Quote of the Week

"I assure you that if you have to wait even until the next life to be blessed with a choice companion, God will surely compensate you."
President Ezra T. Benson, To the Single Adult Sisters of the Church, 1988.

Friday, August 29, 2014

The Social Stigma of Being Single

I am excited to share this

The Experience of Never-Married Women in Their Thirties Who Desire Marriage and Children
Long name, amazing results!
I stumbled upon this 279 page dissertation pdf file (Marcy Cole, The Institute for Clinical Social Work, Chicago, 1999) after Googling "Social Stigma of being Single"
Three nights and 14 pages of close reading notes later, I am ready to report because I found this study, understandably, FASCINATING.
25 women, all never married, between the ages of 29-39, educated and financially independent, were interviewed for this study.
Since I can hear the groans of those who don't share my enthusiasm for reading 200+page online dissertations for fun, here is my breakdown of the published results summarized for your benefit.
You're welcome. But I hope I'm not the only one who wants to know,
WHY HASN'T A SIMILAR STUDY BEEN DONE IN UTAH?!!!
We certainly have bigger pool of candidates than Illinois, not exactly the virgin capital of the world.

First off, the word "old maid" according to the Oxford English Dictionary has been successfully degrading single women since 1783, "Tis a cursed thing to be an old maid," (R Dixon, Cardian v iii. 34) while other derogatory cousins such as "spinster," "unmarried," "single" all carry with them the weight of general unpleasantness.
Single women are ignored, marginalized, viewed as victims of outrageous stereotypes, slapped with psychological reasons to excuse our imbalance. We are all irresponsible, damaged,  lonely, depressed, incomplete, immature, unfit, too obsessed with love and romance, too picky yet stuck like dead fish in a dried up dating pool due to a demographic imbalance that only gets worse the older we get.
It's a hopeless situation.
Thanks to socialization, the expectation that us girls are brought up on, (starting at a very young age) that we will, eventually, achieve the ideological norm of getting married and having children becomes a social stigma once we reach a certain age and realize IT HASN'T HAPPENED YET.
Men, interestingly enough, do not experience this stigma which explains their absence from the study.
The single women's experience has been divided into "stages" all of which I found eerily familiar:

Stage 1: The Time Warp
The realization or "wake up call" that certain life events have not yet come to pass which leads to over-consuming feelings of bewilderment and panic.

Stage 2: How do I Meet Thee?
In our desperation we jump on the "gerbil dating wheel" going out with anyone remotely available, signing up for online dating sites (Which aren't mentioned at all because the year was 1999 when this was published!) perhaps even cohabiting just so we won't have to be alone, as our mothers with their wagging fingers warned us was a fate worse than death, before wrapping their legs around their (worthy priesthood holding if Mormon) hubbies crying "Hallelujah, thank God, I already have a man!"
The pressure for single women not to be alone is great, indeed.

Stage 3: The Sinkhole
This is where I keep getting stuck. When no man materializes for us and we spend too many Friday nights, alone, with our old pal Ben & Jerry's drowning ourselves in self-pity, despair becomes overwhelming and we fall into a downward spiral of depression and lethargy. Life has no meaning, purpose or direction for single sisters in the Mormon faith. A wholesome, virtuous homebody does not a Heavenly Father bless. Pass the short, fat, juicy worms, please.

Stage 4: The Sine Wave Experience
"Anticipation is keeping me waitin'!" Sooner or later we do bounce back, climb out of the sinkhole, find activities and goals to renew our focus on. This is where the study starts to deviate from single women to all women in general. This is why men are from Mars. They just don't get how women can be consistently up and down. It's a roller coaster of emotions. These mood swings are amplified for single women, especially during PMS. We fluctuate between giddy joy at all the possibilities life has in store for us and despair that it will never be realized. While our biological clock keeps tick, tick, ticking on...

Stage 5: Free to be Me or "Doin' my strong woman number"
All Gen Xers will remember this
Free to Be You and Me was an audio record and reel-to-reel film  series that was a staple in my first grade class at Rose Avenue Elementary in Modesto, California (which my brain had completely blocked out until YouTube came along). Basically, the idea of this stage is that single women can embrace that feminism ideal of self actualization, become their best self (as Oprah would say) in all areas where men are lacking such as their professional and family connections. Taking up new hobbies and interests. Forming strong networks of support through friends, church acquaintances, finding God and even therapy. Whatever it takes to cope. Always emerging victorious and stronger. Composing our own version of "Let it Go" and singing it to the world.

