Self-Fulfilling. Or, Why Fetishizing Girls’ Bodies Fetishizes Girls’ Bodies.

See No Evil, Feel No Evil

Many of you, no doubt, have heard the story by now. It actually played out according to an almost cliched trope: the anonymously passed note, from the brave male standing up for standards, to the inadequately covered female flaunting same. Here is the text from the note:

You may want to consider that what you’re wearing has a negative effect on men (and women) around you. Many people come to this university because they feel safe, morally as well as physically, here. They expect others to abide by the Honor Code that we all agreed upon. Please consider your commitment to the Honor Code (which you agreed to) when dressing each day. Thank you.

There’s a lot of low-hanging fruit here, but I want to limit my commentary to two points.

The first involves the only defense I’ve seen made of the note, in all the public fora in which it has been debated: that her outfit, the combination of leggings and a dress with an above-the-knee hemline, is, in fact, in violation of the Honor Code. That may or may not be true (thought the rather startling implications of the fact that the leggings/skirt combo was recently considered modest at BYU and that we, therefore, are moving in a more puritanical direction in such matters has been discussed at some length here). I’ll concede that it’s a technical violation.

What irks me is that the anonymous note-writer doesn’t open with that and doesn’t try to make a technical argument about the conformity of her outfit to policy X. He begins with the “effect” her dress/body is having on the people around her, on how her self-presentation creates a (physically? morally?) unsafe environment for people who seek refuge at BYU. In her current form she is an Honor Code violation because of the effect she is having on her environment and the people around her. Note how the circle or reasoning closes on itself: she is having a morally compromising effect on people around her, and is therefore in violation of the Honor Code. And why is she having this effect? Because she is technically in violation of the Honor Code.

If you ever needed a data point to support the claim that telling women to cover their ankles hyper-sexualizes their ankles, this is it. Her manner of dress is inappropriately alluring/tempting/distracting/titillating/whatever not even because it reveals her intrinsically pornographic form, but precisely because it violates HC standards.

Second point (not unrelated to the first): Honor Code dress standards for females and the way those standards are discursively rationalized (as protecting virtuous men’s minds from pornographic female forms) and enforced (students encouraged to pressure other students into obeying) actually creates an unsafe environment—an environment in which behavior that in virtually any other setting would constitute sexual harassment is not only excused but implicitly encouraged.


  1. Those look like jeans to me, not leggings if people want to go all lawyer on it. Besides if leggings and an above the knee skirt are out of bounds that would mean having to disavow the Jets! Never! You will have to pry my Jets cassette from my cold, dead fingers!

  2. Bryan Buchanan says:

    The problem is that this dude is simply being a good follower–from “The Law of Chastity” (Gospel Principles manual–chapter 39):

    Our Heavenly Father wants us to keep our bodies covered so that we do not encourage improper thoughts in the minds of other.

    As long as comments of these ilk are in approved manuals, such situations will flourish (especially at the BYU).

  3. .

    Well said.

  4. If that is a(n even technical) violation of the Honor Code, then BYU has officially gone cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs. And the creep factor of this guy watching (leering?) at her across a room, feeling himself being affected by her vixen hotness, composing the rather lengthy note, and approaching her and physically handing her the note, is simply off the charts.

    This would make a great beginning to a plot line for Law and Order SVU. Surely the Church I believe in cannot actually be proud of the actions of this guy?

  5. Amen! What a wonderfully articulated take on this issue. I’ve heard several people lament today that they don’t even know why this ‘made news’ but I think it strikes at the heart of a very rotten aspect of rape culture that is sewn into the fabric of Mormonism. We don’t want this thread of victim blaming in our church and it shouldn’t be there, but as long as we align ourselves with such dogmatic modesty rhetoric, we’re going to be part of the problem. This young man was following the standards he believes are right and true and engaged in body shaming and spiritual violence at the same time. As a people we’re better than this. We can do better. I agree with the comment above that until we eradicate this from our manuals, until we stop using terms like ‘walking pornography,’ we’re going to have a tough time plugging up these cultural leaks, like the BYU note from the terribly misguided “Saint.”

  6. BYU Student says:

    I know the guy who wrote the note. We were roommates last year. I would recognize that handwriting anywhere, and I know that he studies in the Tanner Building where this girl was studying, according to the original post on Facebook.

    He’s an idiot. He also doesn’t believe women should have the right to vote. (If they’re doing as the Lord commands and staying home, and if they’re doing what the Lord commands and being of one heart and one mind with their husband [who incidentally belongs to the Constitution Party], then there’s no need for them to vote because their husband can handle the affairs outside the home. It’s the system God ordained, don’t you argue with me you follower of Satan, you!)

    The best part is that he probably made some sort of lewd remark about the girl (either to himself or to a friend), then wrote the note anonymously and gave it to her, without any idea of the hypocrisy of it all. And he probably felt super righteous for doing it, too, and anybody who questions his methods or motives is simply questioning God. After all, the Honor Code was written by God.

    Goodness I hated living with him.

    (He once took our dishes — every last one of them — and took them to his parents’ house in Lehi. He left a passive aggressive not saying that if we weren’t responsible enough to wash them, we weren’t responsible enough to have them.)

    Oh, and his number one complaint about BYU and life in general is that women won’t go out with him. I wonder why.

  7. When you have 36,000 people statistically that means a few of them are going to be complete idiots.

  8. It’s hard to see in the photo, but I saw this on Facebook and she commented that there is 5 inches between her boots and dress that you can see her leggings. I just wanted to clarify for rah and anyone else on the technical aspects.

    Thanks for the well articulated take down of the situation.

  9. No. 6 BYU Student, thanks for the insider info. That is helpful to know.

  10. it's a series of tubes says:

    BYU Student, thanks for your post. I came across a few Sherlocks like your roommate during my time at the Y. Clark nailed it in his #7.

  11. Hey! I’ve got this year’s hot halloween (pardon me, HARVEST FESTIVAL) costume! “Immodest, Honor-Code-Flaunting BYU Female”. Bet we can’t keep it on the shelves.

  12. I’m amazed that we have gone from what was once perfectly acceptable attire for young LDS women 40 years ago (photos of the young LDS woman in above-the-knee shorts and sleeveless top from the beautiful Valentine’s Day essay two days ago), to some people believing what this young woman is wearing is inappropriate. The pendulum has swung way too far to the right. Rules that are not respected will not be followed. There will and should be a backlash against the type of thinking that led to the note.

  13. Mark Brown says:

    If he is too irresponsible to accept accountability for the way his body reacts around women, regardless of how they are dressed, he is too irresponsible to have genitalia at all.

    Bring on the Smoothie!!

  14. I was going to say that I bet the guy feels really stupid now, but after reading comment 6, I am not so sure . . .

  15. It’s not just an idiot guy the female dress code concept of protecting virtuous men’s minds from the female form gives males a pass at the expense of female dissonance. How will males learn and mature if this is the norm? Should female attractiveness and sexuality be attenuated like this? How can this be healthy for either gender? Yet, this is the church’s stance. Why?

  16. Brittany Molina says:

    yeah. point number 6 makes me feel better about the situation. i really didnt think the thing would get this big but really… i hope he has seen that his actions were wrong and it was not his place to do that. (especially on valentines day)

  17. Brittany,
    Did his actions make you feel physically and morally safe?

  18. There is no way to “know,” based on the few inches that are showing, whether she is wearing pants that are best categorized as leggings or a pair of another kind of pants. They could be yoga pants or exercise pants or just knit pants. This is just like the testing center issue and BYU-I. Why are people staring at women’s clothing and bodies and trying to decide if the clothing is tight enough to be immodest or against the rules. When a guy looks around judging women’s bodies and clothing in this way HE is the one turning them into walking pornography. HE is the one making an unsafe environment for women….women who then feel like everyone around them is staring at her body, trying to see her womanly shape through her clothes, trying to examine every inch of skin and every physical, sexual aspect of her body and how much of it is shown through her clothes. This is wrong and Mormon men need to stop. You hope it is only a small percentage who are jerks who do this.

  19. Mark Brown says:

    From # 6:

    his number one complaint about BYU and life in general is that women won’t go out with him.

    This fills me with glee, and restores my faith in humanity. Nice going, ladies, and keep up the good work.

  20. Which lesson manual states that we have to write passive aggressive notes to girls who give us unintended boners?

  21. Some personality types, narcissists especially, tend to amplify and twist any cultural or intellectual input in weird ways for their own advancement and self-aggrandizement. Using such an individual as anecdotal evidence of a cultural or societal problem is specious.

    The guy’s a flake. Start the eternal round on modesty again if it’s time, but using this guy as justification is weak.

  22. Chris Gordon says:

    #20 BCOTY (or week, if we must limit it to that)

  23. i cant believe i survived my time at byu . i dont donate to them.

  24. Chris Gordon says:

    You know, it chaps me that all of BYU and the church generally has to take a black eye because of an idiot. The idiots tend to be loud and the reasonable people just quietly mock them from the back of gospel doctrine class, where all good enlightened folk dwell.

  25. #17: Excellent point. Creeps self-appointing as modesty police and directly confronting women are going to make women feel targeted and unsafe. Shame on this guy for creating a hostile environment.

  26. Passive-aggressive FTW, Martin.

  27. Thank you #6 for the info. Once again – glad I didn’t go to BYU.

  28. Chris, have you ever read the Daily Universe letters to the editor page? It’s “an” idiot. It’s a whole army. Then you gotta wonder, who raised this army?

  29. “an environment in which behavior that in virtually any other setting would constitute sexual harassment is not only excused but implicitly encouraged.”

    No. Even at BYU, this is sexual harassment. What constitutes sexual harassment doesn’t change depending on context — though obviously the frequency of occurrence sadly does. =(

  30. So I have a question I hope someone can answer. I am a faculty member at BYU and am aware that there is, as Cynthia points out, an army of idiots on campus. We can’t mock them directly, and we are required to uphold the dress and grooming standards. How does a lowly professor promote a healthier, saner, environment where students like Brittany are not subjected to such vile behavior?

  31. Well said, Cynthia & Brem. This is sexual harassment, period. When BYU (and by extension, the church) recognize that and treat it as such, maybe the environment will change. Look, it’s easy to roll our eyes and say “oh another stupid self righteous creep. Silly BYU” but Cynthia is spot on when she asks who raised this army.

    I would love to see behavior like this called out in General Conference. But I’m not holding my breath.

  32. @UtahMormonDemoGuy says:

    If my son pulled a stunt like this, we would have a very pointed FHE lesson on commandments v. policies, and how “love your neighbor as yourself,” and “judge not that ye be not judged,” trump the BYU Honor Code every time. Every. Single. Time.

  33. I don’t doubt that most BYU students men and women think the guy who did this is an idiot. I think most Mormon’s think so. What it would be nice to see is for the BYU admin or Church leader just come out and say that this type of behavior is wrong. We all believe that. Why is it so hard to say? Guys need to see the church leaders take guys who do this through the normal guilt ringer to legitimize the conversation about the other side of the modesty discussion. At the Y this is particularly important due to the whole Honor Code reporting infrastructure. Who can blame students there for getting the idea that it is your place to try and control these norms. Tacitly the church is agreeing with this in my view. How many lessons do the YW get on modesty from the pulpit? Can someone point me to one talk by a GA at BYU or anywhere that makes it clear this type of behavior is against Mormon thought? If not what are we supposed to infer? Anyone at BYU ever had a bishop speak directly about the wrongs of this type of behavior by the guy? Maybe they do and I am just ignorant.

  34. My sister had an almost identical experience while doing graduate work at BYU. A student in one of her classes complained to her professor about her dress, which even by the temple standards of the Church, was modest. I know that many are saying that the boy who wrote this note is “crazy” and the whole student population shouldn’t be judged by the actions of a few. But the point is that an institution that authors an Honor Code policy that sexualizes women to the degree that this policy does, cannot rightly claim to be Christian. I worry that the decision makers at BYU, and by default, many leaders of the Church, have become so out of touch with the teachings of Christ that they are doing exactly what Christ came to earth to change. It saddens me a great deal that members of my Church are more interested in correcting the behavior of others then living a Christ-centered life. Maybe BYU needs to spend less time teaching their version of “honor” and more time teaching their students what it means to be a Christian.

  35. @ #6 – darn, I was hoping the person who passed the note was a U student impersonating a & student in an effort to embarrass the University and the Church (not that they don’t provide plenty of fodder for doing so themselves . . . )

  36. Meldrum the Less says:

    A field trip to a nudist camp?

    What I find amazing is that men who go to nudist gatherings quickly lose their close association between the female shape and sexual arousal. This is not purely a biological effect but is layered with culture.

    What needs to be considered by the grey beards at BYU (whoops no beards allowed) is the question asked by toddlers: why do we wear cloths?

    I submit that for youth it is not to cover up as much as it is to entice or attract the opposite sex in subtle ways and to lengthen out and delay the whole anticipatory sexual dance in order to enhance the pleasure.

    A Swedish convert serving as the primary president and mother of a teenage daughter (and 5 other children) handled a similar situation directed to her daughter’s short skirt a few years ago in this way. She refused to wear any cloths for 3 days. She took her kids to eary morning seminary bare naked and walked them in the door. She was a bit more cautious at school to avoid arrest and stayed in the car. She fetched the mail and could be seen through windows inher house by her nosy Mormon neighbors. She had the children’s friends over and acted like going naked around the house was perfectly natural. Her young guests included the young boy whose father made the remark about her daughter’s immodesty.

    It worked. Not a soul dared question her judgment on the modesty for her daughter’s dress ever again. She claimed that in Sweden nudity is common and it is the responsibility of the men tio control their thoughts, if they want to control them. The women don’t worry about it.

