Sunday, April 13, 2014

Social Voyeurism

My 13 year old came to me after her interview with the bishop. I was in the process of having a spiritual crisis, as was my daughter, but this was just over the top. She was being interviewed to do baptisms for the dead and the bishop asked the usual questions, but he threw in a new one and my daughter was surprised, shocked and didn't even know how to answer, since she didn't even know what he was talking about. He asked her if she was having anal sex. Now I get the privilege of explaining anal sex to my innocent, naive daughter. Thanks, bishop, :::sarcasm:::: for opening the eyes of a once innocent girl who didn't need to know this when she wasn't even dating, let alone sexually active.

I looked up the definition of a voyeur, since I this seems to fit into the category. This, from wikipedia:

Voyeurism is the sexual interest in or practice of spying on people engaged in intimate behaviors, such as undressing, sexual activity, or other actions usually considered to be of a private nature.[1]
The principal characteristic of voyeurism is that the voyeur does not normally relate directly with the subject of his/her interest, who is often unaware of being observed. Voyeurism may involve the making of a secret photograph or video of the subject during an intimate activity. When the interest in a particular subject is obsessive, the behavior may be described as stalking.
The term comes from the French voyeur, "one who looks". A male voyeur is commonly labeled "Peeping Tom"...  Voyeurism

As I think of the term, I look back to all those other interviews where I had to answer questions that I felt violated in my personal space and other bishops probed into my sexual behavior...in fact I decided to coin my own term; social voyeurism.

I think back to when I was nineteen and dating a young man. He was mormon and pushing his limits with me. It was very confusing since I had been taught conflicting things within the mormon church. I had been taught to submit to all male authorities in all areas and that I was responsible for male's sexual behavior since they cannot control their own sexual thoughts or behavior.  As he pushed his limits with me, I tell him no, yet he continued to push his limits. I tell him no, but he continued. I tell him no, but he doesn't take no for an answer. I continue to tell him no, I push him off me, I tell him no, but he forced me. Crying, telling him no telling him I don't want this doesn't work and he raped me.

Distraught and not knowing where to turn, I went to my bishop and tell him what happened. The bishop asked for detailed information...did I let him touch my breasts on the outside and inside of my clothes? Did I let him touch my private parts on the outside and inside of my clothes? How loudly did I say no? How forcefully did I push him away? He then informs me that I am responsible for the young man's sexual behavior and puts me on probation. I am not allowed to hold a church calling, to pray or take the sacrament for 6 months.

Years later, I am looking at the definition of a voyeur. A voyeur is one who has sexual interest and spying on others engaged in sexual practices. Certainly my daughter's bishop and my bishop at 19 has shown that. By asking such intimate questions, they are indeed spying into our private lives and our sexual practices and concerned about our intimate behaviors that are of a private matter.

 I think back to when I was engaged to be married. I had to go in for a temple recommend interview. I was asked the same probing questions. I had determined by this time that these questions are not any of the bishop's business, so I determined I would not answer any of them.  When I leave, I begin to feel guilty, so I turned around and tell the truth. The fiance and I had done things short of fornication, so the bishop insisted that tell him very intimately all that we had done. Again, I must confess things of a very private matter. I must tell him about our petting, our touching private parts, about how my fiancee touched my breasts, both on top of my clothes and under my clothes.  I returned each month until we are married. (Interesting, since my fiancee decides to lie to his bishop, he didn't have to go through the same process, so much for the spirit of discernment.)

If there is one thing that needs to change about the mormon church, it is the social voyeurism that continues to invade the personal space of children and adults alike. Why did I feel compelled to answer these violating questions? Why, after all I went through, did I allow my daughter to also be violated in a similar manner?

Because of the nature of voyeurism itself...the Mormons don't even see they are being observed. Just like the definition states, "the principal characteristic of voyeurism is that the voyeur does not normally relate directly with the subject of his/her interest, who is often unaware of being observed." the Mormons are unaware they are being observed, that their boundaries are being crossed.  

Why are they unaware? Because they have been taught their entire lives that it is normal for middle aged men to sit in a room alone with teenaged girls and boys and ask the most private and personal questions imaginable. We were taught to never question priesthood authority because they are never wrong because they represent god. We are taught that our bodies are not our own, they belong to the church, and as such, we must answer to the church  and priesthood authority about them.

 The church  also decides what we wear (garments, cover shoulders and legs to the knees, don't wear more one pair of earrings, no tattoos, men must wear white shirts to pass the sacrament, etc.).  The church decides how we act (always be reverent, no loud laughter, evil speaking of the lord's anointed.).  The church decides how we think and what we listen to and what we say and watch (no music that will offend the spirit, thoughts lead to actions, and swearing is bad and no R or X rated shows or pronography). So you see, our bodies are not our own and decisions about them are made by the church.

If a high school teacher were to pull one of their students into a room alone and ask the very same questions, that teacher would be arrested and convicted of sexual crimes against a child, yet each year, thousands of parents allow the same violation to occur in Mormon churches without batting an eye.

This is a violation of our children. If a peeping Tom were standing outside my child's window, I would have them arrested. Why then, would I allow an adult man to peep into the very private lives of my children? Why do you?

After the incident with my daughter, I  decided to write a letter to my bishop informing him that there would be no more private interviews with my children.

It is time that all parents become advocates for their children and stand up and say NO to these social voyeuristic interviews.

(Now, whenever I see my daughter's bishop around town, I whisper under my breath, bishop Anus.)




1 comment:

Dwight Reid said...

Alecia, I agree that the bishop had zero right to ask your daughter such an intimate question. His reasons may not have been what you think. There is a trend today in young women being pressured for sex by their boyfriends to maintain their virginity by allowing their boyfriends anal sex. If this is a huge issue in your (daughter's) ward, and he "needed" to know the answer he should have discussed it with you first. I tend to agree that voyeurism was the main impetus but in addition to that, he (the bishop) was violating church policy in asking a girl that age a question of that nature unless the interviewee brought up the subject herself. Report the bastard to the stake president.