There is a distinct correlation for singles versus marrieds between work and life satisfaction. A brick wall I'm forever banging my head against as someone who just can't achieve success on the socio-economic ladder: two bachelors degrees, certifications, yet stuck in the food service industry. I'm living the American Dream! So, why do I feel so depressed?

Singles struggle with the desire for intimacy versus desire for isolation and independence.
The study never reveals if any of the 25 women were still virgins but many of them admitted to seeking therapy out of regret for their past sexual relations with men who never valued them and finding the closure they needed to move past the pain and renew hope that the next relationship that came along might lead to marriage.

That's where the study clashed for me.
The phrase "having it all" kept popping up and I thought that was interesting considering the debate is still raging today. Over and over, the study insists on proving that single, independent, feminist-minded women can still find happiness and fulfillment without a husband, home and children of their own to focus on. I was never one of those women who feared I'd lose my identity if I got too close to a man who desired marriage (do such men even exist?). I was never one of those women content to party my life away, sleeping around and whoring it up until "the wake up call" stage kicked in as "The Economics of Sex" YouTube video shows the forlorn woman slumped outside the wedding chapel, ready to settle down but unable to find compatibility as all the marriage minded men are either already taken or not ready to commit yet.

I guess for those of us wise enough to hold out and wait for Mr. Right, we just have to keep hoping there's still one or two emotionally available men out there looking and preparing themselves to be worthy of us as much as we have been working on self-improvement to be ready for them.

Are you volatile (dangerous, out of control) or do you have a healthy self image, finding fulfillment in counting your blessings? Being the best aunt in Zion, visiting teacher, temple worker, (if you still have a current recommend in the Mormon faith) and all around do-gooder is admirable but somehow, I don't find it very fulfilling any more and such activities sure as heck don't pay the bills or have ever opened any doors to a satisfying career. It's certainly never led me to any long term relationships. I found it interesting that many of the women in the study also reported unresolved family issues, traumatic childhoods with abuse, divorce and absent parents who failed to be there for them while those who had a strong network of supporting and encouraging family and friends were better off.

All I can do is revert back to my meager blessings: two nephews, a little sister who doesn't mind me tagging along observing her experiencing all those life events I seem destined never to have in this life, a younger brother with whom I can easily spend an hour on the phone talking to about everything under the sun and a good platonic guy friend at my work who can always make me laugh as well as a handful of single girlfriends with whom I can find support and encouragement.

It was nice to read this very, very long dissertation and find validation in my own experience as a never-married woman in my thirties who desires marriage and children but can't seem to find it.
Nice to know I'm not the only one who feels this way.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Independent Women

In honor of Independence Day and Pioneer Day, I'm taking a break from writing my other blog (as inspired by this oldmaidmormon post) to say a few words in behalf of Women Who Married Later in Life or Never Married at All.
 I also want to comment on the Ordain Women issue.

 Kate Kelly in Utah (22 June 2014)

Everyone is praising Kate Kelly for being an independent woman, a married Mormon Feminist, who desires complete and total equality with her husband in the eyes of the Mormon church. She was excommunicated for trying to push her views on the all male leaders of the church and organizing quiet resistance and protest movements involving hundreds of other similar mined women.

My question to her and all Feminists is, "How does being equal with men help single, marriage-minded women?"
Answer: "It doesn't. You don't need a man to have it all."
Then why did you marry one, Kate Kelly?

Once again, single women in the church remain invisible. Who cares if we also desire all the blessings of the priesthood? Without a husband or children to identify ourselves with as the "misunderstood wives and mothers" does that mean we don't matter? That only MARRIED women are allowed to hold the priesthood? If that is so, it means these women have already decided for us, that holding the priesthood, like marriage, is obsolete. These married women whine over not being allowed in "The Boys Club" without stopping for a minute to think what it's like for those who aren't even in "The Club" of which marriage is the first requirement for membership. Where are the single women demanding priesthood ordination? Sheri Dew, where are you?
Kate Kelly's problem wasn't her questioning of church doctrine, and writing her own six discussions (which, as a return sister missionary, had me raising my eyebrows in alarm). She (and Sheri Dew's latest book) failed to ask the right kinds of questions in order to initiate the discussions that reveal just how deep the roots of this problem lie: not enough worthy priesthood holders to go around, failure of the church to teach and prepare men for marriage and family responsibility, placing these responsibilities on the women as both doctrinal and social issues creating a catch-22 as temple marriage is largely out of women's hands when the men choose other options over marriage, including divorce. This leaves a great many women on this earth with no worthy priesthood holder in their home, one they most likely bought and are currently paying the mortgage on themselves.