  37. Sorry, that was supposed to say “a U student impersonating a Y student . . . “

  38. Chris Gordon says:

    Cynthia, I read letters to the editor all the time (I’ve even penned a few in my day). I still maintain that the vast majority of BYU students are quietly doing their best not to be idiots and succeeding more often than they get credit for, thanks to the loud actions of the minority.

  39. Chris Gordon says:

    Wait, pretend I didn’t admit to writing letters to the editor. Doesn’t help my point much.

  40. Wow. This makes me so glad I didn’t go to BYU. I’m just thinking, what would Stacy and Clinton say?

  41. @UtahMormonDemoGuy says:

    I do think the Church has taken modesty (and many other outward badges and tokens of religiosity) to the extreme. I particularly object to the the idea that little (Primary age) girls are expected to adhere to adult (temple attending) standards of modesty. I understand “teach a child in the way (s)she should go” and all that, but it is a little creepy to instill the idea that a 7 or 8 year old who shows her knee or shoulder is doing something inappropriate. It is the flip side of dressing little girls like Madonna (dating myself), which I also hate.

  42. U alumni, let us all collectively roll our eyes over this post and give sincere thanks to a benevolent God for the University of Utah, the true School of the Prophets.

  43. >24

    The problem isn’t that this guy is an idiot—the problem is that the students, faculty, or administration of BYU aren’t going to take a public stand to censure this guy’s behavior. If the prevailing culture of BYU means that people associated with the institution can’t or won’t stand up for this girl, then the university absolutely deserves to get a black eye in the media, because that’s the only accountability they’re going to have.

  44. What gets me about this is that since BYU relies HEAVILY on self-policing the Honor Code, sexual harassment (and whomever named it as such upthread got it right – it is more than an ‘unsafe environment; this is sexual harassment) is tolerated even from the ‘idiots.’ Where/when does the self-policing of sexual harassment come about when the whole system only works because it implicitly encourages such harassment?

    If I were a BYU student – which I’m not, but I am on a college campus with 36,000+ students everyday – and something like this happened to me, what should I do/where should I go? Because frankly, the type of behavior exhibited by this man has to also be an Honor Code violation (if not flat out illegal) and he should be appropriately disciplined. Would campus police take it seriously and investigate? In fairness, I am not sure they would anywhere IF it was a one time thing. The scary thing to me though is that at BYU, it likely would be waived away as reasonable self-enforcing of a crazy (harassing) dress code.

  45. Not a soul dared question her judgment on the modesty for her daughter’s dress ever again.

    Not to her face, anyway.

  46. I nominate #6 by BYU Student for BCotW. I can’t believe I’m the first to suggest it. The dishes story is priceless and I will be taking it upon myself to disseminate it far and wide.

  47. StillConfused says:

    #31 about made me pee my pants! ANd I love the Swedish convert story.

    My husband refers to the kind of guy who wrote this letter as “Mormon Taliban”

  48. The church’s modesty standards have permeated everything here in Utah. School dances are places where young people judge other girls on their dresses and whether or not they have sleeves or if the straps are wide enough (no strapless or spaghetti straps or you’re not modest). Swimming too. If you don’t wear a t-shirt over your one piece swim suit, you’re not modest enough for some LDS. My daughter is always concerned she’ll be judged by her friends if she doesn’t cover up enough and we’re no longer practicing members. Maddening.

  49. Oh how I love when zealots can’t help themselves. Thank you brad for this post and everyone for your comments. Made my day.

  50. Now that we know from #6 that the note-writer is just a misanthrope/misandrist who would have found some other way to be a jerk if he weren’t at BYU (i.e., if he were a vegetarian at Stanford he would go around making obnoxious remarks to “carnivores”), is this still an indictment of Mormon culture? Or is it just an indictment of jerks who find self-righteous justification wherever they find it?

  51. Relevant lecture is relevant:

  52. “What it would be nice to see is for the BYU admin or Church leader just come out and say that this type of behavior is wrong. We all believe that. Why is it so hard to say?”

    Just because the internet makes every little interpersonal spat our business doesn’t mean the Church and BYU have to act accordingly.

    A couple of years ago someone passed me a note in church informing me that my baby was “not getting enough air” under the blanket in his baby carrier. When I ignored the note, they walked over and pulled the blanket back, no doubt saving his life. If I had posted the note on Facebook and it had gone viral, would the Church be obligated to issue a statement saying you shouldn’t bother people with notes in church?

  53. Bryan Buchanan says:

    If the Church had published something that encouraged us not to put blankets on our baby carriers so as not to tempt others to remove the blanket, then yes.

  54. That dude needs a serious dose of “F[edited for content]k You” and a Playboy.

  55. What I want to know is how was he physically not safe by what she was wearing? Was he in fear that the leggings would snap and the shards of fabric would flick into his eye?

    I think we are all too focused on the modesty issue, and missing that he is more concerned with peoples physical safety from snapping leggings.

  56. I want to second #20 as comment of the week. That’s just classic. And thank you #53 for telling us how bad of a parent you are!

  57. I find reactions that reduce the incident in question to the highly exceptional pathology of a highly abnormal and stupid, isolated individual to be part of the problem as well. The incident here is not isolated. It is isolated only in its publicity. It might not happen everyday, and the note-writer might indeed be a misogynist and a self-righteous idiot; but the fact remains that the Honor Code Culture of BYU—female dress standards that (in tandem with our general discourse on femininity and body modesty) pornographize women’s bodies and make them responsible for the base reactions of the men who are functionally incapable of not staring obsessively at them as well as the persistent calls for students to pressure fellow students into strict HC compliance—not only does not discourage behavior like this but implicitly encourages it. Most of the Church members I know (and, I’m comfortable wagering, most BYU administrators) would consider writing and delivering the note to be a socially awkward, perhaps misguided in its execution, but basically faithful and courageous act of standing up for high standards.

    Even today, actions like this one are, by many orders of magnitude, more common than actions which would formally discourage or condemn such threatening and deeply disturbing behavior. One of these days BYU is going to find itself in a position of defending itself in court for systematically creating and enforcing a hostile environment for female students and employees.

    “Hello, random woman. You don’t know me but I have been watching you and looking at your body and dress and various parts (because the Honor Code WHICH WE ALL SIGNED compels me to help my fellow students to obey its precepts) and I have determined that your insufficiently concealed body is provoking inappropriate reactions, passions, bodily functions, feelings, urges, &C, &C, inside of me. This (your exquisitely pornographic body, that is, parts of which I can almost easily see in my imagination) makes me feel unsafe and surely creates a morally unsafe environment for all virtuous and Honor-Code-abiding students. Please do something about the threat to my moral character that is your very person in all its bodily allure. Sincerely, Sexual Harassment 101.”

  58. Spot on, Brad #58.

  59. I once had a bishop, when counseling me on how to keep my thoughts pure, advise me to avoid places that might give (ahem) rise to sinful emotions. He then told me that he avoids walking past the lingerie section of the local big-box store because it was a problem for him. I think I may have looked at him like he was from Mars, because I walk past the same area all the time and it doesn’t phase me. That was the point when I decided that my occasional looking at *actual* pr0n (you know, with actual nudity, rather than US-beach-appropriate amounts of cloth) might not have been all that bad. Maybe there’s something to be said for desensitization?

  60. richellejolene says:

    Mixed feelings. I think most of us could do better at both keeping the Honor Code AND at shutting up about it when an issue doesn’t concern us. People often forget that there are very few things in the Honor Code that aren’t also general standards of the Church (the only exceptions being beards and curfew, as far as I can think of). So that means: a) stop complaining about having to keep primarily LDS standards at an LDS school and b) just as you are rarely justified in verbally scolding or correcting people for their sins (unless you have stewardship, like a bishop or parent), it is often inappropriate to weigh in on someone else’s Honor Code obedience.

    All of that is to say two things that very few people would be willing to say in the same post. First of all, it appears from the photo that the girl was making a minor infringement of the Honor Code–and that is even assuming that she did not post a modified (i.e. more modest) version of the outfit to accompany the photo. That is to say, she, as the rest of us, could perhaps improve her adherence to the standards. Nothing new there.

    Second: Was this guy totally out of line? Yes, mostly because of his approach. I agree that it is unfair to hold women responsible for men’s thoughts and desires, especially with an infringement so subtle. However, the fact that he was not justified in writing the note (particularly in the way he wrote it) does not mean the girl was justified in her violation. Yes, there are a lot of self-righteous idiots at BYU as elsewhere, but there are just as many people here who are literally “too cool for school”–they love to hate BYU because they are so “enlightened” about how the world really works and, in the worse cases, feel themselves to have privileged information on how God really thinks. Leave the judging to Him; that means two things. 1) Do not judge another’s actions when it is not appropriate. But also, 2) Do not assume that you understand His laws to such a great extent that you can ignore what the prophets have counseled in the For Strength of Youth, the guidelines from whence most of the Honor Code derives.

    Phew! Not that I had to get that off my chest or anything…

  61. “What it would be nice to see is for the BYU admin or Church leader just come out and say that this type of behavior is wrong. We all believe that. Why is it so hard to say?”

    Because that would admit the current can be abused.

    I wonder how these “modesty patrol” types are going to fare in the workforce? That outfit would likely be ok at a number of places. So, LDS members get to look bad again from a few zealots, who will complain at the slightest hint of skin showing. Pass a note like that at work will likely get you a quick meeting with HR, and not not the type of meeting good to have on your work record.

  62. Oops, I meant “current system” there.

  63. Ask yourselves why this is news?
    Would this kind of occurrence make the news if it happened at Ohio State, University of Florida or UCLA? No, of course not. It would have been seen as one creepy weirdo and wouldn’t have gone viral. The problem is that this is an extreme example of systematic weirdness perceived by the rest of the world. While I am happy their is an honor code at BYU for my children who are planning to attend those schools, I am very unhappy that these types of things seem to have a regular occurrence in the BYU system. I want my daughters to go to a college where they can focus on their education and not have to obsess over what some creep might think about how they are dressed (and feel impowered to do so by the judgmental environment prelavent there.) The student in question should be disciplined for sexual harassment and the BYU administration should come off their high horses and denounce this kind of behavior. I’m glad that the women being harassed in this manner can fight back through social media. More power to them!

  64. That’s the thing, Mike. I have a hard time believing that a Mormon male capable of even getting a job would ever, ever, ever do something like this in any environment outside of BYU. If this kid gets a real job, he well likely never give a co-worker a note for presenting herself in the way Brittany did. It’s not just isolated idiots. It’s isolated idiots encouraged and emboldened by the Honor Code culture of walking pornography and fragile male sexual self-control.

  65. Random Mormon Mommy says:

    “However, the fact that he was not justified in writing the note (particularly in the way he wrote it) does not mean the girl was justified in her violation.” (comment 61)

    [Primal scream.]

    The woman is covered from head to toe! Her hands are showing! A little bit of her neck and a teensy-weensy bit of the area beneath her neck are showing! She might as well be wearing a burqa for how much skin she’s showing. There is absolutely nothing at all immodest about her clothing. Anyone who thinks she is being immodest in any way is itching for a fight and has a strange, warped view of women and modesty.

    “Do not assume that you understand His laws to such a great extent that you can ignore what the prophets have counseled in the For Strength of Youth, the guidelines from whence most of the Honor Code derives.” (also 61)

    What exactly does the For Strength of Youth pamphlet have to say about the woman in the photo above? I am puzzled and confused as to what is inappropriate about her attire. She looks like a charming, modest young woman with a good sense of humor.

  66. Exactly, WaMo. The culture of BYU, far from marginalizing leering-male-creepiness-masquerading-as-standing-for-something, cultivates, nurtures, and rationalizes such behavior as zeal in obedience to God.

  67. As female faculty at BYU, I have experienced more than one reprimand of this sort in the form of student ratings. Since I am comfortable wearing every single one of my cardigans to both church and the temple, I do not understand how they can affect someone’s ability to learn in my classroom. People will take away whatever they want from every situation. If you look for evil in everything around you, you will find it. I cannot help it if a student or two find my cardigans sexy…nor do I care too awful much, because it is their problem.

    *as a side note, students have also suggested I go home to my family, where I belong…*sigh*

  68. richellejolene says:

    Random Mormon Mommy, I am not the kind of person who normally even posts because I don’t like picking fights online, which inevitably seems to happen in controversial subjects like this. Also, that’s not what I’m doing because it isn’t required in this situation. I just want to make it known that my comments were really only inspired by this situation and its backlash, not necessarily a comment on the girl herself. From the somewhat blurred and small-scale photo I’ve seen, the outfit looks fine and not worthy of any judgmental note or even a comment on my part. But since the author of this article said himself that he would concede that a minor violation occurred, I wanted to speak out about violations in general and the fact that we are all accountable for our actions. My wording may not have properly communicated that I meant to speak generally.

    Also, For Strength of Youth does include both things that are “tight” and “short skirts,” which is why many might reasonably conclude that a short skirt with only tights underneath is a violation to begin with.

  69. #68!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1!!

  70. Seriously (RE: #68) anything that makes male students feel entitled to treat female faculty that way cometh of evil. Mormon students would never, NEVER write such things to female professors at another university. It’s the honor code that makes them feel justified in such horrendous behavior.

    The dress and grooming standards and the enforce-among-fellow-students elements of the HC have to go. They create and sustain and reinforce a culture that promotes flagrantly disrespectful attitudes toward and treatment of women.

  71. I actually live out of state, gasp! And grew up in Utah County and can I just say that it is crap like this that I will never live there again. That young women is lovely and well dressed, I was quite impressed with her ability to be stylish and modest. Stop being so critical and judgemental of women, and men you are in charge of your brains, stop blaming everything on a womens hemline 2 or 3 inches too high. I guess we havre to ban t-shirts ane jeans cuz technically they are a hemline above the knee. This is is disgusting, think of what this ridiculousness has just done to damage her testimony, guess the “law” is more important than the individual. These BYU Lds Men should never leave the state, because you are never going to survive. Maybe that’s why problems with pornography are so severe in the church because covered knee caps are “tintilating.” WOW, BYU makes me sick sometimes, I just thre up in my mouth. This guy is a complete weirdo, and so are the people that support his radicalism.

