Thursday, August 28, 2014

Actual Woman to Attend LDS Church Women's Meeting

LDS Church Leaders to Admit First Woman to Women's Meeting 
Salt Lake News -- published August 28, 2014

In yet another startling break from tradition, LDS leaders announced late Wednesday that an actual woman will be attending next month's church-wide Women's Meeting.

"The Brethren are nothing if not progressive," said church spokesperson Wilbur Burton. "They decided to test the waters. If this one behaves herself, there may be more next time."

The carefully selected candidate, Ginger Louise Bennion, is a sophomore at BYU-Idaho and serves in her ward nursery. 

"The Quorum of the Twelve sifted through thousands of resumes before settling on Sister Bennion," Burton said. "They were looking for a special kind of sister, one who possesses that delicate combination of tact, sweetness, and run-of-the-mill expectations."

While the Women's Meeting is scheduled to last 2 hours, Ms. Bennion will be excused after the first 30 minutes.

"The Brethren don't want to push it," explained Burton. "So much of what will be discussed in the Women's Meeting is too sacred to be shared with an actual sister. But she can at least hear our opening agenda."

When asked how she received this honor, Ms. Bennion replied, "I'm like, so thrilled. I mean, it's way cool to be the first and everything." And then she added archly, "This will once and for all demonstrate how much my church values women."

Friday, August 22, 2014

For the Young Mormon Feminists. From an Old Mormon Feminist.

Recently a brave BYU sophomore named Keli Byers challenged her school's ban on sex for unmarried students, and more specifically, berated the BYU administration for its bias against women. In an article published on August 13, 2014 in Cosmopolitan Byers described how, at age 15, she was assaulted by an LDS returned missionary and then blamed by her bishop for having invited the sexual violation. She then went on to explain:
"When I came to BYU last year I signed its honor code and promised to live a 'chaste life' — students who don't could get expelled. But my attitude changed after I joined the Young Mormon Feminists, a group that's not endorsed by the Church or BYU. We talk about how the Church doesn't see women as equal to men and how BYU is slut-shaming. The school's honor code forces women to dress modestly — no skirts above the knee — supposedly to help men control their thoughts. The group helped me reclaim my sexuality and realize my sexual assault wasn't my fault.”
Predictably, her opinion drew angry and defensive responses from believing Mormons. Read both the article and reader comments here.

As I pondered my own reaction to Keli's brave admission, I concluded that my opinion is probably best expressed in the Vagina Testimony I presented at the 2012 Sunstone Symposium, earlier only excerpted here on Ward Gossip.

So this week for Keli, the Young Mormon Feminists, and my Gentle Readers, I again present my Vagina Testimony, this time in full:

I have a vagina. I have a womb. I possess the procreative power, the fertile valley. I am the sacred feminine. My holy female cycle keeps me in tune with God by way of heavenly mood swings and hot flashes of inspiration. I am a member of the stronger sex.

We women did not choose this role. Rather, it was thrust upon us. And it is a heavy mantle to bear. Every day brings new challenges, especially in these troubled times, when increasing numbers seek to challenge our God-given authority. Even here, in the heart of Zion.

For example, yesterday I awoke, dressed, and came downstairs to take on the day. My helpmeet, Mark, served breakfast. Just the usual. Eggs, bacon, waffles, homemade banana muffins and orange juice for me. Half a grapefruit for him. – I appreciate that Mark works at keeping his figure. It’s important. Especially for men of a “certain age.”

I kissed him goodbye and rushed to an important leadership meeting on the BYU campus. Nine o’clock sharp. I was gathered around the well-lacquered conference table with my fellow sisters. As always, we grappled with the day’s tough issues.

n    First on the agenda: A sensitively worded statement to be read to all LDS wards and stakes. One that tactfully marginalizes all members who are not white, straight, married with at least five kids, living on one income, and fulfilling their gender-specific roles.
n    Second on the agenda: A hip LDS PR campaign that only features Mormons who do not fit the above profile.