My argument isn't that women should be independent, completely self-supporting, allowed the same authority as men to participate in decision making pastoral duties. My argument is that WE SHOULD'NT HAVE TO!

Men were put on this earth to care for women. So man up men and do your duty!

I particularly love this quote:

“Be careful if you make a woman cry, because God counts her tears. The woman came out of a man’s ribs. Not from his feet to be walked on, not from his head to be superior, but from his side to be equal, under his arm to be protected, and next to his heart to be loved.”
Matthew Henry
I'm looking forward to asking whatever angel was put in charge of keeping track of such things. I expect a full accounting when I die as I've lost count of the number of tears I've shed in this life over being rejected and put down by so many men (women too). I look forward to the next life when I can be placed next to a man's heart and experience the joy of being cherished because it just ain't happening for women in this life.

And now, here's Michelle's Top Ten List of Women who Married Later in Life or Never Married
These women are great examples for singletons and old maids like me for they did the best they could in this life despite never having the opportunity to marry. Let the men have the priesthood, all I want is to fill the measure of my creation. I frequently wonder what the hell I'm supposed to be doing with my life if God's will for me is to never experience (in this life) a woman's ultimate sacrifice of service, using my long list of gifts, talents and education to benefit a home and family of my own.  Eight of these women provide that answer of other ways I can serve and improve myself while waiting for that Zombie Apocalypse, or, what Mormons like to call The Millennium, when all things will be restored and fulfilled.

#1 
Eliza R. Snow
Because she was married as a plural wife to Joseph Smith (at the ripe old age of 38!) there's a hesitancy in the church to acknowledge her married status. Instead, she is praised for her service as Relief Society President, Zion's Poetess, and being everyone's favorite aunt, for she never bore any children.
#2 
Mary Fielding Smith
Married to the widower Hyrum Smith, at age 36, also an "old maid" by 19th century standards, she became a widow but not before giving birth to a baby boy who would grow up to be a future prophet.

And now, the eight women who never married but found ways to live productive lives as contributing members of society.
#3 
Jane Austen

#4 
Louisa May Alcott

#5 
Susan B. Anthony

#6 
Florence Nightingale

#7 
Clara Barton

#8 
Mary Amelia Ingalls
My apologies to all fans of the Little House on the Prairie TV series (1974-1983) but Laura's heroically blind sister never married! After earning her college degree, she lived at home with Ma and Pa until they died then moved in with married younger sister, Carrie. Putting family first was the pioneer way.

#9 
Mother Theresa

#10 
Sheri Dew
Last, but certainly not least, the only woman still alive who is the only conservative, modern, single, never married woman representing us singletons and old maids today. Sheri Dew could do so much more for our cause if she'd just speak up on some of the issues I've been writing about on my blog on which I would love her critique.

Once again, I will pacify myself with doing all I can to be a good surrogate mother and aunt to the children in my small, insignificant life. For me, the greatest joy is holding a little one on my lap and laughing at the antics of those little ones whom Jesus emulated so well in his teachings and in his life.

The following pictures were taken at my brother-in-law's family fourth of July gathering where we ate homemade ice cream, laughed and visited with family and friends and shot off lots of fireworks (of which Charlie got a big kick out of).
Hope everyone had a happy 4th and, for those in Utah, have a great 24th of July as we celebrate the arrival of the Mormon pioneers in the Salt Lake Valley, 167 years ago this month!





Sunday, June 15, 2014

Fathers Matter to Single Women Too

Does every child need a father? Do single women need fathers? How old does a single adult have to be before parents are no longer necessary?

I grew up in a home where my biological father was physically absent after I turned thirteen. The engagement of Ray Llewellyn and Linda Higginbotham started out happily enough.

                                                   Engagement party for Ray and Linda -1973

He was a return missionary, (West Germany, Düsseldorf) she was home from BYU uncertain about what to do with her life. They met at an LDS church social activity for college age single adults, hit it off almost immediately and 24 hours later, he proposed. Their marriage was solemnized in the Los Angeles Temple, June 1973. That's when the tension began as both realized it takes more than physical attraction to make a happy marriage.

After lots of moving around (California, Oklahoma, Kansas, Washington) and five children later, Linda and her kids ended up in La Verkin, Utah. Ray remains in Seattle to this day.

She met Alan Scholes in 1992 and they were married in the St.George temple five months later January, 1993.Mom is so proud of herself for landing another husband, she refuses to be in the same room (let alone the same stadium when her oldest daughter is receiving her second bachelors degree) as Ray Llewellyn. Linda and Alan pride themselves on being regular church and temple attenders while Ray Llewellyn has gone through several relationships since his excommunication from the church and subsequent divorce.