  72. Brad (#71) I’m not positive it was always men who left these comments. It is a perplexing problem among Mormon men for sure, but there are also women who perpetuate the same thoughts, judgements and self-righteous behavior.

  73. #20, 35, 42, and 55 (et al): BRAVO. Bravissimo, and f(edited for content)k YEAH!
    I almost passed a stone the day (this past fall) my six year old daughter came home with a statement from primary saying that shoulders are “immodest”. What, what, W.T.F. are we trying to turn our children into?? This whole thing just scares me in a way I simply can’t define. It makes me want to cry or spit with disgust, like I did when my then-6-year-old nephew told my then-6-year-old son that his then TWO-year-old sister (my daughter) was “immodest” because she was swimming at her grandparents’ house in a two piece bare-belly swimsuit. Ugh! But obviously it all comes down to “who is raising” these sanctimonious little prigs…

  74. Latter-day Guy says:

    “And young women, please understand that if you dress immodestly, you are magnifying this problem by becoming pornography to some of the men who see you.” Dallin H. Oaks, General Conference, April 2005.

    The issue is bigger than BYU (though Church schools do provide a perfect petri dish to culture extremism of various stripes), and if it is going to be corrected in any substantive way, the disavowal of past rhetoric and adoption of new approaches will have to occur at rather higher levels than the Honor Code Office. The comment about being “safe, morally” at BYU suggests not that these attitudes toward women are rare elsewhere, but that it is simply more costly to make them evident when you aren’t part of the “peculiar” privileged majority. It’s like that line from Lewis: “The rats are always there in the cellar, but if you go in shouting and noisily they will have taken cover before you switch on the light.”

  75. Central Standard says:

    What’s this poor excuse of a man (boy?) going to do when he gets out in the ‘real’ world and has to deal with others dressed to their own standards of dress and conduct?

  76. ” Most of the Church members I know (and, I’m comfortable wagering, most BYU administrators) would consider writing and delivering the note to be a socially awkward, perhaps misguided in its execution, but basically faithful and courageous act of standing up for high standards.”

    Having grown up with a BYU professor who spent some time as an administrator in the 1980s, I am comfortable wagering that if Brad’s experience is true, the place has really gone to hell in a handbasket in the past 20 years. And if most of the Church members he knows would view that idiot’s act as faithful and courageous, I’m really glad that I have been spared having to live around such people.

  77. Has the culture changed so much since I attended the Y? We had a Bishop speak to all members of our ward about modesty and specifically how men must be following the guidelines. Yes, he had had the female modesty police complain about some men. The violation was not a big deal outside of BYU, but a much bigger deal than this incredibly minor infraction.
    I think that the Honor in the Honor Code is steadily being diminished. How few students do not know exactly what basic church standards are? Let the students follow the standards as their honor interprets them.

  78. Well, whatever the value of our respective anecdotal experiences, Mark, 30 years ago we weren’t nearly as OCD about body modesty (we didn’t refer to insufficiently clothed female forms as living pornography from the pulpit or in EFY promotional videos), and we considered leggings + skirt to be totally modest.

  79. #61, the standards of BYU are NOT the modesty standards of the church as a whole. Shorts and skirts must be knee-length at BYU, which is much much more stringent than your average, modest shorts-wearing YW. When I transferred to BYU from a junior college, all of my previously-appropriate (and VERY conservative in length) shorts were unacceptable.

  80. In regards to rising tuition costs, it’s too bad that you have to put up with overzealous mormon culture crap like this, when the overall superb quality of education to cost ratio is so enticing. Perhaps in 15 years when my kids are college age, BYU will have swung back to a more healthy approach to the college experience. I enjoyed my time at BYU in the early 90’s. Things seemed pretty relaxed back then.

  81. THE SAME THING HAPPENED TO ME. Only different. I was at BYU-Idaho and I got an e-mail from some chick who found me on stalkernet while I was off-track and lived 1500 miles away. It said that I was currently in a class with her boyfriend (untrue, I didn’t have any classes) and that my dress was having a negative effect on him because I wore short shirts (also untrue, short shirts bug me). She insisted it made it hard for him to concentrate in class – in other words, her bf had little to no self-control, and he blamed women for it. And complained to his girlfriend about his inability to control himself? Sigh. An unfortunately common fallacy in the LDS church.

  82. As a wise young women’s leader once said in regard to modesty, “Remember . . . only YOU can prevent erections in sacrament meeting.”

  83. I really, really, really, really, really want to go to the BYU library in a burqua and casually sit down to study.

    Also, I really, really, really, really want to go to the BYU library in a leggings/tunic outfit and casually sit down to study.

    Then I will count all my letters and see which outfit got more. Maybe I could write a dissertation! Hey!

  84. Mommie Dearest says:

    I remember a time when my kids were much younger and I lusted (hope that word isn’t a trigger for someone) after BYU admission for them. Now I’m kind of relieved they went elsewhere. They would all have been targets for this crackhead honor-code-Taliban type of experience. It’s not that they couldn’t (or didn’t) weather a few experiences with boneheads, but at some point it becomes so wearisome to keep trying to separate the goodness of the gospel from the Nazi-ism and banal evil of too many of the people, who receive tacit encouragement from the institution.

    BYU as an institution absolutely relies on students to police their fellow students over honor-code violations, and in attendance there is an army of immature jackasses who feel thoroughly vindicated in carrying out whatever inappropriate tweaks to the [perceived] moral climate that enters their sheltered little pinheads. When I was enrolled at BYU, I had wonderful experiences, and I loved it there, except for the pinhead army. I’m sad to see it seems to be getting worse.

  85. ““Remember . . . only YOU can prevent erections in sacrament meeting.”

    That needs the Matsby MormonAd treatment.

  86. It’s very striking to me that “(and women)” is placed in parenthesis in the note. I’m not entirely sure what to make of that…(yes I am.) Also, yes, this totally constitutes sexual harassment.

  87. Oh boy, I’d love to see a guest post by our leering letter man. The comments, oh the comments! #6 needs to name names…

  88. #61 comment is a perfect example of why this incident represents more than some isolated sexual harrasser, by the way. To all the commenters who want to dismiss this as isolated, I give you comment #61.

  89. Brad 58 FTW!

    There is a huge problem in the church with emerging modesty Naziism. It is unfathomable to me that my daughter who is 9 was given a lesson on modesty in activity days. She is 9 years old! What pedophiles are systematically sexualizing our pre-pubescent daughters? Someone has got the concept of what behavior is immoral totally backwards. Sexually harrassing strangers because you find them attractive is something that I too saw at BYU over 20 years ago. It is a byproduct of the “collaborator” mentality in which students are perceived to be more righteous for turning on each other than they are for being courteous and kind and taking responsibility for themselves. BYU absolutely needs to take a no-harrassment stand, and they need to do it quickly. I applaud the women who are using social media to bring these offensive behaviors to light. Apparently nothing else will get the administration to take this threat to our daughters seriously.

  90. “Taliban”


    Sigh. I think these types of reactions are as idiotic as the note.

  91. But Chris, haven’t you heard that old slopetrope? They came for the so-and-so’s but I said nothing because I wasn’t a so-and-so, etc. ;)

  92. Chris H., coming from you I’ll take that as a compliment. Here’s what E. Bednar said in an address to BYU-Idaho: “We do not want an environment on this campus characterized by self-appointed, judgmental, and self-righteous spiritual vigilantes.” — David A. Bednar, Ricks College devotional, Sept. 1, 1998 If “Naziism” and “Taliban” are extreme rhetoric, so is “self-righteous spiritual vigilantes.” Apparently you are calling E. Bednar an idiot.

    Ironically, the culture he decried is now flourishing not only on our church owned campuses, but also within our YW and YM programs and even in primary. YW are being told they must wear crew neck shirts and long pants to girls camps (no capris or vee neck tee shirts) and YW are told that a one piece swimsuit is only modest when worn with a tee shirt and shorts over top. Is this official FSOY policy? No, but it is the emerging culture. It is the reality our young women are being presented in the church. They have been declared “walking pornography,” a dangerous threat to the very souls of our young men. You really don’t think that’s extreme rhetoric? It sounds a whole lot like the rhetoric of all anti-modernist countries. Or do you like to cherry pick the extreme rhetoric you consider idiotic?

  93. Eh, I think I’m with Chris. Over-reactions are not likely helpful and this doesn’t YET rise to the level of the Taliban, etc. Guy’s an idiot, as are all are those that make others responsible for their own reactions, in just about everything. Yeah, it’s a culture thing, too, but I’d want more than anecdotal evidence to say whether or not it’s a growing trend. Just gotta resist it where we find it.


  94. I’m just going to agree he’s an idiot and take #6 as evidence that there is a growing trend of reason at BYU.

  95. Angela,

    “Here’s what E. Bednar said in an address to BYU-Idaho: ‘We do not want an environment on this campus characterized by self-appointed, judgmental, and self-righteous spiritual vigilantes.'”

    I was a student at Ricks when Bednar was President and I taught there for 4 years immediately after he was called to the 12. That is exactly the environment he created in Rexburg. I am not defending it. Nor am I calling him an idiot (he is a business professor….that would be redundant).

    Self-righteous spiritual vigilantes write idiotic notes. The Taliban publicly executed woman en mass for not obeying. The Nazis butchered 10 million and caused the deaths of millions of others through military aggression.

    I cringe as much as anyone during modesty lessons. I think that the YW manuals are absolute rubbish. However, even an Open Mormon relativist should be able to tell the difference. It is extreme rhetoric? Yes! But so is yours!

    I am glad you took my comment as a compliment. My contempt for you is no secret. However, we minimalize genocide when we compare this to it.

  96. 94–You didn’t go the Y, I understand. You find it “cute” and its culture “quaint.” Here’s something (unfortunately anecdotal) from someone who was reported for modesty standards by the student Stasi, who was kicked out of BYU after three years’ attendance, who had to spend several additional years finishing degree at a different university after lost credits, scholarships, and loss of family financial support. All based on reports as anonymous and as unsustained by “fact” as this one is. Sorry, I’ve nothing more to add than this “anecdote”–just peoples’ lives involved here.

  97. A Mormon moment, indeed. What a moment.

  98. The word “cute” does not appear in comment #94. Neither does the word “quaint.” Anon4this, who are you responding to?

  99. Referring to FPR blog “Safe? Safe” by 94, in which the words “cute” and “quaint” do not actually appear but which are “my own” descriptive terms to describe that essay’s attitude to the Y. But, gladly redact the quot marks if that makes you feel better.

  100. Chris H. – “Nor am I calling him an idiot (he is a business professor….that would be redundant).” Props for this.

    “My contempt for you is no secret.” Not anymore it’s not.

    So, you’re saying that E. Bednar created the environment he decried? I have not known anyone who attended or taught at BYU-I, so I’ve no personal experience with that. Do you care to elaborate? I ask from genuine interest. We’ve heard from one faculty member at the Y above, and I wasn’t aware that teachers were targets of harrassment from students prior to her remarks.

    Like Nazism, this modesty extremism is ultra conservative, hell-bent on purity and control, and relies on rousing speeches to youth to get them to collaborate against their peers. It is sexist (not racist) in how the controls are applied. And obviously you are correct that there’s no genocide, just ill-advised extreme ideologies and encouraging men to harrass and control women and women to police one another. Hyperbole? Admittedly. Idiotic? In the eye of the beholder. I don’t believe we can change this cultural trend without extreme rhetoric, since that’s what’s being used to reinforce it. But perhaps I am mistaken.

  101. This is sexual harassment, pure & simple. That… that… (oh, insert curse word here) was 100% out of line. I took a minute to think about how I would feel at her age if I received a note like this – I’d feel sick. Shame on this anonymous jerk for trying to shame a girl whose only apparent “sins” are an imaginary lapse in modesty and being too cute for words. What a jackass (and yes, I mean that in the Biblical sense of “ass”).

    I also discussed this with the husband, who said most sarcastically, “What did you expect him to do? She gave him a boner.” I love that man.

  102. I teach in an MBA program outside of utah and ou female faculty get comments about their dress every quarter. This quarter the director made an announcement to cease and desist. Not just a byu or Mormon issue.

  103. Anon, you may be misunderstanding Moggets exposure to BYU, but I will let her take it from here.

  104. >103

    “Not just a byu or Mormon issue.”

    Right, but in your case, the director of your program stood up for the women being harassed. That’s not going to happen at BYU.

  105. “That’s not going to happen at BYU.”

    I am a Ute by schooling and a bitter former employee of BYU, but I actually do not think that is fair.

  106. It will be nice when we make the changeover to Star Trek jumpsuits. Then nobody can wickedly use their bodies as a sexual weapon ever again.

  107. BYU needs to do one of two things:

    1-Scrap the dress code. I went to college in Calif. Most students covered themselves sufficiently where it was never a problem to my being able to learn. Most students aren’t there to flaunt, but to learn.

    2-Make everyone wear BYU school uniforms(I would love to see how these would look)

    Anything in between creates this exact situation of stupid hair splitting.

    In scenario 1, you may have the occasional student wear daisy dukes or bicycle shorts, but so be it, it would probably a good little exercise for all involved.
    In scenario 2, nobody would ever have to think about this ever again.

    Since #2 is obviously ridiculous for college age adults, I vote for #1. I mean how many LDS members attend non-LDS schools and are doing just fine? I would say, quite a lot. We laugh at you BYU. Way to prepare the rising generation for the real world.

    Question, under the current dress code standards, if she was wearing daisy dukes, would opinions change in this thread? Just wondering.