Afterward, my colleagues and I headed across campus for some good old gal talk at the Sisterhood Bakery. On my way there I marveled at the many righteous young women I encountered who were striving to live the Gospel. But I had a growing unease about the young men, as some engaged in conduct that was unseemly at best, borderline “vagina envy” at worst.

First, outside the bookstore, I spotted a rather homely young man holding up a placard that read, “It’s My Sperm!” (I chalked this up to his obvious inability to get a date.) Then a few minutes later, as my sisters and I were approaching our destination, another woman-hater shouted, “No fair! Why can’t men eat at the Sisterhood Bakery?”

This insubordinate could not be excused. I drew a breath, mustered all of my patience, and said, “Young man, in the unlikely event that the Lord allows men to hold the keys to the Sisterhood Bakery, which cookie would you want?”

After lunch I headed to the library hoping to do some research. Unfortunately, I found it impossible to concentrate, thanks to a shockingly immodest young man in a pair of Levi 501 Shrink to Fit jeans.

Now, you may ask, “Don’t lots of boys at BYU wear 501 Shrink to Fits?” Yes they do, and for most it is an acceptable choice. But this particular young man had an especially curvy backside that strained the confines of his tightly shrunk pants and left nothing to the imagination. Hot, breathless, and teased out of my mind, I quit the building. Honestly, it’s a wonder that a BYU coed gets any work done in such an environment.

This is difficult to explain to somebody who only has a penis. Because, as we know, God designed the penis for a single purpose -- the impregnating of the holy female womb -- an act that is efficient, perfunctory, and complete inside of a minute.

The vagina, on the other hand, has that sacred spot that God created specifically for pleasure and nothing else. Men don’t have that. So by nature they are naïve and vulnerable to the dangerous power of the female orgasm.

The young men must realize that once aroused, a woman’s passion gathers, builds, swells with quivering anticipation, and finally peaks in hot, wet waves of erotic pleasure that drive the female into a prolonged climax of frenzied desire. Even then she is not sated, and may achieve orgasm again and again for hour upon hour with no end in sight.

That young man in the 501’s has no idea how lucky he was. If I hadn’t had the courage to leave when I did, anything could have happened. And it would have been entirely his fault.

I rushed home to find my helpmeet, Mark, at our kitchen table, hot gluing felt for an upcoming Elders’ Quorum lesson.

I ripped open his shirt. “I have to have you now!”
“Um, okay, but can I at least finish my felt . . .”
“Screw the felt.”
“Darling…please be gentle.”

Five hours later, I left Mark collapsed in a puddle of hot glue and headed to my office at the church. I had only one appointment that evening, but it was a lengthy one, as most confessions are. Sven, a young swimsuit model, had taken a job for a prescription drug company. – It was one of those ads promoting the custom fit vaginal vibrators that are covered by insurance. The commercial featured Sven in a swimming pool surrounded by a bunch of peri-menopausal hotties. When the shoot was over, the women—predictably—lost control and forced Sven to perform oral sex on all six of them.

Wait. Or was it seven? … Just to be safe, I made him repeat the whole story again. It was six women in the pool.

Or was it the hot tub? … I’d better have him back.

Finally I went home, retired to my bed, and drifted off to sleep thinking of all the other privileges I might be entitled to simply because of the anatomy inside of my underpants.

And more importantly, I wondered how much longer I would be able to get away with it.

--Those of you who use Goodreads may check out my new author page here and even friend me! Please be my friend. 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Oh Captain, My Captain

Rewind 30-some years ago. My girlfriend and I are sitting in my grandparents' den in Glendale, CA, drinking Cokes and watching Mork and Mindy. I can't find the transcript, but here's how I remember the scene. Mork is hanging with some cool earthling dudes, desperately trying to fit in.

Cool Earthling Dude: Hey guys, I need some new tips on how to attract foxes.
Mork: Why not leave out a little raw meat on your doorstep?

