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Brad Kramer, a Utah-based anthropologist who studies the effects of language on Mormon communities, argues that there is a distinction between thoughts and actions.

Mormon males “feel a degree of guilt when any sexual desire is triggered by someone other than their wife, and they partially blame and resent the girl/woman in question if modesty rhetoric has given them a pretext for judging their dress as inappropriate,” Kramer says. “You see this play out especially strongly in the mission field, where young men feel the strongest pressure to completely suppress desire. You encounter an awful lot of resentment and sometimes vivid hostility in male missionaries toward local girls and women who trigger sexual desire or attraction.”

Even a naked woman would be responsible only for “triggering desire or reflective arousal, which is not by itself sinful,” Kramer says. “If I indulge that reflexive reaction to what I see or act on it, that is me and me alone.”

In a wider American culture that “trivializes sexuality,” Mormon men and women fear that “sexuality may undermine our spiritual progression,” Finlayson-Fife writes, “keep us from God, and cost us our social standing.”

The church’s modesty mantra creates deep anxiety about human sexuality, she says, and “does women (and men) a deep disservice.”

Such anxiety “robs women of self-knowledge, as well as ownership of and confidence in their sexuality.”

Mormon doctrine posits that women are “sexual beings . (with) beautiful, curvaceous bodies,” the therapist writes. True modesty, then, includes honoring womanly sexuality - “neither flaunting it nor masking it.”


Information from: The Salt Lake Tribune,