  108. BCotW for sacrament erections.

    In another note: Although everyone (mainly females) experiences some form of sexual harassment through the church culture at one time or another, is it the majority or minority of males that cause this? If enough people (mainly females) share their experiences that occurred at BYU, would they have a reasonably strong case in a court of law? Because it seems the only way to get anything to change is to sue.

  109. BYU Student says:


    I’ll see what I can do. I’ve tried to avoid talking to him, but he owes me Wendy’s. Though I’m 99.5% sure it was him, I’ll make 100% sure and see if he’d be willing to at least send an embarrassing text message or something. My guess is that he will. He can’t resist proving how unrighteous other Mormons are! Oh boy oh boy oh boy I’d love to see the comment war!

    I’ll get right on that.

  110. It may be “sexual harassment, pure & simple” but it doesn’t rise to a level that would permit anybody to sue. The best response to this kind of stupidity is public shaming–the idiot who passed this note should have his name and face spread all over the campus, and beyond. When other similarly situated idiots realize that their actions will be shouted from the rooftops, they’ll stop.

    Those that don’t can be thrown out of school.

  111. ajax – I think the reason for the dress code is that BYU views its student body as PR. Elsewise, why require conservative haircuts and clean shaven appearance. We want the student body to look like an advertisement for 1950s family values.

    NewlyHousewife – I tend to agree, at least in the US lawsuits are the way to change organizational behavior. My question is what believing member in good standing would risk it? The church is too authoritarian not to retaliate against a member who would sue it. And if the claimant is resigning from the church in the process, it immediately weakens the claim. It would be easy for the church to divest from the harassing individual in a lawsuit. But not if a pattern of hostile environment were established through multiple incidents. It would have to be demonstrated that the university condones or at minimum does not discourage the harassment. I think that could in fact be demonstrated pretty easily. Were any of the harassers who were in positions of authority as employees of the university (testing proctors or RAs) ever disciplined? I bet not.

    If the church wanted to change that, it would address the culture problem. Crack down on harassment (zero tolerance for it), and the problem stops. But what we recognize as harassment, administrators might say is being a slightly overzealous protector of the flock. To paraphrase A Few Good Men, while we find the existence of these self-righteous prigs incomprehensible and grotesque, BYU (at least the standards office) wants them on that wall and (thinks that) they need them on that wall.

  112. BYU Student says:

    And okay… y’all want another gratuitous idiot roommate story? Oh, okay.

    Picture the week before finals. The next week I’m supposed to go to New York for an academic conference, which means that I have to take all my finals early, pack and move out of my apartment, finalize my summer employment, and finish up the rest of a normal semester’s worth of homework and the like. I’ve got three days until it has to be done — needless to say, I was rather overwhelmed.

    My bishop asked me to plan the ward closing social to take place that Friday (because, you know, I had a leadership calling and we had just done away with the activities committee in favor of being strictly obedient to the new handbook). I told him no because I was too busy, and gave him all the reasons I wouldn’t be able to do it. The bishop understood perfectly, and said that he asked my organization out of pragmatism, not any sort of inspiration. He ended up passing it off to one of the Relief Societies, I think.

    This was utterly unacceptable to Idiot Roommate. He sat down and lectured me on how the bishop was certainly inspired in making that decision, how I was questioning the Lord, and how I must not have a testimony of the Lord’s True Church.

    I’ll never forget the words Idiot Roommate shouted at me as I tried to interject, just before he slammed the door.


    He slammed the door to my bedroom. Two minutes later he opened it back up again, because I guess he had remembered his inspiration earlier in the semester about how my bedroom door needed to be open at all times so that I wouldn’t look at *Pr0n*. I still don’t know where that one came from. I guess my Liahona Mormon ways meant I have a raging addiction to the stuff. Naturally.

  113. 94–You didn’t go the Y, I understand. You find it “cute” and its culture “quaint.”

    Nah, I don’t find it “cute” or cute or “quaint” or quaint. I’m pretty contemptuous of all of BYU, but I try to remember that not everyone else shares my perceptions, and that the place is not an evil monolith.

    Here’s something (unfortunately anecdotal) from someone who was reported for modesty standards by the student Stasi, who was kicked out of BYU after three years’ attendance, who had to spend several additional years finishing degree at a different university after lost credits, scholarships, and loss of family financial support. All based on reports as anonymous and as unsustained by “fact” as this one is. Sorry, I’ve nothing more to add than this “anecdote”–just peoples’ lives involved here.

    Don’t believe I’ve had the pleasure of hearing your story before, so I can’t really say why you think it should have influenced my reaction to Chastity Guy’s note. Looks like a serious abuse of administrative due process, whatever that might amount to at BYU. Church schools. Sigh.

    That said, I remain interested in whether or not there are studies with appropriate controls, etc., that are in a position to establish the presence and/or persistence of such a trend.


  114. BYU Student says:

    I guess I should be clear that turning down the bishop happened a few weeks before, but Idiot Roommate found out later from another roommate.

  115. “And okay… y’all want another gratuitous idiot roommate story?”

    No! (too late)

  116. Since #2 is obviously ridiculous for college age adults, I vote for #1

    Does ridiculous even show up as part of the decision-making criteria around there? I have to say that when I taught there I was appalled by many “gender” things, including but not limited to the requirement that men and women not rent from the same facility. That’s ridiculous. And I thought at the time that it was poor preparation for life after graduation.

    I mean how many LDS members attend non-LDS schools and are doing just fine? I would say, quite a lot. We laugh at you BYU. Way to prepare the rising generation for the real world.



  117. Layne (107), don’t be such a Star Trek n00b.

  118. Oh gosh.

  119. #113, I hear stories like that and it *almost* makes me buy into TaliBachman’s claim that we’ll basically suicide bomb if a leader so much as suggests it as a way to rebuke prospective converts.

  120. 101- I am a long time lurker and this is my first post on the bloggernacle, so take my comments as you may. But as a BYU-I alum, I would have to agree with Chris H. that E. Bednar created an environment much like the one he decried in 1998. In fact, I am surprised to see that he would have said anything like that, as it seems during my time there (though it should be said that I am a Rexburg native) the prevalence of narcing and self-righteousness was far and wide. I think part of it had to do with the transition from Ricks to BYU-I, but I know the change in attitude happened even before then. Specific examples of fostering this attitude would include: 1- “informational posters” around campus defining what is and what is not appropriate shoewear; and 2- the holding up of scriptures at the beginning of devotional. Though, I am sure there are many more.

  121. For those of you with primary-aged children, there’s another modesty lesson in the manual for the 4th Sunday in June. It involves reading the “for the strength of youth” dress and appearance section and then brainstorming with the kids which parts of their bodies should be covered.

    I may just try to do that lesson and use the FMH modesty series as a basis for the lesson.

  122. What about the virtuous minds of homosexual LDS men?… By that I mean those that live the standards of the church and still struggle with their sexual orientation? Does this mean that the dudes on BYU sports teams should cover up during practice or when playing sports? I am sure the site of a bunch of buff shirtless foot ball players, with beads of sweat running down their muscles will probably send these young men’s minds in a fury of lustful an erotic passion. What about the site of the guys on the swim team?.. With those speedos I can pretty much tell whether they were born in the USA or not… Wouldn’t the site of their sex organs bulging out draw these young men into thoughts not befitting of a LDS man?.. Hmm? If girls cover up, shouldn’t dudes too? Shouldn’t BYU be thinking about what the male form can do to women and other men who struggle with their sexual orientation?

  123. “Shouldn’t BYU be thinking about what the male form can do to women?”

    Oh, please. We all know that women are naturally pure, with neither body parts nor passions. They wouldn’t have sex ever if they didn’t have to to fulfil their divine calling as mothers.

    No, wait. We all know that women are vile little seductresses, with irresistibly tempting body parts and passions.


  124. And men are simultaneously protectors of female virtue and hulk-like sexual apes who cannot control their eyes, minds, or penises in the presence of the female form.

  125. Repressed sexuality seems to be a big problem, and it surfaces more clearly for the men here. Without an outlet, our “little factories” go WILD over even the most remotely sexual feature on a female. Give all the girls at BYU burqas or uniforms and the problem will still be there, and people will scratch their heads at it. (Well, I guess if you’ve watched any anime, the fact that girls in uniform are still sexy won’t surprise you).

    So really we need to simply have separate colleges for females and males. It’s the logical endpoint of the process. Out of sight is the only way to get these females out of mind for many men. Heck, don’t stop there. Demand separate high schools, too! Eliminate the social interaction, remove all women from the “stage” of men’s minds, block all pictures of females from all accessible media. We’ll put a stop to female slandering and rape, and unwanted pregnancies and best of all, impure thoughts once and for all!!

    What would that really promote? Equality? Understanding? Healthy relationships? Maybe this article on Pakistan could enlighten us…

    Maybe, from the other side, we can stop “pornographizing” women. Which means we need to stop sensitizing men to every miniscule feature of women’s bodies. Which means we need to end standards that promote scrutinization of every miniscule feature of women’s bodies. What can we learn from folk who grow up outside of Utah, where we’re used to seeing pretty gals in tank tops and shorts in the summer, and it doesn’t faze us? It doesn’t make me think dirty thoughts, and I can even establish regular friendships with these girls without being turned on constantly! When I was at BYU (2005-ish), a shoulder bag strap across a girls’ sweater “accentuated her breasts” in a way that made some anonymous guys feel uncomfortable, and an announcement was made to stop girls from accidentally turning guys on like that.

  126. Does this remind anyone of the play Tartuffe by Moliere at all? I can recall a scene where Tartuffe is trying to tell a lady to dress more heavily so as to not make him sin…

  127. That would be Moliere, 1622-1673, right?
    So much for progress :)

  128. Although I don’t think that most students at BYU are this stupid, the general feeling of the note is very common around campus. I’m a graduate student in a science department at BYU. Many of the students share a common office area in a certain place in the building. I was doing some work in the office when the subject of this note came up. My ears perked up immediately as four male graduate students started discussing this. They are, for the most part, your typical BYU students so I wanted to hear what they had to say. They all agreed that this guy was out of line for saying anything to this girl. It was so rude of him! One person insisted that it had to be a joke. Ok, so far so good. Until, the conversation took a slight turn into what was and wasn’t appropriate for women to wear on-campus. They all agreed that leggings and a short skirt was not acceptable. One student said he was bothered to go into the department office to talk to the student receptionist because her shirts were a little low cut and he could see just a little bit of cleavage (I go up to this office all the time and I’ve never noticed this before). He didn’t want to come to campus and be exposed to breasts! How dare she! The only breasts he wants to see are his wife’s. One other student said, “Just think of seeing her breasts as a perk.” I was shocked and had no clue what to say. Actually, I chickened out. I didn’t know what to do! I have to work with these male students all the time. I didn’t want to burn any bridges especially over a conversation that was happening on the other side of the room. I guess I can now confirm that, even though I feel my body may be dressed modestly, others may not agree and may be judging me on my appearance. I completely agree with the OP. The HC fetishizes girls on-campus and as a result we are creating an unsafe environment. I would appreciate some advice on how to speak and approach this topic with my colleagues if it ever comes up again.

  129. 122: I managed to arrange it so that I will be teaching Sharing time in June because I saw that lesson in the manual and I didn’t want my sleeveless-dress wearing daughters to hear about how they aren’t “choosing the right,” especially in the middle of Summer. I love the other members of the Primary Presidency, but they are always talking about how “so-and-so” hasn’t developed a testimony of modesty and how we need to help them repent and it makes me crazy. I went to a YW volleyball practice once and I mentioned to one of the leaders my surprise at how only 2 girls were wearing shorts and the rest were wearing jeans. She said, “Yeah, we keep talking to them about it, but we can’t get them to dress modestly.” I was shocked. This is absolutely not how modesty worked when I was in YW and that was only 14 years ago. When did youth rules become more strict than garment rules?

    I also went to Ricks when Elder Bednar was the president, and it became exactly that environment he was talking about. I would always hear about the “Spirit of Ricks” and how they couldn’t feel it when other people weren’t obeying the Honor Code. He would ask everyone to raise their scriptures up at the beginning of devotional and if you didn’t have yours, someone would comment about how important it was. Why? Most of my friends weren’t at all like that, but there were so many who were. There would always be at least a handful of righteousness police in every classroom who did their hardest to ensure that the Spirit of Ricks could prevail in the classroom. It was school spirit transformed into a weird religion and it was creepy. The guy I knew who was the absolute worst my freshman year became student body president the next year. I really hated it there, and I was even totally a Molly Mormon at the time.

  130. Jacob M at #57.

    I hope you’re joking. If not, I must sarcastically congratulate you for being as knowledgeable and concerned about my parenting as this young man was about the note recipient’s salvation.

  131. Marie (129): How about this: “Hey, boys, grow up!”

  132. They can’t grow up. Mormon discourse around gender and sexuality permanently locks them in pubescent adolescence when it comes to the fairer sex.

  133. They can grow up in virtually every other sphere of life, but as long as they take official talk about female bodies and male desire seriously, they will forever remain awkward, erection-prone, eye-averting, fingernails-digging-into-palms, hymn-humming, crying-while-masturbating, self-loathing 15-year-olds.

  134. The problem I see is that there is a significant penalty for women at the BYUs who are accused of breaking the honor code in their dress. This is not about some nutball causing some minor discomfort to this woman, this is about an officious jerk accusing a woman of behavior that could led to her expulsion from an academic institution. It is not “harmless.” It can cause real grief and anxiety for women at those institutions.

  135. Meldrum the Less says:

    I have been thinking about this problem from the perspective of how to fix it. The actions of my daughter (now 21 years old) when she was a teenager caused me quite a bit of consternation. But in retrospective I think she might have been doing the right thing, more than I thought.

    DD is about 5’5” and maybe 110 pounds soaking wet. She looks athletic. Once she was hanging out with another girl who would become the state champion at a running event. The two girls were warming up together and they looked so much alike that the other coaches were confusing them. ( I thought DD actually had better running form.) But her 8-10 minute miles were definitely never confused with those of the future state champion.