And so I was introduced to Robin Williams--spewing Coke onto my grandma's coffee table. His was a special kind of genius. Always outside of the box, he was the comedian who never needed a laugh track.

There are so many magically hilarious moments lodged in my memory.

His manic stream of consciousness performances on The Johnny Carson Show, one prompting Carson to exclaim, "When did I lose control of this show?"

As the D.J. in Good Morning Vietnam who slyly spliced his own questions into a press conference with Nixon.
Adrian Cronauer: "…Mr. President, how would you describe the Viet Cong your testicles?"
Nixon: "That they're soft, and they're very shallow and they serve no purpose."

As Mrs. Doubtfire igniting her fake breasts on the stovetop and then extinguishing them with a couple of pot covers. As the larger than life genie in Aladdin...

And then there were the casual lines he tossed out seemingly as afterthoughts. At the end of the George W. Bush presidency, "The Reign of Error is over"... or, upon learning that the Iraqis were trying to draft a constitution, "Well, why not take ours? We're not using it."

But he was equally capable of delving into his dark side in movies such as Insomnia, One Hour Photo, and Good Will Hunting. (The latter performance earned him an Oscar.) My favorite of his films, Dead Poets Society, debuted when I was on the cusp of leaving Mormonism. At the time I felt like I was a student in Mr. Keating's class, climbing atop my desk for the very first time and seeing the world from a fresh perspective.
Oh Captain, My Captain
For his fellow San Franciscans, the loss hit close to home. On Tuesday we awoke to see the sad news in a banner headline on the front page of the San Francisco Chronicle. Later that day, Mark and I were dining at an Italian restaurant in the Mission. "I feel like we've lost our neighbor," the waiter remarked as he served our lunch.

But then, the outpouring of grief across the globe demonstrates that people far and wide felt he was also their neighbor. For many of us, it was deeply personal. 

How important is art to life?

On Monday at 4:20 PST I was watching a segment about the ISIL on The Chris Matthews Show when a special report interrupted with the news of Robin Williams' death. From there, the show shifted to an interview with James Lipton and stayed with him for the remainder of the hour. So devastated by the news, the veteran host of Inside the Actors Studio continued to apologize to the MSNBC reporter. I'm sorry I'm not a good interview, Lipton continued to lament. I'm still in shock, etc.

In a statement, his daughter, Zelda Williams, said:
"To those he touched who are sending kind words, know that one of his favorite things in the world was to make you all laugh. As for those who are sending negativity, know that some small, giggling part of him is sending a flock of pigeons to your house to poop on your car. Right after you’ve had it washed. After all, he loved to laugh too…"
From now on, when I think of Robin he will be laughing. Also I will be laughing.

How important is art to life?

For making us think: 1,000 times the cost of admission. 
For making us laugh: Priceless

Friday, August 8, 2014

That Heavenly Father is Such a Tease!

I came home sick on Monday, my brain fried after attending a terrific 3-day writers conference. Since then I've been in bed trying to lose this wicked cough, drowning myself in NyQuil and zoning out in front of reruns of The Rockford Files, Full House, and Bonanza. To say the least, it's been somewhat uninspiring, leading me to believe that I'd have nothing worth blogging about this week.

Then what do you know, I logged onto that venerable bastion of journalism, Sheep Dip, and found this hilarious report on a press conference with God Himself! Right away I knew this was a must-share with my Gentle Readers.

So! It seems the Big Goofball was pulling our leg all along...

God Admits He "Pulled a Fast One" When He Sent American Troops in Search of WMD's

"Angels close to God told Sheep Dip that 'God is indeed a real joker.  He keeps us on our toes up here.'  One angel who asked not to be identified  by his Heavenly name says that the 'Almighty is always sneaking a whoopee cushion onto my gold chair when I’m off playing the harp somewhere.'" 

Personally, I'm not surprised. I actually saw God do standup in North Beach a few years back -- He wasn't half bad.