Sunday, August 4, 2013

Mormon men compared to women in the larger society

It's interesting to compare Utah Mormon culture with societal culture as a whole. I see some interesting and similarities.

For example, in the greater society, where sexuality is concerned, women are expected to portray themselves as asexual. To not acknowledge their sexuality or that they enjoy things like sex, pornography or masturbation whereas the ever present double standard doesn't hold men to the same societal restrictions. And yet, as a Mormon man, I can relate to this restriction because it seems to me, in Mormon culture, that men are under that same pressure as women in society as a whole. To be asexual and not acknowledge their own sexuality even to the point of not acknowledging the beauty of the female form out of fear that they will be seen as objectifiers of women or even pornography addicts without even indulging in porn.

This is unfortunate. As a filmmaker and artist, I'm often in the position of having to make an aesthetic judgment about the looks of actors (both women and men). Not just determining who is beautiful but who has a certain "look" that may be interesting or appropriate for a particular part in a film or photo shoot. It's become a simple habit for me that when I see a beautiful woman or a handsome man, I'll comment on their look and imagine what sort of part they might be able to play, assuming they had the necessary talent for it. Many of my friends on Facebook are actors, models or both and I often "like" their pages and photographs out of genuine appreciation for their beauty and what they do professionally. I've also "liked" the pages and photographs of actors and models that I don't know personally for the same reasons and yet, some people, particularly some Mormon women, have passed judgment against me for this practice and have accused me of objectifying women or treading on a slippery slope that could lead to indulging in pornography because some of these individuals are fitness models or model bathing suits, somewhat revealing dresses or lingerie.

This shaming, sometimes in private and sometimes in public, is especially prevalent in the Mormon singles community. A demographic that seems, at times, stuck in an adolescent mind set in part because Mormon single adults tend to be treated as older adolescents and not as adults simply because they aren't married.

Human beings, as God created them, are sexual creatures. This is nothing to be ashamed of and nothing for which we should shame each other. Some people make no distinction between genuine appreciation of the human form and lusting after it. This is unfortunate because God also created us as complex creatures of thought and reflection and to willfully abandon that ability to think based on a perceived notion of morality is, in my opinion, insulting to our Creator.