    DD dressed exactly as she pleased and openly ridiculed her Nazi YW leaders whenever they attempted to correct her or to criticized her. I felt that my wife’s judgment was better than mine on this topic and left it up to her to teach our daughter about modesty. She was easily modest by Florida standards and about average by Georgia standards. Not good enough by Mormon standards. She wore sleeveless dresses or tops, might show a few inches of skin around the waist and wore skirts several inches above her knee. As a musician she performed in front of audiences in strapless formal gowns. She wore shorts that extended a couple inches below the crease of her rear and two piece swimming suits on the modest site of the spectrum. Many of her cloths were rather tight. This all was acceptable by the standards of the decent youth her age in consultation with their good mothers; less than 1% are LDS.

    While DD was in Jr High our ward had a number of converts from the housing projects including single women with teenage boys who were anything but decent and civil. They often carried lethal weapons, sold drugs and physically intimidated most of the adult men in the ward. Modesty was not even on the radar with them. (Most are now in prison or dead). DD somehow figured out how to put on her “big black mama voice” and cuss those guys out and slap them around and even throw them on the floor. They loved her for it and she could get them closer to following the rules than anyone else. Which, make no mistake, wasn’t very close.

    As a teenager DD could get away with saying things a polite adult could never say. She openly laughed at the young mothers fresh from BYU who were making “garmy bloomers.” When they gave the little modesty talks she would tear the handouts up and throw them in their faces. She wrote sassy songs, parodies of familiar hymns that ridiculed their excesses. She didn’t get angry but considered it a form of amusement or a sport. If they wanted to preach about stupid topics like modesty, they were going to get it right back double barrel and with a laugh. When they asked her to leave, the entire posse of her loyal friends all followed her out the door.

    What it did was make DD never want to go to BYU. She studied hard and won a nice scholarship to a real Ivy league school so it didn’t matter. None of the 9 girls her age wanted to go to BYU. Only one girl a year older opted for BYU but she left after a year and is married to a great non-LDS guy in the USMC. (The “damage” was short-lived; it only took one year for the YW leaders to get all 3 of the girls of the next age younger to apply to BYU).

    I did not teach DD to be defiant. She was seldom defiant or disrespectful to her parents or family members. We did teach her to evaluate and make choices and be willing to accept the results. We taught her to stick up for herself. We taught her the difference between developing an internal moral compass in contrast to an external compass directed by unreliable peers or other outside sources. We kept her busy doing positive things; school work, music, sports, girl scouting. She made mistakes and not every time she rebelled against her leaders was necessarily done in the right way or for the right reason. She got into more than her share of minor trouble and kept more than her parents up half the night.

    She did take the heat off the other girls her age. In the end I would trust her in a dangerous situation more than any of her peers who were kept on variably shorter leashes and forced to silently endure numerous slap-downs on modesty and many other topics. If that idiot at BYU who started this discussion wrote DD a similar note, she might wad it up and stuff it down his pants and give him a wedgie.

    I think this is a problem for our youth to solve. Enough of them need to find the fortitude to put a stop to it in their own way. I recall the long hair (over the ears) wars, and the girls can’t wear pants wars, and the no numbers on shirts wars, and the loud rock music wars. We won most of them. About the best thing we can do as adults is to teach our youngin’s the basic principles and then allow them to be in places where they can fail without irreparable damage. Hopefully, they will learn from their mistakes and from our mistakes. As DD eventually finds herself a mother in the future dealing with the next generation of Nazi church leaders, I feel sorry for those leaders. She can take care of herself.

  136. Did the “hold up your scriptures” at the BYU-I devotionals originate there, or was it stolen from that TV preacher, Joel Osteen, who has the basketball-arena-full of people hold up their Bibles as they chant their opening mantra?

    Or did they both steal it from the old Primary song “Scripture Power”?

  137. Medford Mom says:

    I agree with #2 and #75. Changes need to occur at “higher levels than the Honor Code Office”. As an LDS woman, I find it ridiculous that I am somehow responsible for a man’s thoughts or actions by the way I dress. My husband let me in on a little secret – boys and men think about sex constantly – it doesn’t matter what we are wearing. And, I agree that the Church needs to change the way it teaches the youth about modesty. A girl should be taught to dress modestly out of self-respect for her body, not because she may cause a boy to have an improper thought. Until the Church changes it’s approach to the way it teaches the youth about modesty, we will continue to see problems like this.

  138. Lane @ 107

    Even if we avoided the dudes with minidresses phenomenon pointed out @ 118, anybody who has seen TNG knows that Riker’s body in uniform is sexual weapon number one. Putting us all in Star Fleet uniforms would just exacerbate the problem.

  139. it's a series of tubes says:
  140. Contrary to popular opinion, men and boys do -not- “think about sex constantly”. This may be true for some, but they are the ones who need counselling (and incidentally make up the male half of the modesty police). Thinking men are helpless in controlling (or not even having) sexual thoughts about women is making them not responsible for their actions regarding sex. The frequency and degree of men and boys thinking about sex is the same as those of women and girls.

  141. We don’t. I also think about Diet Coke….but mostly sex.

  142. Capozaino #140: Eh, I’m not into beards. I imagine dried-up spittle in them. But jumpsuit or not, Leonard Nimoy is a fox. I’m going to write him a note about the negative effect he’s having on the women (and men) around him.

  143. Medford Mom says:

    Frank, I may have over-generalized my statement about “men thinking about sex constantly” but the point is that we are responsible for our own thoughts or actions. Those who can’t control their thoughts shouldn’t blame it on the way a woman dresses.

  144. MM, completely agree there. I just get all obsessive compulsive about people making male/female generalizations. :)

  145. it's a series of tubes says:

    The frequency and degree of men and boys thinking about sex is the same as those of women and girls.

    Frank, I think you’re way off base here. Each individual is responsible for themselves, but there are significant gender-driven differences in libido. Testosterone plays a major role.

  146. Mark B. (138)

    From what I recall (and have heard), devotional at BYU-I was not emphasized nearly as much before Elder Bednar’s tenure as it is now. Holding them up is supposed to show the speaker that the audience is “ready to learn.” I might not be the best authority on this, because I never went.

    I failed to mention in my previous post that I am glad that BYU gets its share of zealots as well.

  147. MikeInWeHo says:

    re: 135
    Mormon adolescent boys cry while masturbating? Is the sexual repression really that bad?

    As an outside observer, I find these conversations just fascinating and at times disturbing.

  148. Happy crying or sad crying?

  149. Guilty, sad crying. WHY can’t I righteously obey the commandments? WHY isn’t 1 Cor 10:13, “God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” working? There must be something wrong with me… wait, no, it’s those infernal women and their agency in showing a little skin that drove me to this!

  150. Really, people think about scriptures while doing it? No wonder they are crying.

  151. While I ultimately reject Nietzche, Mormons really need to read him.

  152. I humbly submit that Nietzsche is not nearly as rad as Lucretius. I also humbly paste this link:

    As Stephen Greenblatt has recently discovered, Lucretius never goes out of style.

  153. I find the double standards here fascinating. People rightfully say this guy is responsible for his own thoughts and actions and shouldn’t blame a women’s dress for how he acts and feels. Yet so many of these people are quick to blame the church and byu for this guys thoughts and actions. I also find it fascinating that there are many people in the exact same environment as this guy who don’t act like this guy at all and don’t act like him because of what they believe and have been taught. Maybe the guy is just a tool. If you think this kind of behavior is somehow unique to BYU you probably should look at the world around more and you will find that there are similar tools everywhere.

  154. Come on, noone, don’t be so down on yourself. I’m sure you’re somebody to someone.

  155. oudenos,

    Okay, Lucretius with Nietzche while listening to early Green Day.

  156. Left Field says:

    No numbers on shirts wars? What’s that about? I’ve never heard of it. Basketball jerseys? Prison serial numbers? Favorite NASCAR numbers? 49ers t-shirts? John 3:16? Scout troop numbers? I’m scratching my head on what sort of shirt numbers someone might want to prohibit.

  157. I can personally vouch for the idea of desensitization. It works. I stand with the Swedish mother without clothing. What covering up does is the opposite. In Victorian England the sight of an ankle was enough to get the juices flowing. In Muslim countries a free woman without covering is an invitation to rape.

    All of us, almost, live R (or X) rated lives. We are born in blood, we eat, we kill, we procreate and we die, on screen and up close and personal. We touch ourselves and each other and the touch brings pleasure. Why can we not become comfortable with this rating?

    We assume that God does not like our sensuality… The other night we went to the symphony. Before the symphony we ate a wonderful dinner. We enjoyed each other’s company and touched. The night was a sensual delight and might have ended in full nakedness had it not been so late. Should we stop our ears and cut out our tongues as well as desexing ourselves? And only converse about God’s love?

    Desensitization is a useful tool for living an R rated life but you cannot desensitize yourself by non-exposure.

  158. iasot @ #141

    Unfortunately, I suspect the type of person who would write that note and genuinely believe the rhetoric it uses would only view such a thing as “the World” pointing its finger and laughing from the great and spacious building at him as he attempts to eat the fruit of the tree of life without disruption from opaque tights clinging sensuously to the forbidden knees.

  159. MikeInWeHo says:

    re: 155
    I agree with you. There are tools everywhere. Toolness seems to take a unique form in Mormon culture, though. This is no doubt the case in other subcultures as well. I wonder what a douche-bag Amish guy would act like?

  160. “People rightfully say this guy is responsible for his own thoughts and actions and shouldn’t blame a women’s dress for how he acts and feels. Yet so many of these people are quick to blame the church and byu for this guys thoughts and actions.”

    We’re not blaming BYU for this guy’s thoughts and actions, we’re blaming BYU for not actively discouraging or reprimanding this kind of behavior.

  161. “Maybe the guy is just a tool.”



    What you are talking about is a legacy of Protestant Christianity, I think. There is another picture of righteousness that is centered in the idea that God has a body, and that we considered gaining a body a release from prison. Everybody ought to have a body, a body is the only way to go! Yet this doesn’t imply the sensuality is _essentially_ good, only that expression of sensual existence is not only desirable but necessary to a full existence.

  162. Here is my argument against this note: that is not that young man’s stewardship. I really like John Lund’s book For All Eternity for its discussion of how spouses must treat one another as equals. Neither has stewardship “over” the other. Students should not be required, asked, or allowed to judge equals–other students. Equals, it seems to me, should exercise only love and compassion, and leave it to stewards to judge and offer correction. Any policy that in any way encourages equals to act in the role of stewards inevitably encourages unrighteous dominion.

  163. In my experience, this is much more indicative of the culture at BYU-I than BYU (though BYU still has its share if you know where to look).

    BYU-I is a piece of work. For the school’s size, location, and value, I can’t really criticize the education I got (of course, I can only speak for my program) — but if I could do it all over, I would run as fast as I could in the other direction. Intentionally or not, Elder Bednar was a big part of making the “Spirit of Ricks” synonymous with “self-righteous spiritual vigilantism” — or at least making it worse.

    By contrast, when I got to BYU, I couldn’t believe how laid back everyone was (it’s all relative, folks)… how I wished I had had the sense to go there to begin with. I felt as big a difference (and sense of relief) going to BYU from Ricks as I did when I started grad school on the east coast after BYU.

  164. ‘“Leggings and tights do not compensate for too short of a dress,” Sorensen said, later adding, “I’ve had this conversation with a lot of guys before. If the girls won’t follow the Honor Code and no one is enforcing it, is it really so wrong for him to take matters into his own hands? Many guys I’ve talked to say that it’s disrespectful and distracting when girls refuse to follow the Honor Code.”’

    It’s not an isolated tool. It’s a tool emboldened by a dysfunctional and hostile culture cultivated and reinforced by dysfunctional official policies coming down from highest levels.

  165. Brad, if you read the article you linked to, most the people in it thought the guy was out of line. It also gave the impression that most the student body thought it was out of line, but that there was few people like the guy you quoted that thought it was okay. It is unfair and illogical to focus on the minority and then conclude that “It’s … hostile culture cultivated and reinforced by dysfunctional official policies coming down from highest levels.” I am not saying that BYU doesn’t have its problems or that there aren’t things that could be changed, but I am saying yours and other accusations how horrible things are and mass reform is needed are just as extremist as the guy who wrote the note.

  166. Latter-day Guy says:

    It’s not an isolated tool. It’s a tool emboldened by a dysfunctional and hostile culture cultivated and reinforced by dysfunctional official policies coming down from highest levels.

    This afternoon, this story came up with two different LDS people I was talking to. They both remarked how awful it was––NOT that a self-righteous jerk would write and deliver such a note, but that the young woman would post it to twitter! They both thought the young woman ought to have “minded her own business” or “left it alone.” Their concern was solely that BYU or the Church may have gotten a black eye over this, and they put the onus entirely on the woman, saying nothing about the young man’s having behaved like an ass.

    These conversations did not occur in Utah.

  167. #135 Brad- Brilliant. Sad, but true.

  168. Latter-day Guy – what other recourse do women have when they are harassed at places like BYU? I posit that social media and laughing defiance are the only soft power tools left to women. What would the school have done if she had complained to the administration? My guess is they would have told her she could have avoided it by not wearing the skirt / leggings combo – essentially blaming the victim. I base that conclusion on my own experiences with the standards office (mostly via roommates, but one time myself); it was always assumed the woman was in the wrong, even absent evidence. The school backs the self-appointed vigilantes.

  169. I noticed today at campus that a bunch of posters were put up reminding people about the honor code that we agreed to. I wonder if it has anything to do with this incident.

    Brad, I feel like your attack of BYU might be a little extreme. Everyone I’ve talked to here, both men and women, have agreed with me that this person was being ridiculous and creepy. Obviously some people have problems, but I think it is kind of silly to condemn all BYU students in one sweep as being unprepared for adult life and have issues with their sexuality.