When Mom remarried, I was relieved Father's Day would no longer be the dreaded holiday I'd come to despise. It sucks to be the only girl in Young Women's from a broken home. It hurt to see my friends hug and cuddle with their fathers while I feared I'd never enjoy a strong, stable relationship with any man.

Seeing my Mom find happiness again meant I might have a chance to get married in the temple one day too. I resolved not to rush into anything, like Mom did with Ray or be so desperate I'd snatch the first man who came along which is what I now feel she did with Alan because, unfortunately, Alan Scholes turned out to be a disengaged father.

After I turned sixteen, Mom would give me grief about my not being attractive or popular enough to be someone worth dating and Alan would concur since he didn't want to cause contention with the woman whose house he'd moved into and whose bed he was now sharing.

When I expressed interest in gong to college and getting a degree, they were quick to remind me that because Linda Scholes wasn't getting child support, it was the government's job to provide my tuition.

Alan makes a great home teacher when there's handiwork to be done around my apartment: installing a ceiling fan or hanging shelves but I could never talk to him about my own life's ambitions; my hopes and dreams. Alan Scholes never knew me well enough to have those father-daughter talks and Linda Scholes was always quick to remind me I needed to find my own boyfriend/husband.

That's too bad because I could really use some advice right now. I've taken a second job at a Walmart bakery and agreed to work Sundays because church attendance is hard for Mormon women who aren't wives and mothers by a certain age. I loved my Primary calling teaching the three and four year-olds but the group that came in from the nursery after the new year is smaller and quieter. The nice woman I co-taught with really doesn't need me anymore, so I slipped off to earn some extra money until I know what I should do with my second bachelors degree and the rest of my life.

For Alan and Linda Scholes, breaking the fourth commandment by working Sundays is now my biggest sin in their eyes which only makes them look more righteous. Other than that, I've never caused them any grief. I wouldn't have sex outside of marriage (like Alan's two oldest boys did) or do drugs or demand ordination to the priesthood. I won't even come out as a lesbian so they could at least have a reason why their oldest daughter remains so perpetually single. I've even refused to keep a great and spacious makeup kit. As a result, they just don't know what to do with me. We had a long, tense discussion about it last week but nothing was resolved. Nothing ever changes.

I broke their hearts. I no longer honor them as the closest people I have to "parents." The worse part is, I no longer care. At 39, I feel  my days on this land have been long enough already.

Growing up, the only thing I was ever encouraged to do was go out and get a job and start providing for myself, if no high school boyfriend was going to materialize. Alan had five boys to visit and provide for. A second marriage takes just as much work as a first one, if not more. Being the oldest (still) of ten children meant I was on my own when it came to making life's milestones happen.

They didn't happen and I have no father to talk to about it. Ray Llewellyn works at an auto parts store and hasn't used his bachelors degree in business or taken a job as a computer technician since the divorce in 1989. With no wife or children to provide for, why bother? He's happy and content with his life. He doesn't make me feel inadequate because I have no man in my life but I can't talk to him about anything either and there's nothing he can do for me be it intellectual, emotional, financial, or spiritual. He tells me I'm amazing because I'm his daughter but I have a hard time believing that from a man who never put family first.

I am nobody's daughter.

The only father left is the one my religion encourages me to look heavenward and beseech for guidance and direction but I guess He's too busy running the universe to care about trivial things like my never having had a boyfriend, date to the prom, steak dinner or flowers on Valentine's Day. The years tick by and I'm still waiting for the blessings from all my hard work while remaining a straitlaced virgin.  As a double whammy, I've never been offered a job outside of food services or been led to anyone who might open that door to an exciting career to make up for being single and alone.

As a Heavenly Father, God led Eve to Adam. Eve never had to compete with Lilith (or Steve, now that homosexuality has become an accepted part of the dating scene) she never had to pick her way through the minefield of her local single's ward. God was the First Matchmaker, but I can't expect him to do that for me in this day and age. Not when fatherhood is no longer a vital social ambition for males.

Fathers do matter. They matter to the mothers of the children they create. They matter to the little girls who will grow to adulthood, waiting to be asked and wondering what path they should take in the meantime. They matter to the single adult women who wait for marriage, who understand the wisdom of keeping both eyes open to prevent heartache. When it comes to the creation of a family unit, fathers matter a great deal.

And now to end on more positive note:

I fell in love last summer with a charming little movie called Despicable Me which I'd never seen until I borrowed the DVD from a friend and couldn't stop watching it, over and over. I watched it again today, in honor of Father's Day before my Walmart shift.

