Sexuality

From The Sexual Life of Savages by Bronislaw Malinowski, 1929* (emphasis added):

"To the average normal person, in whatever type of society we find him, attraction by the other sex and the passionate and sentimental episodes which follow are the most significant events in his existence, those most deeply associated with his intimate happiness and with the zest and meaning of
life.

To the sociologist, therefore, who studies a particular type of society, those of its customs, ideas, and institutions which centre round the erotic life of the individual should be of primary importance."

The "average normal person," I love that. Anyway, obviously the wording would be different today, in recognition of those attracted to their own sex. But I am intrigued by the general idea and I wonder...to what extent is our [chosen] philosophical/religious affiliation motivated by our personal views of romantic love/sex?

Was my decision to leave the LDS church ultimately a sexual one? Is it most signficant because of how it will affect (or rather allow for) my attractions/romantic relationships?

Uh....perhaps? ...in a vastly oversimplified way? ...Sure.

Hmmmm, what thoughts do you have?



*a required text for my current anthropology class, "Family, Power and Society"

10 comments:

Madame Curie said...

I joined the LDS Church partially motivated by a strong physical attraction for the person who taught me about the religion, which I was told was really the Spirit. So, yes, I do think religion can be influenced by romantic feelings.

I had a friend describe her disillusionment with the LDS Church as a "falling out of love". I think that metaphor has made a lot of sense in my own life as well.

Gardner said...

A large part of why we are attracted to one community over another is our perceived ability to find an ideal sexual partner within that community. So I think that yes, it has a huge impact on our biases towards one social group over another and the attached beliefs of that group.

simplysarah said...

Gardner - that is exactly what I was trying to get at. Thanks for summing it up in 2 sentences!

Incognito_one said...

When I was a member, I often found it frustrating that I could not find my ideal woman. Having left, I think it was largely because the Mormon religion and culture tends to cultivate the type of woman I'm not interested in.

Christa O'Brien said...

Some day you may just find that "right" person, but until then, I suggest you have fun with all the wrong ones =]! Hahahaha...I had to say it Sarah!!

Steve said...

I have an honest question for you all. This is something that I have often wondered and I hope you see this as curiosity and a desire to understand rather than something more sinister –like getting you all back in the church.

No doubt you have heard the phrase said about ex-Mormons, “they leave the church but can’t leave it alone.” I would not be surprised if you have been told this by someone during or after your exit.

Why would you say that happens?

For example. Sarah, you have set up this blog and most of your posts in some way or another talk about the church. The blogs that are listed in your sidebar are all very similar-most talk frequently about things related to the church.

It seems like you have broken out of Shawshank but don’t know how you fit into this new world, so you decide to define yourself based on something you were rather than what you are now. As I see it, in remaining tied to the church by labeling yourself an ex-Mormon, you are not free to become what you want to be.

Or is it not as simple as some think to just walk away and be done with the church?

There was this blog I saw recently that was written by a lady who left the church 10+ years ago. Even today, many of her posts mention the church and why she is glad she is free of it. To me that just comes across as someone who is either unable or unwilling or too afraid to make an identity for herself and relies on what they are not to define what they are. It seems this case of passive identity leaves that person lacking somewhat of true substance because they are selling themselves short.

I hope this makes sense. Again, I hope it comes off in a spirit of wanting to understand and not veiled criticism

Any thoughts on this would be appreciated.

Steve

Gardner said...

Steve-
If you had invested a sizeable amount of money and later found out it was a fraud how much time and energy would you devote to exposing that fraud-particularly if other family and friends continued to invest in it?

simplysarah said...

Steve, it is a valid question, and I appreciate your sincerity. I think Gardner makes a good point.

I would add that it's a mistake to think that mormonism = LDS church. Mormonism is a culture, and as such it doesn't just go away or become totally irrelevant once the church part of it is gone.

For example, I have many friends whose parents are immigrants to America. Even though their parents wanted the kind of life available in America, they raised their children with approaches very influenced by the cultures of their home countries. Children of immigrants grow up to be very much American, but usually they are changed in lasting ways by their cultural heritage. They may even feel a special interest in the countries where their parents came from.

I am an immigrant to secularism. But I am who I am and forever changed by my Mormon upbringing. I can't imagine that the goings-on of mormonism will ever seem irrelevant to me...particularly because so many that I love are affected (and our relationships with eachother, in turn) by it.

Does that make sense?

Madame Curie said...

Its actually a fascinating concept, Steve, and I think Sarah covers a lot of ground when she says Mormonism is a culture.

I'm coming from a slightly different perspective, but have had a parallel experience. I left Catholicism for Mormonism about 10 years ago, and found it impossible to shrug off the cultural Catholicism I was raised with. I frequently did (and still) compare to how I did things as a Catholic to how Mormons do things, why do Catholics do X, Y, or Z, etc. Most of my own blog posts reveal that, as I tend to do a lot of comparison between Catholicism and Mormonism. Its easier for me to be tired of talking about Mormonism than, say, my husband, who still has family and college friends who are active Mormon. As for me, my family are all Catholic, so it was much harder previously for me to escape Catholic culture.

I think we are largely shaped and hard-wired by the religions and cultures we are raised in. We see things through that lens. Even if we try to shrug off the doctrine or belief system, the culture and world-view permeates our life. It was remarkably easier for me to become culturally Catholic than it ever was to assimilate myself into cultural Mormonism.

As another, less charged example, lets pretend you were born and raised in NYC. You are the quintessential New Yorker, and you are raised to have all the pride that New Yorkers have over their city. However, as you get older, you realize that you don't like city life. Worse, you've had your car stolen several times, were mugged, and paid exorbitant amounts of tax but never saw anything positive out of that money. For a long time, you didn't have a whole lot of say over your being in New York - your family and friends were all there and were vehement that you were never to move away (especially not to New Jersey!!)

At the age of 30 or so, you move to rural South Dakota, buy a ranch, and start a blog. Do you think your blog posts would completely ignore the bizarre and crazy things you saw and did in NYC? Do you think you would be affected by the big city life and world you had lived in your whole life? Or do you think you could immediately be assimilated into country living, raising steed and gathering eggs?

If that were me, I suspect I would do a lot of comparisons and discussions of similarities, differences, and quirks between South Dakotans and New Yorkers. Furthermore, since I left NYC after feeling like I lost a lot of time to building up a city that never loved me back, I would probably also have some angry feelings. Over time, I may come to see the good that NYC had to offer, but my world-view, for better or for worse, is long going to be based on my formative years in the Big Apple.

I don't see analysis of Mormonism from a sociological, psychological, or personal perspective as all that different. Its an all-encompassing religion and culture that can permeate ever aspect of a Mormon's life, and affect their view of even the most minute details. Assimilation in non-Mormon society can be really hard - like when you immediately look at someone drinking a glass of wine and assume they are drunk, or you see a 12-year-old wearing a tank top and think they are a skank.

Daniel said...

Unless ex-Mormons become invisible and stop talking about their church experience, Mormons are going to complain that they 'can't leave it alone'.

Rather than asking 'why don't ex-Mormons just disappear' (which is what this meme is really about), we might ask "Why do Mormons advance this meme?'

One answer: they're just grousing about opposition, making themselves feel better. Another answer: Mormons are using this as an attempt to silence ex-Mormons.

It's not going to work. I might well ask why Mormons can't leave non-Mormons alone, what with the missionary program, the indoctrination of children, and attempts to influence the constitutions of nearby states.

Smoke that in a pipe of your choice.