  170. All the reminders that “you agreed to” the honor code remind me of that South Park episode where one of the characters is made into part of a human centipede by Steve Jobs because he agreed to it in the iTunes terms and conditions (which nobody ever reads).

    So my question is, how did a similar scene not make it into the Book of Mormon musical?

  171. Rob Perkins says:

    I will defend BYU in other terms.

    I’m currently enrolled in the Bachelor of General Studies program, because, primarily, I can finish my degree through that program without great expense, for far less money than transferring credits into another program. And, I’m learning things I wanted to learn.

    I have problems with the way BYU administers this program. I think the departmental-silo nature of Independent Study and the distance many professors in other departments appear to keep from e-learning in general is myopic and anachronistic. Not being able to discuss essay test questions with a professor or TA is a significant disadvantage in the program, in my opinion.

    BUT, with only one aggravating exception, the actual people administering the programs I’m involved in have found ways to make things possible for me, while remaining civil, pleasant, cordial, and without cheapening requirements or erecting stumbling blocks.

    That single exception is a TA who won’t return e-mails in a timely manner. But that’s a minor thing, really.

    Reading through these comments has helped me realize (especially comment #6) how to characterize this kind of thing to my daughters. I think if they want to go to BYU I’ll help them go and thrive there, and just remind them that this kind of thing is rare, but that it does happen.

  172. Further upstream, in talking about whether modesty has become more and more orthodox and conservative over time, Mogget stated: “I remain interested in whether or not there are studies with appropriate controls, etc., that are in a position to establish the presence and/or persistence of such a trend.” Not sure this will satisfy, but it is a starter:

    Also, pictures of homecoming gowns posted in the Wilkinson Center show women with shoulders not covered in the 1960s and 1970s, which would no longer be acceptable attire. Just another data point.

  173. #167 Brad- Very insightful to listen to Brittany’s side of the story. She sounds like a very nice and completely reasonable person with a realistic and balanced view of BYU and the world in general. I would hope that this incident doesn’t shut her down or fetter her views in any way, especially since she did absolutely nothing wrong. This hang-up with the details of rules smacks of the type of inward navel watching religion that Jesus had to deal with when he was on the earth. We’re taking our eye off the ball and missing the whole point of loving and helping those around us.

  174. I attended BYU in the 70’s…my note to a girl attracting that kind of attention would have been a request for a date. There were a few whack jobs at the Y then.( I’m sure there are a few now.) Just coming off missions and burning up on re-entry or raised by families who did not participate in real life and did not know how to handle it outside the LDS-Utah community. They usually found mates just like themselves and now their spawn returns up stream and hands out notes like the one discussed here. Thank heavens for “Uncle Marios” on center street where BYU students could boogie on those platform shoes and let your hair down away from the BYU standards office.

  175. Mommie Dearest says:

    There is a link on The Student Review website (in #167) that takes you to the personal blog of the young woman with her post about the worldwide media scrutiny of what was essentially a Valentines Day post to her friends on her fb wall. Though she is a bit young and chirpy, there is nothing remotely unworthy about her. She loves BYU, she respects the honor code; she asked her dad to help her see if she had committed any grievous error against the school or the church when things started to viralize out of control. (He told her she was fine.) The biggest red flag in her blog post, to me, is the paragraph where she describes the numerous tweets and messages she got from other girls who had similar experiences. She describes in detail only one of them, but says it was “just one of many.” She has a youthful vitality that it appears will be able to protect her from any lasting harm from this incident.

    But. There is something really, really rotten in our culture, that lovely, perfectly innocent and admirable young women, who should be above reproach, are regularly harassed in this way. I think BYU and the honor code is a red herring. They enable it and use it to their advantage, yes, but they are not the cause of this. She obviously understands the spirit of the honor code and respects it. She looks at it as something that helps and protects her, and clearly doesn’t get bogged down in the minutiae of nit-picky rules.

    I’m kind of thunderstruck that somebody in some official capacity doesn’t take action to prevent this, but at the same time I can see exactly why that won’t happen. The rules police can be useful in doing the dirty work of enforcement that the institution isn’t willing to lower itself to do. It gives me a sick feeling.

  176. Of course almost everyone agrees that the boychild was totally in the wrong. But why isn’t it just as wrong for the men in charge to make the policies which do, in fact, forbid this outfit? Because those men are old? They’re still acting out of a “righteous” desire to completely control women’s bodies. And I would submit that they aren’t so very old that they deserve to get away with their perversions and refusal to take ownership of their own thoughts.

    The only difference between them and this boy is that the men in charge have the power of a whole institution at their disposal. That makes them worse, not better.

  177. “They’re still acting out of a “righteous” desire to completely control women’s bodies.”
    This kind of hyperbole mentality is the exact kind of mentality that makes someone like the guy who wrote the note think that the girl outfits makes him unsafe physically and spiritually. This hyperbole mentality is the same one that makes many republicans think Obama is evil and makes many democratic think republicans are all nut jobs. It is nothing a healthy mentality for useful conversation. The world is more nuanced than that.

  178. Sorry, you’re right, let’s shed some nuance here: they make and aggressively enforce rules about grown women’s clothing because they really respect and defend women’s right to make their own choices without being blamed for the moral failures of the men around them. Hm.

    Obviously, the “Honor Code” infantalizes men as well (beards? Seriously?). But that isn’t tied up in sex, and nobody accuses men of being walking pornography for wearing a beard. Or going topless. Or running through the streets naked. Or anything, in fact, because it’s female sexuality that threatens them — not male.

  179. You need to look around more. Men get told to take responsibility for their actions and thoughts all the time. It is disingenuous to claim that men get away with blaming women for their moral failures. Men get rebuked for not wearing theirs shirts, they get rebuke for misusing their sexuality all the time. You may think having a dress code is infinitival but is certainly not unique to BYU. Most professional places of business have similar dress codes. I am not saying I like dress codes (I am fortunate to work at a place with a pretty lax dress code), but this isn’t just about being threatened by female sexuality. And if you ever bothered to read the actual talk by Elder Oaks about walking pornography, you would see that he said that how some men view women. Which is true. He didn’t excuse those men in any way, and he didn’t say that women were evil, but he was warning women to not be naive about how some men look at them, because there are a lot of creepy guys out there. But if you want to choose to see the world as everyone out to get you and control you and suppress you, that is your choice. But you sound like my 8 year old son who says he is the only who every gets in trouble and its not fair because his sister never gets in trouble. But in reality he just doesn’t pay attention when something doesn’t have to do directly with him.

  180. “The only difference between them and this boy is that the men in charge have the power of a whole institution at their disposal. That makes them worse, not better.”

    Just so I understand, would the attire she is wearing in the photo be considered a code violation at BYU today?

  181. Having been raised in the Church, having attended BYU, I have had exactly one encounter with Mormon modesty rhetoric which didn’t explicitly come out and say that women cover their bodies to protect men from thinking bad thoughts, or from being forced — forced, I tell you! — to rape women. One encounter, ever.

    I don’t have a problem with professional dress codes. I wouldn’t have a problem with BYU’s dress code if it were framed in those terms — we dress neatly to project a conservative, trustworthy image to the world. And when it comes to men, it is framed that way. When it comes to women, it’s framed in terms of sex, and our evil, evil bodies.

    I was there when the talk was given. It was beyond unacceptable then just as it is now. Well, anyway, since we’ve moved on to personal insults, I think I can find something better to do with my time. Smiley-face. :)

  182. MikeInWeHo, assuming those are leggings — the photo’s a bit small for me to tell — then yes, it was considered a violation during my time at BYU at least. There were posters all over campus addressing this exact issue — skirts or shorts have to hit the knee, leggings or not.

  183. Mike, as near as I can figure, it’s only a violation by some interpretations because the wording of the dress code makes no provision for what might be worn with a dress or skirt. If she were to lop the dress off at the hips, it would just be a blouse and slacks and would be fine. The odd wording of the code makes it a violation because she’s wearing too much.

  184. Mike,

    Others might disagree, but I don’t think she is in violation of the dress code.

    She was studying in a public place, in one off the busiest buildings on campus. There must have been dozens of faculty members and other administrators who saw her that day and didn’t lift an eyebrow. If she were in flagrant violation of the dress standards, I think she would have known it before getting this note. You can see hundreds of women dressed like that on campus, every day.

    In addition, she could walk right through the front door of the temple without attracting a second glance.

  185. Mike,

    The main issues seem to be whether or not her skirt is too short (it should be knee length) and whether or not the leggings she has on underneath are too tight (clothing should not be “form fitting”). If you think she’s in violation on both counts, then she is (technically) in violation of the dress code.

  186. The woman in the photo may or may not be in violation of the dress code, but the author of the note is definitely violating BYU’s policy against smug self-righteiousness and vulgar, ostentatious displays of pre-Victorian moral fanaticism. Oh, wait. There’s no policy against that at BYU. Never mind.

  187. “I wonder what a douche-bag Amish guy would act like?”

    Lately they’ve been forcibly cutting off people’s hair and beards.

  188. Mommie Dearest says:

    After reading her blog and getting an idea of her approach to the dress code, I think she was in compliance. She’s a nice girl who does her best with obeying the spirit of the rules at BYU, and anyone who tries to call her on some kind of technical offense is operating with the same logic as her anonymous note-writing male critic. And by default is perpetuating the fearful atmosphere (fear of each others’ judgement) that the institution encourages (with the strict but not-quite-clear rules) to get the students to line up and police each other into obedience.

  189. To be clear, I agree that she’s completely in compliance. Any other reading of the dress code twists it beyond recognition. The same twisted reasoning would have her in violation if she wore mid-thigh cutoffs under a ankle-length skirt. Neither the letter nor the spirit of the code can tolerate such a convoluted reading.

  190. Rob Perkins says:

    After reading her blog and finding out that she took the note and her doubts to her Dad, who told her she was fine, nobody in a Church which emphasizes family-centered coping strategies gets to care what I think about her level of compliance.

  191. We should be clear when referencing Elder Oak’s talk. He said:

    “And young women, please understand that if you dress immodestly, you are magnifying this problem by becoming pornography to some of the men who see you.”

    By “this problem” he seems to imply the problem stated earlier, of “an increasing number of men involved with pornography, and many of those are active members”. Although I think the intention is not necessarily that immodestly dressed women cause an increase in the number of men involved with pornography, but rather that they exacerbate the problem for those already steeped in it.

    Which makes me wonder what Elder Oaks was really after by saying that. It seems to me that modesty is a matter of culture and self respect, in the main. So I can’t accept Elder Oaks’ statement, however interpreted, to be the only, or even the main, reason for modesty. Yet even as a minor reason for choosing to dress modestly, I personally cannot accept pinning any blame on women dressing immodestly for magnifying the problem of either men trying to get over or men being initiated into pornography.

    Now there might be some blame if we changed the word (or its meaning) to “provocatively” instead of “immodestly”, where even modest dress can be provocative. In a hyper-sensitive environment like BYU, I think this is often the case. This is an unintended consequence of the dress code. Which is funny, because I believe this is also a consequence of pornography on the minds of “some of the men who see” women as pornography.

    So we’re caught in the situation where there are actually two forces over-sexualizing women’s bodies: pornography, and over-imposing standards of modesty. The irony shouldn’t be neglected. This is where the church culture was correct to relax standards of modesty in the past in order to be more modern (just my guess at the reason it happened…). It might be wise to do so today. Especially as women are more empowered in society, I think we’ll find that they have and will regulate themselves and settle on very decent standards of modesty and beauty we can all find acceptable. Why is it the men that wish to decide what the standard should be?

  192. Because this discussion keeps being forced to the surface again and again, I’ve carefully watched the magazines and lessons manuals of the 20th century — I think I’ve read just about all of them — for articles or lessons instructing men to cover their bodies, and why and when and how much. I think readers would get a kick out of a male version of the lessons and sermons we see so often directed toward women today.

    There’s a ridiculous amount on white shirts and ties, of course, but that isn’t at all the same thing. Ditto about hair length, and a much lesser amount on facial hair. Those articles, talks, and lessons are all about respect for God and respect for self and presenting a clean-cut, conservative image out of respect for God and the reputation of the Church. There’s stuff around about cleanliness of clothes and body, but obviously referring to soap-and-water cleanliness, not moral cleanliness or concern for the moral quality of the thoughts that might be stirred in observant women.

    The closest I’ve ever been able to come to a lesson that focused largely, not merely in passing, on the physical modesty of men is one from 1963 — nearly a half century ago! — which I posted as The Body of a Man. (I apologize to BCC for what J. calls “spamiliciousness” — I think it’s relevant to your current discussion, and a rarity in our culture, so I link). The few comments that post got agreed that it was more or less similar in tone to what young men are taught today (although nobody mentioned whole lessons today on male modesty). More than one commenter noted the positive tone of this lesson, contrasting it with the negative tone of so much current discourse on women’s modesty.


  193. I don’t see that this woman is in violation of the dress code. For one thing she is not wearing a “dress”, but a long “tunic”. There is not a whole lot of difference between her leggings and skinny jeans, so no problem here.

    More than 20 years ago, someone dear to me, was assaulted in her apartment at BYU. As she fought with her attacker, he repeatably told her this was NOT HIS fault, instead it was HERS as she was “asking” for it. Why? Because she had worn a modest 2-piece swimming suit earlier that day.

    During the Christmas holidays my niece at BYU-I complained that whenever she wore a dress ( hemline to her knees) to class, someone man would complain to her that she was not dressing modestly. If she challenged him on his assertions, she would get the answer that her hemline should be at her calf. I told my niece, when it happens again, tell the man in question, “It is not my problem, that you are a pervert”!

    The problem I see here, is an obvious lack of personal responsibility on the part of a few men. Our Mormon society as a whole, has “Pharisee issues”. In our quest for the appearance of righteousness, we jump over the norm and go overboard. Thus, we lose balance, which was what Jesus tried to teach us.