What is it about this story that hit me so square in the heart? The main character's transformation from villain to Snow White. Watching Gru forsake his life of crime to become a father to three little girls sets an example for all men who feel inadequate. It's both a fairy tale and a love story with an unlikely hero pulling out his ray gun to blast a condescending enemy before ending the day with goodnight kisses. It's fun to imagine having someone like that in my life who has my back.



Here's hoping all of us have, or already have, a good man in our lives who has our backs and is there for us whatever our age.
Fathers matter.
.Happy Father's Day

Thursday, May 8, 2014

When Michelle Gets Angry, really really Angry

I wanted to share a common incident that everyone can relate to that made me really really angry. Being single isn't always sunshine and roses and when life happens and you get knocked for a loop and have no one waiting for you at home to vent to and share your frustration with, it can make you want to scream and throw things. When that happens, there's nothing left to do except blog about it.
Those flashing blue and red lights in my rear view mirror caught me off guard. I was just driving home from a ten hour shift from work (6am-4pm) a month ago. I was tired and for those who live in the Salt Lake Valley, Alta View Hospital campus is built on a hill on the corner of 9400 South and 1300 East. Ever since getting pulled over a few years ago, I now obey the traffic rule and will drive all the way around campus to the north exit through two traffic lights instead of making the easier, more direct, and more convenient, albeit illegal, left turn onto 9400. According to the male officer, I was doing over 50 as I came flying down the hill past the Quarry Bend Shopping Center because I know the traffic in this area and I guess after taking the long way home I was a little excited to finally be on my way at last. I'd already passed 700 East when I realized I had the fuzz on my tail. I really thought I would be let off with a warning. I was given a citation anyway.
I have never been so angry in my life.
Just to clarify, my little, red, 1996 Ford Aspire is hardly a speed demon. Just a few weeks earlier I got the one finger salute driving this same route home on the 1300 East incline which the BMW behind me apparently felt I didn't take fast enough! I don't take my car on the freeway much anymore because it vibrates so hard whenever I hit 55mph. After fourteen years, I'm rather fond of my clunky little roller skate of a car that gets me where I need to go and I'd trade it in if I could afford a car payment but I only make $11.64 an hour flipping burgers so what's an old maid to do? I only live two miles from the hospital and have made this commute at all hours of the day and night for the last eight and a half years. It's not like I just caused a traffic accident.
I sobbed angrily the last few blocks remaining. I unlocked the door to my cold, drafty, solitary, cinder block one bedroom apartment, where no one was waiting to welcome me and ask how my day at work had gone. I collapsed onto the carpet with a new understanding of that derogatory term (pig)  for police officers. The whole world was against me, I was all alone, and nobody was on my side.
How aggravated would I have been that day, if I had someone to help me find the humor in the situation and make me laugh? If there were small children around to keep me from spewing cuss words that would make a sailor blush for shame? Maybe, if my life were different, I wouldn't have gotten so angry and frustrated that day when I just couldn't deal with it anymore.
But, like Sophie in the children's picture book by Molly Bang (1999) that inspired this blog post title, I let out my ROAR, had my cry and even though it took a few days, instead of just one afternoon like Sophie, I was finally able to put it behind me after paying the fine at traffic court one week later.
There is a happy ending to this story. Graduation day at the University of Utah arrived, my biological father drove all the way from Seattle to visit. My sister, brother, nephews and my best friend all came to support me. We went out to eat afterwards and had very pleasant evening together. It only took me three short years to complete this second bachelor's degree. Everyone was proud of me and I had to admit I was a little proud of myself too.

And Michelle isn't angry anymore.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Perpetually Eight Years Old

I attended the General Woman's Meeting on March 30 with my mother and sister, Mary, at one of our meetinghouses. The opening prayer by the young girl was most powerful segment of the entire meeting for me where I really felt the spirit. I spent the rest of the broadcast waiting for a shout-out to single, never married sisters. Sister Oscarson came closest. Anyone notice the single sister in the video sitting alone in her sacrament meeting pew whom the married woman with hubby and kids took pity on and included? Cut to the happy young woman in her temple wedding dress surrounded by her family. Nuff said. I was grateful President Henry B. Eyring stopped his narrative of a women's journey through life and the covenants she can plan to make and keep at baptism. When you stop to think about it, the years between eight years old, the traditional age a child in the church is baptized, and the next step, marriage, which usually includes the first time induction into the temple and all those covenants, can be anywhere from ten to twenty years. That 's a lot of sacrament meetings to endure alone while waiting for a  husband and children to come along.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qj-Ivgbjlms

Sometimes I feel like us never married singles in the church are treated as if we are, perpetually, eight years old. Forever treated like an adolescent because we failed to be sexually awakened by a man we ultimately failed to attract. It's our own fault.

