless of how they are clothed. People are beautiful! Hooray!
- This assumes that only young men have the capacity of arousal when seeing a person they are attracted to. Why aren’t we worried about our daughter’s minds being aroused by all the sexy ways young men might present themselves??? Why aren’t we telling high school football players that their pants are too tight and leave little to the crotch imagination?????
- This demonizes arousal. Thank goodness our teens are experiencing arousal!! That means that they are “normal” and on their way to relational partnering! Do we really want teens to NOT experience sexual arousal??
- It does nothing to teach young people how to manage arousal in normative, responsible ways. Imagine – you can experience arousal, acknowledge it and go about your regular business in about the course of 3-5 seconds…
- The power of suggestion is exactly that — powerful. Do we really want our young men to identify as weak-minded individuals who will not be able to control their sexual urges or desires if met with arousing situations? Really!!!???? It’s offensive. I thought we were interested in raising confident, thoughtful, responsible, mindful and consent-informed sons.
- And most importantly – this type of logic is part of rape culture. So that when sexual assault happens, it is easy to place the onus on what “started the arousal process” — instead of directly on those who would act inappropriately and criminally to begin with. And isn’t it interesting that what people are wearing has not shown to be a significant factor in sexual assault cases anyway (rather it’s about power themes) – so why do we perpetuate this myth?
We can do much better people! And our youth are deserving of much better! They are deserving of comprehensive sexual education that normalizes arousal, teaches responsibility, prioritizes pleasure and consent, respects them as individuals and debunks silly myths like this one.
Natasha Helfer Parker, LCMFT, CST can be reached at natashaparker.org. She authors the Mormon Therapist Blog, hosts the Mormon Mental Health and Mormon Sex Info Podcasts, writes a regular column for Sunstone Magazine and is the current president of the Mormon Mental Health Association. She has 20 years of experience working with primarily an LDS/Mormon clientele.