  194. IMO, Ardis’ point is why we are like the proverbial frog being boiled in water on this one. This modesty language has slowly crept up in temperature over the last few decades to the point that it is not very extreme compared to 30 years ago. And to what end? We are instilling our YW with body issues and guilt over their method of dress. We are instilling even more titillation in our YM and heightening how much they objectify women and feel emboldened to comment on and try to control women’s physical appearance.

  195. #54 for CotW!!!!!

  196. Second #197’s nomination.

  197. JA Benson,

    Our Mormon society as a whole, has “Pharisee issues”. In our quest for the appearance of righteousness, we jump over the norm and go overboard. Thus, we lose balance, which was what Jesus tried to teach us.

    Well said.

  198. This seems relevant:

    Is this where we’re headed? Much of that sounds eerily familiar, doesn’t it? Is this really where we want to end up?

    Here is one response from inside the Jewish community:

    The Talmud tells the religious man, in effect: If you have a problem, you deal with it. It is the male gaze — the way men look at women — that needs to be desexualized, not women in public. The power to make sure men don’t see women as objects of sexual gratification lies within men’s — and only men’s — control.

    Food for thought.

  199. Is it too late for me to comment here?

  200. gst, don’t be so modest.

  201. Did there ever emerge some solid advice for the BYU faculty member who posted above? Could that be a rather concrete way to bring together some of the comments?

  202. #194,

    Ardis, interesting article. What I noted is that in it there was not a single specific definition or rule for dress or even action. It was all principles and abstract discussion. Honestly, if this is how modesty was taught to my girls I don’t think I would have a single problem with it. As a young man growing up in the early 1990s I can’t recall a single modesty lesson which centered around my body. The closest I can remember is it being vaguely related to speech – swearing, vulgar language etc. Even this wasn’t hammered in the way we are doing it to girls and their dress these days. The thing is once you have gone down the creation of rules path it is hard to back up the truck. I wish we could go back to the days when hem lengths (girls on your knees does it touch the floor?!), sleeves, and skinny versus non-skinny jeans were not the issue.

    What I wouldn’t give for a new BYU president that came in and on his first day basically rescinded the dress code – leaving to the students best judgement. I have no idea what would happen.

  203. I’m not sure we should get rid of the dress code entirely. But often it has been rather silly. When I was there – not that long ago – there was the big controversy over men having to wear socks. And yet it was sexualized via some idiots talking about leg hair being equivalent to pubic hair. But BYU has lots of rules I can’t quite fathom such as the no-caffeine rule which no one follows and isn’t part of the Church rules either. Then the rule about men/women apartments being too close honestly makes no sense either. As for Ricks, I mean BYU-I, I honestly can’t fathom why they need things to be nearly as strict as a monastery. Add all the extra rules plus having to live in the middle of nowhere in Idaho and I can’t figure out why anyone goes. If anything they make immorality more likely because there’s nothing else to do there!

    I agree the way morality is often taught should be much better. Guys do get hammered though – just on different things. If a couple screws up the assumption is almost always that it’s the guys fault – as if women can’t be sexually aggressive.

    I do think though that people are focusing on the rules as the problem when I think the real issue is how to socialize people like the note-writer in question. Honestly there are a lot of people who come to college never having socialized much in High School. They are frequently ignorant of a lot of social norms everyone else takes for granted. Add in behavioral or emotional problems – often more frequently manifest in males such as with Asperger’s Syndrome – and you get complete idiocy like this. I had a roommate who was convinced that because vinegar came from fermentation that it was against the Word of Wisdom. Thus he berated me for having relish in our fridge. People like this sincerely need help. It would be nice if BYU provided something. Otherwise you’ll have more situations like this.

    I’m not justifying the actions of this guy. But if the former roommate is on the level it sounds like he has severe social problems and needs help. Want to make a campus that is better not only for women but for everyone? Figure a way how to reach these guys and teach them basic social skills. I suspect most of them truly want to fit in but honestly can’t. Add in mental illness and there are a lot of people who could use help. And not just men.

  204. Clark has a great point. All I see is all these people berating someone and relishing it. There are always two sides to every story.

  205. I take a very proactive approach to the ‘modesty’ (meaning covering up female bodies) standards of the church. I disagree with them so I flout them. (Incidentally, I believe the original post intended flout and not flaunt. I was a little confused and read it a few times to be sure I understood.) I don’t go out of my way to do this, but I certainly enjoy it just the same. I took my very very young (less than a year old) daughter to a city pool in a pink cloth swim diaper. I didn’t bother trying to wrestle a swimsuit over the diaper so she was topless. A little boy (maybe 7?) nearby saw her and couldn’t figure out what to do with the conflicting cues. She was wearing bright pink, so she couldn’t be a boy. But she was topless so she couldn’t be a girl. Finally he just asked. But he clearly thought I was nuts. She’s now three and my modesty requirements are this: she must put on clothes before leaving our backyard to knock on the neighbors’ door. That’s it.

    So, that was just to share my overall approach to modesty. This post isn’t exactly on point. I am not modest either in the way the church likes to define it or in the way that it is actually defined. I like to have bright hair, possibly spiky. I sometimes buzz my hair off completely or wear wigs for a change of pace. I like striking clothes. I don’t spend a lot of money on clothes, they are mostly purchased at thrift stores. I like to wear a pair of black leggings and a long sleeved black t-shirt with something colorful that I think looks cool: a barely there silk dress or a crocheted shawl. I wear slacks to church on some Sundays. But I definitely get opinions about my appearance. And some of them are passive-aggressive or sexist. Once upon a time (when I was 21) one of my peers acted shocked when I didn’t remove my (lilac) wig before Young Women’s class (I was secretary in the Presidency). I’m pretty sure she wasn’t shocked because she already disapproved of lots and lots of things I did or said. As I got a bit older and wore slacks on Sundays, various priesthood brethren would mention in priesthood class in front of my husband (no matter how tangential to the actual lesson) how men should encourage their wives to dress appropriately. They did not realize that I would never have married a man who thought he could tell me how to dress. I even sat with a streak of Hot Hot Pink (that’s the name of the dye) hair through a sacrament talk on how we, as Mormons, have conservative hair styles. The speaker didn’t once look directly at me.

    There was a common thread through all of this. The people criticizing my appearance were primarily (with one notable exception) Utah imports. I do not live in Utah. But Utah residents occasionally venture out into ‘the mission field’ as they call it. And they bring their Utah ideas with them.

    Not once did my local priesthood leaders criticize my appearance. In fact, now my husband is in the Bishopric (and my hair is black and purple with an asymmetrical cut) so I definitely am not getting criticism from my local leaders. I’ve lived in the same ward since I married and moved here at age 18. That was 12 years ago. The people who’ve lived here for many years never criticize my appearance. They may not all approve, though many give me lots of compliments on my latest style. But those who don’t approve have the good taste to mind their own business. We even had a lesson once on making people feel welcome at church that discussed how members’ intolerance for ‘immodest’ clothes on investigators was hurtful and kept people from accepting the gospel.

    None of this is to say that my ward is perfect or that the practice of policing other people’s appearance (particularly women) is limited to Utah. But I think the petri dish exacerbates the problem. Right, so that was long winded.

  206. Yeah … bashing Utahns is definitely part of the solution. Thanks for that.

  207. I’m sorry if I gave the impression of Utah bashing. It was unintentional. I really like Utah. It’s a beautiful state, particularly the southern part. And the little time I have spent in Salt Lake (two weeks for a conference at the University of Utah, as well as a few short visits) was very pleasant and filled with kind people. Around here we may refer to Utah as “the mother ship”, but it is good natured. I was referring to the effect that so many Mormons close together has on doctrine and perception. Similar things happen here, but to Baptists.

  208. I think part of the issue is that it’s easier to adopt these types of anti-social behaviors while in an majority Mormon area. It’s not that they can’t happen elsewhere. They do. Just that there are other forces that tend to thrust more diversity on people. (i.e. how many converts are in a congregation) Also within Utah there are just so many Mormons that you’re far more likely to meet such people statistically.

    Imagine some nasty anti-social tick like the person being discussed has. Let’s say 1% of the population has it. (Probably a way low statistic) In a population of say 36,000 you’ll meet about 360 people like this. If you like in a town with only 400 active members there may be only 4. You calculate your odds of meeting someone like this and it’s clearly much higher in Utah than in say New England. Throw in other incentivizing effects (i.e. whether such people can find other people like them to strengthen that form of socialization) and probably the effect becomes much more pronounced.

  209. I can’t believe everyone is overacting over this stupid story! How do we even know that this girl was truly wearing this outfit in the library exactly as shown in her photo? The news media outlets are un-objectively taking her story as the whole truth. How do we know that she’s even a BYU student? She’s probably some Utah County chick not smart enough to get into BYU, who doesn’t even know the honor code, and who hangs out at the library dressed to hook a future husband. By twittering her story, and allowing herself to be interviewed on Fox News, she got something even better than a husband, 15 mins. of fame, and if you watch her TV interview, you can see she’s lovin it. Hey Brittany, If you really ARE a BYU student, spend more time on school, or get outta there so someone who really wants to be there can get in. After all, every student at BYU is getting an IVY league education for less than the cost of school at Utah’s public universities, and less than half of the people who apply to the Y are able to get in. So, stop wasting our tithing money, that helps supplement your education, and get serious about BYU and it’s honor code — or hit the road, bimbo! Hopefully the next big news story, generated about you, will be about how BYU gave the boot to BrittanyJMo, the attention-seekin Ho!

  210. Jo’s comment 210 is a (stupid) joke right?, Right?

    If not, somebody ring the sheriff.

  211. “After all, every student at BYU is getting an IVY league education for less than the cost of school at Utah’s public universities” That made me laugh. I also loved the writers belief Brittany reads this. Though calling Brittany a ho is getting on a lower level than the letter writer.

    Like oudenos, hope its a poor joke than actual seriousness.

  212. Left Field says:

    The exact same comment is posted under a different name at the SL Tribune site linked at the top of the page. “Attention seekin” indeed.

  213. Wilhelmina says:

    Thank you for stating it better than I did Clark (#209). I also think there’s an anonymity factor too. My town isn’t large and there are only two small family wards for my town and some of the surrounding smaller towns in a neighboring county. The university has a singles ward, but I’ll leave it out for this discussion. I know almost every Mormon in my area by sight and most by name as well. Those of us who live here and stay here know that we will have relationships with each other for decades. If I criticize or pick a fight I may be picking a fight with my daughter’s future Young Women’s President or my husband’s future counselor in some presidency or other. And it goes the other way. I think those relationships have provided me some protection in being nonconformist or in allowing my daughter to dress ‘immodestly’. The people who criticize are always here for a few years to get a Master’s degree or something and move on so they don’t really care what relationships they damage since the relationships are short term in any case. The protection that long term relationships provide wouldn’t be available in larger areas with people moving in and out like Provo. Or, for Ardis sake, in many other larger areas outside of Utah with a population that moves around more frequently or ward boundaries that move around more frequently even while people stay still. I certainly ran into more trouble with leaders when I was a teenager and lived in a larger city.

    I guess I’ve moved outside of modesty to what makes people think they get to tell other people how to dress. The Honor Code has been discussed but I was exploring it a little bit more.

  214. Jo #212 for WCotW.

  215. Sorry for all the typos – wrote those comments late night while tending a baby with croup and on an iPhone to boot.

  216. second that.

    Also, 212 for WCotY

  217. As long as you continue your arrogant bashing of Utahns (and I don’t care how beautiful you think our scenery is; I care about how freely you voice your disdain for us), please refrain from doing or saying anything for MY sake, Wilhelmina.

  218. Jo, I don’t think an “IVY league education” is what you think it is.

  219. I think it’s a safe bet Jo doesn’t know what an”IVY league education” is, or probably what a BYU education is as well, assuming they’re not one and the same. But, it was still a classic comment. Please, please keep them coming.

  220. I guess no one has noticed that if you take the first letter of each word from the note, add three letters, and then use a decoder ring that was placed in the girl’s dorm room later that day, it’s actually asking her out on a group date with a “spy” theme. Trust me, I got those all the time in Rexburg.

  221. I wouldn’t be surprised if “Jo” (and other sockpuppets) was fabricated for sport. Since nobody who had yet weighed in was as pompous, judgmental, clueless, and sanctimonious as “Jo’s” creator imagined BYU students to be, “Jo” was created to supply the void and provide fodder for ridicule. Or perhaps not. Either way, I declare “Jo’s” fifteen minutes to be expired.

  222. What? People post inflammatory comments on the internet to make people angry and react? Tell me it isn’t so! I thought the internet was the one place I could put my skepticism and sarcasm away. Dang. Is no place safe anymore? Isn’t there some place I can take things at face value?

  223. “The best lack all conviction, while the worst/Are full of passionate intensity” (WB Yeates “The Second Coming”)

    This fetishism of female acoutrements is discussed by Slavoj Zizek where he recalls the Taliban prohibition on metal heels for women’s shoes. “as if, even when the women are entirely covered with cloth, the clicking sound of their heels may still provoke the men.” implying a universe where any encounter with a woman becomes a sexual provocation. (Slavoj Zizek “Living in the End Times”)

  224. Wilhelmina says:

    Ardis, I am confused by your anger in your post #220. I assumed that when you posted something about bashing Utah that you didn’t like it and wanted it to change. I hadn’t intended to bash Utah but rereading I could see how someone could feel that way. So I apologized. I included in my apology positive things I’ve noticed about Utah. It wasn’t intended to be an exhaustive list, but I mentioned the natural beauty and the fact that the people of Utah have made my visits there very pleasant. This wasn’t disdainful. I love my state and my area and its people and I like for other people to appreciate its beauty. Further, as a result of your post I tried not to repeat the mistake the next time I posted. Why are you angry that I am attempting to fix the thing you complained about? What is it that you would prefer I had said?