No, my fellow single sisters. This is simply not true. It is NOT our fault. If I might be so bold as to interpret 2 Timothy 3:2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves...We are living in the last days and this is the kind of world we are stuck in. A world awash in wickedness where old fashioned dating and courtship, initiated by a man has been tossed out and deemed unnecessary. Cohabitation is replacing marriage. Those of us with higher standards, correctly taught to wait until the proper time to engage in sexual intercourse with the right partner, are never acknowledged for our patience, long suffering and sacrifice. Men truly love themselves more than the women God once expected them to honor, care and provide for be they sisters in their own family or the woman they got down on one knee for. When men would rather kiss each other instead of us, that's when we'll know the world is in big trouble.

I'm not male bashing. I know there are many fine upstanding men out there doing their best to be good brothers and husbands. I know the brethren who lead the church are doing the best they can with the few but strong priesthood holding men they have to work with. Nevertheless, women are beginning to voice their displeasure at having to stand alone. Some feel they might as well be given the priesthood for all the help they're getting from those slackers they call husbands.

Meanwhile, I'm struggling to get over my current crush. It's really more an infatuation. The relief that graduation is just two weeks away brings both pain and gut-wrenching heartache for I had such high hopes that maybe this final semester would offer an opportunity to obtain an MRS degree as well as a second baccalaureate. I even took an Institute class this semester which was very uplifting and inspiring but no one ever asked me for my phone number. As a result, this developing crush was focused on one of my professors. My first at the University of Utah but not in my academic life. When I attended that little university in Cedar City over a decade ago, I developed a schoolgirl crush on one of my male teachers. Just a little reminder from my shriveled up heart that I am and will always be a heterosexual woman, forever on the lookout for a good, kind, gentle man who would be a good provider and make me laugh frequently. It's true, the good ones are always already taken.

  Had a happy Easter anyway. My primary calling means I can continue to fly below the radar, do my duty and serve in the church like our leaders tell us single sisters to do. I'll try and content myself with whatever blessings partaking of the sacrament brings me. Being perpetually eight years old means my responsibilities and stewardship in this life are limited to just a few nephews and family members. I don't expect any career opportunities to come to pass as a result of earning a degree in English and will probably have to take a second menial labor minimum wage job that will require me to work Sundays but if that be the will of God so be it and if anyone needs me I'll be in the park picking marigolds and enjoying another ride on the swing. Calvin is stronger than he looks.



Sunday, March 23, 2014

The LDS Church's "Dirty Little Secret"



March is just Marching right along and it's time to scribble another post for all 20 of my readers out there. I know you've been waiting with baited breath.

Darn, that was a cliche wasn't it? My Fiction Workshop professor at the U warned us to avoid that cheap writing tactic. I've taken a couple creative writing courses already during my 3 years at the U and this 5000 level is the last big one. The class enrollment cap is 20 so only the most serious writers of fiction need apply. It's fun to workshop and critique my classmates' stories like the princess story one girl wrote. For guys, the sci-fi telepathic fungus one was interesting. Finally, the ever popular growing genre of sex experimentation and exploring with one's current girlfriend or boyfriend for both the straight and LGBTQ crowds reminds me just how liberal the world has become.

I submitted a piece I originally wrote in longhand on notebook paper as a teenager back in 1993, when most of these young whipper snappers were first learning to write. It was exciting to transfer it to Word about a tween-age runaway on the streets of NYC who collapses in a snowbank and is found and taken in by a cranky Frenchman with both learning to trust again. It got lots of positive feedback. My narration, dialogue and character development was praised while the overall story still needs some work as most people were confused by the setting and age of my female protagonist. A good, polished beginning takes a lot of work establishing your basic story and it's a tricky plot to pull off because he's not a pervert and she's still a minority. Remember, this author was a lonely teenager mourning the absence of a father figure and it's scary that she still feels that way sometimes at 39. Since the original short story was longer than the seven page cutoff, the class confusion was understandable. My professor showed no mercy in his editing and red pen marking with my grammar, overuse of cliches and punctuation. I don't mind since that's his job and I'm a firm believer in the quote, "There's no such thing as good writing only good rewriting." I wrote the story for me and that's all that matters; it was fun and a little scary to pull it out, dust it off and share it with strangers.

