Monday, March 30, 2015


Salt Lake City, UT—The Church has issued proofreading tools for those Young Women leaders who might be working on lessons dealing with sexual purity. The tools are meant to help such leaders review key concepts and perhaps pinpoint lesson planning errors.

Male/Female P: This proofreading mark designates parts of a lesson where a leader might erroneously assume that pornography is only a male problem. The male and female symbols in the letter “p” remind a leader that young women can be just as curious and turned on as boys are by sexually explicit material. Leaders who believe that pornography is exclusively a male problem risk making young women who struggle with this issue feel additional isolation and shame.

Shackle?: This proofreading mark reminds those preparing a lesson that not all sexual struggles are addictions. This mark is especially useful for those who might conflate occasion pornography use with habitual pornography dependence.

Male Gaze: As some leaders might place too much emphasis on how a young woman’s actions might affect a male viewer, this symbol crosses out that male gaze. While young women can be aware of the signals they may send to others, including young men, women should not live lives dictated by what men may or may not see.

The T and Warning:Fear: These two symbols work well together when proofreading a sexual purity lessons. The scroll with a letter “T” is to remind instructors to use the truth as clearly and fully as possible. Telling that truth can mean being honest about struggles as well as success without being sensationalistic. It can mean affirming how powerful, pleasurable, and bonding physical affection can be as well as discussing some of the heartache that it can bring. The warning triangle with “fear” in it is to warn against using fear as a way to emotionally threaten or otherwise coerce young women to live the law of chastity.

A most obvious example of using fear in just such a way is the case of a woman from Cedar City, Utah who made cross stitches for all of her young women that said “if you have sex before marriage you’ll get syphilis and die.” The T and the Warning: Fear tools would have been ideal in the planning stages of this erroneous sexual purity message. In addition, these proofreading tools alert lesson planners to where they may feel tempted to use fear or manipulation—the devil’s tools—to do the Lord’s work.

Toast: This symbol, which is meant to show a piece of toast, could also be chewed gum, a cupcake with the icing licked off, or a flower without its petals. All of these are common symbols or metaphors for a woman whose sexual experimentation has “gone so far” that she is no longer considered “pure” by some. These very destructive, short-sighted, and erroneous comparisons use fear (see above), reinforce shame, convey the idea that God and others will no longer consider them worthy of love and connection, and undercut the very Atonement that is the core of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Dynamite: This proofreading tool is used to point out where teachers can insert messages that will make young women feel powerful. Many of the symbols above show errors that could make women feel afraid or powerless with relation to their bodies and the amazing things that their bodies can do. This symbol shows areas where instructors can encourage young women to love and feel deeply grateful for their bodies and what those bodies can do. It can also point to places in the lesson where instructors can encourage young women to consider how the power and pleasure that their bodies offer them can be used to bless their lives. Women who take ownership for their bodies and love and appreciate their bodies can then consider how they can use their bodies to bless the lives of others. With those ideas in mind, young women can set their own standards for how they will use such God-given blessings.

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