  225. Wilhelmina, I don’t care if you bash Utah. I do care that you continue to bash UTAHNS, or, more specifically, Utah Mormons.

    This discussion has been in large part a protest against peoples’ acting on a presumed right to condemn women for perceived violations of an artificial dress standard — that itty bitty bit of cleavage some man can discern if he stares at a woman’s neckline hard enough, those three or four inches of Brittany’s knit-covered knees in her study cubicle, your unique hair color choices — a condemnation that obliterates a woman’s selfhood and reduces her to an evil object.

    Your stereotyping of Utah Mormons isn’t measurably different. You have identified some ugly traits in short-term members of your ward, noticed a Utah commonality (ignoring other likely commonalities, such as, perhaps, youth, first time away from home, arrogance of newly awarded professional degrees, a sense of alienation due to being strangers, or any number of other factors), and the result is your stereotyping of the bad behavior as due to Utah Mormonism. You are as free with your condemnation as Brittany’s note-passer, and you have reduced all of us who live in Utah to an evil object, obliterating our individuality. If I came to your ward, I feel that as soon as anyone asked me where I was from and it became known I was a Utahn, you would be done with me. You wouldn’t see me as an individual or wait to see whether I enjoyed your style or rejected it. You’ve already done your judging, based on a superficiality, and I stand condemned.

    That’s what you’re doing with your bashing of Utahns. Your appreciation of the landscape is utterly beside the point.

  226. Wilhelmina says:

    Ardis, I don’t feel that way. I really am sorry that I gave that impression. I was referring to a particular group of people. They were predominately from Utah, though as I noted they weren’t ALL from Utah. And there are lots of Utah Mormons in my ward that are not the type of people I was referring to. I actually live with one of them right now (not my husband, we rent a bedroom to a member of our ward from Moab). Here is the line that I reread and wished I hadn’t written as I did:

    “But Utah residents occasionally venture out into ‘the mission field’ as they call it. And they bring their Utah ideas with them.”

    I was intending to refer to the minority of Utah residents who move here and actually refer to it and think of it as ‘the mission field’. I wasn’t intending to say that all or even most Utah residents think that way. Only that the ones who do also do and say other obnoxious things as well. My follow up post added the additional point observation that you mentioned: these were young people passing through. I would appreciate you providing me an opportunity to clarify rather than assume the absolute worst spin you can put on my words is the correct one. As for the landscape, I mentioned the very pleasant people too in the same post. Which did seem to actually be the point. There are lots of great people who are from Utah.

  227. #212 @Jo, it’s OK you can admit it, you are the anonymous young man who passed the note to Brittany. You’re still burning up that in the aftermath of your encounter this lovely yet disobedient young woman is receiving all of the recognition and sympathy. When it is you whom the truly valiant would recognize as a modern day Captain Moroni declaring truths and holding forth his title of liberty righteously ripped from his plates of college ruled.

    A demure response from Brittany would have been to fall to her knees and beg forgiveness and then seek you out in the Provo / Orem Craigslist “missed connections.” The post would thank the anonymous Moroni whose stolid stand for truth had turned her from her errant ways and asking him to reveal himself as her one true love. And 9 weeks later the two of you would be sealed in the Salt Lake Temple.

    At least in your mind least that was the way this story was supposed to end, right? Right??

    Oh the bitter pain and sorrow when a woman might sharpen her tongue like swords and aim her words like deadly arrows. And the fallen man’s voice was heard as it echoed through the night, “The arrow flew false, the arrow flew false…”

    Better luck next time…you should probably work on your pick up lines.

  228. #230 for bcotw

  229. Kevin Barney says:

    No. 230 seconded for BCotW.

  230. Hey girl, you look like you’ve made a few mistakes. What’s one more? (wink)

  231. Srsly, am I the only one who LOLed at #107? CotW!!!! This thread has been productive.

  232. The problem we have in the LDS Church is that leaders will raise a topic . . and then things spiral into the weird.

    Look how we’ve progressed.

    First, decades ago, it was YW should not wear overly revealing clothing. That was emphasized in numerous GA talks.

    Second, lesson on lesson was piled on the topic.

    Third, we are now seeing an ever-escalating game of who can be more righteous . . and criticism of those who don’t adhere to the extremist view. Thus, the skinny jeans controversy and this one.

    I’ve mentioned before that in my ward the YW had reacted by wearing layers and layers of covering, all in greys and browns, with no make-up and no styled hair. No one dares develop any individual style. No bright colors. No individuality. They are uniformly dumpy. It is really, really sad.

    It is time to dial this back. . .

  233. Cynthia L. says:

    230 and 233 FTW.

  234. Now I want to go to Craigslist.

  235. Well, it turns out the Provo/Orem isn’t used all that much. Dang it. I was hoping for more dress code violation letters!

  236. the longer this thread goes…the more I like it. That leaves me conflicted. I’m started to feel grateful that there is this one idiot because it has produced such hilarity. LIke how I’m glad there are horrible movies because of Ericdsnider. Gratitude can’t be wrong…right?

  237. I think she’s wearing something like black tights, and that dress is way above the knee. Her pose and the lighting make it hard to tell. If that’s the case, then it’s against the dress code. As for the guy writing her a note…meh.

  238. @239– This thread : Blog threads :: Beastmaster : Movies

  239. John have you read any of the comments or even the original article itself? Because you are kinda missing the point of this whole discussion. Unless you are going for irony…

  240. Im sorry, but I can’t resist–
    Here’s another one for Chastity Guy:

    And now I think I need to go bleach my eyes.

  241. Yes Cynthia…so bad it’s good.

  242. A demure response from Brittany would have been to fall to her knees and beg forgiveness…

    I don’t think forgiveness was quite what he had on his mind…

  243. I wonder if it possible that this man has Asperger’s and that this incident might reflect more on symptoms of Asperger’s Disorder (eg his lack of theory of mind or understanding others’ thoughts and feelings and an over-adherence to rules) than a good reflection of the social system in which the incident occurred.

  244. I wonder if it possible that this man has Asperger’s and that this incident might reflect more on symptoms of Asperger’s Disorder (eg his lack of theory of mind or understanding others’ thoughts and feelings and an over-adherence to rules) than a good reflection of the social system in which the incident occurred.

    If this were an isolated incident, I might be inclined to agree.

    However, Brittany has said on her blog that she’s been contacted by many other girls who have had similar experiences and comment #68 on this thread is from a female BYU faculty member who has received such comments on her student evaluations.

    Brittany’s experience also occurred less than three months after BYU-Idaho’s “skinny jeans” debacle.

    It’s possible that all of the young men in these incidents have some difficulty with interpersonal relations, but that only demonstrates that BYU needs to be presenting the rules in a way that makes it clear to everyone that these kinds of interactions are inappropriate.

  245. re # 226, that is a truly succinct and powerful reflection/response to this. Many thanks — very enlightening. I think that quote is very valuable in this context.

  246. (Referring to the Zizek quote.)

  247. #205, “What I wouldn’t give for a new BYU president that came in and on his first day basically rescinded the dress code – leaving to the students best judgment. I have no idea what would happen.”

    I have some idea. My mission president came into a situation where the previous mission president had supplemented the missionary handbook with his own “hedges about the law”–a quarter-inch thick 8.5×11 rulebook that included such things as a temperature/humidity chart outlining when you were to wear a jacket, and when it was permissible to wear only a sweater (we found an old copy in one of our apartments). That handbook had led a group of missionaries to form a small cabal that tried to break nearly every rule in the book (both the official one and the supplement).

    My mission president did some interesting things, including reorganizing how everything from companionships to districts to zones worked, but what he did about this was the best. He announced that there would be “no rules from the mission office,” and he held to that pronouncement, telling us that he believed us to be adults, and that he trusted us to do the right thing. It took nearly his entire three-year stint to get us to actually believe that and implement it, but by the time I left (a month before he did), I’d guess 95% of the mission was onboard–we did the right thing because it was the right thing, not because a handbook told us to, and not because a rule in that book prohibited us from doing anything else BUT the right thing. It takes a lot of time and patience and trust, but then, so does anything worthwhile.

    As someone who then went to BYU and chafed against the rules, I’d love to see someone close down the Honor Code office (or at least the dress and grooming side of things) and announce, “no rules from the ASB,” but even some minor movement towards that would be welcome.

  248. I appreciate the overarching sentiment that oppressive modesty rules that target and subject women to threatening behavior are out of line. I don’t appreciate attacks on the legitimacy of modesty standards. The author talks about “fetishizing girls’ bodies” like that is what modesty standards purport to avoid. There are comments praising desensitization. Isn’t the point of modesty to keep us sensitive? Men and women are modest so that our bodies stay sacred, special, and even exciting. So yes, I’ll cover my shoulders so that, in the proper context, my husband gets excited about my shoulders. I wish everyone covered their shoulders so that we could all experience the thrill of seeng two very special shoulders. If BYU or any other culture/organization uses modesty standards to give men a pass for objectifying women, shame on them. But modesty and sexuality do, in fact, go hand in hand. I think that’s the way it’s supposed to be.

  249. Clarissa, as much as I appreciate your compassion; truth is, going back to the days of ‘ankle worry’ is not the solution to the problem. A body part should not be exciting. The person with the body should be. What the body can do should be exciting, but the body itself as just being there should not be the incising factor to a person’s behavior. Since I wear shorts all the time, I find it annoying and degrading when I’m told my knees by fulfilling their daily functionality are somehow more sinful than an elbow.

  250. Thank you John F. (#248), I think you may enjoy reading the book, if you have not yet read it.

  251. Clarissa, the girl is covered head to toe, except her hands, face, and a bit of collarbone. What about that sack she’s wearing is sexy? Nothing. The point is that the young man failed to control his own thoughts and blamed her for his failure to take responsibility for himself.

    As an aside, I think it’s a shame a girl that beautiful is wearing drapery.

  252. My daughter is a freshman at BYU-I, and we’ve laughed on the phone at some of the “rules”, but she loves it there and loves the people there.

    I can’t tell if I feel safe she is there with people who are so nice and friendly or worried about how her in an environment where people are so uptight that make her think about stuff she shouldn’t be worried about.

    But like I said, she loves it there, and she would leave if she didn’t like it. Its just best for me to teach her to be strong and put dumb guys in their place.

    I applaud the girl who took the photo and posted the note. It has certainly made for interesting discussion (+250 comments). I also applaud Hawkgrrrl and those who draw attention to how it makes women feel when sometimes well-intentioned men get over-zealous and blinded by their own personal fears and think they are justified to make it others’ problem, when it just reflects more on their own weaknesses.

  253. NewlyHouswife, you are right. I don’t think ankle worry is the answer either. How do you propose we go about practicing modesty in our dress and behavior?

    Moriah, you are also right. This young woman is not dressed in a sensual manner. I said nothing to condemn this her, nor did I defend the young man.

    My point is modesty serves a purpose. Our bodies are, in fact, temples. We should be careful in the way that we cover, or uncover them.

  254. Mommie Dearest says:

    How do you practice modesty? We’re all adults, and we have the agency to figure that out for ourselves. Without a [female] body-part checklist. But if you’re looking for some food for thought, I recommend this:

  255. First, I think that if the guy feels he has trouble controlling himself around this girld, it’s the girl who’s not safe.

    Second, I don’t think current modesty teaching achieves its purpose, whatever that is. I think one thing is to teach young people to get used to “garment-standard” dressing.

    But wow, another secondary, external issue, and we get over 250 comments. The most reliable subject for this is something like caffeine, overeating, eating meat, dressing and such. Do we now think that spirituality goes from outside in, and not the other way?

  256. @Velska

    Do we now think that spirituality goes from outside in, and not the other way?

    Well, yes, because if we don’t wear a dress all day on Sunday to PROPERLY observe the Sabbath, then how can we feel the Spirit?

  257. I scrolled through a lot of comments, so I hope this point hasn’t already been brought up…

    There’s a phenomenon among the “righteous” that I first encountered in the mission field. It’s the idea that if following this rule makes me righteous, then following an even more restrictive rule will make me even more righteous than that! For example: If the mission rule is to wake up at 6:00 and do scripture study, then I’ll wake up at 5:30!

    This leads to a sort of Nigel Tufnel-ish approach to theology (“…but these go to 11!”) and takes self-righteousness to new heights.

  258. My issue with the honor code is that its influence isn’t contained to BYU. It seeps into wider Church culture and there are plenty of people that think that it continues to be a standard for worthiness long after you’ve left. A woman in my ward who is a BYU prof bore her testimony about the evils of beards one Sunday, and used the honor code as the basis for her disapproval. While such an example (and the note that spawned this post) is extreme, the insidious nature of the Honor Code system seeps into our culture in little ways as well. So sad.

  259. What’s saddest to me about this whole situation is that the brightest young minds in Mormonism are still sitting around thinking about whether their neighbor is exposing her knees. They used to sit around and decide why Cougarettes could wear short-shorts but “ordinary” girls couldn’t, and then they moved on to gripping issues like how stopping in the pouring rain for the Pledge of Allegiance showed a true Christian believe in the inspired nature of the founding fathers. Failing to stop meant you were a spawn of you know who.

    I always wanted to belong to a religion where we were busy loving another and getting active in eliminating famine in Africa (or maybe just in the U.S.). The idea that we are paying tithing to support someone in the LDS Church Office building to write and edit and publish lesson manuals that tell small girls – not just teenagers now, but small girls – about how they can’t wear a swimsuit in public without a t-shirt…..the obscenity of spending money in that way when there are so many other needs in the world, real Christian endeavors in need, is just…sad and appalling are the words that spring to mind.

    OTOH, #117, Roberto, thanks for the trip down memory lane. There are lots of sane people in Mormonism, this young man just isn’t one of them. Unfortunately, he comes from somewhere and there are also many like him.

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