One day I might just write that bestselling novel exposing the LDS church's "Dirty Little Secret" and, sorry to disappoint all Mormon haters out there, but it won't be about Polygamy from the disgruntled ex-Mormon with an ax to grind. My topic today is about exposing an even juicer secret, a subject even the men in the highest rankings in the church don't even dare touch because it's either that repulsive or just too abnormal.

I'm talking about the singles wards. Not the glorified high school YSA (young single adult 18-30 age group) but the truly scary, run-away-screaming, 30+ single adults. The true Mormon Divergents. (Roth eat your heart out!) The most extreme you can get from The Proclamation to the Family where normal is one-time-married-only-need-apply and anyone who wasn't born with that special talent to attract your significant other by age 31 is basically told to wait in another line until the Second Coming.

It's the epidemic in the church no one is talking about.

It's why the mission age was lowered: what to do with 10,000 accomplished women in their mid 20's looking for marriage in a world where a young man's greatest achievement (after his mission if he's Mormon) is sitting in mom's basement playing his X-box and eating Skittles. Since there's no dating or hooking up allowed in the mission field it'll be interesting to see how many years must come to pass before young women outnumber men in the mission field while primary and youth groups continue to shrink. I hope it never happens but if you haven't noticed, no one is really talking about the singles epidemic in the church anymore since President Monson made the Oct. 2012 announcement about the age change while the gay marriage and Ordain Women movements now trump any and all singles mourning for marriage along with all the blessings of the priesthood. Some children might be nice too, at least for me. I always wanted to be a Mom *ducks flying tomatoes and eggs from the left*

It really isn't fair, you know. We've kept the commandments, patiently awaiting our turn for a "roll the the hay" we just want to make sure it's done in the right time, in the right place with the right person. My future children's lives are at stake here and the only hope anyone can give me is some fairy tale about populating another planet in another lifetime with a man I've yet to meet. Heck, why can't I just leave now? Why am I still here? When God needed hell, He invented the 30+ singles wards. Am I right, ladies?

No one ever talks about just what caliber of people await you in that "second line" and every single woman in the Mormon church knows exactly what I'm talking about. The only princes here are the ones from "Frozen" who are sorry you have no one to love you for eternity but how bout a quick feel up on the dance floor?

April general conference is coming and every year I hope will be the year that this issue is addressed. Not since President Benson has any general authority in the church stood at the pulpit and officially spoken "To the Single Adults of the Church" with a revelation just for us. When The Proclamation to the Family was first read over the pulpits back in 1995 I was there, in my college singles ward lapping it up and loving every word I was hearing. I still believe those words. Even years later when my two Mormon roommates suggested that if I was so hungry for temple marriage just so I could be a Mom and have kids I should adopt (I made good money back then working at Wal-Mart to support them) but I reminded them of the Proclamation and besides I wanted to be a stay at home mom and I still do.

I've also been taking LDS Institute classes these last two semesters. One lesson was about the second coming. There's a little talked about prophecy or sign of the times about silence in heaven for half an hour before Christ comes again. Most Mormons joke this means no women in the celestial kingdom or whatever but I asked my teacher, Brother Brown, what it really meant and just how long, in the Lord's time, a half hour was. He said about 20 years. That means, if The Proclamation to the Family can be considered the last big revelation from heaven, then those 20 years are about up.

Hope still springs eternal!

Have a great day, everyone!


Friday, February 21, 2014

The Economics of Sex

The frustration I feel navigating the dating market is a frequent theme in my blog. I'm not very tech savvy so I'm grateful to the Austin Institute who created this video
which illustrates everything I've been trying to say for the last two years. Why buy the milk when the cow is free? That's essentially what this video is saying. A split in the dating market has occurred where marriage-minded women, who are demanding a ring before giving sexual favors, now outnumber men who can enjoy a marketplace where they don't have to pay anything for sexual favors. Nowhere is this more obvious than Mormon young single adult wards and online LDS dating websites.
As many young, single adult, never married LDS women are discovering, to their dismay, all the good boys willing to invest months in a courtship and two months salary on a ring for their girlfriend have already been to the temple and back and are now off the market. As the years pass,  these same LDS women begin to get desperate. If and when they decide to go online they will also find, to their dismay, there's not much dating or courtship leading to marriage going on here either. Why? Because only divorced Mormons or Mormons seeking cohabitation need apply and the majority of single men on these website are the ones "looking for fun" just like the young men in their young single adult wards.
It's a frustrating conundrum. What's a single Mormon girl with high standards to do? This is why I created this blog and here's some of the answers I have to offer in lieu of succumbing to social pressure and lowering your price for sex:

