In an interview, “Natalie,” a 23-year-old Mormon feminist, describes how her teenage sexuality collided with her faith:
The thing is, masturbation is a normal thing, but [the community] doesn’t talk to girls about it—I have since learned that they talk to boys about it—because we’re not supposed to desire. So I knew it was something a girl is not supposed to do, which made it even worse. So then it became kind of masochistic for me. It was like, Oh, Natalie ate too much today, she’s going to masturbate. I didn’t want to cut myself, I wasn’t ballsy enough to get drunk, I wasn’t ballsy enough to smoke—it was the biggest thing I could think to do to hurt myself within my religion. Which is really sad, that I was using my sexuality to hurt myself. So that was one of the things that I had to unpack with my therapist.
After that, I put my religion in a box for about a year. I was kind of like, I need to know who I am right now.
She eventually made her way to BYU-Idaho and decided she would give the religion another chance, describing her first two semesters there as her attempt “to be the good Molly Mormon” – an ideal she eventually relinquished. And what, exactly, is a Molly Mormon?
It’s kind of the Mormon idea about how a woman’s supposed to act.
Molly Mormons are women who are so spiritually obsessed that everything has to be by the book. Oh, your dress is not knee length! Oh no! It’s encapsulated by this sense that you have to be modest enough to be deemed attractive but not immodest enough to be deemed sexy. Being blonde and petite is sort of an added bonus. There’s a different type of body shaming that happens within Mormonism. It’s not necessarily the same as you see in Vogue or watching Sex and the City, where it’s like, “I have to be a size 4.” It’s more trying to be this modest female paradigm virtue where you’re supposed to be enticing and attractive but also sweet and naïve.