  • Continue to get all the education you can. If you already have that dream job, a fabulous career with great pay and have already bought your own house and lack nothing except that elusive dating relationship leading to temple marriage and an eternal family, consider going back to school or taking up a new hobby or service project. Even if you don't meet that special someone in one of these classes, or land an even better paying job, at least you spent your time wisely and productively. 
  • Continue to spend time with your best girlfriends (or guy friends) who are also still single If there are any single guys reading this, I'd be very interested to know what you do to keep your spirits up since this video is pretty adamant that single guys never get lonely. Single Mormon females already have a strong collusion potential. We can band together. We don't have to compete with each other. We can encourage each other to stay strong and value our virginity and set a high price for sex in the marketplace. In the meantime, we can get together and engage in lots of fun, wholesome activities since, as the video supports, the guys won't pay up or ask us out. I'm blessed to have a sister and a small group of single girlfriends to spend quality time with. The church is already encouraging this with the recent announcement of uniting LDS women across the globe in a newly organized board. http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865595897/Mormon-leaders-announce-effort-to-unite-LDS-women-across-the-globe.html?pg=all 
  •  Continue to trust in God this is hard advice, even for me, and I feel like a hypocrite for preaching faith and hope that somehow, someway, God is saving a special Prince Charming for each of us who long for temple marriage and motherhood and He will lead us to that special young man in His own time be it in this life or the next. Well, I'm sorry, but there are too many days when I just don't feel like rejoicing or praising God for blessings that I may have to wait until the next life to fully enjoy and understand. Nevertheless, we mustn't let those dark days of frustration, loneliness, and the temptation to sink into a never-ending spiral of depression overcome us. Deal with them, have your cry, (believe me I've had so many these last ten years, I've lost count!) then declare the pity-party officially over and see the first two suggestions as to what you can do, as a single woman who must wait a little longer for marriage and motherhood, to keep on going.
I've always known what I wanted in a relationship and was never willing to settle for anything less. It's true that men want sex and will do anything to get it. It's also true that women are willing to lower their price for sex in exchange for love, security and the validation that we are desirable. Watching this video reminded me of the two times in my life where a young man was so desperate to have sex he: woke me up on October 30, 1995 at 4:30am threatening to rape me and that he would kill me if I screamed or tried to resist. I said, "No you won't," and screamed my roommate's name anyway. She sat up in the other bed and the intruder bolted. We never found out who he was. The second guy was a Mexican immigrant I met in 2004 when circumstances drove me to seek another form of employment. In desperation I took the first job offer I could find, a dishwashing position at 1800-CONTACTS where I was the only woman in a kitchen full of Spanish speaking men and the sou chef, who ironically was already married to a petite blond, began taking an interest in me. I was flattered at first, since none of the young men in my LDS single adult ward couldn't care less about me, but I was growing tired of his sexual advances: coming up behind me in the walk-in refrigerator and putting his arms around me, trying to get me to kiss him, joking about how I was going to eventually give in and let him ravish me. I complained to my boss but he was a chauvinist who wasn't about to fire his sou chef while I, a lowly female and a Mormon with standards, had no tenure with the company and by this point was already planning to return to school and change careers. On July 27, 2005, he completely surprised me by showing up at the house owned by my roommate from whom I rented my downstairs bedroom. She was out of town on vacation that day. I'd mentioned this today at work since we were friends and we'd had many conversations about other non-sexually related subjects, like my Mormon beliefs. Now here he was, standing on my doorstep and since I couldn't remember the last time I had a male visitor over to spend time with me and give me some attention, I invited him in (I suffered qualms later over what might have happened) but when it became apparent the only reason he was here was to follow through on his request to be the first one to "pop my cherry" I smiled, reminded him he was already married, repeated what that video said about what women want in relationships and that I had no desire to lose my standing in the church. I showed him the door and he left. Later, I couldn't believe how lucky I was he didn't try to force the issue but I've stood up to rapists before. He wasn't a rapist, he wasn't even my boyfriend, just a man who thought he could get free sex and take advantage of a woman suffering from a serious inferiority complex who'd never been in a serious relationship in her life. Nevertheless, all you ladies out there, don't ever try this at home! Inviting him in was a very very foolish gesture and since that day I've promised myself to never tempt fate like that again. Now that I'm 39, I'll probably never have the opportunity anyway. Yet, I try and take comfort that at least I can die knowing I was sexually desirable, even if it was by all the wrong kinds of men. That's just the world we live in, I suppose and we can only pray a better world will be ushered in one day soon. Hopefully with better singles wards.